The bet that dare not speak its name

We would have used the Voltaire quote, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise” as today’s title, except a cursory search suggests he never said it.

Nonetheless, this is quite an interesting discovery;

Apparently, Sportsbet and Crownbet have previously accepted bets on the result of the same sex marriage plebiscite but have bowed to pressure and removed their offerings.

In fact, we have been able to find only one Australian (well, British but their Australian subsidiary) betting agency willing to take bets on the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite.

For those not aware of the Australian betting formats, they use the decimal method. Under this method and using the odds expressed by William Hill, a $10 bet would pay a $60 return if it wins.

Bill’s Opinion

Brexit and Trump surprised the pundits possibly due to voters understanding and being embarrassed by the stigma of having to admit to the people undertaking the surveys and exits polls that they were a xenophobic, sexist homophobe.

William Hill’s offer seems fair value, therefore, if you feel that the result will be close*.

But more importantly, when did every other bookmaker grow scruples and a social conscience?

Ah, when Twitter outrage mobs get to decide what is offensive or not. This is not necessarily a good development.

 

*this does not constitute financial advice, in fact, if you were to take any kind of financial advice from this website you are tacitly admitting that you are financially illiterate and should immediately provide your email address in the comments so that we may send you fantastic investment opportunities in new and wonderful crypto-currencies.

It’s a Kon job

Australia has been housing people seeking refugee status on the PNG island of Manus for several years. The people arrived by boat at or near Christmas Island, an Australian territory 3,400km from the mainland and, to remove the incentive for future boat arrivals by bringing them to the mainland, Australia made a deal with PNG to house them on Manus.

PNG has since reneged on the deal and the detention centre has been forced to close. Alternate accomodation is on offer, either on the island of Nauru, where Australia has a 2nd detention centre, or within the township on Manus.

If they choose to relocate to Nauru, their asylum application to Australia can continue.

However;

That headline is two weeks old now and the centre is being dismantled. Running water and electricity have therefore been disconnected.

Understandably, those whose have chosen to remain in situ are starting to run out of the basics.

A refugee advocate, Kon Karapanagiotidis, is highlighting their privations and seeking donations and assistance from the public.

He is also very critical of the Australian government’s actions and inactions.

His Twitter account is busy with similar messages, which you can read for yourself.

Kon has a suggested solution for these problems, which he hashtags regularly – #bringthemhere. This campaign has consistently failed to make any ground with Australian governments of both political flavours. Perhaps it might help to examine why?

There’s a useful timeline here. As you’d expect from the BBC, what’s left unsaid is most important. The reason Manus was opened and then re-opened was in response to a large volume of arrivals, resulting in an unknown number, possibly in the thousands, drowning en route.

Put simply, rewarding a dangerous ocean crossing with permanent residence in Australia acts as a “pull” factor which people were prepared to put their lives at extreme risk to achieve. Politicians twice acted to remove this “pull”.

Those people who subsequently crossed multiple international borders and then boarded unsafe boats from Indonesia bound for Australia were relocated to Manus.

The #bringthemhere option has been tried twice and was deemed unpalatable from a human safety point of view.

So what options does Australia have left open?

Bill’s Opinion

Even the most desperate can make choices.

The people currently on Manus Island have made a series of choices;

  1. They chose not to claim asylum in the first country they arrived in after leaving their country of origin.
  2. They chose not to claim asylum in the subsequent countries they arrived in after leaving their country of origin.
  3. They chose to pay people traffickers for a place on a dangerous ocean crossing to Christmas Island.
  4. They chose to decline the option to be resettled in PNG.
  5. They chose not to move to the Nauru centre once Manus was closed.
  6. They chose not to move to the alternate accomodation on Manus.
  7. They chose to remain in situ at the closed centre on Manus.

In the absence of agreeing to #bringthemhere, with its twice-proven consequences, one struggles to understand what other solutions the people of Australia could offer.

Rather than hectoring and making accusations of racism, perhaps Kon could concentrate on seeking compromise solutions. If not, then one can only conclude that the welfare of the refugees is secondary to his desire to see an open borders policy despite a consistent rejection of this by the Australian electorate.

 

EDIT: Corrected Manus is part of PNG, not Indonesia.

I, racist robot

Machine learning is the new fidget spinner in IT circles, it would seem. The only problem is, those darn machines are sexist, racist bigots, just like the rest of us.

The article above explains how systems such as Google’s Sentiment Analyzer are producing results that infer a negative bias against certain groups based on ethnic, sexual or gender identifying nouns.

Everyone seems quite surprised and somewhat disappointed by this discovery.

Perhaps what should strike us as most strange about this is that anyone would predict that these systems would be unbiased.

Thinking about the root source of the learning material of the algorithms; all they have to start with is human speech and the written word. The programmers have let the software loose on the collected wisdom of mankind and asked it to draw its own conclusions.

Unsurprisingly, the software has discovered that we all use bias and we all use it all the time.

Perhaps the next conclusion the algorithms might offer is that bias is an entirely natural, logical and, indeed the only known way for humans to successful navigate the world.

“Bias” is a synonym for “in-group preference“, that is, the system every single one of our ancestors employed to stay alive.

Fear or careful suspicion of animals and plants of unknown species would have kept your and my ancestors alive on the plains of Africa long enough to mate and have offspring. That same fear and suspicion of other humans outside of their immediate group also protected our ancestors from being “victim zero” in the next inter-tribal raid.

Later in our evolutionary history, communicating at a distance with those outside of their immediate group will have saved countless of our ancestors from deadly diseases against which their genes hadn’t yet developed an immunity, again, allowing them to mate and have offspring.

How do we know this was a highly-successful strategy that beat all other competing strategies attempted by their peers?

Because I’m here and able to write this blog post and you are able to read it.

Bill’s Opinion

There is nothing shameful about bias, per se. It has served us well throughout every previous generation. Irrational bias is, by its nature, illogical, but before we write off every momentary expression of in-group preference as racist/sexist/whatever the current “-ist” du jour is, we might consider whether it is actually irrational or whether there is any utility to be had by employing it.

In the words of G. K. Chesterton,

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

Someone probably needs to take the role of parent here

My 5 year old son has decided that he’s a girl and, rather than distracting him with a fidget spinner or teaching him how to ride a bike, I’m actively encouraging his fantasies.

This will end well, I’m sure.

Tangentially, I’ve often wondered about the thought process used by those who believe that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”. This explanation of homosexual attraction seems to be in denial of the evidence of, until recently, how godawful that life actually is with those who “choose” it being the victims of ostracism, exclusion, violence and, prior to the 1970s in most countries, jail.

It might be argued that the same observation can be applied to transgenderism.

However, there seems to be a glaring difference between the two situations; in the first example, a person has made an informed choice, post-puberty, to have have sexual relations with people of their same rather than the opposite gender. Until they have reached the age of consent, it actually doesn’t matter much what their sexual desires are or aren’t. Certainly there’s little chance of an irreversible or regrettable physical change being implemented on their body.

In the second example someone has decided that they were born in the wrong body. The current school of thought in the progressive circles of society, including 35 year old “queer” feminist Emma Salklid, is that this is enough proof to commence encouraging this world view and, potentially, seeking hormone treatment and surgery to better-align their physical appearance with their brain’s self-image.

There is a chance that imposing Emma’s political world view on a 3 year old boy (this was the age when he declared himself as a girl) might not be the best course of action in this case. In fact, there is a chance that it might be highly regretted by the child in later life. Perhaps there might come a time when a 20 year old highly-screwed up transgender boy/girl/zirl turns to their mother and asks the following questions;

Mum, please can you explain why the fuck you took the word of a 3 year old and started making decisions that can’t be reversed, such as dressing me in skirts, organising play dates with girls rather than playing war games with other boys, commencing hormone treatment which resulted in my genitals not developing normally and, in fact, making my penis so small that there wasn’t enough material to work with for the gender-reassignment surgery?

Also Mum, why would you be so accepting of a 3 year old’s statement about gender when all the studies show that the suicide rate for transgender people is equivalent to those desperate people in German or Soviet concentration camps AND that this rate doesn’t drop following surgery?

Mum, why the fuck couldn’t you have been a parent rather than a political activist?

Bill’s Opinion

3 year old children say lots of things that don’t make sense. If they are insistent that they are a dog, most parents don’t buy them a lead and kennel.

There seems to be a mental problem at play here which would benefit from intense psychiatric help before hormone treatment and surgery become an option…..

And the 5 year old son should probably see a psychiatrist too.

Californian shark jumping

Stigmatising someone for a having a disease is clearly not a pleasant or kind thing to do. Of course, historically this would have been a useful self-preservation strategy for deadly, highly contagious diseases.

We’re no longer in the Middle Ages and at imminent risk of contracting the bubonic plague though, so we should be constantly reviewing our attitude to those unfortunate to have caught a life-changing disease.

HIV, for example, is no longer the short and painful death sentence of the 1980s and 90s. With expensive cocktails of pharmaceuticals, the worst effects can now be held at bay for many years.

Much is now known about the HIV, especially it’s relative contagiousness. HIV is, in fact, one of the most avoidable diseases known to man; don’t share intravenous needles or have unprotected sex with a carrier and you’re pretty much guaranteed to never contract it.

The legislators of the great State of California have reviewed the changed landscape of our knowledge and treatment of HIV and have decided that we can do more to remove stigma from those who have contracted HIV. Their solution? Downgrade the punishment for knowingly infecting someone.

Pause for a moment and re-read the seven words in that last sentence. Can you see the problematic one?

Knowingly.

i.e. deliberately, or “with intent”.

In other offences that result in the death of someone, that’s the difference between the definition of manslaughter or murder.

In the words of California State Senator Scott Wiener, “HIV is a public health issue, not a criminal issue“. Senator Wiener’s statement is correct, of course, but the new law is far more than touchy-feely “hug a HIV sufferer” legislation, it’s reducing the penalty for deliberately passing the disease to someone else. A disease, which despite all the mitigating treatments for its symptoms, is still incurable and results in a shortened life, not to mention financially crippling medical expenses.

It should be unnecessary to restate this but, for the sake of clarity, the law has reduced the punishment for intentionally infecting someone with an incurable deadly disease.

Bill’s Opinion

Once again, California leads the world in stupidity. There’s unlikely to be huge spike in the number of HIV infections in the state as a consequence of this legislation, presumably it’s quite a small subset of HIV carriers who are malicious enough to knowingly pass the disease on to others, but for those who are infected by such an evil act, it must be somewhat galling to learn that their attacker will be out of prison within half a year.

There is a clear schism opening up in western society between those who wish for legislation and government policy that is driven by data and logic and those who prefer for emotion, feelings and virtue-signalling to drive the public agenda. Fortunately, the latter group of people have have a Mecca, a promised land, a safe space, to emigrate to; California.

Cooooool.

Image result for jump the shark

G’day sport

We’ve previously explored the issue of transgenderism and whether it is cruel or kind to agree with a mental delusion that one is “born in the wrong body” absent any compelling physical or scientific evidence.

Consider then, the case of Hannah Mouncey, who is hoping to be the first transgender player in the Women’s Australian Rules Football League (AFLW).

For readers not familiar with Australian Rules Football, it needs to be explained that it’s a contact sport with similarities to Rugby and Gaelic Football. The tackles are big hits; height and physical strength are a significant contributing factor to success. One cannot play this game without being able to deliver, and also tolerate taking, a solid bodyslam.

So, if your daughter played this sport, how keen would you be for her to be lining up in a match against Hannah next weekend?

No, that’s not a picture of a young Lars Ulrich, drummer from Metal-licker, that’s the potentially latest AFLW player, “Hannah”.

To prove the point that she’s a lady, here she is in in a classic little black dress channeling her inner Holly Golightly.

The AFLW rules require that, to be qualified as female, Hannah needs to prove that she has less than 10 nanomoles of testosterone per litre in her bloodstream. Hannah is confident that she can pass this test.

Bill’s Opinion

This will be a fascinating case to follow especially as the AFLW has recently had significant commercial success, attracting large crowds of up to 51,000.

Whether or not the spectators continue to follow the women’s version of the sport if a bricklayer in drag is allowed to beat up women will be an excellent bellwether of the success or failure of the intersectionality narrative of the Cultural Marxists.

One does not like green eggs and ham

Our recent investigation into the accidental UK Conservative Party leadership contender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, led us to discover the perfectly rational, balanced and sober Guardian columnist, Suzanne Moore.

One of her recent offerings was on the subject of “hate crimes” and “online hate”.

Something must be done, she opines, there must be consequences.

Definitions are always a handy starting point when searching for the truth of a statement.

Firstly, what is “hate“?

In the English language it can have several related but different meanings; the opposite of love, for example. An extreme dislike of something or someone, perhaps. Without wishing to put words into Ms. Moore’s mouth, she seems to be defining it moore (see what I did there?) as an action than a feeling. Online hate, is the term she uses to describe this version of the word, suggesting the use of the verb rather than the noun version of hate.

Presumably she isn’t suggesting all hate must be banned? Hatred of olives, for example, would be a frivolous and difficult thing to legislate against. It might be straightforward to enshrine in law a ban on publicly-expressing one’s hatred for little green and black fruits however. Would that make the olive-haters suddenly, or even gradually, become lovers of olives? Of course not.

Defining the standard for what is hateful is equally tricky. Are you calling me rude names on the internet because you disagree with my point of view (here’s a few hundred words from Ms. Moore doing exactly that to JRM, without ever once critiquing his arguments)? At what point does that name-calling become online hate or even a hate crime? On Planet Guardian, it seems to be once we invoke certain physical, religious, racial, gender or sexual attributes.

At risk of invoking the slippery slope fallacy, who gets to define the limits of this definition and where does one apply for the job?

We might speculate that the flip side of online hate is offence. If the recipient of online hate takes offence, the hurt is amplified, which is perhaps the original motivation of the online hater?

Maybe there’s a clue in the way we phrase offence as a verb in the English language; we say that people take offence, suggesting that it’s a choice made by the recipient, not the hater offering it. The power is actually with the recipient.

Bill’s Opinion

Although we all know that we should strive for civility in our online discussions, we don’t always hold ourselves to that standard. However, to legislate to shut down those who are abusive risks collecting those with dissenting opinions or those with arguments we simply find uncomfortable in the same net.

Those of us who attract the attention of insulting or abusive online hate have several options available;

  1. Report threats of violence or incitement to violence to the police; this is an actual crime and has been for generations.
  2. Use the block button on whichever social media platform the abuse is arriving from.
  3. Log off, make a cup of tea and get on with real, not virtual, life like a grown adult.

When the rights of one group impact the rights of another

Australia is about to undertake a national vote survey on same sex marriage.

Luckily for the “Lucky Country”, because they are such laggards in this regard, there are plenty of current experiments underway around the world for them to observe and ensure they get it right.

Helpfully for our Australian friends, “g’day mates, chuck another baby in the dingo and chunder me up a fair dinkum blue“, we’ve produced the following cut out and keep handy reckoner to ensure that even the drunkest of them can get it right when the voting survey form arrives;

Is Universal Basic Income just Marxism by another name?

There is a steady stream of mentions in the media of a concept called Universal Basic Income and a general view that it is “a good thing”.

Definitions of what is actually involved in implementing a UBI or critical analysis of the concept rarely accompany these references to it.

We intend to undertake this missing analysis here.

Definitions;

UBI is variously described as;

  1. a non-means tested guaranteed “wage” to all citizens of a country to cover basic shelter and food needs, or
  2. as above but for all residents of a country, or
  3. as above but globally, i.e. every human

 

The last option falls apart quite quickly upon analysis, so let’s clear that up first;

Option 3. How would we fund and distribute a global UBI?

There would need to be a global collection method, an agreement between all major economies (as they would presumably be the main net contributors) on the level of income per capita and whether or not there would be sliding scale based on relative cost of living in each location.

Then we would need to solve the problem of distribution, taking particular care not to consolidate power or increase the opportunity for corruption which would prevent the funds reaching the intended recipients.

Put simply, there would need to be some level of world government to siphon off the money and redistribute back to every human alive. This sounds very familiar to the well-documented previously failed experiments in central planning and control. To paraphrase P. J. O’Rourke, “socialism works very well within the boundaries of my house; it’s just failed every time anyone has tried to scale it up beyond that”.

Option 3 is pure Marxism, in other words and should be called out as such at every opportunity.

Option 1 and 2. How would we fund and distribute a national UBI?

This is a more nuanced question. Tim Worstall suggests that a national UBI could have significant personal and national benefits, possibly resulting in a higher standard of living for all. Tim’s analysis relies on a major assumption to fund the UBI, however; it will need replace all other forms of government largesse to the population, so no welfare state, no medicare/medicaid, no state insurances, no tax breaks for business, etc.

Those familiar with the concept of the Overton Window will quickly realise that, although Tim’s analysis might work mathematically and perhaps have a good grounding in economic theory, the blending of what is essentially a proposal for a method of central redistribution to result in a “small government” would require the voting public to accept a range of political ideas with a level of nuance not previously documented. In effect, they are being asked to accept the concept of blending the collectivist preference for a benevolent state with the Libertarian preference for individual freedom and responsibility. It completely challenges the almost genetically-accepted idea that left and right are at opposite ends of a political spectrum.

This isn’t to denigrate the intelligence and subtlety of the average voter, but to simply recognise that they are unlikely to invest the time out from their day to day lives to fully engage with the idea of a UBI that replaces all current state-distributed safety nets. This is likely to be mainly a failing of the communication skills of political class, underpinned by a very solid undercurrent of distrust and loathing from the voting public.

If Tim Worstall’s version of UBI is so very unlikely, are there any other proposed method of implementing it?

The Socialist Party of Ireland suggests that a UBI is only practical if all major industry is taken into state control, which simply proves the axiom that, to a man with a hammer, the entire world looks like a nail.

Socialist Appeal (“the Marxist tendency of the movements of workers and youth in Britain“) are deeply sceptical of the concept unless it is is also accompanied by major tax increases. Obviously, this completely contradicts the economic analysis of Mr. Worstall and, again, refers us back to the hammer/nail analogy.

Bill’s Opinion

To answer the original question; “Is Universal Basic Income just Marxism by another name?“, the answer is clearly, “yes, if you ask a Marxist“. The answer will be different if you are discussing it with a proponent of smaller government.

Perhaps we’re asking the wrong question. How about the following;

Is a UBI likely to be ever successfully implemented in a democratic nation?

Not a chance; the definition of and implementation of a UBI has such a myriad of options that each will see in it only what their personal agenda desires. To reach a broad political consensus on what the best and most feasible solution is to implement would require more agreement across the political spectrum than has ever been witnessed before.

Anyone who presents it as an option should be challenged to show how the major political and economic ideologies can have their differences reconciled before being allowed to waste any more of our time suggesting the concept.