Poverty

Wizard of Lies

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Another film that shoots the lights out. HBO casts DeNiro as Bernie Madoff who plays the role brilliantly. It is a tragic tale. Not just to those that lost $65bn (although one would think if those that made $100s of millions one might expect they’d be a bit better at risk management) to a fraudster but more importantly the suicide of his eldest son and the death from cancer of his younger son before he passed. While one doesn’t feel any sympathy for Madoff it is a well portrayed rendition of how he created his Ponzi scheme and duped the regulators for so long. Madoff turns 80 on April 29.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing trends in the US surging

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The Chapter 11 bankruptcy trends in the US have been picking up in the last 4 years. While well off the highs of the months and years of the GFC and years following it, the absolute numbers of filings has exceeded the levels leading up to the crisis in 2007/8.

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Here we put 2006/7/8 alongside 2016/17/18. The average monthly bankruptcy filings were around 355 in 2006 moving to 429 in 2007 and then 718 in 2008. If we looked at the data in the 12 months prior to the quarter leading into Lehman’s collapse, bankruptcies averaged 463/month. The ultimate carnage peaked out at 1,049 in 2009 (1,377 in Apr 2009). For 2016, 2017 and 2018 (annualized) we get 454, 480 and 521 respectively.

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Bankruptcy filings tend to be seasonal and often show peaks in April when tax season coincides with businesses.

However the %-age spike in bankruptcies in 2008 ahead of Lehman’s downfall was 46%. In the latest recorded month from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) was 81%. This March 2018 spike is the second highest since the GFC hit. April figures will be interesting if we get another lift on that figure. Not even seasonality can explain away the differences. The trends seem clear.

Thinking logically, we are at the end of the generous credit cycle. Interest rates are heading north thanks to a less accommodating Fed. Naturally ‘weaker’ companies will have more trouble in refinancing under such environments. The lowering of corporate taxes would seem to be a boon, but with loss making businesses it becomes harder to exercise tax loss carry forwards.

We’ve already started to see GFC levels of credit card delinquency at the sub-prime end of town. Sub-prime auto loan makers seeking bankruptcy protection have surged too.

Fitch, which rates auto-loan ABS said the 60+ day delinquency rate of subprime auto loans has now risen to 5.8%, up from 5.2% a year ago, and up from 3.8% in February 2014 to the highest rate since Oct 1996, exceeding even GFC levels.

growing number of car loans in the US are being pushed further down the repayment line as much as 84 months. In the new car market the percentage of 73-84-month loans is 33.8%, triple the level of 2009. Even 10% of 2010 model year bangers are being bought on 84 month term loans. The US ended 2016 with c.$1.2 trillion in outstanding auto loan debt, up 9%YoY and 13% above the pre-crisis peak in 2005.

The irony here is that sub-prime auto loan makers expanded lending because new technology allowed these companies to to remotely shut down and repossess vehicles of owners who were late on payments. That game only lasts so long before it forms its own Ponzi scheme.

Throw skittish financial markets, geopolitical instability and the mother of all refinancings coming the US Treasury’s way it is not to hard to see bankruptcies pick up from here.

Child sexual grooming in Rotheram – Details of The Inquiry

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The details of the Rotherham grooming gang scandal was tabulated in an independent inquiry looking at the problem between 1997-2013 showing the extent of the cover up. The table above shows the actions taken after 157 complaints about child grooming in Rotherham were made to the South Yorkshire Police since 2013. The Inquiry tabulates a case of a father being arrested for trying to get his daughter out of a rape den. A 12yo girl was raped in a park then doused in gasoline and threatened with being lit if she said anything about what has happened. The sad thing is that these gangs are wide spread – Rotherham, Rochdale, Newcastle, Bristol, Aylesbury, Oxford, Peterborough, Keighley, Newham, Leeds, Bradford, Telford, Sheffield and London. The report discusses how the gangs transfer the children within the ‘safe houses; in the network to keep the industry clandestine.

The Inquiry was given a list of 988 children known to children’s social care, or the Police. 51 were current cases and 937 historic. It read 66 case files in total. It took a randomised sample of 19 current and 19 historic cases. In 95% of the files sampled, there was clear evidence that the child had been a victim of sexual exploitation. Only two children (5%) were at risk of being exploited rather than victims. From the random samples, we concluded that it was very probable that a high proportion of the 988 children were victims.

Taking all these sources together, the Inquiry concluded that at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013. This is likely to be a conservative estimate of the true scale of the problem. It was unable to assess the numbers of other children who may have been at risk of exploitation, or those who were exploited but not known to any agency. This includes some who were forced to witness other children being assaulted and abused.

The responses by the authorities were absolutely insane. Take some of the following examples from the report:

We read cases where a child was doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, children who were threatened with guns, children who witnessed brutally violent rapes and were threatened that they would be the next victim if they told anyone. Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators, one after the other. One said,What’s the point… I might as well be dead.

In two of the cases we read, fathers tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused, only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene. In a small number of cases (which have already received media attention) the victims were arrested for offences such as breach of the peace or being drunk and disorderly, with no action taken against the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault against children.

One child who was being prepared to give evidence received a text saying the perpetrator had her younger sister and the choice of what happened next was up to her. She withdrew her statements. At least two other families were terrorised by groups of perpetrators, sitting in cars outside the family home, smashing windows, making abusive and threatening phone calls. On some occasions child victims went back to perpetrators in the belief that this was the only way their parents and other children in the family would be safe. In the most extreme cases, no one in the family believed that the authorities could protect them.

The Inquiry listed what had happened to these girls, aged as young as 11, after being discovered. It is shocking beyond belief:

Child A (2000) was 12 when the risk of sexual exploitation became known. She was associating with a group of older Asian men and possibly taking drugs. She disclosed having had intercourse with 5 adults. Two of the adults received police cautions after admitting to the Police that they had intercourse with Child A. Child A continued to go missing and was at high risk of sexual exploitation. A child protection case conference was held. It was agreed by all at the conference that Child A should be registered. However, the CID representative argued against the category of sexual abuse being used because he thought that Child A had been ‘100% consensual in every incident’. This was overruled, with all others at the case conference demonstrating a clear understanding that this was a crime and a young child was not capable of consenting to the abuse she had suffered. She was supported appropriately once she was placed on the child protection register.

Child F (2006) was a victim of serious sexual abuse when she was a young child. She was groomed for sexual exploitation by a 27-year-old male when she was 13. She was subjected to repeated rapes and sexual assaults by different perpetrators, none of whom were brought to justice. She repeatedly threatened to kill herself and numerous instances of serious self-harm were recorded in the case file, including serious overdoses and trying to throw herself in front of cars. Social workers worked to protect Child F after she was referred by the Police. There was good cooperation between children’s social care services, the Police, Risky Business and acute hospital services, where doctors were seriously concerned about her because of the number and seriousness of hospital admissions over such a short time, many associated with serious drug misuse and self-harm. There was evidence in the file of social workers, frontline managers and Risky Business workers doing everything possible to help Child F. She was eventually placed in secure care, where she stayed for several months. During this time she was kept safe and a process of therapeutic intervention began.

Child H (2008) was 11 years old when she came to the attention of the Police. She disclosed that she and another child had been sexually assaulted by adult males. When she was 12, she was found drunk in the back of a car with a suspected CSE (child sexual exploitation) perpetrator, who had indecent photos of her on his phone. Risky Business became involved and the Locality Team did an initial assessment and closed the case. Her father provided Risky Business with all the information he had been able to obtain about the details of how and where his daughter had been exploited and abused, and who the perpetrators were. This information was passed on to the authorities. Around this time, there were further concerns about her being a victim of sexual exploitation. She was identified as one of a group of nine children associating with a suspected CSE perpetrator. Her case had not been allocated by children’s social care. The Chair of the Strategy meeting expressed concern about her and considered she needed a child protection case conference. This does not appear to have been held. Three months later, the social care manager recorded on the file that Child H had been assessed as at no risk of sexual exploitation, and the case was closed. Less than a month later, she was found in a derelict house with another child, and a number of adult males. She was arrested for being drunk and disorderly (her conviction was later set aside) and none of the males were arrested. Child H was at this point identified as being at high risk of CSE. Risky Business, social care workers and the Police worked to support Child H and her father and she was looked after for a period. She suffered a miscarriage while with foster carers. Her family moved out of the area and Child H returned home. Some of the perpetrators were subsequently convicted.

Last week CM wrote about crime in London and how it has ballooned in recent years. A day after that it was revealed that London had a higher number of murders than New York. A 78-yo London pensioner was arrested after a person broke into his house and in the act of self defence the burglar was wounded and later died. So the criminal has more rights than the person exercising self defence. A father trying to save a daughter from being groomed gets arrested.

Yet political correctness and decades of turning a blind eye by the police allowed well documented cases of sexual grooming of children continue. A comedian that taught his girlfriend’s dog to do a Nazi salute faces a 12 month jail term tomorrow under the accusation of ‘hate speech’. Despite the tasteless nature of the joke do we think a comedian or a child rapist should be prioritized for prosecution? For all of the authorities meeting with senior social media heads to clamp down on ‘free speech’ when they could equally use those technologies and laws to capture texts and pornographic pictures of those people under suspicion of sexually exploiting children?

This is what the Inquiry had to say about the Police:

We deal with the response of South Yorkshire Police at some length throughout this report. While there was close liaison between the Police, Risky Business and children’s social care from the early days of the Risky Business project, there were very many historic cases where the operational response of the Police fell far short of what could be expected. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. The Police had excellent procedures from 1998, but in practice these appear to have been widely disregarded….We were contacted by someone who worked at the Rotherham interchange in the early 2000s. He described how the Police refused to intervene when young girls who were thought to be victims of CSE were being beaten up and abused by perpetrators. According to him, the attitude of the Police at that time seemed to be that they were all ‘undesirables’ and the young women were not worthy of police protection.

The Council was no better:

In 2004-2005, a series of presentations on CSE were first made to councillors and then other relevant groups and agencies, led by the external manager of Risky Business, from Youth Services. The presentations were unambiguous about the nature and extent of the problem…In 2006, a Conservative councillor requested a meeting with the Council Leader at which he expressed his concerns about CSE. This had come to his attention via constituents. He told the Inquiry that the Council Leader advised him the matters were being dealt with by the Police and requested that he did not raise them publicly…

Interviews with senior members revealed that none could recall the issue ever being discussed in the Labour (Party) Group until 2012. Given the seriousness of the subject, the evidence available, and the reputational damage to the Council, it is extraordinary that the Labour Group, which dominated the Council, failed to discuss CSE until then. Some senior members acknowledged that that was a mistake. Asked if they should have done things differently, they thought that as an administration they should have tackled the issues ‘head on’, including any concerns about ethnic issues.”

We could go on and on about the evidence discovered about the ‘Asian’ background of a majority of the perpetrators and how political correctness has allowed 1,000s of young girls’ lives have been destroyed because of the silence of the authorities. This is just one town. Without a doubt the ‘grooming industry’ operates in similar ways across the UK. The Inquiry found that taxi companies operated as part of the grooming gangs. It shouldn’t matter who commits the crimes or what their background is – it should matter how justice is served as a community that holds common decency as values. Even more importantly that law enforcement and the judiciary prosecute in a manner that sets an example such that it will never be tolerated.

All the above looks like appeasment, cowardice and a coordinated effort to hush up one of the most shameful periods in UK history.  This is only the beginning. As the famous saying goes, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Racial bias in US school discipline? Some shocking correlations

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The GAO has published a 98 page report on discipline in US schools. In a perhaps somewhat irresponsible manner of formatting, it suggests that teachers seem to pick on particular races and disabilities for those reasons alone. It is as if teachers are pushing kids with wheelchairs uncontrollably down ramps. Yet, ‘disability’ of course includes mental problems which could range from anxiety to depression. 11.7% of students are classified with a disability. Yet delving deeply within the stats, of the 56 million K-12 students, 5.7% have been in detention, only 0.4% of the total have been referred to law enforcement, 0.3% have been expelled, 0.2% received corporal punishment and less than 0.1% have been arrested. In short, 99.6% of students stay out of ‘big’ trouble and 94.3% stay out of detention. Single parent households and poverty levels are highly correlated to discipline. Reporting the headlines of the GAO makes for shock and awe but had they reported the 0.X% stats it would deflate the rhetoric.

The NY Times article implied there must be some sort of unconscious bias as teachers were being bigoted bullies. Doesn’t the mainstream media defend the very same people as the last bastions of educational excellence against the tyranny of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 80% of teachers are white. Although this has been on a long term decline.

If white students (K-12) represent 50.3% of the total is it fair to assume that they should hold an equal % of disciplinary actions? Do crime stats and incarceration rates reflect race based demographics anywhere in the world? In America, 24.7% of students are Hispanic and 15.5% are black. When it comes to higher levels of poverty, Hispanics are way under-represented in the disciplinary stats despite being higher proportions of the students. Whites are punished more or less in line with their population in that bracket.

In the interests of gender equality, why are girls, at 49% of all students punished at half the rate of boys? Unconscious bias or is it through our own experiences, women are far less likely to bring the wrath of teachers in class? A reasonably safe assumption to make.

Nearly half of all public school students went to schools where 50% or more of the students were low-income, and about a quarter went to schools where 75% or more of the students were low-income. Of the 11.5mn students in 75-100% low income backgrounds, 1 million spent time in out of school detention. Of the 9.9 million students in 0-25% low income schools, 217,000 spent time in out of school detention. 128,500 of those were white. Whites make up 78% of 0-25% low income school populations and only 16% of 75-100% low income schools. Therefore it stands to reason statistically that if students in less poverty stricken schools trigger fewer disciplinary issues, then the stats would naturally bear out such differences rather than it being pure racial profiling.

So it would appear that low income would impact the rates of delinquency. Referring to number of kids living with both parents/step-parent (according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study) in America we find:

Asian: 82%

White: 71%

Hispanic: 55%

Black: 31%

The GAO stats make clear that Asian kids get caught up in the least amount of disciplinary action both by absolute and percentage wise. Blacks the most, Hispanics second and whites 3rd. Could it be an inverse correlation? Psychological studies have shown boys seem to be more impacted by the lack of a father in the house than do girls. Children (especially boys) raised by single mothers are more likely to fare worse on a number of dimensions, including their school achievement, their social and emotional development, their health and their success in the labor market. They are at greater risk of parental abuse and neglect (especially from live-in boyfriends who are not their biological fathers), more likely to become teen parents and less likely to graduate from high school or college.

survey taken by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the US back in January of 1993 revealed poverty, alcoholism, student apathy and absenteeism were cited as big problems in secondary public schools. Lack of a parent was also high on the agenda.

The American Psychological Association, “poor (bottom 20 percent of all family incomes) students were five times more likely to drop out of high school than high-income (top 20 percent of all family incomes) students…Family poverty is associated with a number of adverse conditions — high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food insecurity; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse and other problems — known as “toxic stressors” because they are severe, sustained and not buffered by supportive relationships…Community poverty also matters. Some neighborhoods, particularly those with high concentrations of African-Americans, are communities of concentrated disadvantage with extremely high levels of joblessness, family instability, poor health, substance abuse, poverty, welfare dependency and crime

Broken homes and poverty are undoubtedly a big issue. The report said, “Besides lack of parent involvement, the school problems viewed as serious by at least 10 percent of public school teachers included student apathy, poverty, student absenteeism, student disrespect for teachers, parental alcoholism and/or drug abuse, and student tardiness. Behaviors and attitudes of students were more likely to be seen as problematic by teachers at the secondary level than by teachers at the elementary level. Parent alcoholism, on the other hand, was described as “serious” as often by elementary teachers as by secondary teachers and poverty was described as “serious” more often by elementary teachers.”

85% of kids likely to go to college or higher levels of education came from stable family backgrounds. 61% of kids likely to drop out before graduating high school are from broken homes. Sixty One Percent!

So before reading into it that teachers must be subconsciously racially profiling students in handing out punishment, perhaps the overwhelming weight of societal evidence points to far bigger problems that need addressing. Poverty, single parent households and a whole raft of issues need dealing before the government watchdog should report back racial bias at a top down level. According to the logic, perhaps teachers should be forced into student discipline quotas. That way (un)conscious bias won’t afflict teachers and whites can be punished in line with their demographically representation.

Let’s not forget that financial institutions have often been targeted for charging black customers higher interest rates on loans than whites. What they always fail to mention is that Asians pay even lower rates than both. That is the problem with selectivity in data without meaningfully looking at the broader picture. Just like the recent Florida school shooting where a look at what is going on in terms of school security over decades paints a different picture to what the mainstream narrative would want us to believe.

Green bean counters need a solar calculator

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The Greens in Australia would be better off channeling people that can count rather than  put forward policies that want to ensure a basic income package that would bankrupt us. Then again the Greens have a history of putting forward such people who can’t count (two links below) which shows why they’ll never be taken seriously in any policy they put forward. The Greens are great at espousing benefits. They just never get ‘costs’.

Natalie Bennett, former UK Greens leader on public housing

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young on Superannuation

Enjoy.

Roseanne continues to romp

The Hollywood Reporter revelead that Roseanne, Episode 2 of the reboot,  averaged a 3.9 rating among adults in the key demo of 18 to 49 year olds with about 15.2 million total viewers on Tuesday.  Total viewership of Episode 1 resulted in a 25 million audience after accounting for delayed viewing.The CBS comedy hit a 7.3 Nielsen rating in the key 18-49 age demo and replaces the ABC 2014 revival of “How to Get Away With Murder.” Analysts expect Roseanne’s numbers to grow even larger once Hulu and ABC online streaming is accounted for, which could add several more millions.

Food insecurity & poverty levels by US state & the 2016 election result

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The US Department of Agriculture listed the level of food insecurity by US state as at the end of FY2016. Looking at the data, Deplorables (states that voted Republican (red) in the 2016 election) made up 20 of the 25 states that suffered the most from it. Coincidence? Looking at the % below the poverty line and 19 out of 25 states voted for Trump. Coincidence? There is a touch of irony that the Democrats, which push for citizens to be married to the state, were by and large rejected by those suffering the most and want to be free of the shackles of poverty. So is it any wonder they’d reject the establishment. Should also be a signal for the Democrats to think more widely about what makes the Deplorable tick – not free hand outs. Opportunity!

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