Jessica Irvine’s sharing utopia

Friend of this organ, Jessica “admire my big brain and pants” Irvine has been asked to apply her huge pants brain to the subject of Indigenous finance.

Prima facie, it may seem as if applying Jessica’s genius to matters Aboriginal might risk a somewhat condescending experience given her previous form of explaining that she can lose weight because, well, spreadsheets or something, but the people in the ‘burbs are aren’t clever enough so require the intervention of the benevolent state.

The anticipation prior to reading this latest glimpse into the mind of a polymath was exquisite; would she go full Glebe IQ snob on the traditions and customs of the First People or would she hold back and couch her language out of sensitivity?

As always with Jessica, we are left in awe at her unique skill to synthesise complex ideas into a single taciturn message behind which we can all rally;

Aboriginal people are poor because of racism and their traditions but they are happier than us rich white folk.

Ok. She didn’t actually say that in as many words but, as she explains in her flourishing finish:

As we seek to put Indigenous Australians on a more equal footing, and rightly give them better access to the benefits of today’s economic opportunities, we should also save space in our national conversation for this Indigenous perspective on what it truly means to be a rich nation.

To live comfortably, yes; but to also use our wealth to care for those in need and forge stronger communities.

The true sharing economy was under our noses the whole time.

Ah, the sharing economy.

Not sharing like Venezuela, mind you, it’s a different kind of national sharing that magically works this time.

Ok, any clues as to what this means?

The researchers found the practice of “humbugging”, or asking family for money, is common in Indigenous communities. This could be a source of support, but also a drag on an individual’s desires to get ahead financially.

Ah, scrounging.

We’ve all got one of those relatives already. If they’re not inviting you to invest in a timeshare in Footscray, they’re asking for a loan of a few thousand dollars to buy cryptocurrency.

But hey, according to Jessica we have a lot to learn from people who, according to her own article have bugger all money and are generally highly-stressed because of it;

First, to the obvious: Indigenous people don’t, on average, have much money. Indeed, half of all Indigenous people experience high levels of financial stress, compared with just one in 10 of the broader Australian community.

She hints at a solution though;

Our nation’s first people struggle disproportionately to pay bills and are more frequent users of high-cost credit sources such as payday lenders. It’s a disgrace. And we should do so much better.

Well no, she doesn’t really explain what we could do that would be so much better.

Bill’s Opinion

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of people it is not a good idea to take financial advice from:

  • Generationally poor people.
  • Anyone working in the real estate industry, particularly if their names end in “McGrath” or “Bouris”.
  • Anyone who is so incapable of getting a real job in finance that she will accept the increasingly low wages the Sydney Morning Herald can afford.

Australian Aboriginals didn’t have the concept of money prior to the arrival of the Europeans, hence the recent laughable attempt to pretend otherwise by the Australian Mint.

Perhaps they were happier back then. Perhaps living short, brutish and painful existences before the arrival of effective medicine and agricultural techniques that eradicated famine focussed the minds of Aboriginal people to count their limited blessings.

Perhaps there’s a lesson we can learn from such stoicism.

Or perhaps we could accept the fact that this is 2019 yet a first world country, one of the richest in the world, still has a class of people who are heavily subsidised to sit in remote locations enduring a child mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan African nation?

Here’s an hypothesis; it’s far far too destructive for us to spend time and resources virtue signalling about “culture” while government policy is actively keeping fellow citizens in poverty due to the bigotry of low expectations from people like Jessica. These people have agency just like her, but they are told at every opportunity that they don’t.

Enforcing the existing laws and welfare rules consistently across geography and ethnicity would be a good first step. Don’t hold your breathe waiting for it to happen though.

Free speech for me, but not for thee

Those readers not familiar with Australia’s iteration of Common Law might be surprised freedom of speech is not enshrined in the Australian Constitution.

Precedent case law is not particularly helpful either to those believing we should be free to say what’s on our mind, limited only by the restriction of not inciting violence.

In fact, Federal legislation takes things even further in the opposite direction, with clause 18.C of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act legislating against “offensive behaviour” based on “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. Note, religion isn’t currently in that list.

There are further restrictions in State laws, this being the NSW example. The term “vilify” is used a lot in these versions of free speech restrictive laws.

“Vilify” isn’t a verb we tend to use much in our everyday lives, so our common understanding of its definition might be a little shaky. The Victorian version of free speech restriction law defines it as conduct that ‘incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule’.

…which is, frankly, a blank cheque for any politically-motivated judge presiding over a case. “Severe ridicule“, for example, could be used to describe most comedy, particularly political satire. And what’s the standard separating “severe” from simply “mild” ridicule?

Note also how the standard for the definition is the reaction in other people. Most laws have a punishment for your direct actions, yet this legislation punishes for possible future actions of others as a reaction to your action.

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Further evidence that this is not the place to look for brave defence and defenders of the freedom of speech is depressingly simple to find. Examples;

Queen’sland University students hounded by the press for Facebook comments they didn’t write.

Foreign entertainers Milo Yianopolous, Gavin McInnes and political activist Tommy Robinson banned from entering the country because of their speech.

Clearly we are playing in a different ball game to the USA’s First Amendment. A different sport on a different planet, in fact.

However, our brave journalistic class are currently twisting their pinafores in angst and distress over a recent raid of the state broadcaster by the Federal police following publication of leaked classified information.

Let me just run that by you again; the government police are investigating the government news agency.

Oh look, a squirrel!

Here were are though, in 2019, finally seeing our brave media types getting behind a moral cause they are prepared to die in a ditch defending.

Slow hand clapWell played sir, well played”.

Geoffrey Robinson probably makes the best fist of explaining why the raid was on shaky moral ground, why it wouldn’t happen in the USA and UK and a defence of the media’s right to publish military secrets but, frankly, he completely fails to mention all the reasons we’ve arrived here in the first place, such as the media and legal professions’ failure to defend the little erosions of free speech over the years.

By trying to invent a right to “not be offended”, we’ve reduced the right of free speech, the consequences of which are playing out every day as hate speech laws are subjectively enforced. How else can they be enforced but subjectively, when the definition of “offence” is such a personal one?

Bill’s Opinion

Defending free speech is pretty virtueless if you only ever defend the speech with which you agree.

There is no Morality Olympics Gold Medal for only speaking up when your team is attacked. Nobel Peace Prizes aren’t usually as easy as Obama’s was to attain.

I have two questions to all those in the media who suddenly think free speech is important;

1. Where the fuck have you been for the last few decades? And,

2. Do you really think fighting for your right to publish illegally-leaked military secrets is going to be the best test case to take to appeal to reverse free speech restrictions, compared to say, defending some camp clown who writes hurty tweets on the internet?

Irony is resurrected for Australian Rugby

The ARU are looking to renew their links to charitable causes and are seeking expressions of interest;

The photo above is interesting; last time I checked, there were 15 players in a rugby team, not 10. More if you count the match reserves.

I wonder why they’ve cropped the rest of the team and wider squad out of the picture?

Perhaps a clue can be found in the press release (highlighting mine)?

Rugby Australia said it is seeking a charity partner that aligns with the game’s core vision, which includes making rugby “a game for all” and igniting Australia’s “passion for the game”.

Right then, a game for all? That’s great.

Can we get a hint of what that might mean by looking at the current charity partners?

The charity will also link with Rugby Australia’s current community partners including Disability Sports Australia, Pride in Sport, the Australian Deaf Rugby Team and Our Watch.

Pride in Sport? I wonder what they’re all about?

Pride in Sport is the only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist National and State sporting organisations and clubs with the inclusion of LGBTI employees, players, coaches, volunteers and spectators. The world-first Pride in Sport Index (PSI) benchmarks and assesses the inclusion of LGBTI people across all sporting contexts.

Ah, because what one does in the privacy of one’s bedroom and with whom one does it is extremely relevant to kicking a ball or swimming in a pool, isn’t it?

I suppose there’s no point in the charity, The Australian Christian Values Institute applying then?

Bill’s Opinion

As this article points out (h/t Tim), the ARU is one of those organisations that has fully-embraced the current fashion for wokeness. The problem is, they haven’t fully-worked out the details of which victim credentials trump which others.

Hence a deeply religious rugby player is about to sue the arse off the sport for firing him for legally-expressing his views, fully in line with the recognised teachings of the religion, because they are at odds with the feelings of another one of the protected groups.

Unless the Australian judge presiding over the case decides to defenestrate Common Law precedent (which, to be fair, is not beyond the realms of possibility), the ARU are going to have to cut a considerable cheque.

The lesson is straightforward.

Go woke, go broke.

Soggy bottoms

If it feels like this month’s update to the “Are we there yet, Mum” Index has come around early, it’s because last month’s was late. Sue me.

Since the Federal election and yesterday’s decision by the RBA to cave in to the noise prudently lower interest rates to yet an even lower historical low, the Legacy Press (c) and social media has been awash with vested interests talking up their own book.

Notable characters included in this description are Doctor Andrew Wilson (he’s a doctor of property!), the usually mildly sober Pete Wargent and practically every estate agent left solvent and trading. Apart from offering tangible data about “da feelz“, sorry, “market sentiment“, an increase in the auction clearance rate (i.e. the ratio of properties sold against those put up for auction) is presented as evidence for this ding dinging of the bell calling the bottom.

Now, it may well be that the nadir of the Sydney market has been and gone. That data point is, thankfully, a relatively objective measure. We can probably confirm this in about 2 month’s time when this month’s sales information has washed through the databases.

Our updated index (presented below), isn’t suggesting the trend has reversed, however. The relative change in the RBA lending data is still bouncing along at the lowest it’s ever been (before 2017, one could count the months it had been at 0.3% or below on the fingers of one hand) and the CoreLogic price index is still showing “negative growth”, i.e. prices are still falling.

It could be credibly argued that the CoreLogic data is a lag measure, so Wilson, Wargent, et al, could be correct in their bottom-calling, but the RBA data is almost certainly a lead indicator. Awkward…

Bill’s Opinion

The index suggests we’re still about 2 to 3 months from a possible bottom in the Sydney property market, and that’s likely to be the continuing situation until we’ve seen a quarter of a year’s worth of lending figures above 0.3% increases.

For those who pay attention, I’ve switched the trend line from linear to moving average as it seems more useful now we’ve reached a (low) plateau.

Better late than.. oh

Remember the false promises, customer and shareholder disappointment that is Wokepac’s New Payments Platform?

Well, have some good news and bad news…..

Good news; it finally went live, about two years after all of the bank’s major peers did.

Bad news; I bet they wish they had delayed it even longer to do a tad more testing; almost 100,000 customer details hacked by a simple query on Westpac’s NPP system.

Gosh, that’s a bit unfortunate, one hopes that it was a cis-gender white male who oversaw such an amateurish implementation and not one of the diversity quota hires such as Lyn Cobley.

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who is surprised by this latest screw up hasn’t been paying attention.

Wokepac has, like any other organisation, finite resources such as time, people, money to apply to problems and opportunities.

Brian Hartzer’s social media activity alone should be all the indicators one needs to understand that those finite resources are being applied to many other causes and crusades before “customer service” and “shareholder value” are considered.

In fact, it’s almost a certainty that fuck ups such as this are to be an expected consequence now and likely for some considerable time in the future as the legacy of de-prioritising core commercial values for the sake of corporate virtue signalling will take a long time to flush its way out of the organisation chart.

Tim Newman’s academic investigations into the cause and effect of such diversity in large corporates is going to be fascinating reading once it’s published.

Obviously it’ll be too late to save Wokepac.

UPDATE

A correspondent has been in touch to offer the following statement, “The IT security team recommended not switching on the PayID functionality but were over-ruled by the CEO“.

Obviously I can’t ascertain the accuracy of that statement. Perhaps one of the remaining journalists employed in Australia might want to stop cutting and pasting celebrity Tweets as “news” for a while and investigate?

Monorail! Monorail!

Sydney ratepayers must miss the albino pachyderm that was their late beloved monorail, formerly of their parish. It may have stopped at no useful locations and cost more than a taxi to go there but at least the liability had been paid off and it only cost them operating overheads.

It was removed a few years ago but, rather than learn a lesson about crap public transport projects nobody asked for, the State Government decided to spunk ratepayer’s money on light railways.

How’s the value for money been so far?

Oh: Light rail project costs blow out to at least 30% over budget and is two years late.

The +30% figure is conservative, by the way. That’s a calculation by a journalist based on public information. The real figure when (if) the line is completed is likely to be an order of magnitude greater. Sydneysiders should prepare the wallets for close to $3bn when the final invoice has been counted.

Actually, it’s not the ratepayers in Sydney we should feel sympathy for; the ratepayers of regional NSW are up for the same bill but none of the eventual benefit.

There’s something about grand infrastructure plans in Australia that seem to regularly under deliver and over cost. The National Pornband Broadband Network, for example.

Bill’s Opinion

This isn’t my area of expertise, so I welcome illuminating comments below as always.

However, it would seem that there’s been a fundamental disconnect somewhere between the NSW infrastructure planning department and the legal counsel to have let such an obvious issue of subterranean cables be so vaguely contracted for.

Do you think any civil servant will have lost their job over this $576m screw up?

The eternal lesson is there for another generation; if you want something done badly, get a government department to do it.

Nothing burgers for sale – $10 each

A reading of all 448-pages of the Mueller Report is taking place in Queens, New York on Saturday and Sunday.

Isn’t it always the case that we find out about events too late to buy tickets or to cancel other plans?

For example, U2 have just announced an Australian tour but, unfortunately, it’s too late for me to attend as the concerts coincide with a long-planned appointment I have with slamming my cock in a drawer.

But back to the performance art by people who are absolutely sane and in no way caught up in an echo chamber of views;

Beginning on Saturday evening, volunteers will read from the report over 24 hours. Music will play over some of the redacted portions.

Riveting stuff. I bet there won’t be a dry seat in the house.

Ticket sales must be huge, somewhere between the Alien Sex Fiend reunion and “T’Pau’s Greatest Hit rebooted” tour, I imagine.

“The American people paid for the Mueller Report and not a lot of people have read it,” Steven Padla, a member of New Neighbourhood, told Business Insider. “We want it to be heard by as many people as possible.”

“…..not a lot of people have read it”?

It’s not as if there’s a concerted effort to censor it; it’s a free downloadable PDF.

Frankly, if you’ve not had an utter gut full of CNN talking heads trying to find something, anything, of interest in the report for the last few months, can I suggest Rachel Maddow over on MSBC would welcome the extra viewing numbers?

Bill’s Opinion

The Kübler-Ross model is generally accepted as a good indicator of where people suffering from grief and loss are on their journey to some semblance of normality.

The stages are as follows;

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

It would seem stages (1) and (2) are quite hard to leave for some folks.

Mandate rooted

As we know, Australia is in the insalubrious club of tin pot dictatorships and banana republics that enforce voting by law.

So, turn out must be close to 100% then, with any missing votes due to forgetfulness or illness?

Hmm, not quite.

So despite there being an enrolment rate (ie “we know who you are and where you live for the purposes of issuing the fine”) of over 98%, only 91% of voters turned up?

Ok, but that 91% took the important task of maintaining confidence in the democratic process seriously, though, surely?

Oh;

But up to 1.5 million people on the roll failed to vote at the election. In some seats, once informal votes are taken into account, less than three-quarters of those entitled to vote cast a legitimate ballot

Ah. So, faced with a choice of a $20 fine or turning up and drawing a penis on the form, a quarter of the population chose the genital option.

One Liberal MP said the voting figures suggested ramifications for the political system and major parties.

“Everyone campaigns on the assumption that people vote. This might mean they will have to campaign on the assumption they have to get people to vote,” they said.

You mean politicians will have to go out and campaign for people’s votes and engage them on matters of policy, as if they were taking voters’ views in to account?

How novel.

Bill’s Opinion

A major difference one notices when experiencing an Australian Federal election compared to general elections in other western democracies is how little you see of politicians in the wild.

Sure, they are all over the media, dropping well-crafted soundbites in time for the evening’s TV news but you can do the weekend shopping at the local mall safe in the knowledge it will be a politician-free zone.

As for politicians walking the streets, knocking on doors asking for your support? Forget it.

I have long assumed this lack of visibility of prospective MPs is a direct consequence of compulsory voting. Politicians assume everyone is going to vote, and most likely vote en masse for their traditional demographic’s party. If that assumption is correct, then their resources are best directed at potential swing seats only.

Perhaps this taking for granted of the electorate is now becoming a poor strategy when a quarter of the electorate are going to the local school, signing on the register and then flipping the bird at the whole charade?

More of this, please.

No Australian earns the minimum wage anyway!

In a move that will directly benefit the square root of fuck all people, the Australian national minimum wage was raised by 3% to $19.49 this week.

If you are reading this from a country other than Australia, yes, that wasn’t a typo; the Australian minimum wage is $19.40 an hour!

Or;

US $13.41

€12.05

£10.64

Look at all the goods and services you’ve bought in the last year. It’s a safe bet none of them were made in Australia. Coincidence?

Before we get into the economics and demographics of Australia’s farcical minimum wage, let’s take a quick journey down a NLP cul-de-sac…

To reduce neuro-linguistic programming to a pithy sentence of dubious accuracy; it is the theory that specific words act as triggers to people’s behaviour. Perhaps that’s what the Australian socialists who came up with the leviathan bureaucracy around the central planning of wages were trying to achieve with the names they gave various elements of the legislation and policies.

In reality though, the persuasiveness of their nouns tends to have the opposite effect. As anyone who’s met a highly dangerous or tough individual has ever realised, if you must tell people you are tough, you probably aren’t. Or, more amusingly, the reason why the 1.85m tall Tiny Tim was called “tiny” was irony.

Hence, we have the Fair Work Commission ruling on Modern Awards and Penalty Rates.

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good

You’ll find out when you reach the top

You’re on the bottom

So, how many people get this mythical $19.40 an hour?

Nobody really knows. The Australian Bureau of Statistics have one of the worst reputations in the developed world for collecting accurate data on employment. A Melbourne academic study from over a decade ago estimated it was about 3% of the working population (which was about half of the total country). However, there are two factors to bear in mind when reading that study; firstly, academia is populated exclusively by those with at least a left of centre bias and, in many cases, extreme left wing views and, secondly, it’s bloody Melbourne, a city still feeling the disappointment from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the discrediting of Walter Duranty’s New York Times’ reporting on Stalin’s Russia.

Let’s assume the estimates are in the ballpark. Half the population are employed, so that’s about 12.5m people, of which, 3% are on the minimum wage. So about 375,000 people.

What work do these people do? Well, it’s easier to tell you what work they don’t do. Anything covered by this list for a start…..

Take a moment and follow that link to the Fair Work website and pick a random job you’d think is an entry level, minimum wage role. Waiting tables at a café, for example? Nope, that’ll be covered by the Hospitality Modern Award, so they will receive at least the minimum wage or higher plus other benefits such as holiday pay. Similarly, abattoir workers, concrete mixers, grape pickers, sugar cane cutters, sheep shearers, and fish gutters are all on their own “minimum wage plus” deal.

Let’s pause for a moment and state a fact most Australians aren’t aware of; Australia is the only country in the world that isn’t a socialist dictatorship that legislates wages by industry in this way.

Bill’s Opinion

At a stroke, the Fair Work Commission increased the minimum wage by 3%. My statement at the start of today’s rant is inaccurate, it will benefit many people because many Modern Awards are pegged to this rate, this has the effect of increasing those pay rates by 3%.

Great news; everyone has more money to spend.

No so great news; every product or service manufactured in Australia to be exported abroad has just had its input costs increased by at least 3%, thus negating any positive impact of the trashing of the currency by the RBA when they cut interest rates next month to save the banking industry.

But more importantly, who exactly benefits from this ridiculously bureaucratic centrally-planned wage system?

My guess, in order of benefit;

1. Employment lawyers,

2. Union officials,

3. Labor (sic) MPs, both State and Federal,

98. Minimum (or close to) wage workers.

It’s no game

Well, this isn’t very good for “the narrative”, is it?

And, being commercially astute, some of the snow resorts in Australia have opened early, one of them has made it a free weekend for skiers and even those snowboarder scum.

Something’s not quite right here. After all, here’s a scientific, peer-reviewed prediction from 2005;

Modelling for 2020 and 2050 shows that the resort with the most remaining snow will be Perisher, in NSW, followed in order by Falls Creek, Mount Hotham, Thredbo and Mount Buller. The smaller resorts of Mount Buffalo, Mount Baw Baw and Lake Mountain become marginal for skiing at 2020, even in the most optimistic scenarios.

Awkwardly, 1 year from doom and Mount Buller has opened a week earlier than normal, which is a shame as some of us were expecting to go there for a camping and mountain bike holiday next weekend. Imagine our surprise to learn they’ve had a blizzard, despite the predictions of the taxpayer-funded CISRO.

But this is surely a one off, an anomaly, an outlier on the hockey stick of doom?

But wait, what happened last year?

Oh, they extended the season;

Bill’s Opinion

Climate change is both a religion and an industry.

As Mencken said;

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve. This is true even of the pious brethren who carry the gospel to foreign parts.