Thursday, March 8, 2018

Statistics: Snakes in the Social Grass

Every year some 100,000 people die from snakebites.  What a huge number. 3 of them were in Oz. It is of course catastrophic for them so we should do away with cats. The chances of you being in that death stat are what? (It is zero cuz you are still alive. Duh ! Maybe next year, eh?). 100k in 7.5 billion is a percentage (or even an old-fashioned fraction) that most who were educated in our schools since, say, 1990 could not work out and could not even guess at the significance. (Try working it out for yourselves) 

3 in 25 million (the Oz population) is pretty insignificant too (except to those who died and they are no longer around to care). We have the most venomous snakes in the world which slither about in the outback where few people live and few go. So, you are likely to be pretty safe.

But the raw number is pretty scary. And that's what stats are used for these days: to scare you into thinking 'social' 'issues' are terrible when they aren't and aren't when they are. That done, taxpayers' money can be demanded to 'fix' the 'problem' with some social engineering.

Our PTB collect statistics in a very haphazard manner and use them to scare by presenting them to meet financial objectives. It certainly isn't to actually help you. Most people have only the very slightest grasp of statistics gleaned from the news media and bamboozling them is a doddle.

You are more likely to be bitten by a venomous statistic in Oz than by a snake.

Our media - even our many levels of Gummunt - are snake charmers.

It isn't as though all the stats themselves are 'true'. Most are incomplete: they are often just guesses; they are all too often extrapolated from a small population onto a larger one; some are downright fictitious. 

In the DSM (the shrink's manual) there is a category called 'Factitious Disorder' which does not mention statisticians nor women who cry rape whenever they have fornicated in an unsatisfactory manner. These women can be catastrophic too. 

As catastrophic as a feminist-inclined Gummunt Minister.

Stats are used to ask further questions and those too are all too often the wrong questions or again designed to confuse, outrage and gain funding. Hey, it employs otherwise unemployable ladies (usually) and gives them Titles, like 'Director'.

A customer pointed some salient 'issues' with stats out the other evening. First though, before I pull his pint, let me just say that some stats are useful and true. Figuring out which though would defeat even those who have graduated from our Universities so full of those factitious stats that they pour from their lips like drool.

So to Anthony Esolen. A litre of Ale (1.75 pints or thereabout depending on ambient temperature and pressure) was sat upon the bar for him.
Statistics We Refuse to Collect 

“There are no statistics!” cried a critic of an article I wrote for Crisis a couple of weeks ago. I had asked a prominent Jesuit to open his eyes and look at the vast human misery caused by the breakdown of sexual mores in the West. 
Had I laced the piece with statistics, people would have complained that I had failed to listen to actual human beings and their woes. Instead I recounted stories; and they were by no means the worst that I could have told.

Ah, statistics. Mathematics was my first love, and I know a lot about probability and statistics, enough to know that the worth of the latter depends not just upon the keenness of your observation, but on the questions you ask in the first place. My first encounter with the deliberate fuzzing of numbers in order to tell political lies was when I read James Burtchaell’s book, Rachel Weeping: The Case Against Abortion.
Customers might also like to consult Darrell Huff's capital little book on Huffograms. How to deceive with charts. Sometimes a pie is venomous, like some snakes.
In that book, Father Burtchaell followed the threads of statistical fabrication and error, repeated, embellished, misapplied, and divagating, so that politicians could say, without any sense of unreality, that hundreds of thousands of women used to die every year from “back alley” abortions. 
(No less an authority than abortion advocate Mary Calderone, fifteen years before Roe v. Wade, said that almost all illegal abortions were performed by a doctor or a nurse, and were safe, with antibiotics ready at hand to protect against infection. The story changed when it needed to change.) 
From that point on, I have given little credence to statistics that fly in the face of common sense and common observation, or that are vitiated by a flaw in the question.

Let me give an example. Common sense tells us that cohabitation is less stable than marriage, because each person knows that he or she can pack up and leave without legal consequence, and without qualms for having broken a sacred vow. 
It is also more volatile, since by the testimony of many who engage in it, it is a trial run. Youth, instability, volatility, and sexual passion make for quite a canister of nitro-glycerine. 
We know that a girl is far more likely to be beaten by her live-in boyfriend than is a wife by her husband. But if for ideological reasons you want to obscure this fact, and if you don’t care overmuch for the safety of the girls you are putting at risk, or rather if you do wish the girls well but you hate marriage even more, you will fold the two things together, and invent the category “domestic violence.”
Ahh. Domestic violence. Another 100,000 stat in Oz. No-one gives a damn that 100,000 babies are killed in the womb by their mothers and do not even get include as the grossest and most egregious form of domestic violence in the DV stats. Because it is all about women. 
Official Bullshyte. But people buy it through Taxes.

100,000 DV incidents a year in Oz (a guestimate as the numbers from each State and Police force are not collated nationally) include - but do not state - two teenage brothers fighting on the front lawn are an 'incident'

two lesbians having a disagreement over who should make the sammich and resorting to throwing crockery (lesbian violence runs at some 12 times man-woman DV) are an 'incident'

Man and woman shouting at one another about overspending on face cream when the pantry is almost bare is an 'incident'. 

But there are 'official' exemptions too. Aboriginals for whom it is 'traditional' to abuse one another: and of course the Muslims who give 'how to beat your wife' lessons in the mosques. These are never even indentified. No 'sub-stats for them.

All 'incidents' are considered violence against women. Despite at least 40% being against men. But hey, let us not mention that. Official stats don't.

No, we are fed by every Gummunt and taxpayers funded body in the bizzo that 1:4 (that is 25%) of women will be sexually assaulted. Not counting the 9 year old fourth wives deflowered by some hairy old guy who has knocked her quiet with his koran.
68k in 4 mil. 0.017

In Tasmania there are some 3500 such counted 'incidents' a year and the police, when questioned, will admit that it is always the same few yobs no more than 1000 in number for whom they are repeatedly called out. 1000 in 500,000 population. Work out the percentage for youselves. The mental exercise will do you good.

All 'incidents' are portrayed as violence against women. Follow the money all the way to shelters, free housing, 'Directors' of Wimmin's cooperatives of a dozen ilks all getting huge salaries and perks, and court fines from the menfolk. Oh, and police budgets too.

Meanwhile 100,000 babies a year are 'terminated' and not by Arnie 'I will be back' the robot but by a Doctor being paid $5000  a dismemberment by a mother. Do a quick stat on the dollar value to the GDP.
Or suppose you want to obscure the fact that in the United States, almost all people who contract the HIV virus are either homosexual men, or people who have sexual relations with, or who share infected needles with infected people—in other words, that homosexual men are the gate of the disease and by far those most likely to suffer it.
We are urged to be compassionate to these unfortunates. 

Bugger That!! 
You can deflect attention from one form of probability to another, or you can ask a misleading question. So you can say that “more than half of new HIV cases are among heterosexuals,” a statement that is almost meaningless, given that heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals by 40 to 1. 
What we want is to isolate the sexual factor. Given that A is a heterosexual man who does not use intravenous drugs, what is the probability that he will contract the HIV virus, relative to that of B, the homosexual man who also does not use intravenous drugs?
That would defeat almost any Uni graduate today. Heck over half of the graduates are wimmin with the cradle marks still on their bums and an attitude so venomous toward men that they would cheer that ALL men get blamed.
Or you will ask not about the probability function but about its first or second derivative. You ask, “Is the rate of increase of HIV infection among homosexual men lower or higher than the rate of increase among heterosexuals generally?” That too is almost meaningless. 
When a certain population has been saturated with infection and exposure to infection, its rate of increase will level off, and at that point just about anything else can be made to look more virulent, more threatening. It is like saying that a car just beginning to pull out of a driveway has a greater acceleration than a car speeding at ninety down the highway. 
It does, but so what?

Journalists used to know a little of history and the English language. They hardly know those, now, so I should not expect them to grasp the concept of conditional probability. 
I hear, for instance, that “a majority of child abusers are heterosexual.” 
Again, meaningless; more people die by car accidents than by lightning, but that does not mean that driving a car is more dangerous than is standing in a golf course during an electric storm, holding your nine-iron high above your head. It merely means that a lot more people drive a car than are outdoors welcoming the lightning. But the statistic also does what the “domestic abuse” statistics do. 
It folds together unlike things. 
Let me explain. 
A normal man does not commit incest. 
He does not abuse his own children. What he wants to know is, “Given Mr. A who is heterosexual, and who does not live in my house, what is the probability that he will abuse my daughter, relative to that of Mr. B who is homosexual, abusing my son?” 
That is just a complicated way of specifying the condition, and removing from your statistic what for your purpose is irrelevant noise. But if you put it that way, you get something like what the priest-scandal should have taught us by experience.

Let me then ask some relevant questions.

What percentage of people over a certain age (20, 25, 30, 40) are or have been once-married, without divorce? We can call this the basic Index of Marriage. The converse we can call the Index of Unmarriage.
What percentage of people over a certain age have never given or received a serious proposal of marriage? We can call this the Index of Loneliness.
 What percentage of marriages and quasi-marriages end in divorce? Suppose you have a society in which a lot of people don’t bother to marry in the first place, but they shack up, they make babies, and more often than not they split.  
The divorce rate in that society may level off or take a slight dip, but that will mask the very real confusion beneath. I define a “quasi-marriage” as any sexual liaison that lasts more than one year. We can call this the Index of Sexual Dissolution.

What is the average number of children a woman will bear within wedlock? This is a combination of two statistics, each of them important, but for different reasons. The first is the birth rate: a country with modern medicine will age and lose population over time if the rate is less than 2.1, unless the shortfall is made up by immigration. 
The second is the percentage of children born within wedlock; in the United States, slightly less than 60 percent. 
It seems to me that a low out-of-wedlock birth rate, such as obtains in Italy, is of itself nothing to cheer about, if no one is having any children at all; and a near-replacement birth rate, such as obtains in the United States, is also nothing to cheer about, if two out of five children are born into moral and social chaos. We can call this statistic the Index of Family Richness.

What is the average number of years, out of his first twenty, that a child will live without both his mother and father in the home, setting aside children adopted at an early age, and children who have lost a parent to death? We can call this the Index of Moral Orphanage.
What is the median number of pornographic images that a boy will have seen before his fifteenth birthday? I specify “median” rather than “average,” because the median will give the more conservative number; an average would be much higher, as the minimum is bounded by zero, and there is no maximum. We can call this the Male Index of Moral and Intellectual Rot.

What is the percentage of people between 20 and 30 who have never fallen into regular fornication, but who are either married now, or who have been in a normal relationship of at least six months’ length, whether by dating or by courtship? That would have been almost everybody, in my parents’ time, and very few people now. We can call this the Index of Pre-Marital Health.

What is the percentage of people between 15 and 30 who have had sexual relations with someone who was a stranger—that is, someone whose name they did not know, or with whom they had not, before that day, exchanged more than fifteen minutes of conversation? We will call this the Index of Lonely Whoredom.
What percentage of people, arriving at the age of thirty (then 35, then 40), are married, without ever having known a divorce or the breakup of a quasi-marriage? We will call this the Index of Clear Skies.

What is the number of children per 1000 women of child-bearing age, both those born and those murdered before birth, conceived outside of wedlock? How does that number compare with those conceived within wedlock? We can call this the Ratio of Wrong and Right.

Most of these questions have not been asked. 
Is there anybody alive in the United States who believes that the answers will not range .....
from disappointing to staggering?
OK, a lot to consider. I suggest sitting down with a pint of Ale with Integrity and put your skeptic hat on. Then ponder the Truth, meaning and intended deception of the next lot of bogus numbers you come across from some impeccable (hah!) media source.

Thank Anthony for the new Indexes to consider.


Monday, March 5, 2018

So, you wanna be a Fighter Pilot.

Occasionally I like to pull a pint or two for pilots. I like pilots. I quite admire them whether they fly props or rotors, passenger jets or fighters. Especially Fighters. Only the very best get to become the modern Knights, climbing into steeds of steel that charge so fast that you do not hear them coming. And I also get some stick for lauding those few ladies that fly and even manage to join the few chaps that are on Squadrons. They have all passed through some rigorous training and selection. Most that start out get chopped. Those that graduate as fighter pilots at the end of a very long and intense process are worth a free pint. Or three.

So today we had some chattering in the Tavern about it, and I shall focus here on the early stages and managed in various countries of note. 

First up, a personal note. I have selected youngsters for aircrew roles. I know a little about it although it was a while ago. Most who get through to being qualified fighter pilots have a 'boyishness' about them that is carefully nurtured.

In my very old days there were few old Knights. Bold lads tried and some were of 'the right stuff', just like today.  But many who tried were farmboys and stayed as squires.  The 'chop rate' was high and real life! The modern fighter pilot's boyishness remains until old age, refined and developed and put to use, but never eradicated by 'over-adulthood'.  The boldness of youth, though is curtailed by precision. There are no old, bold fighter pilots.

They have drive, energy, dedication, curiosity and enthusiasm. They aspire. They have 'acendancy'. They have aggression and desire. They want to be more than they are now: they want to be the best.

The process of turning a raw boy into a fighter pilot is long, arduous and expensive.  Training each RAF fast jet pilot, for instance, can cost up to £4 million (around Au$7 mil) and only the very best candidates need apply. To qualify as an RAF fighter pilot takes four years with 300 hours’ flying on various aircraft.

But this is what you get to do. Well, the French ones here.... a quick look.....

Once candidates have completed their elementary flying training, they are streamed to fly fast jets, multi-engine aircraft or helicopters but only a tiny proportion of those achieve the dream of flying a Typhoon or Tornado. 

They then undergo specific training geared towards their chosen discipline before eventually flying the aircraft they will use in operations.

Despite the rigorous selection process, it is not an excessively lucrative career path, with average pay around £35,000 after training. (About Au$65k, which is below the national average wage). And they cannot even get treasure booty ! But it is a fabulous career.

Phil Frawley is a human who was truly born to fly. As a young boy he spent countless hours building model airplanes and dreaming of the day when he would get to control an aircraft. Phil’s hard work, determination and perseverance finally paid off when, after five years as an aircraft technician, he was accepted into the Royal Australian Air Force 92 Pilots Course in July 1974. 

Now 44 years later, Phil is still flying for the RAAF. He is currently a Squadron Leader flying the Hawk 127 and so he is still an active fighter pilot. In fact he even holds a Guinness World Record to prove it - The oldest active fighter pilot aged 65 years 146 days at 76 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown as of 1 August 2017. He said:
I have had the pleasure of mentoring a number of young men in their attempts to become RAAF pilots and I have enjoyed a reasonable level of success over the years. There are a number of attributes that the RAAF look for during the recruiting process and I am often asked what these attributes are and how to improve the chances of success for someone. I have also received requests and pressures to write a blog outlining the list of attributes and give some insight into the process.
Firstly the best advice I can give is to have a backup plan for your life as success in achieving a placement on a pilot course is not guaranteed.
So he did write about it. 

He said: (I put just a bit here)
Let’s get into what is required. The first attribute you need is to achieve the highest possible education standard that you are able to achieve. This indicates your ability to study along with your dedication to task. If you are unable to settle in to a rigorous study routine you will not pass the course and the recruiters know this.
Next is motivation, this is measured by your interest in aviation and your knowledge of the RAAF aircraft and the roles that they are capable of performing.  If you have aviation experience this will also help. Basically this flying experience will give you some confidence in your ability to operate an aircraft making you more competitive with your application. 
Physical fitness and ability in sports is important to your cause. Eye hand coordination plays a big part of the recruiting process and it will be tested in a special machine.  You must be physically fit and your aircrew medical will show any shortcomings.
Leadership is an important attribute required of a potential pilot as you will become a commissioned RAAF officer on graduation and this carries a lot of responsibility. Recruiting will look for evidence of your leadership qualities. 
Personal confidence is a necessary attribute, you must have self confidence in your ability as a person and you must be able to speak with confidence to anyone. 
Aptitude for training will be tested during the recruiting process by way of a series of exams and unfortunately there is no real way of preparing for this part of the process. It comes down to you either have it or you don’t. 
As part of this, if you show promise, you will be sent to BAE Systems training facility at Tamworth, known as the Basic Flying Training School (BFTS) for ‘flight screening’ where your aptitude will be further tested to ensure you have what it takes. Flight screening is conducted on the CT-4B Airtrainer and is designed to test your ability to show improvement in training environments
RAAF pilot training is like no other training that you will experience. You have to continually self critique your own performance and make the necessary improvements to progress. You must improve at a constant rate otherwise you will fall behind. The course has specific pressure points along the way, mostly progress flight tests with senior instructors but there are others.
You can be chopped at any point if you do not measure up. 
Naturally there is a lot of academics with associated examinations, some of which have pass marks as high as 80% with emergency exams requiring 100%. On the plus side the camaraderie with your fellow course mates will bond you all together forever.
Having achieved a position on a pilot course be prepared for a very different experience in life. Firstly you will be sent to Officer Training School (OTS) at Point Cook for 17 weeks where you will receive intensive training in General Service Knowledge, Defence Force Law, Customs of the Service, Leadership, Service writing and of course Drill and Ceremonial (marching). These are the main subjects, there are a lot more.
Once OTS is completed you will return to Tamworth for six months to complete basic flying training. You will fly approximately 65 hours on the CT-4B Airtrainer. Following BFTS you will be sent to No2 Flying Training School (2FTS) at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia where you will train on the Pilatus PC-9. Here you will complete about 125 hours of advanced flying training before graduation as a RAAF pilot.
There are a lot of fun times to be had as well so if you are prepared to put in the hard yards and fulfil your dreams you will never look back. There is no feeling in the world like having a very senior RAAF officer pin a set of pilot wings on your chest at your graduation parade in front of your family and friends.
 The USAF has similarly rigorous selection.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree.

Step 2: Meet Officer Qualifications.

Step 3: Attend Officer Training School. 

Step 4: Pass Initial Flight Training.

Step 5: Complete Undergraduate Pilot Training. 

Step 6: Advance Your Career in the United States Air Force.

America differs a little in the initial education requirements. That may (?) have something to do with American schooling and qualification comparisons to other countries.  All services have a 'College' that provides degree level education. The RAF and RAAF send youngsters to their colleges but also take direct entry lads and lasses without degrees. First they have to become Commissioned Officers though and that weeds out many. But that apart what can young men (and women) expect in the USAF training system?  Let us take a look. 

Someone I know very well, knows this place very well.

Of course, at this point, when complete, you are simply a pilot, albeit with a bare smattering of knowledge about the real world of warfare. There are many stirrups to put your feet in yet.  It is off to 'advanced flying training' for you. 

In the RAF that means Valley, usually. I know it well ! More intense work, and even the Instructors have to do check rides !  The first rung is under you and there are many more to go. 

More ground school. More 'sims'. More demands on skill and application. More books. More lectures. More intense navigation, planning, tactical operation. More hours in the air with someone watching every move. Then.... solo. 

And that is just the early career. 

After graduation it is off to an OCU - An Operational Conversion Unit - where a lad will get his hands on a fighting aircraft. Whether he will graduate from that, we shall see at another time.

Meanwhile we shall join the first Solo lad and raise a glass to him.

What can he aspire to?

Taylor Chop Fox who has written a book on his experiences in joining the USAF and becoming a fighter pilot in that system gave us a glimpse.
It’s a clear January night in 2015 and I am walking out to my F-16 with the Las Vegas strip providing a jarring contrast to the F-15s, F-15Es, F-22s and Eurofighters I am about to fight with and against.
There is a loud high-pitched whistle from adjacent idling jets as I inspect the missiles and six live 500 lb bombs I will be dropping tonight.
This mission is a part of Red Flag, the world’s largest advanced aerial combat exercise. Tonight there will be over one hundred and forty jets fighting in one airspace and the job of my four ship (formation of four F-16s) is to put bombs on a surface-to-air missile site.
After deeming the jet airworthy and starting the engine, I go through a variety of checks to make sure all of the sensors, cameras, flight controls and weapons are ready for the mission. I organize my target photos and stow my NVGs (night vision goggles) to the side, waiting for my flight lead to taxi our four ship out to the runway.

Over the radio I hear the other pilots say, “Lobo check,” “2,” “3,” and I respond with “4.”

“Nellis ground, Lobo 1, taxi four Vipers from the Red Flag ramp, information Juliet.” With that, our mission begins. We have a precise takeoff time as we only have a five-minute window to drop our bombs, about forty-five minutes from now. We have been preparing this mission to get those bombs on target within that window of time for twenty-four hours. After being cleared for takeoff, I watch three 30’ flames roar down the runway in twenty second intervals, before I follow in my F-16. I push the power up, checking the engine gauges before throwing the throttle full forward into max afterburner. A second or two later, I feel a kick and the rapid acceleration begins. The big flame has lit and 29,000 lbs of thrust is hurtling me down the runway. At 155 knots I pull back on the stick and the rumble of the imperfect runway gives way to the perfect calm air of the night sky. After raising the gear, I am accelerating through 350 knots and locking #3 up with my radar to follow them to the fight airspace.

There is complete darkness over the uninhabited desert so I throw on my night vision goggles. I now see the world, the mountains and desert landscape, through a fuzzy green filter. I am setting up the infrared camera, ensuring the bombs are ready, flying in the proper formation and listening to updates of the war over the radio and via text messages sent to the jet.
Tonight our four ship is staying low, hugging mountains to hide from SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) and keeping out of the chaotic air-to-air war that will undoubtedly unfold above. Other jets should be providing an escort cover so we can focus on our bombing but we have heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles to attack enemy aircraft as well.

As we change to the fight radio frequency, the war is well underway. There isn’t a second of quiet time as guys are shooting and getting shot, and the air battle manager is trying to help everyone understand what’s going on. Through my NVGs, I see hundreds of lights flashing and airplanes expending fireballs, called flares, all across the sky. It is chaos. About that time my flight lead signals us all to drop it down to the floor and push west toward the enemy targets. It now feels like a surreal dream as I am screaming through mountains at 600 mph while keeping track of three other jets in my formation, at times upside down to stay as close to the mountain peaks as we legally can through these NVGs. Without them on, I can’t see anything.

As we cross into enemy territory, I get a terrible beeping in my headset and despite my best efforts to go unnoticed by enemy SAMs, they are tracking me. I push the throttle forward to light the afterburner and begin a maneuver I hope will defeat the radar tracking me and if he shoots, defeat the missile as well. I let the entire war know of my situation, “Lobo 4, Mud 2 bearing 260, Bullseye 080 for 60!” Hopefully someone will kill it before it kills me. This is a high G-force maneuver with a lot of turning and I need to make sure I don’t smack into the side of a mountain. Instead I use the mountain to hide from where I think the SAM is and the warning goes away. I am safe, for now.

We continue to press west with everyone in my flight getting tracked by different SAMs but no aircraft have targeted us. The F-15s and F-22s above have been doing a great job shooting down the enemy airplanes before they threaten us but they are running out of missiles.  We have been aggressively flying low for almost fifteen minutes and are just 15 miles from the target when we hear two enemy aircraft are headed our way. We pop up to gain a few thousand feet to put our cameras on the target. I am supposed to put all six of my bombs on one missile-launching site and I am frantically searching in the 4x4-inch camera screen to find it in this complex of structures. If I can’t, we will have to start circling the target area to find it, making ourselves an easy target for the enemy and tonight, that almost certainly means death. I am now four miles from dropping, making sure I don’t run into my wingman, when I get another warning of a SAM tracking me. I don’t care. I need to find this damn target and I am struggling. The entire success of the mission rests on finding this tiny missile silo and because we are low, it is hard to see with other structures blocking the view.  With fifteen seconds to release, the sweat pouring down my face, I am blinded and my NVGs go white temporarily before quickly recovering. I look to the right and see four mushroom clouds of explosions from the flight of four F-15Es next to us, lighting up the entire sky. Holy shit, that was awesome, but I have no time to enjoy the view.
At ten seconds to release, I think I see the target. Unfortunately, “I think” is not good enough. I am about to consent to 3,000 lbs of explosives coming off my jet. I am about to choose who lives or dies with the red button under my right thumb and I have to be 100% confident before I hit it. Based on the target picture on my lap, the concrete slab under the launcher looks like a T but I can’t see it yet. I start lining my jet up with that object, hoping I will see this confirming feature at the last second as mission success rests on it. 
At three seconds to release, the concrete T in the camera pod emerges and I hear Lobo 1 and 2 release their weapons. I let out a sigh of relief, continue to refine the steering to the target and hit the red button.  I feel the six bombs ripple off my wings and then aggressively maneuver back east. I briefly lift the NVGs and roll up to 90 degrees of bank so I can watch the six, near instantaneous explosions create a fireball where the target once was right below my jet. The adrenaline is pumping now. 
The mission is a success and I can’t help but smile. 
This is awesome.
It certainly is. You won't get this experience sitting in an office.

Drink up 


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Experts and 'experts'.

Everyone is an expert these days. But just as 'oils ain't oils' so some experts are legends only in their own lunchbreak. Mind you there are some Institutions that will shove any old (or young) bod into a role for which they are not so well suited. You know the score. If they tick the boxes - female, multiculti, lefty, PC - then they are to be  shielded from criticism. It is a weak and flimsy shield however, as Emma Alberici found a few weeks back. 

Emma (born 1970) is an Australian journalist and television presenter who is the Chief Economics Correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Alberici was until 2017 the presenter of the ABC's flagship current affairs program, Lateline. She has worked as a reporter for the ABC's The 7.30 Report and Lateline, and was also a reporter and producer with A Current Affair on Australia's Nine Network. 

A lady with a track record in an industry and an Institution known for making things up on the fly.

Emma was born to Franco and Anna Alberici. Her parents are Italian immigrants who arrived in Australia by passenger liner in 1955. The family settled in Melbourne. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism and economics from Deakin University (a backwater sort of Uni, I have to say, and one which was successfully sued by a mature business student due to the poor quality of the lectures and course) and a bachelor's degree in Italian from the University of Melbourne (lefty central). 

No doubt being raised in an Italian-speaking home she could put the lecturers right. But is she an expert or even have knowledge enough to be one in Economics? 

She made some quite 'unexpectedly daft' statements on national TV about Taxation and specifically Corporate Tax for which she has been taken to task.

Emma not only ticks all the desired boxes but has that sinecure job in the ABC, paid handsomely by the taxpayers. She might claim that she is paid only 77% of the phenomenal salary given (also by the taxpayer) to men newsfolk.  I do not know. Nevertheless it takes the taxes of at least 65 shop assistants to fund her salary and very likely another 120 to pay for all her travel and dresses. What she knows of Tax is questionable. The Taxpayer pays her taxes too, remember.

Now, I am in no position to offer any economic advice of my own, let alone offer any deep criticism of Emma, being as poor as a churchmouse and having only an 'A' level in the subject. Mind you that  British A level was a long time ago and probably worth a Oz BA today, especially from Deakin. But before I poured pints for two customers who are experts I did find a quote from someone eminently qualified to offer an opinion. 
"No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue"
James Avon Clyde, Lord Clyde KC DL (1863 – 1944) Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session from 1920 to 1935.
I would not argue with him, but suggest you bear his words in mind.

And the Muppets of course.

Chris Mitchell however did give Emma a serve and put her back in her box.
Alberici affair shows ABC needs expert economics analysis
A fortnight ago this column discussed the lack of business and economics expertise at our ABC. Right on cue the Emma Alberici affair blew up three days later.
The Australian Financial Review savaged Alberici on February 15 for a news story and analysis piece that have been defended or criticised depending on the political and economic expertise of writers who have waded into the debate.
The news piece on companies paying no tax was amended on February 16, while the analysis was removed from the ABC website for a week before being substantially rewritten and posted again on Thursday.
Paul Barry on the ABC’s Media Watch last Monday criticised aspects of Alberici’s work. Yet most pieces about the ABC’s decision to react to complaints about Alberici’s work from the Turnbull government have not nailed the problem journalistically. 
Here is an unvarnished truth: it is easy to produce a story with a desired political outcome and present it as “balanced” simply by carefully choosing who you quote.
In Alberici’s case a lot of weight was given to left-wing academic John Quiggin and economist Saul Eslake, a prominent commentator whose position on the central question — do corporate tax cuts eventually trickle down as increased wages? — seems to have changed over the years. Most market economists would agree with the “trickle down” proposition.
Alberici did quote Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson. He told the ABC’s Q&A audience three weeks ago the government’s proposed tax cut from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for companies with turnovers of less than $50 million would add about $20 billion to annual GDP. 
His evidence? 
Just trust the experts, the economic modellers, he said.
Some subtlety of thought is needed here. Truth is, in a $1.8 trillion economy such as Australia’s, $20bn is not a giant leap forward. It is just over 1 per cent. Nor is any link between increased company profits, investment, growth across the economy and eventually wage rises linear. Yet the history here and in the US is pretty clear. 
The big company tax cuts of treasurers Paul Keating and Peter Costello did stimulate growth and eventually wages here, as did Ronald Reagan’s tax reforms in the US. It looks like the US economy and wages are already reacting positively to Donald Trump’s proposed cuts.
This paper’s contributing economics editor, Judith Sloan, nailed Alberici’s piece when she wrote on the Catallaxy blog on February 19 that the analysis looked like a grab bag of quotes harnessed to prove the point Alberici started with.
We heard from Judith - a Professor - too, as you shall see below. 
In a column in The Weekend Australian on February 17, Sloan challenged the left’s belief that companies here don’t pay their tax bills. Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan has been fierce in chasing down debt; and, as Sloan says, reducing the corporate rate for companies paying zero now (because of depreciation, losses carried forward etc) won’t cost the government a cent. Self-evidently.
Alberici’s analysis piece did precisely what the ABC objects to in the reporting of climate science. It created a false balance by giving much weight to a view not widely held in the economics profession but dominant in the political thought of the Labor Party, the Australia Institute and the Greens. It did not respect the modelling Richardson referred to.
It is not just the ABC in the company tax quagmire. Former Sydney Morning Herald business reporter Michael West and even parts of The Australian Financial Reviewhave fallen into the trap of citing effective company tax rates against turnover rather than against profit. 
Sure there are serious issues about intercompany loan deductions used by foreign-based companies that the Australian Taxation Office has challenged successfully in court. There is also the issue of marketing hubs out of Singapore that BHP and Rio Tinto should be ashamed of using to dodge tax.
Yet the truth is, when a company such as Chevron spends $80bn building natural gas facilities here, it will take a long time before that cost is depreciated and profit and tax begin to flow. 

Ditto Qantas. Its restructuring after the GFC involved large losses as Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce took on his pilots’ closed industrial relations shop. He now expects Qantas to be paying company tax again next year after carry forward losses have been claimed and new plane depreciation costs ease.
Business writers who do not understand such things should not be writing in the area. 
Those who wilfully conflate turnover and profit should be run out of journalism. Alberici is a good reporter and strong interviewer. She has covered business, been a foreign correspondent and hosted the ABC’s Lateline, where regular viewers soon understood her political leanings. 
So what? We all have them. 
The question is: does she have the qualifications to be the ABC’s chief economics correspondent? 
Even at a 77c rate ! 
As Aaron Patrick pointed out in The Australian Financial Review last week, she has a bachelor of arts with a major in Italian.
In my view the ABC needs to hire an expert economics editor. Comment and analysis should be left to that person while Alberici focuses on business and economic news and interviews. Freeing up ABC editorial guidelines as suggested by Media Watch will make matters only worse.
So will corporate tax cuts flow through to wages? Yes, eventually, but the world only started to come out of the greatest economic shock since the Depression seven years ago. And domestically the unwinding of the mining construction boom has left spare labour market capacity across the country. Three billion people are entering the First World, competing with workers from traditional developed countries. The internet, the mobile phone and robots are changing the value of human work, pressuring wages.
Are corporate tax cuts really the best way to stimulate growth? 
Probably not. 
There is a strong argument for personal income tax cuts that extend to the 50 per cent of Australians who are net payers after benefits. But that would raise even more divisive greed arguments from the Australia Institute, the Greens, the ALP and our ABC.
So to Judith who was introduced by Jim Ball.  Jim at the back of the bar, nursing a pint shouted above the hubbub... 
Congratulations to Judith Sloan for highlighting the other ABC finance, economic and business journalists in addition to Emma Alberici who seem more intent on pursuing their own personal crusades and campaigns.
Sloan again underscores the inherent overt and covert bias or bias by omission within the organisation whether it be misleading, deceptive and twisted information or something more sinister, undeclared and unknown to the listener, such as the selection of guests for comment, obviously selected to further buttress and reinforce the position of the journalist. 
And this is just in business and finance. I’m sure similar nests of rogue, jihadi journos could be found right across the spectrum from climate change to illegal immigrants in the public broadcaster. The last and only inquiry into the ABC since it was founded in 1932 was the Fraser Government’s Dix inquiry of 1979. 
It’s time for another, and a subsequent root and branch, top to bottom shake up and shake out.
Judith took the floor. She took a broad brush not just to Emma but 'the system'.
ABC staff campaigns fail to serve public interest
My guess is that Emma Alberici has had better months. She has become the emblem of what many perceive to be the central weakness of the ABC — 
its unceasing and lopsided advocacy of left-wing positions.
But we should be clear about one thing: it’s not just Alberici.
Before I identify other ABC economic/business commentators who regularly make prejudiced contributions to various ABC outlets, let me point out that it is the legislated duty of the board of the ABC to “ensure that the gathering and presentation by the corporation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to recognised standards of objective journalism”.
Given the Alberici affair, it is clearly arguable that the board is failing to fulfil this duty. But it goes much deeper than the two highly dubious articles on company tax that Alberici produced, as well as the egregious comments she made on ABC radio.
Let me identify three other commentators whose contributions it would be hard to describe as “accurate and impartial”.
They are all men: Ian Verrender, Stephen Long and Michael Janda. Each has waged long campaigns on issues they personally regard as important.
Verrender, in fact, has been banging on about supposed corporate tax avoidance in Australia for a long time and is as dismissive as Alberici of the case for lowering company tax rates in this country.
He has even used the same suspect table sourced from the US Congressional Budget Office on international comparisons of company tax rates that Alberici referred to in her latest contribution.
And that is another subject the customers must get around to some day. The misues and dodgyness of statistics. Just why American duff stats should be applied to Oz is a mystery, if one is honest. Not a mystery if you anticipate chicanery. 
For anyone with the slightest knowledge of Australian company tax arrangements, they would have looked at that CBO table and thought the figures are just wrong.
Apart from being sourced from 2012 data, the first two columns give the game away. Australia’s statutory company tax rate is recorded at 30 per cent but the average rate is listed at 17 per cent.
But since we had a flat rate of company tax at that time, this figure for the average rate makes no sense; it is also 30 per cent. At that point, it becomes important to read the footnotes.
This is where we learn that what the CBO did was to compare average corporate rates for US-owned foreign companies with the rates faced by foreign-owned companies in the US. 

In other words, the table has nothing to do with the company tax rates paid by Australian companies or, for that matter, other foreign-owned companies, other than from the US.
I am reminded of the 1:4 women who are raped. That long-haired advocacy-driven Stat from a US feminist magazine quiz.  Just why anyone takes it seriously, yet we hear it all the time and in Oz public policy to boot. Well, almost everywhere. In Victoria it is 1:5.  It is safer for women in Victoria it seems. Must be something in the air there.
But that didn’t stop opposition assistant treasury spokesman Andrew Leigh, who should know better, from making the misleading point that Australia’s company tax rate is between the middle to the lower part of the G20 pack.
Clearly, these complications were beyond Verrender’s wit to grasp. He ended his misinformed piece of puffery with this Alberici-esque flourish: “As we’ve seen time and again, big corporations with the aid of the Big Four accounting firms look for the lowest rate of tax globally, domicile themselves there and shuffle their profits through those countries.
Hello. Read Lord Clyde. He's a Knight, like me.  
“It’s not about investment and it certainly isn’t about creating jobs or growth … Still, we race to the bottom.”
Where was his supervisor when this article was published last year? Where was the editor-in-chief? And where was the board?
Then there is Long’s lengthy campaign against the Adani coalmine in northern Queensland. It just beggars belief that his supervisor hasn’t told him to move on to other topics. His campaign to ensure that the mine never goes ahead has been relentless and completely bizarre at times.
Adani is a crook; the environmental conditions can never be met; Adani has already violated its environmental obligations; the project doesn’t stack up economically; the market for thermal coal is about to tank; the project will never get finance; the Chinese government would have to approve any loans; and the number of jobs that will be created is trivial. 
His blocking reasons, many imaginary, just go on and on.
This isn’t journalism; it’s just plain advocacy using the ABC platform.
Again, what have his supervisor, the editor-in-chief and the board been doing while this campaign has been unleashed on taxpayers who have no choice but to contribute to the funding of the ABC?
Then there is Janda, who goes by the title senior digital business reporter. Clearly, he thinks he’s a bit of a dab hand when it comes to investment and public policy matters, although often he seems to be simply regurgitating the lines fed to him by the likes of the left-leaning Grattan Institute and Tasmanian-based economist Saul Eslake.
In Janda’s world, the deduction of expenses associated with investing in an income-producing asset should be removed from the individual income tax code even though this has been a feature of our income tax arrangements since 1917.
According to Janda, it would be much better for first-home buyers if negative gearing were eliminated, even though there would be a minimal impact on house prices. 
Figure that one out, if you dare. How precisely will first-home buyers be better off?
He then takes the word of so-called experts that negative gearing doesn’t influence rent levels even though it is obvious that investors are motivated by post-tax returns on their investments. 
What he is claiming in effect is that the supply of rental properties doesn’t slope upwards (lower post-tax returns will reduce the supply of rental properties), which is a bold call for someone who doesn’t seem to even understand that he is making this claim.
Then there is his observation that while there are many more middle-income property investors using negative gearing — the teachers, the nurses, the ambos — than higher income property investors, the latter have larger loans. 
Gosh, that’s a surprise.
And no doubt they have read Lord Clyde.
Consider also the economic commentators who are regularly invited on to ABC Radio National and local radio. They are almost all cut from the same cloth: old-fashioned Keynesians, supporters of government intervention and distrustful of business.
Mind you, it is surely ironic that Jon Faine, local radio presenter in Melbourne, regularly invites Marcus Padley (of the Marcus Padley Newsletter) on to his show to talk about stockmarket developments. Talk about free, effective advertising for Padley.
And this is from an organisation that refuses to name stadiums by their rightful sponsors’ names because this would be a form of advertising.
Again, go figure.
The core issue that emerges from the Alberici affair is that ABC journalists are given free rein to campaign on their pet topics with insufficient supervisory control or oversight.
It was not always the case. ABC journalists regularly were refused permission to write opinion pieces and were cautioned if they overtly took sides on contentious policy matters. There is a strong case for returning to those arrangements. It is a public broadcaster, after all.
If ABC journalists want to campaign for their heartfelt causes, they should leave to set up their own sites or join the media outlets that might have them. We deserve better at the ABC.
We are fed junk by conmen and conwomen in our media. 

It is well to seek the truth, and ultimately The Truth.

I do not see it coming from the ABC, no matter how pretty the smile with which they deliver their cant, mendacities, lies and agitprop. 

Drink deep of Good Ale.

And say a prayer for Emma.