Enjoy Wry & Dry: a cynical and irreverent blend of politics, economics and life.
Seven stories you may have missed
It’s a more sombre and weighty edition this week. Please be reminded of the disclaimer at the foot of this edition.
- Australia: Yes/No/Maybe
- Gaza: some history
- Gaza: some thoughts
- USA: constipated
- Debt: it seemed like a good idea
- Cricket World Cup: trading places
- Qantas: “full support of the board”
Yes/ No/ Maybe
This should come as no surprise to Readers who read the Voice polls.
Those polls show that of all of the wide range of demographics: age, gender, political party supported, educational level, religion or geographical region, only one group has a majority support for the Voice.1
Wry & Dry’s issue, here, is not actually wins. But that those polling numbers clearly confirm one point, contrary to Albo’s intention. That is the Voice has divided Australia across all those demographics. Australians have never been more divided across so many groups. A few consequences emerge.
Firstly, Australia may become like the Brexiter/Remainer overlay that now divides UK politics – where Brits are no longer primarily identified as Labour or Conservative. Will Australians forever be a Yes or a No voter? Probably not. Yes voters have been happy to be so known. No voters have been more circumspect.
Secondly, each side firmly believes in their cause. However, the deep Yes advocates campaigned with a sense of righteousness that will make a loss intolerable. Will they ever understand why people voted No? Will they become Trump-like deniers?
Thirdly, Albo needs to move intelligently. Regardless of the outcome, there will be triumphalism. He owns the referendum outcome. If the Yes vote wins, he cannot be jubilant. That would worsen the national division. This is not the same as winning an election.
If the No vote wins, Albo cannot but take responsibility. He cannot accept a democratic outcome and then, for example, blame Peter Dutton (the maths says he cannot: Dutton’s popularity has fallen since June).
Fourthly, Dutton needs to also move intelligently. This will be very difficult for him. He cannot take a No win as a sign of broader support for his policies. And now say that nuclear power has majority support.
1 Supporters of the Greens.
Gaza: some history
The massacre and kidnappings of Israelis by Hamas terrorists that occurred just north of the Gaza Strip have rightly sickened most of the world. And the self-righteous triumphalism by Australian anti-Semites has ripped the cover off their latent hatred.
Wry & Dry writes of this subject carefully. And asks Readers to also read carefully.
Firstly, to history. It must be said the submerged logs of media bias have emerged. One simple example: today’s Melbourne Age carried a potted history of the Gaza Strip:
“On May 15, 1948, the day after Britain’s official departure [and when Israel came into existence], war broke out between Israel and Arab countries including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.”
“War broke out.” The fact is Israel was invaded from three sides, by Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
Secondly, that historical snippet leads to more history. Those countries, and others, instead of invading Israel, might have helped Palestinians form their own state in the land the UN resolution allocated (i.e. Gaza and the West Bank) – always noting that most of the land Israel was allocated was desert. They chose not to.
Since then, They-The-Palestinian-People have not been helped by those countries, or their own leadership – such as it was. It was often said of Yassar Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, that he “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” for peace.
Consider this. It’s complicated, but in short… in December 2000, US President Clinton, Israeli PM Ehud Barak1 and PLO leader Arafat announced they had agreed a plan. In it, Palestinians were offered a path to having their own nation on roughly 95% of the land in the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip. Under that outline, Israel would also swap some of its own land to compensate the Palestinians in exchange for maintaining 80% of its then settler presence in the West Bank.
The Israeli cabinet voted to accept the plan. Arafat didn’t say no. But he didn’t say yes. Arafat delayed and delayed. It seemed he preferred to be the worshipped guerrilla leader instead of a sensible leader capable of forming and governing a country. Arafat betrayed the Palestinian people, and ensured their future as victims.
Since then, the well of peace negotiations has been poisoned. Hamas, Hezbollah, et al have cultivated the fantasy that Israel will magically cease to exist. That fantasy has caught the imagination of not only many Palestinians, but also many in the Arab diaspora. Hamas, Hezbollah et al have a desire to avenge the wounds of injustice and humiliation without anything remotely resembling a firm plan to improve the quality of Palestinian lives.
For its part, Israel and its settlers have expanded their piecemeal occupation of the West Bank to create buffer zones. Recently, the Israeli Prime Minister’s obeisance to, or is it appeasement of, the small but influential right-wing parties in the government’s coalition has in the last 18 months presented a picture of political idiocy. For example, annexing the West Bank would be folly in policy, impossible to successfully execute and be an invitation to certain massive revenge from nasty elements in the Arab/ Muslim world.
Which brings Wry & Dry to this week…
1 Who had just defeated Benjamin Netanyahu to become PM.
Gaza: some thoughts
As difficult as it is, Wry & Dry will stand back from this multi-layered crisis and consider some moderately random thoughts.
- Anyone who says there is any easy solution to this is a dingbat.
- Hamas is a nasty terrorist organisation, funded by Iran. Iran wishes to see Israel destroyed.
- Palestinians in Gaza are oppressed by Hamas. Hamas is a misogynist and repressive organisation. Hamas has no desire for peace with Israel – it wishes its destruction.
- Hamas undertook the massacres and kidnappings knowing that such action would lead to a massive retaliation by Israel. And the loss not only of thousands of Palestinian lives, but also untold destruction of Palestinian buildings, infrastructure and amenity. As has already happened. Is this all Hamas has to offer by way of a solution?
- Hamas knew that an Israeli invasion of Gaza would lead to Israeli strategic over-reach. This will lead to even more Palestinian civilian casualties.
- This will force Saudia Arabia to back away from the Saudi-Israel peace deal now being negotiated with the US – a rapprochement that would see the end of Iran’s desire to be the major power in the Middle East.
- That peace deal was one that confronted the Israeli prime minister with the reality that there would be no deal unless he stood up to his far-right wing and made some sensible concessions to the West Bank (as Wry & Dry noted in his last edition).
- The irony in all of this is that Hamas’ slaughter has shuttered any chance of that peace deal. And with it any chance of a better future for the West Bank. Or for Gaza. They-The-Palestinian-People will be losers.
The bottom line, for now, is that Hamas is willing to sacrifice the lives and livelihood of Palestinians and to create a humanitarian crisis to meet Iran’s regional ambitions.
No mistake: the chances of a ‘two-state’ solution and recognition of Palestine are now dead, if they were not already.
The US is unable to provide emergency support for Israel (or anyone else).
Because of a power struggle between members of the House (of Representatives) Republican Party over who should become Speaker of the House to succeed the one just ousted by the extreme right-wingers. Those same hardline conservatives who backed the losing candidate in the ballot (Jim Jordan – who was endorsed by the Trumpster) seem determined to sink the eventual nomination of the ballot winner (Steve Scalise – a moderate). Ignore the details – just believe Wry & Dry that it is messy.
The result: the House is unable to pass any bills or approve White House requests for emergency aid or pass a spending bill in the coming weeks to avoid a government shutdown.
The home of the brave, land of the free is constipated.
It seemed like a good idea at the time
What does America get when a president who slashes company and business taxes is succeeded by a president who spends money like drunken sailor?
Annual interest costs as a percentage of GDP that are at record levels:
The current level is about 2% (see left hand chart). It is forecast to leap above 3% in 10 years time, when it will be the highest since at least the Second World War.
Unless Congress gets its act together to both increase taxes and reduce spending, the end of the world is nigh.
In August, an Indian cricket fan purchased a ticket to the India v Pakistan world cup fixture. He paid the AUD equivalent of about $50.
Yesterday, he sold it for $480.
Nice work. If you can get it.
The International Olympic Committee has suspended Tsar Vlad’s Olympic Committee. This is because the latter recognised the Olympic Councils of the four eastern regions of Ukraine now occupied by Tsar Vlad’s army.
Tsar Vlad is doing everything to ‘normalise’ those four regions as a natural part of his empire.
The IOC’s action appears to be nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Nothing is more certain than Tsar Vlad’s athletes being allowed to compete in Paris as ‘neutral’ athletes.
Polls a plenty
It’s not only Australians who will go the polls tomorrow. Across the ditch, New Zealanders will pass judgement on the successor to Jacinda Ardern’s nice but incompetent government. That government, led by Chris Hipkins is at risk of being given the DCM.
It’s not only the sinking economy, but also the increasing crime. Which is probably why net migration of New Zealand citizens is -42,600. Over 50% of those departures were to Australia.
But New Zealand is a funny place. Its voting system is proportional representation, so single party government is a rarity. The Opposition Leader, Chris Luxon, may have most votes and seats, but not a majority.
Readers should watch for the Vote of a once tiny party: ACT (Association of Consumers and Taxpayers). This is a libertarian party that used to collect only 1% of the vote. Polls suggest it might get 10% of the vote.
Also watch for Winston Peters, the leader of the populist New Zealand first party. Mr. Peters will back which ever horse wishes to carry his colours. That day.
“Full support of the board”
In the sporting world, if any coach tells the media that he/ she has “the full support of the board,” one knows that the DCM is not far away.
In September, just as the slow-moving and vertical Qantas plane crash hit the media, its slow-moving chairman, Richard Goyder, announced that he had “the full support of investors.”
Six weeks later, Mr. Goyder finally gave up this risible pretense. After yet another series of meetings with investors, on Wednesday he announced that he would be ‘stepping down’, but not until Qantas’ 2024 AGM.
Perfect, another 14 months with his snout in the shareholders’ trough. In 2023 he will be paid $721,000 for his troubles. In 2024 he will be paid at least that again.
Australia leads again
Ah, Wry & Dry’s heart swells with pride when Australia is announced as a world leader in anything. And so, he patriotically announces that Australia leads the developed world in mortgage repayments as a share of income.
This is the ‘mortgage stress’ about which Readers now read on a daily basis. And the data is nine months old.
And it will get worse.
Snippets from all over
1. Petrol car ban
Stockholm plans to ban petrol and diesel cars in part of the city starting in 2025 in a bid to crack down on pollution. (Bloomberg)
Wry & Dry comments: This is the first major capital to introduce such a wide ban.
2. Commonsense 1 Trumpster 0
Republicans nominated Steve Scalise as their candidate for speaker of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, as they sought to heal bitter internal divisions paralyzing their domestic agenda and preventing action on the Israel crisis. (Le Monde)
Wry & Dry comments: In the only good news to come out of this fiasco, the Trumpster backed the other candidate.
3. Plea deal allows FTX advisor to throw ex-boyfriend under the bus
Caroline Ellison, a top adviser to the cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried, testified on Wednesday that she had lied over and over at his request, misleading the public about his businesses and circulating “dishonest” financial documents to crypto lenders. (New York Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Mr Bankman-Fried is facing charges arising from the collapse of two of his companies: FTX, a digital currency exchange, and Alameda Research, a hedge fund. Ms. Ellison dated Mr. Bankman-Fried on and off for a number of years.
4. Don’t cry for Argentina
Argentina’s peso has tumbled against the dollar as voters and markets brace for a possible victory by Javier Milei, a radical right-wing economist who wants to dollarise the economy, in elections on 22 October. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Argentinian inflation was 124% in August. The move to ‘dollarise’ the economy is a populist measure that raises more problems than it solves.
5. Kennedy reprise
Robert Kennedy junior announced that he would run as an independent candidate in the American presidential election of 2024. (The Economist)
Wry & Dry comments: Unlike his father and uncle, he has zero chance of winning.
6. The pain in Spain is rising again
Tens of thousands of people marched in defence of Spain’s constitution in Barcelona as the country’s caretaker prime minister continued to negotiate an amnesty for Catalan separatists facing criminal charges over their drive for independence six years ago. (The Times)
Wry & Dry comments: This is messy. Pedro Sánchez, the caretaker PM, is seeking votes from the Together for Catalonia Party, which has seven seats in Madrid’s parliament. He needs those seven votes to form government.
- US: inflation was 3.7% in September, unchanged.
- Australia: The IMF has downgraded its forecast for GDP growth in 2024 to 1.2% from 1.7%.
- US: office vacancies in New York hit a 19-year high of 13.4%.
And, to soothe your troubled mind…
“I was able to cut the federal debt by $1.7 trillion over the first two-and-a-half years [of my presidency].”
Joe Biden, US President, speaking last week.
Not even close. US federal debt has increased by $5.7 trillion during his presidency. It was the budget deficit that fell by $1.7 trillion.
PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.
PPS Patrick Cook, Wry & Dry’s resident cartoonist and lampoonist is taking a vacation. His amazing wit will return on Friday 3 November. In the meantime, it is possible that the odd magnum opus might reappear.