Sunday, October 29, 2023

Homelessness: An analysis

I am going to be very politically incorrect below. The Left will accuse me of being heartless and uncaring. But their indifference to the ghastly attacks on innocent Israelis from Gaza tells us what a hollow pretence their "caring" is

Conservatives do occasionally note that homelessness is mainly an outcome of poor decisions and I am going to elaborate on that but I also want to go bit deeper than that

Being a good academic, I will first define my terms. By "homeless" I mean street sleepers and people who live in their cars. I probably should also include "couch surfers" who live temporarily with friends. There is something of a continuum between those three groups but there is sufficient similarity to support the generalizations I wish to make.

The basic problem with the homeless is poor decision-making. The letting agents tell us that the unhousable usually have drug and alcohol problems or are welfare-dependent single mothers. No experienced landlord would have anything to do with such people. Offering them accommodation would be asking for trouble. Such people would all have higher priorities than paying their rent

Women who get their legs up outside a committed relationship and without contraception are undoubtedly making a risky decision and one that sometimes goes very wrong. How selective you are about your partners is an important decision. Single mothers have undoubtedly got it wrong

So let us look at the other extreme: cautious people. If a man is frugal, is abstemious with alcohol, takes no recreational drugs and goes to university to get a useful qualification, he is most unlikely to end up homeless. Ditto for a woman who is careful with her contraception.

A major and important difference between the cautious and incautious groups is frugality. I have expanded on that previously

So I think I have covered the major ways in which decisions affect homelessness. So the next step is to ask WHY some people make very bad decisions

Sad to say, I think the two groups are actually born different, with impulsiveness and poor ability to think ahead being inborn in most of the homeless.

And IQ is perhaps the most important inborn difference of all. The people who go to university and the people who spend most of their money on beer and cigarettes are almost always going to be differentiated by IQ. A smart person can see when he is at a dead end and will find a way out of it.

So the homeless do deserve our pity and help. They are born unfortunate. They cannot help it. Whether it is incumbent on anyone to help them is another question, however. Governments sometimes attempt that task by providing "social" (welfare) housing but the cost of that ensures that it will only ever be a partial solution. There is no good alternative to self-help -- JR


Parliament votes for more fatherless children

Bettina Arndt

October 19 was a dark day in Australia’s social history after our Parliament voted for more fatherless children… Labor’s draconian family law bill became law, removing almost every word from previous legislation which promoted children’s rights to care from both parents after divorce. This brave new law sets aside many decades of international evidence showing it is harmful for children to grow up without dads.

For almost two decades Australia has been a world leader in encouraging separated parents to share decisions about raising their kids. That achievement dates back to John Howard’s path-breaking 2006 reforms promoting ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ which resulted in a major increase in care from dads, more shared care, better relations between parents, and less litigation.

The result was improved children’s well-being, according to UNSW research, and the reforms were a big hit with the public, ‘overwhelmingly supported by parents, legal professionals, and family relationship service professionals’, according to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

That mighty legal reform, which had bipartisan support, has now been swept aside. According to the eminent former family law professor Patrick Parkinson, the new divorce laws strip ‘almost all references which encourage the meaningful involvement of both parents in relation to the child after separation’. That means dads will be cut out of their children’s lives, he warned.

Labor hustled the bill through Parliament last week as Australia was distracted by the referendum results, after cutting short the usual extensive scrutiny required for such a massive change.

Watch fiery Michaela Cash in the Senate exposing Labor’s unseemly haste to get these changes into law and their refusal to answer questions about why they chose this treacherous betrayal of fathers.

The process was fuelled by comments from Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, who I believe wrongly claimed the changes had the support of numerous previous inquiries.

In one example, the removal of the key ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ clause was done by claiming this deluded dads into thinking that they might just be entitled to equal time with their own kids. It’s true that various inquiries, including the Australian Law Reform Commission, had pointed out there was sometimes confusion, but they simply suggested changing the language, not tossing out the whole thing.

No committee suggested removing all mention of children’s right to know and be cared for by both parents, and their right to spend regular time with both parents and other significant people like grandparents, nor the provision that parenting plans should start by considering the option of equal or substantial time with both parents.

So how did they get away with it? For decades, feminist ideologues have been manipulating the family law system by claiming that all women and their children are at risk of attack by violent ex-partners. They’ve succeeded brilliantly in hushing up the key statistic that puts a lie to the claim that so many dads pose a risk to their children – namely that only 1.2 per cent of women are physically assaulted by their male partner or ex-parent each year in Australia, according to the most recent 2016 Personal Safety survey. Physical violence is blessedly rare.

Even though violence orders are commonplace for many of the tiny numbers (less than 5 per cent) of couples who actually appear before the Family Court, these families are not the norm. What matters most is the impact of family law legislation on decisions made about parenting by ordinary separating couples who don’t battle it out in court.

Now these couples are to be told the imperative is keeping children safe and that means putting care of children firmly back into female hands. Look at this press release from the Women’s Legal Services Australia, congratulating Attorney General Dreyfus on the bill, which was circulated within minutes of the vote going through.

‘We strongly support reform of the Family Law Act to make the law clearer and fairer, including the removal of the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility to improve safety.

‘When violence and abuse are factors, courts will be able to deal with them more easily and reduce the number of children and mothers forced into dangerous situations.

‘Removing this dangerous provision will give the courts the freedom to focus on safety and the genuine best interests of children and families.’

It’s another superb victory for the feminists, one more achievement for their mighty domestic violence juggernaut, which already works a treat tilting the family law system to favour women. Currently, all it takes is one vague claim that violence could occur, requiring zero supportive evidence, to set in train a sequence of events starting with dad being removed from the home, denied contact with children and, if he’s lucky, paying big money to see his children in our draconian supervised contact services.

No wonder Australia has become one of the world leaders when it comes to men suffering false allegations. Look at this fascinating new YouGov survey, involving 9,432 people across 8 countries. Australia came out as the worst country, after India, when people were asked if they had been falsely accused of abuse.

The YouGov survey showed false accusations in Australia are more likely to be made as part of a child custody dispute than anywhere else in the world – they are 41 per cent of such allegations in this country. Overall, the survey showed 80 per cent of victims of false allegations in this country are male and almost a third (30 per cent) of people surveyed know a victim of false allegations made in the last year.

It was Julia Gillard’s feminist government that set the scene for this state of affairs when they removed the 2006 penalties for perjury and placed violence accusations front and centre of decision-making about sharing of care of children. Her government also greatly expanded the definition of domestic ‘violence’ to include emotional and psychological abuse, threatening behaviour, etc. – adding enormously to the list of families precluded from court-approved shared care.

Magistrates’ courts have been overwhelmed with false violence accusations, which some magistrates have acknowledged are being used to gain strategic advantage in child custody matters. A survey of 38 magistrates in Queensland found 74 per cent agreed restraining orders are often used for tactical purposes. Similarly, 90 per cent of 68 NSW magistrates agreed restraining orders are often sought as tactical devices in family law disputes, ‘serving to deprive former partners of contact with their children’.

In a national survey of over 2,500 respondents, more than half agreed that ‘women going through custody battles often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence in order to improve their case’.

People know this is happening – including police, who are starting to speak out about the enormous amount of their time consumed by false allegations. Two years ago, the Queensland Police Union made a submission to a family law inquiry pointing out that false allegations of domestic violence are sometimes used to gain advantage in family law disputes, with members of the police force sometimes finding themselves on the receiving end.

In some areas of Queensland, domestic violence takes up to 80 per cent of police time. Note that in NSW, domestic violence assaults make up only 4.8 per cent of major crimes but take up 50-70 per cent of police time.

That’s the current reality. But now, things are going to get far worse. Under the new Act, shared care is only to be considered ‘when it is safe to do so’, which means only a very brave judge would risk such an order if a mother claims to feel unsafe. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has also announced a new bill next year promising a greater share of the marital assets to victims of violence.

But getting the current bill through Parliament proved a breeze for the government. These momentous changes sailed through the lower house. Not a single word was spoken by MPs about false allegations. It was up to Pauline Hanson in the Senate to acknowledge the elephant in the room. She also introduced an amendment to reinstate the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility, which naturally failed.

The Opposition introduced some pretty feeble amendments, trying unsuccessfully to reintroduce some of the parenting sections of the bill. There were fine speeches warning about the impact of the bill on fathers and children by a number of key Senators, including Alex Antic, Matt Canavan, Linda Reynolds, Gerard Rennick, and Paul Scarr. And Michaela Cash did a great job dissecting key faults in the bill – do watch here to see how Labor utterly fails to justify what they are doing.

Yet, in the end, they sold us out. When it came to a vote, the bill went through, with the Greens, Pocock, and Jacqui Lambie’s group, all happily supporting Labor. Almost all the Opposition Senators abstained and then Michaela Cash turned around and voted for it.

Only three people voted against the legislation: Hanson and her One Nation colleague, Malcolm Roberts, along with United Australia Party Senator Ralph Babet.

The Opposition may well claim they’ll stand up and be counted when they get back in power – they just need to avoid attracting feminist wrath until then. But should we trust them after the endless kowtowing to the women’s lobby?

What’s really frightening is how effectively the feminists shut down any proper public discussion of this critical bill, which I would argue is one of the most critical social changes imposed on us for many decades.

People need to know what’s happened here. These changes to the law will bring poorer outcomes for children, a fresh flood of new accusations against fathers, more conflict between divorced parents, a huge surge in litigation as men pay out to try to see their children, and more suicides for men as they realise that their chances of a fair hearing in an already biased court system will now be further reduced. All bad news, unless you are a feminist.


Anti-Semitism at the ABC

The national broadcaster has not had a good war in Israel but on Tuesday, managing director David Anderson emerged defiant from his foxhole to defend his troops.

Anderson appeared before a Senate Estimates hearing and confirmed that the ABC had finally launched an investigation into the conduct of Tom Joyner, its Middle East correspondent who created an international media scandal when he callously dismissed eyewitness reports that Israeli babies had been beheaded in a text to hundreds of journalists in Israel. He claimed ‘the story about the babies is bullsh-t’.

Anderson told Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes that Joyner was just ‘trying to do what journalists were doing… trying to verify what sources could back up’ and he was ‘quite remorseful and apologetic for the words that he used’.

No, that’s not what Joyner did. He falsely claimed, with zero evidence, that Israeli first responders were lying about the murder of Israeli babies and equally erroneously claimed there had been no confirmation of their accounts. In fact, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office had confirmed the numerous eyewitness testimonies.

If Joyner wanted more evidence he could have contacted Dr Chen Kugel, the head of Israel’s National Center for Forensic Medicine, which is painstakingly identifying the victims. Dr Kugel has confirmed that numerous victims, including babies, were decapitated. Rather than establish the facts, Joyner assumed Israeli eyewitnesses were lying even though Hamas had just assaulted, butchered, or abducted thousands of Israelis and other civilians in the most brutal act of terror in the history of the Jewish state.

As one journalist asked Joyner, ‘Why are you picking this hill to be humiliated on?’ Why indeed?

Perhaps because the whole ABC is so steeped in anti-Semitism that it seemed natural to him to assume Israeli eyewitnesses to a national tragedy were ‘bullsh-ttng’.

You would think that having demonstrated an appalling lack of professionalism in such a senior role, Joyner would be sacked or at least sent home. But no, he was given a holiday and continues as a Middle East correspondent.

Why not? The ABC seems to have no problem with political reporter Nour Haydar retweeting a post complaining about Palestinians in Australia ‘being policed for their language, protests’ after Hamas supporters chanted ‘Gas the Jews’, and claiming that the Australian Jewish Association calling for the destruction of Hamas was openly calling for ‘genocide’. Who does she work for asked one dismayed Australian whose taxes pay her salary – the ABC or Al Jazeera?

Anderson also stood by the decision to give a national platform in prime time on 7.30 to Hamas’s head of international relations Dr Basem Naim even though Hamas is a listed terrorist organisation that had just engaged in an appalling act of terror.

Naim used the opportunity to lie through his teeth claiming that Hamas never intended to target civilians or take them hostage. He expects us to assume that the killing of at least 1,400 Israelis and other civilians, the injuring of 5,431 and the seizure of more than 200 hostages was unintentional but the terrorists were so proud of their accidental atrocities that they they posted them on Facebook.

Incredibly, Anderson claimed that it was ‘editorially justified’ to interview Naim ‘to challenge’ Hamas’s claims. Yet the article on the ABC website that reports the interview doesn’t challenge the Hamas narrative, it reads like an apologia.

According to Naim, ‘the chief commander of the Al Qassem Brigade, who initiated the operation… gave clear instructions not to target… (or) harm civilians’ and as if by accident, ‘in the middle of the confrontation, there was some civilians’. Naim claims, ‘We haven’t planned at any moment to take any civilian hostages. The plan was to take on the fight against soldiers and to take some soldiers as hostages’. He says Hamas is taking care of the civilian hostages, ‘based on our moral obligations’ and will release them ‘the moment the aggression is stopped’. He defends Hamas’s ‘instruction to civilians’ to remain in the conflict zone in Northern Gaza despite Israel warning them to go, claiming it is ‘too dangerous for civilians to leave and that for Palestinians, quitting their homes now would be a repeat of the “catastrophe” of 1948’.

Finally, he claims Hamas’s atrocities are ‘an act of defence’ and blames them on Israel claiming, ‘We are occupied people, we are defending our existence’.

This is a pack of obscene lies. Hamas filmed terrorists using hang-gliders to land in the middle of a dance party where they slaughtered hundreds of young people and took dozens hostage. Terrorists filmed themselves rampaging through kibbutzes, burning whole families alive, shooting children as they cowered under tables and posted the evidence on social media.

None of this is in the ABC article. Nor the fact that the Hamas charter commits not just to destroying the state of Israel but to murdering every Jew on the planet. Not once does it mention that Gaza is not occupied but self-governing and that Hamas came to power in a bloody coup in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed and political rivals were thrown off the tops of the tallest buildings. There is no mention of the thousands of rockets that have been launched from Gaza into Israel year after year targeting civilian areas.

Anderson said in Senate Estimates that he does not think that the article is ‘legitimising terrorism’ or that ‘the ABC is anti-Semitic in any way’. It’s presumably fair and balanced that the ABC reports that Hamas is taking good care of civilian hostages that they captured by chance while the Israelis are lying about beheaded babies.

It’s all part of Western media bias in which once respectable papers such as the New York Times rushed to believe Hamas’s version of events which blamed Israel for catastrophic damage to the al-Ahli hospital in northern Gaza when in fact the damage was done by a rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad which crashed into the car park of the hospital.

Even a features writer for New York Magazine Intelligencer who is critical of the Left’s failure to condemn Hamas was so keen not to exaggerate Hamas’s barbarism that he criticised his own article writing it was an ‘overstatement’ to say that ‘babies were beheaded’ and he ‘should have said that the report established that babies were found headless, a fact that lends plausibility to claims of beheading, but which does not prove them’.

This is what the West has come to: its scribes parse the fate of headless Jewish babies, while the barbarians rally in the streets and clamour at the gates.


Chasing idiocy: how subsidies power our energy price hikes

If we looked at the picture for Australia in the mid-90s, the electricity industry was massively overstaffed and the gas industry was dissipating the wealth that Exxon had discovered in Bass Strait.

In the case of electricity, Victoria led the way, and one simple figure illustrates the benefits brought about by privatisation and the introduction of competition. Generation Victoria was the monopoly supplier. Prior to reforms, which were ironically initiated by socialist Premier Joan Kirner, it employed 25,000 people; by the early 2000s, the numbers employed, including consultants and contractors, were under 3,000. At the same time the output, in terms of the power stations’ availabilities to run, had lifted from somewhere in the mid-70 per cent range to the mid-90s.

So, we had over 20,000 surplus personnel who only gummed up the work. Similar savings can be found in the distribution and transmission businesses, albeit to a lesser degree.

Australia was largely traversing the path that had been trailblazed by Margaret Thatcher’s administration in the UK and, less systematically in the US, where The Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland network (PJM) showed the way in which independent generator businesses could compete while cooperating thereby bringing about lower prices with considerable incentives to invest where investment would be profitable.

Within six or seven years of initiating the reforms, Australia had achieved what was probably the lowest electricity prices in the world and an electricity system, which was no longer plagued with downtime, strikes, and blackouts. We saw new investment responding to commercial, not political, incentives.

This was done as a result of profits-oriented businesses, in retail as well as generation – not all of them privately owned – competing for business within a known framework of rules. These as the very conditions under which capitalism generally has prevailed and brought the wealth of nations we enjoy today.

But the situation in the energy industry was always precarious. Even while the reforms were taking place, Victorian Treasurer Alan Stockdale felt obliged to introduce regulatory arrangements for pricing and for ombudsman arrangements that went far beyond those seen in other industries.

At the start of the 21st Century, and for the next few years, electricity prices (and to a lesser degree gas, having fallen immediately after the reforms), were increasing more or less in line with inflation.

But the germs of the present disaster were already starting to infect the industry – and the economy as a whole.

Spurred on by claims that carbon dioxide emissions were causing global warming, and a fantasy that wind and solar energy would soon become cheaper than ‘dinosaur’ coal and gas and supposedly inherently dangerous nuclear, the first tentative steps were taken to favour renewable industries. Amusingly, we see agencies like CSIRO and others claiming even more stridently that wind and solar is cheaper and – often within the same sentence – adding that they therefore need to continue receiving the subsidies they enjoy.

In response to climate scares and skilful lobbying, John Howard introduced requirements for ‘2 per cent of additional energy’ to be supplied by wind and solar. The method of arranging, for this was through the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) whereby energy certificates, which provided a subsidy to wind and solar, equivalent in those days to about $30 per MWh (providing a 70 per cent premium on the commercial market price).

John Howard has since said that this 2 per cent additional energy policy was his greatest political error. He sought to cap the level of support and appointed an inquiry, chaired by former Senator Tamblyn, to advise on this. As is often the case, the inquiry was captured by the bureaucrats and recommended the expansion of the scheme from what had been quantified at 9,500 GWh to 16,000 GWh. To his credit, Howard rejected this but was quickly replaced by Australia’s new economic and political saviour, Kevin Rudd.

Under Rudd/Gillard, the MRET scheme and its roof-top sister scheme went into break-neck expansion until the Abbott victory in 2013. Abbott wanted to wind back the scheme but, fearing radical advice and conscious of political opposition to this, appointed the sensible Dick Warburton to head the inquiry, and the best he felt he could do was to cap the scheme.

So the subsidies have continued. They have transformed what was a supply comprising 85 per cent coal 10 per cent hydro and 5 per cent gas to the present output of 60 per cent coal 25 per cent solar/wind and 15 per cent hydro and gas. The present government seeks to eliminate coal altogether and, ostensibly at least, the Opposition is not far behind.

In terms of subsidies, the PC has put their effect as follows

In annualised dollar terms, the energy subsidies to renewables, the flip side of which is a tax-type penalty on fossil fuels come to over $9,800 (million):


RERT, FCAS and system security $400

Clean Energy Regulator $750

Expansion of transmission $510

CEFC $1,333

ARENA $100

Snowy 2 $1,333

State schemes $1,410

The subsidies do far more damage than a simple transfer of money from one party to another. Because wind is subsidised (and is favoured by the market operator’s dispatch algorithm that gives it preferred access), it can bid into the market at anything above negative $40-50 per MWh. This not only displaces coal but forces up its costs since the generators are capital-intensive and designed to operate for much of the day but are being forced to fill in when the wind/sun is not producing.

As a result, we see prices forced down as the coal generators meet the market pressures from wind and solar that will seek to run at anything over its (subsidised) break-even of about $50 per MWh. Prices then shoot up when those distorted market pressures add costs (by forcing the capital-intensive coal plant to operate part-time) and at the same time squeeze prices. That process forces a facility to close once a new lick of new capital is required to supply – not at the steady rate of the original design – but as a filler for when lack of wind and sun prevent intermittent renewables from generating. The pattern can be observed in prices depicted below.

This year’s closure of Liddell brought what the Australian Financial Review called a revelation, ‘Had Liddell’s capacity still been available, prices would have been lower.’ Chanticleer noted, that the average realised wholesale price increased 32 per cent in NSW, 27 per cent in Victoria, 100 per cent in SA and 14 per cent in Queensland.

The pressures on electricity have been increased by regulatory constraints on new developments and tax increases (called royalty increases) on coal and gas. For gas, Australia now has shortages due to regulatory restrictions that largely outlaw developments in all eastern states other than Queensland.

The outcome has seen Australia being transformed from its former position of enjoying very low-cost energy supply. Australian electricity prices are now twice those of China, Russia and Vietnam and much dearer than other nations following us down the climate energy wormhole, like Canada, the US, and Korea.

One solution according to our politicians and those who advise them is to re-nationalise the industry and double up on the subsidies to renewables.

Former Premier Andrews set renationalisation in train for Victoria. Fortunately, his government would be unable to raise sufficient funds to implement this.

The latest subsidy expansion is the Safeguard Mechanism but the Prime Minister has foreshadowed a new array of subsidies and regulatory impediments. And hydrogen is a popular elixir to fix the system but one that cannot conceivably work if only because it takes more energy to produce than if provides.

The further we go along this path of replacing coal with intermittent solar and wind supplies, the more expensive the firming operation becomes. With a 100 per cent renewables supply and no transmission constraints, Global Roam has put the firming costs as the equivalent of 25 Snowy 2’s or 70,000 Hornsdale batteries which would cost some $6 trillion and, even if amortised over a 15-year period would require one-third of annual GDP – and that is just for the batteries. Even larger costs are estimated by others like Francis Menton, who estimates that just to keep the lights on would require a backup of 25 days supply with 100 per cent wind supply. Pumped hydro might have a firming role alongside batteries but it cannot be a major one given Australia’s limited river flows.

One solution proposed by the Opposition is to adopt nuclear but this – at the present time – is nowhere near as economical for Australia as coal. It is even less so in the way Peter Dutton expressed it – as an adjunct and firming mechanism for renewables, a role that nuclear (like coal), with its high fixed costs, is intrinsically ill-placed to perform.

Of course, the real solution is that adopted by China, India, and others

But for the time being Prime Minister Albanese, reeling from the Voice debate, is preparing for a redoubled support for renewable energy. In doing so he is tacitly supported by the finance industry that is cowering from the ‘global boiling’ incandescents and refusing to finance energy sources other than those renewables requiring government subsidies. We therefore, at the very least, face a considerable increase in national misery before sensible energy economic policies are restored.




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