More Great Liberal Ideas From North-West Tasmania

brett whiteley community cuppa

If one of your state's major political parties is run with an iron first by Erich Abetz there's a pretty good chance state representatives of that party will be arch-conservatives. On a good day, about 70 mad men ensure Abetz will hold first spot on Tasmania's senate ticket. Abetz and state Liberal director Sam McQuestin ensure who those mad men are. The Tasmanian Liberal circle of life. The puppeteer's strings ensure that circle of life devolves on a steady diet of obsessing over gays, druggies, the unemployed, anyone not wearing R.M. Williams, while looking to shovel money towards and approve any half-witted, tinpot resource extraction idea. Disagree on the blinkered ideals and you'll be labeled a 'greenie'. The now official Tasmanian pejorative term for anyone with an opinion differing from Erich Abetz.

Bringing us to Braddon Liberal MP, Brett Whiteley. If you're one of the four regular readers, you'd recall Brett's featured here more than once. Feel free to get some Streisand backing tunes playing before you read on and recall Brett's finer political moments. For the rest of you, read on in silence as you take this gent's views in.
Playing on the lie that jobs exist and the unemployed are little more than children who need a paddling, allows him to puff his chest out and offer the following:

“It is my very strong view that some of our young people just need an extra prod,” Whiteley tells me. “They need that prod and that is for us to say, ‘Some of the options have been taken away and here are the options that are left if you want the government to provide regular payments’.” He likens the policy to controlled ­crying with young children. “Some people will cry a little longer than others but it is for their own good in the long run.”
And if you can't get your workers cheap enough.
WORK for the Dole should be opened up to small business, Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley believes.  The Abbott government program is currently available to not-for-profits, community groups, councils and so on. Mr Whiteley has been arguing within the government to make small businesses eligible to provide placements, and said he would continue to do so.    
Meanwhile, Whiteley enthusiastically cheers growth in the the labour pool from outside Australia, at the same time he fights for small businesses to use workers in a work for the dole program.  

A PROPOSAL for 457 visas to be streamlined has been welcomed by Fruit Growers Tasmania and Braddon MHR Brett Whiteley..... 

Mr Whiteley said the proposed changes would not have a huge impact on Tasmania. ‘‘In Tasmania we don’t see many huge projects that could have huge impacts on the economy but wither on the vine due to a shortage of skilled workers,’’
 And finally there's the really important thing to remember.
Brett Whiteley. Whiteley, who looks like your standard Liberal politician from central casting, a glazed ham dressed in a suit,
With that cornucopia of brilliant thought and public policy, you know I'm about to introduce some more fine thinking from Brett.
LONG-term dole recipients should be randomly drug tested and have their payments suspended if they are “off their heads”, Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley says. “One just needs to walk through the centre of our larger towns to see that there is a significant problem,” Mr Whiteley said. He has been pushing his idea within the party and has raised it directly with Treasurer Scott Morrison.
That's representation for North-West Tasmania. Get an audience with the treasurer and focus on populist nonsense. One would assume Scott Morrison would be face palming the minute Whiteley left his office. And where did this light bulb come from? Well it's not the first time Whiteley's raised it, but he has refined it to random testing, given the last reaction was wholly negative from the Facebook set, pointing out the enormous costs to drug test every dole recipient. So where was the concept refined before being presented to the treasurer?
Asked if he was pushing a populist issue because the election was close, Mr Whiteley said he was  pushing for the policy after people who attended  the latest round of his Community Cuppa events raised  concerns “ taxpayers’ generosity is being abused by some in the community”.
What's a Community Cuppa? Well that's where Brett goes to a local bowls club or RSL and sits listening to a bunch of pensioners (non drug tested pogey recipients) as they gripe about gay marriage, halal, druggies, the unemployed and potholes on local council roads. And the local newspaper, never one to exploit division, gave the idea just the right amount of deference - on the front page.

the advocate drugs front page tasmania

The questions to be raised are endless, but I'll leave it at one. We're pushing for policy based on someone seeing some unruly types apparently staggering around the streets during the day? What's with the implicit implication they're unemployed? No employed person ever uses drugs or alcohol on their days off? Which could be any time, given modern work schedules.

However, let's stick to the narrative. The blue rinse set has seen their tax dollars snorted, injected and smoked away by the unemployed. The best assumption we can make here is those doing it are young, so we've got another young verses old battle in the electorate with the highest rate (last time I checked) of youth unemployment in the country, the lowest educational achievements and is classified as having a high level of socio-economic disadvantage according to the ABS.

You'd think addressing youth disadvantage would be some sort of priority, but as noted by Whiteley's previous ideas on restricting the dole for unemployed young people, that's really not on the agenda... He likens the policy to controlled ­crying with young children. “Some people will cry a little longer than others but it is for their own good in the long run.” 

Although sometimes we find out the local unemployed aren't little kids with the toys out of the cot. They're screwed around by large companies who appear to have a preference for foreign workers.
Imagine this situation. You're desperate for work and you're continually told there's opportunities available at a company. You apply multiple times and never hear a thing. At the same time that company continues to parade around in the local media claiming it can't get local workers - yet you're a local worker! What kind of BS game is being played here? And to rub salt in the wounds, that company has been gifted a million bucks of taxpayer money in the last year.
What of Abetz and Whiteley? The employment minister and Tasmanian senator was not seen or heard from during this clusterfuck. This, despite being the advocate of getting the unemployed into the fruit and vegetable fields. Whiteley stepped up to the plate and while happy to tar the unemployed at the drop of a hat, he was more conciliatory towards Costa's bullshit.
Federal MP for Braddon Brett Whiteley said he had raised the concerns of his constituents with the company. "I've spoken to Costa again today about that and we've spoken about whether or not there are any blips in their system and I think if there are they have a responsibility to fix those," he said.
Meanwhile, when not demeaning the unemployed and getting his photo taken handing out money to companies who could easily improve and build their own facilities, Whiteley is running around doing money drops and photo ops at local bowls clubs and RSLs, just the place where most disenfranchised youth hang out.

What he hasn't done is explain to his electorate (just to highlight again, one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the country with the highest rate of youth unemployment) why their major population areas will be left without FTTP NBN despite being on a rollout map with commitments that the Liberals said they'd honour when they came to power.

Whiteley's stance on the NBN after coming to power
Mr Whiteley said the review would have no bearing on the Tasmanian rollout. "The review was about laying out the facts for all to see," he said. "Under the previous Labor Government the NBN was a fact-free zone, and now we know why. We committed to honouring existing contracts during the campaign and that is happening right now. "Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false."
These days FTTP is the "rolled gold Lamborghini version" and local Mayors campaigning for that option are chastised.Yet as the Mayors point out, it's likely going to be an economic good for an area that's been in the dumps for a long time.
“Mayors are not talking down their cities, they are advocating for equity, looking to the future and talking up the important role access to fibre to the premises will play in the North-West's economy.” And 'It took 75 years for 500 million people to receive the telephone, but 35 days for an app to reach 500 million people. What will happen in the next ten years if we don’t have that capacity and resource to all Tasmanians?’’ Alderman Martin said.
In Whiteley's world you'll undermine your town, city or region with that kind of talk.
“Now they’d be doing better talking up their cities instead of talking them down. “It’s very, very unhelpful for local mayors to be suggesting to people reading about our beautiful state that you wouldn’t want to come to the North-West because you can’t get NBN to the premises.”
Yet it's more likely you'll undermine it with garbage digital infrastructure. Paradoxically, Brett's saying we need to attract younger people to the region, presumably we hide the lack of FTTP before their arrival.
Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley said the decline was a concern, ‘’but it is as much about the age demographic as it is about the number of people’’. ‘’We need to ensure that we’re attracting younger workers to the region.‘’There is a long-term strategy in place to increase Tasmania’s population as developed by the Hodgman government and supported by me.
This farce has played out because it's not really about the local community, well not all of it. There's a big dip in demographics between 20-34 in Braddon. The important parts are at the bowls clubs and the RSLs. A lot of the youth take the hint and piss off, while the blue rinse set don't care about yesterday's internet tomorrow because they'll be in the ground by then. The youth unemployment figures should be an embarrassment for a local member, but you rarely if ever hear about them. Pandering to the bigger demographics on ridiculous social issues and tossing around money to pensioner recreations is the game because it's a marginal seat.

How are we going to fix economic disadvantage, youth unemployment, the scourge of drugs and attract younger people to the region?

You can be sure the pensioners Brett's sharing an Iced VoVo with at his next Community Cuppa will have all the solutions.

Good Guys In Real Estate?

cop trying not to look at boobies

What does it take for the real estate industry to tone it down, accept reality and start reflecting that back to the public? About six years of zero or negative growth, it seems.

For several years this place sought to highlight the ongoing up is down and down is up speak of Tasmanian real estate agents. The biggest skirmish of that multi-year quagmire was against the former Prez of the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania, Adrian Kelly. According to Ado, house prices were always about to head north - they went south. "Recent weeks" was a common ruse. Activity always picked up in recent weeks, when there was no way to quantify those recent weeks. As always Ado's own data eventually ate his lunch when released, showing activity was down.

The reign of Ado came to an end late last year, ironically just as activity was truthfully picking up. A new Prez was inaugurated, Tony Collidge, and lips were pursed as Tasmanians waited for the next real estate pumper in chief to speak. Then this happened:
Real Estate Institute of Tasmania president Tony Collidge said with any property report, people should be wary of the statistics. Mr Collidge said the ­interpretation of the numbers was a potential problem that could mislead home owners and buyers. 
An aberration. Misquoted? Well Collidge was at it again just after the Chinese President flew in and out of the state. This was the time when all real estate agents should be uniting together. Whipping up a frenzy in the local media about potential booms as the spendthrift China man floods the state and pushes the median price over $1 million from $300k. What did Collidge splurt out to the local media?
Real Estate Institute of Tasmania president Tony Collidge said the industry welcomed foreign investment in Tasmania. However, he said, it was important to remember foreign nationals who lived overseas were restricted by the Foreign Investment Review Board to buying only newly built or off-the-plan residential properties or vacant land.
Yeah. Despite The Mercury attempting to talk about the China buying real estate in Tasmania story, this guy actually dealt in fact. Can he be cloned and put in charge of every REI branch across Australia? Rumblings of a revolution must be gripping REIT members. Imagine the reaction when news gets out this site is in his corner - guillotines will be sharpened or 457 visas will be organised to fly in Saudi executioners. Though Collidge isn't alone in his "truthiness".

When RP Data dropped a recent report highlighting the amount of losing real estate sales around the country, Tasmania made a significant appearance. No surprise to anyone who'd read this analysis of Launceston's market sales. Launceston agent, Col Edwards confirmed the worst. Humanizing the story, Col admitted his own purchase wouldn't get back the bucks he paid.
LJ Hooker Launceston boss Col Edwards said if he sold his house in the upmarket Launceston suburb of Riverside, he would be lucky to get $570,000 after purchasing it in 2008 for $628,000.
Despite recent data showing an upswing in sales and prices, those prices are still often below where they were when this century was still in primary school. This 3x1 up in the north of the state in Burnie has been hanging around the market for half a year now. Discounts have taken it down to $250k.

The real bummer? The owners paid 260k in 2007. And on a brief inspection it seems they've also renovated the place - moar cash down the toilet. If you like space, you might like this 14 year old 3x2 in Hobart's Lenah Valley. Close to the city and asking offers between $450k-500k.

The last sale was in 2009 for $480k.

Any recovery is patchy at best. The real test for these newly plain speaking real estate dudes is ahead though. Recent ABS stats have shown first home buyers have taken a header after the 7k government buyers grant was pulled in July. No one knows how reliable these stats are. Now there's no grant to be claimed, is this buyer data actually recorded? More confusion is the answer, but the drop is the opening for real estate agents to begin singing for their supper again.

If not, they can always follow this guy's China spruking lead.
Simon Henry, the joint chief executive of Mandarin property portal, said Chinese buyers had gone from “oblivious to curious” about Tasmania. He said Juwai had experienced a 114 per cent rise in searches for Tasmania in the second half of last month, after Mr Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, visited on November 19.
What's 114% more than oblivious? Nice try, but it's not much.

Without A Mobile-Cell-Smart Phone

In the strict sense, I have a mobile phone. It's green - light green actually. It's a Nokia. And it was last working as an alarm clock. The piercing beeps usually interrupted my wining and dining of supermodels. Just as things were getting good. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. A reminder I was about to eat oatmeal and go to work. Not hump Kate Upton. These days that phone is stuffed in a wardrobe somewhere.

I bought that phone in the early 2000's. A Nokia 3310, I believe. It served me well, I guess, but the truth was I really had no use for it. After a few years of topping up the credit every couple of months, I finally looked at what I was using it for. The main function was sending smart arse text messages between friends and dropping it without breaking it - it was a Nokia! After realising it had no real practical purpose for me, I used up the credit and idled the phone. From there it became an alarm clock.

In hindsight, it was obvious I'd fallen into the monkey-see, monkey-do trap. My friends had mobile phones, people at work had mobile phones, everyone on the street had a mobile phone. I assumed I needed a mobile phone. I didn't and I still don't. I don't need one for work (yes, some people do and they're vital for them), I don't need one for my personal life and I don't need one for goofing off. And guess what? You have my attention when you're talking to me.

What I've found though is how horribly offensive the concept is to some people. Personally, I don't give two shits if someone has a mobile phone or not, but try not having one... "You don't have a phone... huh?" In the past I've been interrogated on it. Some of the weirdest questions I found were: what would do if I came across a road accident in an isolated area? How do I manage to keep in touch with people? How could I call for help if I was stranded or injured somewhere? What happens if someone you know has some awful event happen and you can't be contacted? Some clown on a hotel front desk even tried to tell me I needed one to sleep in a room for a night - "mate, I'm in the room you assigned me, you know how to contact me!"

Shameful as it is, I don't spend much of my time prepping as an ad-hoc first response team for road accidents, nor pondering such what-ifs of me finding someone's head smeared across tarmac. Nor do I have many troubles keeping in touch with people. Many of the places I'm most likely to end up stranded or injured don't have mobile phone coverage. And if someone I know has a trauma, I'm not sure I'd be much use, not being a qualified trauma surgeon.

Do people actually spend their waking moments justifying their mobile phones by the doom and death scenarios they conceive in their heads? Without winding people up, the best response I can muster to any of this is, "I dunno, what did people do before mobile phones?"

I didn't realise the emotiveness of the subject until I searched similar articles online. Being without a mobile phone makes you the target of some great Luddite false equivalence - "well no mobile phone dude, you smug arsehat, you should also divest yourself of lights, toilets, the internets and battery powered vibrators, since you hate modern convenience so much." Yeah I don't have a thermomix either and don't see them as necessary, so I'll dump all cooking appliances and utensils too.  

Thankfully, not being a parent I also don't get reamed on the "how do you keep in touch with little Hamish or little Maddy?" But I'd like to think I wouldn't be such a serf to moral panic that I'd need to equip myself and my imaginary kids with phones to track their whereabouts. Hate to disappoint the parents out there who swallow Murdoch tabloids every morning, but there's not a pedo behind every letterbox. My Mum and Dad let me walk to school. I didn't need a walkie talkie to check in with home base upon arrival at school.

I don't know if this is a great money saver because I don't know how much phones and their charges are. It has probably been a decade since the old Nokia was still receiving reception. So I also skipped the whole smart phone revolution, which I assume had some cost increase. Whatever the monthly or yearly cost, I'm not incurring any of it. I do have a home line, but in my defense it's unavoidable. It comes with my internet package. I don't have access to naked DSL. How many phone calls did I make on my last bill? Zero.

Compared to some acquaintances, I've found it a great brain saver. I'm not endlessly checking messages, emails, news, sport scores, facebook, twitter, whatever your poison. I'm not that dude lighting up the cinema every 10 minutes. And I'm not interrupted and distracted. There's nothing that can't wait. There's no news that's really that interesting that I need to be on it because one's hunting me to negotiate a hostage siege anytime soon. And if people are chasing me, well I'll get back to them sooner or later.

There's also that added bonus, if you're conspiratorially minded, that no one is tracking your whereabouts.

Back off Obama, I know you're watching.

The Australian's Dopey Stock Picks For 2014

picking the nose

2014 was another great year for Rupert Murdoch's flagship loss maker, The Australian. It hunted its enemies to the ends of the earth, published pictures of their children, sent airheads to sit in on journalism lectures to root out bias, quoted its own editor at least once a week and hectored universities about their investment decisions. 
Tony Abbott was stating the obvious when he said institutions should be free to make their own investment choices. “But when they make stupid decisions we should be free to criticise them,” the Prime Minister said, referring to the decision by the Australian National University council to begin divestment in seven resources companies on environmental grounds. Mr Abbott is right to chastise the university for its poor judgment, but we would add rank hypocrisy, intellectual weakness, short-sightedness, gesture politicking and dopey stock picking to the mix.

For the average person with an appreciation of the nation’s economic development and importance of energy security, this move by the ANU is plain dumb. 
As an average person, I thought Australia not meeting its IEA oil and fuel holding requirements, having no public oil and fuel reserves and shutting down refineries was a bigger threat to energy security than ANU's dropping $16 million in energy and resource stocks, but as you can see The Australian is stuck on that left/right cheap point scoring thing.

However, if I was an honest man writing for The Australian, my first question would have been "why is ANU even picking stocks in the first place? History shows they likely won't beat the market and can't diversify adequately to minimize risk and volatility. We at The Australian know how hard it is, we've tried and failed ourselves!"

Yep, as I showed last year, The Australian isn't the best stock picker getting about, given their list of picks for 2013...
Between the 66 "top picks" there were 31 winners and 35 losers. The average gain on the winners was 30% and the average loss on the losers was -43%. The average return from all picks combined was negative 8.86%. As you can see from most of the winners, they were dead obvious picks in a rising tide market. And with the ASX up nearly 15% for the year, underperforming the market by 23% deserves special recognition.
Dopey stock picking, maybe? Well The Australian still fancies itself as a player because they're out with another list of its best picks for 2015. Although they make no mention of how their 2014 list of picks played out for readers. Luckily there's pedants like me to collate the results...

1. Moko Social Media (MKB) down 45%
2. MGM Wireless (MWR) down 20.9%

3. Qantas (QAN) up 119%
4. Beadell Resources (BDR) down 71.5%
5. Guildford Coal (GUF) down 56.6%

6. Corporate Travel Management (CTD) up 76.9%
7. OzForex (OFX)  down 1.7%
8. Rubik Financial (RFL) down 31.5%
9. Countplus (CUP) down 40.1%
10. Analytica (ALT) up 3.8%

11. Aristocrat Leisure (ALL)  up 39.8%
12. Ainsworth Game Technology (AGI) down 46.2%

13. Northern Star Resources (NST) up 89.8%
14. Troy Resources (TRY) down 41.4%
15. Doray Minerals (DRM) down 14.2%

16. OZ Minerals (OZL) up 10.4%

17. Orocobre (ORE)  up 11.6%

As oil production peaks, investment in the sector makes sense. First, the specs.
18. Galilee Energy (GLL) 0%
19. Buru Energy (BRU)  down 75.1%
20. Fitzroy River Corp (FZR) down 44.3%
21. Kina Petroleum (KPL) down 25%
22. Sundance Energy Australia (SEA) down 47.2%
23. Otto Energy (OEL) down 4%
24. Tangiers Petroleum (TPT) down 95.7%

25. Woodside Petroleum (WPL) down 2.28%
26. Horizon Oil (HZN) down 47.5%
27. AWE (AWE) down 3.7%

28. Fletcher Building (FBU)  up 2.45%
29. Peet (PPC) down 21.8%
30. Adelaide Brighton (ABC) down 2.05%

31. Kimberley Diamonds (KDL) down 87.3%

32. BHP (BHP) down 22.7%
33. Rio Tinto (RIO) down 14.9%
34. Aurizon Holdings (AZJ) down 5.3%

35. Super Retail Group (SUL) down 46.2%
36. RCG Corporation (RCG) down 10.7%
37. Myer Holdings (MYR) down 49%

38. Bradken (BKN) down 21.5%
39. Mermaid Marine (MRM) down 61.9%
40. Cardno (CDD) down 50.4%
41. Energy Action (EAX) down 27.2%

42. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) down 52.9%
43. Silex Systems (SLX) down 77.8%

44. Equity Trustees (EQT)  up 7.93%
45. TFS Corporation (TFC) up 53.2%
46. McMillan Shakespeare (MMS) down 10.9%
47. Money3 Corp. (MNY) up 67.7%
48. Slater & Gordon (SGH) up 32.2%
49. Tox Free Solutions (TOX) down 31.8%
50. Nearmap (NEA) up 22%
51. Quickstep Holdings (QHL) down 2.27%

52. UXC Limited (UXC) down 26%

53. Telstra (TLS) up 13.7%
54. Amcom Telecommunications (AMM) up 34.4%
55. TPG Telecom (TPM) up 26.8%

56. CSL (CSL) up 25.7%
57. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (FPH) up 65.8%
58. NIB Holdings (NHF) up 18.5%
59. Ramsay Health Care (RHC) up 32%
60. Sirtex Medical (SRX) up 141%
61. Regeneus (RGS)  down 65.2%
62. Mayne Pharma (MYX) down 12.1%
63. Mesoblast (MSB) down 24.9%

64. Commonwealth Bank (CBA) up 10.08%
65. ANZ Bank (ANZ)  down 0.43%

If you didn't keep a running tally, I did. There were 22 winners, 42 losers and 1 company that didn't change price. From the 22 winners there was an average return of 41.12%, from the 42 losers there was an average loss of 34.26%. The average return from all picks was a negative 8.21%. The ASX All Ords was up 0.65% for the year. So they underperformed the market by 8.86% and made it consecutive annual 8%+ losses. A feat only rivaled by idiot brother in-laws and obnoxious hot tip guys who you avoid at BBQs.

For the uninitiated, like last year, this is a lesson. Media tip sheets are a waste of time. The ASX threw off a good return in 2013 and The Australian's tips sucked. The ASX barely broke even in 2014 and The Australian's tips sucked. Again, I'm still undecided on what provides less value for money - an online subscription to The Australian or following their share tips?

I won't get into the politicking, but it is a good giggle that The Australian can't make a buck from selling newspapers, nor can they make you a buck from their investment insights, yet they're willing to bluster about other institution's investment decisions. 

Dopey stock picking. You betcha!

Least Read Posts of 2014

This site's been in operation over 12 months now. In that time I've posted some interesting stuff and some crap. What people find interesting is obvious because it's over on that right sidebar. To get more traffic it seems I need to write about investment foibles, Costco and Andrew Bolt. Investment foibles seem to do pretty well, so maybe more of those in the coming year.

What people don't find interesting doesn't show up on a sidebar. They sink without a trace and sometimes with good reason. So instead of recapping my best of 2014, which as I mentioned are visible to the right, here's what really blew, didn't take off, or was posted just as my domain registrant pooped its pants and killed off any chance of greatness.

In no particular order:

Children As Consumers - They're Watching You: Given the readership here is more likely reprobates than parents and I'm not a parent, but a reprobate, it's not a shock that me offering up ways to raise kids didn't hit it out of the park. And you can't deny kiddies things these days so ideas on curbing their excesses probably wasn't going to fly. They must be happy, catered to and fulfilled at all times. Leave the reality of life to later when they're adults. Then they're better able to deal with a massive rush of disappointment, rejection and failure. All those things they never experienced as a child hitting them at once - won't that be a comforting sensation! Onwards to Xanax!

Takeaway Coffee - Try Making Your Own: A pretty basic riff on the old personal finance standard - all those takeaway coffees are sending you to the poor house! They surely do add up, you know, 4 bucks a day times 5 times a week times 52 weeks a year times 10 years, well that's like 8 grand or something. It's not exactly retirement money, but another 8 grand is always handy to have. There was nothing here you couldn't have read elsewhere, but to get my accreditation with the personal finance blowhard blogger association I had to cover this topic.

Are Lone Wolf Terrorists Really Terrifying? It does say "free your money. free your mind" so I occasionally wander into other areas of mind freeing business. Here, as far as I can remember, I said something about the current media boogeyman "the lone wolf terrorist" being less likely to appear than the average school shooter or spree killer. But those random nutters don't have any affiliation with any group, making it harder for the media to jazz up an overarching theme that they can continue to scare you with. Likewise, the government, who probably have me, and the people who read this post, on a watch list now, can use the terror angle to siphon away more of your freedoms. Why didn't people read? Much better analysis at the Daily Telegraph.

Michael Pascoe & The Doomers: Pascoe decides to go to town on forecasters of the doomish variety, so we take a journey back through some of his "she'll be right" calls during the financial crisis. Despite the financial world nearly ending, Pascoe first told us it didn't exist, couldn't possibly get any worse and when it did happen, tried to pretend it was a flesh wound. Clearly no one cares enough about Pascoe to enjoy his comeuppance, but in the process of researching this one I came across some other interesting stuff by Pascoe where he was almost a hero. Maybe next year.

4 Reasons To Live With Your Parents: My only disappointment. Just as I'd written this one and it was starting to gain some traffic, my domain went down for a day. The places it had been linked were dynamic and the dead site meant the links quickly fell down pages and lost currency. I promptly sulked for a few weeks and was too lazy to even tweet it again. Damn you 1&1!!!! A lesson in how quickly your traffic drops off and stays away if your website goes down.

I'll see you in 2015!

Mowing Your Lawn With A Knife

moving lawn with machete

Every second Monday I used to hear a lawn mower fire up. I'd look out my apartment window and down below was Jim from Jim's Mowing. In what must have been one of the easiest jobs he ever had, he was pushing his mower over a 30 foot length by 3 foot width strip of grass. And I'm being loose with the term "grass". It was mostly dandelions, weeds and other unattractive ground coverings that rarely ever constituted significant plant volume. In the winter they stayed flat and in the summer they went yellow as the lower ranges died off and the dandelions shot upwards.

I dunno how much Jim got paid, but I marveled that someone paid him to do this. There were a few bushes behind the building that had the occasional trim, but his main gig was showing up and doing this for about 30 minutes (it was 5 minutes work, but he probably charged at least $30) before loading his trailer back up and buzzing off.

Two people who owned apartments lived in the building. They were also on the body corporate, so they, I assume, authorized Jim to come and do what they could have done once a month with a sharp box cutter or a knife. Had they also visited a local hardware store they could have bought a $25 pair of telescopic shears and saved the few hours, every six months, he spent trimming bushes around the back of the building. The cuttings could have easily gone in the trash the next week.

In short, Jim really didn't need to be there, but someone was lazy enough to pay him for his time. This wasn't a backyard. It was a small nature strip of weeds that needed the tops knocked off them every month. 30 minutes and a box cutter would have done the job. Yet someone assumed it had to be cut with a lawnmower.

When I moved to a house with a yard, I was faced with a similar dilemma. It was summer and within a few weeks of being there, the lawn had died off (like everyone else in the street who didn't water their lawns) but the dandelions were shooting higher by the day.

The options stood like this:

A. Take up the generous offer from the real estate agency - $30 per week for yard maintenance. Which was about 14% of the cost of the weekly rent at the time.

B. Borrow my parent's lawn mower. A lower cost option which would involve the benevolent action of keeping their jerry can full.  

C. Improvise.

I took option C. I riffled through the drawers in the house and came up with a box cutter. Maybe a machete would have been nice, but I didn't have one. Slapped on some sun screen, a hat and some old clothes and spent a couple of hours crawling around the backyard.

Luckily the yard wasn't huge and as stupid as option C seemed, it was actually enjoyable. There was something childlike about scrambling around the back yard on your knees. And I had nothing better to do that day. The cricket was on the radio and I was feeling adventurous. There's no "how to" manual for cutting your lawn with a knife, just swish the knife back and forward in front of you and you'll inevitably lower the level of the grass (or mostly weeds) that are there.

I took this option as it was more weeds than grass I was dealing with. It would have taken a lot more time and effort to cut through actual grass with a box cutter. If it was grass, I would need that machete. Mrs Idiot thought it was mildly funny, but she's rarely surprised with anything off-centre I do these days. The front lawn was even easier. One section is mostly bushes and the rest is exposed to more sunlight and has less shade, it was even more baren and weedy. Meaning it was about 20 minutes of knocking the heads off dandelions.

After I finished, I quickly raked up the slashing, stood back and took a look. It looked like any other lawn that had just been cut. It wasn't the most efficient way of doing things, but no one is paying me for my time on a Saturday, so who cares? I'm sure the neighbours thought it was weird, but I don't pump music all night, so I'm sure they're cool with my presence.

When it comes to winter, where the grass greens up and growth slows, I borrow my parent's lawn mower and take the benevolent action of filling their jerry can with fuel. To some it may seem a leech way of doing things, but why duplicate when you can borrow? I cover some of their fuel costs, while they lend me their machinery. When summer rolls around again, I pull out the box cutter as the lawn dies off and slash the dandelions down to size.  

The yard I'm dealing with would still be significantly bigger than most in any capital city. As an example, my brother has 1/4 of the lawn to deal with, but his whole street either hires someone or uses a lawn mower, including him. A communal lawn mower would make more sense. So if you're living in a house or unit with a small postage stamp sized piece of lawn, you can easily take the cock-eyed route of a $2 box cutter and some physical exertion. Or you can pay Jim $30 and spend another $15 going to the gym. Jim and gym make out like bandits and you're out $45.

Everything has a weird secondary option. And as the picture above shows. It ain't so weird in other parts of the world.

4 Reasons to Live With Your Parents

george costanza living with his parents

It's December and I've put 12 months behind me without breaking. I can finally let go and write a list post. I'm going to embrace the lamest of lame, but chill out. It won't be full of big ideas like, 1. pay yourself first and 2. avoid debt. I'll shoot for something mildly original. So, with the economy crumbling and recession creeping in, do you still want to be a really the independent man or woman that the mainstream finance experts, vanilla bloggers, the government, media and retailers are baiting you to be?

Should you really bother learning lessons out in the big world at your own expense, when there's a winter ahead you need to be squirreling away nuts for? Especially when there's a perfectly good bedroom, basement, or garden shed back at your parents you can inhabit for next to nothing? I've never understood why living with your parents gets such a bad rap. Well I do, more government and media programming is the reason. Anyway, no shame in admitting I did it for a while and I saved money, while also contributing around the house. No point being a blood sucking a-hole.

So here are your reasons:

1. Masturbation is self-improvement: Can't bring the babes home because your mattress squeaks every time you get a heavy duty stroke happening? Well kick back for a night on redtube or tube8. Well, wait until the olds go to bed first, you're guaranteed no interruptions then. And in this situation, that's what you need. Some quiet time.

Think about it. Spend a few good years bashing your meat trumpet while fixated on some anatomically out there babes and you'll recondition your expectations, rewire your neural pathways and basically jettison any need for actual female physical interaction. Getting laid will literally be a letdown compared what you, your hand, and a computer screen can achieve.

After you reach this point of no return, your need to spend money on impressing the ladies will drop off to zero. Admittedly, they probably wiped you from contention based on the fact that you live with your parents, but at least you've now regained some sense of control in the matter.

Ladies, I'm not sure how to sell this one, but I imagine it's similar - you know you better than anyone else. So think of all that inept foreplay, merciless porno inspired pounding and inevitable disappointment at the miss of the orgasm. All this, you can erase. And for both genders, take a ten year view of eliminating relationships. Imagine the torture your psyche won't need to endure down the track. Guys, as you aren't dragged through home wares stores looking for tiki torches. And girls, watching him slowly merge with the beanbag as he plays Call of Duty and ignores you.

2. Piss off Uncle Steve: You know the one. The expert on everything. Bought a couple of investment properties before the boom and now talks about the virtues of hard work to get ahead. The hard work of putting new sinks in the kitchens and a coat of paint certainly secured his future. Not banks dropping lending standards, crazed immigration rates and restrictive zoning. It was all Uncle Steve's renos that got him a life on easy street.

He's got firm ideas on how parents should do things. Kids should be out of the house because that's what he did 40 years ago. Confirmation bias roots the world firmly back in those days for achieving similar success today. While you can bet the changes Steve chooses to acknowledge in society are a indication "the world's gone to hell!" Your mere presence in, or back in, the parental home should be enough provoke a few cheap shots at family BBQs.

Engaging with Uncle Steve is just a matter of putting aside his noxious bluster and working the old boy up. Relaying what a good life you're leading and how much you're enjoying lazing around your parents' house. It takes you back to being 10 again. Don't forget to remind him it also allowed you to scale back your work hours and pay less tax. Now you don't have to pay for his health care card and the bit of pension he found out he could get by reading Noel Whittaker.
Dear Noel, we have 8 million in term deposits, 40 investment properties and 3 million in superannuation. We're both nearly 65 and wondering how we can structure our assets to get a government pension? P.S. is there any other government money or benefits we can get our hands on?
Thankfully, I don't have an Uncle Steve, but I've met one too many of him.

3. Take a dump on household formation: Put aside the BS. The independence you're being sold is really you duplicating all the household crap that your parents already bought. More beds, couches, drawers, kitchen utensils, fridges, washing machines, sheets, towels and all the duplicated running costs. Consider if these actions of duplication are really meant to be a permanent fixture in a finite world? Let's pretend they are so you can be goaded out of the basement by media shills. Forget them, there's plenty of room for beer in your parent's fridge.

If you didn't waste your time working to buy all this extra stuff, you could spend more hours lounging in your underwear, surfing conspiracy blogs, pondering this issue and ranting about overthrowing the government. By the way, if the opportunity does arise to hit the streets in protest, but it's sparked by oppression of another race, make sure you stay inside and wig out online about this group, instead of showing solidarity against your mutual oppressors. It's important to be smart enough to understand divide and conquer when it comes to the left/right paradigm, but also racist enough to ignore it when a dark guy is getting billy-clubbed by the police state. 

When the stay at home revolution takes hold and the economic numbers drop off, you can also bait your favourite "always positive" bank economist on twitter as he struggles to make sense of the changing stats. Repeat this process for demographers who are always trying to get media airtime to raise their profile for speaking gigs. If this scenario takes off, remember to grow a vegetable garden in your parents' backyard. Now you're actually screwing with the economy, all those noted media economists will try and get pay back. Watch them try and inflate your savings away by endlessly advocating monetary stimulus until you start contributing again.

4. There's not a four: If those first three reasons aren't enough to motivate you to get back in the parental nest, then you don't deserve a forth. Don't like my ideas? Go and get your advice from a personal finance expert who has a TV contract. They'll give it to you straight.