3/1/19: Happy New 2019 or 2018 or 2008…

Happy New Old Year 2019... oh, wait...As @lisaabramowicz1 notes: "The gap between 3-month T-bill and 10-year Treasury yields has collapsed in the past few weeks and is now at a new post-crisis low." Or, put differently, the short run is the long r...

Australian Politics 2018-10-08 15:49:00

Kimberley Kitching is trying to cater for Labor’s conservative voters

Ms Kitching seems to have a strange idea of what constitutes “Judeo-Christian” values.  She claims to adhere to them but voted for homosexual marriage, despite homosexuality being repeatedly condemned in both the Old and the New Testaments. And how does "Thou shalt not covet" jibe with socialism?  No Leftist obeys that Commandment. She is right that many Labor voters have some conservative values but whether she can impress them with empty talk remains to be seen

Labor senator Kimberley Kitching — a close ally and friend of Bill Shorten — is moving to create a bipartisan parliamentary group that will defend “Judeo-Christian” and “Western-liberal democratic” values as she launches her credentials as a new style of social conservative within the Labor Party.

The Victorian, who was controversially hand-picked by the Opposition Leader to replace Stephen Conroy in the Senate, said she considered it part of her job to fight “smug elitism” and would seek to ensure the views of “inner-city elites” did not prevail over the “quiet wisdom of working people”.

“I think that sometimes Labor insiders tend to be more small-l liberal in their views than the ­people who vote for us,” Senator Kitching told The Australian.

She said the rise of the Greens had been good for the party as it helped create a “Corbyn-proof fence” that had protected Labor from the “more extreme and out of touch” parts of the Left. She also spoke against identity politics and virtue-signalling, saying it was intellectually “lazy” and had a negative impact on public debate.

Despite being a practising Catholic, Senator Kitching’s pitch as a Labor conservative is more cultural than religious and represents a shift from the traditional grouping of “LabCons” who have been guided by their faith in ­opposing same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia.

In interviews with The Australian, four LabCons — Don Farrell, Jacinta Collins, Helen Polley and Chris Ketter — denied claims their socially conservative views were maligned in the party as it became increasingly progressive.

The MPs — who voted No last year to same-sex marriage — said Labor needed to be a broad church to ensure it appealed to conser­vative working-class voters.

Senator Kitching — who voted Yes to same-sex marriage but is opposed to euthanasia — said “Judeo-Christian, Western-liberal democracy” was the “very best way” for people to “organise themselves” and its principles should be more staunchly defended.

She will attempt to launch a Defence of Democratic Institutions Parliamentary Friendship Group, inviting MPs from across the aisle as well as business leaders and academics.

Avoiding the politically loaded term “Western values”, Senator Kitching said the group would champion “liberal-democratic ­values”, discuss policy ideas and help shape the political agenda.

“The fact is we must remain vigilant in order to protect and safeguard our Judeo-Christian, Western-liberal democracy from both external and internal threats,” she said.

Senator Kitching — who has defended her record at the Health Services Union despite being ­accused of misconduct by the trade union royal commission — said she preferred the term “moderate” to social conservative, a sentiment shared by Senator Collins and Senator Ketter.

Senator Farrell, Labor’s Senate deputy leader and a leading figure in the conservative shoppies faction, said many working-class Labor voters had traditional values.

He said his Catholic views drove him towards the Labor Party because of the church’s teachings on social justice. “On the one hand you can be a social conservative but also support the concept of social justice,” he said, adding that he did not believe the party would eventually junk its conservative links.

Senator Collins said her views were accepted by her parliamentary colleagues, despite a Labor MP telling The Australian the LabCons were a “dying” force within the party and their views were increasingly marginalised.

“I have never felt lonely,” Senator Collins said. “I’m a collectivist. I don’t relate at all to the Liberal (Party) traditions of individualism, so I have found Labor fits much more neatly with my approach to achieving the common good.”


A State government codifies ‘white privilege’ slur for its bureaucrats

Government departments in South Australia have been criticised for seemingly forcing ­bureaucrats to acknowledge “white privilege” in Aboriginal cultural awareness training.

Conservative crossbench senator Cory Bernardi told The Australian that public servants had contacted his office in fear of losing their jobs after refusing to participate in the training, which required them to acknowledge their “white privilege”.

“I’ve had public servants contacting my office, fearful for their jobs because in good conscience they cannot undergo this man­datory indoctrination,” Senator Bernardi said yesterday.

“They are being discriminated against because political correctness and bureaucracy have run out of control under the noses of the major parties.”

National debate over the use of the term “white privilege” erupted in January when it was revealed that new codes of conduct for nurses and midwives referenced “a decolonising model of ­practice based on dialogue, communication, power sharing and negotiation, and the acknowledgment of white privilege”.

The codes do not require ­nurses or midwives to declare or apologise for white privilege.

Two SA Health documents for “cultural” and “workplace” learning advise staff “there is an un­deniable relationship between the continuing impact of colonisation and racism on the current health status of Aboriginal people”.

“Aboriginal people have been negatively impacted by inequitable government policies and the consequential ongoing racism and discrimination,” the documents say, noting that the ­material will “improve the ­cultural competence of the SA Health workforce through a ­better understanding of the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal health outcomes”.

A “learning outcomes” section requires staff to define white ­privilege and the effect of white privilege on Aboriginal health.

Staff are required to “challenge and respond to ‘racist’ behaviour and racial stereotypes” and “recognise the impact of white privilege on access to ­services”.

The “learning frameworks” also require staff to explain cultural self-awareness and identify their own cultural values and practices, identify examples of “white privilege” and analyse how “white privilege” impacts on Aboriginal people’s experience of health care services.

Premier Steven Marshall, who formed the first Liberal government in South Australia in 16 years in March, also has responsibility for the state’s Aboriginal ­Affairs portfolio.

Mr Marshall’s own department “actively encourages public sector employees to participate in Aboriginal cultural awareness training”, according to its website.

The South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has an online “reconciliation action plan” that states: “We seek to be able to better recognise the influence colonisation and white privilege has on the department’s internal and external interactions with Aboriginal people, their nations and communities.”

Mr Marshall insisted that cultural awareness training was not compulsory. “Cultural awareness training is an option made available to public sector employees,” he said.

“The use of the term ‘white privilege’ … (is) not a term that I would personally use.”

Senator Bernardi said: “This politically correct nonsense is offensive, if not racist, towards many Australians.”


Schoolgirl, 6, pulled out of school after cruel bullies punch her in the face, pull her hair and expose themselves to her - as teachers say they can't do anything to stop them

The Left-influenced breakdown in school discipline again

A family has taken the drastic step of pulling their six-year-old girl out of school, amid claims she was relentlessly bullied for months.

Gold Coast youngster Summah Hillhouse says she is too scared to go to school after she was repeatedly punched in the face, called names and had her hair pulled.

Summah says she told teachers what was happening but nothing was done.

'She said 'Summah it is not called bullying, she doesn't do it to you every single day.'  It made me feel sad,' the little girl told A Current Affair.

Her grandmother Kim Den Hertog described the situation as 'absolutely ridiculous.' You can't send a six-year-old to school when she is frightened. It's like then we become the abusers,' she said. 'We are meant to send our children to school to learn and to be protected, but they're not being protected.'

Her family also claims two older boys flashed their private parts at Summah and a friend in the school playground last month.

The recent bullying has given Shaye Hillhouse no other choice but to try and find her youngest daughter another school before term four starts in the coming weeks.

'The teachers don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. It’s so frustrating,' she told The Gold Coast Bulletin last month.

'We had a meeting with a deputy principal, who was very good to us, and she promised there would be consequences for the offender but it’s too late. I've been to Southport police but I was told there is nothing they can do because a child under the age of 11 cannot be criminally responsible for his or her behaviour.'

A Queensland Department of Education spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia it cannot comment on individual cases for student privacy reasons. 'Bullying is not tolerated in Queensland state schools. Any situation that threatens the safety and wellbeing of students is treated extremely seriously, and dealt with as a matter of urgent priority,' the spokeswoman said in a statement.

'All Queensland state schools are committed to providing a safe, respectful and disciplined learning environment for students and staff. 'All schools have a Responsible Behaviour Plan which sets out very clear standards and expectations for all students. [Translation:  Bullsh*t]

'The school involved continues to work closely with the students and their families to address their concerns.'

Meanwhile, Summah had this message for bullies. 'I would say stop bullying somebody because that's not nice,' she said.


Does inequality matter?

This week we hosted an interesting discussion on inequality.

CIS Senior Fellow Robert Carling argued inequality is actually an integral part of a market economy, because the incentive of massive wealth drives and rewards innovation and risk taking. He noted that “if you accept that markets are the best way to organise economic activity … then you must accept some degree of inequality”.

Importantly, he raised the often ignored trade-off between equity and economic efficiency; and the fact that people mistakenly believe increasing taxes and redistributing income is essentially costless. This is not the case.

Another interesting point of view that both Melinda Cilento from CEDA and Jonathan Coppel from the Productivity Commission shared, was that the perception of inequality was also different from reality. When asked, people feel they are worse off and that the benefits of growth are only accruing to the rich.

Yet inequality in Australia has not increased substantially in recent years — in fact it may have decreased. Further, wages have increased across the spectrum in Australia.

In some ways, this is a case where Australia has imported arguments from the US and the UK assuming that they apply here. It’s also related to an increasing focus on, and anger towards, the rich.

Pointing out that the top 1% (or the top 1% of the top 1%) are doing really well and pretending that is the same as broad inequality is an effective way of stoking resentment.

It’s telling that the measures to combat inequality are largely on the revenue side. Focusing on how rich people are, rather than poverty, allows progressives to advocate for massive tax increases and more regulation on the productive sectors of the economy.

These are exactly the kind of things that will hammer economic growth, which — as Carling noted — may harm the disadvantaged more than the redistribution helps them. Tax increases on the rich are perennially popular, but they will not lead to greater prosperity

One big lesson to be drawn from the populist revolt that put Trump in the White House is that people don’t want more redistribution, they want more opportunities. Many in the working class are rejecting the perennial solution of the left (more money and fewer obligations) in favour of the opposite: re-establishing what they believe is the broken link between work and success.


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

Dividends by the Numbers for April 2018

April 2018 saw the return of more normal dividend numbers where the quantity of U.S. firms increasing or decreasing their dividends was concerned, where Standard & Poor's topline numbers for the entire U.S. stock market had 189 firms announce that they were increasing their dividends and just 20 firms declare that they would either reduce their dividends or omit paying them during the month - far below the 101 firms that either cut or omitted paying their dividends as Standard and Poor reported for March 2018.

Number of Public U.S. Companies Increasing or Decreasing Dividends in Each Month from 
January 2004 through April 2018

It's a better picture than March 2018 was, so let's get to the metadata for dividends in April 2018!

  • There were 3,388 U.S. firms that issued some kind of declaration regarding their dividends in April 2018, which is down from the previous month's 4,392. It is also down year-over-year from April 2017's 4,017.
  • In March 2018, there were 34 U.S. firms that announced that they would pay an extra, or special, dividend. That figure is down from the 36 firms that paid special dividends in March 2018, but up from the 27 that paid out an extra dividend in April 2017.
  • We already touched on this number, but there were 189 U.S. companies that announced that they would increase their dividends in April 2018. This figure is up from the 167 dividend hikes in March 2018, and is also up significantly from the 152 firms that boosted their dividends back in April 2017.
  • There were only 16 dividend cuts declared in April 2018, down dramatcially from the 92 dividend cuts that S&P reported for March 2018. Compared to April 2017 however, this number is a small increase over the 14 dividend cut announcements that were recorded in the same month a year ago.
  • Finally, there were 4 U.S. firm omitted paying dividends in April 2018, which is down from the 9 that omitted paying dividends in March 2018, but also up from the 2 that omitted paying dividends in the same month a year earlier.

The next chart focuses more closely on the monthly data for dividend cuts, where we confirm that the number of decreases plunged from March 2018's near-record monthly total.

Number of Public U.S. Companies Decreasing Dividends in Each Month from 
January 2004 through April 2018

Here's the full sample of 12 of the 16 dividend cutting firms from April 2018 that were identified as such by our near real-time sources for dividend declarations:

We find that the list of dividend cutting firms for April 2018 is predominantly made up of firms from the oil and gas industry, the financial sector and also a handful of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Among the oil and gas industry firms, we note a high number of Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs), which were recently negatively impacted by a change in U.S. tax regulations, which would prompt many to cut their dividends. Otherwise, much of what we see is the result of the typical month-to-month noise in the oil trusts that pay out monthly dividend distributions.

For the finance and REIT sector, we recognize that a lot of these firms are sensitive to interest rate changes, where the Federal Reserve's recent series of rate hikes is negatively impacting their ability to continue paying dividends at their previous levels.

There's also a single firm from the food industry, Paradise (OTC: PARF), which is perhaps best known as a candied fruit maker (the kind that is baked into fruitcakes), but which also manufactures molded plastic containers. We don't view this particular dividend cut as indicating any kind of trend for the fruitcake industrial complex.

Data Sources

Standard and Poor. S&P Market Attributes Web File. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 1 May 2018.

Seeking Alpha Market Currents. Filtered for Dividends. [Online Database]. Accessed 1 May 2018.

Wall Street Journal. Dividend Declarations. [Online Database]. Accessed Accessed 1 May 2018.

Let the Brexiteers in

The Sunday Times runs a piece today about the frustration of hard-Brexit minded Tory MPs, and their desire for a "dream team" of Johnson, Gove and - of course - Rees-Mogg, to come in and run things.Remain minded Tories should probably consider the same...

17/10/17: Welcome to the Keynesian Monetarist Paradise

Via IMF, a chart plotting changes in sovereign debt holdings across Government, International & Central Bank agencies (so-called G-4 Official) and private debt holders:Note:These are changes in the stock of debt, not the actual stock...