#ethics

The realities of crowdfunding & the evils of social media

No doubt many of you will have seen the viral video posted by the mother of Quaden Bayles, a child with dwarfism who was allegedly bullied at school.

Famous actors, sports stars and media personalities rallied in support of the disabled kid. If only the same could be said of over 90% of the 256,700 people that shared his GoFundMe page instead of contributing themselves. That’s right, in today’s virtue signalling world, appealing that you care about social justice is enough.

Although the ugly side of social media is never far away. It didn’t take long for trolls seeking to demonize anyone by dredging up the past and drawing conclusions in haste. Digital footprints have a half-life of infinity.

Some suggested that his mother was abusing his skills as an actor, influencer and model to make some extra money by boosting his profile. If this was a stunt, which we sincerely hope it wasn’t, that would be an even more despicable act at the hands of those who should be protecting his best interests.

img_5096-1

Ultimately, 9-yo Quaden Bayles should simply not be in the firing line. Sadly he will be collateral damage as a growing number have taken upon themselves to savage him and his mother. That is not to condone any alleged deceptive behaviour but it throws up the growing dangers of social media. An exponential number of people seem so desperate to have their profiles go viral that they are resorting to ever more extreme actions to achieve it.

The GoFundMe account to support Quaden has amassed c.US$455,000 from 20,100 people for him and his mother to go to Disneyland. As doubt to the authenticity of the bullying claim does the rounds in cyberspace, the mother is being attacked for using his disability to raise some quick cash via GoFundMe. The facts don’t show that.

First, she didn’t ask to set up the GoFundMe account. Comedian Brad Williams did. Second, the organiser clearly stated that “after all the flights, hotel, tickets, and food is paid for, any excess money will be donated to anti-bullying/anti-abuse charities.

We won’t bother to make some sort of woke comment to condemn bullying of any sort because that should be the default setting for anyone with at least two brain cells. There are no points for publicly broadcasting one is against attacking a child with a disability. Or without one for that matter.

Still in this day and age, we should never underestimate the actions of some who gladly look to hijack a “trending” cause for their own social media exposure.

Hollywood is a great example. How so many actors and actresses came out and rallied behind the #MeToo movement despite Harvey Weinstein being the worst kept secret in movies. Celebrities rushed to condemn his actions on Twitter despite wearing black ball gowns with the surface area of three postage stamps held together with dental floss to protest sexual assault. That’s right, when it comes to career progression and fame, expedience by remaining silent trumped principle.

If people wish to part with their money on GoFundMe we think they bear all the personal responsibility of doing so. At the very least, GoFundMe should consider a 7-day cooling-off period where the money is held in trust such that the impulsive have an avenue to reverse a decision if any misrepresentation which changes their decision crops up. The cross-jurisdictional nightmare of charging a fundraiser for potential fraud makes it too complex, much less for the generally small average size of individual donations.

Today, social media is judge and jury. People are smeared before getting a chance to prove their innocence. For all of the video footage and pictures of Quaden Bayles dressed in designer fashion several years prior to his emotional plea this week, it doesn’t automatically cancel out the chances he was bullied by his peers who probably don’t know any better. He may have given as good as he got. He is only 9-yo. It is ultimately irrelevant. We know bullying has dreadful consequences, sometimes fatal. It shouldn’t just come down to seeing a video of a disabled kid before we do something about it.

Unfortunately, the lessons about the dangers of bullying so many demand kids are taught aren’t practised by the very adults on social media who should know better.

When climate alarmists start trusting bankers

If global warming alarmists ever wanted to pick an industry as steeped in unreliable forecasts as climate scientists, one would find it hard to beat investment banking. Having been in that industry for two decades, the list of woefully misguided and poorly researched puff pieces is endless. There is a reason global banks are trading at fractions of their former peaks. They don’t add much value and most never picked the GFC of 2008. If they were smarter, greed wouldn’t require recessions.

Never mind. When JP Morgan economists are portending climate doom, why not hitch them to your global warming wagon? There is a kind of conflict of interest. Evil, greedy fat bonus paying tax avoiding corporates preaching virtue on climate.

By the way, you won’t find a research analyst who believes they don’t deserve air travel at the pointy end and luxury limousine transfers to and from the airport.

Yet they are aligned with the hypocrites at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) which told us at the 1500 private jet junket at Davos that it’s central bank members are “climate rescuers of last resort.” This despite their monetary policies having played a major part in fueling overconsumption via the debt bubble. Ultra low interest rates will ultimately have a profound effect on carbon emissions – a global economic crisis of epic proportions which won’t require one wind turbine or solar farm to achieve. They’ll save the climate by destroying the wellbeing of so many in the process.

On the one hand, JP Morgan can now claim some kudos for allowing such free thinking which isn’t at the behest of the investment banking team.

Maybe it’s worth pointing out that most banks keep meticulous (but useless) data on the readership of such reports. Much like the media chasing advertising dollars through clickbait, research analysts strive for internal point scoring to boost their year end review chances to push for bigger bonuses to their excel spreadsheet obsessed line managers who look at quantity, not quality. So if a warmest piece can create noise, irrespective of the quality of the content, then that serves a purpose for internal bosses.

Such has been the hollowing out of investment banking research teams, the last remaining life jackets are in short supply. It was only last year that Deutsche Bank closed its entire global equity platform. While regulation is part of the problem, there is simply very little value add to convince clients to pay for.

While the report supposedly chastised the bank’s lending of $75bn to the fossil fuel industry, in a world of ESG, which puts ideology ahead of risk assessment, JP Morgan can now claim it has seen the light so it can hopefully fool green tech companies in need of cash that they are worthy environmentally friendly financiers. This will also give the public relations team a welcome talking piece to the media and ESG retirement fund managers that they practice social responsibility.

Back to the report. On what pretense do the JP Morgan analysts have for the climate crisis threatening the human race? Citing the IPCC (where scientists have slammed the processes which prioritize gender and ethnicity over ability and qualification) and the IMF (which couldn’t pick economic growth it it tried) are hardly the sort of data one would gladly source as gospel to compile a report.

It seems everyone is an expert on climate change nowadays. Central banks, ASIC, APRA, RBA, the Australian Medical Association and now investment banks. As we pointed out earlier in the week, where were the scientists who made a b-line to speak at the National Climate Emergency summit in Melbourne? That’s right 2/3rds were activists, lobbyists, left-wing media and academics with no scientific background.

You know when alarmists are channeling bankers, that they are running out of credible evidence. Even worse, most banks have an uncanny ability to act as contrarian indicators.

We can be sure that a whole lot of malinvestment will continue thanks to governments trying to declare emergencies to justify infrastructure spending to replace sensible business friendly structural reforms that would have a far better chance of keeping them in power for longer.

In closing, it seems even the media has lost faith in investment bank research, choosing to channel NY Mets baseball pitchers for commentary on stocks instead.

Rattlesnakes are rattling

Always fun to see how politicians on the same side eviscerate each other on policy and character.

It was no different with the GOP when Trump was hammering “low energy Jeb” and “Little Marco.” In 2016. Ted Cruz even challenged Trump to a “Mano a Mano” debate such was the divide.

The problem for the Democrats is if the DNC stiffs Bernie Sanders again, his supporters will stay away in November and one has to question whether he will rush to endorse Bloomberg as he reluctantly did with Hillary Clinton.

The funny thing is that in today’s world financial market players rely on over regulation to squeeze the smaller guys out. Get politicians to make the costs of onerous compliance so high that the larger firms gain the spoils.

So Bernie would be doing the financial firms as big a favor as Bloomberg and his “crooked mates” on Wall St by putting more red tape in place. So much for helping out the poor and oppressed.

Bloomberg-Clinton ticket?

The Drudge Report is suggesting Mike Bloomberg wants Hillary Clinton as a running mate as polling suggests the duo would be a “formidable force.”

We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Don’t forget that Michael Bloomberg endorsed Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election. Recall he was intending to run as a Republican back then. When his bid failed he threw his support behind Trump’s opponent.

Perhaps a formidable force in rallying Trump deplorables to the ballot box to rub her nose in it?

Clinton continues to show herself to be bitter since losing the election in 2016. Of course absolutely none of it was her fault. How nice it was of her to throw Bernie under the bus late last year when she said that he destroyed her campaign by not endorsing her after the rigged nomination.

Still, thankfully friends like Michelle Obama justified Hillary’s loss when she said, “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice!” Who knew?

Would such a combo be a plan to have the DNC unseat Bernie Sanders from the front of the queue? Does the DNC think Bernie voters hate Trump more than them post 2016? It sort of has that stench about it.

What a gift for Trump. At the very least HRC could get one step closer to being the first female head of state, especially if she adopted Nancy Pelosi’s prayer guide for the president.

Now I know my ABC

FNF Media has finally got around to updating the state of our ABC as compiled in the 2018/19 annual report.

The national broadcaster still believes we should fork over even more taxpayer dollars to keep this icon producing more of what the citizens supposedly demand, even though more of the audience believes that “efficiency/management quality” is headed south (p.158) and overall ratings continue to slide.

Despite over $1bn per annum, why do ratings in the metro and regional areas keep falling? We wrote about this last year:

Comparing 2016/17 and 2015/16 the TV audience reach for metro fell from 55.2% to 52.5% and regional slumped from 60.3% to 57.3%. If we go back to 2007/8 the figures were 60.1% and 62.4% respectively. For the 2017/18 period, the ABC targets a 50% reach. Hardly a stretch.

In 2018/19 it fell into the mid-40s. So inside of 13 years, ABC audiences have shrunk by 10-15%. That is appalling.

We have argued for a long time that the ABC needs a complete overhaul.

In the 2018 annual report, the ABC staff survey revealed engagement was at 46%, 6% below the previous survey. This put the broadcaster in the bottom quartile of all ANZ businesses. Reform was and still is desperately needed.

ABC staff complained that management didn’t do enough to get rid of underperformers. Another clear signal that state-sponsored mediocrity was tolerated and staff didn’t like it.

In the 2018/19 annual report, Chair Ita Buttrose AC made the following comments,

Staff morale was badly shaken, and my priority has been to reinvigorate it by restoring order and enhancing good governance with the help of Managing Director, David Anderson, and his management team. Our employees, in content areas and vital support functions, need a strong sense of direction and a feeling that management has their backs. I feel we are now providing it.

Tucked away in the back pages (p.216) is an interesting subsection on the Code of Practice. There is some eye-opening content with respect to the way it conducts its business.

Take this gem to start with on complaints as to whether it constitutes a potential breach of the charter:

A complainant is entitled under section 150 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (“the BSA”) to take their complaint to the ACMA if, after 60 days, the ABC fails to respond to the complainant or the complainant considers the ABC’s response is inadequate.

The ACMA has a discretionary power to investigate a complaint alleging the ABC has,
in providing a national broadcasting service, breached its Code of Practice. Section 151 of the BSA provides that the ACMA may investigate the complaint if it thinks that it is desirable to do so.

The ACMA’s jurisdiction under sections 150-151 does not encompass the ABC’s print content or content disseminated by the ABC over the internet or through mobile devices.

Print and internet-based content fall out of the remit for complaints. So technically ABC can say what it pleases. ACMA is hardly wielding a big stick when it comes to the ABC.

Accuracy is a fun area which would seemingly fall foul of rarely being presented in context:

2.1 Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context.
2.2 Do not present factual content in a way that will materially mislead the audience. In some cases, this may require appropriate labels or other explanatory information.

Why did the ABC report that less than 1% of burnt area in the recent bushfires had been started by arsonists? Given that most fires couldn’t be attributed to anything at the time, the ABC forgot to mention the “unknown” category so it could slice the data so it could list the smallest possible percentage. 12,000 fires had been reported since August 2019. 1,700 had been investigated with 42% reported by the NSW Police as deliberately lit.

Impartiality

…The ABC’s obligation to apply its impartiality standard as objectively as possible. In doing so, the ABC is guided by these hallmarks of impartiality:
• a balance that follows the weight of evidence;
• fair treatment;
• open-mindedness; and
• opportunities over time for principal relevant perspectives on matters of contention to be expressed.

Why did it allow a bunch of radical feminists to openly call for the murder of men, providing a platform to a convicted terrorist or happily release a tweet that said former PM Abbott liked anal sex? Or calling conservative politicians “c@nts“? Guess we’re just not open minded enough.

4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.3 Do not state or imply that any perspective is the editorial opinion of the ABC. The ABC takes no editorial stance other than its commitment to fundamental democratic
principles including the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, parliamentary democracy and equality of opportunity.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.

Why does the ABC constantly run a climate alarmist narrative? Why does Q&A attack conservatives on the panel almost every episode?

Secret recording and other types of deception

“5.8 Secret recording, misrepresentation or other types of deception must not be used by the ABC or its co-production partners to obtain or seek information, audio, pictures or an
agreement to participate except where:

(a) justified in the public interest and the material cannot reasonably be obtained
by any other means; or
(b) consent is obtained from the subject or identities are effectively obscured; or
(c) the deception is integral to an artistic work.

In cases, the potential for harm must be taken into consideration.”

Why did the ABC insert ­itself into the election campaign with a program timed to derail the election prospects of the Left’s hate ­figure, Pauline Hanson and One Nation? An Al ­Jazeera expose, How to Sell a Massacre, was a sting three years in the making, employing hidden cam­eras to ­record One Nation’s ­unsuccessful attempts to solicit foreign funding with the aid of the National Rifle Association. Why was the ABC consorting with the national broadcaster of a foreign power which has highly exceptional human rights standards which flies in the face of all the woke agenda pushed by the ABC? Double standards much?

Privacy

Privacy is necessary to human dignity and every person reasonably expects that their privacy will be respected. But privacy is not absolute. The ABC seeks to balance the public interest in respect for privacy with the public interest in disclosure of information and freedom of expression.

That is a whole can of worms. Can we trust the ABC to execute fairly in this regard?

Harm & Offence

“7.1 Content that is likely to cause harm or offence must be justified by the editorial context.
7.2 Where content is likely to cause harm or offence, having regard to the context, make
reasonable efforts to provide information about the nature of the content through the use of classification labels or other warnings or advice.”
7.6 Where there is editorial justification for content which may lead to dangerous imitation or exacerbate serious threats to individual or public health, safety or welfare, take appropriate steps to mitigate those risks, particularly by taking care with how content is expressed or presented.
7.7 Avoid the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice.”

Again, what purpose was there to get a panel of radical feminists outright calling for the murder of men? Or just use taxpayer funds on an article on how to give blow jobs?

Kids Programs

Take due care over the dignity and physical and emotional welfare of children and young people who are involved in making, participating in and presenting content produced or commissioned by the ABC…Take particular care to minimise risks
of exposure to unsuitable content…

Why did the ABC run a kids program attacking white privilege?

We have long supported a shift to the TVNZ model, where the kiwi national broadcaster is forced to raise most of its own revenue by appealing to the demands of the market.

TVNZ gets $310m of its $318m purse from advertising. It’s staff costs excluding capitalizing into programs is $72m which converts to 23% staff cost/revenues. They do with 642 FT employees. Revenue/employee is $495,000 vs half that at the ABC. It paid a dividend back to the government of $3.7m. i.e. it is a revenue generating asset.

In 2007, TVNZ had $339m in revenue. It employed 1,023 people. Therefore revenue per employee was $331,380. So in a decade, TVNZ efficiency improved almost 50%. A 6% cut to revenue on 63% reduction in staff. TVNZ ratings are up too.

So instead of Ita Buttrose impersonating Oliver Twist she should be channeling Jerry Maguire and asking advertisers to “show her the money!”

The ABC needs to live in the real world of media because it provides no distinct differentiation from what is already available in the marketplace. You see our ABC should be confident that it has a sustainable audience for its type of journalism. It shouldn’t be one to fear but one to embrace.

For the ABC, it’s best not risk it. Easier to suck on the teat of the taxpayer and ask for even more money so it can try to arrest the decline in so much content that is totally unsalvageable.

Hollywoke. Oscars audience plunges to lowest ever

When Joaquin Phoenix lamented, “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal,” Hollywood hit peak woke. At the Golden Globes, he thought telling us he would be wearing only one tuxedo for the entire awards season while eating vegan would be a hit with mainstream Americans to highlight doing his bit for the planet. At the BAFTAs, Phoenix ran the “systemic racism” line. Yet he didn’t hand his gong to a person of colour that he believed was deserving of the award.

Hypocrisy sadly doesn’t resonate very well with mainstream Americans.

Essentially the Oscars has become a light-hearted entertainment version of the Democratic primary debates. The policy platform was all in there – speeches about feminism, gender equality, LGBTQI, climate change, healthcare and living with less. Basically, every “woke” politically correct subject got a mention, delivered by the very people who have zero place lecturing the rest of the world, as Ricky Gervais told them.

Celebrities, coming off the highs of the second-lowest audience total ever recorded in 2019 (after a 12% bump on 2018 which was 40% down on the prior 5 years), must have hoped that the 2020 Oscars ceremony would recover with more of the same social justice. Sadly 2020 was watched by the smallest audience ever.

23.6 million viewers watched (-20% or 6 million down). Among the 18-49 demographic, the audience plunged 31% vs 2019.

Joaquin Phoenix closed his speech by saying,

I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance.

FNF Media would prefer Hollywood gave Phoenix a third chance to revert to type. Because this act isn’t fooling anyone.

Brad Pitt attacks GOP senators at Oscars

They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week…I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it — in the end, the adults do the right thing.”

Thanks Brad. If only the adults in Hollywood gave 45 seconds to stop the well known issues surrounding the Harvey Weinstein saga years before. These sorts of award ceremonies used to openly joke about Weinstein’s unethical antics.

Perhaps we should ponder why Adam Schiff didn’t call John Bolton as a witness during the Democrats own impeachment trial when they had the chance, especially after he blurted all over Twitter that he had the “backstory” evidence back on November 22nd, 2019.

The House voted 15th January 2020 to send articles to the Senate.