Simone keeps on telling me that because I’m now 30 I’m officially an adult, and with that comes responsibility.

One aspect of this is that we’re saving up some money, in the prospect of possibly buying a house some time this year.

One of the things I find funny about this is that on the one hand the banks want to place all sorts of restrictions on how much money they will give us towards a house, while at the same time constantly sending us offers to up our credit card limit, or even just take out more credit cards. The Australian medical association seem to have lucrative arrangements with the finance industry if the number of offers of AMA branded credit cards are anything to go by. We seem to get a AmEx offer at least once every couple of months. It really becomes a bit tedious, and I also wonder how many people actually take them up on it in order for it to be worth their while to do these huge advertising/fishing mailouts.

Perhaps things will change with the global financial crisis, although it doubt it. (one of my bosses referred to it as the GFC the other day. You know things are getting serious and mainstream when they get their own three letter acronym).


Somehow I managed to completely miss today’s share market plunge until quite late this evening.

ASX down (another) 8%.

Dow at 8.5k

And the aussie dollar having lost 40% of it’s value against the green back in the last month.

What comes to mind is the old Toyota ads, with liberal quanitites of “Bugger”. All quite highly worrying really. Inflation seems stable, and interest rates are on the way down, but still quite unsettling (and I’m in the enviable position of having pretty minimal exposure to the share market at present…).

Shirking responsibilities

One of the things I have been finding most irking of late is the frequency with which you hear variations on the phrase “We understand the importance of climate change, and fully support the carbon trading scheme, but…” coming from the mouths of industry lobby groups and company CEOs.

The bit that usually comes after the … is something like “we feel that <insert their personal industry or company here> should be exempt, because <insert some lame excuse here, usually along the lines of “we wont make as much money”>”.

No one it seems wants to acknowledge that the reason we’re in the global warming position we’re currently in is due to everyone taking a make-as-much-money-as-possible-and-damn-the-broader-consequences approach, and that the reason they’re having a carbon tax imposed on them is that they showed no willingness to show restraint or change by themselves. Yes it will cost them money. Yes the costs will be passed on to the consumer. Yes it may decrease Austraila’s competitiveness internationally. But it may just spur other countries to follow suit, and compared to the slight rise in cost of living, can you concieve how much it would cost to recover from the CBD’s of Sydney and Melbourne getting flooded when the sea level rises a foot or two?

As someone put it, if I’m right we’re going to be ahead of the game, if I’m wrong we will have created several thousand jobs in carbon minimisation research and implementation.

Are you doing your part for your Country?

Over dinner this evening, while my thoughts were running on a tangent I came up with a little idea that has subsequently rather amused me.

Currently politicians all over the world love to wax lyrically about carbon offset trading schemes as a way to save the country from the scourge of global warming.

Given that another issue that concerns our politicians is the fact that Australians are not breeding rapidly enough to replace the population, and people with higher levels of education are even less likely to have more than 2 children, I feel that an opportunity exists for some pro-active government policy to reverse this problem. To be specific, I propose we establish a

Bogan offset trading scheme!!!

People who are above average education or intelligence but who don’t want kinds could subsidise other intelligent people who are inclined to have more than two kids to do so.

This way we could both encourage population growth, and increase the reproductive output of the  intellectual elite of the nation, to offset the thousands of poor bogan babies born annually to people who cannot figure how to use a condom, let alone raise a child.

It’s win win!!

(and this is the point where I stand back and prepare to receive the avalances of “You can’t say that!!!” emails from people who didn’t get the joke)

New Tobacco

Have you noticed recently how pervasive the whole mobile phone marketing apparatus has become?

It’s everywhere.

There are phone shops by the dozen in any shopping mall you walk into. Almost every sporting team or event has some sort of mobile phone sponsorship. Ads for plans and handsets are everywhere and seem to be constituting larger and larger segments of TV ad breaks.

In my mind I can’t help think that the other industries that have been able to employ these kinds of mega budget advertising campaigns have been the likes of alcohol and tobacco, and as a result I keep on wondering what skeleton is going to eventually come out of mobile phones’ cupboard…

After all, anything that lucrative cannot be entirely healthy or wholesome, can it?

Garbage men

Today is rubbish day here in parkview, and up until now I had always seen this suberb as something of an enclave of normality (from the perspective of my Oz/NZ upbringing) against the surrounding seas of hardship and poverty, but as I was driving to the hospital this morning I saw three separate guys looking through the neighborhood’s rubbish bins. There is a lot of prosperity in Johannesburg, and also a significant amount of economic development and improvement (particuarly in the poorer black areas), but with social problems so deep that it results in people scavenging through suburban rubbish bins, where do you start if you want to implement meaningful social improvement and change?

Fuel competition

It’s a pathetic sign of the times when I head a radio competition today were you could win petrol vouchers. I mean people were getting quite significantly excited about the prospect of winning petrol whose total value was probably only about $100. It frankly seemed bloody pathetic.

Right to cheap fuel

It has been rather cynically amusing watching all the dumber and more reactionary members of the public respond to the rising cost of petrol. They almost universally behave as though cheap petrol is an inalienable human right, rather than something that is controlled by the markets under the control of simple supply/demand economics.
They don’t seem to understand that oil is a finite resource, and that we have been lucky to have petrol as cheap as we have had it for so long (most Europeans pay about double what we do in Australia, and have done so for years). They also don’t seem to understand that this is not something that the government can (or even should) intervene with to alter prices.
They also clearly don’t have a clue as to what the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) actually does (which is to prevent price fixing, insider trading, or other anti-competitive corporate behaviors), or that just because prices are rising it does not by default mean that the petrol companies are colluding or price gouging.

I really wonder what they will do when significant supply side restrictions (ie. when oil fields start running dry, and prospecting stops finding new fields) start affecting oil prices…