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Aug 2008

Once again, I find that I'm not necessarily a loony

Stephen J Dubner invited William Bernstein, author of investment books The Intelligent Asset Allocator and The Four Pillars of Investing to post a guest blog about the history of world trade and economic growth. I assumed that he would be espousing all the principles of modern capitalism. Imaging my surprise when I found his piece quite aligned with my own "lefty pinko" world view.

His piece is well worth a read if only to stimulate some thought about the direction the "global economy" is taking.

I know my biases are showing but perhaps there is truth in the proposition that modern capitalism is not taking us somewhere we really want to go. I see it as a return to feudalism, the people who make to products and deliver the services which are the foundation of the economy are being short changed by those who control the money, the new "aristocrats".

William Bernstein certainly has some challenging things to say about this.

Posted: 30/8/08 2:59 PM

We live in an incredibly small world

My sister recently read my memoir and sent me some additional information about my early years. She asked me if I remembered a Michael Baume who had been a rover in the scout troop my brother and I belonged to and who later became a Senator in the Australian parliament. The name rang a bell from the time my children were in high school. Sure enough, my little daughter, Rachel, had gone on a class trip to Canberra with one of Michael Baume nephews and the Senator had given them a guided tour of the Senate.

What a tiny world we live in. The six degrees of Kevin Bacon boil down to two in so many cases.

Posted: 25/8/08 7:26 AM

The Marretts in Barraba

We had yet another visit from the Marretts this weekend. It was very nice to see the three of them. They had ordered one of my famous curry dinners so I had spent an afternoon cooking up a storm. It was very, very good, I enjoyed it enormously, everyone else looked well satisfied.

There visit was a great success for them, they achieved all that they had planned for the weekend.

Posted: 23/8/08 10:06 PM

Is Qantas doing an Ansett?

Qantas has admitted that there were mandatory maintenance procedures which had not been carried out. Clearly the quality assurance at Qantas is deficient. Why do I compare Qantas with Ansett?

Shortly before Ansett went out of business they had been found to have failed to implement a mandatory maintenance procedure on some of their aircraft. For reasons not revealed, the authorities did not take Ansett's licence away but the airline closed due to financial failure. At the time I suggested that when the incident was investigated, we would find that Ansett had reduced costs by cutting staff in the maintenance activity. There was no public investigation but some years later I discussed the issue with a friend of mine who had been a commercial airline pilot. He confirmed that I was correct. He had a mate who had been an Ansett pilot who had told him that all the Type Specialists had been sacked to reduce costs. A Type Specialist is one who knows all about a particular type of aircraft from the original manufacture, through all the manufacturing variants, to the whole of life history of each aircraft in the fleet of that type. With no Type Specialist, who keeps tack of all the necessary maintenance - either someone with inadequate experience or no-one.

The reason the pilot was no longer an Ansett pilot was that he had refused to fly an aircraft from Singapore to Sydney because he felt it was not airworthy. When they put the aircraft into maintenance in Singapore they found 109 defects. His "feeling" had been proved correct. The recent news about Qantas has a chillingly similar ring to it. An aircraft back from a major service in SE Asia was checked and was found to have 115 defects! History repeats itself if those in charge do not learn from history. If Qantas is doing an Ansett are they destined to go the same way as Ansett - away.

As I have said before, the 21st century is characterised by changes in the priorities of many of those people in charge of major enterprises so that the lessons learned by experience are lost. I think of this as being a major defect of uncontrolled capitalism but then I'm just and old lefty pinko, aren't I.

Posted: 14/8/08 8:12 AM

Lions Zone Meeting

I had to go to Tamworth last night to attend the first Lions Zone Meeting of the year.

It was a long drive at night and the meeting was without any refreshments so I was glad to get home.

It was pleasant to meet the new Zone Chairman with whom I had conversed by email up to now and the other delegates.

Barraba Lions had asked for a zone meeting to be held at a location other than Tamworth and had offered our hospitality. The people present were very keen to take us up on the offer and we tentatively arrange for a Zone Meeting to be held at a Barraba Lions Dinner Meeting in March.

Even though I had to go on my own, the trip was worthwhile.

Posted: 13/8/08 11:58 AM

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Created: 13/08/08 and last revised 30/03/2014
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