#woke

Fair Dinkum Virtue Signaling

Atlasssian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has been a huge advocate of renewables. So much so he has stated he wants to be a net exporter of wind and solar. Fair Dinkum Power (FDP), the company he helped set up, had a manifesto which stated the following,

We are a movement. We are a brand for Australia’s energy future. We are a rallying cry for all who believe in the power of the wind, the sun, the waves and – most importantly – the power of the people of Australia.

For energy to be fair dinkum, it must be honestly good for our wallets, good for our economy and good for our planet.

So to CM’s surprise today, the AFR noted,

“The Atlassian co-founder applied to deregister Australian Fair Dinkum Power Pty Ltd on November 27, almost exactly a year after he set it up in response to Prime Minister Scott Morrison referring to coal as “fair dinkum power” in comparison to solar or wind.

A spokesperson for the Rich Lister said the Fair Dinkum Power cause, which advocates for Australia to be 100 per cent powered by renewables and export as much again, would live on in the form of a website, an online petition (which has more than 90,000 signatories) and a Facebook page.

The company never undertook any business activity and the spokesperson said there had never been any intention to start any, despite rumours that Mr Cannon-Brookes would launch a retail energy supplier under the Fair Dinkum banner.

One can only imagine that the realities of the free market meant that it was never going to be good for wallets or the economy. CM awaits the media to conduct a full investigation into this sad outcome with all the gusto they did at FDP’s inception.

Fair Dinkum Virtue Signaling!

It was only several months ago that Mike Cannon-Brookes (MCB) was on a campaign 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.

Qantas to sue Will.i.am?

Image result for will.i.am helicopter

CM rarely has a kind word for Qantas when it comes to service, but good on the airline for being prepared to defend a stewardess who Will.I.am decided to accuse of “racism” on Twitter. Of course, the full facts about what went on board to cause the fracas is yet to be released but sadly passengers need to realise when they are on the plane, the crew do have the law on their side. Apparently, the musician didn’t want to put his laptop in the overhead bin. Good luck winning that fight when instructed by the crew. It is a condition of flying.

One could almost be forgiven for thinking it was a pre-concert promotional stunt to stir up the media into a frenzy to sell more tickets. Thankfully Qantas flight attendants don’t wear MAGA hats, serve Subway sandwiches or carry bleach. Yet they do carry restraining kits. If Will.I.am truly did his homework he would have realised that Qantas is more woke than he is.

As successful as Will.I.am has been in his career, the triggered musician has had a history of not always living in the real world. Sadly when celebrities make millions they become so conditioned to having wind blown up their backside that when someone pushes back over the most trivial of things their outrage is amplified as if their life was at stake. Sometimes they don’t even get their own hypocrisy. Take this example.

Will.I.am attended a climate change debate in Oxford in his own helicopter – which is not dissimilar in size to Marine One – and said at the conference, “Climate change should be the thing that we are all worried and concerned about as humans on this planet, how we affect the planet, our consumption, and how we treat the place that we live in.”

Can we defund SBS too?

This isn’t journalism. This is alarmist quackery for the sake of it. Venice has been subject to flooding for centuries. While the floods in Venice now are the highest for over 50 years, it still means that floods were higher in 1966. Let that sink in. Presumably it wasn’t climate change driven back then.

One can only imagine what a Venice Council could possibly do to combat climate change? Perhaps ruin the skyline with wind turbines and solar panels atop the roofs of the Rialto Bridge or San Marco Square?? To alarmists, no amount of tokenism is too little. Claim a climate emergency and show how worthy you really are.

No matter what the Venice Council does to “combat” climate change it will have no effect. Maybe the gondola union can indulge in some crony capitalism and demand that the €7.50 Vaporetto passenger ferries are banned so they can charge €150 to go from Santa Croce to Piazza San Marco instead. At least gondolas are zero emission vessels.

The SBS needs to grow up and deliver proper well reasoned content for the $400m in taxpayer funds it receives.

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.

Why free speech matters, even for those accusing firefighters of wife beating

The Greens have proven exactly why free speech, they so detest, is so important. It is by this inalienable right that we get to see the true colours of people or movements. We don’t have to like what it is said. In this case the very party that gave a platform to the individual in question has now distanced itself.

During the bushfires, these unhinged lunatics within The Greens have spoken of the government as “borderline arsonists” and promoted domestic violence advocate, Sherele Moody, who said,”Women become extremely unsafe when, generally, the men return home from the fires and subject them to domestic violence.

So instead of heaping praise on the brave souls defending lives and property, often as volunteers, Moody accuses them of being wife beaters. By that logic, maybe some of the brave female fire fighters go home to beat their husbands because cataclysmic events cause domestic violence to peak. It is a ridiculous assertion.

Has Moody got the full facts?

Let’s explore the research. According to a UK study,

“Male victims  (39%) are over three times as likely than women (12%) not to tell anyone about the partner abuse they are suffering from. Only 10% of male victims will tell the police (26% women), only 23% will tell a person in an official position (43% women) and only 11% (23% women) will tell a health professional.

The number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has increased sevenfold since 2004/05. From 806 in 2004/05 to 5,641 in 2015/16…In 2015, 119,000 men reported to English and Welsh police forces stating they were a victim of domestic abuse. 22% of all victims who report to the police are male. In 2012, 73,524 men did…

Men don’t leave abusive relationships for various reasons – the top reasons being: concern about the children (89%), marriage for life (81%), love (71%), the fear of never seeing their children again (68%), a belief she will change (56%), not enough money(53%), nowhere to go (52%), embarrassment (52%), not wanting to take kids away from their mother (46%), threats that she will kill herself (28%) and fears she will kill him (24%). 

Of those that suffered from partner abuse in 2012/13, 29% of men and 23% of women suffered a physical injury, a higher proportion of men suffering severe bruising or bleeding (6%) and internal injuries or broken bones/teeth (2%) than women (4% and 1% respectively). 30% of men who suffer from partner abuse have emotional and mental problems (47% women). Only 27% of men sought medical advice whilst 73% of women did.

The percentage of gay or bi-sexual men (6.2%) who suffered partner abuse in 2008/09 is nearly double the number for heterosexual men (3.3%). Lesbian women (12.4%) as a percentage also suffered far more partner abuse compared to heterosexual women (4.3%).

The US National Intimate Partner Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS) conducted in 2010 showed that 25 million men had claimed they were victims of some form of sexual violence by an intimate partner or acquaintance. Heather Jo Flores wrote in The Independent with respect to disrespecting women, 

Men, it’s not our job to keep reminding you. Remind each other, and stop abusing. It’s as simple as that. Until men speak out against men who abuse, this will never stop. How about y’all post “I ignored it and I won’t anymore” instead? Because #hearyou doesn’t cut it. Just hearing us doesn’t cut it. Taking action, speaking out, and showing zero tolerance for abuse is the only way through. Silence enables. Be the change..So why do men need to have multiple victims come forward before anybody says a damn thing”

Flores went on to say, “Yes, I know men get abused too. Once in a lifetime, maybe a handful of times, in extreme situations. And they get abused by men, mostly. Just like us…I write this to ask: why are we still demanding that women out themselves as survivors, again and again and again, rather than demanding that men out themselves as abusers? Violence against women is a daily reality,.”

In the 12 month period conducted in the NIPSVS survey, 6.46mn women and 6.1mn men were victims of sexual violence by their partner, an acquaintance or stranger. 4.74mn women were victims of physical violence by men and 5.365mn men were victims of physical violence by women. Hardly a handful of times, nor at the hands of men.

1.555mn men claimed their intimate female partner hit them with fists or a hard object vs 1.289m women making the claim. 3.13mn men were slapped by their women vs 1.85mn women being slapped by men.

Awful stats on any measure. Still, it puts paid the notion that men are generally victims of other men once a blue moon. When it came to psychological intimidation around 20.5mn men were victims of it vs 16.5mn women.

The NIPSVS survey was conducted again in 2011 and revealed much the same trends.

Moody was foolish to say that people who sacrifice so much to save lives seek to balance their spiritual yin by bashing their partners. Anyone can see how silly her remarks were although the ABC is probably quietly kicking itself for not inviting her into the Q&A panel the other week with the rest of the radical feminists who want to kill rapists and burn things.

This is why free speech is important. Sometimes we need to get such people out in the open to undermine themselves. Her credibility is duly shot. This hopefully sends a message that the people who may seek to pick up Moody’s mantle look to use better balance when prosecuting a legitimate problem without having to smear those who are worthy of our deepest praise in the process.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Inner West Council to host the 2020 Oppression Olympics

Image result for victim card

Who would have ever imagined that the left-leaning Inner-West Council (IWC) would push to change the celebration of Australia Day which, according to Mayor Darcy Byrne, marks “for Aboriginal people, the beginning of colonisation, dispossession and the removal of children, the deliberate destruction of language and culture, there is a better and more mature way to commemorate the day that includes them.” to an Aboriginal festival called Yabun (which means music to a beat)?

What is this obsession with local councils to act in this way? Residents just require them to collect rubbish, make sure loo paper is replenished in local park lavatories and mow the lawns. If one bothers to read through the annual reports of these local councils one can see just how much spare time these people have on their hands. It is insane.

Take the Northern Beaches Council claim that it had saved 293 tonnes of carbon in the council area in the 2017-18 period. Put it against Australia’s CO2 impact vs the entire atmosphere meant that Northern Beaches hammered home a mammoth 0.000000000699857% saving! Yes 9 zeroes. How much hot air was wasted in meetings on that initiative? The ultimate irony was the cover of the Annual Report displayed its least fuel-efficient vehicle!

Or Ryde Council’s climate emergency! Referring to the Ryde Council Annual Report 2018 financials section one can see that it spent on what it terms “Environmental Programs” a grand sum of $547,000, down from $556,000 the previous year. To put that in context of budget expenditure, this climate change fearing council spent, wait for it, 0.34% of the total annual revenue on saving the planet. Ryde Council even grandstanded with,

This includes a commitment to divest its investment portfolio from fossil fuel-aligned financial institutions, supporting renewable and clean energy solutions and becoming one of the first councils to phase out single-use plastics.

The irony was that Ryde Council’s financial details list it has next to nothing in investments outside of fixed interest product. Beat that chest but beware of the medals you’ve pinned to yourselves as you sip lentil smoothies through a paper straw.

Back to IWC. In order to deal with the supposed oppression of 2,038 indigenous Australians out of 198,024 residents (i.e. 1% of the local population), did the IWC think to publish the tidal wave of complaints from this minority that demanded the move? Or did IWC do as the Yarra Council did in Melbourne and survey their mates to get the result they wanted? Recall Yarra councillors backed the Australia Day ban recommendations by pointing to an online survey of 88 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with 82% of respondents supportive of the change. Another 281 people were polled in a separate street survey, with 45.9% agreeing council should support the campaign.

In fact, it was even worse. IWC sought feedback after the 2019 Australia Day event and 37  (thirty-seven) people – “19%” of whom identified as Aboriginal – responded to an online survey, with most opposed to holding a celebratory Australia Day event. Most? 19 people would be a technical majority. So 0.0096% of the residents opposed it. Must be considered a landslide by the IWC?

If these IWC councillors are so triggered by Australia Day and the mistreatment of minorities two centuries ago, perhaps they should sack all 1,038 council staff members and hand them over to the original owners of the land as an overt sign of destroying the white patriarchy and atoning for the sins of people they had no relationship to who did things to others before they were born?

But of course, as ever with the identity politics driven left, creating oppression where none exists is a forte. Why not just embrace the idea that 196,000 other residents would probably be more than happy to have the inclusion of Yabun without the exclusion of everyone else.

Alas, this is the Australia CM has returned to after 20 years. Everyone trying to outdo the other in the moral preening stakes. We are a complete laughing stock. Sadly, we accept too much of this nonsense which only eggs on activists to push for ever more ridiculous demands.

As Thomas Sowell once said,

“Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.”

Indeed if IWC see these people as perpetual victims perhaps they can reflect that charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it.

Daft way to run a business

Why the celebration? CM is all for equal opportunity. Just not equal outcome. As CM said at the time of the US soccer team’s whinging over equal pay, if Megan Rapinoe and team make more revenues and broadcasting rights, pay them “more” than their male counterparts, not the same. Who could forget the almost North Korean level chants of “equal pay” during the Women’s World Cup this year?

How is equal pay remotely sensible for the Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) women’s team, the Matildas? Surely within the women’s team, there are proper stars and average players. Will those pay rates be equalised? So that the women’s soccer supremo that scores the most goals and achieves the highest number of tackles gets paid the same as the forward who can’t score and can’t defend to save herself? Who do the fans want to see? Who powers the turnstiles?

Look to other sports. Lewis Hamilton in F1 gets paid multiples more than fellow competitor, Romain Grosjean. Same job, Same conditions. Same everything. Yet, the 6x world champion gets factor fold levels of advertising dollars, hence he also banks that in his contract. Marc Marquez, the 8x world champion in MotoGP gets paid a fortune. Whereas Tito Rabat does not. Maybe because he is leading most of the time that the race coverage is focused at the front, rather than the back. It is all based on performance and TV exposure. Michael Jordan, Shaq, A-Rod and so on. The cream always gets paid what the market will bear. Some might call the $100mn that Ronaldo gets paid at Real Madrid as excessive but the club wouldn’t pay it if his magic didn’t cover the bills.

Ronaldo has 78 million Twitter followers vs his Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos who has a pitiful 16m. Surprise, surprise. Ronaldo makes more. Rapinoe has 899,700 followers. Should she get paid the same as Ronaldo? US men’s soccer team player Landon Donovan has 1.4m followers. Does the USSF see that the box office is sadly still skewed to the men’s game?

Once again, 260m watched the Women’s Soccer World Cup final in 2019. The 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia saw 1.12bn tune in for the final. 4.3x the audience.

To quote the Football Federation of Australia’s annual report of 2018,

Sydney FC had the honour of hosting the Westfield W-League 2018 Grand Final against
Melbourne City FC at Allianz Stadium. In front of a vocal crowd of 6,025.

Six thousand. Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle can feel a bit better about the abysmal attendance rugby has at home for the domestic series.

The men’s Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets soccer final in 2018 saw 29,410 fans attend that match. 5x that of the women’s final.

Same for the Matildas. They achieved a peak crowd attendance of 16,829. The men’s Socceroo team saw 77,060 supporters at ANZ Stadium on 15 November 2018. 4.6x more fans watched the men’s national team over the women’s. It is nothing to do with gender. Fans prefer the men’s game. Because of that, sponsors are willing to pay for greater exposure.

This is not to denigrate the Matildas. It is to point out that this constant pandering to “equal pay” is a disastrous way to win over fans. Because if the right talent isn’t paid accordingly, an overseas league will quickly bid them away and hollow out the local market. Attendance will drop and the revenues and sponsorship dollars will dry up with it. Doesn’t require rocket science.

Still, get woke, go broke. The Wallabies are proof is in the pudding for management that focuses on inclusivity and diversity instead of accepting reality of what actually pays the bills – the fans. The financials continue to deteriorate.

By all means, if the Matildas smash the Socceroos for revenue, viewership and broadcasting rights then by all mean pay them more, not the same. Welcome to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Australia in 2019 where virtue signalling means more than merit.

Just watch the mainstream media gush at how progressive the FFA is before realising in years to come just how regressive it eventually becomes for the game and how could it have happened?