News That’s Fit To Punt – 05/Jul/2014

Semaphore Of Sociopaths

It’s all about the message, and what message we’re allegedly sending to people smugglers. So goes the theory in the continuing shit-storm that is the Coalition ‘policy’ towards asylum seekers.but sometimes we’re not even sure that’s where the message is going to or whether it’s being received properly. It’s a mystery as to how this government thinks communication theory functions.

The latest corker episode appears to be Scott Morrison ordering Tamil asylum seekers  from India, to Sri Lanka, In all honesty it’s hard to fathom the depths of the kind of morally deficient mind as Scott Morrison who would surrender the said Tamils to the Sri Lankan authorities. It’s a bit like happily offering up Jewish refugees from say, Sweden and repatriating them to Germany in 1944 or something. He’s certainly not talking about what exactly was done and this government is hiding behind its usual “oh, this is a military operation so we need more secrecy” routine. Which is to say Scott Morrison is offering up the moral tenacity of a Sergeant Schultz who always insists he “knows nothing”.

Weirder still, Mr. Morrison, it turns out, is going to Sri Lanka to attend a commissioning ceremony for some boats.  You really wonder how these people live with themselves.

Financial Mischief Writ Large

The business of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia offering up inappropriate financial advice because of its incentive laden program for their sales staff has turned into the eye sore issue for the Australian financial sector. First, there were the whistle-blowers who carefully leaked the secret to the corporate watchdog ASIC. ASIC then sat on its hands for 18months and failed to investigate. After which the anonymous whistle-blowers were forced to come forwards so that ASIC could get off its backside and investigate the mess. If the 18month delay was bad, the Senate hearings into ASIC have shown that ASIC and its personnel are too close to the banking industry it regulates, for it to be a proper watchdog – (which, it must be said was also said of the SEC in America after the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal).

So the ALP government drafted up legislation to stop this problem, but then the Coalition government has since watered it down at the behest of the lobby groups on behalf of the big banks. In the aftermath, the minister responsible for this area Mathias Cormann claimed that there were enough safeguards and the industry had changed substantially so that the legislation didn’t need the safeguard that required financial advisers to offer responsible advice. He then went on to talk down the situation at the CBA as some kind of temporal anomaly when in fact the Senate investigation had identified the misplaced incentive as a systemic risk.

The upshot is that the CBA will be forced to cough up more money for is victims but it wants to control the process – which is a bit like letting criminals decide their own punishment in court. Once again, you wonder how these people live with themselves.

We Cut Health And Education To Buy These Toys

On of the crappiest investments our government has made over the last decade has been the F-35 JSF project. Not content with the money we’ve already spent helping to develop these planes, Tony Abbott pledged to actually spend even more to bring these planes over to Australia. The joke, – as it were – is on us because we’re about to take delivery of some of these planes that barely work in a matter of weeks, and the whole fleet has been grounded due to engine problems.

The F-35 is like ‘The Zap Gun’ in Philip K. Dick’s novel, where our civilisation comes up with increasingly unlikelier weapons systems to make a show of having come up with new exotic ways to kill and destroy. The paper specs of the F-35 is meant to put the fear of something ferocious into the hearts of America’s enemies but the only thing it’s really scaring are the bean counters who track the expenditure towards their development.

The nutshell of the problem is that they set out to deign a plane that fulfills the varied needs of the four service branches of America, each with their unique profiles. Some of these requirements were going to be mutually exclusive and contradictory. As it stands it doesn’t seem to have passed any of the tests to be commissioned. Not even the US Marines who were most bullish about getting their F-35s commissioned is looking like they will succeed by the end of this year, as they had announced.

Thus I point to the fundamental waste that is the F-35 at a time when there is *allegedly* such need to cut government services. If we should be buying any warplanes, we should be buying the F-22. At least they work, and come in cheaper.

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