Wry & Dry

Jimmy misses the opportunity. Now the taxes. Meanwhile, in the colonies...

Jimmy misses the opportunity

Sigh. Oh, for a politician with testicular fortitude [1]. And starting from the top.

The CEO of Virgin Airlines, Jayne Hrdlicka, argued this week for Australia to open its borders even though some people might die. The feeding frenzy of confected outrage lit up the switchboards of talk-back radio and social media went into ballistic meltdown.

Cartoon virgin 2

Sadly, PM Jimmy Morrison, never one to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity [2], missed the opportunity to show some courage. "You know, 910 Australians have lost their lives. Every single one was a terrible tragedy...etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum." And then he finished with "I'm not going to take risks with Australian lives."

Well, Jimmy, you do. Every day. If you really cared about every single life, you would legislate that cars could travel at no more than 20 KPH. The road toll would collapse massively - hundreds of lives would be saved. And our health care system freed from the trauma of road accident casualties.

So why not? The answer is obvious. It is a matter of balancing the risks (of people getting killed/ injured on the roads) with the benefits (of cars moving rapidly). 

So, returning to Ms Hrdlicka. She was saying, albeit clumsily, that once Australians are all vaccinated the risks of further deaths from covid will be outweighed by the benefits of Australia reconnecting with the rest of the planet.  

The sooner Jimmy shows some leadership and states that Australians must learn to live with covid, the sooner Australians can get out of this mental prison. 

At least the NSW Liberal Treasurer gets it: "Lockdowns have proved incredibly popular, but that's popular in the short term, and we're not here to govern in the short term...It's not about the 24-hour news cycle and rocking up and being successful at a news conference." Hear, hear!

[1] Metaphor applies equally to male, female and non-binary.
[2] Also said of Yasser Arafat, the former Palestine nationalist leader. 

Now the taxes 

Well, it had to come. If you (a) lock down an economy (thrice); (b) employ thousands to walk the streets of then empty Melbourne with bottles of Spray and Wipe to clean traffic light buttons: (c) pay riot police extra to dress as teenage mutant ninjas to monster peaceful demonstrators; and (d) keep empty trains running so as to keep trains running, then sooner or later the bills will overflow from the in-tray to the chair.

But the fiscal decay was well underway before the bugs from Wuhan escaped from Chairman Dan's quarantine arrangement. Ignoring other snouts (sequere pecuniam), Readers might consider that Victorian public sector employment grew by 6.5% between 2017 and 2020, but the public sector wages bill grew by 23%. 

The well upholstered chair into which the final notices are cascading belongs to the well upholstered Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas [3]. And his office floor is carpeted with envelopes printed with red stickers "A reminder you haven't paid this bill" or "Final notice". 

Cartoon death and taxes


His budget response? In the olden days of federal budgets the headline was "beer, cigs up". Now it is "property and payroll taxes up." Wry & Dry has two issues here.

Firstly, the increase in property tax will be self-defeating for commercial and retail property. Those values are going down and will now go down even further. The tax will capture even less tax than before.

Secondly, Mr. Pallas' defence that "property must pay its fair share" is a weird defence of stamp duty. Only people who buy property pay stamp duty [4]. Those who bought homes many years ago when values were much lower do not contribute to the taxes needed to run the state. It is these people "who do not pay their fair share."

And the less said about Mr. Pallas' description of a 'mental health levy' on big business to fund a mental health initiative, the better. Hypothecation is smokescreen. In the same way that the Medicare Levy is just another tax, where the funds raised bear no resemblance to the cost of the service. 

Perhaps Mr. Pallas might instead consider taking the knife to the bloated Victorian public service. Public sector wages in Victoria are budgeted to rise by 10% in FY-22.

[3] Mr. Pallas does have a self-deprecatory sense of humour (he needs one to work with his Chairman) and will enjoy the observation.     
[4] That is, residential property stamp duty on transfer. Stamp duty is merely a documentary levy on certain government documents. It was a requirement to place stamps (similar to postage stamps) on documents to make them admissible as evidence of a transaction.

Cartoon stamp duty

Meanwhile, in the colonies...

Readers were counting down the minutes for the Brexit negotiations to be agreed before the deadline of midnight on 31 December last.

Well, a countdown is again on. The deadline is the G7 [5] summit on 11 to 13 June. And the countdown has little to do with the G7. It's about an Australia-UK free trade deal.

Y'see, Borisconi is hosting the summit (to be held in Carbis Bay, Cornwall [6]) and has invited PM Jimmy Morrison (and leaders of India, South Korea and South Africa). Borisconi and Jimmy desperately want to announce the free trade agreement at or just before the main event.

The trouble for UK farmers is that free trade with Australia is different to free trade with the EU. EU farmers were/ are not efficient and UK beef and lamb farmers had no trouble competing.  However, the thought of precious British animals competing with robust Australian cows and lambs has caused conniptions in the hills and valleys of the scepter'd isle. Letters to The Times have been written.

Cartoon free trade

Wry & Dry has little doubt that common-sense will prevail.  And that the deal will proceed. But not before the patrons of the Cornish Arms [6] express their feeling towards Jimmy Morrison, in case he ventures in to undertake a Cornish pub test.

[5] US, Canada, Germany, France, UK, Japan and Italy. The EU also gets a guernsey.
[6] Carbis Bay, 28 km from Land's End and contiguous to the more famous St Ives, has a population of about 3,600. It is a seaside resort. G7 leaders can get there by train from Paddington to St Erth and then a branch line to St Ives.
[7] Corner St Ives Road and Wheat Venture Road, Carbis Bay.

Queensland, where else?

Wry & Dry has always been concerned about the IQ of some folk who live north of 28 degrees 9 minutes south. Well, a hairdresser from the Gold Coast has banned customers who have received a covid vaccination.

Predictably, the news media pushed aside globally significant stories such as the latest about a Kardashian or a Princess Princess Meghan whine, and have focussed on Yazmina Adler and her entry policy. Thereby giving her the publicity she needs for her business.

Technology - the new frontier

Going where no company has gone before, Nestle, the diversified food company, has unveiled a Bluetooth-connected dog bowl. Pooch owners input the breed, age, size, feeding frequency and dietary considerations into an app. 

The output? How much food to put in the bowl. This is the stuff of Nobel Prize winners.

Cartoon dog food

The underwater bicycle also comes to Wry & Dry's mind for usefulness.  

Yes, Prime Minister

A report [8] has found that UK civil servants' use of Latin and cricket metaphors acted as a "barrier to working class success."

This should come as no surprise. It is intended to be.

The British civil service is, alongside its legal system, one of the remaining bastions of privilege. There is nothing more British civil service speak than to speak Latin. Only about 1,500 UK students take A level Latin. This reduces the pool of potential civil servants to a manageable number.

Without these barriers, the civil service just wouldn't be able to carry on the fine traditions it has seasoned over the centuries.

Sir Humphrey would be proud. Nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus. 

[8] The Social mobility Commission report was released this week.

Twitter - equal rights

Readers will remember that Twitter banned former President Trump while he was in office "due to the risk of further incitement of violence."

However, Twitter has refused to ban Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei has been inciting terrorism against Israel on social media, for example "Palestinians are awake and determined. They must continue this path [of terrorism against Israel]..." Not quite a call for a ceasefire.

Readers should not for a moment think that the 3,000 plus rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel is solely related to violence between Arabs and Jews in Israel and occupied territories. It has to do with Iranian muscle-flexing ahead of US negotiations with Iran about lifting US sanctions against Iran. 

Sleepy Joe Biden seems a latter-day Pollyanna, thinking that people everywhere are full of good intentions. He needs to study history. Appeasement only brings more demands for appeasement. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, especially through its puppets Hamas and Hezbollah.  Sanctions relief will bring billions of dollars to Iran, to enable further terrorism.

Readers know that Hamas is focussed on power preservation and with little interest in alleviating misery. According to a Palestinian pollster, a survey carried out in March found that 72% think Hamas is corrupt and 58% say they cannot criticise it without fear. [9]

Iran knows this. So, what is its caper? Just to push Israel as much as Gaza can take casualties.

And Twitter? It rightly muffled Trump. It should do the same to Khamenei and his acolytes, including those in the US.

[9] Source: The Economist, 20 May 2021.  

Chart of the week

Bitcoin, that Dutch tulip bulb [10] of the 21st century, is having a week worse than the mailman in Tim Pallas' office. 

Cartoon tooth fairy

Its price is down 36% for the week. So much for a 'store of value'. 

Bitcoin cliff

The red arrow points to a Bitcoin cliff.

And that other Dutch tulip bulb, Dogecoin, is having an even worse week, down 42%.

Say no more.

[10] The Dutch tulip bulb market bubble of the early 1600s was one of the first speculative market bubbles. At the height of the market, the rarest tulip bulbs traded for as much as six times the average person's annual salary. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Unemployment down, again

Australia's unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, ahead of expectations.

Wry & Dry comments: The sky didn't fall with the end of JobKeeper.

2.  China inflation fear

China’s cabinet increased its rhetoric around surging commodity prices, announcing more specific steps to curb markets in order to keep inflation pressures at bay. The State Council said more effort needs to be taken to prevent rising commodity prices from being passed through to consumers.

Wry & Dry comments: Sigh, back to even more centralised control.  

3.  Post-Brexit cash 

UK farmers wishing to leave agriculture will be offered a lump sum of up to £100,000 next year as part of England’s move to a post-Brexit subsidy system. Cash that would otherwise have been paid out annually under the EU-style system known as “basic payments” will instead be handed over as a single sum.

Wry & Dry comments: Which just shows how stupid was the EU's agriculture policy.    

4.  China cryptocurrency

The People's Bank of China has banned financial institutions from facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. 

Wry & Dry comments: The statement was coupled with a warning to investors against "speculative crypto trading," which "seriously infringes on the safety of people's property and disrupts the normal economic and financial order."

5.  UK inflation up

Inflation in the UK doubled to 1.5% in April. And house prices rose by the fastest rate in 14 years.

Wry & Dry comments: The former is from a covid-induced low base; the latter because of low interest rates, and a stamp duty holiday.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“I can confirm that the United States is not interested in buying Greenland."

 -  Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State of the USA.  

...thereby scuttling for good a quixotic 2019 proposal by Donald Trump to annex the self-governing Danish territory, which would have been Trump's largest ever property transaction.


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