Down is up when you’re in “The Club”

Remember our explanation of “The Club“, that part of the world you and I can’t visit, where good things always happen to the members?

When you’re in The Club, other members of The Club will plant sympathetic stories in the press on your behalf, such as this one (paywall).

“Scapegoat”.

Obviously Lord David Steel is the victim here, not the vulnerable young children he suspected this sweaty fat bastard was sexually abusing:

That’s right, David Steel, who by his own admission had strong suspicions Smith was abusing children and didn’t mention to anyone, might be expelled from a political party from which he retired over a decade ago as punishment.

That’s it.

Yet some of his friends think it’s worth planting sympathetic stories to prevent this minor and inconsequential slap on the wrists.

Bill’s Opinion

When you’re in The Club, you never need to feel shame or regret for past actions; the greater good and your inherent righteousness balance out any minor transgressions you may have made, obviously.

Your actions don’t have consequences, your failures are forgotten, your errors are forgiven. It’s a great club!

In other news, Lord David Steel’s entire adult life has been spent achieving absolutely NOTHING at the UK taxpayers’ expense.

40+ years in opposition. What an utter waste of carbon, oxygen and water.

Somewhere in the world, there’s a tree working really hard. I think you owe it an apology“.

You gotta know when to Holden

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared Australians will be fuming after Holden allowed its business to “wither away” even as it pocketed $2 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

For non-Australian readers, Holden is was the brand name for General Motors in Australia and New Zealand, just like Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Europe.

And, just like all the other brand names, the build quality of the vehicles was woeful. By which I mean, when compared to the overseas competitors’ products, the vehicles were like British Leyland’s Austin Allegro compared to the Toyota Corolla of the time; expensive, fewer features, less reliable, lower prestige.

Given the choice between a German, Japanese, Korean or even a French or Italian car, nobody with the mental age above a fish would choose to buy a Holden. Those few who did, did so out of some bizarre patriotic pride…. bizarre, because what’s the point of being proud of a shite product built by a foreign company?

Of course, this axiom played out over the decades in the Australian car market while market share declined annually as consumers bought every other vehicle brand rather than those locally-produced.

Politicians being, by their nature and the system within which they operate, incentivised only in the short term, pumped ever greater sums of taxpayers’ money into subsidising a company those same taxpayers (as consumers) were voting against.

Both sides of the political spectrum were guilty of this pointless profligacy, citing various fallacious arguments to justify their buying of votes with other people’s money; “saving Aussie jobs”, “ensuring the survival of adjacent industries”, etc.

Perhaps the most laughable reason was “strategic nationally”, by which people meant, “if China or Indonesia ever decide to invade, we can repurpose the Holden factories to make tanks in time to mount a credible defence”.

Yeah, just as long as the tank drivers had been trained in how to replace a faulty gear box ten minutes after driving out of the barracks.

Bill’s Opinion

Holden lingered on in stasis for at least 25 years longer than it should have been allowed. Every taxpayer dollar pumped into the balance sheet of General Motors or added on to the import cost of a foreign competitor, delayed the inevitable and cost Australians twice; once in tax and again in increased prices for a better quality Mitsubishi or Toyota.

Given a choice, politicians always do what’s expedient rather than what’s right.

Lessons children learn

…seem hardest for activists masquerading as journalists.

For example, noting the difference between an expressed and revealed preference.

One such example would be this, where Charlotte Grieve seems confused that, despite loudly banging the climate change drum in public, large pension funds still heavily invest in the industries that make profit pollute the most.

Four of the nation’s biggest industry super funds have billions of dollars invested in coal producers and other fossil fuel companies despite taking a vocal stance on climate change and pledging to support emissions reduction.

Research exclusively obtained by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald also shows support among super funds for shareholder resolutions that would force companies to take tougher action on climate change has fallen.

One must chuckle at the dressing up as “research” the process of browsing the funds’ websites to view the publicly-available information on investment allocations. They must have had a team working round the clock on that.

Of course, such an easily-written piece is the gift that keeps on giving for Charlotte; on its anniversary she can toss up a follow-up describing her horror that, despite the scandalous exposé of the mealy-mouthed funds and their double standards, the general public haven’t all rushed for the door and moved into a virtue-signalling “sustainable” fund.

Bill’s Opinion

People generally act rationally and in their own interests. This neatly explains making loud public noises suggesting concern over climate change whilst also investing in assets that produce a reasonable return on one’s investment.

As we’ve explored previously, the difference between a “green” fund and a regular fund is the latter has a reasonable chance of being an providing an income in retirement. The green fund doesn’t even track inflation.

Watch what people do, Charlotte, don’t listen to what they say.

Losing faith in the Police

Well, most of us did ages ago, ever since Regatta de Blanc.

Anyway, it turns out most people in the UK have realised the cops can’t do their job.

Clearance rates are falling and the study shows the public are not blind to this.

Statistics like this are hard to hide after a while:

Of course, victims of crime in the garden of England (that’s Kent, in case you didn’t know) are not the only ones to realise there’s less than a 19/20ths chance of not being charged for a crime; the criminals know it too.

It becomes a vicious self-reinforcing cycle.

Historically, the public and the police have had a unique relationship, markedly different to most otherwise similar countries. This is often described as “policing by consent”, and that phrase is often referenced.

In fact, it’s worth reproducing the original wording of the 9 point instructions….

…..devised by the first Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis (Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne). The principles which were set out in the ‘General Instructions’ that were issued to every new police officer from 1829 were:

1 To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2 To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3 To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4 To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5 To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6 To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7 To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8 To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9 To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Consider then, how this type of statement on the West Yorkshire Police website aligns with those well-meaning statements of intent (italics mine):

What is a Hate Incident?

A Hate Incident is any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity or perceived disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Examples include:

Verbal or online abuse, insults or harassment, such as taunting, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace.

A hate incident doesn’t mean that we won’t take it seriously if someone reports it.

Of course, it’s not even legally correct; dumping rubbish through letter boxes certainly is illegal already in West Yorkshire.

But what an interesting comparison to make; the West Yorkshire police force have time to investigate a non-crime that has been perceived to be offensive to anybody yet are managing to charge fewer than 7 out of 100 actual crimes.

It feels like there may be just a slight mis-allocation of resources going on oop north.

Bill’s Opinion

A police force that allocates more than zero expensively-trained uniformed coppers on an investigation into a case of hurty tweets yet has a clearance rate for real crime (those crimes with actual victims) of less than one in ten cases should have the entire managerial level replaced immediately and their pensions cancelled.

TransIndigenous Mediation

Australian author Bruce Pascoe is in a spot of bother. His ancestry has been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation into his ethnicity.

Ponder that for a moment; in 2020, it’s in the purview of the police to question and, presumably, lay criminal charges as consequence of what they might find regarding someone’s ethnicity.

How on earth did we get here?

In Pascoe’s case, it’s been a lengthy journey and one which, depending on which “team” you are on looks like this chronology listed by Andrew Bolt or the more sympathetic version (presumably written by supporters) in his Wikipedia entry.

What’s apparent from either side of the story is Bruce’s claimed Australian Aboriginal ancestry is not likely to amount to many actual relatives who existed anywhere but his fertile imagination, if any at all.

But how did he manage to get away with this fantasy for so long?

Obviously, the opportunity was created by well-meaning politicians. When trying to rectify centuries of appalling and egregious treatment of the first people of Australia, politicians needed to create a definition against which they could allocate the additional state funding and resources.

That definition is as follows:

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.

Can any bright students see the problem with that?

Yes, young girl at the back of the class, what’s the answer?

The words identify, accept and community all require definition to remove subjectivity.

If not, there is a situation ripe for exploitation by people who want free money.

As in most situations, where America leads, Australia follows.

Famously, 2020 Presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren, was the recipient of a place at law college reserved for a Native American after claiming to be Cherokee.

Cheekier still, Rachel Dolezal claimed to be of African American ancestry to become chapter president of the NAACP without having any black ancestors.

What can we learn from this?

Bill’s Opinion

As always, incentives matter.

In a situation where there’s free value (money, housing, academic places, increased employment prospects, perception of victimhood) and little obvious consequence for lying, there will be fraud.

The fact that this isn’t obvious to legislators says more about their IQs and knowledge of human nature than the dishonesty of the people who claim to be an ethnicity they are not.

Warren and Pascoe and Dolezal (see what I did there?) are at the top end of the fraud town. It’s not beyond imagination to suspect there are likely countless more frauds at the bottom end.

And who can blame them; presumably people already living an underprivileged life have a great incentive to invent a memory of an distant indigenous background like Pascoe’s to get to the front of the queue for housing or free dental care, for example.

What is going to be interesting about Pascoe’s case is to see what the decision might be regarding the potential crime committed. I’m not a lawyer so my research for precedent utilises the same resources as you, i.e. Google.

The best I could find was this campaign, which infers there’s definitely suspected cases of Aboriginal identity fraud but doesn’t describe any consequence.

My suspicion is, the crime rarely, if ever, results in a successful prosecution for two reasons; 1) there would need to be proof of intent rather than a mistaken “family memory”, and 2) until Pascoe, the people committing the crime were already in relatively humble conditions so the authorities took a lenient view.

Of course, like Elizabeth Warren, Pascoe has a low cost and quick remedy to clear his name; take a DNA test with 23 and Me.

We’ll wait, Bruce. We’ll wait.

In the USA, people who fraudulently claim to be military veterans are guilty of the crime of “Stolen Valor” (in the UK, they’re referred to by the name “Walt“).

In Australia, the Aboriginals suffered the pain and trauma of the Stolen Generation.

Now it would seem Bruce Pascoe and others might be accused of Stolen Victimhood.

Again, incentives matter; when victimhood is increasingly seen as having value, don’t be surprised to see fraudulent claims to it.

Predictions are notoriously difficult

…especially about the future.

But they are a fun diversion.

Here’s ten of mine for the year 2020. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Australian Politics

Politicians of all sides of the aisle increase the warnings against reliance on China. There will be noises made by the Federal government to have closer trade and defence links with the USA (particularly following the USA election).

A Westpac executive is jailed for the AUSTRAC issues. Probably Lynn Cobley.

Global Politics

The UK will reach a WTO+ deal (ie closer to WTO terms than a full trade deal) with the EU and negotiations won’t be extended. Boris will call their bluff.

Congress won’t send the impeachment papers to the Senate. The GOP will make political hay about this all the way to the election.

Zeitgeist

Sentiment turns against Saint Greta. There’s a financial scandal involving her parents or handlers.

A judge in the USA finds a single mother of a transgender child guilty of abuse. The Supreme Court supports this finding on appeal.

Sport

Six Nations table:

1 England

2 Ireland

3 Wales

4 France

5 Scotland

6 Italy

Australia finishes bottom of the Rugby Championship table.

Economy

Gold to temporarily breach all time high ($1,895).

The Dow to breach 30,000.

Sorry seems to be the easiest word – part VI

Here we go again.

William of Ockham passim:

Anyone who has been involved in rearing human infants will understand that the word “sorry” is the coda to the process of reconciling a malevolent or negligent act, not the start.

It’s also totally meaningless for the word to be said by anyone other than the person who committed the act, unless it’s used in the context of sympathy (“I’m sorry that happened to you”) instead.

And, on “institutional apologies”:

In addition to the word “sorry”, these apologies have a significant commonality; they are ….. meaningless because the speaker was not responsible for the crime. In most cases, the speaker was not even born at the time of the crime.

Consider then, the Mayor of New Zealand’s apology for a plane crash which, unless “gestational guilt” has become a thing whilst we were busy going about our business, she can’t be held responsible for in any sensible way.

My grandmother used to reply when, as a child, I asked how old she was, “as old as my eyes and little older than my teeth“.

Let’s give a pass, therefore, to the possibility of La Adern’s remarkable dental pre-natal longevity being somehow responsible for the downing of flight NZ901 on November 28th, 1979 (9 months before she was born) but, let’s face it, that’s a theory unlikely to make it past any scientific peer review outside of California.

On behalf of the government and, by extension, the people of New Zealand, she apologised for the tragedy today.

Do your own research into this but please keep in mind the fact ALL civilian navigation in 1979 was undertaken using equipment which would have been instantly recognisable by Captain Cook’s crew.

Excuse my language, but sextants (no, autocorrect, I didn’t mean to type “sexy ants”).

40 years ago, a plane flying over Antarctica, at an altitude low enough for scenic views, using celestial navigation and only air pressure to judge altitude, crashed into a mountain when it started snowing.

Everyone in every position of responsibility in the organisations involved in both the flight and subsequent cover up are dead.

“We” are sorry.

Bill’s Opinion

There is a point beyond which, we should just move on.

The problem is one of incentives versus personal cost, however.

The personal gain to Jacinda Adern for saying “sorry” is not zero. Let’s say she gains one percentage point in the approval ratings.

That’s not the important side of the balance sheet. The cost to her is the square root of fuck all.

The cost is carried by the New Zealand taxpayer who is now up for the potentially-difficult to defend compensation claims.

As always, incentives matter.

William of Ockham passim, again:

In other news, on behalf of the whole of western Christendom, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the sacking of Constantinople in 1215. Hopefully we can all move on from here and find common ground.

To a woman with a hammer

….the entire world looks like a nail.

Or, put another way:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

With that Upton Sinclair quote in mind, one wonders what the outcome might be of Bristol University’s decision to hire a researcher to investigate whether or not the institution has any residual guilt for its part in the transatlantic slave trade.

Strictly-speaking, my description above is likely to be more specific than the actual job description. The press releases all quote the investigation to be into “slavery”, rather than one specific trade route of the egregious abuse of humans.

If the remit if her job was expanded to look at the impact of any slavery, we could save her some time; of course it has. Everyone alive has.

Slavery has historically been the only route to wealth for 99% of the duration of modern humans as a species. The fact you are alive today, strongly suggests some or many of your ancestors exploited the labour of others to survive.

The degree (pun intended) to which Bristol University benefited from this seems quite a strange choice of investigation. Surely a more useful and interesting area of inquiry would be whether slavery still exists in the world and what form it takes?

Bill’s Opinion

The two universities in England most likely to have been recipients of money made from the transatlantic slave trade are Liverpool and Bristol, because the trade flowed through the ports of those cities.

The risk, 228 years after slavery was made illegal globally by the UK parliament, is to contort oneself and, by extension, our institutions to find some way of making history “right”.

Which takes us back to the who/whom? problem.

But anyway, of course a person paid to find something will find it. Imagine the awkward conversation a year later if she were to submit a report passing a clean bill of health, historically-speaking.

Important questions of our age

The great news is, we’ve really solved all the biggest issues facing humanity and the human condition.

We must have done, because otherwise there wouldn’t be time to ask why women don’t want to date a woman masquerading as a man.

The only difference between Lee and a man…Is that Lee has one fewer penis than a man.

It’s such a little difference (well, I’m not speaking for myself here – my nickname at the rugby club was “Tripod”, after all), but one that seems to significantly matter to single women with whom Lee would like to have romantic relationships.

Lee’s complaint seems to be that regardless of whether “he” is honest from the start of the online flirting phase or saves the big (non) reveal for later, once he’s excited the potential partner that he might be a possible mate, the reaction is universal; they decline.

Obviously (?) this confuses Lee and, presumably, the commissioning editor of Vice who published this column.

How can it be, in 2019, that women can be so prejudiced and cruel to just a regular trans man seeking romantic partners? Love is love, after all, is it not?

Bill’s Opinion

If the entire world disagrees with you, particularly in the form of revealed preferences, consider the possibility it’s your world view that’s at fault.

Given that we’ve only decided women can be men and men can be women in the last decade or so, one wonders how long we might need to wait for societal norms to overturn the millions of years of biological expediency that has resulted in our arrival at this point?

In the meantime, our golden rule when reading heartfelt articles about matters trans remains true; look at the picture first, if the person provoked an immediate reaction that they are one of the ugliest men/women you’ve seen, it’s because they aren’t.

Nobody named Brian is ever competent

It’s an uncomfortable but unconscious truth that some first names are not associated with success. Those which immediately spring to mind include; Wayne, Kevin, and Nigel.

Brian is another example. Yes, the guitarist from Queen is highly competent in the fields of music and astrophysics, but he’s the exception, like Farage is amongst all the Nigels.

Australia has a classic “incompetent Brian” running (ruining?) the bank, Wokepac.

Luckily for Brian, he’s a member of The Club, which is handy because this time next year he’ll need to find a new job.

Why?

Two reasons:

Firstly, he’s been at the helm during the latter phases of the multi-decade ongoing decline of the weakest of Australia’s “big four” banks, culminating in the apologetic letter (from page 10) in the annual report.

Secondly, he’s got to find $8m cash in his personal bank account between now and March next year.

Now, I’ve no doubt Brian’s personal wealth easily exceeds that; he earns over half of that a year in the salary component of his package alone, notwithstanding his generous decision to waive his performance bonus.

The more pertinent question is whether or not he has enough personal belief in the future of Wokepac, the Australian banking industry and the Australian economy in general, to cash in $8m of his investments and personal wealth and transfer it to shares in the dog of the banking sector?

Bills Opinion

Since joining The Club, Brian has feathered his nest nicely whilst virtue signalling, using shareholder’s money, on matters LGBTQ+, Aboriginal, diversity and every other cause célèbre.

The time has come to see quite how committed he is to this as a future business strategy. Chicken or pig, Brian?