Wry & Dry

Oh, Death. Where is they sting? Jobs for Barnaby's boys... and girl. Xi who must be obeyed.

Oh, Death. Where is thy sting?

Allow Wry & Dry to join some dots for Readers, as FY-21 is farewelled in a cacophony of political incompetence unparalleled since Stalin thought there was no way that Hitler would invade The Motherland [1]. Two dots, in fact. Walk with Wry & Dry...

The starting point is the sobering Intergenerational Report (IGR). 

[1] But Hitler did, notwithstanding the 1939 non-aggression pact. Stalin 'didn't believe the news' when told that there 3.8m unwanted visitors to Russia on 22 June 1941. 

Dot #1 IGR: a teenager's credit card

Wry & Dry always thought an Intergenerational Report (the five-yearly forecast of the economy over the next 40 years) was like a teenager's credit card statement, kept hidden from parents until the last moment. And when revealed showed a bottom line worse than expected.

And so it came to pass. Treasurer Josh tried to dress up the Report with as much success as Donald Trump saying he really won the election.

Consider just three of the findings:

  • The budget will be in deficit for the next 40 years
  • Real gross national income per person growth will fall to 1.3% from 1.8%
  • GDP will grow at just 2.6% pa.

And then the Big Fib: A major underlying assumption is that productivity will rise at 1.5% p.a. Hold the phone, from 2011 for six years the growth was 1.2% p.a. and then 0.5% p.a. over the next five years.

Cartoon debtor

The reality is that since the innovation and reforms of Hawke/ Keating and Howard/ Costello, the well-pastured buffoons on Planet Canberra have wasted 14 years. The billions of dollars poured into, for example, secondary schools or massively expanded state government services and employees may have made some people feel virtuous, but have achieved little.

Perhaps and prayerfully there is another vital but as yet undiscovered mineral lurking (Xi Jinpingite?) under the soil of the outback that will replace iron ore. Just in case China decides to stop buying iron ore.  

Dot #2: The abyss of entropy

Sigh. The response of politicians to recent increases in the number of covid cases leaves Wry & Dry in a state of despair. The delight of a Waterford of 2007 Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque has been replaced by cheap gin-induced transfixed gaze into the abyss of entropy.

Wry & Dry's Fellow Australians are being led by incapable politicians, who are drowning Australia in a confusion of decision. Such incompetence hasn't been seen since the heady days of Billy Ears McMahon [2] and Gough Well May We Say Whitlam [3].  Taking just two examples:

PM Jimmy Morrison is a salesman; who cares only about the next sales bonus, i.e. the next election. In views that defy the simplest of logic, he has said he has no intention of resuming inward international travel even once the entire population is vaccinated. Nor permit Australians who have been vaccinated to outward travel. A cynic might ask, so why have a vaccination programme?

Cartoon garden vaccination

Jimmy confirms Wry & Dry's view of politicians: they can at once hold mutually contradictory views. He remains preferred PM because at least he has views, albeit contradictory. The Leader of the Opposition has none, and so no contradiction can arise. Both should get the DCM.

Chairman Dan is a one-dimensional and stubborn autocrat of the Mao Zedong school, hard-hat and hi-vis vest class: it's all, and only, about his power and control of people.

His modus operandi is (a) create fear; knowing that (b) if people are sufficiently fearful, they will submit to almost anything. This is a latter-day Hobbesian principle in operation. Meanwhile, every lockdown and every installation of fear damages the economy and small businesses.  Public servants are cocooned.  

Chairman Dan, and other premiers bar one, take the easy route and abdicate decisions to the medical profession, which is trained to save every life.  That is a virtuous but ultimately a fatuous outlook. The alternative of a risk-based approach and weigh the alternative economic costs is ignored.

[2] PM in 1971 and 1972; a very good Treasurer, but hopeless Prime Minister.
[3] PM from 1972 to 1975; amazingly visionary and charismatic, but captive of ex-parliamentary Labor Party operatives and served by ministers of astounding ineptitude. 

Dots' conclusion

These two examples, overlaid with hysterical reactions from north of the Tweed River [4] (see below), show Wry & Dry that Australian politicians do not have the ability or leadership to confront the challenges set out in the IGR.

Treasurer Josh's IGR directive to focus on 'incremental reform' is doubtless pragmatic in the face of Senate Luddites.  However, there is merit in recalling that the reforms of Hawke/Keating didn't have to be taken 'to the people' as either or both of the Senate and the Coalition concurred.  Costello's massive tax reforms (mostly the GST and GST-related) were rejected by the Senate and so he had the gonads to take them to an election (1998). Labour opposed the reforms. Only amazing marginal seat campaigning gave Howard the election and the reform mandate.

Conclusion: unless PM Jimmy and Treasurer Josh take the major reforms needed to address the IGR issues to we-the-people, the reality is that the banana republic forecast by Keating in 1986 may come to pass.

[4] Queensland. 

Jobs for Barnaby's boys. And girl. 

Barnaby's first move as Tribal Leader was to, as any new Tribal Leader would, handsomely reward those who voted for him.  To make way, three supporters of the outgoing Tribal Leader got the DCM, including Keith Pitt, the well respected Resources Minister, from cabinet. The most significant export-earning sector in Australia is now without a voice in cabinet.  

And to squeeze Senator Bridget McKenzie back into the cabinet, a new ministry was created: Regionalisation. That word is not in any dictionary on Wry & Dry's groaning shelves (which encompass, inter alia, the OED, Samuel Johnson's glorious lexicon [5], Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary), nor on any known spell checker.

But one word known to Ms McKenzie is 'pork'.  

When Minister for Sports, in the lead-up to the 2019 Australian federal election, she barrelled pork in a $100 million sports grant program. Seemingly, a disproportionately high percentage of funds were allocated to sporting clubs in marginal Coalition electorates.

Cartoon barnaby pigs

Was it just coincidence that, for example, an Adelaide rugby union club was awarded a $500,000 grant for new female change rooms, despite not fielding a women's team for two years? Or a football club in Brisbane was given $150,000 for a project that had already been funded. She rightly got the DCM just the same.

Wry & Dry waits for news how, as inaugural Minister for Regionalisation, she will dispense loot at her command. Doubtless Barnaby's electorate will be due to be regionalisationed. 

[5] A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Johnson occasionally strayed from lexicon-ese to present his opinion, for example: Oats: a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people. 

Xi who must be obeyed

Wry & Dry wishes the Communist Party of China best wishes as it celebrates (early) its centenary. And wishes to mark the occasion with some data. 

In the interest of True News (which is all Wry & Dry has to offer), the following might be instructive. It shows the results of surveys in many countries simply asking: "Is your perception of China favourable or unfavourable?"

Chart china unfavourable

Wry & Dry is not a statistician. But would suggest that the data shows Emperor Xi and the CCP he leads has a small public relations problem.

Cartoon media china

However, Wry & Dry would consider Emperor Xi's response would be that of Rhett Butler: "Frankly [m'dear], I don't give a damn." [6] Xi just wants to be obeyed.

[6]  Sentimentalists may wish to click below

 

A new pathogen

Don't worry about coronavirus. A new and alarming pathogen has suddenly emerged: Relevance Seeking Virus (RSV-21). In a media conference that Inspector Clouseau [7] couldn't have better messed up, Queensland's chief health officer and soon-to-be governor, Dr Jeannette Young displayed alarming evidence of having been infected with this new virus.

Far be it for Wry & Dry to suggest hysteria, but she said, “I don't want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid probably wouldn't die.”  Well, she got the headlines she wanted. Clear evidence of RSV-21. Trouble is, the anti-vaxxers also the headlines they wanted.

Cartoon CHO

Of course the good doctor didn't intend to give succour to anti-vaxxers. She was just meekly doing the bidding of the Queensland Premier, who herself was trying to deflect attention away from her own government's recent quarantine failures. Which in itself is a perfectly legitimate political exercise. 

By the way, the good doctor also messed up her medical facts. An 18-year-old is better off getting the jab. [8].  

[7] The bumbling policeman delightfully played by Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies.
[8] The risk of death for a 20 year old from clotting death from the Astra-Zeneca vaccine = 0.0001% (i.e. one in a million). Whereas death from coronavirus = 0.0003% (i.e. three in a million).  Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Media - but wait, there's more

Some Readers were curious about last week's data on 'trust in the Australia print media'. Was there more global data. Yes, of course. The below is courtesy of The Economist.

The spider's web of lines isn't especially helpful to Readers. Allow Wry & Dry to parse [9].

Ignoring the seemingly relentless downward march over recent years in media trust, since the pandemic only in two countries has trust not increased: Spain and the Yoo-Ess-Ay. 

[9] Can one parse a chart?      

UK minister falls on his sword, as it were

UK's Minister for Health and Social Care, the Honourable Matt Hancock, has given himself the DCM. He was filmed passionately snogging a former university friend, a Gina Coladangelo, in breach of social distancing regulations he himself promulgated.

What was the crime?

a.  He is married to another, and the sanctimonious but prurient UK, unlike France, frowns upon alternative arrangements;

b.  She is married to another, and the sanctimonious but prurient UK, unlike France, frowns upon alternative arrangements;

c.  He didn't follow House of Commons Snogging When in Office Procedure 12 A (c) (iv): Switch Off the Camera; or

d.  He was UK's most prominent pandemic official, who had driven social distancing and mask wearing?

Close, but no cigar. The correct answer is d. It would seem that the Brits weren't interested in the snogging, suggesting a possible post-Brexit Gallic transformation, but were mightily unhappy about the hypocrisy. 

Live by the sword, die by the sword. As it were. 

Slimmer Jong-Un 

Readers will recall Wry & Dry's observation some weeks ago that it seemed that North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un had shed a kilo or three.

Well, his weight loss is causing distress on the streets of Pyongyang. People were “most heartbroken when they saw the emaciated figure of the respected comrade general,” a Pyongyang citizen told Korean Central Television in comments broadcast Friday. “Everyone says that tears came out naturally,” said the man.

Yes, of course the tears came out naturally. If they didn't, the tears would have to come out, err, unnaturally. 

Wry & Dry has dug from his archives a photo of the North Koreans mourning the death in 2011 of Slim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-Il.  See the natural tears.

Photo north koreans crying

Of course, that is not to suggest that Slim Jong-un is close to death. But if he does join his father and grandfather in the great North Korean Paradise That Can Only Be Found In Heaven, then expect tears enough to flood the DMZ.

Loyalty

UK Ministry of Defence documents containing highly classified details of last week's Royal Navy's operation in the Black Sea (which caused a massive fuss with Tsar Vlad) have been found in a bus stop in rural Kent.

The finder did what any patriotic Brit would do. Handed the trove directly to the BBC. 

Winter of discontent - a reflection

Rarely does Wry & Dry venture to giving an editorial, as it were. But, well, it's his New Fiscal year indulgence.

Consider the coronavirus shambles. Wry & Dry asks Readers to consider a fundamental issue: freedom.

And that is to be reminded that there is no point in living if all one does is avoid dying.

The right-side of Wry & Dry's brain is happy to take risks to enjoy life. Readers can ask themselves what is the degree of risk they are prepared to accept? If zero - it attaches no value to living, to human interaction. Lockdowns take away that choice.

The dangers we now face from lockdowns are twofold.

Firstly, as noted earlier, if people are sufficiently fearful, they will submit to almost anything. People have been made to fear coronavirus above reason.

The danger is that this is a model for government. Readers will be aware, for example, that branches of the Christian church used fear to control their people over the centuries. Thankfully, the fear of a judging God, hence Dante's Inferno, has been replaced, mostly, by a Christ-driven love of God.

Never underestimate the ability of any government, democratic or otherwise, to use creeping fear to manage its people. 

Secondly, significant libertarian decisions have been put in the hands of medical scientists, who, by definition, do not have the ability to weigh the risks of different courses of action.  

Wry & Dry is not saying sensible precautions should not be taken. But we know who are the vulnerable - so caringly isolate the vulnerable, not the healthy.

People have to be treated like adults. Allow the people to choose how they respond. Danger and risk is not a new pathogen. It is only different this time because of the clowns in power.

Give Wry & Dry the sort of freedom espoused by John Stuart Mill. And do not put his happiness in the hands of scientists and coercive politicians. 

Snippets from all over 

1. Global company tax rate

The world’s leading economies have signed up to a plan to force multinational companies to pay a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15%.  As many as 130 countries have signed up.

Wry & Dry comments: Australia has signed.  The aim is not the same tax rate, but to eliminate income transfer to low-taxed countries, such as Ireland.

2. EVs emit more CO2 than ICE vehicles before they hit the road 

A mid-sized electric vehicle (Tesla Model 3) generates 8.1m grams of CO2 during its constituents extraction and production process, compared to 5.5m grams for an equivalent petrol vehicle (Toyota Corolla), according to the Argonne National Laboratory.

Wry & Dry comments: But the EV pulls ahead on fewer emissions the longer it is driven: breaking even at about 13,500 kms where the EV's electricity comes from 100% renewables, to about 125,000 kms where the power source is coal.

3. Zuma zoomed

South Africa's highest court found former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison on Tuesday, a landmark move in the country's long-running corruption saga.

Wry & Dry comments: Zuma, who honed corruption to an art of podium worthiness, might end up as a Mandela in reverse: more famous for being in prison after his presidency, rather than before.

4. China behind in cyber-stuff

China’s strengths as a cyber power are being undermined by poor security and weak intelligence analysis, according to new research that predicts Beijing will be unable to match US cyber capabilities for at least a decade.

Wry & Dry comments: Who needs state-of-the-art cyber-stuff when you have a large army?

5. Back to WFO, well, mostly

UBS, a Zurich-based but global investment bank, plans to allow up to two-thirds of its staff to mix working from home and the office on a permanent basis.

Wry & Dry comments: UBS mirrors France’s Société Générale, but is in stark contrast to the approach taken by several US banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which have ordered staff in New York back to work.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“China doesn't bully other countries.”

   -    Emperor Xi Jinping, in a one hour speech to the masses in Tiananmen Square to celebrate the CCP's centenary. 

Ah, spot the similarities with Hitler's five-hour speeches to the masses at Nuremburg.  And Readers might remember Tiananmen Square in 1989...

Cartoon tank man

 

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

 

Cheers

Anthony