Wry & Dry

Bugger of a week, really. Trump slump? Centenary of communism.

Bugger of a week, really.

The loss of a life always diminishes those close by: family, friend, colleague, passer-by.  But sometimes circumstances means the loss of some lives takes on more significance than might otherwise be the case.  Wry & Dry isn't sure of the precise 'why' of the stab of pain in his heart at the terror attack in London.  Or that he shed a tear.

Was it the loss of life?  Or the motives of the vengeful and deluded murderer.  Or the symbolism of the attack on Westminster, the seed of our Western democracy.  Or that this is just another awful portent of the infection of Islamist malevolence in our lives.  Or personal; that W&D is an Anglophile, and calls London his spiritual home.  And that he stood in the very spot six months ago with two of his sons.  Perhaps a wretched blend of all.  And so he, too, was touched.   But will carry on. 

The sky is falling!  

Sigh.  The share-market falls 1.6% and the headlines are screaming: ‘Trump slump!’ ‘Billions lost!  Perhaps those who voted for Trump bought the market.  And are now selling.  And even 'shorting' the market. [1]

Cartoon Trump Slump

How many times does W&D have to repeat, “An over-valued market will always correct.  And the reason for the correction may have nothing to do with the market itself”.  And so it came to pass, that there was a whiff that the US Congress wouldn’t pass some of Tsar Trump’s tax measures.  And so, whooshka, on Wednesday, down goes the market.  By an amazing 1.6%.

That ain’t a slump. This is a slump [2]:

Aug 11W&D wonders what the media will write when there is a serious market fall.

And the markets went to sleep after Wednesday's hiccup.  But, who knows what next week might bring?

World happiness

Many readers will know that W&D has a softer side.  And hence is delighted to report on the latest survey of World Happiness.

cartoon happiness

Whaaaat!  Someone surveys global happiness?  Well, err, yes.  The survey is done with all seriousness.  And based upon serious metrics.  Six, in fact: 

  1. GDP per capita
  2. Healthy life expectancy
  3. Social support
  4. Freedom to make life choices
  5. Generosity
  6. Perception of corruption

The methodology is complex.  And keen readers may wish to go to http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2017/ for the fine print.

The top 20 countries are:

HappinessW&D expected, more or less, for the top 10 to be the top 10.  Essentially they are modern, open, free-trading Western-style democracies.  Certainly, some of them are boring, but by golly gosh they are happy.

The intriguing success is #11, Israel.  Surrounded by nations bent on your destruction, and with terrorists happy to daily lob rockets onto your front lawn, the Israelis are a standout for happiness.  Nice work.

Costa Rica at #12 and Chile at #20 are curiosities.   

Those outside the top 20 include Singapore at #26 (getting fined for chewing gum is clearly not a winner); France at #31 (Charles de Gaulle, where are you?); Italy at #48 (the traffic?) and Japan at #51 (North Korea as a neighbour?).  Russia surprises W&D to be as high as #49 (but enough vodka will make anyone happy), but no surprise with China #79.  The Central African Republic rounds out the rankings at #155.

But like all global rankings of anything, it all depends upon the factors chosen and the weight given to those factors.  The Freedom to make life choices in Sri Lanka is very high, but it goes pear-shaped after that.  Which is why it ranks #120.

Happiness is playing golf, at the taxpayers’ expense

W&D prefers the soothing and natural sound of willow against leather to the harshness of an iron stick against a synthetic orb.  But Tsar Trump does not.  In fact, his enjoyment of leather is probably from…  oh, never mind.

For Tsar Trump, like many presidents before him, golf is the epitome of relaxation. 

Cartoon golfBut for Tsar Trump, it is also a place to do business.  Especially with world leaders.  And even more especially at a golf course that he owns.  Mar-a-Lago is a private golf resort in Palm Beach Florida, Yoo-Ess-Aye, owned by Tsar Trump.  And just last week after he released his budget, he flew to Mar-a-Lago.  For a weekend at his resort, at the taxpayers expense.

The Government Accountability Office reports that each weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago costs they-the-US-taxpayer US$3m.  Just two trips to Mar-a-Lago would pay for a year’s funding for the Interagency Council on Homelessness, which Tsar Trump proposes to eliminate in his budget.

But golf is golf.  In April, Tsar Trump is meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.  Which might add some dosh to Tsar Trump’s retirement fund.

Nice work, if you can get it.

But wait.  There’s more!  Readers will know that US presidents, especially Tsar Trump, have long had an affinity with property development.  However, few Americans will know that their very first US President, George Washington, was a land developer, often described as the ‘richest of his generation’.

By the end of the War of Independence from the Brits, General Washington controlled more than 60,000 acres of land.  Foreseeing the land speculation in the absence of British oversight may not have been his principle motive for fighting the revolutionary war, but the good general knew that he would profit handsomely if independence was achieved.

And he did.

Nice work, if you can get it.

Elsewhere

In its Centenary Year, W&D takes a look at Communism.  And, as usual, Miscellany to soothe your troubled mind. 

 

[1] To 'short' a stock or market is to sell something that you don't own, in anticipation of it falling in price so that you can buy it back later at a lower price.

[2] "That ain't a knife.  This is a knife."  Crocodile Dundee. With apologies to Paul Hogan.