Wry & Dry

Premiers in DCM battle. Never send to know... Frying pans.

I.   Premiers in DCM battle

For months Melbourne had it all over Sydney in the fatuous inter-city rivalry.  And holding an uncontested, and seemingly incontestable, podium position, as it were, in the most-DCM-vulnerable Premier stakes.

Melbourne's (i.e. Victoria's) Premier was slowly digging a political grave for himself in a subterranean mosaic of incompetence, ignorance, stubbornness and vanity.

But, just when Melbournians were surfing on this hubristic high over Sydney, Sydney's (i.e. New South Wales') straight-laced Premier suddenly found herself at the bottom of a grave dug years ago.  The alphabetically powerful Ms Berejiklian, it seems, had, err, made arrangements of a, um, personal nature with a former MP, the business dealings of whom are now revealed to be a risible blend of corruption and incompetence that would make Eddie Obeid and Arthur Daly blush.

Cartoon ICAC

Wry & Dry is ever the gentleman not to question the whys or wherefores of affaires politiques du cœur.   The significance of the offence doesn't matter.  Readers will recall that former NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell got the DCM for failing to disclose a gift of a bottle of fine wine [1].  Sharing a toothbrush with a corrupt former MP is not quite a hanging offence.  But political sin is adjudged in the court of public opinion. 

It's a variation of suspicionem Caesar supra uxorem:  Ms Berejiklian's paramour must be above suspicion.  He's not.

Hence, Ms Berejiklian will probably give herself the DCM. And so fall into the grave she dug some years ago when her heart began to rule her head. 

But until she actually does, Sydney will regain the crown in the most-DCM-vulnerable Premier stakes.  Meanwhile, Chairman Dan keeps on digging, slowly, inexorably, inexplicably and disastrously. 

[1] The über-rated, über-costly Grange Hermitage

II.  Never send to know

Wry & Dry senses that Tax-What-Tax-Trump is in trouble.  Take a close look at the below photo:

photo golf buggy

What Readers see is an anti-Trump buggycade of Florida pensioners.  What hope does he have if the staunchly Republican Floridian seniors turn against him? [2]  Zippo.

Florida is the One Per Cent State, O'Bama won by 1%, Trump last time won by 1%. 

"Never send to know for whom the buggy tolls..."

[2]Seniors make up no less than 30% of the state's electorate.

III.  Frying pans

It's getting serious.  Readers will know that this week is Borisconi's self-imposed deadline for Brexit negotiations to be basically in place.  Three contentious issues remain, the most important of which is fishing rights.  Without an agreement, the UK will regain exclusive fishing access and rights to the seas around the UK (cue Rule Britannia).  This possibility has upset French fishermen people, who have reacted in the strongest possible way: throwing frying pans.

This is serious stuff.  "French trawlers confronted British fishermen in the English Channel by firing flares and throwing frying pans" (UK media).

cartoon french fish

How serious?  Very.  The frying pans were by Le Creuset.

IV.  This woman's no patsy to right-wingers

Wry & Dry was impressed.  Tax-What-Tax-Trump's nominee for a vacancy on the Supreme Court of the Yoo-Ess-Ay, Amy Coney Barrett, fronted the Judiciary Committee of the US Senate this week.

cartoon us senate

The Democrats that asked the questions made it clear that they don't want her because (a) she has been nominated by their nemesis; (b) she is a conservative Catholic and may vote to overturn Roe v Wade [3]; (c) she is a 'liberal'; and may vote to overturn ObamaCare [4]; and (d) subliminally, she is a (i) female, (ii) conservative (iii) Catholic (iv) mother of (v) seven.

Wry & Dry was impressed by her unflappable and flawless performance against an inquisition that ranged from the intelligent to the offensive [5].  Regardless, the Republicans have the numbers.  She will get confirmed. [6]

Wry & Dry's view is that Mrs Barrett will be less accommodating to conservative social views than has been painted.  And that she will disappoint many to the right of the soup spoon. 

[3] Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.   
[4] So-called ObamaCare is the ersatz universal health care programme introduced by President O'Bama. 
[5]  "Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favours, or committed any physical or verbal harassment or assault of a sexual nature?" asked Mazie Hirono, Democrat, Senator for Hawaii.  "No, Senator Hirono," Barrett firmly replied.
[6]  By the way, Readers will know that the Democrats cannot claim the high moral ground in these episodes, recalling the Democrat led Senate's rejection of Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork in 1987.  Then Senator Ted Kennedy, never one to avoid a self-promoting headline, led the metaphorical lynching of Bork.  This shameful episode led to the creation of the verb "to bork".  The 2002 OED states the definition: "To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually to prevent his or her appointment to public office."

V.  "Please don't invade.  We're not ready." 

It's a good thing that Australia is at peace with the world.  Especially those that might covet our oxen.  Y'see, significant amount of Australia's defence kit is just not available for much of the time.

Chart defence

cartoon army

It's a variation on the request to invaders, if they must invade, to do so between the flags.  

VI.  Economic reform

Readers will recall last week's Wry & Dry's only negative of Jericho Josh's budget: no indication of economic reform.  Well, some Readers have asked what is all that about?  Wry & Dry, stop whining!

Readers!  Don't throw food.  Work with Wry & Dry on this.

Economic students anywhere will tell Readers that the factors of sustained economic growth are the three Ps:  Population growth, workforce Participation and Productivity growth.

Population growth is bogged.  Australia's fertility rate is well below the required 2.1 to reproduce the population.  And for reasons probably to do with a state north of the Tweed River, immigration has been slashed.  Interestingly, Double A (Anthony Albanese - Leader of the Federal Opposition) has dipped his toe into this pond with his announcement of Labor's childcare policy.  Cynical Readers might suggest it's simply a vote buying policy.  Maybe so (this is politics, after all), but if it encourages larger families without compromising workforce participation, it's all good stuff (subject to the usual caveats, e.g. means testing).

Workforce Participation (the percentage of Australians working or looking for work) is at record levels:

chart participation

Frydenberg's budget clearly recognises the importance of this factor, with massive measures to get folk back to work. 

cartoon participation

Productivity growth is the prarblem.  It's a big problem. “Productivity isn’t everything, but, in the long run, it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.” [7]

Australia's productivity growth has slumped since 2018.  Some of Jericho Josh's proposals should enhance productivity, notably the accelerated depreciation for capital investment.  

Cartoon productivity

But the 12 years since Howard/ Costello are lamented as wasted.  Rudd/Gillard/Rudd/Gillard spent money on the economy and spent energy on civil war.  Abbott/Turnbull/Turnbull/Morrison just spent energy on civil war.  Abbott had the opportunity to undertake economic reform, but not the cojones.

Unless reform of industrial relations, the tax system, government service delivery, etc. occur, then to grow the economy we need to return to a blend of the baby bonus boom and generous childcare.

Or, we keep sliding backwards.

[7] Paul Krugman (1990), The Age of Diminished Expectations.

VII.  Unclear on the concept

Andrew Demetriou, former school teacher, AFL footballer and AFL supremo and now company director of many companies, dug himself into a deep hole this week.

Whilst giving evidence in the NSW Gaming Commission's inquiry into Crown Resort's Sydney casino licence, he firstly dug a hole for himself for using cheat notes in evidence and then being caught.

Not content with a shallow hole, he then confirmed to counsel assisting that he was "an independent director of Crown and acted in the best interests of its minority shareholders".

Counsel assisting then read an email that Mr. Demetriou had sent to Crown's 36% shareholder, one James Packer.  Mr. Packer, now roughing it on his giga yacht in French Polynesia, would then have been reassured by Mr. Demetriou's comment to Mr Packer that he was "acting in the best interests of Crown and mostly you."

Counsel assisting couldn't help but ask "How could a supposedly independent director, representing the views of minority shareholders, say his most important consideration was the majority shareholder, who already had directors on the board?"

Mr. Demetriou did what any director would do when already deep in the self-dug hole, caught with pants down and egg dripping from face.

He kept on digging.  And pointed out that he hadn’t said Packer’s interests were more important than Crown’s interests.

Collapse of stout party.  

VIII.  History

Readers have quite rightly been focussing on the exploding war between Armenia and Azerbaijan (temporarily halted by a cease-fire).  And some might have been aware of the personal link between the war and Borisconi.

Y'see, Borisconi's great-grandfather, Ali Kemal, was murdered by Turkish patriots in 1922 after he had condemned Turkey's genocide of Armenians.  He was lynched with sticks, stones and knives, his head smashed by cudgels and then he was stoned to death.  His body was hanged from a tree as a warning to others.

Sultan Erdogan and his government fervently deny the Armenian genocide.  

Each of the Sultan and Borisconi would have been aware of the history when they spoke last week.  

IX.  More for less

Apple, a mobile phone design and distribution company, has launched its latest product: the iPhone 12 (never iPhone XII).

It's 11% thinner, 15% smaller overall and 16% lighter than its predecessor.  And 12.5% more expensive.

That's progress. 

X.  Bookies' corner

Biden: $1.40  (last week: $ 1.40)

Trump: $2.80  ($2.80)

Source: Sportsbet.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Not so bad, but still negative

The IMF expects Australia's economy to contract by 4.2% this calendar year, less severe than the 6.7% fall tipped in April.  

Wry & Dry comments:  What was that about economic forecasts?

2.  Australian's consumer sentiment soars

Australia's consumer confidence, measured by Westpac-Melbourne institute, surged in response to the budget, by 11.9 percentage points to 105 points.

Wry & Dry comments:  This is the highest post budget surge since 2010.

3.  Slow lane 

A prolonged battle with the pandemic and a weaker global economy will usher in the slowest decade of worldwide energy demand growth since the 1930s, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

Wry & Dry comments:  Energy demand to 2030 is now forecast to grow at just 0.4% p.a. in a 'delayed recovery' scenario, down from 0.9% p.a. in a 'base case' scenario.  

4.  China wants preferential treatment

Zambia has said it will resist pressure from Chinese creditors to make paying arrears a condition of pursuing debt relief talks, as the southern African nation battles to restructure $11 billion of external debts. 

Wry & Dry comments:   Zambia wants to treat all creditors equally.  As do the IMF and bondholders, who do not want to handover or forgo money if it is then used to preferentially pay Chinese creditors. 

5. EU targets Big Tech

The EU has been working to make powerful tech companies less powerful, and the bloc is building a list of businesses that are in its crosshairs. The "hit list" includes up to 20 of the largest internet companies - based on market share of revenues and the number of users - that will be subject to new and far more stringent rules.

Wry & Dry comments:  Is the EU searching for relevance?

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

"What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV-obsessed narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea? It is not a good idea."

 -  US Republican Senator Ben Sasse, speaking to a constituent earlier this week.

When did the penny drop?

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...smiled as Wry & Dry opened the door to the jalopy.

“Namaste, Deepak,” said Wry & Dry.

"Namaste, Mr. Wry & Dry.”

“Things looking up at your end?” asked Wry & Dry, noticing only the faintest mark of the altercation Deepak had with the Nancy Pelosi toy the week past.

“Absolutely, the Crocodile and the Feather Duster are on the move!” Deepak cried.

“What? Your in-laws are moving out of the Taj Mahal you so lovingly built?”

“Yes, it was rather sudden, but all for the best…” Deepak said with feigned disappointment.

“Were the lovers not getting enough space?”

“Apparently not, it was the kids in the morning that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“Well, in this case…" But Wry & Dry could not quite come up with an alternative about feather duster’s plume or handle that was suitable for polite company and so he refrained.

“Err, yes, it would also seem that the Taj Mahal’s walls are not quite up to the standards required to block out noises of a frequency that is normally associated with…"

“...dusting, as it were…” finished Wry & Dry.

“Yes, feather-dusting is quite a noisy sport,” chortled Deepak.

“Exactement, and should be conducted with the utmost discretion, at all times,” chuckled Wry & Dry.

“But you should see all their stuff!”

“Ah huh, but who is doing all the packing?” asked Wry & Dry.

"Me!” said Deepak suddenly looking glum.

“You have been relegated to the demeaning task of packing boxes. And might I inquire as to why is this so?” probed a curious Wry & Dry.

“My income has dried up a little and so it seems I have no choice but to become the packing boy.”

“What about your job a school crossing traffic controller?”

“Well yes, these things take precise coordination, Mr. Wry & Dry. A lot of concentration needed, all the time, it was very difficult, you’ve no idea,” said Deepak.

“And,” prompted Wry & Dry.

“Ok, so it was just a little accident,” admitted Deepak

“I see, and…” said Wry & Dry now totally engaged, perched on the edge of the well worn back seat.

“Well, it was this older girl, and I couldn’t resist, the whistle was already in place, and I just gave it a little toot…” said Deepak, suddenly forlorn.

“No, Deepak, how scandalous! What did she do?”

“She grinned and flicked up the edge of her skirt for us all to see!” cried Deepak.

“And me too?” asked Wry & Dry, chuckling at his double entendre that was totally lost on Deepak.

“No, of course not, you weren’t there,” said Deepak confused.

“Well I never, that sort of thing didn’t happen even in the old days,” ruminated Wry & Dry.

“Coming to the point Mr. Wry & Dry, there was a collision of sorts, two men, one Bentley and one of those Tesla things with the flappy doors, all because of the skirt of course.”

“Bet they were furious!” said Wry & Dry.

“No, not really, we all thought the skirt was a worthy distraction,” said a dreamy-eyed and distracted  Deepak, as someone loudly blasted the horn as he drifted slightly into the left lane without indicating.

“But my boss didn’t agree that a skirt could be a worthy distraction or a valid reason to give the whistle just a little go. She called me things that would even shock the Crocodile. The long and short of it was, I had to resign.”

“Well I’d say it was short, the skirt? Anyway, now you are packing your in-laws boxes,”

“Yes,” said Deepak flatly.

“It could be worse,” said Wry & Dry.

“Not possible,” quipped Deepak.

“You may be also relegated to the demeaning task of unpacking the boxes too if you don’t get a new job, toot sweet!” With that Wry & Dry clambered out of the jalopy laughing.

Deepak sighed and waved.

  -    From the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry 

 

Cheers

Anthony