Monthly Archives: May 2019

31/5/19: Generational Gap in Self-reported Satisfaction with Life is at Whooping 28 percentage points

Commonly discussed in the media and amongst economists, generational gap in quality of life and socio-economic environments is also evident in the self-reported satisfaction with life surveys. Here is the recent data from Gallup (link: released back in February 2019:

In 2017, 57% of Americans of all ages were very satisfied and 30% somewhat satisfied with their lives. This remained relatively stable in 2019 poll (56% and 30%, respectively). However, over the same period of time percentage of those in the age group of 18-29 year old reporting their status as "very satisfied" with their lives dropped from 56% to 40%, and for the group of those aged 30-49 years, the corresponding decline was from 58% to 55%. In 2007 through 2011, generational gap was at a maximum point 8 percentage points wide. This rose to 16 percentage points in 2013, before blowing up to a massive 28 percentage point by 2019.

Will Your S&P 500 Investment Last In Retirement?

Retirement Savings

What are the odds that your investment in the S&P 500 will last as long as you need in retirement?

The answer to that question depends upon the answers to three additional questions:

  1. What percentage of the balance of your funds invested in the S&P 500 you plan to withdraw from your retirement accounts each year?
  2. How long will your retirement last?
  3. What returns will the S&P 500 deliver over time?

The S&P 500 and its predecessor indices have been around long enough where we have historic data we can use to answer the last question, where we can assume the future will be similar to what has occurred in the past. That leaves the remaining factors, which have been addressed by Wade Pfau in his 2015 update to the 1998 Trinity Study, which estimated what a safe withdrawal rate would be for a variety of retirement portfolios made up of stocks and bonds with historic data from 1926 through 2014.

We've approximated the results of Pfau's math as it would apply for having 100% of your money invested in the S&P 500, where you can estimate the odds that the portion of your retirement nest egg invested in the S&P 500 will last as long as you might need to fund your retirement. If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, click here to access a working version of this tool! (Alternatively, here's static snapshot of the tool with its results for the default data).

S&P 500 Investment Withdrawal Data
Input DataValues
Inflation-Adjusted Annual Withdrawal Rate
Expected Duration of Withdrawals [years]

Probability Your Retirement Fund Will Last
Calculated ResultsValues
Estimated Odds of Success

If you're like an average American, you can reasonably expect to live at least 15 years after you retire, so we've set that figure as the shortest period of time you can select in the tool. Meanwhile, the math assumes that you will adjust how much you might withdraw each year to account for the effect of inflation, where you would maintain a steady "real" withdrawal rate from your S&P 500 investment in retirement.

What the tool doesn't address is whether that percentage you might withdraw from your investment will provide the amount of income you would like to spend, where even if you might be successful in sustaining your S&P 500 investment, you might find yourself on the wrong end in the investing equivalent of one of Zeno's paradoxes as the balance of your retirement fund dwindles over time. Ultimately, the figure you have to work with will be set by the total you've accumulated in your investment before you might retire, where the following tools explore different ways to arrive at your personal retirement savings target.

We may come back at a future date to develop a tool that can accommodate having different percentages invested in stocks and bonds. If Pfau's data is any indication, there is a blend of the two types of investment vehicles that can produce better odds of success for a retirement fund that will last as long as your retirement than just the "stocks only" scenario we considered in this tool.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to get a better sense of some of the analysis that drives the math behind this tool, Paul Merriman works through a historical example with real life numbers and returns.

Australian Politics 2019-05-30 15:55:00


UQ students loudly vote 'No' to Western history degree program

In a supreme example of irony, their lecturers have told them that the courses are "racist".  In fact it is they who are racist for discriminating against a study of white history

Almost 500 students crammed into every seat and aisle at the University of Queenland's under-threat Schonell Theatre to vote 'No' to the private humanities degree being offered to the university by the conservative Ramsay Centre.

They also voted loudly for students to retain ownership and management of the replacement theatre if the Schonell Theatre is demolished.

The UQ Senate last year proposed to demolish the theatre, build a new student union hub and add the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation degree to the university's program.

The two votes were taken at Wednesday night's general meeting of students, the first since the 1971 student protests against the touring Springboks rugby union team.

The meeting was called by the student union to gauge opinion on the "two big issues" involving UQ students, student union president Georgia Millroy said.

She said the strong vote gave the union a "very clear mandate" to negotiate with the university on both issues.

"A lot of students clearly felt quite strongly about these issues and when they come up in my discussions with the university, in the ensuing weeks and months, I will have a very clear mandate to represent what students think," she said.

Ms Millroy would meet with the UQ vice-chancellor in early June.

The debate needed 300 students as a quorum of the university's 53,000 students, of which almost 10,000 voted at the past student union election.

As the Schonell Theatre doors closed, 420 students were counted inside and another 30 students crammed in to the crowded theatre as the vote began.

"This shows that [some] students do actually care and do want to be involved," Ms Millroy said. "It shows students do value the power of a democratic vote."

The loudest response came as most students voted against the university administration continuing to negotiate with the Ramsay Centre.

About eight students voted in favour of the UQ Senate pursuing talks with the Ramsay Centre.

Before the vote, student union councillor Priya De described the Ramsay Centre's course as "racist" and its administration as belonging to the "go back to where you came from" arm of the Liberal Party. "They cannot stomach anyone in society – students in particular – challenging their white supremacism," Ms De said.

"These people are not academics, they are politicians," she said.

However, humanities student Kurt Tucker said the Ramsay Centre was offering $43 million to the University of Queensland to run its Western Civilisation degree course as part of UQ's humanities program.

Mr Tucker said the course offered about 100 student places, "in return for $43 million to be distributed across the humanities", he said.

Despite being described as a "right-wing heckler", Mr Tucker said the millions of dollars would employ lecturers to reduce humanities class sizes and allow some casual lecturers to be employed full-time.

"It would certainly alleviate some of the concerns that have been raised about the humanities."

Another supporter of the Ramsay Centre program said the university offered African studies and Indigenous studies and in the same way students should be offered the opportunity to study Western civilisation in one degree program.

"Why not? Are you scared some of your ideas are being challenged?" the student said.

However, a "proud" Torres Strait Islander student, who did not wish to be named, described the Ramsay Centre course as "abhorrent".

"He [the previous supporter of the program] forgot to mention genocide," he said. "He forgot to mention deaths in custody. He forgot to mention children stolen from their families."

"They aim to whitewash the black history of Australia," he said, as the large student crowd jumped to its feet and roared its support.

Earlier, three theatre and drama students spoke in favour of students keeping control of any new theatre being considered by the university because the UQ student union contributed at least $4 million to its construction. The Schonell is now largely leased as a live theatre venue for community groups.

One opera and voice student said her course was refused a practice room at the theatre. "We just don't have a proper rehearsal space to validate our degree," she said.

Student union representatives said they had to prioritise university clubs and societies in the practice space.


'Folau's law': Coalition MPs push for bolder action in a 'new dawn' for religious freedom

Conservative Coalition MPs emboldened by strong support from religious voters at the election are pushing the Morrison government for more radical and far-reaching religious freedom provisions in forthcoming laws.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce wants laws to exempt religious beliefs from employment contracts - in effect giving legal protection to views such as those expressed on social media by rugby star Israel Folau that gay people and fornicators will go to hell.

"You can't bring people's faith beliefs into a contract," Mr Joyce said. "Your own views on who god is, where god is or whether there's a god should remain your own personal views and not part of any contractual obligation."

Attorney-General Christian Porter is expected to present a Religious Discrimination Act to the Parliament as soon as July, acting on a pre-election commitment to boost protections for people of faith against discrimination and vilification.

But some Coalition MPs believe the election results - including significant swings away from Labor in highly religious seats - underline the case for bolder reforms to enshrine freedoms other than freedom from discrimination.

Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells - who worked extensively with faith leaders to galvanise the support of religious voters before and during the campaign - said the election marked a "new dawn" on religious freedom.

She called for a standalone Religious Freedom Act that would give greater legal heft to the demands set out by church leaders, Christian schools and other faith-based institutions.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells also said the government need not await the findings of a review being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission into exemptions to anti-discrimination laws currently enjoyed by religious schools.

"Whilst the ALRC is not due to report until [April] 2020, given its diverse and broad terms of reference, I believe that the recent election has reinforced the need for more immediate legislative action," she told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

"This is vitally important to not only address our concerns but afford protection against these constant incursions from Labor, the Greens and their acolytes. It's a new dawn on this issue."

Senator Fierravanti-Wells - who voted against marriage equality when it was legalised in 2017 - said the election results "had their antecedents in the same-sex marriage debate", noting large swings to the government in culturally diverse seats around western Sydney.

Banks, Blaxland, Fowler and McMahon, which voted "no" to same-sex marriage, all posted swings to the Coalition above 3 per cent - although so did many electorates that voted "yes".

Mr Joyce, a former Nationals leader, said Folau's sacking "got a lot of people annoyed" during the election campaign. "People were a little bit shocked that someone could lose their job because of what they believe," he said. "It made everyone feel a bit awkward and uneasy."

Mr Joyce said he would argue within the Coalition that any religious freedom law should include clauses to prevent employers crafting contracts that could penalise people for their religious beliefs. "That would be my input - but whether it's what other people's views are, I don't know," he said.

Such a law should not necessarily be nicknamed "Folau's Law" because it would give the sacked rugby player credit for a law that "should be designed for everybody", Mr Joyce said.

Folau has said he is considering his legal options in response to his termination.

Late last year, in response to former attorney-general Philip Ruddock's review, Mr Porter pledged to introduce a Religious Discrimination Act and appoint a religious freedom commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

On Wednesday he said religious freedom was a "key issue" in the election campaign due to "enormous concern" about Labor's plans on the issue, and indicated legislation would be a priority when Parliament resumes at the start of July.

New Labor leader Anthony Albanese acknowledged his party needed to show greater "respect" to religious views after frontbenchers Chris Bowen and Tony Burke publicly lamented that people of faith had lost trust in Labor and progressive politics.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the Coalition owed Rugby Australia "a bit of gratitude ... because their ham-fisted approach to Israel Folau clearly elevated the issue and concerned many, many people".

He agreed with Senator Fierravanti-Wells on the need for positively-framed legislation to establish religious freedoms but said it should be broader and encompass free speech.

"Freedom of religion is a subset of freedom of speech, and freedom of speech is the more important and overarching issue," he said.


Adani coalmine in path of more than one endangered species in Queensland

Dilemma:  Approving the mine would cost the State Labor government its deputy leader at the next election and give the seat to the Greens. Premier Annastacia with deputy Jackie Trad (in pink) above

Well fancy that. After months of dithering on Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin and refusing to intervene in an approval process that saw the company frustrated at every turn, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has suddenly found her voice again. And here we were thinking Annastacia had a case of aphasia.

Saying she was “fed up” with the delays, Palaszczuk announced deadlines of May 31 and June 13 for the mine’s bird protection and groundwater management plans respectively. You might say when it comes to the demands of anti-Adani activists, Palaszczuk is desperately trying to give the appearance of not giving a flying finch.

“Well I think everyone’s had a gutful, so that’s why we have moved — why I have moved quickly — to resolve this issue,” she stated.

Notice the nuance? Actually, it was more an extended middle finger to Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad, the leader of the dominant left faction which controls Cabinet and has constantly hindered Adani. At a press conference last weekend at the Gold Coast’s Sea World, the pair attempted to portray party unity.

With an election just over a year away, it is not just the government’s future at stake. In 2017, Trad’s formerly safe Labor inner-city seat of South Brisbane suffered an 11.7 per cent swing to the Greens. She holds the seat by only a 3.6 per cent margin thanks to the Liberal National Party’s preferencing Labor over the Greens in 2017 — a decision the LNP has announced it will not be repeating at the next election. Worst still for Trad, the national election showed this Greens incursion has increased, with some federal booths within her seat registering a swing as high as 15 per cent.

In what can only be described as a case of chronic denialism, both Palaszczuk and Trad have denied the delays in the Carmichael mine approval process had anything to do with Labor’s federal election rout in Queensland, “I think the Carmichael mine … was part of that message, but it wasn’t the entire message,” Trad told ABC radio last week.

To reiterate: Adani had planned to begin construction of the mine prior to Christmas last year, but this was delayed when the government ordered an independent review into the company’s environmental management plans for the black-throated finch. “We are now seeing more processes and actions coming in at the eleventh hour when we have been working on this for the best part of 18 months,” said an exasperated Adani mining chief executive, Lucas Dow, in December.

As if intentionally exacerbating this situation, the government rejected Adani’s management plan at the beginning of this month, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science claiming it “did not meet requirements”. This is the same department that last July appointed anti-Adani activist Dr Tim Seelig as an adviser, along with Greens candidates Kirsten Lovejoy and Gary Kane.

But all this has nothing to do with federal Labor’s primary vote in Queensland dropping to 27.3 per cent, right? Wrong. Palaszczuk and Trad have dug a hole for themselves so big it would have inspired Jules Verne, had he still been alive, to write a sequel to Journey to the Centre of the Earth. This bureaucratic and political farce is about protecting an endangered species alright, but it is the squawking Member for South Brisbane the government is concerned about, not the black-throated finch.

The party charade of trying to appease anti-Adani voters in the inner-city while attempting to convince those in the regions it is pro-mining intensified on the eve of the 2017 election. At that time, polling revealed that the Greens led Labor 51 per cent to 49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis in Trad’s seat.

Around the same time, Palaszczuk, to the disbelief of many, announced she had exercised a “veto” not to support an application by Adani for a $1 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan. The ostensible basis for this was that she wanted to remove any perception of a conflict of interest, as her then partner, Shaun Drabsch, worked on the application to the NAIF with his employer, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which acted for Adani.

In attempting to defend her arbitrary decision, Palaszczuk cited that she had relied on advice from the Queensland Integrity Commissioner, Dr Nikola Stepanov. But as Jamie Walker of The Australian revealed, the commissioner’s advice was merely that Palaszczuk should exclude herself from Cabinet deliberations concerning the NAIF loan. In fact, ministers had, during a crisis Cabinet meeting five months before the Premier’s announcement, resolved not to support the NAIF loan bid.

Undoubtedly, Palaszczuk had succumbed to pressure from Trad, who later had the chutzpah to criticise the federal government’s NAIF program, saying it “has not yet seen a single dollar go to a Queensland project”. Earlier that year Trad had intervened to scotch Palaszczuk and then Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s agreement with Adani which would have seen royalties limited to $2m annually for the first seven years of the mine’s operation.

“I have never been anti-coal,” Trad told the Australian Financial Review in 2015. “I actually think it’s ridiculous to think we don’t use our natural resources — it’s one of our strengths”. Yet in February this year she told parliament “markets are moving away from thermal coal, communities are moving away from thermal coal, nation states are moving away from thermal coal”.

Translation: inner-city seats are moving away from Labor to the Greens.

“What we need to do as a coal exporter is understand that, and equip our communities with the best possible chance of re-skilling, and that’s why we’re focused on other materials,” she said. Contrast this West End insouciance with the urgency of a group of Labor regional MPs that, as The Courier-Mail reported this week, is threatening to form a sub-caucus.

One wonders how long, were it not for the federal election forcing its hand, the Queensland government was prepared to prolong this debacle. Put simply, it cannot have had a viable exit strategy, for Adani has committed far too much to abandon the project. In the event the government refuses approval, it has, through its intransigence and decisions based on ulterior motives, left itself open to a compensation claim amounting to hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions.

It would be a legal battle that would take years to finalise. Of course, that will affect neither Palaszczuk nor Trad. By then they will be enjoying retirement and a generous taxpayer-funded pension.

Palaszczuk appears destined for Opposition unless she can clear the way for Adani quickly. Of course that would mean Trad would lose her seat, but the Deputy Premier need not despair. After all, there is always re-skilling.


Peter Dutton warns more illegal boats may be headed to Australia

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the government is concerned more illegal boats are headed to Australia, after a vessel carrying 20 Sri Lankans was intercepted by Border Force.

Anthony Albanese has demanded a security briefing today from Scott Morrison as it was revealed the first boat had arrived on the shores of Christmas Island in five years, and that the vessal had set sail weeks into the federal election campaign.

Mr Dutton said the Sri Lankan arrival was “very disturbing” and that people smugglers had been marketing a change of government to asylum seekers before the Coalition’s shock election win.

“It’s a very disturbing development and, without going into all of the details, it’s not the only vessel that we’re worried about,” the Home Affairs Minister told Sydney’s 2GB radio.

“Obviously people thought there was going to be a change of government… people smugglers have been marketing this.

“But we want to send a very clear message to people here who might try and organise ventures for people offshore. “The Prime Minister and I are absolutely resolute in making sure that we can never allow people to come here by boat.”

As revealed by The Australian this morning, a naval ship intercepted 20 Sri Lankans who set sail for Australia during the federal election campaign. They were returned to Colombo on a government charter jet in the early hours of yesterday.

Mr Albanese, in his first major national security test as Labor leader, this morning said he wanted a meeting with the Prime Minister this afternoon to discuss the boat arrival.

“There have been 10 boats come, as I read it, from Sri Lanka on this government’s watch. 10. Not one,” the incoming Opposition Leader said in Canberra ahead of today’s Caucus meeting.

“There was an event in Easter, 250 people died in a terrorist attack. I don’t know, I haven’t had the opportunity of a security briefing on this.

“I am actually standing here, as not yet the leader of the Labor Party. I have been a phone call in, by the way, to Scott Morrison’s office this morning. I think it is the respectful thing to do for me to have a discussion with the Prime Minister this afternoon and I have taken that initiative.

“That is the way that I’ll have disagreements with Scott Morrison. I’ll have big ones. But I respect the office of Prime Minister. That is the respectful thing to do and that is why I did it.”

Mr Albanese opposed Bill Shorten’s moves to support boat turnbacks at the 2015 Labor conference but has since said he would support the policy.

Operation Sovereign Borders became aware of the latest vessel, which tracked across the Indian Ocean towards Australia’s northwest coast, during aerial patrols of Australian waters last week, The Australian understands.

The Department of Home ­Affairs was in touch with Sri Lankan authorities around the time officers intercepted the boat.

The asylum-seekers — including at least one baby — left Sri Lanka in the first week of May, soon after the Easter terror attacks on churches and hotels that killed 250.

The group spent “a few days” in detention on Christmas Island while health and security checks were carried out. None was deemed to have a legitimate claim to asylum in Australia, according to government sources.

Once the vessel was intercepted, those on board were given water and life jackets. They were then taken on the navy ship to Christmas Island. Detention ­facilities on the Australian territory, 1550km northwest of the mainland, were recently reopened to accommodate refugees and asylum-seekers on Nauru and Manus Island found to need medical ­assessments in Australia.


Bungle: Gas consortium wins royalty decision against Queensland government

$422 million blow to budget

The Australia Pacific LNG Consortium, including Origin Energy, has won a landmark legal challenge against the Queensland government over the amount of royalties it pays from its $25 billion LNG export facility in Gladstone.

In a decision in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Friday, Justice John Bond declared the royalty formula used for the APLNG project since 2015 was invalid and sent it back to the Queensland government to come up with a new way to determine royalties.

It is a blow for the cash-strapped Palaszczuk government, which had been receiving lower royalties from the $80 billion LNG industry in the early years of production due to the plunge in the international oil price.

The latest decision could strip Queensland of  more royalties, just weeks before Treasurer Jackie Trad hands down her second budget.

But Justice Bond placed a non-publication order on his reasons for the decision until early next week, giving lawyers from APLNG and the Queensland government time to ensure there is no commercially sensitive material released in the judgment.

The judgment will be watched closely by the other big LNG consortiums exporting from Curtis Island.

Lawyers for APLNG – the consortium consisting of Origin (37.5 per cent), ConocoPhillips (37.5 per cent) and Sinopec (25 per cent) – had asked the Supreme Court to throw out the royalty determination, given there is no option to appeal the original decision.

The decision will require the Queensland government to come up with a new way to determine royalties for the APLNG project.

APLNG has been paying royalties on its gas since it started to export out of Gladstone in January 2016, but it has long believed it got a worse deal than the Shell-operated QGC consortium, which started exporting a year earlier.

Responsibility for determining petroleum royalties passed from the former Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation to Treasury in 2012.

It is understood QGC's royalty formulation was made by the department but, given the strict confidentiality around royalty determinations, APLNG does not know exactly how much their rivals, including the third consortium led by Santos, are paying in royalties.

APLNG – which has exported gas on more than 250 ships from Curtis Island – said it supported the payment of royalties based on the full and fair requirements of the applicable law, but believed the "netback method" used by the Office of State Revenue was flawed. It had asked for a judicial review of the royalty determination.

Under Queensland's system, royalties are payable at 10 per cent of well-head value – the amount that could reasonably be expected to be realised if sold on a commercial basis – less deductible costs, such as operational and capital costs. LNG royalties also include the costs of liquefaction and transport.

The three LNG consortiums operating on Curtis Island off Gladstone were hit by a lower oil price in their early years, but more-recent gains in Brent prices and cost reductions have made them more profitable.

The $80 billion LNG industry was a major driver of the economy during the construction phase, but royalties from the sector have not lived up to expectations.

LNG royalties were due to jump from $187 million in 2017-18 to $422 million this financial year, creeping up to $490 million a year by 2021-22, according to state budget papers.



Australia Pacific LNG has forced the Palaszczuk government back to the drawing board over royalties from its coal seam gas production near Gladstone on the central Queensland coast.

The decision was disputed by the company, a joint venture between Origin, ConocoPhillips and Sinopec, on the basis the government breached natural justice by failing to hear part of their objections.

Australia Pacific LNG also argued the government took into account irrelevant considerations, while decision created uncertainty because important variables were left open to "subjective estimates, assessment, discretionary allocation, and matters of judgment".

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Bond accepted those arguments, but dismissed the company's claims the government misapplied legislation and exercised unreasonable power.

He ruled the decision was not authorised by the regulation.

"I declare that it was invalid and of no effect," he said.

Justice Bond did not make orders as to how much the company should pay in royalties, instead referring the decision, made in December 2015 based on departmental expert advice, back to the government.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Signs of Life or Dead Cat Bounce in Median New Home Sale Prices?

In April 2019, the initial raw data for median new home sale prices in the U.S. spiked sharply upward, rising to a new record high value of $342,200 - a nearly 12% increase over the second estimate of $305,800 for March 2019's median new home sale price.

Meanwhile, median household income in the U.S. likewise rebounded in April 2019 after having dipped in early 2019, rising to a new nominal high value of $64,019.

Calculating the trailing twelve month averages for both data series to smooth out month-to-month volatility, then finding the ratio of median new home sale prices to median household income, we find that new homes are nearly the most affordable that they have been since November 2013, the last time the median new home sold in the United States cost just under 5.1 times the income earned by a typical American household. The following chart shows the evolution of that affordability measure from December 2000 through April 2019, where we find the peak of "unaffordability" was reached just a little over a year ago, in February 2018.

Ratio of Trailing Twelve Month Averages for Median New Home Sale Prices and Median Household Income, Annual: 1967 to 2017 | Monthly: December 2000 to April 2019

In the next chart, we're showing the monthly data for trailing twelve month average for U.S. median new home sale prices from December 2000 through April 2019, plotted against the trailing twelve month average of U.S. median household income over the same period of time, which shows the relative improvement in affordability seen since April 2018 has come through a combination of declining new home sale prices and rising household incomes. April 2019's preliminary figures potentially mark a reversal in the recent trend for declining new home sale prices.

U.S. Median New Home Sale Price vs Median Household Income, Annual: 1999 to 2017 | Monthly: December 2000 to April 2019

What's driving the apparent rebound? If we were to pick one potential factor, it would be the rapid decline in U.S. mortgage rates that has taken place since they peaked in mid-November 2018, where they have now dropped nearly three quarters of a percent to just above 4.1% in April 2019.

30-Year Conventional Fixed Mortgage Rates in U.S., April 1971 through April 2019

The question now is whether that rebound represents either a sign of life or a dead cat bounce for the new home sales market in the U.S.?


Freddie Mac. 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages Since 1971. [Online Text]. Accessed 30 May 2019.

Sentier Research. Household Income Trends: April 2019. [PDF Document]. Accessed 30 May 2019. [Note: We've converted all data to be in terms of current (nominal) U.S. dollars.]

U.S. Census Bureau. Median and Average Sales Prices of New Homes Sold in the United States. [PDF Document]. 23 May 2019. Accessed 30 May 2019.

Australian Politics 2019-05-29 15:53:00


Expelled from Batterer Programme

Bettina Arndt

Another extraordinary story this week – involving a Victorian man, Igor Rogov, who was sent to a batterer programme for re-education. Yet this only happened because Igor called the police during a violent attack by his wife. But then he ended up being thrown out of the programme because he upset his handlers by challenging the ideological claptrap they were being taught. Despite a magistrate ruling that Igor should be required to return to the programme, the administrators went into hiding and refused to let him come back. Amazing stuff, eh?

The ironic twist in the story is Igor is Russian, his grandfather was sent to the Gulag and tortured by the KGB. During the long period I was in contact with Igor throughout this whole saga, his regular emails, some quite hilarious, documented the many ways his “re-education” process had echoes of Stalinist totalitarianism.

I’m sure you will find this video entertaining – please help me promote it. 

It has a funny side but the heart of this story is deadly serious, exposing one of the major lies being promoted by the massive domestic violence industry. For those of you not familiar with batterer or perpetrator programmes, the most famous is the Duluth Model, based on feminist notions that men use violence within relationships to exercise power and control. The Duluth programmes are aimed at teaching violent men to change their behaviour by focussing on unequal gender power relations, teaching men about their entitlement.

There’s never any mention of the decades of research showing most domestic violence is two-way, involving male and female perpetrators. The programmes are only for men who, like Igor, are coerced into attending by magistrate’s orders.

Yet the overwhelming evidence (see attached)  is that this approach simply doesn’t change violent men.  A 2011 review of the effectiveness of batterer intervention programs found that "there is no solid empirical evidence” supporting they actually work.

A few years ago there was a Royal Commission into domestic violence in Victoria where promoters of Australian perpetrator programmes were challenged by some of our sensible experts who pointed out their results were lousy. So what happens? The Victorian government gave $77 million over four years for similar programmes and asked for a proper evaluation of their effectiveness. And who was put in charge of this evaluation? One of the feminist DV organisations, ANROWS, which is notorious for distorting key statistics to demonise men. The fox is in charge of the chicken pen.

There’s never any money DV programmes which address the true causes of the problem – like helping troubled couples deal with conflict without resorting to violence, or offering programmes targeting violent men and women which focus on the way drug and alcohol issues, or mental illness triggers violent behaviour. 

Don’t tut-tut, take action 

Now I am sure many of you will watch this video and shake your heads over this appalling waste of money. But don’t just sit there. Do something. Write to your local MP, do some homework and find out about perpetrator programmes in your area. Check out which government department is funding them and start writing to politicians pointing out they are funding programmes of no proven value, which put victims at risk and avoid the hard decisions about proper targeted approaches. Whenever these programmes are mentioned in the media, use comments sections and social media to expose what is going on. We need large numbers to start a concerted campaign on this issue – otherwise the whole thing will just keep rolling on.

Via email from Bettina --

The Australian revolt against ‘social justice’

Australian voters have turned their backs on the authoritarian politics of so-called progressives says Nick Cater below. I think Nick is overeggng the pudding. If he had said: "QUEENSLAND voters have turned their backs on the authoritarian politics of so-called progressives", I would be more inclined to agree. A near majority in other states voted for the Leftist wreckers

Australia’s re-elected conservative prime minister Scott Morrison began his victory speech on Saturday night by rubbing salt into wounds. ‘How good is Australia?’, he declared, evoking a deafening cheer from his punch-drunk supporters packed shoulder to shoulder in the ballroom of the Sydney Sofitel. ‘How good are Australians? This is the best country in the world in which to live.’

Pride in one’s country, like faith in God, was once an unremarkable sentiment for a prime minister to express. Yet in this election, to make a patriotic statement was to venture into fiercely contested territory.

For Morrison’s progressive Labor opponent, Bill Shorten, Australia is perhaps a slightly better country than it might have been had it not been for the brave crusades of earlier social-justice campaigners. But Australia’s supposed national indifference to the environment, inequality, discrimination and its lingering colonial stain makes it an embarrassment in the eyes of the world, in Labor’s view.

Labor’s policies, designed to restore Australia’s virtue, are peppered through a policy document that runs to 309 pages. Labor would hold a referendum to become a republic and rid ourselves of the embarrassment of a colonial queen. Centuries of racial exclusion would be ended by guaranteeing one race – indigenous Australians – seats in parliament.

The failings of Australia’s so-called non-discriminatory immigration policy would be fixed by discriminating between LGBTI asylum seekers and the boringly straight. Refugee status would be automatically granted to those whose stated sexual preference was illegal in their home country with or without evidence of actual sexual activity or actual persecution.

Australia’s biggest export, coal, was blackening our reputation and the size of Australia’s carbon footprint was a national disgrace. Labor would set an emissions target three times more onerous than that required by the Paris Agreement, but could not say how much it would cost.

Australia’s highly progressive tax system wasn’t progressive enough. Labor would embark on a massive redistribution programme to address intergenerational equality and other socioeconomic injustices.

At its core, Saturday’s election was a contest between two tribes. One consists of those who identify themselves principally by the place in which they live and shared social values. The other defines itself by its allegiance to international causes and the presumption that the global educated class knows better than the rest.

Morrison represented the Somewheres, as David Goodhart christened them, while Shorten was the Anywhere man, harvesting grievances, no matter how small, and turning them into monumental issues of social injustice that made us an outlier in a progressive-minded world community.

Support for Shorten’s platform bordered on the fanatical among the university-educated professionals whose influence appears to grow deeper at every election. For doctors, teachers, academics and other professionals who rely wholly or in part on government largesse for their income, the new progressive dawn heralded by Shorten couldn’t come soon enough.

The renewable-energy sector feared the return of a conservative government pledged to end the subsidies which made up most, if not all, of its profits. Shorten’s 50 per cent renewable-energy target would provide its meal ticket for a decade at least. Labor’s plan to adopt a Norwegian-style electric-vehicle plan opened up new avenues of rent-seeking, each one lined with charging stations paid for at the taxpayer’s expense.

There was widespread acclaim in the media of course, particularly by the public broadcasters who are ipso-facto members of the rent-seeking class. The ABC’s claims of impartiality were undermined by its supporters, the Friends of the ABC, who manned polling stations with printed instructions to voters to put the conservative barbarians last on their numbered preferential voting paper.

The misty-eyed delusion that Labor would win on Saturday night spared almost no one in polite society. Pollsters came to assume that respondents were telling them the truth and that those who refused their calls were a representative cross-section of the population, rather than world-weary outsiders who had come to assume their views would be ignored and couldn’t be faffed to play the insiders’ game.

Betting companies fell for the delusion, too, assuming that the big money placed on a Labor victory was a guide to a wider sentiment. A week from the election, Morrison was the 7-1 outsider. Two days before the election, SportsBet paid out on a Labor win.

The script for election night would be familiar to those who followed the Brexit referendum count or the US presidential election. It began with confident, smiling faces on ABC TV. Early results from election booths were discounted as outliers. But as the percentage of votes counted rose and the trend continued, their faces began to tighten and the silences grew longer.

The resident psephologist began grumbling about glitches in the Australian Electoral Commission’s computer. The air was visibly sucked out of the wrinkled face of Barrie Cassidy, a senior ABC political presenter and former adviser to Labor prime minister Bob Hawke. By the end of the night, he was as expressionless as a punctured football.

The results unleashed a torrent of self-righteous and self-pitying national self-loathing. ‘It’s not Morrison, it’s not the Liberals, it’s not the policies, it’s not Queensland, it’s not Dutton. It’s the country that’s rotten’, wrote Guardian Australia columnist Brigid Delaney, summarising the feeling of the people in the room at what was supposed to be Labor’s election night party: ‘The fact that their vision for Australia’s future was not affirmed made them feel estranged and alienated from their own country.’

Grief gave way to anger on Twitter. ‘F*** you Australia’, wrote Harry on the Left Side. ‘We had a great opportunity to build a just, fair, progressive, environmentally responsible, clean-energy powerhouse of a nation and once again you squandered it… Don’t complain I no longer care.’ Captain Fluffula added: ‘Jesus f***ing Christ, I am so angry and sad, what a f***ing shitty country we are since Howard.’

Avril, whose handle is decorated with flags from multiple nations, wrote: ‘So, Australia wasn’t immune from the f***witterry that brought the world Trump and Brexit.’ Grug, Karen, Jackson, Bitchy Single Person and countless others were on a unity ticket, each one ashamed, very ashamed or deeply deeply ashamed to be an Australian on Saturday night. Van Badham consoled herself. ‘At least I go to bed knowing that I did everything I could.’

The morning light offered little clarity to those whose entire worldview had been repudiated in the space of a few hours. ‘I held my son this morning and said, “You are the most precious thing in the world to me”’, wrote Clementine Ford. ‘“Bird”, he replied.’

Crushing as the defeat was, the Anywheres will inevitably recover, and return to prosecute the case for progressive change towards an elusive utopia. Once again they will be disappointed by the apparent indifference of the Australian middle class, the largest and wealthiest of any nation in the world, which repeatedly shows a preference for prime ministers who like the place pretty much as it is, flatly egalitarian, in which it is perfectly fine to be better off than your neighbour, but never to assume you are better than them.

It is a place where the economy has ticked over for almost 28 years without a recession, immigrants succeed, the late autumnal sun shines on election day, and everyday Australians get on with the business of nurturing a family and striving to achieve a comfortable, stable and independent life a cut above the average in the best bloody country on Earth.


Joe Hildebrand explains violence against women

As Joe points out below, people are just flapping their lips about this and achieving nothing by doing so.  The only thing I can think of that might reduce such crime is horrific pubishment for the perpetrators -- burning at the stake, for instance

This week on Studio 10 I was asked what I thought about Victoria Police’s comments that men should reflect upon themselves in the wake of yet another brutal murder of a woman in Melbourne.

“Violence against women is absolutely about men’s behaviour,” Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said.

I gave what I thought was a fairly unremarkable and commonsense answer: “I thought it was a really nonsensical thing to say.

“I don’t see how me reflecting on myself is going to stop women being bashed or murdered.”

And, as usual when I think I have said something fairly unremarkable and commonsense, all hell broke loose.

And, as usual when all hell breaks loose, I have been asked to write a piece about it. So here it is.


There is no doubt that men are more violent than women. There is no doubt that they commit more homicides and more assaults. The vast majority of murderers are men, as are the vast majority of prison inmates.

However, that does not mean that all or even most men are violent or potentially deadly, nor that murder or violence is inherently caused by masculinity.

Firstly, homicide in Australia is incredibly rare and at a record low. The latest comprehensive report from the Australian Institute of Criminology states that the rate in 2014 was one per 100,000 people, the lowest since data collection began in 1989.

The report, published in 2017, tallied 487 homicides over the two years to July 2014. At the time Australia’s population was a bit over 23 million, so around 11.5 million males.

To project the absolute worst case scenario, if every single murderer was male and every single victim was female and applying over two years, that would make around one in 23,000 males a killer, or 0.0042 per cent of the male population.

In fact around twice as many homicide victims are male rather than female, homicides are usually calculated on a yearly basis and some killers are women. And so you could divide that figure by a third, then half and then take some more off to get the true annual rate of men killing women.

But let’s not — let’s use that absolute maximum figure of one in 23,000. Obviously it is still one too many but is that evidence of chronic violence among men towards women and, more importantly, is a mass reflection of this going to stop that one man from killing?

Frankly — and sadly — I doubt it. There are already pretty powerful disincentives against murdering people — namely jail — and yet people still commit murder. It is difficult to conceive of how asking would-be murderers to reflect upon their attitudes to women would be a greater deterrent.

Indeed, it would seem self-evident that criminals of all persuasions don’t pay much attention to what the police tell them to do, least of all the very worst and most violent among them.

And that is the problem with the public posturing on men needing to respect women. No reasonable man disagrees that women deserve respect — on the contrary it is obvious to any decent man that they do, which is why the vast majority of men do it.

The difficulty is that those who abuse women to the point that they kill them are hardly likely to be swayed by a police press conference or a government ad campaign.

Even so, the supposition appears to be that these murders are merely the final blow in an escalating trajectory of disrespect to abuse to death. That is most certainly the case in many violent relationships but the spate of brutal murders in Victoria springs from far more varied sources, including an abject failure of the Victorian criminal justice system.

In the notorious and unbearably awful case of the murder of Jill Meagher, it emerged that her killer was a serial sexual offender of the most horrendous and violent kind and yet he was allowed to walk free on parole during which time he abducted her and ended her young life. He had never met her before.

Likewise, the young Eurydice Dixon was stalked and killed by a total stranger, as was La Trobe student Aiia Maasarwe. Maasarwe’s alleged murderer was reportedly known to police.

He was also homeless, as was the latest tragic victim Courtney Herron. Her alleged killer Henry Hammond too was reportedly living out of a van and described as having major mental health problems — he apparently told people he was both Jesus and Odin.

Which of these men do police imagine would have taken heed of their message of “reflection”? Which of them do police imagine would have abandoned their murderous plans if another man had told them they should show more respect to women?

This is the only issue I have with such well-meaning platitudes — I’m not offended by them or threatened by them and I don’t even disagree with them. I just think they’re absurd, especially in this case. Good men don’t need to be told and bad men won’t listen.

And you don’t have to stretch your mind too far to realise how absurd they are.

There was the horrendous case in Sydney last week of a mother killing her toddler in a murder suicide. According to another report by the AIC released earlier this year, the number of mothers murdering their children is on the rise while fathers doing it is declining. Was there a suggestion after that last unthinkable crime that all mothers ought to reflect on their respect for their children? Of course not.

Likewise, there has been a spate of so-called “African” gang crime in Victoria. Did police suggest that young African-born males ought to reflect upon their or their peers’ propensity for violence? Of course not — in fact they denied such a problem even existed.

And in the wake of every terrorist attack police are at pains to stress that this is a tiny minority of Muslims and in no way reflective of the Muslim community as a whole. And they are right.

Why then is there such an unthinking reflex to say in the wake of exceptionally extreme murders that all men ought to reflect upon their attitudes? It is bizarre to say the least.

As for violence against women generally, every statistic indicates that it is not so much maleness that is the problem but chronic disadvantage. As with virtually all other indicators of crime, it is concentrated in areas of poverty and all the other problems that both cause and flow from it.

Reclaim Princes Park vigil for murdered comedian Eurydice Dixon. Picture: Mark Stewart
Reclaim Princes Park vigil for murdered comedian Eurydice Dixon. Picture: Mark StewartSource:News Corp Australia

Yes, violence and domestic violence occurs everywhere and yes, it is overwhelmingly men who perpetrate it but the rates are comparatively low in wealthy areas and skyrocket in areas where people are doing it tough. This is no surprise to any serious student of crime.

For example, official NSW Bureau of Crime and Research statistics show the lowest rates to be on Sydney’s north shore and northern beaches and the highest rates to be around Blacktown in western Sydney, and the rural west and north west of the state.

This is a variable that ranges from 115 per 100,000 to 1290 per 100,000. In other words you are up to 10 times more likely to be a victim of domestic violence in the poorest parts of the state than in the wealthiest.

And as many brave Aboriginal women have sought to highlight, there is an even greater spike in remote and regional indigenous communities — up to 30 times the non-Indigenous rate. Do police call upon all Aboriginal men to reflect upon their attitudes to women? Of course not.

And that’s because it makes no sense. If you really want to fix a problem there is no point tarring whole populations with the same brush or just telling everybody to try harder or be nicer. You need to drill down into what is really causing it.

Who are the men committing these awful crimes? What is their background? What are their surroundings? How can we make women safer? How can we liberate them and whole communities from disadvantage and dysfunction? Where is the problem the worst and why?

These are often diabolical problems that are difficult to solve but the nature of the problem is clear and the solution requires housing, health services, education, employment and time. In the meantime, we need a justice system that keeps known perpetrators behind bars and known victims safe — something that Victoria’s justice system has clearly failed to do.

Or you could just go on TV or Twitter and say that it’s men who are the problem and they should stop harming women.

We all know how well that’s worked out so far.


Feminist indifference to reality

On the morning after the federal election, the banality of modern feminism was confirmed by our public broadcaster. Scott Morrison had stolen the show from Bill Shorten, confounding pollsters, most journalists and many Liberals too.

The Coalition government defeated Labor’s class war, its climate-change folly and punitive taxes. Morrison stared down Labor’s identity politics, religious intolerance and its scorn for quiet Australians. Yet one of the ABC’s grievance feminists announced, during her post-election analysis, that the re-elected Coalition had a massive gender problem.

On Insiders, Patricia Karvelas said: “I think gender is an issue. Can I raise it? Can I go there? Am I allowed to? Please?” she implored, as if pleading to pick up her favourite toy. Pick it up she did. “I think the Coalition, yes, they may have won but they have a massive gender problem, and this is a massive issue. This doesn’t go away just because they won a victory. This is a massive issue.”

Karvelas was so determined to table her pet agenda that she failed to consider whether facts fit her claim. Patently, gender did not rate at the election. Voters rejected Shorten and the line-up of Labor ladies surrounding him during the campaign. Not even the opposition leader’s ubiquitous red T-shirt blaring “Vote 1 Chloe Shorten’s husband” did the gender trick.

What accounts for this firm rejection of the sisterhood’s claim that gender is a massive problem for the Liberals? Start with policy. The re-election of the Morrison government suggests that women decided the Coalition’s policies mattered more than counting the number of Liberal and National women in parliament. Judging issues on their merits, perhaps women, like men, were repelled by Shorten’s class-war campaign, a retirees tax that hit hardworking Australians who save for their retirement, and Labor’s uncosted climate change policies that would have pushed up already sky-high energy prices.

Could it be that women, like men, were unimpressed by the opposition Treasury spokesman telling Australians to rack off if they didn’t like Labor’s policies?

In other words, maybe most women don’t wake up every morning wondering how they can get gender into their daily conversations.

This raises a critical question for modern-day feminists — if they dare to consider it. Who on earth are they speaking for? Themselves, to be sure. But for Karvelas to make a point relevant beyond her, who else was she presuming to represent with her grievance feminism? These insular feminists seem to have no clue, or not to care much.

The banality of modern feminism is turning followers into poor advocates for women. Like the frustrating politicians they often interview, Aunty’s in-house grievance feminists keep regurgitating their talking points even as facts are changing before their eyes. They bring no fresh ideas, no independent thinking, no curiosity to the cause of empowering women.

It is a neat reminder, as if we needed another one, of the gaping chasm between ABC headquarters and Australia central. In other circumstances, the ABC sisterhood is free to bellyache about gender until the cows come home. But for so long as taxpayers pay their wages, is it too much to expect analysis that speaks to more Australians than just themselves?

Karvelas’s claim was unencumbered by facts about the record number of Coalition women who will sit in the 46th parliament. Right now it’s 27; it could reach 30. Well over a third of women in the Coalition partyroom are new entrants.

That includes at least nine new female Liberal MPs: Fiona Martin in Reid, Melissa McIntosh in Lindsay, Angie Bell in Moncrieff, Gladys Liu in Chisholm, Bridget Archer in Bass, Katie Allen in Higgins, Celia Hammond in Curtin, and possibly Sarah Richards in Macquarie if her lead continues. Add new female Liberal senators Claire Chandler from Tasmania and Hollie Hughes from NSW.

Karvelas is not the only grievance feminist at the ABC but she is the noisiest if you listen to ABC radio or turn to Insiders for your political analysis. Had the journalist waited a few days before re-running her gender obsession, she would have discovered a record number of women in the Nationals team too.

They include Anne Webster from Mallee and new female Nationals senator Susan McDonald from Queensland, and possibly Perin Davey from NSW, depending on the final Senate count there. Sam McMahon, the CLP’s candidate in the Northern Territory, will join the Coalition partyroom too. These are terrific markers of women’s progress in politics.

There is still more work to be done to get more women into parliament. But current facts neuter crazy claims of massive gender problems after an election win. Karvelas did not wait to learn that Morrison’s new cabinet maintains the record of seven women, adding two more women to outer ministries.

As newly promoted Assistant Minister for Superannuation and Financial Services Jane Hume said, “Make no mistake, I’m not here for my skirt, I’m here for my experience, and the contribution I can make to a sector that is critical to the Australian economy.”

Many new female Coalition MPs have wonderfully diverse backgrounds beyond the bubble of politics, unlike Labor women who were mostly machine apparatchiks before skating into parliament on gender quotas.

Instead of commending these new female politicians, grievance feminists regurgitated their tired old gender whinges. When Anthony Albanese was chosen as Labor’s new leader, feminists lamented that Tanya Plibersek chose her family over a potential promotion. On the morning that Richard Marles was confirmed as deputy Labor leader, Karvelas woke up and tweeted: “Good day to be a man.” Yawn.

The stubborn flaw at the heart of these unhappy feminists is when things don’t go their way 100 per cent, they find nothing to celebrate. Their blinding ideology for a 50-50 gender split in parliament prevents them from factoring in the reality of women’s choices, let alone applauding the fact the most empowered women show very different work-life preferences to men.

Women who presume to speak on behalf of other women, rather than as freethinking individuals, should be prepared to be marked down for failing women when they stuff up. Claiming that the Liberals having a massive gender problem before many seats had been decided was not just shallow analysis. It was deeply demeaning to women who vote by judging policies, not chromosomes.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here