Shareholders

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.

Greta, the poster child for a dysfunctional education system

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You have to hand it to the left. They truly have indoctrination down pat. While there is a sense of awe at the sheer number of kids who attended Friday’s protests around the world at the expense of school (in some cases even exams), 16yo Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, the poster child for ‘climate change’, has exposed how dysfunctional our educational system has become. Forget discipline. Dismiss reasoned discussion. Conform and get rewarded for it.

CM has always felt sorry for Greta’s exploitation. She typifies the style of propaganda used over generations. The way that the UN, EU or World Economic Forum hang off her every word. It is deeply embarrassing. Made worse by the hypocrisy of 1,500 private jets used to fly to hear her speak in Davos.

Many teachers and parents of these kids are no better. Often espousing patronizing and sanctimonious sermons about the intelligence of the youth today. Not to worry, Extinction Rebellion has even published a piece on hypocrisy. Thomas Sinclair wrote,

Someone who doesn’t know the evidence might perhaps be persuaded to review it. But someone who thinks I’m a hypocrite may suppose that I’ve reviewed the evidence and am acting on it — so she can skip the review herself and take my actions as her guide.” Take that!

He goes on,

However, XR can do better than the standard response. The most important point is this. There is no hypocrisyDriving to XR protests, or using vinyl banners, or eating a Pret sandwich at an XR roadblock — these are not hypocritical actions. Hypocrisy is a matter of preaching one thing but practising another. But what XR preaches is a radical change of the system within which we must make our choices, not of the choices we make within the system as it stands.

What infallible logic! How could we be so obtuse? Those kids CM found eating McDonald’s before the climate strike were completely aware of their actions. They were “highlighting” the problem of the fast-food chain’s utter disdain for the planet to serve food in single-use plastics and paper packaging. It was a cry to get McDonald’s to change its wicked ways. Or was it they were just oblivious to the fact that, while gorging on hamburgers, fries and thick shakes, were unable to fathom their own double standards. Lucky for them, Sinclair has a get out of jail free card. Who knew?

It wasn’t so long ago that a CIS study in Australia revealed that 58% of millennials had a favourable view of socialism. Unfortunately, 51% did not know who Chairman Mao was. Another 32% did not know Stalin and 42% hadn’t heard of Lenin. If we combine with “know but not familiar” with “don’t know” we see almost 80%, 66% and 74% respectively. Oh, how wonderful to learn in school about three men whose social policies led to the deaths of 10s of millions. Unbeknownst to them, many of their teachers follow the same Marxist mindset.

What more proof do you need when an RMIT senior lecturer tweeted he’d award full marks for 5% of the course for those that attended provided they sent in a selfie. Presumably, those that didn’t submit a selfie would be secretly docked marks. RMIT made a glib response to the professor’s tweet which went along the lines of defending the indefensible. Pathetic. He should be severely reprimanded or sacked for completely unprofessional conduct.

Corporations often complain about the difficulty in hiring the skills they need to grow. Shouldn’t they now be extra wary that the degrees awarded to those they are looking to hire have been issues on the basis of aligned participation, not academic effort? Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah might make noise about having to be big on social justice to attract the next generation but if they attend schools which openly support activism quite frankly they are all theirs! CM would prefer investing in companies that hire kids who got their education that cost $2.50 in late charges at the public library.

CM has written before on the slipping standards in Aussie education. Is it any wonder when a growing number of teachers are radical activists. Our education system needs a massive overhaul. Our ranks in maths, science and literacy have all been heading south. We aren’t teaching our kids that the real world out there is a touch place. Wrapping them in cotton wool will not serve them at all in later life. That will ironically be the real impact of chasing climate change agendas and the misguided policy that was enacted due to weak-willed authorities.

Although don’t get too excited about a sea change in thinking to fix this awful course. The latest 2019 OECD report has been captured by the warming cult, justifying worsening trends in education on shifts in society, even going so far as to quote (p.16) Decca Records rejecting The Beatles back in 1962 as evidence of how we can get it wrong.

Justifying – although not admitting – the slip (denoted as a “shift”) in education standards on climate change is insane in the extreme. Lucky for us there is a summary version written by the OECD. The full report is here. 479 pages of blather.

There are too many examples of schools around the globe folding to this Marxist nonsense. In the past, student bodies embracing Marxism as a fad were par for the course. Now the university faculties are the drivers. For example:

Posters from the University of San Francisco (uSF) point at white students so they appropriately check their privilege. Karl Marx may have recently turned 200 but his legacy lives and breathes in California. So much for universities being the cradle of free and open thinking.

The Inclusive Communications Task Force at the Colorado State University has introduced an appropriate language guide and it has deemed the words “America” and “Americans” might prove offensive to some and have discouraged their use on campus.

The University of Texas launched, “MasculinUT”, a program which was organized by the school’s counselling staff with a poster series encouraging students to develop a “healthy model of masculinity.” The program is built around “restrictive masculinity” and tries to encourage men to drop traditional gender roles to “act like a man”, be “successful” or “the breadwinner.”

Dr. Aaron Brough of Utah State University conducted a study to see if there is a correlation between toxic masculinity and climate change. His assumptions ran the line that men see environmentalism as more feminine and get triggered if forced to make ecological choices if they feel threatened.

The University of Melbourne allowed an artistic performance that required “paying” white customers access on the basis of signing an acknowledgement of white privilege. The $600mn+ taxpayer-funded University of Melbourne’s motto is Postera Cescam Laude, which is Latin for “We shall grow in the esteem of future generations.” It is not clear whether the founders of the UoM had Marxist theories at the forefront of their minds in 1853. Growing the esteem of future generations was not to come by cutting down those whose passions as individuals cause them to strive for greatness. Yet the radical leftists believe esteem comes, not from effort, but allocation.

Don’t think that the indoctrination begins in secondary or tertiary education. From tender ages, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria, some educational apparatchiks believe a grandparent kissing their grandchild can violate them and can be considered assault. In what world does a grandparent showing affection to their own flesh and blood have incest on their minds? Most likely never.

It would seem to CM that the most important Royal Commission to be conducted is on our education system. From Safe School programs to universities, Australia’s long term future is being seriously impacted by utterly valueless indoctrination. We will not be the lucky country for much longer because this garbage is already seeping into corporate board rooms.

Note CM in no way thinks Greta Thunberg is associated with Nazis.

Qantas & Virgin answering questions nobody is asking

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah have told the National Press Club that part of the role of their businesses is to back social issues. Puhlease.

Have shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favour of Joyce deploying their funds to sponsor woke causes? No one is stopping Joyce from pushing whatever virtue signaling he likes in his own time, but he probably might reflect that most of his customers haven’t requested to be lectured on board. Scurrah is the newbie, so he seems to want to score some media attention.

The latest excuse to push this corporate social nonsense is the unfounded research that kids of today require their corporates to have these woke causes embedded in the culture for them to join. What happened to “employer of choice” based on the business model? Will budding pilots want to pick the airline with the best conditions and business survivability or that which has the best carbon offset programme? Truth be told, what young ecomentalist university graduate wants to join an evil carbon dioxide producing airline anyway?

Having said that, employee retention will not favour wokeness when pay and conditions remain crimped by misguided company policy vs more attractive opportunities at firms that focus less on this. Harvey Norman is exhibit A on that measure. It is crushing the competition.

Qantas only needs to look internally at its own carbon offset program and how dismal it is. While it might be the world’s largest, truth is around 2% elect to pay for the sin of flying.

Back in May 2018, CM noted, while waiting in the lounge,

“So to offset my flight to Haneda, CM would pay $11.21 AUD. CM can put it to ‘local action’ (fund activism?), ‘developing communities’ or ‘global renewables’. In its 2017 Annual Report, Qantas boasted,

We have the world’s largest airline offset program and have now been carbon offsetting for over 10 years. In 2016/17, we reached three million tonnes offset.”

Carbon calculators tend to work on the assumption of 0.158kg CO2/passenger kilometre.

In the last 10 years Qantas has flown around 1 trillion revenue passenger kilometres. While the literature in the annual report denotes one passenger offsets every 53 seconds, the mathematical reality is simple – 2% of miles are carbon offset. So that means that 98% of people couldn’t care less.

Perhaps more embarrassing is that The Guardian noted in Jan 2018 that,

Qantas [was the] worst airline operating across Pacific for CO2 emissions

Kind of a massive load of hot air when you do the maths!

Mr Joyce might earn $24m p.a. CM would reckon shareholders would be glad to hike that if he ditched the social justice nonsense.

Qantas service is rarely anything to rave about so more effort applied in that area could well serve the company’s (and shareholder’s) interests far better than answering question hardly anyone is asking.

What are banned but addicted vapers going to smoke now?

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Tobacco companies fall foul of most ESG (environment/social/governance)/CSR (corporate social responsibility) measures. Good. Give that so much money is already loaded into corporations that focus on financial virtue signalling, tobacco companies remain forgotten. They look a great mean reversion trade.

British American Tobacco (BTI) is trading at $36 almost half the level of two years ago. Now at 1.02x book value and a 7.3% yield.

Philip Morris Int’l (PM) is at $72.60, down from $122.90 in 2017. A 6.4% dividend yield.

Imperial Brands (IMBBY) at $26.73 down from $55.55 in 2016. A 9.2% yield.

JT is less than half its 2016 number trading at $21.44. A 6.45% yield.

Philip Morris doesn’t have a vaping business but it appears with all these bans in NY etc that nicotine-addicted vapers will switch back to the old school.

Old habits die hard and cigarette smoking is pretty inelastic. Even in bonkers $40 a packet Australia, the ABS records men continued to be more likely than women to smoke daily (16.5% compared to 11.1%). Rates for both men and women have declined since 1995 when 27.3% of men and 20.3% of women smoked daily. However, these rates have remained similar since 2014-15 (16.9% for men and 12.1% for women). Therefore taxes haven’t killed off the habit.

So start underweighting the rubbish in your portfolio that has a penchant for banning plastic straws in the staff canteen to those corporates that allow yourself the opportunity to kill you!

Let’s not forget that governments aren’t going to terminate the monster taxes from this either, especially that so many national and state budgets around the world are looking seriously sick.

Event manager compliance declarations?

One has to wonder about how strict corporates are in ensuring event staff declare perks of the job for compliance. We all know it happens. How is it the travel manager inside companies always has the best tan and looks the healthiest? She is only exploring potential offsite venues naturally. All part of the job…

At least the Raddison is being open about bribing potential event managers with kickback shopping vouchers if they spend even more shareholder funds than necessary.

Long Way Up for Harley

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Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are apparently planning to ride electric Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycles from South America to Los Angeles. CM loved the first two series – even bought a BMW R1200GS Adventure in the knowledge of what the bike could do. CM rode to every prefecture in Japan on that bike which to date has been one of the fondest memories of living there 20 years. Experiencing different cultures and places that contrast the crowded cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

The duo is looking to replicate the successful formula of ‘Long Way Round‘ (riding from London to NY) and its sequel ‘Long Way Down‘ (riding from John O’Groats to Cape Town). Unfortunately, the latest offering is unlikely to whip up the same cult status of the originals. Why?

The first two chapters focused on serious hardcore off-roading through the likes of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Africa with all manner of struggles, mishaps and adventures along the way. BMW’s GS series motorcycles did a roaring trade off the back of the success of this trip. It was beta tested to the extreme. It remains BMW’s best selling motorcycle even today.

Unfortunately, given the diabolical long term decline trend in unit sales at Harley-Davidson, it is unlikely that an electric bike with a limited range and next to no luggage carrying capability will make sense in resurrecting the former glories of Milwaukee’s divine franchise. Although it is in line with the rudderless board at H-D which CM has made reference to multiple times.

Harley is planning to launch an adventure bike to compete with the BMW GS, so why hasn’t it chosen that so the brand can promote capabilities which would bring far more attention to the brand’s new capabilities? Will it camp or just check into 5-star hotels with wall sockets?

Sorry, but a bulk of Harley owners want to be seen as leather-clad rebels, not soy latte sipping trendies. Harley-Davidson is probably one of the very few brands that customers are willing to tattoo to their bodies. That is brand power! Furthermore, the whole point of owning a Harley was to enable owners to hide in their mancaves looking and tinker for hours to get peace and quiet from the trouble and strife. Plugging in the Livewire to a wall socket is not the game-changer product Harley needs and will only force husbands to discuss for hours whether ivory or off-beige would be the best tile colour for the bathroom. It will be the worst decision of his life and force a trade-in to fossil-fuel power. 

Harley would be better off buying a scooter maker if it wants to go down the electric route. If Harley analysed its own history it would recall it tried to patent its distinctive sound. How soon it forgets.

The Long Way Up move looks like a massive marketing exercise whereby Ewan and Charley are getting a small fortune to promote a bike that won’t transform Harley in the slightest. CM understands Harley needs to totally revamp its approach to markets but electricity is as far removed from its core brand proposition as to beggar belief.

CM has always said that Harley needs to get back in touch and listen to its core customer base, the very thing Willie Davidson did in the dark days when Harley nearly went bust in the 1980s. That seminal but simple strategy by the founder’s grandson saved Harley.

Often the most sensible business strategies focus not around trying to be something they’re not but celebrating and embracing exactly what they are. Brands have spent a lifetime emulating Harley. Why channel a wonky Taiwanese white goods maker who dabbles in Uber Eats carrying commuter junk?

Atlassian should back the Minerals Council of Australia, not knock it

Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes (MCB) has apparently been on a campaign trying to get the already left-leaning board of BHP to ditch ties with groups like the Minerals Council of Australia. But why?

CM believes that nothing shows the prosecution of a cause than leading from the front. MCB should use the might of Atlassian’s $32 bn market cap and seek to buy a controlling stake in BHP whereby it can behave like an activist shareholder and achieve those goals from within. A bit rich to demand a company like BHP fold to the whims of another listed corporate which has no direct business with it. That would be terrible governance for BHP to pay MCB any mind.

How would MCB react if BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie turned around and demanded that Atlassian cut ties with ANZ for being embroiled in the Hayne Banking Royal Commission? MCB would rightly tell him to take a hike.

One doubts that MCB has much of his superannuation buried in BHP shares but why pick on the Minerals Council of Australia? After all, if he had a good look at what Australia’s mineral industry enables, Atlassian should be a backer not a knocker. Why not influence the debate by being part of it?

Here is a list of 30 things Australian minerals companies provide, including vital materials used in wind farms and solar panels, the very forms of renewable energy MCB wants Atlassian to rely on 100% to power its future. MCB’s Tesla is reliant on Aussie minerals to make the batteries. So does his smartphone, tablets, laptops and desktops. And so do the white goods that chill his food and the copper pipes that deliver hot water in his lovely mansion in Sydney. His dentist uses those minerals to maximise his oral hygiene.  The list goes on.

No one can take away the success MCB has achieved in the corporate sphere. However, it would appear that being an expert in the software world doesn’t always translate to being a sage on the environment much less hold any authority to dictate the boardroom discussions of a company that is more crucial to its existence than the other way around.