The Halo Effect

Imagine if you will, a large Australian organisation with the following characteristics.

  • The Chairman and Deputy Chairman are both executives of the organisation, contrary to all the claims about best practice governance necessitating the separation of roles of Chairman and CEO.
  • One other member of the board (of 9 members) of this organisation is appointed by the principal owner of the the organisation.
  • The principal organising purpose of this organisation is to use all tools and means available to it to manipulate markets; and in manipulating markets, this organisation has historically generated large profits and paid large dividends to its owner.
  • A key consequence of the market manipulation of this organisation is that Australian savers have lost millions.
  • Although one of the purposes of this organisation is to participate in and manipulate markets, this organisation does not have a financial services licence and it has never been investigated by ASIC or any other regulator.
  • A wholly owned subsidiary of this organisation, a subsidiary set up for the purpose of international sales, has been caught engaging in foreign corrupt practices yet no member of the board of this organisation has ever been held to account.
  • Employees of this organisation are recruited very early in their career and indoctrinated in the ways of the organisation, with very few if none, having career experience outside this organisation or within that of its owner. A cult culture of sorts.
  • The media, when discussing this organisation seldom questions its means or methods and almost always ascribes to it uncritical and virtuous intentions.

What would you say about such an organisation? Perhaps worthy of a royal commission?

Well the organisation described above is the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Think about that.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Let’s have gender neutral book burning

In a wonderful article in the Spectator Australia, the IPA’s Dr Bella d’ Abrera writes about the proposal by Manningham and Melbourne City Councils:

to remove from their respective kindergartens, schools and libraries all books and toys deemed to enforce gender stereotypes.

Basically a standard and good old fashioned book burning in the Democratic Republic of Victoristan.

Amusingly Dr d’Abrera noted that Melbourne City Council had issued a denial (in reply to the original story in the Herald Sun that is).  But what about Manningham City Council?  Are they going to have their book burning on Invasion Day?  Be sure to read Dr d’Abrera full article for the not surprising link to ANU, but moving on.

Spartacus has an old friend who is a barrister, an SC in NSW now.  This barrister once said about the art of examining a witness that, the easiest thing to do on the stand is to tell the truth.  Telling a lie is so much more complicated with all the side stories that need to be reconciled and i’s dotted and t’s crossed.  And telling a lie is hard to sustain under the light of investigation.  Hard, but not impossible.

Spartacus tells this story because this is where the rubber hits the road.

Why then, if it is inner city lefty dogma that gender stereotypes should not be enforced and that gender “is a social construct”, why is gender balance in parliament, on company boards, in senior executive ranks so paramount?

Either gender is important or it is not.  Which is it?  Can you please make up your minds as we are all confused.  Or is it just the case that gender balance is important for already successful women to accelerate already successful careers.

Sparty dunno.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

You may not want Queensland, but Queensland wants you

For those Cats who are not residents of Queensland, yesterday’s Queensland budget should worry you and worry you a great deal.

Based on Gross State Product, Queensland is Australia’s 3rd largest state accounting for about 18.2% of the Australian economy in FY17 (between VIC at 23.6% and WA at 13.8%).  So let’s just say that Queensland is systemically important to Australia.

If it is generally agreed that the debts of Australian banks have an implied guarantee from the Commonwealth Government, then it is not much of a stretch to say the same implies to the debts of the states.

So in its budget presentation yesterday, the Queensland Government announced a major spending and debt splurge.  According to Cat Judith Sloan in the Australian:

the Debt Action Plan is going so well that public-sector debt will soar by $13 billion, or nearly 20 per cent, over the next four years.

A 20% debt surge over 4 years!  Is the Queensland government being advised by Wayne Swan and Ken Henry?

And this is underwritten by surging commodity export volumes and prices – you know those evil carbon based energy sources of coal and LNG.  But what happens if there is a shock to commodity prices and or volumes?  Well consider what happened in 2010.

Back in the good old days, with Julia Gillard running the show in Canberra and Anna Bligh running the show in Brisbane, there was a large flood in Queensland.  The consequences were quite significant.  But the economic consequence for Queenslanders were worse than should have been because the Queensland government and Queensland citizens did not properly insure themselves.  And they are still under-insuring themselves.

But did Queensland pay the price for not having proper insurance?  Nope.  Instead, a flood levy that was paid by all Australians and not just Queenslanders was implemented to bail them out.

So what “insurance” is the Queensland government taking out to protect against the risk of commodity market volatility?  None.  Instead they are Jacking up debt and spending.  This is called the Jackie Strategy named after Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad.  Although fellow Queenslanders Swan and Rudd may have grounds for an intellectual property claim – if you can believe that Rudd-Swan governance was intellectual.

They were from Queensland and they came to fleece the rest of us.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Kerry O’Brien say ABC journalists are not very good

In a standard ABC programmatic love-in-oscopy, resident ABC Communist Phillip Adams interviewed retired ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien on the need for public broadcasting.  Oh and O’Brien joined the program via telephone from his home in, drum roll please, Byron Bay.

The interview proceeded like one would expect 2 bank robbers discussing the need to decriminalize bank robbery and to have the Certificate III in Bank Robbery provided free of charge at TAFEs.  But then it got interesting.  Around 11.20 into the interview, O’Brien said this:

I think that if a journalist is showing a particular bias, then they are simply not a good journalist.

Talk about insulting the institution that pays his defined benefit pension.  But does it get any more honest than that with O’Brien admitting that the journalists at the ABC are not very good.

What better case is there to materially reduce the ABC’s funding.

Come on Minister Fifield.  If Kerry O’Brien says so, it must be so.  De-fund the the ABC now.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Wednesday Forum: June 13, 2018

Posted in Open Forum | 1,920 Comments

The right and the left on the ending of the Korean War

There are two views on North Korea that you can find if you look. The easiest to find is the left-media take that nothing happened, and it’s all a well-worn charade. But then there is this, which I will come to first before looking at the other. This is the positive view, taken from Ace of Spades.

The big news this morning is not only has the summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un taken place but as we were sleeping the two signed an historic agreement whereby the North has agreed to scrap its nuclear weapons program as part of an overall denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula.

If you were merely to look at this only through the lens of how the Democrat-Left-Media complex judges success, via optics and feelings alone, then this is the biggest thing since Live Aid. But in reality, this truly has the potential to be one of the biggest foreign policy milestones since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Make no mistake; North Korea has been a belligerent, inscrutable and unpredictable enemy that has overtly and covertly stirred up trouble for nearly 70 years and so an extreme degree of caution and wariness is advised in any dealings with them; the foibles and follies of the past three administrations in particular bear this out as their policies have ranged from farcical to disastrous in terms of American interests and global security. I believe that PDT and his new team of Pompeo and Bolton know this going in.

Beyond all the platitudes and proclamations, when you get down to the granular level, the make or break in all of this relies on verification. North Korea is going to have to open up and submit to an inspection process that is antithetical to its nature as the world’s most closed, secretive nation. Can it do this? Will it do this? I suppose the fact that Kim’s willingness to meet face to face with an American president for the first time, and outside of his own country is something of a tell. He is the X factor in all of this. There may be things going on in Pyongyang as well as in his mind that tell him a rapprochement with the US, and more importantly, a concomitant distancing to whatever extent that is possible with China is in his and his nation’s best interests.

That is how you have to see it. Since memories of the rockets that were being launched not all that long ago have receded and will never be brought to mind by the media, the fact that we are now looking at a possibility of genuine peace is extraordinary. But here is the other side, brought to you via Bloomberg.

Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was unquestionably a success — for Kim.

By credibly threatening the U.S. with nuclear war, he won a one-on-one meeting with the American president — a longtime strategic goal of his family’s regime. And that’s not all.

Trump tossed in a suspension of military exercises with South Korea, while China suggested revisiting economic sanctions that the White House credits for the summit. Meanwhile, the president showered Kim with praise, calling the dictator who leads one of the planet’s most oppressive and brutal regimes “smart” and “very talented,” declaring the meeting “a great honour” and saying he trusts Kim.

Less clear is what the U.S. got in return. American officials said before the meeting they would insist that Kim agree to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” of his nuclear weapons arsenal. The phrase appears nowhere in Trump and Kim’s statement.

Also missing: basics such as a timetable for Kim to give up his weapons, verification procedures or even a mutual definition of denuclearization. . . .

So far, Trump hasn’t shown he’ll avoid the same trap he’s accused his predecessors of falling into: giving North Korea too much without getting anything in return. While the president repeatedly described the document he and Kim signed as “comprehensive,” at 426 words it is anything but — and there is no indication of when or how Kim will follow through on any of his promises.

Fair enough, but the mingy dogs of the left will never say a good word about something done that benefits even their worthless hides, if it is done by someone whose approval they refuse to grant. But we shall see. These are all issues, but with Trump, Bolton and Pompeo on the watch, there is genuine reasons to hope for the best.

Posted in History, International, Media, Politics of the Left | 78 Comments

Can this be true? Trump and Kim shake on a deal

interesting if true.

SINGAPORE (AP) — Clasping hands and forecasting future peace, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un committed Tuesday to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula during the first meeting in history between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Yet as Trump toasted the summit’s results, he faced mounting questions about whether he got too little and gave away too much — including an agreement to halt U.S. military exercises with treaty ally South Korea.

Posted in Innovation, Rafe | 55 Comments

OMG! Prince George plays with (toy) guns

The dopey lefty brigade are out in force today.

Young Prince George pulled the trigger on a social media storm after he was photographed playing with a toy gun.

The future king was with Kate Middleton and his sister Princess Charlotte at the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at Beaufort Polo Club on Sunday.

Prince George plays with a toy gun. Picture: Mega
Prince George plays with a toy gun. Picture: Mega

Prince George and a friend appeared to be more interested in pretending to shoot their toy weapons.

No! Really? Four year boy plays with toy gun. Hold the presses.

On my European safaris I like to visit castles and palaces and see how the nobelity etc. live and, on the continent, used to live. In the homes, castles, and palaces of extinct Royals one often sees magnificent art collections. While in the UK and the Windsor homes (where the public can visit) one tends to see weapons and suits of armour. So those Royal families who live in their home countries and are still considered ‘Royal’ tend to know something about weapons.

I often make this point in my public choice classes about the nature of power – even in a democracy. I usually refer individuals to recent Royal weddings and ask the students to tell me about the clothes they saw at the weddings. There is always someone who can talk about the dresses and hats and female attire.  I then point out that what the females were wearing is not nearly so interesting as what the males were wearing and I ask the class if they can recall. Almost nobody ever recalls that Prince William had a choice of outfits to wear at his wedding but wore an Irish Guards Officer uniform (colonel I think). His brother wore a Captain’s Irish Guards uniform. His father wore  a Royal Navy Admiral’s uniform. If I recall correctly his grandfather did too. We saw, more or less, the same thing at Prince Harry’s recent marriage.

So of course the boy plays with toy guns – soon he’ll be learning to shoot real ones. The Royal family are directly descended from a warlord. That is how their family gained power.


Posted in Cultural Issues | 35 Comments

The social cost of carbon

Interesting developments in the withdrawal from the war on CO2 in the US and some background on the work by Greenstone and Sunstein that resulted in the concept of the “the cost of carbon“.

The House GOP on Friday took a step forward in reining in the Obama administration’s method of assessing the cost of carbon dioxide pollution when developing regulations.

The House voted 212-201, along party lines, to include a rider blocking the use of the climate change cost metric to an energy and water spending bill.

The amendment offered by Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert bars any and all funds from being used under the bill to “prepare, propose, or promulgate any regulation that relies on the Social Carbon analysis” devised under the Obama administration on how to value the cost of carbon.

In February 2009, a month after Barack Obama took office, two academics sat across from each other in the White House mess hall. Over a club sandwich, Michael Greenstone, a White House economist, and Cass Sunstein, Obama’s top regulatory officer, decided that the executive branch needed to figure out how to estimate the economic damage from climate change. With the recession in full swing, they were rightly skeptical about the chances that Congress would pass a nationwide cap-and-trade bill. Greenstone and Sunstein knew they needed a Plan B: a way to regulate carbon emissions without going through Congress.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 12 Comments

Are you a NAB shareholder

If you are a shareholder of the NAB, consider this.

Your Chairman is Dr Ken Henry AC.  Dr Henry, not that long ago was the Secretary of the Commonwealth Treasury.  He was the lead Treasury official during 1st Government of Kevin Rudd.  It is Dr Henry that coined the expression:

Go hard, go early and go to households.

the expression that provide the cover for the Rudd government to put the Australian government on its current path of run away government spending and debt.

But appearing today in a Victorian Court looking at the cancellation of the home insulation (pink batts) scheme, Dr Henry said this:

I did raise concerns (to a special budget committee set up in response to the global financial crisis)

I had two concerns; were there sufficient insulation materials needed for the scheme? And where there enough staff in Australia available to undertake the program?

FMD.  These were his concerns!  Sufficient material and labour!

How about whether the program was an appropriate use of tax payer resources?  How about why the hell is the government doing this?  How about what are these people drinking and smoking to even entertain such a program?

If this is the quality of questions that come from the Secretary of the Treasury, one must equally wonder about the quality of the questions that come from the Chairman of NAB, one of Australia’s largest company’s and 4th largest bank.

God help us all.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments