Tag Archives: Money

What the hell?

One of my income streams has just gone belly up. It wasn’t a big one and I had an inkling it was coming so it’s no big deal, just a minor irritation. What made me go into ‘WTF!’ mode was the way in which it was done. “Hey, we want to talk about your contract…” then to be told there was no new contract. Oh well, what the hell, those people were insufferable anyway and deserve the fate that is coming their way next year when their funding is cut completely. At the end of the bad news delivery I was asked to “Have a nice day.” The irony was not lost on me, but I didn’t much feel like laughing.

From my perspective, that income stream had become uneconomical, often taking up way more time than I was being paid for without a bye, leave or thank you. You know the saying, “If you want something doing, give it to a busy man”? Well I was the busy man who kept finding more and more of his day being eaten up without being paid any extra money for more work. So, no great loss. I need the time for another major project anyway. More news about that later in August.

In the interim I’m looking at my share portfolio and am seriously thinking about cashing up. This prolonged lockdown has hit market confidence badly, leaving me thinking that any market bounceback that could have occurred won’t happen. This isn’t to say that some of our investments haven’t made money, just that others have made larger losses. So financially speaking we’re back to square one. As I’ve said before, this whole lockdown business has been badly mismanaged and the economic fallout looming just over the horizon ain’t gonna be fun for a lot of people. The ‘cure’ is going to be much worse than the disease.

The major problem with pandemics is infectivity. A pathogen (Virus, bacterium etc) can only thrive in conditions where it is freely transmissible and a lot of potential hosts are tightly grouped together in unsanitary conditions. Say a block of flats or apartments in the low rent sector, or where the standard of cleanliness is less than reasonable. Or like in facilities where the inmates don’t or can’t observe such rigorous hygiene standards, such as in cheaper care homes or prisons. On the other hand, in single family homes and out in the ‘burbs, the rate of spread slows to a complete halt.

This is why China has had multiple reinfections, housing is mostly cramped and unsanitary compared to Western standards and keeping housing clean enough to eliminate any pools of infections becomes nigh on impossible. Masks won’t help at this stage either, because as has been noted, the closer you are to high concentrations of infectious material, the greater the likelihood of rapid spread. Masks can only reduce the radius of infection. Oh, and stay out of air conditioned buildings if you can. I worked for an air conditioning company for a couple of years and learned about what happens if the maintenance schedules are not rigorously applied or the cooling coil drains get blocked or iced up.

Remember the fuss over Legionnaires Disease? Trust me. The great outdoors is far safer. Bugs like droplets to ride on.

Which makes me wonder at the advice to shut down outdoor facilities like the garden of a pub. We were at a Tim Hortons the other day and they’d shut down the outdoor seating so everyone had to either sit in their cars and drink their coffee, or do so in the epidemiologically speaking far more dangerous environment of the coffee bar.

There’s so much counter intuitive information going around that it’s a wonder people are still venturing outdoors. Although some aren’t. Poor darlings have been terrorised by all the scaremongering being trotted out in the mainstream and all the sensational clickbait headlines. What no-one seems to be saying is that the worst is past.

Likewise, the time for masks has passed, and the only halfway safe ones were the disposable surgical type, as those might not have stopped every bug, but reduced the radius of infection, and being disposable after each use, don’t act as a reservoir of infection like the worthless but rather stylish non-disposables I see so many sporting. First these home made things need boil washing or thoroughly nuking in a microwave after every single use. Second, cloth masks are way more porous than a surgical or N95 mask and thus stop less infectious material. An N95, as Ripper will no doubt remind me, is better at stopping infected droplets than a surgical mask, but still has to be disposed of after each use. These cloth things are better than nothing, but often more use in an armed robbery than against the spread of a virus.

However, from our perspective, no matter what happens the Sticker household is going to be okay. Not rich, but well off enough to put our money into building a decent house and keeping the bills paid with a little aside for travel.

The plan is this; Mrs S watches the finances and I go do. We consult, pay for land, planning and architects. Then when we’ve got all our ducks in a row, I go do some of the low level work, building, logistics, labouring, ring mains, lighting, a little plumbing and non-specialist decorating. Oh yes, and the day to day project management of telling suppliers that if they don’t deliver on time they won’t get paid on time either. Her job is to watch the budgets while I get to do the old walk and talk, set up accounts, negotiate discounts and delivery schedules etc. Which is part of what I did for the people who just dispensed with my services.

Round and round we go, but the pace rarely lets up.

Update: This article in the Times makes for interesting reading and confirms much of what I understood to be true about the origins of the embuggerance known as SARS-Covid19. Yes, it is very likely that the original virus came from bats, but the Covid-19 variant is highly probably derivative from the original found in bat faeces at a copper mining site. It’s a lab grown variant which was accidentally released into the wild. The seven year timeline sounds about right, too. A good piece of work.

Ghost town

A short musical (?) interlude. A blast from the 1980’s. Never liked it myself, and I never liked Coventry much, or the Specials, but having taken a perambulate around the malls and deep into downtown this morning, I think it’s appropriate.

Downtown Victoria BC, a normally slow Sunday bustle has everything but tumbleweed, and the only reason we didn’t see any of that was that we didn’t stay very long. Most of the stores are closed with only a few fast food places offering take-outs. Further out, malls are guarded by single worried looking security guards who apologetically tell any visitors that the stores are mostly closed.

This is a government created economic depression. No lives have been ‘saved’ from the coronavirus. Indeed a number will have been lost as the direct effect of an imposed lockdown which should have lasted three weeks at the most, then the restrictions lifted everywhere but care homes for the elderly and vulnerable with existing pre-conditions.

I haven’t reckoned the total damage to my investment portfolio yet, but between Mrs S and I we think we took a hit of forty to fifty thousand dollars. And we got off lightly.

Bring on the dancing monkeys

I really am going to ditch my FT subscription. The financial information I need to keep ahead of the curve is currently too often buried by a great steaming heap of poorly informed, but very well written op-eds. As for the rest of the press, I’m more inclined to read the National Enquirer or Fortean Times for serious information at the moment. Dear me. The BBC is a joke. The Times and Telegraph aren’t much better than the Wail. The Guardian is full of clickbait op-eds. CNN, MSNBC etc are too busy taking pot shots at Trump. The main Canadian media channels are bought and paid for by our taxes, so they’re little better than trolls or bots. When it comes to real news it’s like the western mass media is in some alternate reality.

Listening to a Q & A session from 10 Downing Street and later another from the White House, I was struck by ‘Journalists’ attempts to finger point and assign blame rather than dig out the real numbers, which is where any worthwhile information resides. It seems that we are poorly served by our mass media, who currently resemble a crowd of dancing monkeys, each desperate for their moment to please and garner a few pennies in their cap whilst delivering nothing of real value.

Then there are desperate for attention ‘celebrities’, virtue signalling and lecturing the rest of us from their fan bases without actually helping out. Some preferring to sing that idiotic Lennon song ‘Imagine’ on a YouTube video, pretending to show us mere mortals that they ‘care’ (Yeah, right). Lennon’s tune is a pleasant enough sequence of notes, but otherwise completely vacuous. It really is like being lectured at and talked down to. And I for one don’t care about air head ‘celebrity’ politics or morals because both derive from a moral vacuum. They can roll around in a cloud of cocaine until their noses rot and bugger each other senseless as far as I’m concerned, but so long as it happens behind closed doors and I’m not expected to like or pay for it, have fun guys.

By way of contrast, might I point to the example of James McAvoy, actor, who has donated GBP 275,000 of his own money to an organisation equipping NHS frontline staff with masks, then rolling up his sleeves and volunteering. Much Kudos and respect to that man. It’s his money. Besides, volunteering will get him an excuse to be out of the house with something worthwhile to do whilst this emergency is on. The fact that such a donation will also be tax-deductible is fine by me.

Speaking of tax, my bill has almost tripled this year, which I’m not totally ecstatic about. This is because Mrs S and I made quite a bit on investments in the last tax year. Unfortunately much of these profits have since evaporated in the current economic downturn. So effectively we’re back where we started at the end of last year. Notwithstanding, I’ve still got my ‘walkaway money’ and our investments will recover, but in the meantime the taxman takes his bite regardless, so I’m down. Significantly. Even though I’ll make it all back and then some in the next 6-12 months.

Nobody likes losing money through no fault of their own, least of all me. But here we are.

Little Blackface needs our money to buy that seat on the UN Security council. Although with the (local) price of gasoline down to under a dollar a litre at present, which is about 56p / litre! You heard me, Fifty six pence per litre, he might have to wait a while for that extra carbon tax money. For example, up province in Prince George, the price of 87 octane has dropped to under seventy five cents a litre, which translates at current exchange rates at 43p GBP (forty three pence) per litre, although I’m not driving that far for cheap gas. By comparison, in December 2019 we were paying 1.40 a litre (80p / litre). All I have to say is, long may the Russo-Saudi oil price war continue. That price war, more than the Wu-flu or mishandling rail blockades by NGO’s posing as First Nations could well be the deciding factor in Trudeau’s well deserved downfall.

Although you’ll never hear that from most of the bought and paid for dancing monkeys. Never mind about the Wu-flu plague.

Quick financial tip; watch for a series of possible (Probable) sovereign debt defaults by certain African nations. They’re deeply in hock to the Chinese and European banks who are all over extended in that region. That is where the next financial crisis will be coming from.

As for the reports of China ‘opening up’ and coming out of lockdown, the Indian English language site video below paints a very different picture. Even if it is someone else’s propaganda.

(Watch this space. Someone is playing silly buggers with YouTube shares – fixing)

Containment

I’ve been hearing rumours that the Covid-19 figures from China are not kosher. There are clues, nothing conclusive, but enough to raise a sceptical eyebrow at the ‘no new cases’ claim coming from the PRC. Maybe even that the death count from Wuhan and other cities is being under reported by at least a factor of three. I mentioned this to Mrs S this morning, and she said she had seen similar stories from outlets with differing agendas, so, okay, not clear evidence but definitely something that makes my bullshit detectors twitch.
What can I say? Doctor, Doctor, I’m suffering from a nasty suspicious mind?
Doctor; Sorry Bill, there’s no cure for that.

Then the ugly fact pops up that this is the fourth(!) and most major pandemic / global virus to come out of that region in the last fifteen years. I checked the WHO’s historical stats available here. First there was SARS, then H1N1 (Swine flu), H7N9 (A form of Bird flu), now there is Covid-19. That is a lot of infections from one region in such a relatively short time frame. One might even be forgiven for thinking there’s something deliberate going on. Either that or they have some serious public hygiene / health issues.

Africa for example has issues with diseases we in the modern west left behind in the 1950’s and latterly the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses. Cholera, Polio and various other diseases etc are endemic but nothing like the disease output of China. There’s also the point that all the four Chinese originating viruses are zoonotics, as are Ebola and Marburg (originating from wild animals). There was also talk of Covid-19 looking like it was born in a lab and let out into the wild by poor containment protocols.

Which begs the thought, why did we in the west outsource so many manufacturing jobs to the PRC? We may get cheaper consumer goods in return, but the downside of this globalist approach is the rapid spread of virulent and fatal diseases with their associated problems. As we are seeing.

The answer of course is lower manufacturing costs and cheap labour. Apple for example wouldn’t be able to make such vast profits otherwise. Nor would other large multinationals.

As an investor I am less than comfortable using Chinese equipment simply because of the well known issue of state slavery in China. Specifically political prisoners used to produce consumer goods. Other countries in the region; Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, have less of an issue and can and do take up the slack when multinationals switch their production. These alternatives do have their public health issues but are are not such sinks of widespread infection. Despite my brokers urging, I have to date refused point blank to put my money into companies who use the PRC as their primary manufacturing and distribution hubs, like Apple for example.

Okay, you might say, some of this is all conjecture on my part, but I say given the actual evidence perhaps it is time to rethink this relationship? Trump, the globalists bête noire and villain in chief (I wonder why?), has set great store in repatriating manufacturing jobs to the USA. Maybe now is the time for other western nations to increase their efforts in this direction? Before the next Chinese-born pandemic rolls around.

As for Gordon Brown, the UK’s biggest failure as Prime Minister, he can fuck right back off to a well deserved obscurity and take his ‘one world government response’ with him. This pandemic is mostly the globalists fault anyway.

Another old saying

Taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, act iv, scene iii;

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

Today is a good day to take a breath, roll the dice and see what comes up, good or bad.

I may end up a poorer man, but I think not. My broker and I will have a chat this morning and it is my intent to send some investment money winging it’s way marketwards. Which is part of what I do as an investor, take a deep breath and trust people to not piss my hard earned up the wall. After the initial market panic there are people who still need to work, and if I can be in some small way instrumental in helping a company stay afloat, providing capital to pay wages and all the myriad expenses of providing services and goods then my conscience is clear and my heart light.

For my investment I expect a modest return to recoup my losses, first when greatly devalued shares rebound, then reap the dividends, which are essentially interest on a loan made to a given business. By doing this I am not hoarding, hiding my scant resources in commodities like precious metals, but making a gift of faith which, it is hoped, will benefit all concerned.

If everything still goes even further pear shaped, then I will take comfort in the words of Steve Knightley; “You’ll get by” sigh heavily and start over. I’ve had to before.

There is hope out there in these trying times. All you have to do is have a little faith.

A little pain

Just had my broker on the phone in a bit of a flat spin. He tells me our investments are 7% down with this scare over Covid19. By way of context, the Market overall has plummeted 24%. Ouch, right? Now you know why capitalism doesn’t work Bill, got the message? No. We’re not wiped out, we’ve just taken a heavy knock, that’s all. Only lost 7% when others have dropped almost a quarter? I’d say we’re doing pretty well all things considered. The Canadian Dollar has just taken a big hit too, so what we had is worth less. If the markets burn completely then we’re all fucked, royally so.

However, money is like river water, it can evaporate, but then comes down as rain. It can get polluted, but can be filtered and boiled. It has flows and currents but you can’t ‘destroy’ it except by electrolysis. Making it is hard. Hanging on to what you make is harder still until you learn to use the flows to your advantage.

In the meantime Capitalism is working just fine for me. The markets will rebound in a month or so and I will have ploughed a chunk of reserve capital from last years gains back in as the markets bottom out, therefore in the medium term will make quite a handsome profit, the tax man’s bite notwithstanding. For the moment we’re biting the bullet and not doing the headless chicken thing like all so many others.

My investment strategy is fairly conservative anyway and relies on recouping any potential share value losses from dividends, rather than relying on the ups and downs of share value alone. Any paid dividends are saved in a cash reserve and reinvested when the market takes a big hit like about now. It’s not dragon magic. Read the Tao of Warren Buffett. Very enlightening. We did exactly the same over the 2017-18 new year market ‘correction’ and made back well over double our losses.

As for being around when any rampaging pitchfork toting mob comes to call (Sorry, the capitalist pig isn’t in – try the next street over), looking for ‘wealthy’ (Or even modestly well off) people to asset strip, we won’t be. Firstly, we’re three parts of the way up a nice steep hill in a fairly anonymous suburb, so any rampaging mob will be just about having their second heart attack by the time they get to our relatively modest door with the ‘quarantine’ sticker on. Secondly we’ll have faded like a Cheshire cats smile into the background, having moved all our kit out the week before. Thirdly my broker, lawyer and accountant get well paid for protecting and shifting our hard earned. They do their jobs. We make them money.

We’re good at being light on our feet in our family. For background; Mrs S once got caught up in the 1990 Taylor coup in Liberia and I’ve lost the roof over my head a couple of times, so we’re not exactly amateurs at this game. Once bitten etc. All you really need is a light backpack, a spare credit card, a laptop and a few sets of fresh underwear, then take the back roads to the nearest ferry, airport or safe haven. The rest is only stuff. It can be replaced.

What I’m trying to say is; this too shall pass. Don’t lose your heads. Covid19 is nasty but it’s not the Black Death. For perspective; in the UK the excess Winter deaths 2017-18 were about 23,000. Out of a comparable population of 60,000,000, that means a total extra death toll of a smidge over 3,000, which compared to the overall stats is but a pimple. Not much fun if you suffer the full effects, but 88% of those infected may not even notice, or pass it off as a seasonal sniffle. Still, it pays to be cautious.

The economic pain we’re getting at present is only going to last until Spring. Yes it’s unpleasant, but it’s not the end of the world, no matter what the lamestream say. To quote one US President; the only thing we need to fear is fear itself. I say; hang tough and sit it out, then wait for the first person to say “What was all the fuss about?” That’s when you’ll know it’s all over.

Sometimes you get surprised

Well, well, well. You know all that doom and gloom BREXIT was supposed to bring? I’ve just been reading the UK chancellors budget speech and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Tax cuts and infrastructure investment? Now that the EU shackles are off, the UK can and is doing it’s own thing.

As an investor I do have my reservations of course. The whole ‘Green’ thing. Has anyone done the sums on the extra baseload generation capacity and extra infrastructure the UK will need for all these whizzy little electric cars and suchlike? Yet I found nothing in the speech about new power stations apart from wind and solar. That’s going to be a big bloody help when the wind doesn’t blow on a cloudy day.

They’re going to have to get busy building these new Rolls Royce SMR plants, as well as making sure no crazy hippies or other witless nonsense merchants can damage them.

As a concept I like the SMR and the prospect of fast rollout and installation times for small nuclear reactors. I’d like it even better if there was a heavily camouflaged option. One that could be hidden in a place like Corsham Quarries, or other disused MOD sites or mines. Places that could easily be made secure and protected with a lot of rock between them and the outside world. Not that these SMRs will do a Chernobyl, they are being built and designed by Rolls-Royce after all. Unfortunately the reputation of Nuclear Engineering was not best served by a Soviet regime turning off all the safeties just to see how high they could crank up the volume. Nor was it well served by sticking old model boiler reactors on the shores of Japan which are notoriously vulnerable to earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis a la Fukushima. However, what all the anti-nuke faction forget is that nuclear is still the cleanest, safest option when it comes to power generation. You’re far more likely to get damaged by a cuddly toy.

Now if the powers that be can start to get these SMRs in situ before 2030 and at least start to update the electrical grid, then the UK may, and I’m putting a big conditional ‘may’ on that, have all the whizziest electrickery cars a body could desire. If of course someone discovers a new source of available cobalt etc or the much vaunted Graphene batteries prove viable. However, I’m still not totally sold on an all electric vehicle UK. There are journeys they are okay for; urban only commutes for example, but for non-rail travel outside major urban conurbations, trucking and agriculture, electrical vehicles are still, at this part of their developmental cycle, chocolate teapot time.

Mrs S and Youngest, a.k.a ‘North’ are delighted that the EU mandated ‘tampon tax’ is going away. “About bloody time.” Said ‘North’. I am also pleased about the removal of VAT from books and magazines. Then there’s going to be no extra taxes on fuel or Al Cohol and friends? Just what do these Tories think they’re doing? Running an economy? Well hold my breath.

PSBR has shot up, but the BOE have just cut interest rates, so now is a time to invest in infrastructure, not merely spend to buy votes. Necessary investment like the promised 50 billion on broadband. If I was asked, not that anyone is going to, I’d say the UK’s first post-BREXIT budget is a bit of a gamble, but not an unreasonable one. If it were me I’d give the infrastructure improvements the nod and cross my fingers, toes and nostrils, which is what I strongly suspect Bojo is doing. The Tories will score a big win if they only manage to fix the potholes and let the traffic go where it may.

Sounds like a plan.

All for vanity

Canada’s Prime Minister has just returned from swanning around Africa, brown nosing for votes to give Canada one of the currently vacant seats on the UN’s insecurity council. This is nothing more than a vanity project, especially when Canada is being brought to a grinding halt by little more than a handful of Tides-funded fake nations protesters. Now he wants to engage in a dialogue? Do I hear someone laughing? Soros, is that you? Again.

The majority of real first nations are standing on the sidelines going “WTF?” They want pipelines. They want prosperity. I get the sense that they’re very pissed off about these fake nations taking their name in vain.

The Police appear to have been given stand down orders because they do nothing when main highways and rail lines are blockaded, yet will arrest any public spirited citizens who attempt to clear up the mess. Then there are the handful of activists who blocked the Legislature in downtown Victoria. Not sure if they’re still there. Perhaps they’re lecture dodging.

Protests are fine, but physical blockades? No, that’s a step on the road to anarchy. Not acceptable. It could even be described as terrorism. Not that there’s any terror involved for anyone above the level of total wuss.

There’s something going on beneath the surface because even the politicians are getting harassed yet the RCMP and local cops are doing nothing apart from jumping on any people who object to the blockades. Or are the Canadian Police simply doing this in mute protest at being given a big ‘hands off’ by their superiors when it comes to these blockades? By their forced inaction are the lower ranks making a political statement about enforcement? As political as they are allowed to be that is. Maybe they’re so fed up that they’re going to let things go down to the wire. Or are their upper echelons so subsumed by PC culture that the rank and file are ordered not to intervene? I have no idea.

As far as the first nations are concerned, the RCMP are damned if they do and damned if they don’t so maybe they’re simply choosing the least worst option, at least as far as they are concerned. If the country’s economy is heading toward lockdown, they don’t care. Or at least they’re not being allowed to care.

All the time the Federal Government refuse to allow the Police to do their job. All because the vanity of Trudeau wants a seat on the UN Security council, thinking that a worthwhile achievement. Even if the country he is supposed to be head of is slipping into deeper economic trouble. Even if Trudeau’s mate and sponsor George says things will be fine. Well, perhaps fine for someone who profits from the economic chaos engendered by the many NGO’s his Tides foundation gives money to, but not so good for the ordinary Canadian in the street.

I know it’s not all Tides, there’s the Rockefeller foundation and a few others as well as the Saudi’s funding these anti-oil NGO’s. The Saudi’s because they want to keep selling their oil to Canada, Rockefeller and similar US interests because the oil sands directly compete with their interests. Funding these NGO’s is just business, even if it does sabotage Alberta, and by proxy the rest of Canada.

For an informed commentary of what is currently going on, see video below. Max Bernier is right. It is a circus, and all for vanity.

On a personal front, life and work trundle on. These blockades will have little direct effect on me personally because my commute to work measures under ten metres to my windows on the world of finance and business. Which as far as Canada is concerned, look a bit sick. The Trump inspired USA continues to boom with no underlying issues that might cause a step change in the markets. Which is good for me because most of the companies I invest in have significant cross border interests.

The pound is stable, trading up on it’s pre-January 31st value despite the failure of the EU to be even remotely sensible when trying to strike a post Brexit trade deal. The EU want it all their own way and have no real idea about how to handle a proper negotiation. They want something but don’t seem to want to give anything substantial in return. Which will be the EU’s downfall. The UK holds all the aces. Links to global markets, restored fisheries, a veritable queue of negotiating teams including the USA lining up at the door. The EU is still working on the failed model of central banks, imploding economies and quantitative easing.

The only thing that can go wrong for the UK is if Bojo embraces the Green policies being discussed and sends the UK down a fiscal rabbit hole. HS2? Rail links? How very 19th Century. Never mind trying to power them with more wind farms and (derisive snort) solar farms in a cooling climatic phase. Better by far to go down the route of small scale nuclear and hydro than ‘renewables’.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Hydro power on a small scale can have the secondary benefit of local flood management whilst churning out stable base load, as well as being able to react quickly to upticks in demand. There are quite a few old UK mill sites that could have their networks of sluices and ponds rebuilt and a modest turbine installed. There’s also the possible added benefit of running trout farms in the mill ponds. Food and power together? Now there’s a project worth considering.

Trying to run a nation on whizzy little battery cars powered by wind and solar ‘renewables’ won’t do any good. Renewables are simply inadequate for farming or industrial use, apart from for subsidy farming. For useful power generation there’s just not enough energy density, even with the up and coming generation of battery technology. Better, and much cheaper to invest in Internet bandwidth, cabling and local distribution hubs. Now there’s an enabling 21st century technology that works. And it’s relatively cheap and flexible compared to building and maintaining railways.

If like me, your desk is at home, all you need to do is log on, hook up your comms and you’re away. Which is what I do. No scabby trains or traffic jams. No aggravation from thoughtless soccer moms or texting titheads. Add to that the advantage of not having to share an office with people I don’t really like or trust. Win-win I think.

Travel plans for 2020 are Southern Ireland this Autumn for a couple of months where we have rented a cottage in the South so that friends and family can pop over for a visit. The flights and accommodation are all now paid for, with a short hotel stay in Dublin for when we stumble thoroughly jet lagged off the plane yet to be organised. Oh my aching wallet. Car hire has yet to be booked and I’m not sure what will happen to my Lemon tree plants while we’re away, but I’m sure they’ll cope.

So, the game’s afoot and we will be gracing the Emerald Isle with out dubious presence this year.

Could be interesting.

The fear factor

While crunching numbers, as I am wont to do because it’s what I earn a crust doing, I was listening to a Timeline documentary on YouTube, where the narrator was telling the tale of the Black Death and the social changes it helped bring about.

The thing that resonated with me was the various fanatic cults that arose during those times, even before the plague arrived in their locale. Convinced that the plague was the wrath of God (Although God has told me he did try to tell them about having a good wash now and then, but no-one was listening – as usual), certain groups of people turned to that good old standby of, instead of trying to deal with their personal hygiene issues and stop killing the cats that kept the rats down, chose self flagellation. That’s right, they went about the streets crying “Woe, woe, we’re all doomed” whilst lashing their own backs with a knout, a nasty sort of cat of nine tails with metal bits sewn into the whip ends. It is said these groups of ‘Flagellants’ as they were known, whipped themselves so hard that their blood would spatter street walls as they passed. It did not save them. In their self-weakened state, most perished.

So it is that I see the “Not my Prime Minister” and anti BREXIT campaigners, driven by their own fear, choose to roam the streets crying “We’re all doomed!” and getting under everyone else’s feet. Rather like the silly ‘Extinction rebellion’ protesters. They achieve nothing and are wasting their own and everyone else’s time. Rather like the flagellants of medieval times. They lack the reasoning ability to connect cause with effect themselves, so in ignorance devolve into a hideously primitive groupthink.

Unfortunately, Youngest is counted amongst their number. Which is a disappointment. I thought she’d learned about people who keep themselves down by being the authors of their own undoing, and that there are no saviours our there. According to her, they’re all apparently terrified that those nasty mustachio-twirling Tories are going to go around gloating over all the “Aha! Some poor people to torment, har-har me proud beauties!” You know, the working people who the Limp Dems and Islington Labour don’t really care about. Except when getting their vote in to support a bunch of unemployables like Corbyn.

What I saw during the campaign was Bojo, the UK’s very unclownish Prime Monster, going around, getting his hands dirty on the shop floor. Which is something I can respect rather than the opposition whose sole electioneering approach was gladhanding activists and loyalists while mostly ignoring the electorate or beating them over the head with scare stories, earnestly trying to re-educate any recalcitrant voter and crying “Vote for us, or the Tories will eat your babies.”. That and calling anyone who didn’t agree with them immediately unpleasant names. Well done chaps. Did it work? No prizes for giving the correct answer.

The thing is that neither BREXIT nor minor variations in the Earth’s climate are going to be harmful. Now they could be, but only if people refuse to rise to the challenge of a bit of extra sunshine rain or snow, or cling to the notion that a bunch of people who have never worked in the private sector over the channel know better than local people with their noses to the grindstone, fixing problems as they arise. Seriously, the immediate future contains more opportunity than threat. At least for the UK.

All the public moaning and groaning from the defeated are like a bunch of mardy teenagers who Mum and Dad have finally called ‘time’ on are achieving precisely nothing. All the Slebs whining like kicked bitches instead of claiming a little grown up dignity and facing their mistakes likewise. Although Lily Allen’s tactic of bursting into tears and sobbing ‘vote Labour’ has given a lot of people a bit of a giggle. It’s not that we’re unkind, it’s just that it’s funny to see all these people who think because they are good at entertaining have any idea about how the world really works.

So all these British slebs who didn’t get their way are going to leave the UK? Yeah, right. But where to? Surely not to that hell hole the Trump-infested US of A? No? Well the Yanks just dodged a bullet there. To the cultural backwater that is Canada? Mm, only if they’re happy to play to the odd bilingual Moose and a couple of puzzled bears. Australia? Watch out for the big hairy spiders and the Salties, not forgetting the deadly drop bears and one extremely unfriendly sheep near Brisbane. Heaven forfend that these ungracious slebs might have to learn another language. Even if they had the brains.

The truth is, as I pointed out to our young companions whilst we were visiting London, despite the odd knife attack, the western world is safer than it has been for quite some time, if ever. Fewer deaths from disease, wars, and even extreme weather events (Explanation here). Fewer road deaths. Indeed, fewer deaths from everything, apart from those claiming a Darwin Award, (Sightseeing on erupting volcanoes and suchlike).

Most of us are living longer and healthier lives to the point where getting a message from HM Queen to centenarians now has to be semi automated. That’s right, more people than ever before in the western world are making three digits, elderly friend included. Even if her wits are somewhere west of their preferred location.

Indeed. it’s getting to the point where pension payouts won’t begin until you’re eighty. Not that it’s a bad thing. One of my cousins just picked up his last P45 at age 79. Wound up his business and was last heard of travelling eastern Europe. Similarly I expect not to officially ‘retire’ until 70. Not that I really mind. Even then I’ll find something to make a few extra bucks on the side. Trusting for state pensions to be your sole source of income in your frail dotage is not a brilliant idea. Personally, I have two pensions in the offing, Mrs S has three and that’s without factoring in our investments. Having lost three pension funds over the years, (2 pots raided by New Labour, one when the company I worked for went belly up big time) I’ve become very cautious about those Ponzi schemes and nowadays employ a broker, an accountant and a lawyer to keep my investments secure. They earn their money.

Oh well, it might not be such a short life after all, and we will have to find our merriment where we may.

That’s interesting…..

You know how you come across certain snippets of information and your head just nods and you do a big internal “Oh wow. That makes sense.” I had such a moment this morning when I heard about a Swedish drug company donating the sum of a hundred grand to the UK Liberal Democrat party. “Okay Bill.” You might say. “Foreign companies donate to political parties all over the world. Big deal.”

Well sort of, and don’t get me wrong I’m inclined to agree, but when it is a particular drug company which is the major supplier of puberty blockers, you might be forgiven for putting two and two together. The two halves of this little equation being the upsurge of the transgender agenda with its surprisingly smooth intrusion into public education, the Limp Dems being very much on board with the whole identity politics thing and the possible financial benefits to the drug company concerned. Not that I approve of foreign interventions in individual nation states, but money is money, politicians are permanently on sale, and a bribe is a bribe, no matter it’s format. Arms companies used to do it all the time because that’s the way certain cultures did and still do business.

Meanwhile, back on my original topic, I was thinking thus; drugs cost a lot, tens, sometimes hundreds of millions to develop, but the applications of puberty blockers are very limited. Ergo there is a smaller market for said drugs than something mainstream, like painkillers for example. Early onset puberty can prove difficult, not only for an underage child, but also for parents and anyone within their social circle. However, early onset puberty to the degree that puberty blockers are required was once a very rare phenomenon. Nowadays we are told that such things are on the increase. Some claim this phenomenon is due to ‘Gender bending’ chemicals like those found in cheap soaps, certain types of plastic food containers and cheap Teflon. Other, more credible studies cite social and racial influences for early onset puberty. Whoops! forgot the trigger warning there. Oh well, can’t be helped. Don’t shoot the messenger etc.

However, there is another, and more sinister agenda here. All of a sudden there are a lot of surprisingly well funded and connected NGO’s and pressure groups pushing an associated use for such puberty blockers via their activist agendas.

Money is coming from somewhere to fund a very small number of vociferous activists who some, even of their own kind, are loath to be associated with. Could it be that the activists have been taking a sly backhander from the company who supply the drugs used to begin a soi-disant ‘trans’ children’s descent into their own bleak futures? Because the perverted activists who have infiltrated the Anglophone education system are pushing vulnerable children that way? Just to increase sales of an expensive drug to vulnerable young people who only think they need it?

Jesus H Christ on a bike! Surely no-one’s that cold bloodedly callous, are they? Are they?

Will this be the next Thalidomide scandal?

Excuse me. I think I’m feeling very nauseous…..

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.

Don’t panic

I mean it. My own life has taught me that the biggest killer out there is panic. Flailing or running around and shouting will not help. So don’t do it. Trust me on this. A cool head will get you through more scrapes than being a drama queen and expecting other people to take up the slack. Indeed I have found my own personal policy of walking softly and taking a step back when faced with the unfamiliar and occasionally dangerous has often gotten me out of a tight corner.

In this vein we’re having to think ahead with regard to Elderly Friend. Her rapid slide into dementia has both us and the care home thinking that she’s not long for this world. She may even die while we’re in London. So. Funeral home fees and arrangements have to be checked, funds set aside for end of life care, nursing etc. All that stuff you get the joy of as power of attorney. However, this is the job we signed up for and it has to be done. The grunt work of signing off on those details like funeral services and ensuring the right ashes go in the right urn. Just in case.

However, a little foresight has often proven useful too because it’s of limited use being cooler than liquid Nitrogen if the ground is literally crumbling under your feet. Having a fallback option, just in case, isn’t needed that often, but I like them as they are very reassuring. Doesn’t have to be much, just simple stuff. For example, on road trips, I carry enough first aid stuff to be able to suture moderate wounds and stop bleeds whilst being able to provide some form of pain relief or sluice out a dust afflicted eyeball or contaminated cut. My credit cards are kept separately in case I get my wallet nicked. We always have double travel insurance and I never enter a place unless I already know where the best exit is. Mrs S often jocularly chides what she calls my ‘paranoia’, but despite the odd minor faux pas it’s been a long, long time since I was caught properly left footed.

We’ve gotten lost in the wilds of Ontario with dwindling fuel, but not unrecoverably so. We’ve lost money on investments, I lost five thousand dollars on three particular stocks last year, but more than made it back on others and spent a meagre two fifty on advice of how to set the loss against tax. Then made all my money back and then some on the same stocks by June this year. We try to invest across a wide spread, never put all our fiscal eggs in one basket and try not to panic if there’s a short term drop in the market like over the New Year 2018-9.

Because having at least one alternative is way better than being caught with your financial unmentionables around yer ankles. So it is with a WTO or ‘No deal’ Brexit. Now being a suspicious sort when it comes to news media, reading all the “Noooo! We’re all going to DIE!!” nonsense being peddled even in the FT. I really am thinking of cancelling my subscription. Fortunately I have my own sources. So I did a little digging.

Here’s what I found; imports will not grind to a halt. There are structures already in place to allow imports without delays at all major UK ports. Same for exporters. If you don’t already know, then you haven’t been listening. The tax authorities have been ready for a no deal scenario for over two years. I got that via Pinsent Mason (Major UK law firm who deal in international law by the way). Also from the guy who has just transferred out from being in charge of the port of Dover says they’re ready for ‘No deal’. HMRC have set up 190+ ‘pop up’ customs posts, in addition to the normal ports facilities who deal with clearing import and exports. The only problems will be from EU customs, so you’re more likely to run out of Cheddar at Calais than Brie and Avocados in Birmingham. Besides, where in the EU grows Avocado’s for heaven’s sake? Oh yes, France and Spain. The Netherlands are a major distribution hub and exporter, but don’t actually grow any. The major growers range from Israel to Mexico, New Zealand to Kenya, then there’s Colombia, Morocco, South Africa and the USA. Can’t get your Dutch Avocado? Fine, there are plenty more sources out there with produce to sell. Cut out the EU middle man. Ship direct from the growers, and don’t think there aren’t deals already being cut by the buyers for Messrs Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury.

Even if the EU embargoes all imports to and from the UK, remember this; they need the UK markets more than the UK needs the EU. Never mind not getting a GBP39 billion payday, if they tried cutting UK Plc off without a cent they’d bankrupt a large proportion of their own internal economy. According to a financial report I read 12th September 2019, the European Central Bank is going to cut interest rates and start printing money, a failed policy by the way, which has already hit the Euro. Internally, they are already in trouble.

For expat UK pensioners in European countries (No names, no pack drill) this drop in the Euro means their UK pension will be worth more as the pound sterling will buy more. Expats I know they have been hit badly because of all the Remainer panicmongering driving the value of sterling down at least twelve percent lower than it should be. It would be nice to see them better off.

Me, I don’t put my faith in state pensions, mainly because I like to know where my money is and what it’s up to. As well as the payout of any given state pension being less than likely to support me in the style to which I wish to become accustomed in my forthcoming frail dotage. Also because I don’t trust politicians, any of them, not to plunder public coffers for their own short term gain. They can buy votes with someone else’s dime.

Oh yes, and I’ve finally bowed to Mrs S over buying a new cell phone so she can keep tabs on me, investing in a dual sim Samsung A20 with case and armoured glass.

Looking ever more forward to London, when I will be trying to console those of the Remain faction I encounter by speaking soothingly and gently holding their hands to reassure them.

Why specifically hold their hands? Just to make sure none of the nasty little sods manage to take a swing at me. Like I said, foresight.

Small home truths

Barbecued steak day yesterday. I had a nice slab in the freezer and we were tired of chicken, so Mrs S and I dined on flat-iron steak with a nice green salad. Our fifty buck propane barbecue has been doing sterling service, and there’s something of a cachet to cooking outdoors. The steak was ably washed down with a nice 2015 Argentinian Rioja. A little tingly in the mouth, but which slipped down as slickly as silk knickers. Very nice.

While the meat was cooking I dead headed carnations and inspected our other plants. The Pansies I fear, are past their best, but that’s life, isn’t it? The bad news is that my planted Sweet William has been strangled by the Pansies. Well we can’t have that. A trial has been held, guilty verdict returned and sentence carried out. Replanting will be required. May the Lord have mercy on their wretched little souls.

Further on the downside, a nasty shock greeted me in my email inbox this morning. A booking that we made back in February for our forthcoming London visit was arbitrarily cancelled by our hotel booking service. No reason, just a “Your booking has been cancelled” message, which left me struggling for replacement accommodation in the smoke. A family conference was immediately convened and the situation resolved. To be honest, there’s been something nagging at my hindbrain for the last couple of months that was saying “This isn’t Kosher” about that specific booking, so it’s nice to see my instincts vindicated yet again. Anyway, within two hours travel plans were adapted, new accommodation booked and we were back on track for our original dates for Autumn 2019. Might even get to watch the fireworks for Guy Fawkes night before we leave. I may even have saved five hundred bucks, so, swings and roundabouts. We’re all good on that front. Major league kudos incidentally to booking.com.

We’re also being plagued by mystery booming noises. About seven so far this morning. Probably sonic booms from the USAF going supersonic over the Pacific, maybe meteors coming in overhead but definitely not construction, that has a different sound altogether. The low pitched booming noises we’ve been hearing have been quite loud enough to rattle my office windows. So I checked the seismograph feeds, just in case there was an earthquake, but no. Couldn’t be meteors, as the Eta Aquarids were in early May and the Perseids aren’t due until August. So it’s probably some kind of supersonic aircraft out of Puget Sound Naval base. Boom-boom.

What else? Bitchute has been playing up of late. Video’s wouldn’t play and a few people were saying that the platform might be under attack, others that the increased traffic necessitated a major upgrade. Which if true is no surprise. Bitchute is rapidly becoming a refuge for those video creators YouTube don’t want. Or that Alphabet Inc (Owners of Google, YouTube etc) think their advertisers don’t want. The truth is that Alphabet want anodyne. Alphabet want ‘safe’, inoffensive. Funny cat and dog video’s. Which is where they think the money is, but that isn’t the content their market was built on. That was built by the very unsafe citizen journalist vloggers, comedians, gamers and commentators. It’s like watching a company that fires it’s top earning people for no good reason then watch the board stand around wondering where all those lovely profits went.

Although in Alphabet’s defence it’s common knowledge that online platforms, some advertisers and even credit card companies have come under pressure from certain activist media outlets, partially because said media outlets get money for pushing a certain world-view to rid YouTube etc of it’s most engaging voices, partly just to see the world burn. It’s also true that legacy media is increasingly under even more financial pressure from the new media, like the citizen journalists and gamers of YouTube. Now these ‘professional’ media types see all the advertisers paying what they see as their much sought after moolah to a bunch of upstarts who, horror of horrors, never went to journalism school. What must sting even more is legacy media watching advertisers paying these upstarts for poking fun at legacy media misrepresentations, bias and omissions, leaving the mainstreams credibility more full of holes than a good Emmental cheese. All the time the mainstream have been scrabbling for eyeballs they could sell to advertisers whilst watching their ratings sink like a torpedoed cruise liner. So the advertisers have been quietly cutting their legacy media spending, because what’s the point of advertising on a platform whose best days are long behind it? YouTube will follow. Personally, I’d sell my Alphabet Inc stock while the value is still relatively good. The market has peaked. Time for some serious profit taking before the crunch comes.

The penny is currently dropping like a rock that the relentless output of left leaning media, with it’s deranged hatred of all things heterosexual and north European is deeply unattractive to much of the eveyday public. As a result CNN has become a shrinking market. As are most of the main cable and digital news platforms, apart from the much maligned Fox News, who are smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing. For the rest, mass redundancies are becoming the order of the day. Huffington Post, Vox etc are all feeling the pinch.

Tim Pool has an interesting take on what’s going on.

In a bid to kill off the competition in the vain hope those straying consumer eyeballs will somehow come back to them, certain media outlets have resorted to using underhand tactics to silence anyone who isn’t them, because frankly me deario’s, many YouTubers have been effortlessly waxing the bums of the self appointed journalistic classes. People like CNN have been losing viewer ratings big time and desperate money men will have given out orders to shut down these upstart YouTubers by fair means or foul. Since these people don’t really do fairness, they have gone straight for the low foul tackle. Play the man, not the ball. Don’t present evidence or have a debate, that’s boring. Just go for the juicy Ad Hominem. Libel those unable to defend themselves. Sell the drama of Nazi’s behind every bush, which is a strange thing to do because there just aren’t enough real ‘Nazi’s’ to go around. Then apply the tactic of accuse, accuse, accuse, ‘expose’ with no real evidence, ‘out’ or Doxx, making people’s personal lives public so selectively that even Christopher Robin might look like Satan incarnate. Imagine such a headline; “Christopher Robin parties with animals – scandals of the hundred acre wood exposed” with some salacious insinuations about paedophilia, honey pots and bestiality in the first two paragraphs, the clickbait headline of which would be subsequently contradicted in the last lines of the headlined article. Which most people wouldn’t read as far as without suffering a bad attack of WTF! Then the story gets passed on in a game of Chinese whispers which only present the accusations as fact, not the original clickbait titled story in full. So the lie travels and the outrage machine roars into life.

You might think that this all sounds a bit tin foil hat, but I can cite at least six real live people whose well-meaning contact with the mainstream media has seriously screwed with their lives. Ergo, I don’t trust ‘Journalists’. One of the few pieces of wisdom my Dad imparted to me that stuck was “Don’t believe all that you read in the papers”. This would seem to be ever more apt as the blatant spin and news management has even polluted the pages of the Financial Times. Excuse me chums, I pay my FT subscription for hard information, not for some affectioned time-pleasers half baked opinion.

Of course the politicians go along because they need the media mouthpiece to get them votes so they can keep, in the immortal words of Mel Brooks’ corrupt William J LePetomane in Blazing Saddles “Their phoney-baloney jobs.” Which is why left of centre politicians are so keen to shut anyone with a ‘non-mainstream’ viewpoint down. They get their airtime from grateful legacy media platforms. It does not matter that otherwise innocent people end up getting defamed and even thrown in jail for ‘hate speech’ (Which is being defined by some very thin skinned individuals) Who cares? Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Stuff it. It’s too nice a day not to go riding. TTFN

Lucky for me….

…I never signed up for one of those fancy tax shelter loan remuneration schemes when I was a contractor. Turns out that HMRC in the UK has begun a draconian enforcement of a law passed in 2017 which allows them to charge for taxes they say are owed as far back as twenty years ago. Even if the arrangements were considered legal up until 2017. The UK tax grubbers want their pound of flesh and they want it now. According to the FT HMRC even sent out letters telling fifty thousand people that they should go into debt to pay the back taxes (a.k.a. ‘The loan charge’) being demanded.

Although I’m not affected, this news has made me very angry. Chasing debts for a legal exemption up to twenty years old? During a time when these schemes were not legally proscribed? Who keeps tax records for twenty years outside of the corporate sphere? Judas Fucking Priest! The backdated legislation behind this is heartless, dishonest and unnecessarily draconian. Not to mention that those affected are Doctors, Nurses, IT Contractors and even Social Workers. Back dated and estimated tax bills of up to a hundred thousand pounds have been sent out to the affected. Bills they have to pay or go to jail for tax evasion. Even if they weren’t evading tax at the time, merely using a legal loophole. If found guilty of tax evasion, or bankruptcy, all these people will be, in the case of Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers, disbarred from their professions and forced to take jobs far below their competence to make even a modest living.

One suicide has been recorded so far. There will be more as people are asset stripped, their houses sold to pay the bills and pension funds drained. Thus creating yet more poor people who need to subsist off the public purse.

Let me explain my anger; back in the day when I was an independent contractor I paid my taxes (Income and corporation thank you). Employers and employees NI contributions too. Until IR35 came into force and I reluctantly rolled up what had been a very enjoyable way of life before going back to being a wage slave. Which I hated. Because there’s nothing quite like running your own life to your own timetable. You may end up working fifty to sixty plus hour weeks, but at least you know who you are working for. All your profits go to you. And I’ll tell you this, I loved being my own boss, even if it meant working four extra hours at the end of each week to see my finances and tax affairs were in apple pie order.

When you work for yourself there’s a sense of freedom you can’t get anywhere else, even when you’re working twice as hard as you would if you were an ordinary employee. The lack of office politics was also refreshing. There’s a pride in being an independent too. You might have had to work a crap contract occasionally, but at the end of the day it was a lot easier to quit and find new work than if you just had a job as a full time wage slave. Losing that feeling was the worst. HR had no hold over my life outside of what I did for a company. For example, they couldn’t fire me for having a wrong opinion or looking the wrong way at someone outside of work. Or even being falsely accused of doing so. Or the hundred other excuses HR can screw with your life outside of work. In short, I loved, and still do love being my own boss. Even when times are hard there’s nothing quite like it. And there are always hard times to endure. Self employed or not.

The only real problem I had with being my own boss was the petty jealousy of the employed. The whiny crab-bucket bitches who saw what you got paid but never understood that you often paid more tax than they did. You organised your own taxes, paid accountants and book-keepers, paid extra health and professional liability insurance, the rent on office space and all the hundreds of details the self employed individual or company director deals (Or employs people to deal) with as a matter of routine.

Despite this, some wage slaves are unhappy at not being free and hate the merest thought of anyone else being happy or even moderately prosperous. I see these small minded curtain-twitchers, who decry any form of legal tax avoidance as ‘tax dodging’ or ‘not paying your fair share’, as those who would cheer at an execution without realising that their feet are also on the steps of the scaffold. None of us knows when it is our time to be strung up by the tax man, we can only take precautions, knowing that our date with the tax inspector is only a twist of fate away. There will be no sympathy, because in the tax authorities eyes, none are virtuous. Now HMRC can go back over your affairs for the last twenty years? Clucking bell. This is a truly dangerous precedent.

The main issue is that UK tax law is now so complicated, with so many exemptions and even contradictions that it is hard, even for accountants and other financial professionals, to know what is ‘legal’ and what is not.

New Labour (Blair & Brown) started this tax snatching trend and Blue Labour (Cameron & May) continued it, slicing the economic pie ever smaller instead of encouraging the production of more for everyone. All I can offer is my heartfelt sympathy to their victims. There by the grace of God go we all.

The green new deal

Sometimes at shareholder meetings, you do hear the most awful nonsense. Especially from those who consider themselves ‘ethical’ investors. This morning Mrs S and I were at an investors meeting when one guy started making arbitrary remarks about Trump not getting re-elected. Which he probably will because the opposition haven’t got a strong enough candidate. Then he started talking up the ‘Green New Deal’ some of the Democrats are touting. To which everyone else in the room was going “Say what?” or “I totally disagree.” Which was quite telling. A year or so ago the room would have been calling Trump names like the mainstream media want us to. How times do change.

I’ve actually read this Democrat inspired ‘Green New Deal’ and it’s utter garbage. One of the key precepts being to stop US citizens from flying and insisting they go everywhere by train. Ostensibly to ‘save the planet’.

Two words adequately convey my opinion of that idiocy; “Yeah, right.” Have these proponents even tried travelling across the USA by train or on a road trip? Have these advocates for other people’s austerity ever gotten out of their cosy little suburban nests and seen the mind-strangling vastness of North America in a car? I have. Three times and counting. There and back. Twice trans Canada, once to Florida. Take my word for it, there’s a whole heap of big in North America.

Even at full speed it can take over a week to go from New York to Seattle via car or truck. Forty three hours of non-stop actual driving. That’s without factoring in lunch and gas stops and the odd pause for much-needed sleep breaks. By train it’s almost three days solid travelling without a break. As opposed to only ten hours by air if you factor in all the hanging around at airports, including standing in line, baggage check-in, security theatre and getting to the airport in good time.

As for ‘renewables’, Wind and Solar are no better than subsidy sinks and the proposed ‘Carbon Taxes’ a licence to steal money from the hard pressed middle and working class population and feed it into the pockets of the ultra-rich 0.1%. Not only that but the Chinese and Indians will take one look at the proposals, if they have not already done so, and walk away giggling at the stupidity of the decadent westerners. CO2 is a symptom, not the illness, and human emissions are a drop in the pond. The Indians, Chinese and Russians understand this, but seeing as according to some they’re the ‘bad guys’ instead of just competitors. To the Green New Deal proponents their judgement means little. Even if the Russians, Chinese and Indians happen to be right.

Besides, as Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist, James Carville, once said; “The economy, stupid.” Middle and working class USA likes strong economic growth and wealth creation. Trump has brought this about by re-energising a business-friendly environment. Overall unemployment is as low as it’s been for at least five decades and the only thing that might unseat him is a massive crisis that he flubs completely. Rather like Bush did with both 9/11 and the ’08 financial crisis. Besides, the US Democrats haven’t a strong enough contender for the US Presidency and the Green New Deal is proving massively divisive.

Nor are there any indicators of a financial crisis which might threaten the prosperity the US is currently rediscovering. Of course there will be market corrections over the year, just like over Christmas, but any dips won’t exceed much over 5% of total market value, which to me is no good reason to dump any stocks. Indeed the dead cat does seem to be bouncing like it was made of super ball rubber. I’m just wondering if I should leave my cash reserves just as cash in a high interest account or find an undervalued stock that’s worth a buy in.

Which means I’ll be talking to my brokers again next week. Although SNC-Lavallin aren’t on my list of investment opportunities. Not until the dust has settled over subpoenas being served on various members of the Canadian Trudeau administration, which might lead to their electoral downfall. Not only is little Justine pissing Canadians off because he makes them look weak and silly, but there’s a scandal brewing which may involve the RCMP being brought in to give our current PM the ‘perp walk’. Although that sort of thing only happens to the little people, not the ruling elites.

To replace the Liberals politically, I rather like the sound of the new People’s Party of Canada under Maxime Bernier, as Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives come across as totally cucked who will do little to get rid of the oppressive extensions to ‘Hate Crime’ legislation as expanded over the last three years. The local Burnaby by-elections next week should show which way the Canadian wind is blowing but I have noticed that there’s a lot of new activism at the grass roots level. A sea change is taking place, but whether that change will be enough to get rid of the Liberal party is moot. We will see.

I also talked to my broker about picking Mastercard or VISA as an investment opportunity. I found myself explaining in detail to Mrs S why Mastercard might take a share hit in the next six months because of their implication in the Patreon scandal. Payments processors should just do that. No more, no less. Not intervene in people’s opinions and private lives where they have no business.

To close on these and related matters I would point out that money has no morality, because one persons morality is another’s blatant hypocrisy. As certain payment processors and their cohorts may find out when the mechanisms they put in place to enforce their world-view are turned against them. Could it happen to nicer people? Mmm-maybe.

Have a nice weekend.