Thursday, October 21, 2010

Movement towards fascism

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It is apparent that the West is moving towards fascism. It matters little what type it takes, or whether it is some new variety. Socialists like to lump all capitalists together so they can smear them in one fowl swoop. This collectivist thinking is described in the Socialist Manifesto. The reality is that we are moving towards fascism for two reasons:
1. Business leaders are so anti-intellectual, so antagonistic towards ideas, that they regard philosophy as all nonsense. For them its all about the practicalities. This is why in the face of a tax increase, they end up split, rather than united. We saw this with the Resource Rent Tax. The government did a deal with the two majors Rio Tinto and BHP, leaving the smaller industry players in a corner licking their wounds. Andrew Forrest, CEO of Fortescue Metals, was flip flopping from one side to the other. The problem is - they were split on their narrowly defined self-interests, and they ended up selling themselves off to the lowest bidder. Why? Because they did not understand the nature of ideology. They left small and large business divided, and now they have made government look 'reasonable' middlemen. This happened in previous wars as well. Historians will say capitalists sided with the govt. The CEOs of BHP and Rio Tinto are NOT capitalists, they are 'middlemen' or politicians with very little equity in the companies they control. Forrest is a capitalist, but sadly he is not a terribly smart one, and few among capitalists are great thinkers because they are 'practical people'. i.e. Goal motivated rather than with lofty, and most often detached ideas, which is why philosophy gets a bad name.
2. Ambivalent populous moved easily by any ideas. Yep, this is the Western population which had us going to war, the population which thinks rights are 'obligations and entitlements, rather than protections from such impositions. They are a product of religious and state-funded education and academia.

So are we going to war? Well I would suggest it will not be world war but sporadic periods of civil war. The reason I say this is because Western democracy is perfectly compatible with Chinese style government. The Chinese are docile under a hard-line government, but they will be no less collectivist under a more popular leader - the current deputy leader of the Community Military Council. He is married to a folk singer.
The only threat to this trend is really the internet. So how might government deal with that? Well, we can get a clue already. In the name of child protection, websites like mine will be blocked. If I put up any protestations, I will be threatened and then assassinated in the spirit of Philippines politics. This is collectivism.. the greatest good for the greatest number.

Capitalism will be claimed. The problem is the 'famed' market participants or 'pin up boys' of capitalism are not the CEOs...they are few and far between. I am one, the taxi driver who took you to work today might be one. You will not find them in government. They are people with a respect for freedom and ideas. But more importantly, their notion of freedom is not a subjective conception. It is an idea that coheres and corresponds to the rest of their knowledge.
It will be truly interesting to see where the Cameron bros take England in the next few years. I'll read with interest. Closer to home... I will watch with dismay as Australians 'capitalists' allow the Gillard government to expropriate their wealth with the Resource Rent Tax. Unsurprisingly the parasites are circling. State governments are fighting with the federal government for a cut. They are like 7 thieves trying to split with the cash. We can only hope they kill each other in a shoot out. But in the tradition of Western style democracy, I am sure that they will realise the greater practicality of splitting the loot...just as the Liberals and Labor agree to share power.

Are you expecting any protection from the courts. Don't. The courts are interpreting an arbitrary statutory law, which they consider has higher standing than common law. That is apparently because the people support statutory law. Such is the standing of democracy that the empty symbolism seems to carry so much significance. I don't vote, but I can't remember the last time I votes on any legislation. Nor can I remember an occasion when there was a party who represented me. I can't even conceive of a world where there was any prospect of a MP agreeing with me on everything. And I know these people don't have much life experience. They can't even get a job after parliament.
Andrew Sheldon

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) not viable

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The Australian Labor government is proposing legislation to spend $43 billion on a national broadband network. It is a huge number. People are apparently arguing that we don't need a consultants report because:
"the ultimate commercial viability of the NBN is not the issue, because state-of-the-art communications infrastructure is crucial for the country".
This is folly in several respects. This judge investment assumes that 'fibre' is state of the art. The problem with this view is that the government risks rolling out a network for large sums, which cost half as much if they wait a few years. Where is the logic in bringing forward so much expenditure. People should also apply some critical thinking to the 'report' which provides cost analysis to this project, because too many consultant reports are simply not very good at projecting costs...and more importantly, revenues.
If this is a viable decision, then it does not need government to make it. In fact it could be solely undertaken by Telstra at no cost to the government. Of course it only makes sense because its government funded. This will be another white elephant like the Ord River scheme....only viable 30 years after its initial development. i.e. We would have saved 2x the project value if we had delayed the project 20 years.
Andrew Sheldon

You have to love competition, right?

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The following article reminds me of the movie 'The Patriot' with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. Mel Gibson plays the role of a revolutionist, and in the Confederate parliament, he poses the question 'But why should I substitute a British tyrant 3000 miles away with one in my backyard'.
Its a good question...but that is precisely what one does when one accepts the initiation of force or coercion as a basis for political discourse. Which brings me to the question of the Australian federation, where you have two tyrants claiming a piece of your life, whether you are an investor or worker. The Australian government last year without warning stated that it was going to raise the royalties of minerals by 40% (aka Resource Rent Tax). This was after no consultation, and resulting in investors losing a great deal of value from their wealth.
Now we have the sorry situation of the states stepping in and saying they want their share of the 'spoil'. This is like two greedy colonial masters fighting over territory. The problem will of course end up in the High Court, where they will rule that the government had no business intruding in the affairs of the states. The Resource Rent Tax is a quasi-royalty, as much as they might dress it up as an income tax, and it is an attempt to steal wealth from shareholders, and now the states.
Andrew Sheldon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Democracy, unions and extortion

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No good can come from extortion. i.e. The use of force to attain some value or concession. In society today, people are able to extort people illegally because of arbitrary laws which make excepts, which depart from principles which fail to treat people equally. This is the basis of natural law...the idea that as human beings we are equal in capacity (i.e. thinking in particular), thus equal moral agents before the law. The extent to which we are not equal, i.e. Mentally retarded, temporary insanity or mentally ill, is the extent to which we make concessions or withhold moral judgement. This is also why we don't condemn animals for moral breaches by human standards. They have no conceptual faculty to display moral agenda. That is not to say they are not moral. They just don't have a choice about being moral. By moral I mean - act in accordance with their nature, as opposed to some arbitrary or subjective standard some humans would decide to live by.
In this article we can see how a powerful union in Australia has resorted to extortion in order to extract funds from Australian business. This is not the first time that I have heard news of this. A story years ago described how a local union boss was paid kickbacks to keep miners working at Rio Tinto mines. His workers knew about this.
About 20 years ago I knew a demolition contractor John Compagion who was blacklisted by a construction union for failure to comply with their demands. He received death threats. He had 50 plus staff, and lost his business overnight because of a construction union. He ended up committing suicide by shooting himself in the head. Not before trying to develop some intellectual argument. The problem is business thinks it can simply to continue to pay out these people. They are just rewarding a bad system. Unfortunately, whilst he had the charisma of a leader, he did not have the intellectual arguments. He tried....but it was too late.
This union is an extortion ring, let it persists with its existence because people fear it. It is powerful because its member base is an important support for the Labor government of Australia. Martin Ferguson in this story is directly implicated.
Years ago there was the Labor Senator Richardson who was discovered to have a Swiss bank account. You might wonder for what purpose. We have long been accustomed to Labor's pork barrelling and vote stacking. This party is corrupt... and whilst the Liberals are better; by no means are they stewards of moral standing...which is what you would expect from political leaders. The role of politicians is to enact 'moral law'. The fact that people elect extortionists into parliament ought to be a source of concern. They then have to question the system. Does not democracy legalise and legitimatise extortion? 'Might makes right'. This sounds like extortion to me. Heard about the 'tyranny of the minority'? Well the Senate was supposed to protect us from that...but society has moved on...parliament has consolidated, interests have alligned, and now the major parties have shared preserve their duopoly of power. The media helps them do it, so they can retain their power as well.
Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sexual harassment settlement reasonable?

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According to NZ Herald, an Australian employee has been awarded $850,000 after settling a sexual harassment law suit against David Jones. Notwithstanding the merits of her case, it is hard to believe that the woman earned the $500,000 she will take home from the case. So what is years of sexual harassment worth? Well, she was not the only woman, so I guess this must have been one 'well-organised' CEO. But seriously, if we reflect on her context, she will face:
1. The negative stigma of having sued a CEO, a tease, a brainless blonde
2. The negative stereotype of having advanced because she was provocatively dressed
3. The negative stigma associated with the fact that she seemed to wait so long before she took action

Without knowing what she did, or without knowing how future employers or customers might respond to her, it is hard to know what impact these events will have on her life. I do however recognise that such events in the early stages of one's life can be 'life changing'. They can change your attitude to people....or define your relationship to people. These are life changing events. Of course the counterparty does not realise. We have a great many CEOs who really harbour enormous insecurities; who feel they are entitled to any woman, whether because some women are ingratiated, or because they simply need intimacy.

On balance, it is probably a reasonable settlement. Its a pity however the judge or jury did not award anything for sexual harassment campaigns. It would have been nice to see the company required to provide $250,000 towards a national sexual harassment advertisement campaign. Maybe they will do that anyway given the negative publicity they have attracted in this case.
There are a number of sexual predators in Australian business. I am reminded of a 'dick' I had the displeasure of knowing, who ended up harassing his secretary at Commonwealth Bank. It makes you question the standards of these companies. Clearly there is a lack of accountability, and a lot of bravado....which clearly impresses some people. 'Fake it until you make it'....followed by a graceless fall.
Andrew Sheldon

Monday, October 18, 2010

Democracy is driving us towards nationalism

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We are witnessing a shift in many European countries towards nationalism, and this will by necessity entail greater fascism, since governments will accept every opportunity to assert their authority to preserve peace. I give people this warning because its inextricably the direction in which the world is heading. It will start in Europe for three reasons:
1. The cultural (racial and religiously defined) boundaries in Europe are looser in Europe than anywhere else. i.e. Its easier in the EU to jump a border for economic reasons than anywhere else.
2. The European cultures are more strongly collectivist than many other cultures, and with their Western traditional, they are more nationalistic than others.
3. Europe already has a historical legacy of fascist extremism, cultural persecution, so those elements will be resources to be used by extremists trying to incite violence.

Democracy as long been celebrated as an instrument to achieve democracy. The problem is that democracy has only been successful where it was adopted by a homogeneous culture, where minorities were so small, that they were less important, or the value disparities were insignificant. It is also evident that the collectivist baggage of welfare statism was not present in the past, and so thus minorities were always easier to tolerate. This is not the case in the modern world. Democracy has failed to provide a stable regime for the former Yugoslav states, its failing in the Middle East, and its unravelling as we speak in Germany.

People will tolerate democratic discourse if the disparities are incidental or the individual is sufficiently alienated by the weight of majoritism. This is not the case however when tyranny is socially defined as some sub-culture, most particularly when they are a group of persecuted, well-organised minorities.

Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed the doctrine of 'multiculturalism' for Germany's woes. But I would suggest the problem is not the policy per se, but democracy, which fails to reconcile opposing interest groups. It is difficult to tolerate a sub-culture which compels you to change your values, and you have difficulty expelling a sub-culture which has developed such deep roots, even citizenry in your midst. This is the problem with democracy. It does not reconcile the divergent values, but instead it allows one group of citizens to become an imposition on another, so we have victimisation on both sides. i.e. Germany is burdened by the alienation of 'lazy' Turks who see no reason to learn German, and Turks are disenfranchised by discrimination which makes any improvement impractical. This is a recipe for an escalation in ethic-based division. More problematic is when you have a self-righteous Chancellor Merkel saying 'take it or leave it'.
Germany did not welcome these Turks on the proviso that they spoke German or adopted Christian values. It has decided to adopt those standards after the fact. The other problem is the appearent nationalism in Merkel's statements. She assumes that Christian values are the proper ones to learn...irrespective of the fact that the distinction between Germans and Turks has less to do with religion and more to do with parenting and organisational styles or discipline. After all, Islam was derived from Judaic-Christian tradition, so that is hardly a point of contention. The common denominator however is a self-righteousness which could lead to violence, incited by either side.
Merkel suggests that the 'Turks should integrate' as if there was something special about German culture, and something intrinsically bad about Turkish values. That might be true of false, if one looked at the basis for either value system, however the problem is the implicit lack of objectivity. Nothing could incite racial violence more than the following remarks by Merkel:
Merkel: "We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here".
The problem of course is that no person should repudiate the values of others because they subjectively think their values are better than others. They ought to be reconciled in a forum where reason is the standard of value. The fact that Germans, to the extent that Merkel represents them, are not open to reason can only incite violence because they are likely to find Turks retain as much false pride as them, as just as little respect for reason.
WWIII - bring it on. Most people never learn.
Want to read more about Chancellor Merkel's speech - see Yahoo News.
Andrew Sheldon

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nuclear weapons and war

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According to the Japan Times, Japan has made its 17th submission to the UN General Assembly calling for a complete nuclear disarmament. Surprisingly the United States is among the 50 nations which agreed to the submission. Really the submission is stupid for the folllowing reasons:
1. A nuclear disarmament agreement can only embolden those countries who have the most to gain from the adoption of nuclear weapons. Its a red flag saying that we will allow you to have an advantage.
2. Nuclear weapons are not the problem, it is the motives of the country developing them which is the problem.
3. Nuclear disarmament as a moral crusade is compatible with dogmatic religion (i.e. mysticism), and places morality outside the real of logic. Little surprise the initiative was taken by Japan, and little surprise that the USA has endorsed it.
4. Nuclear weapons discouraged war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The 'Cold War' resulted in one of the longest periods of global peace in history.
5. Nuclear weapons are an important component of any military force. We need to remember that nuclear weapons are not solely for armed aggressive, but can have peaceful applications. Some of these applications might actually save human lives. Such applications of course need to be researched, however there might be applications for deviating the orbit of a comet so that it does not strike earth. There might be opportunities to modify geological processes to attain some resource development advantage. The mind boggles at the opportunities.
6. Collectivist countries are the ones which seek to initiate the use of any force in order to gain some advantage. The threat is not nuclear weapons any more than the threat is knives and guns. The problem is the collectivist politicians who drive political debate. Countries like Iran, Korea, Japan, Russia have more 'collectivist' leaders, however the moral ambivalence in the West shows that it is a significant factor in our political system. Democracy is a collectivist construction, imposing the will of the majority on the minorities. The arbitrary statutory legal system, which has displaced a relative rational 'common law' system is testimony to that...and the 'collectivist creep' of statutory law is driving the West to universal tyranny.
Let me suggest to you how this tyranny is going to manifest in war in future. We are witnessing an increasing use of immigration in Western countries to stimulate economic development. If you cannot use debt, governments like to rely on immigration. Political correctness rather than logic demands that you allow everyone into your country, irrespective of their values. Collectivism is no barrier. In fact, we have already argued its well-entrenched in the West. The problem is that, immigration adds a cultural element. By allowing fundamentalist mystical creeds into the secular western countries, we are likely to see an escalation in racial/rligious prejudice. This is going to inspire reactionary nationalism, such that collectivists identities will be polarised. Sub-cultural persecution will ignite national tensions as foreign governments around the world are compelled for the sake of political correctness to draw attention to the tyranny in the host 'Western' nations. Politically ambitious collectivists in Western countries will then use these issues as a basis for expanding their political support and for sponsoring more prejudicial arguments. This will be compatible with our arbitrary statutory laws, so opponents will be standing on weak moral foundations. Before you know it, you have wars. Politically correct governments defending their prejudices or racially-based prejudices.
This ought not be new to us. We can already witness in European nations the growing hostility to foreigners, and Muslims in particularly. We have already witnessed a racially-divisive war in the old Yugoslavian states, as well as the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany. This is a fertile legacy to be used by 'majorities' to insight racial prejudices. Its going to happen eventually. All it takes will be a breach at the 'weakest link'. There is good reason for thinking the problem will ignite in Europe. It is among the most collectivist regions in the world. Perhaps the poorer areas of Germany or France are the most likely hot spots of resentment. All we need is a deterioration in economic circumstances, and governments resorting to immigration in order to stimulate economic activity. Understand that this economic activity is only needed because these governments maintain such a strangehold over their economy. Government control = bottlenecks on a nation's productive capacity. Justice facilitates commerce and job creation; but most government intervention has nothing to do with justice, and distorts economic activity, causing the boom-bust cycles we are accustomed to. These practices create vulnerabilities in the economy, and the prospect of war in collectivist countries. These wars have the tendency to draw even the most individualistic nations into the fray. The consequence is that even the freest nation's are sabotaged. Look at what the 'freedom loving' USA adopted after WWII. It was Roosevelt's 'New Deal', i.e. Measures to stimulate domestic demand after it was ravaged by a global war and acute destruction in Europe. Expect it again.
A little bit of conceptual foresight can avoid this trend. Just don't expect it.
Andrew Sheldon

Friday, October 15, 2010

Australian police make 'huge' drug seizure

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Lately I have been highlighting the feeble nature of our public service. These people are utterly useless and you are paying a great deal of money for their 'services'. They are paid not to perform any valued service, but to be 'perceived' as doing so. i.e. Any value they offer is incidental to the perception left in your minds...that they do some good, therefore all its worthwhile. The reality...its not. You are getting about 30c in the dollar, and if you consider the opportunity costs, then you are faring far worse. You are throwing good money in after bad. Here is evidence based merely on three articles I have fished out over the last week - with two in this mornings news...One does not need to stray far. I have written before about politician's perks, media incompetence, but here are a few more:

Let me add to these examples with another example.

The media loves drug busts. So do the police and the government. It gives you hope right! It gives you the hope that one day the police are finally going to develop a secret technology which will detect all drug traffickers. Or maybe a drug 'appetite' suppressant? You might even be hoping it comes from one of our public 'prestigious' universities. Think again. You would be under the false delusion that governments want to solve these issues. Really they don't. Do you think your stockbroker wants you to have direct access to the market? After all, why can't the ASX develop trading software to directly sell shares to you? Because it needs a middleman to 'siphon the funds from you'. i.e. To tell you a cocking bull story to buy the stock.

Anyway, back to the real story. The media loves big 'drug busts' because you are curious, so you buy the newspapers. The police love these stories because they feel they are actually making a difference, and because it boosts their collectivist pride. Yes, I agree, its paradoxical that I use the world 'collectivist' in relation to fascism and the police....but then I'm met students from the Australian Police Academy, and I can tell you some of the people coming out of that place are 'freaking' scary as cops. There is the same 'sub-culture' in the military of course. It must be the organisational values don't you you'd have to wonder who gets promoted. Which makes you the police organisation clean, or are perceptions being managed better than they were in the 1980s. Police all around the world are corrupt. You might wonder why. They are all part of the same organisation. Do you expect any accountability?

Back to the story. We have a huge $210 million drug bust! This is big news. The problem is ...this is just part of the trade. This is not going to make a 'big' difference because its a big shipment, but a small part of the trade. It will not be missed in the market. The reason is because they are infrequent. The market does not depend on these trades.
More concerning is that these big seizures give you hope in government and the police. The reality is that the problem goes far more fundamental than this seizure, the performance of the police, or government, but the structure of our government. This whole edifice is about justifying your hope in government. Don't. They are a false hope. Don't look at these one off seizures, look at the streets of your the alcoholism, the poverty, the indifference, the values of the people. These issues are effects....the cause alludes government who are fighting symptoms. They are not dealing with the cause. They cannot deal with the cause because their conduct, their organisational structure is part of the problem. You are part of the problem - generally speaking. If you don't have mental clarity over these issues you are part of the problem because you are supporting a regime that does not serve you...but you think in some practical way it does because it leaves you materially wealthier. You focus on the fact that you have an expensive home and a growing bank account... you repress the memory or the significance of a government which 'seizes' its share, your neighbour who cheats on his wife, your bosses advances, your son's lack of respect for you....but you imagine everything to be ok, because on some concrete level, things are better than yesterday because I have more things. Sounds like a drug addiction to me. Yes, perceptions can be hallucinogenic can't they....and they are free courtesy of your newspapers, friends, teachers, parents, etc. There are not many places where you can hear the truth. Most people just want to believe...this is the basis of their hope. Its called positive thinking....and the more desperate they become for hope...the more they chant their mantra of positive thinking. This is the era of cognitive repression....and your government has a play in it.
Read this story about this police seizure and tell me that its going to make a difference to the drug trade. It ignores all the smaller trades which are just too small. This big shipper was tipped off because the organisers belonged to a large organisation. Most are family businesses with cargoes floating behind vessels with GPS-tracking devices. They will never get those shipments. If discovered they will be left floating in the Pacific Ocean.
The only way to end the drug trade is to restore people's respect for facts. Its far more fundamental than the government's thinking. And they will never reflect on the fundamental cause because if we did, they would have to oversee a very different form of government, which would of course steal their 'illegitimate' thunder.
I am reminded of public servants who acknowledge that they don't have the resources to fight crime. This has been the case with the financial regulator ASIC, the police, I hear it all the time. These people end up leaving the police in frustration. They go into these organisations seemingly with such noble ideals...but they never challenge their ideal.
Andrew Sheldon

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wannabe parasites.....apply here

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This is a rather interesting advertisement. I guess if I hated myself sufficiently one could be compelled to seek such a job for its generous superannuation, modest salary, but plenty of security, in the knowledge that you will never work in the private sector again. Read and understand how they describe the position:
"As a key Government agency, the Department of Treasury and Finance delivers high quality economic and financial management advice and services to our customers through five different business units, with staff located in workplaces across Perth and the metropolitan area".
The problem with this of course is that governments don't have customers....they have victims. A customer is a person who 'voluntarily' enters into an agreement with you. It is a conditional relationship based on the mutual exchange of values. No value, no service.
The Western government does not exactly function on the basis which was intended by the constitution, however it is because of the failings of the constitution that government is able to act as it observe that it:
1. Acts unconditionally, extorting money from taxpayers
2. Offers no recourse when they fail to do their job
3. Any compensation is paid by the taxpayer...not the politicians who caused the problem

Many people of course accept this nonsense that we had a choice. If you voted, you have a choice. "If you didn't vote, how can you complain. You have your chance". The choice is to not sanction a bad system. A vile system that causes untold injury to people's lives. Injury beyond that which they would care to recognise. People are sabotaging their minds so that they do not have to know the pain caused by governments.
The guy who wrote this advertisement for a government bureaucratic role on some level knows that the government doesn't have customers, that the 'customers' are actually required by government to deal with them. Its all nonsense...and people know it....they just choose not to identify it constantly. Why worry about something you cannot fix?
Well, I can tell you, it is not going to be fixed until someone worries about it. What does it take? A protest? A High Court challenge? All in good time.
These people are parasites pretending to provide some 'public service'. It is not public service, it is public extortion. Is there any value in the services offered by government. Of course there is...some value. By your payout is probably only 20c in the dollar you pay because they do untold worse. i.e. The welfare state that gets larger, the legal system which expands in its convoluted stupidity, all because of statutory law. Common law offers far better protection...but not the 'protection' or extortion your MPs want to provide.

I once worked in the government. I was a post office mail sorter for a year whilst at university. It was a great job because I was given 5 hours to perform a job that I could do in 3 hours. These places seem to attract all the minorities, whether its Asian immigrants who have double degrees and still can't get a job, or homosexuals who have experienced some prejudice in the community. The agencies are a waste of people. These people had potential before they went into the public service....destroyed by it. Politicians are normal 'well-intentioned' people. I've been dealing with some lately, but they will be destroyed by the system. People who are defined by the system. Mind you...the system is defined by our someone has to rise to the change the values upon which this system is based.

I contemplated a job with government later in my career. I was considering changing the system from within. I downloaded an application form....but when I read that the fire escape rules/guidelines were a condition of the employment contract.... I think I almost regurgitated by lunch. These people were so caught up in was clear that they had lost sight of objectives. Who has the presence of mind, the 'thoroughness' to place fire evacuation guidelines in the job description. I dropped that strategy pretty quickly. That is the same type of nonsense that governments today speak. For example, the tax office when it says it is going to respect its 'taxpaying' customers. When government departments talk about having 'profit centres'. Governments do not make profits.....they have residual funds...and they are seldom much because they feel compelled to spend lest their budget be reduced each year. They are not custodians of your interests, they are middlemen extorting some value on the pretense that you will get some value in return. There is sometimes a value....sometimes its a loss. Maybe after inefficiencies and inconpetencies you get 70c in the dollar for roadwork these days, compared to 40c in the dollar when it was all government depts. Public electricity supply might offer 90c in the dollar, with a little bit of loss for redundant labour and poorly negotiated coal supply contracts. You might lose 30c in the dollar with privatisation, 10% going to investment bankers, 10% going to foreign investors, 10% going to the govt in future taxes. For things like education and the justice system, I suspect you are only getting 20-30c in the dollar for 'rot learning' and inefficient processes. For the legislature, I think you are looking at a huge loss. Huge! The legislature is incredibly centralised so it thwarts effective decision-making, they create loopholes because they develop 'statutory dogma' divorced from any context, which will demand later modifications. Compare that to Common Law. Its track record is exemplary. It has been marginalised by statutory law.
Andrew Sheldon

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The moral credentials of business

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Jerome Kerviel seems to have received a reasonable sentence in terms of jail time. I guess you can argue to that the civil damages of $US9 billion is a responsible penalty as well, though I don't see him as fully responsible for the damage. Squarely it was Societe General's responsibility to manage its clients and shareholders funds. Regardless of whether Jerome took methods to deceive the company of his losses; the reality is that its the responsibility of the company to protect the wealth of shareholders and customers. You cannot of our staff members broke the rules. The reality is that we have to do what it takes to achieve objectives...and not hide behind the law.
The implication is that Societe General's executives ought to be responsible for their role in the action. We are accustomed to seeing people being punitively attacked as scapegoats. This problem is bigger than Jerome Kerviel's insecurities and need to delude people. There was a responsibility by senior executives responsible for security to anticipate the problems. The pertinent issues in prosecuting these executives ought to be:
1. Was the rogue trader given too much responsibility?
2. Were their adequate checks and balances in the system?
3. Were their efforts made to check the viability of the security measures?
4. Were their efforts to avoid systematic theft/fraud?
5. Was the company exercising industry 'best practice'
6. Had the company had its systems audited by competent parties?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but Jerome Kerviel ought not to be the person sole responsible for the error. The government as regulator simply ought not to have a role, because you can't expect a government, which has a legal sanction to extort taxation from people to care whether you or I are extorted...that is proof of their lack of interest in taxpayer's interests. That is where their interest stops. That is why taxation is fully-financed whilst justice is under-funded.
The next layer of responsibility falls upon shareholders. It is easy to blame executives, government regulators and rogue traders. The reality is that ultimate responsibility depends upon the victim to anticipate, to protect, and in this case to ultimately diversify one's investments to protect oneself. I remember getting angry recently because I lost money because I fraudulent disclosure by a mining company. The reality is that I knew the risks and simply some element of hope allowed me to take decisions I should not have made. Of course, that is not where I think my responsibility ends. I want to make the system better. I can start with lax regulation. The problem however is far more fundamental than that. The problem is education. People deal with such matters on a superficial level...if only we had better regulation...if only people were less selfish. The problem is more fundamental. The problem is not even education....its why people don't get an education. Its not even their value system. Its their theory of knowledge, and in some cases their sense of reality....or more correctly their ambivalent sense of reality. Clearly in this respect, I was not perfect because in the context of my burden of responsibilities that I have taken on in the last few years, I took my eye off my investments and lost money because of another's deception. Not just once, but because of systematic losses, it actually happened several times. You buy a company because it looks it turns out it can be undervalued for reasons...because there are things you don't know.
Now based on conversations...I do not expect everyone to grasp the nature of the problem. There are a great number of business people out there who think I'm deluded. When I engage with them I get all types of disparaging remarks, or arguments like they don't have time to deal with deluded people. In truth...yes my perception of that they have no time for ideas. They are ultimately moral sceptics. Ayn Rand, a novelist who defined a philosophy, which has greatly influenced mine, gave business people a great tribute. The problem was her accolade could be taken as a validation of business. I actually find the thinking of a great many business people as contemptible. I think society is the way it is because of business....not in spite of it. Why? Simply because business is too important to compromise on standards. We accept China might default, extort some manner of our 'liberal Western tradition', and we accept that as if it is ok. Our governments extort wealth, and we pretend that it is ok because some nominal good comes out of it.
Of course business people cannot be critiqued as a collective. They each have their own minds....but the reality is that few sparingly use it to the extent they should....and it shows in our social values. Now...I'm not saying the blame stops there. I am saying...if the world is to be starts with intellectuals and business people.
Business people can finance China...the bad aspect of China...or they can apply some standards and say we will act in principle. Too many businesses wait for a government action. They don't take a proactive position. One current issue is the illegal mining of tantalum in the Republic of Congo. The proceeds of that action are being used to finance the civil war which is allowing the rape, death and dispossession of the local population. This is occurring because business with low standards allow it to happen by not taking a proactive stand, or even profiting from it.
In history, we can see that change only happens when people see an opportunity to profit. i.e. The British offered slaves in the US land and freedom if they joined them in the civil war. More recently, I see that Gippsland Ltd has supported the end of illegal mining of tantalum in Africa. Is that because they believe in principles or because its in their interests? i.e. Of course any curtailment of mining in the Congo will increase demand and thus increase the appeal of Gippsland's project. But would the directors of that enterprise be so 'principled' if the shoe was on the other foot...if there protect was in the Congo. I wonder...actually I don't. I seldom see companies taking proactive decisions to see the 'broader common good' of moral standards. The problem is not with individual companies...the problem is they fail to seek some higher objective standard....even if their peak industry bodies were only to lobby voters or their governments.
We are not accustomed to seeing companies as moral agents. Given the appeal of money and their control over the great bulk of it; I think it is important we do. I am not suggesting that companies perform some noble gesture... actually I simply am encouraging them to act in their broader 'enlightened' self-interest. Higher objective standards are good for all concerned. They are like the tide which raises all boats. Not a good analogy since tides fall on the other side of the you have to discard that analogy....i'll have to think of another. :)
Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

WA police a law unto themselves

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Here we have an example of a gross breach of procedure by Western Australian Police. What possible justification is there for 9 police to use a tazer gun in the confines of a police station 13 times. It is an incredible breach of protocol. If you are wondering why none of these men lost their job, its because:
1. The 'red neck' culture of WA Australian police
2. The impunity which the police displays around the world, not just in Western Australia. Video from everywhere!

I believe this culture extends to the Australia Police Academy. Some 20 years ago I went skiing with some university friends. We were joined by police recruits from the Canberra-based academy who were friends of a university colleague. They were blatantly drink driving and speeding on the way to a Hunters & Gatherers concert at the Station Resort in Jindabyne. This incident was a great night.

The problem of course is that these guys act with impunity because they think they are beyond reproach. They did not even seem to care that they were being videoed. Its hard to believe that they did not know there were cameras in the police station. In addition, no one of 9 police in the room reproached the offending officer.
Andrew Sheldon

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Knee jerk reactions on road rules destroying lives

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Another death has been caused because of silly government 'punitive' regulations which impose arbitrary standards upon our citizens to the extent that they cause people to escalate the risks to the broader community. The counter-argument of course is that:
"The law is the law. If we don't adopt punitive measures, then there will be no justice. Youths will do as they please".
It is of course one thing to support the 'rule of law', but does it not depend on the quality of the law. Do we, as a community, want to sanction any and all laws that politicians enact. I don't need to tell you that a great many laws are arbitrary, and thus they fail to consider the context in which they are intended to apply. The implication is that people who think the law sux for good reason, are in a fit of protest, feeling compelled to take action to avoid punitive action by police, and compelled to flee the scene of the 'crime'. We need to remember that the justice system is not particularly fair.
I am reminded of traffic offences I have driving 12kmph over the limit driving up a hill with an inclination of 30 degrees. I was pacing the momentum of the car to preserve speed, which meant I was speeding according to the arbitrary limit at the bottom of the hill. The policeman was not convinced and I was fined. Nevermind the 'acrobatic' stunts the police had to perform in order to catch up with me, as he was driving the other way. Nevermind the apprehension he caused me wondering whether he saw me or not. Nevermind the state of stress he left me in, whilst I needed to drive a further 4 hours. All cause for alarm, because all of these events heightened my level of risk.
But that is not the end of it. Consider that for speeding 12kmph, irrespective of whether I was driving up or down the hill, in fine weather or bad weather, in good or bad visibility; consider that I was fined for $120. Now, I could go to court and protest, but that would (in Australia) not extinguish the demerits against my licence, and the cost of attending court would not even cover the time and court costs which I would need to pay. So much for justice!
Oh, and what about all the time that police spend dealing with this issue; what about all the time that the courts spend dealing with these issues. What about the sentiments which transgressors come to feel about justice, i.e. That our justice is a punitive system which does not have their best interests at heart. It is a system which manifests in laws detached from the interests of real people, and thus can only be considered a system of 'injustice'.
Like Nazism, it is arbitrary rule that results in death. Ought we take consolation in the fact that the courts, the police, the politicians did not mean to do any of this...that it was an accidental and unintended consesquence of their civic duty. I personally would prefer to be free of their good intentions if their goodwill means persecution.
I started this post with a link to an article about a 22yo 'boy' who does not understand explicitly that he has done something wrong. He does not have my intellectual skills, but within him he knows that this system of justice is wrong, and that it ought to be reformed. But other ambivalent people care less because he broke the rules, he knew the rules. He did not think those rules on this particular day would impact him, and he clearly is powerless to fight them. He is a victim of a bad system, as you are, because this is just one manifestation of it. This one resulted in the death of an innocent party; and it will probably result in the destruction of the career prospects for this 22yo boy. And guess what - the politicians will say, the law is too soft. We need to be more pernicious because the existing law is not working. You think? You might wonder why, rather than engaging in knee-jerk reactions.
In other countries, we see pragmatic recognition of the flaws in this system. The problem of course is that pragmatism is merely a superficial concession that the system does not always work. It is the basis not for abandoning a bad system, but a concession made because people believe no system is perfect. This is the current climate of moral scepticism....that we have to accept some flaws. After all, we are sinners by nature. Right???? We need discipline.
Andrew Sheldon

Rodney Hide's judgement in question

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According to Rodney Hide, Labour MP Phil Twyford has breached parliamentary conduct by sending an email from his parliamentary server to endorse a local candidate in the Auckland City mayoral (local government) elections.

I am not convinced that this is a misuse of govt's resources. What has he done? Sent an email? There is no conflict of interest. He used an email to promote his party's interests. Would it be a conflict if he sent his mother an email saying he will not be home for business. I think its more Rodney Hide whose judgement is compromised. His integrity has been questioned by resent events, so he is persecuting every little perceived indiscretion to show that all MPs are as bad as him...come on! So much for parliamentary standards. Why don't we ditch a bad political system.

It has to be acknowledged that I previously gave him the benefit of the doubt, however on this issue, he certainly conveys a measure of opportunism and ill-judgement. It is disappointing because the ACT Party offer the best prospects for libertarianism in NZ....and the principle exponents of this party seem compelled to self-destruct. I would prefer to live in hope of someone embodying the principles than to narrowly think of this party as boomed by the indiscretions of a few candidates, regardless of their impunity.
Andrew Sheldon

When good men......are not discernible thinkers

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I received a chain email from a multi-millionaire today. His message is testimony to the moral bankruptcy that persists among business people. The message is one of those 'feel good' anecdotes which concludes with ambiguous moral statements. I have placed the concluding excerpts below (in 'Communist Red):
"Be kinder than necessary,
For everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly,
And pray continually.
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
It's about learning to dance in the rain.
It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived".
His opening remark to all those on his mailing list was:
I'm sure some of you can relate to this...
I fired back a reply to this person..
The question Terry is....can you? The last line is blatant socialism...a few lines before than you have mysticism. Its a poor man's encouragement, and a rich man's future ailment. I think you're watering the wrong side of the fence :)
Here is the problem. Bad things happen because of moral ambivalence. Unfortunately the poor do not have a monopoly on moral scepticism or ambivalence. The reader has clearly accepted a number of moral misconceptions, or because of his scepticism, he feels compelled to appease all manner of moral values. He is of course appealing to pragmatism, which is a collectivist philosophy which is ultimately going to undermine his own prosperity. This is going to go over some 'sceptical' or 'anti-conceptual' heads, so let me break it down into some psychology and economics....
Be kind for reasons. If you are unhappy, acknowledge those feelings and respond accordingly. Do not repress it, because that is an evasion of your personal responsibility. Yes, everyone is fighting some type of battle, but you are not going to improve their sense of efficacy by solving their problems for them. Ultimately they need personal responsibility before they need any other value. Only help those who help themselves, and only then to the extent that you can do so without undermining your own life. If you are going to resent it, then you ought not be doing it, because you are not dealing from a place of surplus. We live in a society where perceptions are more important than facts. This compels people to 'fake it until they make it'. This is a fraud and it ought to be exposed as such.
The ability to act depends on maintaining a personal sense of confidence and motivation. Pursue that purpose which gives you the most enthusiasm to preserve that confidence and motivation.
Remind focused, taking on only those challenges which you are able to handle. Be generous only when you can afford it, and in the process repudiate that moral code which says you are a sacrificial lamb to serve the entitlements or social obligations which others would impose upon you. Love for a reason, and good reasons at that. Everyone has a hierarchy of values, right or wrong, their pursuit is a basis for revision and eventual integrity.
Do that and you will acquire success eventually, and you won't need to pray because you would never find solace in externalising responsibility. The notion that you should be positive in every situation is a repudiation of your nature, and implies that the world evolves around you. Its implied philosophical base is subjectivism. This 'metaphysical' conception is at the base of every immoral philosophy ever conceived....various forms of collectivism such as fascism, socialism, democracy, as well as religion, whether organised/institutionalised or your own indulgence.

I would thus conclude that you cannot give unless you have produced, therefore moral virtue must lie with those who produced. One does not produce if it is virtuous to receive. Humanity who accepts that it is moral to give can only conclude that their live is as a sacrificial animal. When you accept that you repudiate the virtues which make production and innovation possible.
You mixed and ambivalent moral framework is a testament to the mixed moral statements you receive throughout your day. Every time you get one, send the sender this email. Better still, discover how to repudiate the moral code which was the cause of war in the Balkans, and is destined to see civil unrest escalate in Europe, and people will not see it coming.
When it finally comes, they will be none the wise from where it came or how to solve it. They will however blame the escalation of nationalism on the wrong issues. It will precipitate all types of persecution and a 'national emergency', which will not easily be resolved because people, the majority of people, would not have been encouraged or rewarded for thinking in a way which reflects their humanity.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?