Wry & Dry

What, no courage? Too big to fail. Show me the money.

Chairman Dan: what, no courage?

"A bloke in his 20s died yesterday in Sydney. Nobody can afford to ignore this." 

And with this publish-ready one-liner for the media to cut & paste and the fear placed in the hearts of Victorians, Chairman Dan locked down the entire state of Victoria.

Cartoon tryo to get it

Leadership by fear has resumed. Readers, walk with Wry & Dry a little. And the following is going to upset some Readers. [1]

If Chairman Dan were serious about saving every life, he'd reduce the road speed limit to 10 kmph and ban motor cycles and male drivers under the age of 25.  So go on, Dan.  Do it.  What, no courage?

If Chairman Dan were serious about saving every life, he'd know that 3,318 Australians suicided in 2019. How many more will suicide with yet another lockdown? Too hard to consider the mental health of Victorians?  Go on, Dan.  Do it, think about mental health consequences of your policy. What, no courage?

If Chairman Dan were serious about governing for all Victorians, he would understand that there is a lockdown cost of $1.3m for every covid case avoided and a cost of $330m for every life saved. [2] Yes, over $300m for every life saved. Money better spent on suicide prevention, perhaps? Go on Dan. Do the maths. What, no courage?

If Chairman Dan were serious about understanding data, he would know that in 2019 4,124 Australians died of the common flu. Some of these were "blokes in their 20s". So, Dan, where is the recognition that people do die of other causes. Go on, Dan. Provide the full picture. What, no courage?

Chairman Dan's decision to lockdown all of Victoria on a handful of covid cases brought nods of approval from many, including many medicos.

But it brought absolute despair from small business, especially in the hospitality industry. Not to mention the ongoing educational disruption. And mental health problems.

Chairman Dan's self-assessment is that he has made the courageous decision. The reverse is true. He has taken the coward's route. 

Wry & Dry guesses that perhaps it is a bit too much to ask courage of a man who cannot remember who was responsible for the hotel quarantine fiasco/first lockdown. And hence not take responsibility.

He has not sought nuanced management of covid. With the acquiescence of a media industry that is not interested in getting its readers/viewers/listeners to think, he has refined government by fear to a high art. 

[1] Wry & Dry hastens to add that Chairman Dan is not Robinson Crusoe in the covid mismanagement race to the bottom. Chairman Dan at least places a stake in the ground, even if it is though the heart of small business and more widely on the way through to the ground. PM Jimmy Morrison is still searching for the stake and is not sure where the ground is.
[2] Source AFR 6 August. These are actuarial estimates, so there is a range of uncertainty around them.

Too big to fail?

The arrogance was breathtaking. Michael Borsky QC, barrister acting for Crown Casino, told the Royal Commission [3] on Wednesday that if Crown Casino in Melbourne lost its casino licence then there would be catastrophic consequences:

  • probable default of nearly $1 billion of debt
  • up to 12,000 job losses
  • loss of tourism revenue 

...and because Crown a) had learnt its lesson; b) is sincere and genuine; and c) accepts its failings with contrition and humility... it should be allowed to keep its casino licence under strict conditions.

Hold the phone! So turn a blind eye of Nelsonesque proportions [4] to :

  • massive money laundering
  • large-scale tax evasions
  • significant and on-going breaches of the Casino Control Act
  • etc, etc.

Wry & Dry wonders if Mr Borsky QC found it difficult to keep a straight face as he gave his submission.  Or was he sobbing?  

cartoon fishes

[3]  Commissioner Ray Finklestein QC will hand down his report and recommendation in October. Readers will know that the failings of Crown Casino were not identified by Chairman Dan's regulators, but by whistleblowers and investigative journalists.  
[4]  At the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, Nelson put his telescope to his blind eye and announced that he could not see the signal calling on him to end the naval action and retreat (Nelson had lost the sight of one eye during a shore attack on Cadiz).   

Vaccination: show me the money

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was going so well.  His Stephen Bradbury manoeuvre was simple but effective: just keep quiet and let PM Jimmy Morrison stumble at every turn until the final bend when Jimmy's final stumble would be into the fence.

Picture skater 

And then skate to victory in the next election.

But then, an inner and idiotic urge to spend we-the-taxpayers' money took over. And thus spake Zarathustra he spoke. His Stephen Bradbury moment was lost.

Double A wanted we-the-taxpayer to give $300 for every person to have a covid vaccination, and in a hat-lift to equality, to give $300 to those who had already had a vaccination.  Cost? Six billion dollars.

Hold the phone.  Seriously, pay people to have a vaccination that might prevent a health risk and if over a certain age and with other issues, even death. And that they will probably require in any case to travel and work in certain industries.

Of course, there is another solution:

Cartoon outsource vax

A Reader drew Wry & Dry's attention to the National Immunisation Program Schedule, which prescribes at least 25 mandatory vaccinations each child must have before the age of five [5]. There are another three in senior school years (e.g. HPV and Meningococcal) and a host of others for people of older years and with medical risk conditions. Mandatory vaccinations already exist.  And there are always people who react badly.

If covid vaccinations were mandatory (except for those with certifiable medical reasons why not, conscientious objection not being one of them) as is now beginning to happen across the globe, the deleterious lockdown problems would disappear.  Freedom would return.

Of course, Double AA's spendthrift plan is a chimera. By the time the election arrives, the vaccination problem would be mostly over. He didn't need to say anything. 

[5]  Childhood vaccines are mandatory to attend school. 

Afterpay squared

Readers may have noticed a small amount of fuss this week about the takeover of Afterpay, an Australian Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) company. The purchaser was a massive American 'fintech' company called Square.

Wry & Dry's colleague, writing in Investment Matters (scroll down), will make a comment.  And in the meantime Wry & Dry will make a couple of observations:

  • Afterpay has never made a profit, but it's made a lot of money for those shareholder who sold out on the way up.
  • Square (new shares of which will be issued to Afterpay's shareholders in exchange for Afterpay shares - Square is not paying cash) is trading on a P/E of about 380.

Summary: a textbook example of building up a company with a great idea and then selling out before anyone looked too closely.

Kamala underwater - and it's not in the pool

Kamala Harris, Vice President of the Yoo Ess Ay and former darling of California, now has 'underwater' popularity [6].

Underwater by two points, she has become the most unpopular Veep six months into a US administration for at least 40 years. 

Recent Veeps, Biden himself, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Dan Quayle (!), George H.W. Bush and Walter Mondale all had net positive ratings.

Ms. Harris' need for a snorkel seem to be twofold.  She badly hashed her immigration role (mind you, in the Yoo Ess Ay there are no winners on immigration) and prior to selection she was unknown outside California. The South, East and MidWest have always been wary of Californian's since Nixon. Reagan was an exception, in more ways than one.

As Wry & Dry observed recently, unless Biden acts with his brain and not his heart on immigration, he's going to end up with a hostile Congress next year. And his colleagues also have the spectre of Jimmy Carter keeping them awake. [7]

[6] 'Underwater' means more Americans disapprove than approve.  
[7] Jimmy Carter (Democrat) succeeded the hapless Gerald Ford (Republican), the accidental president who succeeded the role when Richard Nixon gave himself the DCM.  Carter was and is a thoroughly decent man, but who only saw the good in people.  Carter got blown out of the water after just one term, by Reagan in 1980, winning only six states. 

Olympic cracher factice

French boxer Mourad Aliev personified the Gallic response to unfavourable events. Go on strike. Well, sit down, if you will. M. Aliev was disqualified for using his head in a sport that allows use of only the fists. And so he did what any self respecting Frenchman would do: stage a one hour sit-in, in the ring.

cartoon boxing

But wait, there's more.  The disqualification was part of a conspiracy, apparently. John Dovi, the France head coach, "If it was not that (use of head), they would have found something else, or another bogus thing in order to disqualify Mourad."  

Which leads Wry & Dry to ask, if he really, really believed that, why compete in the first place?  

Readers will recall the boxing fiasco of 1988 in Seoul. South Korean bantamweight Byun Jung-il refused to leave the ring after being penalised two points for using his head, causing him to lose the fight. He wasn't happy. Neither were South Korean boxing officials, who did what boxing officials have always wanted to do: storm the ring and assault the referee.

Then Byun stayed in the ring for over an hour. Officials couldn't persuade him to leave the ring. So they eventually turned out the lights.

The Trumpster 

Since getting the DCM from they-the-people of the Yoo Ess Ay, President Trumpster has been:

a.  complaining that he actually won the election and that he wuz robbed;

b.  complaining that his golf partners cheat and that he has actually won all golf rounds;

c.  complaining that there is yet not a plan for his face to be carved on Mount Rushmore [8]; or

d.  raising over $100m in an election 'war chest'.

Close, but no cigar.  The correct answer is all of the above. But of most interest is that he has been interested in fiscal self-interest. The destination of the $100m+ is not clear.  However, Wry & Dry's man person in Florida says that The Trumpster will finance mid-term election campaigns (due in 2022) for Republican candidates who will do his bidding.

These candidates have been coming to The Trumpster's Mar-a-Lago residence [9] to offer deep obeisance and fealty.

[8] Alongside Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. 
[9] Spanish for Sea-to-Lake.  The building is the 20th largest mansion in the US. When The Trumpster had financial difficulties in the early 1990s he turned it into a private club. It operates as a resort and hotel for dues-paying members. It costs $200,000 to join, with an annual fee of $14,000. Accommodation is extra. There are 500 members.

Downing Street Fecundity   

As Wry & Dry predicted some time ago, Borisconi is going to be a father for at least the seventh time.  This is heroic stuff.  Wry & Dry wonders how he feeds all of those mouths. 

cartoon working nights 

What is wrong with the following picture

Readers may not be aware that Princess Princess is approaching her 40th birthday. But soon will be. And to celebrate, in addition to an intimate birthday dinner, she has released a short video, a still from which is below. It's Princess Princess' Home Office.

The Duchess of Sussex in her office during her birthday video

Wry & Dry is offering a bottle of vintage French champagne to the Reader who can, by 9am Monday, identify 10 things that are wrong/ incongruous in the photo. Wry & Dry will provide a starter:

#1: Who wears stilettos at work?

Cartoon my husband and i

And notice the pooch, probably thinking, "Get me out of here!"

At last, leadership from M Macron 

Readers will know that Wry & Dry has a jaundiced view of France's leading man, M Macron. But the scales have fallen from Wry & Dry's eyes.

In a declaration stating that in France people must be vaccinated to go to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and museums, he said:

“I no longer have any intention of sacrificing my life, my time, my freedom and the adolescence of my daughters, as well as their right to study properly, for those who refuse to be vaccinated.  This time you stay at home, not us."

"The restrictions will weigh on others, those who for reasons incomprehensible in the country of Louis Pasteur, science and the Enlightenment still hesitate to use the only weapon available against the pandemic, the vaccine."

Sadly, M. Macron's appeal to a Frenchman's/ woman's logic, pride in French science and philosophy has fallen on deaf ears. And the opportunity to riot was too good to miss.   Some 200,000 French people took to the streets last weekend. 

He might have been better to focus on the data. Unvaccinated people now comprise about 85% of hospitalizations in France, and 78% of COVID-19 linked deaths.   

What happened to the leading man/woman?

Whilst pondering the bigger issues of life over the latest lockdown, Wry & Dry pondered a really big issue.  What ever happened to the leading man/ woman in movies?

Consider the top 15 movies of 2019, the last full year of cinema.  Avengers Endgame, Lion King, Frozen 2, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, Star Wars' latest, etc.

Not one of 15 was made for adults.  And only in Jumanji (Dwayne Johnson) and Aladdin (Will Smith) are the actors not animated or not masked.   

Were is the latter-day Jack Nicholson? Julia Roberts? Matt Damon? 

Just as in politics, it's not about adults anymore.    

Snippets from all over 

1. RBA changes forecasts

The RBA has cut its 2021 GDP growth forecast to 4% from 4.75%.

Wry & Dry comments: And this after raising its 2022 forecasts, see below.

2. Across the ditch

Unemployment rate fell to 4% from a downward revised 4.6%.

Wry & Dry comments: This with other data suggests that the NZ economy is past full employment and becoming overheated. Interest rate increases are expected thrice before Christmas.

3. CBD vacancies

Office vacancies in Melbourne's CBD now exceed 10%, the highest in two decades. St Kilda Road vacancies were worse, at 16%, and 15% in Southbank.

Wry & Dry comments: Melbourne was the only capital city to record 'negative' demand, i.e. tenants abandoning space.

4. RBA meeting news

1.  Cash rate unchanged at 0.1%.

2.  GDP growth forecast for 2022 to 4% from 3.5%.

3.  Unemployment forecast for 2022 to 4.25% from 4.5%.

Wry & Dry comments: Hats off to Josh.

5. A trillion here...

U.S. senators introduced a US$1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Senators said the bill included $550 billion in new spending over 5 years for items such as roads, rail, electric vehicle charging stations and replacing lead water pipes.

Wry & Dry comments: Lead water pipes? Good grief.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of Leftist Maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the Gold Medal instead of the Bronze."

    - Donald Trump, in a media release on Friday afternoon.

This is the gold medal comment of the games. 

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