Wry & Dry

Coldish war. Israeli DCM. Trade deal shmeal.

Coldish war

Sleepy Joe continued his Meet The Neighbours Tour this week. The most recent neighbour [1] called upon was Tsar Vlad. Because Russia has banned American made Zimmer Frames, the meeting was held in Geneva.

The highlight of the meeting was that Tsar Vlad didn't take off his shirt for the world to see, again, his sculpted pecs and hairy chest. In case Readers hadn't had the joy of seeing Tsar Vlad topless: below is a recent photo of him, fishing in Siberia. The name of the fish was Donald. 

photo vlad

Readers will be surprised to hear that aides described the two-and-a-half hour talks as 'frank' and 'substantive'. Which really means that they spent 10 minutes discussing Russian cyberattacks and election interference, military aggression against Ukraine and the fate of Alexei Navalny. 

Cartoon vlad live 

The rest of the time they discussed Vlad's chest ("impressive"), Joe's Zimmer Frame collection ("extensive and with all-terrain wheels"), Borisconi's haemorrhoids ("unfortunate"), Trudeau's wokeness ("what a blouse") and M. Macron's flexibility ("so French"). Angela Merkel would be pleased they didn't mention the war.  

And they didn't mention Jimmy Morrison.

[1] There are only 82 kilometres between Cape Dezhnev, Chukchi Peninsula, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, United States. Readers will know that in the same way that Cary Grant never uttered "Judy, Judy, Judy" or Sherlock Holmes "Elementary, my dear Watson", so Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008 never said: "I can see Russia from my house." That was said by comedienne Tina Fay on Saturday Night Live. But Palin probably thought she could.

Israeli DCM 

Israel's longest serving Prime Minister, the shrewd Benjamin Netanyahu, was given the DCM this week by Israel's parliament. This was arguably the biggest since Eddie McGuire gave himself the DCM from the presidency of the Collingwood Football Club [2]. The new PM is Naftali Bennett, leader of the "change coalition".

Don't worry about neighbours wanting to land a rocket on your front lawn, politics in Israel is a messy business. Compromise is the main game. But at least it's a democracy (imagine an 'Israeli party' in one of the neighbours). The new government is made up of eight parties, ranging from extreme right to soft left and covering religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox and an Arab party.

The now ex-PM never hesitated to trade an eye-for-an eye (or two) with neighbours that discombobulated him. Wry & Dry often wonders if this truculence was derived from his brother, a commando, being killed in the rescue of kidnapped Israelis in 1976 at Entebbe [3].   

It must be observed that Israelis are richer and safer from his tenure than ever before; they were vaccinated faster than any other nation; they can fly to Dubai for the weekend; shop in Paris and London with the shekel stronger than ever in history.

But there's no such thing as forever in politics. Whilst his one-time protégé, Bennett, runs the country, Netanyahu will instead have to trek to Jerusalem District Court to defend himself against corruption charges.

[2] Collingwood Football Club is an Australian (Rules) football club with its roots in an inner-city suburb of the same name. The club was formed in 1892 at a meeting held in the back room of a local dentist.  
[3] Operation Entebbe was a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976. An Air France Airbus A300 jet airliner with 248 passengers had been hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The flight, which had originated in Tel Aviv with the destination of Paris, was diverted to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. The Ugandan government supported the hijackers, and dictator Idi Amin, who had been informed of the hijacking from the beginning, personally welcomed them. The operation was a success: 102 of the 106 hostages were rescued.

Trade deal shmeal 

PM Jimmy Morrison is having a whale of time. Not since Lionel Logue's wife accidently found herself in the company of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth [4] has an Australian been so in awe of the moment. And there were many. Imagine the stories that Jimmy could tell his daughters.

He might say the highlight was tea with HM The Queen. Or meeting Sleepy Joe (with Borisconi as chaperone). 

CARTOON Jimmy meets HM

However, Wry & Dry feels sure that he will tell we-the-people of The Free Trade Deal with The Old Dart. And its vital, vital importance to Australia's future. 

Well, whilst Jimmy hasn't pulled out his pencil and paper, Borisconi has: it's not too important to the UK: 0.02% p.a. increase in GDP. So, it's mostly symbolic. Although, Readers can expect whining from somewhere. 

[4] Lionel Logue was speech therapist to King George. The king and queen were in Logue's apartment for the king's appointment when Mrs. Logue unexpectedly arrived home. The moment is caught in the movie The King's Speech.

Barbie Julie Mimi

Readers may have forgotten Julie Bishop, the former Australian Foreign Minister To Countries In The Northern Hemisphere. Well, Ms. Bishop has had a bout of RDS [5]. Her doctor advised an alternative treatment: become a Barbie Doll.

And so it came to pass that Wry & Dry was browsing the Spencer Street Soviet [6]. It must have been a slow news day. There was an article breathlessly announcing that Mattel, the giant toy manufacturer, had created a Julie Bishop doll. And there was a photo of both Julie and a miniature doppelganger.

Good grief. This just as Wry & Dry had forgotten her Hall of Fame status for accumulation of first class frequent flyer points on shopping diplomatic trips to Paris, London and New York whilst ignoring the closer climes of Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Her preference for recognition over results, style over substance and ease over hard work left massive diplomatic gaps that Xi Jinping's acolytes have been quietly happy to fill.  

So, perhaps a Julie Bishop doll says it all.

[5] Relevance Deprivation Syndrome. 
[6] The Melbourne Age, the tabloid newspaper equivalent of the ABC, the sporting pages of which outshine the balance of the rag by a factor of N, where N is a large number.

Voting with feet

Well, there are opinion polls and social media rants. But ultimately, people vote with their feet.

Which is what Victorians, err, former Victorians have done. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday that Victoria had a net loss of 40,000 people to other nations in 2020. But, what's worse, a net 13,000 people left Victoria for other states.

Perhaps it's because during the lockdowns in the six months to September 2020, the average private sector worker had his/her pay reduced by $1,225, whilst the average public sector worker had his/her increased by $1,574. Wry & Dry bets that it were private sector workers that pulled up stumps.

Overall, Victoria had zero population growth in 2020. All other states grew.

Not only did Chairman Dan's Most Liveable City fall eight rungs in global rankings, but people are voting with their feet and leaving the People's Socialist Workers Paradise for other paradises.

Cartoon departure tax

And no signs of a covid-baby-boom: number of babies born last year was down 3.9% to a 13-year low. What will Chairman Dan do to change the demographic disaster?

a.  Offer free child care to all public servants;

b.  Offer 24 months maternity, paternity and non-binary parenting leave to public servants;

c.  Offer to pay ten pounds for each Brit to migrate; or 

d.  Lockdown Victoria until each woman of child-bearing age in pregnant.

Close, but no cigar. The correct answer is d. Chairman Dan will see another lockdown as killing two birds with one stone, as it were: shuttering even more small businesses thereby making more people dependent on government; and hoping that extended proximity and boredom will drive unbeforeseen but reproductive passions.     

Emissions good news

There seems to be much huffing and puffing about carbon emission's reduction targets. Especially the Net Zero by 2050. Of course, Readers will know that Net Zero is impossible, but an aspirational target is always a good thing. Similar to Wry & Dry's football team.

cartoon volcano

And progress towards targets is always a good thing - especially if one can measure the progress. Australia's progress is very good, compared to some interesting other countries, see below.  

Chart carbon emissions 2

Why the fuss, then? Well, PM Jimmy Morrison just cannot bring himself to utter the words "net zero by 2050". This is for fear of upsetting the fine folk in the National Party, who think that net zero refers to zero rainfall. Or zero subsidies from we-the-taxpayer. Each of which is an anathema.

Big Tech: be afraid, be very afraid. Well, sort of.

Some time ago, Wry & Dry wrote about the swelling grievance in the Yoo-Ess-Ay about the anti-competitive behaviour of 'Big Tech" i.e. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.

Readers will recall the comparison with the Sherman Anti-Trust legislation that caused the breakup of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil in 1911. The company was split into 34 companies, such as (current names) Exxon, Mobil (which recently merged), Amoco, Sunoco and Chevron.

The problem with that case was that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was designed to protect consumers from 'predatory pricing'. Rockefeller's massive monopoly had the reverse effect: his ruthless focus on efficiency meant that the price of oil dropped. Rockefeller increased production and lowered prices while creating thousands of well-paid jobs along the way.

Cartoon competition

Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple will argue the same way. 

Why argue? Well, the US Federal Trade Commission has a new chair(person). Lina Khan is a very, very smart 32-year-old law professor at Columbia University. Readers can expect Ms Khan to want her name in lights. If nothing else, any law-suit against Big Tech will be a massive feast for lawyers. Legal action against Standard Oil in 1990; it took 21 years of legal tussling to fracture it. 

Readers know that, if nothing else, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have legions of lawyers on the payroll. And deep pockets to pay them.

Don't say you were not warned

MicroStrategy, a US Nasdaq-listed analytics software company with a market cap of $6.1 billion, raised US$500 million this week. The seven year 'notes' (i.e. income securities) were issued at a rate of 6.125%.

Err, so what?

The company said that "the net proceeds are intended to be utilized (sic) for purchase of additional Bitcoin." Whaaat! Additional Bitcoin? You betcha. Additional to the $2.25 billion Bitcoin already purchased this year.

MicroStrategy doesn't have P/E [7] because it doesn't have an 'E'. Which is probably why it want to get some E in a hurry.

Yee-haw!

[7]  Share price (P) divided by earnings (profit) per share (E).

Unclear on the concept

"NATO, which includes many G7 nations, is set to agree on a climate action plan that would make their armed forces carbon-neutral by 2050."

What a fine idea.  

Just need to retrofit the Jolly Roger, HMS Victory, the Black Pearl and the Santa Maria with new sails (ensuring the canvas was not made with child labour); replace the cannon with bows and arrows of the finest English yew and birch (sustainably grown); and add three types of rubbish bins to festoon the poop deck: rubbish (green lid); recycling (red lid) and green waste (blue lid).   

cartoon weapons

And, in the interests of fair play, there will be a need to ask Russia, China, the Taliban, Al-Qa'ida, Islamic State, Hamas and Hizballah to agree. Which, in the interests of Net Zero, they of course will.

Snippets from all over 

1. Qatar forecasts $20 billion World Cup boost

The host of the 2022 World Cup (for soccer/ football) forecasts a $20 billion economic boost from it.

Wry & Dry comments: Of which x% will find its way to Hamas and Hizballah, where x is a large number.

2. Australia's competitiveness collapses

Australia has scored its worst result in 25 years in a global ranking of competitiveness, falling four places to 22nd. Australia ranks 54th and 57th respectively for its corporate and personal income tax burdens; and management practices rank 58th.

Wry & Dry comments: But Australia ranks highly in Australian (rules) football competitiveness. Number one, in fact. 

3. Australia's unemployment rate falls sharply

Unemployment plummeted to 5.1% in May, its seventh consecutive monthly decline, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data.

Wry & Dry comments: Egg-on-face for those who said that unemployment rate would leap with the end of JobKeeper.

4. UK unemployment drops

Headline unemployment slipped to 4.7% at the end of April, lower than the 4.8% recorded last month, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

Wry & Dry comments: But Borisconi still has a job.

5. US and EU at peace over Boeing and Airbus 

The US and EU have agreed to bury the hatchet, well, for five years, in the 17-year dispute over government subsidies to each aircraft manufacturer.

Wry & Dry comments: Billions of dollars in tit-for-tat-tariffs will no longer apply.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“I would much sooner live in Australia than anywhere else in the nation." 

 -  Michael McCormack, Leader of the National Party and Acting Prime Minister, whilst speaking in Question Time in parliament.  

Thereby weirdly failing to identify Australia as a nation. Perhaps photos of PM Jimmy Morrison with HM brought a bout of nostalgia for the Empire.

 

PS A reminder that the opinions in Wry & Dry do not necessarily represent those of First Samuel, its employees or directors.

 

Cheers

Anthony