Monday, March 18, 2019

Boarding houses:


There is a solution to housing stress but it requires a cultural and strategic rethink back to the days when ‘boarding houses’ were common for men and women.  They were not seen as places harbouring social pariahs, dropkicks and, to use a disgusting American expression, ‘trailer trash’.
My father was an engineer with multiple degrees and indeed world patents to his name yet he lived in a boarding house, at Kings Cross no less, whilst in his 20’s in the 20’s.  Then, there were no negative social mores associated with boarding houses.  Rather they were ‘homes’ for people who needed good accommodation with a lifestyle.  They were not last refuges for the dross.
To solve at least some of the issues we have, there needs to be a cultural shift away from owning your own Mc Mansion on lonely street to a community based lifestyle.  This is not for everyone but for those who thrive on the ‘CafĂ©’ lifestyle it could indeed be a great way of life.



GENDER Quotas:


I can’t imagine anything more demeaning to women than being treated as so intellectually stupid as to need quotas to gain employment.  The whole concept smacks of bottom up thinking by people with little thought or capacity to understand strategic reality from the top down. You can’t fix cultural issues by nibbling away at single concepts with pontificating crap from loud people with a brain mouth disconnect.
Let’s start at the top by recognising the fantastic differences between the genders.  Running project teams all over the globe I always tried to populate those teams with ½ men and ½ women but NOT based on quotas but based on the job and expertise required to do that job.  The genders think differently and act differently with each bringing their own gender based expertise and bias towards a common solution. Women are women and men are men with each celebrating their gender and biases.  This is a good thing and to be lauded.

Campaign funding:


The labour party are in the enviable position of having both ABC radio and television continually supporting ‘labour’ through hundreds of hours of obvious bias.  This through innuendo, words, pictures and indeed even through somewhat blatant jaw dropping comments.  Just watch the nightly news when so called political reporters offer opinion after opinion without fear of retribution or even accuracy.  This is the ABC’s choice but I believe it must be made clear that the ABC is working for the Labour party and the full cost of those hundreds of hours need to be charged to the labour party.   
The ABC is supposed to be independent funded by ALL Australians to reflect proper unbiased ‘reporting’ and proper ‘discussions’ supported by real ‘well educated and life experienced journalists’ [not reporters] also without bias. 
Perhaps an independent analysis of the last say 6 months would identify bias toward any party and, to be fair, any time spent for one party over any other to be charged at commercial rates.
Everyone has opinions and beliefs which shape their delivery and that’s fine as long as the listener / viewer understands the bias.  I have always been a big fan of bringing back the ‘soapbox’ where people can express ANY view without fear except for perhaps a few rotten tomatoes. Gender sedition – fine!  Celebrate racial differences – ‘fine’!  The next Martian attack – fine!!  Global cooling – fine!  Quotas which treat women as less – fine!  People are smart and can decide for themselves and weed out the crap – even with euphemistic tomatoes. 

“I’ll let you go”:


Ego driven dismissive crap used by powerless people trying to give the impression they are in control. It’s insulting and demeaning.  Don’t use it.  Don’t fall into the dross trap of self importance without substance.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

BANK - BIG 4

This is a story about the culture within a big 4 bank having an all pervasive internal ethos of – ‘right’. 
Thousands of employees believed they were right in everything they did because their chief executive told them so and defended their actions even though they often bent the law.  Indeed, this bank believed it was above the law because it was big and controlled money and they knew that money was everyone’s lifeblood.  It was superior and knew it was superior because everyone was always nice to them.
'You need our money' preached the bank and people queued up to borrow their dream.  After all, this was its job, to enable dreams.  Or so it said.
Their real job was to buy and sell money at a profit - perfectly commendable and natural for any big public company.  Indeed, most of us sell our time for a profit as do all the employees of the big public company / bank.
Unfortunately, some of the employees of the bank were sick the day ethics were handed out and they did things to advance their own career at the expense of reason and often ignored lawful requirements.  After all, it wasn’t their money or dreams and they knew they were right because their senior managers supported them and even encouraged them to act in bad faith.  Why be a nice guy when you can make lots of money by selling the dream then ripping the dream away – for a profit?
One day, one of the more ethically challenged employees decided, without cross checking, that a client had failed to pay a mortgage payment of circa $2,400 on his home months before.  If the employee had checked he would have realised that it was the bank that had made the blunder but fact checking was not in his mindset so he knee jerked into pious action in the absolute knowledge he could do nothing wrong - because he was a part of the bank and was always – right.
He rang the client with the opening statement, ‘We are going to sell your home in 30 days’.  Needless to say the client was somewhat taken aback, confused and indeed scared because the bank had aggressively threatened his dream without cause or reason or even humanity.
Still, this client had a life’s ethos in that it wasn’t the problem that was important it was how you dealt with it.  He knew he was outgunned by the bank that was constantly increasing its feverous attack and sought support from the Ombudsman.  This stopped the drivel and the insane fervour by the bank because the Ombudsman sported a protective umbrella shielding the client whilst they investigated as an independent authority.
That independent authority found the bank was wrong on all counts and awarded damages, compensation et alia to the much relieved client.  However, the issue now was that the client had lost a lot of money, time and opportunities as a direct result of actions by the bank but the Ombudsman was powerless to award anywhere near the quantum of loss.
The client was confused.  Would he accept the determination and accept losses whilst the bank rolled onto their next victim or would or even could he take it further.
At this point he discovered that the employee who had acted illegally threatening to sell his home had been promoted within the bank.   They were content within themselves that they were right and above the law as they had just promoted the dissident with not one syllable of apology to the client for their unlawful acts causing a great deal of stress and loss.
The client was determined to address the issue and pointed out to the bank they were found to have acted unlawfully by the Ombudsman and should compensate him for sustained losses.
The bank always seeing themselves as – right – refused.
So the client took them to VCAT where a higher level of jurisdiction could right some of the wrongs.
Now, the bank was incensed that a lowly client had the temerity to take them on even though they knew the client was the innocent and the somewhat aggrieved party.  After all, they were always right and strutted and pontificated that fact at every chance.  'How dare he!'
As a power play and not so subtle threat to the lone unrepresented client they engaged multiple lawyers, barristers and employees to defend their position in court.  Cost was irrelevant because it was shareholders money and they knew they were always right.
However, this client had done some homework and blocked every legal ‘trick’ the bank threw at him.  The client was not driven by career or personal gain but by mitigating personal loss.  Big difference and somewhat focus inducing.  At that time the bank was respected as a leader with enormous market power which did intimidate the client somewhat and that reality eventually forced a compromise.  How long could he hold out against dozens of lawyers and million dollar bank employees who were always right?   
After 5 years he settled because of a huge power imbalance and the self promoted invulnerability of the bank
That settlement saw the bank lose quite a few thousand dollars to the client but with a full cost to the bank of over a million dollars.  All for a alleged debt of $2,400.  But that’s alright because it’s only shareholders money. 
The client had mitigated some small part of his losses and the bank pontificated on as the all powerful trying to gag any public response by the client.  But now, enter the Royal Commission where Christian Porter – Attorney General said, “The royal commission has noted is that its standing powers enable it, in effect, to override the existence of any non-disclosure agreements.“  The same logically applies to settlements especially where and when there is a huge imbalance of market power forcing outcomes.
The big public company / bank now had nowhere to hide and its culture was for the first time on show for all to see, and it was found wanting.  It turned out that the bank was not superior, not right and that the chief executive had failed to act in good faith by presiding over a ‘toxic’ culture enabling many and various unlawful acts by various ethically challenged employees.  Indeed, in our client’s case the chief executive knew and sanctioned the events leading to a million dollar plus loss of shareholders money.
That revelation cost the jobs of the Chair and chief executive but still left our client in a loss situation.  A loss situation caused by and through a toxic culture supporting unlawful dysfunction.  Note that fault lies with the office as well as the incumbent executive. You can’t just change the executive and expect that all is now well.  The bank must take responsibility as an entity.
So, now our client has a determination by the Royal Commission which says the bank is indeed responsible for their ‘toxic culture’ causing dysfunction and client losses.  The bank is no longer invulnerable with pontificating executives self elevated above the law and past settlements can be revisited especially where bullying or coercion through size dominance was a factor in the signing.
Our client is now able to pursue losses caused by the bank and will.
The bank must decide if it will do the right thing and take responsibility for its actions or just continue on with an air of invincibility throwing and wasting even more shareholders funds at can’t win legal bills.
The story continues.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

QANTAS - They offer platitudes without substance


Firstly ...

Prior to our flight with Qantas this time we were given two passes to the Qantas club as compensation for another Qantas flight which they screwed up.  That ‘honeymoon’ flight was somewhat ruined when our allocated seats were ignored and Qantas reallocated us rows apart.  After I complained to the desk crew they once again reallocated us but to the last row and by the time catering got to us they ran out of food.  Two passes was totally inadequate.  Qantas even said that even though one can book specific seats there is no guarantee that you will ever get them.  Misrepresentation and unfair terms all spring to mind when the ‘fine print’ denied responsibility for advertised benefits such as seat allocation.

Then ...
This time we had time to spare so we used our two passes and entered the Qantas club in Melbourne.
The only acceptable thing about the experience were the women on the front desk who were polite, respectful and helpful.
Picture a Coles cafeteria of the 1960’s awash with people and mess.  This is the sight which greeted us.  Down market is an understatement.  No available seats, piles of used plates and mess everywhere.  Still, our passes were now taken away and we persevered until someone left and we grabbed their table.
We thought that perhaps a glass of bubbly would be nice only to find just over a glass left in the self serve which was not replaced for the 45 mins we were there.  No staff!
Try breakfast.  There must have been over 100 people in the largish facility yet the hot breakfast options consisted of 6 getting cold tiny sausages, a small bowl of scrambled eggs which should have been replaced hours before and slices of warm tomato.  That’s it!
We then sought coffee but found a problem as there were no cups.  We scavenged the entire lounge for cups to find two and tried the machine coffee.  It was undrinkable and we left same.
An original Qantas screw up leading to this ‘compensation’ which proved well below any standard.  No bubbly, food we couldn’t eat, coffee we couldn’t drink and all in a dirty space. 
One has to ask just what Qantas are doing.  What sort of management lets this happen?  Obviously management were incompetent and needed help if not look for another job.
Move on a few weeks to Qantas club in Heathrow and the whole experience was vastly different.  Good front desk, good staff, a clean lounge, a snack buffet of fresh food and nice wines served by great staff.  Toilets immaculate as were the showers.  A good relaxing place my wife and I enjoyed during our forced 10 hour break between flights.
Pity Melbourne is managed so badly.

Then ...
Our actual flight from Melbourne to Singapore was barely above Neanderthal with extremely tight seats further disadvantaged by almost non-existent service.  Cabin crew are wait staff and as such bear a huge responsibility to make customers feel special and to cater for their every need.  Staff chatting in the back of the plane instead of looking after customers is offensive to paying guests. 

The catering offerings were as down market as the Qantas club.  The bread roll was inedible being nuked too long as was the so called pizza.  The blade ‘stew’ was below first year apprentice standard and the mash had the consistency of yogurt.  Absolutely awful.

Then ..
We were told our next flight from Singapore to London [QF1 on the 20th of December 2018] was running 3 hours late with no explanation.  This meant we would have missed all connecting flights to Helsinki et alia despite allowing a 2 hour window.  No reason or alternatives were given despite asking for same.  We found a Singapore flight which would have lobbed us into London with time to spare for the connection.  We asked Qantas to re-book us on that flight and they did but somewhat grudgingly.  We were glad to get rid of Qantas.

Qantas, just what are you doing?
Qantas, like some others, have developed a ‘commuter bus’ mentality rather than a ‘tourist coach’ mentality.  This also applies to the so called club at Melbourne.

Do Qantas care?  Definitely NO!  They offer platitudes without substance.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

RESTAURANTS AS PUBLIC TOILETS


Restaurants are NOT public toilets and it amazes me that the downward challenged think they have a right to use what is in effect a private toilet when they feel the need. These people should put their names on a public database so that any and all can come knocking on THEIR door. We have travelled extensively and like everyone else needed to use a toilet at times but, out of respect for the restaurateur, we became a customer and at least bought a beer so we could use the facility [unfortunately a self defeating cycle - wahoo!] .
Good word, respect.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?


It is the Australian way and is indeed behoven on everyone to embrace all as ‘mate’ but with respect  and generosity .   Make people feel special by welcoming them into your greater circle through recognition of their heritage - because that is their history and that is ‘who they are’.  We are not all the same and it’s the differences that make for interesting ‘everything’ and a successful multi-cultural society.
Embrace the differences!!
Humans attempt to ferret out similarities so that we perceive common ground from which to, make friends.  This is neither nefarious nor does it sport hidden agendas.  It is a simple and genuine desire to interact. 
In Europe where there are many many nationalities the question ‘where are you from’ is an ice breaker question designed to proffer conversation [not discussion].  It is not aggressive or demeaning or threatening or building to a racial ‘discussion’ rather it is an act of friendship to be able to just talk.  Talking is good.
So, for all who see a threat by asking the question, ‘where are you from’, get a life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Interest only loans

I am having trouble understanding the hoo-hah and drivel surrounding interest only loans.
There are continual reports and articles by so called expert journalists expounding doom and gloom warning that millions are about to lose their homes all due to the borrowers stupidity and having the temerity to acquire interest only mortgages.
Human nature is such that we will believe anything which falls in line with our hopes and desires because we want it to be true.  Financial Services Providers [FSP] know this and advertise their products to appeal to satisfying those hopes and desires.  Nothing knew and something of which we are all well aware.
The FSP throws out a carrot to vulnerable people [all of us] by offering the dream couched in glowing rhetoric.  People look past the 95%+ leverage and the interest only nature of the loan because they can now afford to get into their own home and stop paying rent and the world will now be a place of joy and abundance.
Providing the numbers are correct in terms of affordability and our countries’ economy is solid, this cannot be a bad thing on several levels including growth in the building industry and giving people a smile.
However, FSP’s are treading a fine line to profit because they know an economic hiccup may cause issues.  Even if employment is strong any downturn in prices will see the people who were sold the dream drop into ‘temporary’ negative equity.  This is not an issue for the borrower as property prices will increase eventually but it is an issue for the lender or those people who sold the dream.  Why?  Because their loan books have also hit negative equity and they may even be trading insolvent because they have lent more than their assets cover.
So, it’s not the borrower who has the immediate issue, it’s the lender having overstepped their own risk parameters and panicking.
Everyone then panics driven by stupid sensationalist reporting and spending stops and the country slows causing even more panic and we all, lose the smile.
The issue is NOT interest only loans as this is merely a vehicle to pay and it’s the borrower who must face the consequences and pay the piper if the world’s economy implodes, terrorists blow up Christmas, Tsunami’s hit Uluru and/or unemployment rises.
The issue is leverage and equity.   If global economic meltdown happens and s/he loses their job then they have a nest egg or fail safe to be able to sustain payments providing they have paid off a portion of the loan.   This a comfortable place to be in knowing that even if the worst happens home will still be home.
So, to be able to sleep at rest, go for the interest only loan but with a leverage not exceeding say 90% and pay into that loan account every cent you can muster, live off the credit card and draw only enough to pay that credit card on the last day of interest free periods.  Two reasons, firstly it reduces interest on the interest only home loan and secondly builds a panic fund so if something does happen all is not lost.  Manage your debt and don’t let the dream makers profit at your expense.
And that is the issue.  There is nothing wrong with leverage and interest only providing you use the system to advantage and manage the debt.  I mean active hands on management knowing for example exactly when to pay credit card debt.  Know your commitments and build a simple spreadsheet of all debts on a time line so you know what needs to be paid and when.
The FSP’s know all this but prefer not to have to think about it by offering so called ‘vanilla’ home loans of principal and interest where loan exposure is reduced all the time.  This is an advantage to the FSP but not the borrower.  The FSP’s then load the interest rate for interest only to dissuade people from this type of loan because they know, if it’s managed, they will lose profit.  Worse, the borrower has no fail safe. 

CONSEQUENCES - SOLUTION TO DRUGS ISSUES AT FESTIVALS

The answer is simple – make people accountable for their free choice to take illicit drugs. Instead of expecting everyone else to pay for them to dodge law enforcement and in particular, the consequences of OD, charge the individual the full cost of any and all authorities actions.
Our society quite rightly looks after individuals in the event of mishap and this does not change with helping those who illegally quaff some hope of escape. However, when that activity is illegal and known to be illegal by everyone, then having society continually pick up the bill is tantamount to supporting that unlawful behaviour and flies against the ethos of our system of law.
Some of the so called solutions are bizarre because they accept an illegal act as legitimate which in turn undermines that system of law. Drugs are illegal and, for example, the idea of pill testing legitimises that illegal activity and compromises the Police to even be able to uphold the law. A stupid idea lacking clear thinking or indeed, consequences.
On one hand, if we get caught unlawfully speeding we cop a fine which we have to pay. We don’t expect the country to pick up the tab! Otherwise speeding would become an art form without consequences. These consequences are already well defined and accepted by everyone.
Yet, on the other hand, we cannot ignore the pile of human jetsam derailed from society because of drugs as that would be unacceptable and indeed immoral. But, as long as there is a ‘free’ safety net provided by society, the drug affected dross will continue to take advantage. As they have and do!
Perhaps, start with OD. Calculate the ‘full’ cost of having to ‘rescue’ someone and charge them the total amount to be paid as any other debt to society with well known, ‘already in place through our courts’ and accepted consequences for debt evasion. The same as any speeding fine.
I don’t know what the full cost of paramedics, ambulance, hospital, doctors, medicines etal would be but if it’s say $10,000 [perhaps 10 weeks of value adding community service or army reserves or tax debt] then charging the perpetrator [note – NOT victim] would make them think twice and at least reduce their capacity to buy more drugs.
In this case, Australia is the victim because we are held to ransom by those who play on our quite appropriate moral responsibility to help everyone in trouble. Indeed, those of self proclaimed higher moral judgment will always play the ‘poor little kiddies card’ yet offer no solution other than the wringing of hands in a most sanctimonious yet perplexed manner. But when that ‘trouble’ is illegal, self inflicted and repetitive then ultimate consequences must fall on the perpetrator, not Australia as the victim. As our system of law demands.
Think consequences. Simple.