LGBT

Do as we say, not as we do

Take that. Despite living with the irony that half of the members of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) fail to meet the very diversity quotas they expect ASX200 companies to hit, what a complete laughing stock to publicly tell conference organisers it won’t join unless there is a guarantee of gender balanced speaker participation. How about try to get the best diversity of thought for a speaking panel regardless of their identity? There won’t be a man in the audience who complains at a panel of superstar women speakers.

The ACSI demands are listed here. A default letter the ACSI uses is as follows.

“SAMPLE RESPONSE TO EVENT INVITATIONS

Thank you for your invitation to speak at [name of event]. ACSI has taken the Panel Pledge and will only participate in events which are gender diverse and inclusive. Before accepting your invitation, I’ll need some additional information to determine whether this event is consistent with our commitment.

Can you please confirm the following:

– Will there be a gender balance among speakers at this event?
– Will speaking roles be allocated equitably among genders?

If I agree to participate in this event, I reserve the right to withdraw later should I become aware there will not be a gender balance among speakers.

Thanks in advance for your support of our efforts to promote gender diversity.”

What if the ACSI was offered a chance to speak next to Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk for the third and final slot at an investor conference? Would ACSI turn it down to stick to its principlesb or be the first in line to take selfies to upload to Instagram?

Get woke, go broke.

South Park shuns PC in women’s sports

South Park has never won any prizes for political correctness which is why the formula continues to be so successful. This episode mocks the current obsession of accepting trans females in women’s professional sports.

N.B.it contains profanity.

To think poor old Martina Navratilova was eviscerated by activists for pointing out the obvious with respect to biological males playing female sports. Despite being such a positive role model for her community in the tennis world, the loony left can’t face biological facts.

The irresponsibility of socially responsible investing

United Nations Sustainable Development Logo

Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has been heavily pushed by members of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) for a while now. Apart from cynically cashing in on the generally higher fees generated by these “woke” funds, the returns have been nothing much to write home about. As Milton Friedman once said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

If we look at YTD, 1 or 10-year performance all of the SRI portfolios as indicated by published performance (listed on their websites) of local ACSI members, they have “underperformed” the benchmark index. One outperformed in the 5-year category. Hardly anything to crow about. So as much as they might feel warm and fuzzy for turning these funds into virtue-signalling investment vehicles, the outcomes for the monies entrusted to them is far from ideal. While investors should bear ultimate responsibility for where they deploy retirement funds, do they realise how much money they are torching by believing in this nonsense?

So why do these funds try to bully top-performing companies to conform to their irrelevant ideals which on the face of it do not appear to be working? If one reads through the fine print, many superannuation administrators pat themselves on the back that they are aligning portfolios to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If one wants to champion best in class ethics, the UN is the last place anyone should look. Just look at the unethical scandal that occurred at UNAIDS. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what these SDGs are – eliminating hunger, wiping out poverty, promoting gender equality, good health, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy etc. All wonderful things in and of themselves, but surely if the market agrees with them,  shouldn’t share prices reflect that?

Friedman spoke of free-market economics, “Well, first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus [including the UN]. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.

In Australia,  it would seem that many high performing companies, that aren’t ‘compliant as they should be‘, are being pressured to increase diversity, women on boards and all manner of meaningless benchmarks preached by the ACSI and its members.

Take the 30% Club which pushes to have 30% women on boards. While this started in the UK in 2010, it has spread across multiple jurisdictions including Australia. The 30% Club emphatically quotes from a McKinsey study,  “Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” What this study doesn’t say is that the bottom quartile of companies maybe just poorly run, in spite of the genitalia of the board.

Don’t mistake the most important point to be made. If a board is best served by all women, you won’t hear a peep from investors if they can produce the best results. As soon as we start to try to enforce gender quotas, performance becomes predicated on chromosomes rather than capability. What next? Ensure fair representation of LGBT on boards? Religions? Races? Disabilities? Where does it stop when all that matters is ability that produces performance?

Take a look at the disaster that has befallen PG&E in recent times. In the interests of pandering to all these irrelevant SDGs, it can tell you the exact breakdown of the diversity of its workforce but can’t tell you the status of much of its infrastructure, some which have been directly responsible for the devastating wildfires in California. The company was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Did diversity help shareholders? If one’s house is on fire, do we worry about identity? Or who has the skillsets to put out the blaze the fastest? QED.

Yet our woke investors keep pushing these trends. IFM Investors waxes lyrical about its climate change, 30% Club and carbon disclosure project. Good for it. It has a choice. It should live by the sword and die by it. If that is what it wishes to focus on why not allow the free market to; a) decide whether superannuation holders want to deploy funds in such a manner and b) let corporates decide if SRI is good for their businesses.

Yet, the latest push by these socialist fund administrators is to ensure that companies conform to the ‘Modern Slavery Act.’ Are these people for real? Who are they to try to enforce federal law? Talk about self-imposed authority. It is a safe bet that 99%+ corporates listed on the ASX behave are compliant in this regard because if not the punitive outcomes will be severe.

Moreover, if some of these funds own stocks like Tesla in their international portfolios, perhaps they might consider such a hip and trendy investment has an indirect connection to child-slave labour in DR Congo where 70% of the world’s cobalt is mined to go into the Li-ion batteries.

There is one absolute truth in finance. In good times, any mug CEO can be successful. It is only when markets turn sour that the “quality” of decent management is truly appreciated in how they successfully manage to mitigate risk in an ugly downturn. In a difficult market climate, only the fittest survive and if companies have strayed off the reservation to appeal to investors, it will soon become self-evident in the results.

As we stare at the precipice of a potentially deep global recession, the previous paragraph will be all that matters. Because those corporates too busy hitting diversity targets, installing genderless bathrooms and ensuring they have double-checked all employees have complied with Earth Hour will be slaughtered when markets take a pounding.

These SDG focused funds will soon see that they are part of one giant herd and as performance starts to suffer in this crowded trade, the stampede toward the exit will reveal just how irresponsible the push to ram through such irrelevant metrics at the very companies who caved in was.

As a contrarian investor, the best investments will be in exactly those companies that shun(ned) this foolhardy exercise and forged a path in the spirit of Milton Friedman. Afterall they understood what it really means to be “free to choose.” So back up the truck in tobacco, mining and fossil fuel stocks on any pullback. After all, mean reversion will see these stocks outperform if nothing else.

Don’t forget Harvey Norman (HVN). How could it be that the company is worth 4x the combined value of Myer and David Jones, the latter two businesses focused on pleasing the United Nations rather than customers?  Hmmm.

Isn’t that the ultimate ready reckoner for these SDG funds? The market is always right. If the performance of the funds deployed isn’t making the grade, don’t attempt to force the best of breed to comply to your self imposed standards. Embrace companies that follow their lead. Not the other way around. It begs the question, what on earth are people who should believe in free markets doing to thwart it functioning efficiently?

Perhaps investors have the clearest indication of socialist activism by the very requirement to join the club. “ACSI drives strong ESG performance in companies in which our members invest because ESG creates long-term value…We use our collective impact to influence companies and financial markets in the interests of our members as long-term investors…Commitment to these beliefs is a pre-requisite for membership of ACSI.

Never has it been a more sound decision to set up an SMSF.

M&S pushes sandwich equality

Corporate virtue signaling at its finest. Marks & Spencer hijacks a movement to sell lettuce, guacamole, bacon & tomato (LGBT) sandwiches. Where is the quinoa or Italian tomatoes to include the Q & I minorities? Shame on the marketing team. Surely deserved of a written warning? Did they use soy ink and recycled paper? How thoughtless to have bacon as an option for “B”, given it is most certainly not Halal?

M&S is free to make & sell what it likes. Although the LGBT is made with political correctness to appear woke. Perhaps an ANTIFA sandwich? Asparagus, nutmeg, tomato, iceberg lettuce, fennel and artichoke? A REMAINER baguette? Ricotta, egg, mustard, apple, Idaho potato, nuts, eggplant and radish. A Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) focaccia made from turkey, dill and sauerkraut? Or a Greta ? Ginger, radish, egg, taramasalata and almonds?

For equality in the debate, why not make a White Patriarchy (WP) sandwich with white bread and pastrami? A right wing nut job (RWNJ) ciabatta made of rye, walnuts, New York steak and jalapeños perhaps? A NAZI roll? Nutella, anchovies, zucchini and iodized salt?

Then see which politically correct sandwich sells the best? C’mon M&S, spice it up and allow people to have a laugh at lunch rather than push a narrative.

Time for a Lefty loaf. Lettuce, egg, figjam, turnips and yams. It seems unfair at a time the left wants to eat its own that there isn’t an offering on M&S shelves.

First time CM has read Apple’s software update

Good to see Apple has catered to the utter obsession with oppression by introducing “gender neutral” emojis. The world is a safer place. Honestly, if there are people that maybe triggered by an emoji what has the world come to? Presumably vegans will be up in arms until the egg has been removed from the salad emoji! Perhaps ban the meat emojis because that is an injustice to animals.

Portland municipal building bans urinals

Image result for urinals

Well, apparently one way to remove “arbitrary barriers in our community” is to get rid of urinals at the newy designed Portland administrative building. Not to worry, Democrats control both houses as well as the Governor in Oregon. 

Portland Chief Administration Officer, Tom Rinehart, believes this will lead to more inclusivity. Just wait for the blowback when men who identify as men start using the women’s bathrooms and leave the seat up! Talk about barriers in our community!!

Perhaps the focus should be on things that truly matter to staff. The Oregon Public Employees Retirement Scheme (PERS), of which Portland public servants are a part of manages a $76.7 billion is still suffering a $22.3 billion shortfall, according to the fund’s most recent update. In 2019 it is expected to be $26bn. The pension system’s current annual rate of return is 7.2%. It is currently hitting at 1.5%.

Several ideas on how to bolster Oregon’s pension system are floating around. One is to move members into a 401(k)-style plan but this is tricky for several reasons. First, the state’s Supreme Court dissolved previous PERS measures in 2015and ruled that existing benefits were untouchable. Another problem is that Oregon has the only public defined benefit plan in the country without an employee contribution requirement.

Naturally removing urinals will go great lengths in solving the pension problem which looks to be a busted flush.

11yo experts

Pity the poor brainwashed little 11yo girl in the video (from the 1 minute mark) talking about saving the planet her parent’s generation have supposedly trashed. She demands zero carbon emissions by 2030.

She implores all climate activists to go beyond global warming and fight for gun control, LGBTQ+ rights and even rally so her teachers can receive a living wage. Surely she worked all these issues out for herself? Who are we to question that she knows more than the adults?

You’ll never guess which trash she wants to remove in November 2020.

Children should not be exploited like this. Why should teachers and parents rob kids of their innocence at such tender years? It is shameless to use them as human shields to push political agendas. Then we wonder why we have a mental health crisis.