Political Correctness

Time to “put” some eggs in this basket!

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In the everything bubble it is hard to find exposure to ‘relatively’ cheap things. Just a quick glance at the S&P500 index derivatives market one can see that ‘Put’ options (i.e. buying a put option gives the owner the right to sell at a particular strike price) prices are scraping the bottom of the barrel. While the above 2450 strike price (expires on 19 Jan 2018) seems a stretch for an S&P 500 Index showing 2662 (8.7% higher than the above put option) listening to outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen in the December FOMC press conference tells us that group think is alive and kicking. At least she admitted that,

The stock market has gone up a great deal this year…asset valuations are elevated….We see ratios in the high end of historical ranges…but Economists are not great at knowing what the right valuations are…we don’t have a terrific track record

Whatever the ultimate timing is of the impending pullback in asset bubbles, the downside will be extra ugly, especially now with so much market behaviour driven by robots with algorithms that have not been thoroughly tested in bear markets.  Time to own some longer dated put options me thinks. #MPGA (Make puts great again)

NFL – seat prices at the back of the discount rack

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NFL has been off the main headlines recently. Interesting to see that seats for certain games are selling for as little as $3 each. Of course better games starring more popular teams show firmer (albeit deeply discounted) pricing but one can’t help but think this is a continuation of the backlash against the kneeling saga. Regardless of the views of the players, their employers (aka the fans) are evaluating them by their wallets. Seems like the message hasn’t got through. If they wish to continue to kneel deep discounts which incorporate the social cost to the fan have to be provided until the ultimate financial impact to the players is reached.

Well done Senator Leyonhjelm for inviting Milo to Parliament

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Full marks to Senator David Leyonhjelm for inviting Milo Yiannopolous to Parliament House. Despite the Greens Party leader Senator Richard Di Natale doing his best to ban him as a hate preacher, bigot, racist etc etc Milo had a pretty full audience. It is not whether one agrees with what he says but it is important to let any ideas out in the marketplace of free speech and debate the issues rather than shut them down. Indeed one would hope that Di Natale has such a strong case he could pin the Armani suited Milo’s arguments in person. That’s the thing. If Di Natale is convincing enough people will back his views on the sheer weight of  merit.

As an Australian citizen (even from afar) I watch the painful political correctness in the West that seems to turn a blind eye to almost anything that even remotely runs up against an identikit. We mustn’t offend this group or that group.

To be honest, as an example our government, in its quest to prevent on the fringe Islamophobia actually creates the environment for a worse time for Muslims. The majority of Muslims probably don’t care if we celebrate Christmas with trees in Martin Place but our political class decide to strip the tree of its significance in order to pander to something that just isn’t relevant. “Merry Christmas” is replaced with “Seasons Greetings.” In turn, some think that Muslims are behind it which means governments push for “hate speech laws” to cover up for their own stupidity and short-sightedness. Celebrate Australian traditions. Just like Aborigines seeking umbrage over statues of Cook and Phillip – the overwhelming majority don’t care but our politicians are all too busy trying to cater to another minority whose arguments and grievances are usually trivial to say the least.

Even the lunatic torch and swastika flag bearers in Charlottesville should be able to protest. Sunlight (torchlight) is the best disinfectant. Let these people go on parade for all to see. One can see for themselves they have no platform. The KKK (the former militia of the Democratic Party) has dwindled from 4mn members to less than 6,000. Out of a population of 330mn people they represent less than 0.02% of the population.

Probably some of the best footage of ‘like minds thanks to open platforms’ came when a BLM protest was given time on a stage at a Trump supporters event. BLM were told you’ve got several minutes and if you don’t like it then tough!

Still some in the political class feel the need to introduce all manner of laws to cover up their own weakness. At least some voices in parliament are not afraid to speak out and defend free speech. So credit to Senator Leyonhjelm for encouraging Milo to talk to our lawmakers.

It is not whether one thinks Milo is palatable (although a sellout tour in Australia is indicative) it is that he has a view. We don’t have to agree with it but again the left who try to shut him down will find far more backers of their cause if they combat him with concise and constructive arguments based on facts and truths. Said with authority and authenticity and watchMilo’s support wane. Indeed shutting him down actually helps Milo sell more tickets so it ends up being an own goal.

It really makes me want to join the political class in Australia to shore up the tide that is flowing toward feeble policy, further inaction and muzzling what they’re too gutless to admit. I want peace and harmony as much as the next person but it doesn’t come about by silencing dissenting voices. Embracing those voices is a tenet of democracy. Perhaps if the country was being run competently then people like Milo would be a footnote rather than front page.

When it is citizens that require sanctuary

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For all the loony decisions that are out there, how can jurors in a San Francisco court possibly acquit a person that was deported 5x for multiple felonies and awaiting a 6th deportation before he ended up murdering a citizen, Kate Steinle in 2015? The court ruled it wasn’t murder but an accident because he didn’t intend to fire the gun. So even if the perpetrator, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, didn’t intend to discharge the weapon in her direction he was none-the-less in possession of a weapon in a manner that had a risk of killing someone intentionally or not. It is irrelevant whether the bullet ricocheted. Steinle is needlessly dead. Not even a manslaughter charge and the taxpayer funded the defence.

For all the arguments supporting sanctuary cities, how little care for actual taxpaying and law abiding citizens can there be if convicted felons get hit with a feather duster while friends and family members end up being traumatized for life as a result? While he may face 3 years jail for possessing a stolen firearm, what society do people want when sentencing is so lenient for people who aren’t even legally allowed to be there?

Which again begs the question of illegal immigrants or refugees seeking asylum. If they are fleeing oppression or any place where their lives might be in danger, what on earth are these people doing trying to be anything other than grateful, courteous and law abiding individuals? Then you have to question the sanity of some Californians thinking these people deserve voting rights! Hmmm.

Even Zarate’s actions are dismissed as being a minute percentage it doesn’t prevent the fact that any country should maintain strict control of its borders and focus on helping those truly in need rather than turn a blind eye to those that exploit the social and economic generosity of others.

While some will no doubt use the Las Vegas shooting as a yardstick, the major difference is that the shooter purchased guns legally and was a citizen. That doesn’t justify what happened rather a shortcoming in gun laws that allowed bump stocks. If enough Americans don’t like it then they’ll force the change. Sloppy Immigration policies where poor screening and even worse border protection is self evident then that in and of itself is no less important a discussion to protect citizens of any country.

Pick your Pocahontas moments Mr President

There is a time and a place for everything. Using an event to celebrate the achievements of the Navaho ‘wind talkers’, who served bravely in WW2 in intelligence coding, by throwing in a jibe at Elizabeth Warren being ‘Pocahontas’ is just unnecessary. It is not about falling into outrage but in order to pay proper respects to people who risked their lives for America, it would be far better if President Trump just celebrated their achievements rather than used it as a platform to take potshots at his political opponents of which Elizabeth Warren isn’t much chop. It reminds of that Far Side cartoon when the Lone Ranger eventually learns what ‘Kemosabe’ means. Indeed it was a kemosabe thing to say.

ABC gives yet more reasons to be defunded

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has a charter to be politically unbiased. The public knows it is unashamedly partisan. Yet its overseers (aka the Government) still give funding north of $1bn to the state owned media group without calling it up for what it gets away with. What it passes for ‘free speech’ usually ends up in the climate change, asylum seekers or any other social justice cause it feels strongly about. Yet the charter is not supposed to act as a platform for disgruntled public servants to broadcast their own views on the taxpayer’s purse. The latest saga is the ABC’s JJJ station which broadcasts alternative music. It has decided it won’t be playing the Hottest 100 Countdown on Australia Day because of its political views that it is in reality ‘invasion day.’ There is no problem for each and everyone of those JJJ employees who thinks of Australia Day that way to believe that. It is another to provide a tax payer funded platform to express it.

To put it in perspective, given several Victorian local councils decided several months ago not to host naturalisation ceremonies on Australia Day, one would hope that JJJ has just woken up from the marijuana smoke haze in the studio to realize this fact. Otherwise, why has it taken them so long? Surely if the producers  were savvy enough at JJJ they could have announced their political stunt the week all of the social justice governments were announcing it.

However it is a serious issue. Why is there a need for four taxpayer funded stations in Melbourne? It is a similar story in the other states. The original purpose of the ABC was to fill in for a lack of a commercial alternative, especially for those in the countryside. Now we can all choose to stream Australian radio stations while we’re in Berlin or Caracas if we feel like it. When you look through the stats, JJJ key demographic is 25-39yo but across all time segments except ‘Afternoon’ it struggles for better than 5%. ABC Melbourne caters to pensioners. Is there a need to provide the infrastructure to supply four stations. Surely the rational argument is that a similar number of bodies must be employed to fill the same roles – the producer, technician, the script writer, the news gatherer….even the guard at the front door. Run many of these stations on commercial terms and most wouldn’t pay the cost of operating.

If one believes we must have a public broadcaster then the number of stations should be cut to one, not four. If the private sector can’t see a ‘commercial’ justification for filling the gap it would leave then it is odds on that advertisers aren’t prepared to either. On the flip side if the ABC radio presenters are desired by particular audiences then the private stations will gladly snap them up.

This is not to undermine the efforts of some quarters of the ABC. Some documentaries such as ‘The Killing Season’ or Foreign Correspondent’s expose of the Fukushima reactor were extremely well done. However it is the fact that some in the ABC think they have a right to dispense the billion plus funding on their own political and social causes. Yet who can blame them when the former Communications Minister (now the Prime Minister) is desperate to avoid courting negative media coverage? When a conservative (by name plate) PM is afraid to go on private radio stations with conservative audiences you know this problem of bias at the ABC won’t be going away for a long time, especially after the drubbing the conservatives will get at the coming election.

With a $500bn and rising debt in Australia, we can ill afford frivolous public spending, especially on broadcasting where the ABC ignores its charter so brazenly. We can chose to listen to left leaning or conservative radio stations in the commercial space. We can consume on line any form of media we choose from around the globe. With media now so ubiquitous, what is the ABC offering that is remotely ‘differentiated’ to warrant its existence? None that can be seen.

Kiwis are clessic at making ettention grebbing videos eh Bro!

The Kiwis are not only great at rugby, they also seem to have a kneck (knack) of making entertainment information videos. While the police recruitment video is chock full of diversity it is none the less a well thought and attention grabbing. Here are two other classics – the Air New Zealand inflight safety video and the AIG ‘tackling the risk’ video both starring the All Blacks.