Monthly Archives: March 2022

Dividends by the Numbers in February 2022

After starting 2022 on a strong footing, the U.S. stock market nearly set a new record high for number of dividend increases in February 2022.

The month also saw a small increase in the number of announced dividend cuts, which still fall well below the level that would indicate recessionary conditions in the U.S. economy. The following chart shows how February 2022 compares with each month before it, going back to January 2004.

Number of Public U.S. Firms Increasing or Decreasing Their Dividends Each Month, January 2004 through February 2022

Here's what happened for the U.S. stock market's dividend metadata in February 2022:

  • 4,656 firms declared dividends in February 2022, up 2,432 from January 2022's revised count of 2,224 and up 2,217 from February 2021's total of 2,439.
  • Some 84 companies announced they would pay an extra, or special, dividend in February 2022. That's an increase of 25 from January 2022's number of extra dividend payers and 20 more than February 2021.
  • 362 firms indicated they would increase their dividends in February 2022, the second-highest figure after January 2014's record high of 368 firms. February 2022's number of dividend rises is 164 more than hiked dividends in January 2022 and is 76 more than did one year earlier in February 2021.
  • The number of firms cutting dividends in February 2022 rose to 25, up from 8 from January 2022's level and 11 more than reduced dividends in February 2021.
  • Once again, zero companies announced they would suspend or omit making dividend payments in February 2022, extending the streak that began in July 2021.

As you might expect, dividend metadata like this is a slightly lagging indicator of the relative health of the U.S. economy. Should February 2022 represent a peak with its near-record number of dividend increases, the data for dividend reductions and omissions will provide some of the first signs of trouble developing in the economy. Stay tuned.

Australian Politics 2022-03-02 06:30:00


Australian police use sonic ‘torture weapons’ on vaccine protesters

It's long been admitted that the police do have and use LRADs and that they can be misused. So the time appears to have come when the police are misusing them. The shocking part is that the mainstream media seem to be largely ignoring it

SINISTER stories have emerged from the trucker convoy camp in Canberra. Nasty new devices seem now to be deployed against peaceful citizens. This is Australia in the 2020s.

Canberra is the insiders’ insider paradise. Woke on steroids does not begin to describe the place. A workers’ promised land. With fewer than half a million residents, it is run by a glorified local council. As the Australian Capital Territory’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, says in as many words, vaccinated to within an inch of its life. As I have noted elsewhere:

‘Australia’s two separate worlds were vividly on display on Saturday, 12 February. In Canberra, tens of thousands of protesters marched upon the national Parliament in the biggest display of controlled public anger at government since Vietnam. The numbers and the raw emotion involved make the pro-Gough rallies of 1975 look puny in comparison. People from all over the country rose up and marched on the capital. Across town, meanwhile, youngsters as young as five were being dressed up as superheroes as they were led off to be vaccinated against a minor illness that will not even touch most of them.’

Then came horrifying reports of the way the police had managed the crowd, the ‘weaponry’ they had deployed, of unexplained injuries at the convoy camp. Was something literally ‘cooking’ the protesters?

Your News reported: ‘Australian police have been deploying directed energy weapons (DEWs) against the peaceful Freedom Convoy protesters around the capital, according to reports.

‘Disturbing videos and photos circulating social media show Canberra protesters, including women and children, who appear to have been badly burned by directed microwave energy weapons, with blisters on their faces, arms, and torsos.

‘These particular DEWs reportedly used concentrated microwave radiation to inflict painful burns on the skin from far distances. ‘

The mainstream media has accepted that the Canberra cops were using sonic devices called long-range acoustic devices (LRADs) which the Australian Broadcasting Corporation tried to put a benign spin on. It said ‘sonic weapons’ were used by police in Canberra’s protests, but only to broadcast messages rather than do harm.

All ok, then.

Why the use of designer torture devices by the police? One hundred thousand and more protesters from all over Australia have presumably caused some serious political buttock-clenching. John Stapleton at A Sense of Place magazine called it ‘the day Australia changed’. Here we have the resistance to the resistance. Ottawa style. The concerted effort to portray protesters as liars as well as everything else of which they are regularly accused is the Covid State.

The use of harmful devices is utterly consistent with the tactics used by the State across Australia and in other Dominions to quell peaceful protests. And consistent with the overarching strategy of doing harm to citizens, and with the lies, spin, propaganda and misinformation.

The ACT’s Chief Minister doesn’t like protesters much. On Wednesday morning, Andrew Barr told ABC’s Radio National the protesters’ behaviour had been ‘over the top’ and they were ‘effectively stalking Canberrans, harassing business owners and residents, and aggressively flouting the law’.

Mr Barr said the protesters ‘couldn’t have a less receptive audience anywhere in the world’ with Canberra – if not the most vaccinated city on the planet – among the most vaccinated cities.

‘It is an eccentric and eclectic bunch, there’s no denying that,’ he said. ‘And it appears to have been infiltrated, or at least part of the protest movement has, by very extremist views.’

But some of its Canberra’s denizens are stirring. Craig Kelly MP has called for an inquiry into the claims about sonic weapons. Senator Malcolm Roberts of One Nation has asked questions in parliament. As has Liberal Party hero Alex Antic, detained by police at Adelaide Airport and placed forcibly in quarantine last year for entering his own state whileunvaccinated, when it was the norm that home isolation was all that was required.

A far more trustworthy news source than the mainstream media, the Canadian Rebel News reported both the sonic devices whose use in Canberra was admitted by police, but framed to appear innocent, and the deployment of other devices that caused a range of documented injuries and reactions.

The site said: ‘What started out at the beginning of the week as the “stuff of conspiracy theories” was eventually confirmed by police. Australian Capital Territory Policing admitted they did use a Long-Range Acoustic Device (also known as a LRAD) during the Canberra Convoy Freedom rallies outside Parliament House.

‘Reports are still coming in on various injuries at the protest – most relating to what looks like sunburn and heat stroke. There are also clear allergic reactions from what some speculate might be contact with chemicals.’

The LRAD is technically a sonic crowd control weapon. It has two settings and can project extremely loud sounds over long distances to cripple a crowd. This ‘alert setting’ on the device is particularly dangerous and has been known to cause permanent hearing damage, dizziness, disorientation and brain damage.

Ironically, as Rebel News points out, when the weapons arrived down under in 2016, the ABC was ‘concerned’: ‘They can break up protests with loud, piercing sound, but Long-Range Acoustic Devices can also cause permanent hearing damage. Australian law enforcement agencies are now investing in the technology, but sound and law experts say their potential use is extremely concerning.’

At the time Melbourne University expert James Parker told the ABC, ‘The secrecy of the state around the tools, the weapons that it has and is capable of using on its population is something to be really, really concerned about. It expands the nature of police/state/military authority in a certain kind of way. It makes sound itself part of the arsenal that police and military and state institutions use.’

Since then, the ABC has discovered deplorables and anti-vaxxers, those same folks routinely referred to by politicians, police commanders and journalists as ‘domestic terrorists’.

Whatever the murky tactics used by police, the message to we-the-people from the Canberra community was clear. One local rammed a protester’s vehicle with her car, then let loose with expletive-laden vitriol.

The Canberra Times editorial made its position clear, after a mere few days of extremely polite, heartfelt protest by the deplorables. ’You have made your point. Now go home’. The same Canberra Times accused Craig Kelly of ‘bringing a conspiracy [theory] into the House of Representatives’.

Taxpayer-funded Canberra seems not to have noticed that Australia has fallen apart, its citizens’ rights crushed. For two years. Lives have been ruined. The parking of the unvaccinated in the bad corner and the use of language to diminish their ‘grievances’ is a classic tactic of the Covid class. According to the police boss, the crowd had a ‘poor attitude’. Thought crime. Only three arrests, though.

As we know, names will never hurt us. It is the rather sophisticated and sinister sticks and stones of the politicised police that are doing the harm. Like the truckers in Ottawa, we have been used as punching bags. The legacy ‘journalists’ are useful idiots, with the Covid Kool-Aid dribbling down their chins.


Covid vaccines offer almost NO protection against infection for young children just weeks after their second dose, top Australian expert warns

An Australian Covid expert has warned new data shows the Pfizer vaccine offers very little protection against infection for young children.

New York Health Department researchers found the two-dose Pfizer shot was only 12 percent effective at preventing Omicron infection in children aged five to 11 after only a month.

Protection against catching the virus was about 67 per cent after the second jab, but dropped rapidly by 28 to 34 days.

Australian National University professor Peter Collignon discussed the results on his social media, noting the vaccine's ineffectiveness against the dominant strain.

'While protection against hospitalisation is still strong, the vaccine offered almost no protection against infection, even just a month after full vaccination,' he wrote.

ATAGI recommends everyone five or older get a Covid vaccine - with only Pfizer available for those under five, and both Moderna and Pfizer for six to 11.

New York researchers gathered data 852,384 children aged 12 to 17 and 365,502 aged five to 11 for the study.

The study, which is pre-print and pending peer-review, gathered data from the Omicron period of the pandemic, from December 2021 and January 2022.

Participants in the study were followed up with and compared to general figures from unvaccinated populations.

Pfizer's effectiveness at preventing infection dropped from 66 per cent to 51 per cent in older children when up against the Omicron variant - and in younger children dropped from 67 per cent to just 12 per cent.

The most dramatic difference in numbers was noted between 11 and 12-year-olds in the week leading up to January 30 where those aged 12 had 67 per cent protection and those aged 11 had just 11 per cent protection.

'The difference between the two age groups is striking,' Florian Krammer, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, said.

One major difference between the study groups is the dosage of the vaccine. Children aged 12 and older receive a 30 microgram shot, but only 10 micrograms for the five to 11 age group.

'This is super interesting because it would almost suggest that it's the dose that makes the difference. The question is how to fix that,' Dr Krammer said.

The findings have far reaching implications on the use of the vaccines, and whether parents will want to get their children jabbed.

Children do not suffer much of a risk from the virus, with hospitalizations and deaths being especially rare.

The main argument in favor of vaccinating them is to prevent them from spreading the virus, though these findings imply that the vaccine does little to prevent that.

The Omicron variant, though causing less severe symptoms, is far more contagious and more children were hospitalised during this wave than at any other point in the pandemic.

As well as illness directly from Covid, there is growing evidence of associated conditions that can appear weeks after infection.

A study from Italy showed a link to severe gastrointestinal illness in children 4-6 weeks after infection, while in the US more than 7,000 children have been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious condition.

While the Omicron wave has largely subsided, experts agree more Covid variants will appear.

Pfizer and BioNTech are testing a third vaccine dose in children aged 5 to 11 based on a third dose significantly improving immune system response in adults against Omicron.

Several labs around the world are also working on a pan-sarbecovirus vaccine - a single dose vaccine to protect against all future variants of Covid.


Huge legal costs eating up disability money

Bureaucracy gone mad. Bureaucrats will do anything to avoid making a decision. So they turn disputes over to the courts

Labor has fired an early election salvo on the National Disability Insurance Scheme by committing to investigate a “blowout” in legal fees spent by the government to defend cuts in NDIS participant’s plan costs.

Shadow NDIS minister Bill Shorten said a newly-elected Labor government would within its first 100 days commence an investigation into tens of millions of dollars in legal costs being racked up by the agency running the NDIS.

Mr Shorten said the National Disability Insurance Agency had brought in external lawyers, at inflated fees, to “stop NDIS participants accessing disability products and services.”

“The Morrison government’s legal spend is on an expensive upward trajectory,” he said. “In the seven months from July 1 2021, it spent an average of $28 million on external lawyers, just to fight appeals in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In the previous 12 months the Government spent $21.5 million for its total legal expenses.”

Mr Shorten said there appeared to be a new strategy within the government to try and rein in NDIS costs, currently sitting at around $30 billion a year, through cutting individual plans, at great emotional cost to many participants.

“This is a form of ‘lawfare’ by the government against participants, and is causing suffering and stress,” he said. “These are not people who are used to having to appear in court, and the government seems to be engaged in a battle of attrition, often settling the matter at the door of the court.”

The NDIA said it had spent $19.1 million on external legal fees in the six months to December 31 out of a total legal spend of $21.5 million. In the previous financial year it spent a total of $20.8 million, it said.

“The legal spend reflects the increase in the number of NDIS participants, which flows onto the appeals process,” an NDIA spokeswoman said.

“The NDIA is continuing to make decisions in accordance with the NDIS Act, about reasonable and necessary supports. This is resulting in more planning-related AAT cases seeking to test and clarify the concept of ‘reasonable and necessary’,” she said.

The NDIS, which currently provides support for around 500,000 Australians living with permanent and significant disability or a developmental delay, is broadly supported by both sides of politics but is increasingly becoming a political battleground as the federal election looms.

The Coalition has warned the cost trajectory of the scheme, anticipated to increase to $60 billion annually by 2030, is not sustainable.

But Mr Shorten warned that the attempt to bring costs under control had become “adversarial” and is leading to poor outcomes for many already on the scheme with a plan.

He said many NDIS participants are being told their existing plan was being changed because it didn’t represent “value for money”.

“Cases at the AAT have gone up by 400 per cent,” Mr Shorten said. “It feels like the agency and the government have outsourced the running of the scheme to the courts.”

Mr Shorten and Queensland disability minister Craig Crawford also criticised the proposed appointment by federal NDIS minister Linda Reynolds of former Victorian Liberal premier Denis Napthine to the role of NDIS chair.


A landlord fed up with having units trashed and threats by drunk, drug-addled tenants has quit her rental properties, citing new laws leaving investors in the lurch

A landlord fed up with having units trashed and threats by drunk, drug-addled tenants has quit her rental properties citing new laws leaving landlords in the lurch.

Jackie Newton, who had units in Burleigh, Miami, Broadbeach and Townsville, said new state laws had left landlords with “little rights”, causing many owners to get out.

“Unless you have lived in the shoes of a landlord, then people don’t have much of any idea as to what really happens,” Ms Newton said, citing instances of dog poo left inside and vindictive tenants who were evicted putting superglue in locks.

“Both myself and so many people I know have all sold their rental properties, particularly since these new rental laws have been introduced by the current state government.

“Things have always been bad enough when it comes to getting a fair go for landlords, but these new laws have left landlords with little rights.

“I have been told by my agent if you have tenants on a periodic lease, then it can be a nightmare to evict your tenants.

“Now we have had enough and sold our properties and you have to wonder why there is a housing shortage.”

Among the measures in the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill passed by parliament was a clause that makes it much harder for landlords to refuse to accept pets.

Ms Newton said the change, which will come into effect on October 1 this year, will be a nightmare for landlords.

“I had a beautiful house here at Burleigh that had new carpet laid, when supposedly good-referenced tenants moved in,” Ms Newton said.

“I am a pet lover and allowed them to have one dog, saying it must be an outside dog.

“Towards the end of this lease, the tenants notified my agent that they were moving out. My agent had a lot of people interested in viewing my house, in the hope that they could apply for it. So the current tenant agreed to let my agent host one open house.

“All these people turned up to view my property and when they got inside these people had to dodge the dog poo left all over the carpeted stairs up to the bedrooms. Upon getting up the stairs, there was a huge stain that smelt like dog urine, in my newer carpet.

“I’ve had one couple who hid their great dane in the bedroom built-in wardrobe. Then when they left, I was made to pay for the doors that had been ripped off their hinges because of this dog.”

Ms Newton said it was unfair landlords had to give tenants two months’ notice, while tenants only had to give two weeks.

She said when eviction notices were issued, sometimes “all hell breaks loose”, leaving landlords with an enormous mess to clean up when tenants leave.

“These tenants can do whatever they like to your property in that time and there really isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

“I was getting complaints about a tenant from neighbours (so) I wanted her gone and she left my unit in a heap.

“I had one long-term tenant who lost his job, got on the drugs and then when he got evicted, decided to trash my place.

“It was a small unit years ago and there was about $15,000 damage done. When we changed the locks on this place, this scumbag was apparently hiding up the road watching what was going on and then came back and put superglue in my new locks and also the garage door lock.”

Ms Newton’s concerns reflect those raised by The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) after the new legislation was passed in October.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the legislation introduced more onerous requirements for property owners and reduced their contractual rights.

“We know for some property owners, this Bill will be the final straw and we will see some investors making the decision to sell,” Ms Mercorella said.

“The ripple effect of this could see renters struggling to find suitable housing under already tight conditions. With the current state of Queensland’s rental market, it’s imperative we don’t further discourage property rentals.”




Australian Politics 2022-03-01 12:28:00


The END of ATMs in Australia? Thousands of cash machines are removed across the country as banks go digital

This is obnoxious. It is in effect banning cash. But many older people are much more comfortable with cash. A cash transaction is much simpler than navigating the frustrating and time-consuming complexities of the internet. And going into a branch is frustrating too. The few that still exist are overwhelmed with customers -- leading to long waits. A modern society should be able to limit time-wasting. The reality is the opposite. Just handing over cash for a transaction is so much simpler

As Australian banks continue to focus on digital transactions for customers, ATMs and bank branches are disappearing across the country, according to new data.

The analysis revealed close to 460 bank branches have shut down across the nation in recent years, and dating back to 2020, approximately 3800 previously active ATMs have been removed.

NSW alone now has 140 fewer in-store banks, and almost 300 suburbs don't have a singular ATM to withdraw cash.

It is a similar story in Victoria, where 120 branches have permanently closed their doors to customers.

'Closures have a devastating impact on local communities,' Finance Sector Union national secretary Julia Angrisano said.

'Jobs are lost, business is impacted, and another local service disappears.'

The closures have hit hard in regional and rural areas, and for older citizens, Ms Angrisano added.

Another key factor for the branch closures and reduced ATM's is the fact that banks are bringing in a small fortune from daily digital transactions.

As Australia accelerates towards a cashless society, fees from either the customer or vender for online banking have become common place.

In a modern-day digital world, an estimated 80 per cent of Aussies prefer to bank online.

But the remaining 20 per cent, namely the disabled or those who are not digital savvy, have been left stranded.

Tellingly, CBA now has 875 bank branches nationwide - compared to 1134 in February 2020.

Their number of ATMs has reduced to just over 2000 - in 2019 there were 4118 ATM's in circulation.

Last year, ANZ head of distribution Kath Bray said bank branch closures were a sign of the times, with digital transactions now the primary focus for many.


Qld. Labor govrernment in bed with corrupt union

Queensland’s militant CFMEU could control every major construction site across the state as part of a new “deal” drawn up by the state government which could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, insiders say.

New requirements developed by the Department of Transport require projects $100m and above to include a Best Practice Industry Conditions agreement.

The agreement, supported by left-faction Transport Minister Mark Bailey, requires a building company tendering for a government contract to negotiate with left-leaning unions including the CFMEU.

While it is not compulsory for a contractor to sign the agreement, industry sources say they are being pressured to agree to union enterprise demands or risk missing future government contracts.

Mr Bailey declined to say whether companies were being pressured to sign the industry condition agreement and if they could lose future government contracts on refusal.

The industry conditions agreement will give the CFMEU a greater input in the civil construction of road and tunnels, which had traditionally been the remit of the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU).

Construction industry insiders fear the new conditions agreement will give the CFMEU more say over every major construction project in the state.

A senior Labor Party source familiar with the matter said the industry conditions agreement was developed by Mr Bailey, a leading left-faction minister, to “cut in the left-aligned CFMEU”.

“The government is putting a gun to the head of major contractors and saying let the CFMEU in or risk future work,” they said.

“Contractors are saying do we want to go to war with the CFMEU and the government, which controls the purse strings, or do we roll the dice and deal with the CFMEU?”

The party official said the AWU was considered more “rational and reasonable actors to negotiate with” compared to the “chaotic” practices of the CFMEU.

Both the CFMEU and AWU declined to comment.

Negotiations over the industry conditions agreement has created a stalemate at stage three of the $1.04bn Gold Coast Light Rail project.

The Courier-Mail can reveal preferred contractor John Holland Group is refusing to retrospectively apply the industry conditions agreement despite pressure.

It is understood the major building firm is yet to sign the project contract with the state government over fears it would increase the cost and set a precedent for future developments across the state.

LNP MP Ray Stevens, who represents Mermaid Beach where light rail will be built, said the industry conditions agreement could also add “wage loading to the tune of some $300m” on the project – which he declared was the “sticking point” for John Holland Group.

“John Holland will be locked in forever on future infrastructure projects if they cop this over-the-top ambit claim,” he said.

A spokesman for John Holland Group declined to comment due to ongoing negotiations with the Queensland Government.

Mr Bailey defended the industry conditions agreement, declaring it beneficial for workers and the economy.

“Our procurement rules create local jobs and encourage use of local suppliers and manufacturers because we want as much of our record infrastructure investment as possible to benefit Queensland workers and businesses,” he said.

“They ensure contractors adhere to the highest possible safety standards and emphasise training opportunities for Queensland workers especially during such a tight labour market period.”


NSW Treasurer ‘shocked’ by allegations Covid-19 money was treated as ‘slush fund’

The NSW Treasurer says he was shocked by a report Covid-19 emergency money had been used as a “slush fund” by government departments.

Matt Kean told a budget estimates hearing on Monday he would order a review of the checks and balances in place to avoid pandemic funds being wrongly used.

It came after a media report at the weekend alleged agencies had used emergency cash as an “endless slush fund”.

Whistleblowers alleged government agencies used money meant for pandemic-related costs for such things as office equipment and carpet replacements with “very little oversight”.

“When I read that article, I was shocked by it, and I’ve asked the (Treasury) department to look into it and advise me on whether or not our systems and processes are up to scratch,” Mr Kean said.

The Treasurer, who has the power to approve emergency payments, was unable to say how much such pandemic cash he had personally approved.

When asked repeatedly about it, Mr Kean became irritable and accused opposition MPs of trying to “lecture” him on financial management.

But the Treasurer promised the issue would be dealt with. “I can absolutely give the committee and the people of NSW an assurance that we will be paying close attention to these issues raised and put in place the systems and processes required to give people confidence that the money is being spent wisely,” he said.

The committee heard $346 million of Covid-19 expenditure above the appropriation had been approved in the 2020-2021 financial year.

That’s more than 10 per cent of the funding of the Treasury’s budget, Labor’s Daniel Mookhey told the hearing.


Wishy washy conservatives are now the norm

Where are our human rights ‘experts’ as Covid authoritarians strip away our freedoms?

I have resisted the temptation to write about the fact that ScoMo and co. have earlier this month decided to unfreeze $84 million previously held back from the ABC, thereby guaranteeing them $3.3 billion dollars over the next three years. You see it comes close to defying belief that a political party would do this, one that is always and everywhere hammered and traduced by a public broadcaster that has not a single, solitary conservative presenter, producer or higher-up type – not one – and which is so skewed to the left that (I quote a British journalist here) ‘it makes the BBC look like Fox News’. Why do it? Stockholm Syndrome? My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the lefties in the party room – the Sharmas and Zimmermans and yes, our Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – are so desperate to retain their chardonnay-sipping inner-city seats that they begged a pusillanimous PM to do this. On their hands and knees they begged and pleaded. And right now in the Liberal party what the left faction (aka the people who put him in the job) wants, Mr Morrison gives.

But as I argued in a column at the start of this month, in the near to medium term all of these inner-city seats will be lost to the Coalition. Conservative parties, even ones that make only vague genuflections in the direction of anything remotely conservative, will lose all these seats. That has already pretty much happened in the rest of the Anglosphere. Only our preferential voting system is slowing down – not stopping, just slowing down – that trend here because it forces disaffected conservatives like me not just to vote for some other small party and be done with it (as in Britain, the US and Canada under first-past-the-post) but positively to preference Labor over the Libs. Most righties can’t bring themselves to do that. I can. In fact, I did it in the Turnbull election. Yet most can’t. Still, a PM who capitulates to the ABC-appeasing instincts of Messrs Frydenberg and co. is not just devoid of principle and strategic acumen, he’s stupid; he’s unaware of the sort of winning conservative coalition that Mr Trump built and that does not include these sort of seats. Such a placatory PM will lose more votes than he gains with this type of appeasement. Ditto the PM’s net zero cave in. Ditto his abandonment of all freedom-related principles during Covid. Ditto his inability to grasp the presumption of innocence. Etc., ad nauseam. OK, so I only half-resisted that temptation to blast a pusillanimous Coalition for throwing billions of our money, the taxpayers’, at this biased behemoth. But you have to agree it was a powerful temptation, one requiring super-human restraint to resist.

Meanwhile on that point about the way in which not just the Liberal party, but virtually the entirety of the elite and establishment class in this country has actively encouraged or turned a blind eye to the draconian Covid restrictions imposed on so many ordinary people, let us not forget the disgraceful inactions by the human rights lobby. I’ve noted this before, but it is worth another mention. All those highly resourced legal centres, law firms, self-styled human rights barristers and the like have barely said a word while police have hounded citizens, arrested pregnant women and attacked a swathe of civil liberties. The human rights mob will rouse themselves into paroxysms of indignation at the mere thought that someone claiming to be a refugee (who basically isn’t complying with an out-of-date convention from the 1950s, as though we wouldn’t repeal or amend domestic laws that were seventy years old) might have to apply from off-shore – otherwise known as ‘not skipping the queue and cheating others’. Basically the human rights lobby, often able to convince a good few like-minded judges, will fight tooth and nail on behalf of ‘rights’ in these sort of instances. Or give the HR lobby some pseudo-Marxist race-based claim, framed in the language of ‘equity’ or ‘diversity’, and they can kick into gear faster than Lewis Hamilton can take a knee. This might include lawfare, or op-eds in the Guardian or in that scintillatingly good read the Conversation or make-up the entirety of a week’s ABC early evening programming, with the requisite self-flagellating attacks on Australian democracy.

But come, in the words of retired British Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, ‘the greatest inroads on our civil liberties in over two centuries’ and the human rights brigade in this country is almost completely silent. Actually, to be fair, the same is true in the entire Anglosphere. In the face of governmental despotism and illiberalism and heavy-handed policing and real attacks on the freedoms and civil liberties of all citizens of the sort none of us has ever seen in our lifetimes, these self-proclaimed ‘human rights experts’ and ‘human rights organisations’ are as mute as Oddjob in Goldfinger. And it’s not hard to guess why. It’s because most members of the lawyerly caste (one which leans so far politically left, as a generalisation, that a Rip Van Winkle awakened after fifty years simply would not believe what had happened to the legal profession) agree with all the Covid heavy-handedness. As part of the laptop class they favoured lockdowns. Wanted masking. Liked muscular policing. Couldn’t wait for vaccine mandates. And so on and so forth.

This has long been the core of my claims against bills of rights. When you buy one of these instruments, be it a constitutionalised or a statutory model, all you are buying is the policy druthers of unelected judges. Full stop. The vague, amorphous rights in a bill of rights are not self-enforcing or self-defining. These instruments take that power from elected politicians and hand it over to the judiciary. If most judges happen to put more weight on equality concerns over religious freedom ones – and they do, nearly everywhere – then that is what these instruments will deliver. And notice that nowhere, not even in the US with its admirable free speech First Amendment jurisprudence, have we seen judges using a bill of rights to strike down and invalidate despotic Covid laws. Nowhere. Not once. What we have seen, in a few US state jurisdictions in the last few months, are judges using old-fashioned administrative law principles to rein in despotic Covid rules decreed by the executive. These judges have looked at the governing statute and demanded that it clearly authorise whatever regulations or orders the state governor has issued. Great. But no one needs a bill of rights to go down that path. Long ago I predicted that that was the best shot to win in court. Asking judges to gainsay politicians under the banner of some shapeless ‘rights-respecting’ claim can work when the judges agree with the substance of the underlying claim. (And note here that since 1992 all successful implied rights cases in this country have been against Coalition legislation, never Labor’s.) But when the preponderance of the judges are as happy with the lockdown mania as your average Canberran public servant, well fuggeddaboudit. Some of my fellow writers here at the Speccie think a bill of rights would have helped during the pandemic. Alas, they’re indulging in ‘modelling’ I’m afraid, not looking at the data.

And we know where that leads us.




Median Household Income in January 2022

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in January 2022 is $74,099, an increase of $1,166 (or 1.6%) from the initial estimate of $72,933 in December 2021.

That sounds more impressive than it really was however, because of substantial revisions to the income and population data that underlie the median household income estimates. With those revisions, December 2021's nominal median household income estimate was adjusted upward to $73,478, accounting for just over half of the difference from the initial estimate reported last month.

The latest update to Political Calculations' chart tracking Median Household Income in the 21st Century shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through January 2022. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant January 2022 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to January 2022

January 2022's estimated median household income of $74,099 is only $3 higher than the December 2021's inflation-adjusted estimate of $74,096 in terms of constant January 2022 U.S. dollars. That compares with a non-inflation-adjusted increase of $545 from December 2021's nominal estimate of $73,478. That means 99.4% of the nominal month over month gain in median household income was eaten away by President Biden's inflation.

Analyst's Notes

The median household income estimates presented in this report were developed using the U.S. Census Bureau's definition of total money income. They do not incorporate unearned income sources such as those provided by the American Rescue Plan Act's stimulus checks and tax credits and are not affected by the expiration of these temporary programs at the end of 2021.

Substantial revisions were made to the underlying income and population data used to generate the estimates. The BEA adjusted its estimates of aggregate wage and salary income significantly upward in the period from July 2021 through December 2021, with the lowest adjustment in July 2021 (+0.17%) and the largest in December 2021 (+0.55%). In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau updated its resident population estimates from April 2010 (+10,000) through December 2021 (+745,000, about 0.22%).

The next chart illustrates the resulting updated relationship between average annualized wage and salary income and median household income over the calibration period from January 2000 through December 2019.

Trailing Year Average Annualized Wage and Salary Income per Capita versus Median Household Income, January 2000 to December 2019

Political Calculations' median household income estimates, represented by the dashed lines in this chart, were developed to reliably fall within a few percent of the Sentier Group's monthly estimates of median household income based on surveyed data collected through the U.S. Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey. Since the Sentier Group closed up shop after December 2019, Political Calculations has provided the most contemporary estimates of U.S. median household income available to the public. We'll feature a comparison of our estimates with those of our competition in an upcoming separate analysis.


U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 25 February 2022. Accessed: 25 February 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 25 February 2022. Accessed: 25 February 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 10 February 2022. Accessed: 10 February 2022.