Australia

Austria proves again why the EU needs to listen more and talk less

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God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we’d listen more and talk less,’ so the old saying goes This is what the EU gets for trying to bully its member states. It wasn’t long ago that EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was telling Austrians that if they democratically elected Norbert Hofer of the right wing FPO then the EU would remove Austria’s voting rights and cut off any transfers. Well the Austrians have voted for a conservative anti-immigrant party (which wants a programme to get immigrants to assimilate with the local culture) with a 31yo leader, Sebastian Kurz. His People’s Party garnered 31.4% (+7%) of the vote with the far-right wing FPO coming in second at 27.4% and incumbent Social Democrat Party coming in third with 26.7%. The Greens will probably not make the cut off of 4% to make a party, So once again the EU has had yet another major repudiation of its totalitarian ideals.

CM has been making the point for ages that forcing one’s beliefs onto others must be done in a way that listens to the other side. Otherwise it delivers results like Trump. It seems the EU hasn’t learned a thing.

So what have we had?

-Le Pen garnered 1/3rd of the French vote (double the best ever achieved by Front National),

-the far right Freedom Party’s (FPO) Norbert Hofer still managed 46% in Austria farcical re-run presidential election),

-Geert Wilders’ 25% increase in seats for the anti-immigrant PVV in The Netherlands,

-the surge in the Sweden Democrats to the top of the recent polls, Elections in 2018.

-Italy’s referendum which turned into a backdoor vote to oust PM Renzi. Elections in 2018 likely.

Brexit (although PM May is handling negotiations in true British efficiency – Fawlty Towers ring a bell?),

the Swiss handing back a 30yr standing free ticket to join the EU,

-the AfD in Germany getting 13% of the vote (Merkel may have won but it was her party’s worse showing in 7 decades)

…these don’t look like promising trends for an EU which is already badly listing. Despite ample warnings the EU refused (and still refuses) to change its course or exercise due care. It just issues more threats.

While the left openly voices its rage at these ‘right-wing’ parties growing in support, they never bother to seek reasons why. The right are generally just dismissed as racists, bigots or worse.  Major party loyalty has never been worse. The fabric of the loyal party voter base is wearing thinner. Take Australia’s One Nation Party led by Senator Pauline Hanson. The popularity of the mainstream LNP and Labor Parties is at record lows. One Nation is now 10% of the vote from 2% several decades ago. While some parties may claim their loyal base has abandoned them the stronger case to be made is the clear shift of the parties away from their once faithful constituents. Why?

Incumbent governments seem to cower at receiving negative news from the 24-7 polling cycle that is social media. Being careful to avoid inviting attack, they pander to all of the socially acceptable agendas – climate change, gender fluid bathrooms, laws clamping down on free speech, open borders and afffirmative action.

However political correctness is clearly not the answer as these results across Europe and elsewhere show. People are sick of the brow beating by socialist activists. Tired of the constant protests and social justice bleating. The NFL might find that most of its fans are against police brutality but they aren’t wanting a weekly lecture in grievance politics with the price of entry or their cable TV channel. Growing weary of the idea that it is ‘free speech’ and anything against those ideals are deemed ‘hate speech’. It is not to deny some positions are not necessarily palatable but in the marketplace of free speech, ridiculous positions can easily be disproven. Better to give extremist voices a chance to talk and invite public opinion on them at their own peril. Shutting it down forces it underground., making it inherently more dangerous.

Too many mainstream political parties are moving off the policy reserve that defined them so their once loyal followers are actively seek ones that will. While Hanson’s One Nation or Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives may not tick every box to existing LNP voters, they cover enough of the positions that matter to them that they’ll tolerate some of the more out there ideas. It is not uncommon to hear the left complain at One Nation’s is growing popularity at the expense of the Greens but it is a devil of their own making.

So will the EU listen to the Austrian call? Will it pay attention to the Hungarians who voted over 98% against accepting forced migrant quotas? Think through the logic. If you were an asylum seeker, would you think your chances of unincumbered settlement would be best placed where 98.4% of the population doesn’t want you? It is irrelevant whether we think the Hungarians are insensitive brutes not to extend a welcome to those that are legitimately in need. It is their country and their democracy has spoken. If Brussels assumes to dictate to Hungary how it wishes to protect its culture and whatever it holds precious, why shouldn’t the EU have the same rights to enforce income tax, housing benefits and anything else it sees fit? Of course it is a preposterous notion.

It will not be long before the EU will be front and center on Greece. Let us not forget that the EU colluded with Goldman Sachs to ‘fiddle’ the accounts to make Hellas much prettier optically than it was. Was this pig without lipstick it wouldn’t have gained acceptance to the club. So the EU is not in a position to claim innocence over a deliberate ploy to ram-road the Greeks into its federal state yet have no qualms treating it with disdain. Talk about double standards.

In all seriousness the treatment of the Greeks by the EU is despicable beyond words. So for all of the left’s blind love for the EU and its socialist agenda, 36% of Greeks live below the poverty line and 58% of the youth are unemployed. So for all of the EU’s shared sense of purpose and equality, that means many can’t access affordable healthcare because it is generally provided by corporates and when you lose a job you lose the healthcare. This means many are forced to use A&E of major hospitals which are now overcrowded and understaffed as more doctors are leaving to seek better fortune for their services elsewhere.

If that wasn’t enough, mothers who had given birth were being restricted from taking their new-borns home if they couldn’t pay the hospital fees. While the government has banned this practice they have introduced new laws to allow the seizure of assets (e.g. homes) if debts are not settled.

Shortly, the Greeks are coming up for discussion over its debt position and austerity. With just months left before Greece’s latest lifeline expires, officials directly involved in the country’s bailout say they don’t have the stomach for contingent aid program when the current one expires in August 2018. While the EU and Athens are battle worn after 7 years of this knife edge rescue,  Greece will need to show it can go it alone but it’s eurozone creditors will be reluctant without further strings attached.

Here is betting that the EU doesn’t heed the lessons that have been ringing loud and clear for years. Sincerely hoping Greece leaves the EU and lets market forces revive its economy. Better to die on its feet than live on its knees.

Shocking state of suicide

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The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists the top 10 categories of causes of death in America in 2015 as above. Heart disease was the highest cause leading to over 633,800 deaths. Cancer was slightly under 600,000. Respiratory disease came in 3rd at 155,000. Homicide, while not listed in the Top 10, was around 14,000. Total drug related deaths were around 50,000, equivalent to deaths from car accidents and murder combined. Death from heroin and illicit opioid overdoses exceeded 20,000.

F4BB85AF-601B-44CD-8232-83590DB4455E.jpegSadly suicides in the US totaled a shocking 44,193 in 2015, most prevalent in younger age groups. Over the last 15 years we can see that suicides per head of US population has continued to climb.

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In 15 years, the incidence of female suicides has climbed 45% per head of population. While male suicide outnumbers female suicides per head of population by almost 4x the relative increase in 15 years has been 16.3%. In aggregate total suicides have grown 20.4%, an awful statistic. Half of the suicides were the result of self inflicted gunshot wounds. 1/3rd of women tended to commit suicide by taking poison versus 10% by males.

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The detrimental economic impacts are also quite heavy, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Suicides cost around $51bn annually while homicide is around $26bn.

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Perhaps the most alarming part of the NIMH study was the 1.1mn people that made proper attempts to take their own life. Almost 10mn contemplated it.

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In Australia, suicide rates are also at a decade high of 12.6 people per 100,000 or almost identical to those rates in the US. 3,000 took their life in 2015. According to Beyondblue 3 million Australians suffer from anxiety or depression.

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The suicide rate in Northern Ireland has increased dramatically over the last 30 years – the male rate has increased by 82% in this time. Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK.

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Since 2007, suicides in the UK have started to mildly trend back upwards from 10,8/100,000 to 10.9.

China accounts for 26% of the world’s suicides. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country saw c.500 by women per day taking their own lives in 2009 or around 183,000 a year. At that rate some 1.5 million Chinese women have taken their own lives in the past eight years.

Japan is approximately down to 19.5 suicides per 100,000 but South Korea remains persistently high at 28.5.

It is a point worth reflecting on. There have been six people from my own high school year who have taken their own life. Seemingly happy and healthy on the outside, matters have taken a turn that not even friends could have detected until it is too late.

The most common symptoms that lead to suicide are due to depression or anxiety onset by

-substance abuse
-incarceration
-family history of suicide
-poor job security or low levels of job satisfaction
-financial insecurity
-history of being abused or witnessing continuous abuse
-being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, such as cancer or HIV
-being socially isolated or a victim of bullying
-being exposed to suicidal behavior

Worsening economic conditions are undoubtedly pushing more people toward suicide. Greece, which does not have a high suicide rate (8.8) compared to other EU countries (average of 11.6 people per 100,000), saw tough financial austerity measures leading to a 35% jump in suicide rates in a little less than 2 years, not dissimilar to Russia between 1989-1994. Each 1 percentage point rise of unemployment rates in men aged 20 to 59 was associated with a 0.19/100,000 population rise in suicide. Spain saw 20% higher suicides in 2015 vs 2008.

This is the mark of suicide prevention. Note that most countries have suicide prevention hotlines.

America

Australia

UK

Help is at hand.

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Let’s hope the Feds don’t take the same biases in investigations

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Here we go again. The slippery slope of ‘diversity’ which does everything else other than promote inclusivity because by its very nature it is all about singling out exclusivity. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) brazenly states in its recruitment campaign that they want to get to 50/50 women. Of course there is no issue with hiring women. No ifs or buts. If you are a male, your chances of joking the AFP will be diminished no matter how qualified you might be. What has gender got to do with work performance, let alone the desire to ‘protect and serve’? In most police forces around the world the split is 70/30 men/women. Maybe it is just reflective of individual choices in careers rather than women being selectively discouraged?

The AFP wrote in response to their post,

There’s been a lot of commentary on the fact that we’re targeting women with this recruitment. We’d like to clarify a few things.

In the AFP, women currently comprise 22% of sworn police and 13.5% of protective security officers. Our goal is to increase this proportion to 35% in both streams by 2021.

Today’s ‘special measure’ recruitment action is designed to supplement our current recruitment process – we already have a pool of suitable male and female candidates who applied recently.

This action we’re taking will provide us with additional female candidates. It’s not going to displace existing recruitment pools and it will require applicants to meet all the existing gateways.

Under Section 7D of the Sex Discrimination Act, the special measures we’re taking to achieve substantive equality between men and women in this organisation are legal.”

This lame excuse is yet another spineless rolling over to pander to political correctness. If. 20 candidates apply for 10 positions and there are 10 men and 10 women, wouldn’t it be best to hire 10 women if they were better qualified for ability than the 10 men? Or vice versa? So hire 5 extremely qualified women and 5 inept males just to keep a balance?

Last month CM spoke of the same garbage ‘diversity’ argument in the army.

Recruiters at the ADF have been told they must hire women or face relocation if they don’t comply. The recruiters say there are no jobs available for men in the in the infantry as a rifleman or artilleryman. But these positions are marked as ‘recruit immediately’ if a female applies. If a 50kg woman is in the artillery a 43.2kg M-107 shell is over 80% of her weight. An 80kg man would be lifting the same shells at around half of his weight. This is basic physics.

The West Australian newspaper reported one recruiter who said, “This is political correctness gone mad. I don’t care if it is a man or a woman – I just want to get the best person for the job.”

Yet the political correctness is promoted from the top. Defence chief, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, stressed the importance of diversity for the ADF. “A diverse workforce is all about capability. The greater our diversity, the greater the range of ideas and insights to challenge the accepted norm, assess the risks, see them from a different perspective, and develop creative solutions.”

So once again we are told to view this nonsense as completely acceptable. That the AFP puts gender above ability. Ability and passion are all that matters. Shame on the AFP for having a blonde white woman instead of one from a coloured background for maximum virtue signaling mileage. For all of the AFP’s expertise in forensic science it is an embarrassment to see them use a most flawed identikit for recruitment.

So what is next after the 50/50 target is hit? After all the AFP seeks to match society. Surely what follows is balance in sexual orientation, faith, race and other irrelevant aspects which should be irrelevant to job performance – all in the name of diversity – what a joke. Let men and women chose the AFP of their own volition and take the best of the crop.

Welcome to the nanny state.

National Re-education League (NRL)

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Welcome to the world of assigned re-education.  The sanctimonious ritual of blatantly using a venue to promote one side of any debate. In Australia the NRL (National Rugby League) has decided to have Macklemore as half time entertainment at the Grand Final to sing  “Same Love”. For all the lame excuses as to how his song has zero to do with the same sex marriage (SSM) debate Macklemore has been on the radio waves in Australia banging on about the tweets he’s getting from white homophobes. If the “No” side gets up in this plebiscite I’ll have absolutely no sympathy because this finger wagging just has the opppsite impact of the goal it seeks to achieve. People just get tired of the name calling and in your face campaigning. Trump, Brexit, Merkel etc – if the onslaught continues people tune out and vote in secrecy. Then people are shocked? How clear can it be? I’ve yet to meet a person that likes to be on the receiving end of condescending talk

Let’s not forget I firmly believe in civil rights. That has never been in question but it’s the blatant propaganda that is tiring  (for most people). There is one issue which is clearly defined. This isn’t an election. We are not debating energy, housing, taxation, poverty or superannuation ahead of an election yet it’s day in day out. If indeed the “Yes” side has already claimed an emphatically victory then why not just give it a rest. No no  we must have the rainbow flags flown on the town hall, rainbow stickers on the work security gates and now the Finals – non stop

Why doesn’t the NRL have Kevin Bloody Wilson sing for the “No” case? Would the NRL allow a gospel choir group singing about “we are family” a la Aretha Franklin? Of course not.  There in lies the issue. Why can’t sports finals be just that instead of propaganda filled events.  Once again 99.999% of the population have already made up their minds over the subject so this is just senseless droning. PM Turnbull was on ‘The Project’ lamely submitting to the idea Macklemore’s just an entertainer and people are reading too much into his song.

To be honest – whether yes or no – the subject should be well and truly kept out of sporting events. It is the obsession with people claiming “free speech” therefore it should be fine.

OK I’ll be knocking on your door at 9:30pm with yes campaign leaflets and a ghetto blaster playing Macklemore on reasonable volume because it’s free speech and it isn’t disturbing the peace legally. So if you think it’s ok to re-educate me at the footy. I feel it’s ok to re-educate you at home. “Sorry, did I wake the kids?”

The idea of watching the game is to get away from the grind of work, stress, financial woes and so on. Now that sanctuary is being destroyed because indoctrination is part and parcel of everyday life. Shut up and submit!

National Felon League (NFL)

It changes the moral high ground on the debate on the NFL when dragging it down into the statistics of the players themselves. Perhaps some players are taking a knee to stop themselves being held accountable by the very laws they break. 713 different players between 2000-2014 have been arrested, Shocking list of charges – rape, murders, shootings, animal cruelty, prostitution rings, assault, robbery, illegal gun possession, DUI, resisting arrest and so forth. So ask yourself why fans might get turned off being lectured to by these social justice footballers? Great role models.

Makes the NRL in Australia look like a bunch of choir boys.

With pay TV viewership and game attendance continuing to fall (according to Nielsen) we are seeing some team owners like the Steelers begging fans to accept it’s just a misunderstanding and sponsors like Nike sticking up for the NFL because they want to make sure their investment sustains a return. Budweiser will be the big swing factor on the NFL. It proudly promotes it has 11,000 veterans working for it. Pepsi, Budweiser’s Anheuser-Busch InBev paid $1.4 billion to sponsor the NFL out to 2022. When AB InBev first inked this deal in 2011 (to last through the 2017 Super Bowl) it paid $1.2 billion. Not small pennies. DirecTV has announced they will give full refunds to customers who want to cancel their NFL channel. Of course DirecTV will be asking the NFL to cover the costs of that.

No matter what one’s views are, the NFL will live and die by their actions. As mentioned yesterday, taking a knee is now so commonplace it is actually no longer seen as the protest it was originally done for. Then again, all the NFL is bringing on itself is the double standards of many of its players.

59yo COO sues Fujifilm Australia for ageism

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The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports that one of Fuji Film Australia’s executives, COO David Marshall is suing for ageism. There is a sense of irony in that the Chairman of Fujifilm Japan is 78. The AFR reports,

At a dinner at Melbourne’s Rococo restaurant in 2015, former Fujifilm CEO Kevin Masuda allegedly stood up and pointed at Mr Marshall, laughingly saying “Dave is too old” in front of senior clients…During 2017, Mr Koshimizu repeatedly referred to himself in front of Mr Marshall as “old, like past 60, retirement age” and allegedly told him Fujifilm “wants you to find the next Mr Marshall” and it was looking for a “young, strong” team.’We need a younger person’

On May 18, during a dinner at Palace Hotel in Tokyo, the chairman Mr Koshimizu told Mr Marshall “Dave, you and I are old too. We need a younger person to make strong as a general manager.”

Retirement is a hot issue in Japan. Corporates are retiring expensive workers (who are often paid based on seniority) and reemploying them as ‘advisors’ (pp.15-24) on relatively paltry sums of $1,000/mth. While it is not unusual here, it would be rather strange if Fujifilm in Australia were to make such a rookie mistake in trying to flip a worker approaching 60. In 1984 85% of male employees were full time vs 62% odd today. It isn’t surprising to see the most active demographic seeking work aren’t young uni grads but the elderly struggling to make ends meet.

 

Take me out to (just) the ball game

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Isn’t the sole reason to buy tickets to a ball game is so that you can relax and forget about stresses at work or home? It is a distraction. Family time. A way to unwind. Paying to see elite athletes do what they do best. What fans don’t pay to see is a game which is dressed in politics. Once again the President has smacked more people eager to disrespect the nation. While hardly presidential, he none-the-less made a very good point – “fire those sons of bitches” referring to those grossly overpaid players who make political gestures such as taking a knee when the national anthem is being played. When this whole ‘kneeling’ malarkey kicked off, NFL ratings have been on a slide and the 2017 start has showed a shocking 24% (FOX) and 15% (CBS) drop in the Prime 18-49 viewership stats.

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Now the facts are simple. 30 of the 32 NFL teams are owned by whites. The other two by Americans of Asian decent. The idea that Colin Kaepernick was fired because of racism is plain dumb. 70% of the players in the NFL are black. These players are paid huge salaries  and to all intents and purposes are employees of the club. Therefore the boss contracts players to behave in ways that not only win ballgames but respect their customers (i.e. fans) who ultimately fund their salaries. Kaepernick was on $12mn per year. Hardly skimping by because of his supposedly racist bosses. Yet in his quest to protest police brutality he decided to shove his politics into fans’ faces. While they just wish to enjoy a game he wants to sour the experience.

Ah yes, he has a right to free speech. Indeed he does. However when he is on the ‘company clock’ he is still required to follow the boss’ instructions. That is part of the contract of employer/employee. In a sense what Kaepernick was doing was dissent. If he wants to protest such matters why doesn’t he do it off the field. In fact his actions have spawned copycats in kid’s sports. What values are we teaching these kids? Instead of looking at ways to sensibly heal rifts, coaches are trying to brainwash innocent kids to doing their protests for them.

The AFL is also guilty of this political posturing over same sex marriage (SSM). The AFL has not been the poster child for best in class ethics (e.g. bosses having affairs with junior female staff) yet feel they should put “yes” on the footballs and their HQ logo. All fans want to do is watch the game and escape all the ills in society. They don’t pay to have it served up to them. It doesn’t matter if these fans support SSM it’s a question of why are corporates or sports teams campaigning on what consenting adults do behind closed doors. It is irrelevant.

The argument we often hear is that corporations should use their profiles to promote social issues. Corporations are nothing but buildings with desks, chairs some pot plants and desktop PCs. They aren’t people. Sure people work inside them but to think that “the corporation speaks for us” is nonsense. In most cases it’s a small committee forcing their sense of political will on staff about how they should behave. Sure basic standards in the office are fair but since when did political views, gender or sexual orientation become such a fertile ground for companies to push on staff. Surely the only true goal of the staff is to work as a team to produce results efficiently in the interests of their customers. Not seek to rebrand their logos and shopfronts to promote political causes.

If companies feel so strong about such issues perhaps they should chisel those principles under the other core goals respelendent in the office foyer. Yet it is different. Corporates are becoming so scared of lawsuits and reputational damage that they embark on social crusades to chalk up a track record to deny they discriminate in the workplace hence all these social targets. So while some staff see the corporate actions as virtuous many don’t realize the public point scoring element to the cheerleading

Ultimately consumers have choices. When it comes to sport people want to relax and enjoy the game, not absorb political posturing. When it comes to drinking coffee they don’t want Starbucks explaining their rationale as to why the removal of Christmas cups was done.

Here is an idea. If the NFL or AFL IR anymother business for that matter wish to push political causes offer fans/customers a choice. Half price tickets/services/goods with a political pamphlet handed out or a full priced ticket/service/good with none. That way the fan/customer can choose. I’d only suggest to put a recycling bin right by the ticket booth/register so you can see how many fans/customers  actually care what you have to say on political matters! You’ll soon realize the majority don’t care and your revenues will have halved. Best stop the politics and charge full prices.