If This Was A Business

I’ve just been watching the news reports on the High Court case bought against the government for its use of the Contingency Fund to pay for the Marriage Equality postal survey. It occurred to me that if parliament were a business then the board would be calling for heads to roll. If you look at the enormous salaries paid to members of parliament (and for anybody who thinks that MPs don’t get paid a fortune I suggest you look at the Newstart allowance or wages for cleaners and the like to see the disparity) you have to ask where is their output? Why are they abrogating their duties to the shareholders (the electorate)? I suggest that as they are not carrying out the requirements of their job i.e. governing the country, making decisions that require the enactment or repeal of laws, they should be deemed as being on strike and their wages should be withheld.

Labor, The Greens and the cross benches are all implicated in this. You are all meant to be in parliament to further the good of the nation. Opposition for opposition sake should have died out with Tony Abbott’s demise as Opposition Leader. The public of Australia expect more from our parliament. They expect that the good of the nation is put first. Parliament is elected to act not equivocate. We should not be having a postal survey full stop. Parliament should not be the playground of internal party factions. The people of Australia have elected the parliament to act – get on with it.

A Marriage Equality Bill should be put before the Parliament and voted on. If the outcome does not suit the majority of voters they will have their chance to have their say at the next election. If the government won’t put a bill forward or blocks a Private Members then the opposing parties should pass a vote of no confidence in the government and those Coalition members that have pursued Marriage Equality should, at the very least, abstain from voting.

COME ON PARLIAMENT, ACT!

Change Has to be in the Air (Part 1)

The financial crisis of 2008 bought the failings of the Capitalist System (as it currently operates) in to stark relief. The bastions of capitalism, the banks, had abused their market position to initially write loans to clients with doubtful ability to repay them, using valuations that were dubious at best and fraudulent at worst. The Banks then on-sold those mortgages to unsuspecting/careless brokers and second tier banks. When the inevitable happened and the borrowers were unable to repay their loans, the Banks coerced governments into supporting the Banks with the mantra “To big to fail”.

The end result was that the working poor and the middle class ended up paying for the Banks’ systemic failures through cuts in social services, losing their jobs and losing their homes. The worst  of it was that everybody other than the rich were the ones that felt the pain. Superannuants were hit by the falling stock market and the cuts in interest rates. Governments around the world instituted austerity programs, cutting pensions and raising taxes on ordinary people. Social services were curtailed and yet not one banker in the United States was prosecuted. When questioned about such outrageous schemes such as short selling (where you sell shares that you do not own at a discount in order to drive the price down so you can make a profit by forward selling the same shares at a later date for a higher price) the response was that its legal because we’re the players in the market and we make the rules. I’d like to see anyone else who sells property that they don’t own,  successfully argue to a judge that what they did wasn’t fraud.

But this was all just a sideshow in the market place. The recent research released in the United States showing that the wealthiest in society have increased their wealth in the last twenty years by 80% and that productivity per capita has shown a marked increase (although its slowing now) while at the same time real wages have dropped by almost 8%. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots start eating into employment rates in the developed world the days of full time employment are disappearing.

In Australia, the problem has already reached previously untouched rates of under-employment and part time employment. With housing costs in the major capital cities rising to heights that make home ownership much harder for ordinary workers attain and even rental rates beginning to verge on the unsustainable something has to give. Its this sort of exclusion from society that leads to anti-social behaviour and increased crime rates. Even as the unemployment rate falls, wages are not increasing. This stagnation in wages growth hurts the economy in several ways – reduced ability to spend means that GDP drops on a per capita basis (and the capitalist system relies on increased consumption to keep the wheels turning) and the tax take by governments is reduced. But there is a solution.

(In the next instalment we talk about one possible solution)

The Robots Are Coming

Zan and Dr Karl’s guest today  is Quantum Physics Professor Stephen Bartlett. While they discuss heady quantum mechanics  topics, it confirms that with the increase in computing power, especially when quantum mechanics can be fully utilised in computing, the robots are coming. ABC news have been running articles all week on the future workplace that includes robots. As noted in the article on the 7.00 PM News, 5/7/2017, it will not just be labouring jobs that will be lost or those doing repetitive tasks. There are already computer programs that can find case studies in law that means lees junior lawyers or law clerks doing research for court cases.

Time for a new societal structure – stay tuned.

Amongst the Sadness, a Shining Light

In a world saddled with sadness as innocents abroad have their lives or loved ones taken by acts of violence either malevolent or accidental, a light has shone in the world when researchers at RMIT revealed their success in creating a paint made of  cheap and readily available materials that has the ability to use Solar Energy to convert airborne water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. The fact that they have achieved this is remarkable in itself but then they topped that by deciding to release the details without seeking a patent so that the technology can be taken up by others to make it commercially available as soon as possible.

The details of their work were revealed in The Age ( Solar Paint -16/07/2017 ) and I can only say that I find their reasoning reassuring – there are good people in the world. Lets just hope that the businesses that take advantage of their largesse don’t attempt to take advantage of consumers. This has the potential to change the world for the better – Donald can forget about ignoring Climate Change, this one discovery has the potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions back to previously unobtainable levels.

Thank you  RMIT lead researcher Dr Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh and your team.

Stop Politicising Terror

To all those politicians that think that its quite alright to use the pain and suffering of the victims of terror to make political points STOP IT, ITS NOT ABOUT YOU.

That Malcom Turnbull could contemplate blaming the Victorian Government for the behaviour a terrorist thug in order to score political points for his state counterpart is beneath contempt. For Mathew Guy to blame Daniel Andrews and accuse him of being weak merely illustrates why Guy is on the opposition benches. The plain simple fact is that a criminal with intent to inflict terror on the good people of Melbourne formed a murderous plot in short order that could not have been seen by authorities. His own family apparently didn’t see it coming.

The head of the Adult Parole Board (Judge Peter Couzens) detailed at length the circumstances of Moron Number 100’s parole. I would recommend that all interested parties read it and absorb the facts before letting their mouths run off again. The depth and breadth of their considerations showed that the reforms carried out to the Victorian parole system after the Jill Meagher tragedy have led to a much improved system. The fact that Moron Number 100 played the system, the extent of which may become apparent following the thorough police investigation, does not mean that the system itself is broken.

Many people fail to understand the purpose of parole, viewing it as a means by which the convicted get to escape the confines of prison. In reality it is a mechanism by which society is able to place controls or requirements on a parolee in order to reduce recidivism. The conditions that were applied to Moron Number 100 were appropriate, his supervision was thorough (his first application for parole was rejected, the second only granted after he had undertaken courses relevant to his personal circumstances) and he was near to the completion of his sentence, at which time all supervision would cease. The events of Brighton have more to do with Moron Number 100’s inability to maintain a civilised life. No excuses, not even the fact that he had arrived as a refugee from Somalia. People make choices in life, not all of them wise or considered, and some people are pathetic in that they need to use violence as a method to prove their masculinity or their position in the world.

In any case, no politician directed this idiot’s behaviour, the Adult Parole Board did its job well, the Receptionist at Brighton was a good man who didn’t deserve this fate and politicians would do well to respect his memory.

Moron Number 100

I read John Silvester’s column in The Age this morning and thought he expressed what I had been feeling really well. Its worth having a look at. Our points of view align when it comes to the media constantly promoting the misdeeds of these idiots by plastering their names all over the place, giving them the notoriety they long for. That’s why I’ve decided to label this latest idiot Moron Number 100, no name just a title that illustrates his mental prowess. I could pander to his weaknesses by pointing out the likely problems he had growing up as a Somali refugee in Australia with all the baggage that that entails but the reality is that he was an adult. Like all adults it is up to him to make his way through life. The vast majority of people don’t resort to crime, don’t try to manage their failings by abusing drugs and alcohol. Indeed most would never dream of stealing from other hardworking people. The people that do resort to these measures are self declared victims. Now I know some will read this as a white middle class Australian who wouldn’t know what its like to struggle. Without going into detail, I have had my share of troubles and I have had to dig deep to get myself back up – I have had to do that my self. Sure I asked for some help and our glorious Medicare system enabled me to receive that help, the point being that I had to make a considered decision to get myself out of the hole.

The Liberal Party would call it self determination, and, to an extent they would be correct. Others would say I’m being harsh, but I call it tough love – don’t blame others for your failings, accept that bad decisions are choices you choose to make. Show some backbone and stay strong in adversity and never take the easy option of blaming your problems on other people. If other people are causing you grief, walk away. If others ask you to hate, walk away, hate only consumes the person carrying it. Most of all don’t hide behind a religion that you never followed seriously, don’t use it as excuse for acts of hate.

Goodbye Moron number 100, the world’s IQ was raised on the night you died.

Another day, another coward

I understand that people can fill disconnected from the societies they live – poverty, unemployment, bigotry or sexuality are often used as tools to beat up on people, young and old. I cannot understand how that disconnect entitles you to brutalise the innocent. If you are truly disaffected shouldn’t you be taking it out on those in positions of power? To say that attacking  children at a social outing is justifiable jihad only illustrates how distorted their view of the world is. For someone to carry out a suicide bombing in these circumstances shows that they have been brainwashed and manipulated by gutless criminal cowards who are to afraid to take on tough targets themselves. Added to this mix is an increasing suspicion that these people have below average intelligence. This is the only way that I can understand that they are able to justify what they are doing. Even the innocent children that they slaughtered in Manchester would have a better capacity to see what they were doing was wrong and that it certainly didn’t further the criminals’ aims if they were looking for acceptance. These low life are obviously not students of history, or else they would be aware of the fairness and integrity of the Saracens during the so called crusades that led them to be victorious over the invading armies. Nor have they noted how brutal dictators like Hitler, Amin and the Khmer Rouge all get their comeuppance as good people around the world rise up and defeat them with unity and love.

To anybody out there that reads this and thinks that they have legitimate reasons to hate the western democracies, talk to me. Explain it so I might understand and help you find a better way. Infamy is not fame or fortune, cruel criminal acts are not carried out by true warriors, Islam doesn’t belong to bigoted murderers.

You want a better life – do it by loving life.

A penny for your thoughts Malcolm

We have the pleasure of hosting the Vice President of the United States this weekend. With the threat of terrorism and rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula I can understand that Australia needs to keep onside with the world’s largest military power but I do find that Malcolm’s sycophantic adulation of the USA and the seeming readiness to follow wherever the US leads us worrying. Even when the United States had leaders of some intelligence, our blind following of the US as they headed into wars has done the young men and women of our defence forces no service. I hope that the government seriously considers any military excursions of the United States as their problem. As was shown in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, blindly following the US into battle without a formulated, strategic goal only results in the needless deaths of young Australians with no apparent improvement in conditions in the invaded countries.

Please Malcolm, take a deep breath and tell VP Pence we will help you when it suits our position in the world, when we see that involvement in armed conflict will help preserve the peace for all Australians and relieve tensions in the wider world – not for the political interests of the United States or any other foreign power.

You’ve Gotta be kidding me!

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has teamed up with the BHP CEO, Wesfarmers CEO, Qantas CEO and the boss of Energy Australia to demand that the Senate crossbench pass the company tax cuts. According to the BCA, the full company tax cuts should be left on the table because, wait for it, “it is the only plan  Australia has got to drive growth and investment”. You are joking right? The only hope, according to these clowns, is that multinational companies who currently spend most of their time dodging paying of their fair share of tax in Australia must get this tax cut because its the only thing that they have come up with to improve growth in Australia. I would suggest that these CEOs hand in their collective badges if that is the best that they can offer their shareholders. Where are the visionary plans, where is the investment in new sources of energy production, where are the plans for creating meaningful jobs, instead  a tax cut so that the rich can have an extra coffee on Sunday served by a part time worker on reduced penalty  rates. How about coming up with full time jobs for young Australians, not in shuffling paper and pretending to create wealth by shuffling said paper, but in real wealth creation jobs such as manufacturing or agriculture.

We all know that at best, by the Productivity Commissions own research, after 20 years the expected increase in GDP due to this tax cut is less than 4% OVER TWENTY YEARS. This is not a plan, this is simply the rich continuing to line their pockets while governments have to reduce their services in order to balance the books. If the rich want to see what happens when the poor say enough is enough, just continue on this path of greed and indifference to the plight of ordinary working Australians. Its appalling the way that young people are being treated at the moment with only casual work and/or part time work, house prices and rents getting further out of reach, employers using sham contracting to further cut wages… all of this is leading towards a dangerous situation.

The American Dream

For those wishing to see the future of Australia as seen through the eyes of the Liberal dries and their cronies, have a look at the Four Corners (http://iview.abc.net.au/) episode broadcast on 13th March 2017. Prepared by a french documentary team, it shows the end results of a low wage policy and how extremely profitable companies are abusing their power and using dubious methods to cut the wages of their employees. One example, GE, distributed $26 billion to its shareholders last year while at the same time closing a locomotive factory in one state and opening a new one in Texas where they are able to pay their employees half what they are paid at the existing plant.

We continue to see this sort of behaviour in Australia. The Liberals privatised the power market in Victoria with the promise of cheaper power through competition between retailers and improved efficiencies in production of power. The end result has been ever increasing cost of electricity to consumers and ever increasing profits to both power retailers and wholesalers . Its worth noting how the retailers have no qualms in ripping off consumers that return solar energy back to the grid. Retailers pay wholesalers approximately $0.28 per kilowatt for power but only pay customers $0.06 for the power they produce to then sell it to the next door customer for full price. The market supposedly has its behaviour controlled by market pressure but, as we constantly see, this is simply untrue. Large companies collude to limit pay rises for their employees while scratching each others backs when it comes to executive pay. Consumers have little power in the market – they have to take the prices offered because companies operating in a global market can sell their goods to whomever pays the highest price (e.g. natural gas shortages in Australia because the asian consumers will pay more for it). Governments cannot force them to take lower prices as they would then be accused of attempting to nationalise an industry or of breaching free trade agreements. The reality is that the rich, that is the shareholders, don’t care what poor people have to pay as long as the  rich continue reaping obscene profits and have the ability to live the lifestyle they desire.

Rich Australians, compared to their overseas counterparts, are more self serving and less altruistic. Occasionally one of them makes a grand gesture that makes it into the media because it is so rare. I commend those people but would encourage them to become the conscience of the rich and show them they need to share the wealth with all Australians, especially their employees.