Healthcare

Sheepishly downloading the COVIDSafe app is a warning for all of us

NSA raises significant concern to Government abattoir proposal ...

We have no problem with people individually choosing to sign up to the COVIDSafe application launched yesterday. After all, it is voluntary and we believe in personal freedom. However, we are perplexed why so many people feel compelled to post their newfound compliance on social media feeds. It is this blind obedience that worries us.

It is hard to see such self-promotion on social media as anything more than the same virtue-signalling mindset of those who drape their social media avatars with the flag of the country where innocent people were slain by terrorists. Comments such as “I’m doing my bit” reign supreme. Why do people so sheepishly comply to sign up to this when the data is seriously unconvincing to warrant its introduction? Should we report our friends who haven’t publicly declared their status? Admitting one has signed up to COVIDSafe is borderline accepting to become a slave.

The most important point people need to consider is that there is absolutely zero downside for the government during and after this crisis. Remember that number – ZERO. If the economy goes into a prolonged recession or depression, our politicians can simply play the “we did it to save lives” card and tell us it was all for our own good. They can claim they couldn’t have done anything else. Unfortunately, we bear all the risk no matter what the outcome. That is a bad equation in any language. Why would anyone willingly sign up to it?

Indeed, saving lives should be congratulated, not censured. Still, at what point will we realise that the draconian measures put in place are leaving a disproportionate drag on the economy? As we wrote yesterday, if we take the JobKeeper support package alone, it presently costs $1.5 billion per death. Or $19.5 million per infection. The $130bn JobKeeper program is almost as much as the annual federal expenditure on education, healthcare and defence spend combined, three of the four largest budget items. Is this sustainable? If we stay in lockdown beyond the date of the package, this universal income will undoubtedly be extended.

There is a snowball’s chance in hell that we will have a V-shaped recovery. Our central bank might send us comforting lies to maintain the illusion that they are competent but it simply won’t happen.

Our authorities have suggested that the domestic economy comprises 75% of GDP which will provide a great cushion but on what planet do they believe that a crushed export sector which employs so many can be airbrushed to give us a V? Double-digit unemployment, at levels double or treble the present figures will all but guarantee a slower recovery. With household debt exceeding 180% of GDP, any future spending will be directed at rebuilding the balance sheet, not consumption. We’ll be lucky to get an L!!

There will be no normality after COVID19 abates. So much of our domestic future will be driven by the rest of the world’s approach to their own economies. Our neighbours will undoubtedly pursue more nationalist policies which prioritise domestic production. They will also need to contend with the likely aggressive reset of their own relative risk weighting, currency and fiscal positions. For anyone to believe that the magic pixie dust sprinkled by Canberra will avoid any calamity is dangerously naive.

Australia faces a $1 trillion deficit. Await the raft of new taxes on housing, inheritance and income to pay for it. We will absolutely hate what is coming. The sad thing is that we could have taken the pain over a decade ago yet we put short term expediency ahead of rational principle and now await the consequences. We are reaping what we sowed.

Much of the reasoning given by Aussies to sign up has been this belief that it will accelerate the government’s ability to reopen the economy sooner. If the government requires this sort of overlaying safeguard on top of the 99.98% of Australians that don’t knowingly carry the coronavirus or the 99.9997% who haven’t died from it, we should worry about our lawmakers’ ability to manage risk. Seriously.

Why are governments using future hard dates to consider reopening the economy? If today is the best day to do so, why wait till May 30th? Our own experience is that people are broadly respecting the social distancing guidelines. Sure, some might hang out in a park to break the monotony of staying indoors, but we are falling for the taglines from the government to #StayHome a bit too literally. The government should be rebuilding confidence. It isn’t. This app is unlikely to do much given the law of already minuscule numbers. It is all a feel-good measure.

With more than one million COVIDSafe app downloads in the first hour, many have proven that we are willing to conform to guidelines at a moments notice without considering the underlying facts. We saw this during the bushfire season. People blindly donated millions to the rural fire services when we proved their administrative skills were so severely lacking that these monies would unlikely be spent wisely.

In closing, many citizens have sent a wonderful signal to the government that they can easily strip more freedoms away by using panic as a tool to achieve it. The longer the economy is left to rot, the easier it will be to drown obedient plebs in even more regulations and restrictions because we failed to stand up and question the methodology. We will continue to do so. After all, former US President Ronald Reagan once said,

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”

Never let a good crisis go to waste – Part 2

Michigan Conservatives Plan To Protest April 15th ...

Small businesses employ 50% of all Americans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) distributed 1.4 million loans worth $350 billion under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It has now run dry. Small businesses are seeking these loans which stipulate the funds must be directed to pay employees coping with coronavirus. Typically, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are trying to stuff unrelated partisan pork into the bill in order to back it.

To sustain small businesses, which employ half the country, the SBA is requesting another $250 billion. Yet Pelosi and Schumer want to use the crisis to ram in more unrelated regulations to the PPP with:

  1. significantly increased funding for disaster grants and loans,
  2. additional support for the food-stamp program,
  3. adequate funding for nationwide virus testing and personal protective equipment,
  4. the collection and publication of demographic data so that government can accurately determine the level of impact on under-served communities and communities of colour.

While all of these items may have a place in a separate debate, surely helping half of the country’s employment providers stay alive is the bigger issue. Never mind Pelosi was happy to parade herself on late-night TV in front of her $24,000 refrigerators while the bill is delayed. We don’t begrudge anyone owning nice things, but the optics of a freezer full of $13 ice cream punnets is hardly reflective of the crisis.

It wasn’t long ago that her party wanted to stuff a laundry list of ridiculous unrelated items to the $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus last month including airline emissions standards, corporate board diversity and wind/solar subsidies.

Now that 22 million Americans are out of work, should we be surprised that 3,000 people were protesting in Lansing, Michigan demanding the economy be reopened? Or the 100s of people in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Do they have a point?

Here is the latest data outlining infections as a percentage of the state populations. The average infection rate across the US is 0.2044% of the population. That means that 99.8% of people haven’t caught it. While social distancing is proving effective, one has to wonder whether the economy can be reopened quicker than the lid on Nancy Pelosi’s ice cream.

Infections

Switching to COVID 19 deaths, the national average is 0.0101% of the population. New York, which we lambasted for the insane advice handed out by its Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot has 7.6x the national average. Wyoming, while less densely populated than NYC, has 0.03x the national average.

Deaths

Michigan has a death rate of 0.02%, twice the national average. Its infection count is 0.293% or 50% higher than the national average. North Carolina might have a bigger argument to make. It has a 0.0015% death rate (0.1x the national average) and infections at 0.0542% (0.25x the national average) of the state’s citizens. Why aren’t governors looking to reopen their economies sooner, which is their decision, not Trump’s, to make?

These people rightly want the governors to start opening the economy so they can work. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Never cross an American and their belief in “rights”. We think this once again plays straight to Trump’s reelection. People are seriously frustrated and when they join the unemployment queue they are through with partisan politics.

FNF Media has always thought protests would eventually happen. The risks of contracting coronavirus versus the reward of having a job and feeding a family are now front and centre. They would undoubtedly settle for social distancing guidelines while working instead of remaining in lockdown.

We added Australia’s own state/territory data in those previous charts (yellow) which shows just how minuscule our infections and death rates are. We really need to be looking at easing restrictions sooner, rather than later. These statistics should make us all think.

Bernie voters by age group in New Hampshire

Yet more old people who clearly must not get it.

Another example highlighting how the current generation believe that they’re smarter than the previous one as well as the one that will follow them.

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.

Woke Wyong Hospital turns down $14.8m donation

Ideology wins again. Citizens lose. The board of Wyong Hospital will call it principle to turn down a $14.8m donation because it was offered by a coal company. Indeed they argued it was like “taking money from a tobacco company.”

By that logic they should hand back all of the medical devices, machines, surgical instruments, beds and syringes that are all derived and solely dependent on fossil fuels with the added probability they are manufactured with the help of sustainable coal-fired power.

Did the board turn down pharmaceutical company and medical device maker perks or donations, despite the outrageous cost of drugs or machines?

Forget the long waiting queues, nurse shortages and a toddler sent home with an undiagnosed broken neck. Wyong Hospital believes it knows better than patients who just want to be treated ASAP. What does the board make its assessment on – facts or ideology? Because if it is the latter, the board should be reprimanded for a lack of due diligence and governance.

At what point will the board recognize that China has 300-500 new coal fired power plants on the drawing board over the next decade? There is demand for the black mineral. If it isn’t our coal, it will be someone else’s. Why shut down a $70bn coal export industry and seek to create unemployment. Don’t start with the green jobs nonsense. The ABS records less than 18,000 jobs (at its peak) are in “renewables”. Mining, much of it coal, employs around 220,000 people.

So even if the coal company wants to be a good corporate citizen, the hospital believes that letting patients suffer through longer wait times thanks to nurse shortages is a better outcome for the community than a coal mine that has government approval and operates as a legal entity. Had the hospital ever seen the environmental red tape that needed to be passed to get approval they might learn how clean the mine has been forced to be.

Is the hospital board merely worried about having a bunch of unemployed protestors shame it publicly?

We are sure that any patients with a loved one in pain would happily give trade woke green ideology for the generosity of a coal mine to assist in getting a quicker diagnosis.

When are companies going to grow a spine and push back? It is as pathetic as Greyhound Australia backing down on transporting construction workers to the Adani mine on the machinations of a bunch of self entitled school kids wagging class to boycott it. Wake up Australia.

$14bn shock for Shorten. Not $100m

Image result for bill shorten ev

Let’s face it, pre-election budget boasting is a beauty contest we can do without. Fanciful promises guarantee we will not end up in surplus. Shorten’s speech was loaded with mistakes. Let’s cut through some numbers.

The Coalition put forward the following on Tuesday.

What escaped many in the Frydenberg budget of Tuesday is that to fund the 16.8% jump in tax receipts on 2018/19, individual taxpayers will still see their pockets hit +18.4% in aggregate even after including the ‘generous’ rebates. Superannuation tax collections will jump 43% in 4 years time.

NDIS spending is targeted to be 92% higher by 2022/23 than last year. Medicare +24%, public hospital assistance to the states +21%, aged care services +27%. For all the celebrations of lowering pharmaceutical rebates for one wonder drug from $120,000 to $6.50, the reality is spending in this segment will fall 18.4% in total. The family tax benefit will squeak 4% higher in the next 4 years.

As written on Tuesday, the revenue projections of the government are unrealistic as we stare at a slowing world economy. German industrial production in March cratered to 44.1 and China’s auto sales continued a 7-month double-digit slump in February.

Analyzing the Labor response

Shorten claimed NDIS was cut A$1.6bn to get a surplus. Under Frydenberg’s budget, NDIS for 2019/20 will rise A$4.5bn. Out to 2022/23, it rises to over A$24bn.

The Opposition Leader also made reference to A$14bn in cuts to public schools. Note the funding to public schools on 2013/14 was A$4.8bn. In 2018/19 it was $7.7bn and projected in 2022/23 to be A$10.4bn. 

$200mn to renovate nursing campuses in Australia won’t achieve much. The John Curtin Medical Research School at the ANU cost $130mn alone.

Shorten made reference to bushfires being caused by climate change. Fire & Rescue NSW notes that 90% of fires are either deliberately or accidentally set. A Royal Commission after the horrible Black Saturday bushfires showed that policies which restricted backburning reduction targets were to blame for the larger spread of fires, not climate change. In 2013, Tasmania learned none of the lessons with similar policy restrictions preventing the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service to complete more than 4% of all the 2.6m hectares it manages. The reef is not being damaged by climate change and floods and drought are no more frequent or severe than a century ago.

While climate alarmists will relish the prospect of 50% electric vehicles (EV) and cut emissions 45% by 2030 to save the planet, a few truths need to be considered:

1) our own Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has admitted that no matter what Australia does to mitigate global warming our impact will be zero. Naught. Nada. Putting emotion to one side, is there any point in spending $10s of billions to drive electricity prices?

2) South Australia and Victoria have already beta tested what having a higher percentage of renewable energy does or rather doesn’t do for sustainable and reliable baseload power. Both states have not only the highest energy prices in Australia but the world. These stats are backed up in Europe. The EU member states with a higher percentage of renewables have steeper electricity prices than those with less. These are facts.

3) Consumption patterns matterLast year Aussies bought only 2,200 EVs. In 2008, SUVs made up 19% of the new car sales mix. Today they make up 43%.
In 2008, c.50m total passengers were carried on Australian domestic flights to over 61m today. The IATA expects passengers flown will double over the current level by 2030. These are hardly the actions of people panicked about cataclysmic climate change. Or if they are, they expect others to economize on their behalf.

Qantas boasts having the largest carbon offset program in place yet only 2% of miles are paid for, meaning 98% aren’t. 

4) Global EV production capacity is around 2.1m units. While rising, it is still a minor blip on 79 million cars sold worldwide. Add to that, auto parts suppliers and car makers are reluctant to expand capacity too fast in a global auto market that is slowing rapidly.

Car sales in China have fallen for 7 straight months. In Feb 2019, sales fell 13.8% on the back of January’s -15% print.  Dec 2018 (-13%), Nov 2018 (-13.9%) & Oct 2018 (-11.7%) according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The US and Australian car markets are under pressure too. 

5) So haphazard is the drive for EV legislation that there are over 200 cities in Europe with different regulations. In the rush for cities to outdo one another this problem will only get worse. Getting two city councils to compromise is one thing but 200 or more across country lines?

Without consistent regulations, it is hard for makers to build EVs that can accommodate all the variance in laws without sharply boosting production costs. 

6) Fuel excise tax – at the moment, 5% of our tax revenue comes from the bowser. $25bn! Will Mr. Shorten happily give this up or do we expect when we’ve been forced to buy EVs that we will be stung with an electricity tax on our cars?

7) Norway is a poor example to benchmark against. It is 5% of our land mass, 1/5th our population and new car sales around 12% of Australia. According to BITRE, Australia has 877,561km of road network which is 9x larger than Norway.

Norway has around 8,000 chargers countrywide. Installation of fast chargers runs around A$60,000 per unit on top of the $100,000 preparation of each station for the high load 480V transformer setup to cope with the increased loads.

Norway state enterprise, Enova, said it would install fast chargers every 50km of 7,500km worth of main road/highway.

Australia has 234,820km of highways/main roads. Fast chargers at every 50km like the Norwegians would require a minimum of 4,700 charging stations across Australia. Norway commits to a minimum of 2 fast chargers and 2 standard chargers per station.

The problem is our plan for 570,000 cars per annum is 10x the number of EVs sold in Norway, requiring 10x the infrastructure.

While it is safe to assume that Norway’s stock of electric cars grows, our cumulative sales on Shorten’s plan would require far greater numbers. So let’s do the maths (note this doesn’t take into account the infrastructure issues of rural areas):

14,700 stations x $100,000 per station to = $1,470,000,000

4,700 stations x 20 fast chargers @ A$60,000 = $5,640,000,000 (rural)

4,700 stations x 20 slow chargers @ A$9,000 = $846,000,000 (rural)

10,000 stations x 5 fast chargers @ A$60,000 = $3,000,000,000 (urban)

570,000 home charging stations @ $5,500 per set = $3,135,000,000 (this is just for 2030)

Grand Total: A$14,091,000,000

Note that Shorten pledged $100m to EV charging stations around Australia to meet his goals. Even if he was to skimp on 2 fast and 2 slow chargers per stand, Aussies taxpayers will need to shell out $6.5bn. At least he could technically cover that with repealing $6bn in franking credits.

Norway’s privately run charging companies bill users at NOK2.50 (A$0.42c) per minute for fast charging. Norway’s electricity prices are around NOK 0.55 (A$0.05c) per kWh to households.  In South Australia, that price is 43c/kWh. So will Shorten subsidize an EV owner charging in Adelaide at the mark up a private retailer might charge? 

What about subsidies to EV buyers? If we go off Shorten’s assumptions of $3,400 per EV at 570,000 EVs per annum, the tax payer will fork out $1.94bn a year.

Will there be a cash-for-clunkers scheme?  If the plan is to drive internal combustion powertrains off the road, existing owners may not be emboldened with the decimation in the value of their existing cars. Let’s assume buyers are irrational and accept $3,000 per car (Gillard offered $2,000 back in 2010) trade-in under the scheme. That would amount to $1.73bn.

8) Making our own batteries! While it is true Australia is home to all of the relevant resources, sadly we do not have enough cobalt to make enough of them.

Australia is home to only 4% (5,100t) of the world’s cobalt. 60% of the world’s cobalt comes from DR Congo which has less than satisfactory labour laws surrounding children. If we want cheap EVs, we have to bear that cross of sacrificing children to save the planet. It can’t be done any other way.

Li-ion batteries consume around 42% of the globe’s cobalt supplies. Cars are 40% of that. The rest being computers, mobile phones, etc.

9) Automakers have set up their own battery capacity to supply internal production. Given our terrible history in automotives, we should not expect them to line up to buy our batteries.

Nissan spent around A$770m on a battery plant in Sunderland. Panasonic plowed $2.8bn into the battery plant that supplies Tesla.

10) Australia has no real homegrown industrial scale EV battery technology. If we bought in a technical license, that will only make our production costs prohibitive on a global scale. Our high wage costs would add to the improbability of it being a sensible venture.

All in, Shorten’s EV plans could cost Australians well over $20bn with c.$4bn in subsidies ongoing.

11) Green jobs – according to the ABS, jobs in the renewable sector have fallen from the peak of 19,000 in 2011/12 to 14,920 in 2016/17. The upshot is that green jobs in the renewable sector are not sustainable.

In short, Mr. Shorten’s budget reply was extremely thin on detail. Especially with respect to climate change. The LNP has plenty of ammunition to prosecute the case on his wild costing inaccuracies (as outlined above) yet will they have the gumption to fight on those lines. Saving the planet is one thing.

Loading a stretched grid with EVs and increasing the proportion of less reliable power sources looks like a recipe for disaster. We need only look at consumption patterns to get a true sense of how ‘woke’ people when it comes to global warming. South Australians and Victorians are already living the nightmare of renewables.

This election is about one thing – individual pocketbooks. The electorate needs working solutions, not electric dreams.