Welcome To The Mimentum Blog...

We've been going since 2006 - completely free speakers, tackling consumer issues, current affairs and other issues and injustices that arise. Based in Australia and New Zealand we enjoy the privaledge of free speech without the threat of the Chinese Communist Party's Green Dam, Iranian Government, the USA's "Homeland Security" thought police, CIA (so much for "Land of the Free!"), and almost all the other fruitloops in the world who can't handle some constructive criticism.

Thinking Ahead – Investment strategy

Posted By on April 25, 2017

Note – when we say retirement, we don’t mean at 65 years old. It could be any age at all, it’s simply a matter of planning and putting enough into that plan to make it happen when you want.

At this stage it probably feels impossible to invest enough to provide a large enough amount that will make much difference to your lifestyle in say 5 years time. Don’t be so sure; the miraculous properties of compounding interest will surprise you. Even if the figures seem a bit fairy tale today, once the process starts to “snow ball” you’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t do this sooner!

There’s two types of investment for retirement – lump sum and annuity.
Lump sum is where you construct your investment(s) to mature on a certain date.
Annuity is where you arrange them to mature in stages, providing an income or income supplement.

Of the two, you should go for annuity because:

  1. Down the track, governments will be looking for ways to exclude people from the pension and the first thing they will target will be people with large sums of money – lump sums.
  2. Lump sums have a habit of looking huge at first. You are tempted to spend a little on luxuries then suddenly wake up that the sum wasn’t so large and there’s not enough to live on for the next 10 years or so. Just ask anyone who has taken a redundancy package!
  3. Governments will possibly penalize people who have disposed of lump sums too. It’s a common practice for people approaching the pension age, to blow their savings on a cruise, so they are poor enough to qualify for a pension. It’s only a matter of time and governments will devise a way to penalize these folks.
  4. Because annuities don’t withdraw all the investment, the remainder left, keeps investing earning interest, thus in the long run you get back more for your outlay, from an annuity, than a lump sum.

To be a useful investment strategy, the investment must “snowball”. This means it has to reach a certain amount that it’s returns will pay for more new units of investment.
For example:
If I can only buy my investment in lots of $10, then I need to build up the number of $10 units to the point that the interest will buy another $10 unit. If I never add any more money, the investment will grow regardless – it’s snowballing.

Picture of snowballs growing larger as they roll down a snow covered hillside

Aim for that critical stage “Snowballing”, where your investment becomes self replicating.

When planning any investment, work out when the returns will reach this self replicating stage and make this your first investment target.

Magic moments

Once you start your investment off, you will discover there are little delightful surprise moments where things happen that you hadn’t foreseen. For example, I planned to buy 4 units or notes in P2P loans per month. I had designed a table that showed how they would compound over their 3 and 5 year life spans and how much I would make. However, for all my maths work, I was way off the mark. As repayments came in, I used them to buy more units, in addition to the 4 per month. My annual goal was attained in only 7 months!

We think we understand compound interest but until you actually get it working for you, it’s difficult to imagine the effects of the compound interest compounding on itself, buying more investments which compound on themselves to buy more units and so on.

In the next installment, we’ll look at one real life example and you’ll see that it is possible for anyone to do this.

United Airlines – the fine print doesn’t matter.

Posted By on April 14, 2017

By now, if you live on planet Earth with an Internet connection, you’d have seen the video of the three security thugs violently hauling a 69 year old doctor out of his seat, breaking his nose, cutting his lip and breaking two front teeth, all because they wanted his seat for an employee. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t paid, had contraband, or even been belligerent – they decided they wanted his window seat so one of their employees to fly back to the USA.

Here’s the link for the video, if you haven’t seen it already: United Airlines security assaults passenger

According to United Airlines, their contract allows them to do this whenever they feel inclined and we don’t have a leg to stand on. Of course, it’s written on the ticket somewhere and as travelers we should have read all that fine print and understood all the nuances of the legal jargon they used, to communicate this important point to us.

Firstly, regardless of the wording, using three strapping security thugs on a 69 year old man exceeds all reason. David Dao is not a sumo wrestler by any definition. He is a doctor, more accurately physically described as diminutive in stature. Rather than “removing” the passenger, as the airline describes it, “airline authorised assault on a passenger” would be a better description. When a 69 year old diminutive Asian man ends up with a broken nose and two broken teeth, you’d have to say that it’s a bit more than a “removal”!

United Airlines claim they chose their victim by ballot and it’s all fair. Maybe so, but a doctor, with appointments to see patients, should be sufficient grounds to remove a passenger from any ballot, when compared to others who are tourists.

All airlines overbook their planes, banking on last minute cancellations and passengers who don’t turn up. That’s common practice and it’s catered for in their contract with passengers but that contract states that passengers can be prevented from boarding the aircraft, not already seated on the aircraft. If we want to ignore reason, decency, common sense and descend to legal jargon, there it is. United have breached their own contract wording. The passenger had been allowed to board the aircraft and had met all the terms of the transportation contract.

United Airlines claim that without the four employees back in the USA, they would have had to cancel flights, is also highly suspicious. Essential employees in all airlines usually are employed on a 3-stage roster. One stretch (typically a month) is on duty, a second is on standby where they can be called to work at immediate notice and the third stage is off duty. If any airline is so inept that it cannot rake up some staff on standby, maybe it shouldn’t be allowed to manage something as complex as air flight!

When you take away the legalities, it all comes down to trust. I trust my airline to treat me fairly and get me there safely. I don’t expect them to beat me up before the plane has left the tarmac. I accept that turbulence might throw me around and trust the airline’s employees will do their best to limit my injuries – not cause them while we are still on the ground!

The heart warming part of this whole fiasco is the public response. United Airlines share prices dropped by 300 million following the incident going viral on the Internet, largely due to you, and millions like you, viewing the video online. Personally I hope he sues their arses off; no-one should be treated like this.

Let this be a message to all corporations seeking to hide behind complex legal jargon and fine print of contracts – ultimately it comes down to people power and the Internet’s ability to get the message out there – the fine print doesn’t matter.

Australia gives employees another slap in the face

Posted By on April 2, 2017

Australia has moved to cut employees penalty rates for Sundays to match Saturday rates.

Successive Australian governments have ignored the large section of the population who are employed but due to the prevalence of casual, temporary and part-time employment, do not have enough hours of work to earn a liveable wage. In many cases their income is so low they are below the minimum wage and rely of top ups from welfare, to survive.

Because they are employed more than 2 hours a week, they do not appear on the “unemployed” radar or in national statistics for the unemployed. If they work more than 20 hours a week, they do not qualify for unemployment payments either but still take home a wage that is below the minimum liveable wage. They even have a name for this category of the population – “The Underemployed”.

In a country where a vast number of workers are unable to get enough hours to take home a liveable wage, working Sundays was one way many low paid workers could make ends meet. Those on higher full time incomes tend to avoid working weekends, meaning this is just another slap in the face for poor end of town.

Conversely, employers claimed that reducing weekend penalty rates, would increase employment because businesses could afford to employ more staff and the Productivity Commission believed them!

Let’s get real here! Businesses exist to make profit. They have no ethical or moral compunction to limit that profit, in fact the more profit they make the more they are lauded. Reducing staff wages, a major business overhead, is just another way of making more profit.

What business is going to see this as a philanthropic chance to offer more employment?

If this was true, we’d see electronic checkouts being removed from retail stores. Even with the high incidence of shoplifting facilitated by these, the opportunity to create more employment and win good PR in the community, the big retailers are not removing these to create more employment.

I’ll wager, true to form, they’ll take the money and run. We won’t see any increase in employment.

When it comes to employment in Australia, the Productivity Commission is the Fox guarding the hen house and this is just one more example.

Is the USA about to step on a financial landmine?

Posted By on March 13, 2017

Unlike most other countries, the USA government does not have to balance it’s spending every financial year. Instead, they have a debt ceiling that they are not supposed to exceed. During the Obama administration, the government crashed into that debt ceiling and needed the backing of Congress and the president to raise the amount of that debt ceiling.

Shamefully, US politicians placed party politics before civil responsibility and this was demonstrated in 2011 when the US government came alarmingly close to running out of funds to pay their employees. This culminated in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which limited the amount the government could borrow and required the government to justify the spending against trade-offs in budget cuts. This was supposed to fix this issue and slow down the exploding deficit the USA was creating. It didn’t and the same problem arose again in 2013. The Obama administration created a debt holiday, to expire on the 15th March 2017.

Beware the ides of March, when Obama’s debt holiday expires!

Of course there were all the economics experts extolling buzz phrases and complex economic theories but it all boiled down to a simple problem: the manufacturing sector, that used to be the mainstay of the US economy, was dead – sent to third world countries with cheaper wages. The resulting unemployment meant, not only less tax revenue coming into treasury but also cost the US dearly in welfare payments. It caused a real drop in take home pay (and therefore tax) or at best prevented pay (and tax) rises that had been forecast. So, on one side of the economy they had less money flowing into the coffers and on the other side they were haemorrhaging funds in welfare.

Now if this was the 1900’s there would be a crash but after the second world war, the system changed. Credit was introduced. It was originally debt offset against the ability to repay that debt. However, since then we have extended that repayment time to several decades, creating personal as well as economic debt that may not be paid in the foreseeable future.

Now add technological advances into this mix, making the foreseeable future even more unpredictable. The US manufacturing powerhouse was good for credit in the 1970s. But in the 1980s computerisation made whole industries redundant. The manufacturing businesses that still required labour, were sent offshore, reducing employment even further. The cheap goods coming back into the USA killed any manufacturing left. The result is an economy with a serious balance of payments problem.

The general feeling is that the USA cannot go broke, no matter how high the debt rises, because it is the largest economy in the world. The US dollar is the world’s benchmark currency. Many countries around the world owe the USA money. If they collected those debts, the problem would be solved right?

Wrong!

Firstly most of those countries do not have the ability to repay those debts. Many of those debts are the result of war aid. They are now battered and still recovering from civil war (aside from the fact the USA seems to have an uncanny knack of funding the losing side).

Secondly the debt was created, in many cases, by funding the side that didn’t win. That’s not the side running those countries now, so it’s not really their debt any more. As far as they are concerned, the USA should get their money from those who borrowed it.

For example, in Cambodia, the USA funded the Lol Nol government that was toppled in 1975 by the Khmer Rouge. Although the money was tagged officially as agricultural aid, it was really used to supply arms to the Lol Nol regime and to bomb large tracts of Cambodia to prevent supplies from Communist supporters reaching South Vietnam. The debt has accrued interest and is now at $500US Million. Why should Cambodia repay it at all?

Similar arguments apply to El Salvador, Columbia, Iraq and a host of other countries.

So added to this imbalance of revenue equation, is the fact that the debts owed to the USA, claimed as assets on the balance sheet, are not really assets at all. They are write-offs, if not wholly, then at least in part.

Put it all together and you have:

  1. An income that is less than the government of the country spends.
  2. A government that doesn’t have to balance the books and believes it’s too big to crash, so has amassed colossal debts ever since the Regan presidency.
  3. Claimed Assets (loans to foreign countries) used to offset debt, can never be liquidated and are growing larger due to interest charges. Trying to call in these loans will bankrupt the countries, create an economic domino effect and destroy financial confidence, causing a financial collapse throughout the Western World.
  4. A new president that wants to spend up large to kick start manufacturing and create a rival to the Great Wall of China, and unlike his predecessors, has Congress on his side.
  5. A fiscal time bomb waiting to blow the whole thing wide open on the 15th of March, when Obama’s debt holiday ends.
  6. And for the first time in history, another huge economy in China that could replace the USA as the world benchmark (India is out of the contest because she just killed off part of her currency).

It doesn’t matter who is president, the problem is beyond politics. The USA economy is like a long train racing towards a broken bridge and Donald Trump thinks he’s the train driver in control.

Thinking ahead – Real life example

Posted By on March 7, 2017

I had been made redundant. The pay out disappeared rapidly and finding a job was proving difficult. I was forced to do Temp work just to put food on the table. When I had work, times were good but holidays, with no pay quickly taught me I needed to have some strategy to save some of my income for the lean times. On the advice of my (recently fired) finance consultant, I had increased the insurance cover on my superannuation. Without regular wage contributions, the balance was going down. I needed to find some way of investing my money in irregular small amounts, other than my stupid banks so-called “high interest account” which was not keeping pace with inflation. I still had shares on the ASX but the market was at an all time low but I was sure it would pick up later.

To be perfectly honest, I had resigned myself to the fact I was financially screwed but on a whim, I Googled, “investing small amounts” and came up with several search results. Of course there were the usual obvious scams like “Christchurch Mum buys Ferrari after one month…” and Forex ads where you pay $5,000 for a course to show you how to lose $50,000 a week. But one was something I had never heard of ; Peer to Peer lending.

It’s where a group all put in a small amount into a pool that is loaned out to people, much the same as the banks do, with personal loans. The difference is, there’s no banking corporation with branches, staff and super rich executives dipping their sticky fat fingers into the honey pot, taking out profits before you get to see them. The organisers take out a tiny fee and you get the rest.

P2P lending is something the banks don’t want to become common knowledge and here’s why:

Let’s say you put $25 into an investment account at the bank:

  • You’ll get around 3% to 4% interest per annum (per year). If we work on their top rate of 4%, that’s 0.33 % or a third of 1% per month. In the first month you will have your $25.00 and interest of $0.0825 or 8 cents because they round it off. You’ll have an account balance of $25.08.
  • Meantime the bank will lend your $25 at anywhere from 16% to 10% on a personal loan. We’ll assume the lower rate of 16%. That’s 0.013% per month. In the first month they will make 35.5cents on your money but only pay you 8 cents, keeping 27.5 cents, over twice as much as they pay you. Sadly most of that 27.5 cents will go to people who are already wealthy – shareholders and corporate honchos.

Let’s take $25 and put it into P2P lending :

  • Your $25 will be loaned out at a rate of anywhere from 9.9% to 39.9%, depending on the level of risk you choose. Let’s be very fair and say you are extremely cautious and go for the lowest risk at only 9.9% (that’s 0.825% per month). That’s 20.6 cents interest in the first month, so your $25 will earn $25.20.
  • A service fee will come out but it is around 2 cents, leaving a balance of $20.18

So already you are ahead of the banks by 10 cents. It might not sound much but that’s 10 cents every month compounding at 9.9% (rather than 4%). There’s the trap – very few people understand compound interest. We usually see it working against us and seldom understand how it works when it’s in our favour.

Using the bank example, at 4% interest, after 5 years your $25 would become $30.52.

That same $25.00 put into P2P lending at the lowest rate of 9.9% it becomes $40.93. And don’t forget that was their lowest rate, at their highest rate it would become over $177.00!

Just like I discovered with the Finance Advisers, superannuation funds and investment trusts, the killer in any investment is the people all taking their fees and commissions out of the investment before you get it, usually at the input end. This reduces your small investment before it’s even invested!

I decided to try one note – a $25 share in a loan but first I needed to see if they were legitimate. And this is something I suggest you do too:

  1. Google for “complaints with …..”, “problems with ……” and “Is ….. a scam?” I found nothing alarming, just others asking the same questions.
  2. Send a question to their contact or help page contact and see how long they take to respond. This is important because if something goes wrong, you want help fast. Shady schemes rarely employ customer service staff and will reply only by email. I spoke to a human in New Zealand too!
  3. Find their business address.
  4. Read ALL of the Terms and Conditions. Even if it takes several days, you need to know there’s nothing concealed in the fine print.

The next step was to invest a small amount, just to see if it worked as well as they claimed.

I decided to try one note (as they call a share in a loan) at $25.00. That went well, within 24 hours my account showed I had invested in one note. I called their help centre again with a question and the attendant was very helpful. He saw I had bought one note and explained that if that one loan went bad, I was totally exposed, Whereas if I had 5 notes and one went bad, the interest on the others would cover my loss and conserve my investment outlay. I was waiting for the close, “would you like to commit to…” but it never came. There was no sales pitch, just the simple explanation.

That week I was able to buy another nine notes – I was on a Temp contract at the time. The next month I saw the repayments coming in, exactly as promised. They took tax out and withheld it as arranged, so what I was seeing was all mine.

Since March last year, I have squirreled away another 52 notes at $25 each. Eleven notes have been repaid early (there’s no early payment penalty) and the funds have been reinvested. Along with the repayments, I have reinvested, I have 61 notes in action today. That’s not much for almost a year but I’ve had an operation and three months off work since then. If I take the average of the monthly repayments, I need 107 notes before it starts snowballing – that’s my next target.

Considering what a crappy year it’s been, financially, I have still built my investment portfolio. I couldn’t have done that any other way I know of.

Thinking Ahead – Look for alternatives

Posted By on February 24, 2017

Back in 2010, I had a well paid job and decided to look at investing some money. I engaged the services of financial advisers. After all they know best right?

I had an interview where they asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years time and where I was now. Two weeks later I received a shiny folder with a professional looking plan. A month later I received my investment statement and their fee.

Unfortunately, coming from an I.T. Background, I recognized it was just a classy Word document with my answers inserted into the appropriate slots and a few pivot tables and charts. There was no advice and nothing I hadn’t already thought of. I heard of a fund looking for investment and a couple of start ups and called my financial adviser, only to find the one I spoke to had left and the replacement was away on leave for a week. When I finally spoke to him, he had no idea about the fund and suggested I Google the start-ups. It soon became obvious from his responses, he wasn’t any wiser than I was. After several similar calls I started to wonder what was I paying for?

Along the way I received emails from them about new shareholdings but they came after the emails from the ASX about the same offers and frankly my shares were doing better anyway. With the Global Financial Crisis and China’s economic misinformation, I felt the share market was not the best place to invest in, anyway. Time has proven me right on that score.

The clincher was their next statement with a $500 fee for … well, nothing. I had a broker for my shares, I was depositing money into a managed fund (and my finance advisers were not the managers), so what was the $500 fee really for?

The business I worked for went bust and my income plummeted, so I terminated the finance adviser’s services. My investments continued to compound without new contributions but my superannuation shrunk as the investment funds were used to pay for the insurance cover, my adviser had recommended I increase. In hindsight the only investments that had withstood this set back and were still earning, were those I had invested myself. I decided, in future if it was going to be, it was up to me.

So to cover my backside – please note I am not a finance adviser, nor do I aspire to be one. Other than experience, I have no formal qualifications or registrations etc. in the field. I’m simply describing what happened to me personally, so others can avoid the mistakes I made.

I’m not saying Finance Advisers are fake or con artists but I have doubts that they can offer value to small investors who do not have large lump sums of money to invest, those average wage earners who can only spare a little each pay. I believe, like me, you’d do better to do a little research yourself and save the fees – invest them instead.

Try searching for topics like alternative investments, investing small amounts, low cost investing, investing without a lump sum, etc., like I did. I discovered “investing in P2P lending”. These are loans sourced to borrowers outside of banks. Look for organisations that credit check their customers and have a collections policy for defaulters. They will often accept small deposits. Mine accepts any amount and deposits it into an account. When you have $25.00 you can invest in a share of a loan. There are a lot of unique advantages of this type of investing we’ll look at in the next installment.

Thinking Ahead – Retirement Worries?

Posted By on February 12, 2017

For many of us, retirement probably feels a long way off – too far to think about today. Unfortunately we have memories of our Grandparents spending time with the Grand kids and travelling, and assume that we’ll retire the same way. Sorry to burst your bubble but that’s highly unlikely.

In 1938, Michael Joseph Savage, introduced the Social Security Bill into New Zealand Parliament, creating the first universal old age pension for people over 65 years old. The concept was, people would all have a portion of their taxes invested on their behalf, by the government to create a fund that would pay for their living expenses after they were no longer able to work. Those taxes came from people in jobs. That was almost 80 years ago.

Back in 1938, production relied predominantly on human labour. Today it relies more on mechanisation and technology, with computers and electronics. Just to give some comparison, if we took every computer in commercial use, today and looked at the number of employees that used to do that same function, you would find that each computer replaced 7 employees. Factor in technologies like the compact disc, digital camera and fuel injection and the resulting loss of whole industries, and that figure rises to an alarming: 1 computer costs 9.7 jobs. So since 1938, as a society, we have lost approximately 10% of our employment to technology.

In 1938, the population was different in terms of ages. The Great War had reduced the adult population that would have now been entering retirement. The Spanish epidemic flu had arrived just in time to catch a lift to the far corners of the planet, with returning soldiers and wiped out millions around the world. The elderly were the most vulnerable. The result was a population with fewer people reaching retirement age. In a young nation with demand expected to exceed supply for generations to come, a universal pension was easily attainable. Compounding this problem was the return of service people after the second world war, into a world of new technologies that gave us leisure time and new found wealth. The result was the baby boom, a huge surge worldwide in childbirths, creating a generation, a population surge, that would all reach retirement age within the same decade or two.

Back in 1938 the life expectancy of a person was less than today. Cancer and heart attacks were a death sentence. Today they are treatable, if not curable, treatments can prolong life for decades. The average life expectancy back then was around 65 for men and 67 years old for women. Today if someone dies at 67 years old we feel their life was cut short. Medicine has prevented many epidemics, which would have hit older people, with their reduced immunity, harder than the working populace.

Add all these factors together and we have fewer jobs, less people in the workforce and therefore less taxes to fund these pensions. On the other side of the retirement equation, we have a larger proportion of population ageing, compared to those employed and paying taxes, who will live longer. A vastly different scenario from 1938.

But wait, it gets worse!
Successive governments world wide have looked at those retirement funds and seen them as reserves for economic use, rather than investment. Those investment funds Michael Joseph Savage envisaged back in 1938 have been squandered by short sighted politicians ever since.

In an effort to halt this looming pension disaster, governments introduced national superannuation schemes. An amount, separate from taxes, was withdrawn from an employees pay and paired with a similar amount from the employer, then invested in a high interest investment account. At the time it seemed like the perfect solution but these investments were handled by private enterprise. By the time board members and shareholders took their cut, there wasn’t much left from the predicted profits. The profits were decimated by international events like the US Prime Market crash, the Global Financial Crisis and a host of other reversals.

The sad reality is, the retirement we envisage, based on what we saw our Grandparents have, will not be there unless we personally do something about it.

Today we live in an age where, as long as we invest in someone else’s scheme, whether government or private, there will be too many pigs dipping into the trough, for us to end up with enough to fund the lifestyle we expect. Pensions currently do not allow retirees to live in comfort unless they already have their homes fully paid off. They are supplements, no longer incomes.

If we want to retire in comfort, we need to take matters into our own hands and create our own investment schemes, without greedy fund board members, directors, CEOs and parasitic financial advisers, all dipping into the honey pot. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s actually quite fun, once you see your money start to grow. In the next article we’ll look at one simple method, that you can control.

Is Trump the shake-up we need?

Posted By on February 3, 2017

While the Western world has used diplomacy and political correctness, countries like North Korea, Iran and hostile groups like ISIS have used threats and abuses of human rights. The United Nations has admonished governments for abuses of human rights, genocide and corruption but this has had little effect. People wanted a change and the outspoken Donald Trump appeared an alternative. People felt it was time to put someone in the drivers seat who spoke their mind.

With China seeking to claim the South China Sea as it’s own (and therefore all the oil and gas field beneath) and control all the shipping to and from it’s neighbors, we needed someone who would speak openly when they saw injustice and bullying, maybe someone willing to do a bit of bullying back, not just another simpering diplomat.

While we stuck to our freedom of religion ethics, Muslims wreaked terror the world over. Maybe it was time to speak out or at least shut the door and prevent any more of them entering, while we sorted out the ones we had already. Yes there’s thousands of “moderate” Muslims who were no trouble at all. But the sad fact is, the one common denominator for most of these terror attacks was they followed Islam. Some are black, some white, some are Asian even. They come from Islamic countries but some also come from within our own countries too. The recurring theme is Islam and they are sheltering behind our freedom of religion ethic. Maybe it’s time we changed the rules a little. Let’s not ban their religion but let them know, if you don’t want to fit in, then go elsewhere, like back to the land your warmongering brothers, killing each other on religious grounds, made untenable.

If we look at Islamic history, their records repeatedly document internal wars and a deep rooted hatred between the two Islamic factions. Even after conquering most of their known world, their empire fell apart, not from outside invasion but from murderous infighting that divided them, to the extent they became targets for lesser armies. You could argue a similar schism in history between the Catholics and Protestants but the difference is we got over it. The Muslims never have. Today, many centuries later, the Sunni and Shiite Muslims are still trying to slaughter each other. When they got leaders who were corrupt and begged the rest of the world to step in, to stop the genocide, the killing never stopped because the two factions of Islam couldn’t get their act together to form a stable government afterwards.

If a group of Christians were running around giving the Catholic or Anglican faiths a bad name, I’m pretty sure the “moderate” Christians would be doing something about it – a bit more than the “moderate” Islamic people are doing today. We’d be drowning governments in protests world wide and our heads of religion would be pushing to resolve the issue. I don’t see a concerted effort from the Islamic leaders.

Meantime we step in and cop the wrath and abuse from both sides who were intent on killing each others followers. Perhaps this is a case for changing the U.N’s charter to contain these wars within their home country and let them fight it out. It’s not the kindest action but if we keep going with our current charter, we end up fighting wars that cannot be won. There was some truth in Trump’s appraisal of the U.N. as being a waste of time.

Unfortunately the outspoken Trump we saw, was only half of it. What wasn’t on display, was the braggart egotist bigot that formed opinions without weighing all the facts. While we heard Donald Trump was prepared to speak his mind, what he didn’t tell us, was he often speaks when his mind is not engaged.

Unfortunately, solutions are not that simple. It doesn’t matter if you have the most toys in the sandpit, acting like a spoiled brat will isolate you and lose your allies – now who’s got all the power?
Sure you can be best buddies with Russia, but for all their sabre rattling, don’t forget they couldn’t pay a large part of their army’s wages. I recall reports that there were concerns about the decrepit state of their navy and the risk it posed from poorly maintained nuclear powered warships. Then there’s the Kurst – the submarine that was leading Russian technology – shame they didn’t think to use that same technology to design a rescue vessel. And there’s Chernobyl – the world’s worst disaster the Russians tried to pretend never happened. You get to that stage where the only kids who will play with you in the sand pit, are the deceitful ones no-one wants to be friends with.

But let’s not be too negative, after all the US presidential elections have taught us quite a few lessons:

It is true what they say, that anyone can become president of the USA – even spoiled brats who never grew up.

American Democracy is a sham. It boils down to whoever has the most money, wins. There’s “votes” and “popular votes” and neither count for the result.

You can’t fool all the people, all the time but you can fool all America most of the time that it takes for an election.

The USA is the only country in the world that is democratic and protests when someone is democratically elected.

American politics is like a game of Bridge with cheaters. You might have the only Trump in the game but your still a loser.

An “alternative truth” in the USA, is not lie. It’s an illogical conclusion supported by conflicting facts.

I never thought I’d ever feel sorry for the USA until now but I guess when to sit back and let a bunch of fat cats stuff up your voting system, you deserve what you get.

Super Bugs and antibiotics.

Posted By on January 16, 2017

There’s a whole range of apocalypse movies out there, each one trying to paint a more grisly, dramatic picture than the last. They tout meteor collisions, exploding suns, super storms and diseases that reduce people to brain eating zombies.

If you are into that world ending apocalyptic stuff, a small article in The Telegraph on the 13th of January probably went unnoticed. For the some, it should scare the stuffing out of us.

A 70 year old woman passed away in a Nevada hospital recently – (nothing particularly newsworthy there). She died from a bacterial infection – (not too uncommon either). The bacteria was resistant to every known antibiotic, so much so that the CDC ( USA’s Center for Disease Control ) deemed the lady’s condition incurable. (now we’re getting into the Hollywood stuff).

This is not the first incurable case reported by the CDC either. The CDC reported a previous case of another bacteria that was also un-treatable but the bacteria themselves were not very infectious, so the risk of contagion was deemed very low. This latest case is a more transmittable bacteria.

But it gets worse – there’s a casual mention of a protein, NDM (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase) that when present in bacteria makes them resistant to most antibiotics.

Now hold that though a minute. We were terrified when Ebola struck in Zaire. It was scary because it was a very grisly ending from a disease that was incurable. It was caused by a virus – a single organism we could aim all our disease fighting skills at. As a result, today it is serious but not a death sentence.

However, now we have a protein, not a single organism, that could appear in any or many different organisms, making them resistant to our entire range of antibiotics. We’re not fighting an organism now, this is a protein that could appear in any organism with the right mutation.

When we think of bacteria and similar micro organisms, we forget that they are not all bad guys. We have a host of good bacteria in our intestines, in yogurt, in cheese and on everything we touch and eat. Any one of these could mutate to produce the NDM protein.

If antibiotics no longer work, we have to come up with some other method of attack. Vaccination is an option but only works when people are vaccinated prior to contracting the infection. Meantime we have to use antibiotics more sparingly and wisely, to delay the inevitable until we can come up with another solution.

Today all we can do is isolate the victims, to reduce spreading the contagion and make their last hours as comfortable as possible.

Christmas and Compound Interest

Posted By on January 1, 2017

In the true spirit of Christmas we have given gifts, with good will, to friends and family. However, it might surprise you to know the most expensive gift you probably gave this Christmas, was to neither friends nor family.  In fact it was to some faceless people already wealthy, who know you only as a number. uncaring, devoid of any compassion or milk of kindness and you didn’t even have them on your Christmas list.

Every year when Christmas comes around, we spend up large, usually more than we have saved. The extra money comes from our credit card account. According to last years statistics, every person in Australia owes just over $3073 in credit debt. That’s not including any credit debt that will be paid off before it accrues interest. Many people will repay that debt at the minimum rate their credit cards publish and there lays the trap. The minimum payment amount will pay the interest and reduce the balance by around 2% to 3%. (Originally it was only 1% but the government made the credit card companies increase their minimum payment amount). What people don’t realise is the effect of compounding interest on their credit balance and how much they will actually end up repaying.

For example, let’s assume we have a credit card with an interest rate of 17.31%, with a credit account balance of $3,073.00. If we paid the minimum payment, we would pay only $62.00 a month. By the time the account was repaid in full, in 24 years time, we would have paid back an extra $6,000 in interest. Effectively we gave the credit providers a gift not only for this Christmas but for the nest 23 years!

If we had added another $50 a month to that minimum payment, the credit card account would be repaid in 3 years and we would have paid only $867.00 in interest, saving $5,133.00.

We tend to think that the minimum payment is what we should pay off our credit card and of course that’s what the finance companies want us to think because it makes them a fortune.

If you really want to get into the spirit of Christmas, add a bit extra onto your credit card repayments and give something to those who deserve it most – yourself. After all you earned it, in every sense of the word.