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Friday, April 16, 2010

BLAENAVON: "If only he was tougher he'd not have rusted!" Payton L. Inkletter sadly noted whilst stirring the Bessemer pot soup, spooning off the slag

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
16th April 2010

Friday: I must sound like a broken record, starting so many of these entries with comment that I had way too little sleep; DITTO.

I went flat stick, if you attenuate that concept with the fact that it's me we're talking about, and, having got up at midday (do the figuring re: my opening remarks), I was ready to leave for Bob's at Guildford not long after two. He checked with me several times regarding the next few outings and what we'd be doing; there was method to his solicitousness: his carers phoned me on Wednesday, asking me to cancel the planned city outing – his big treat after every third swimming outing – due to a high level of violent misbehaviour since Monday. I then suggested that instead of Perth today, that we make it another swim, thus postponing a Perth outing, to try to drive home the consequences of his actions. He was questioning me lest he had to do six swims before his next city treat, but no, I'm a kindly old soul, or at least I like to think I am, and one extra swim is more than enough punishment, and I'd be happy to make it only two swims after his next city outing before another, thus meaning he'd not have any less city treats – I hope his staff are of similar generous bent when I put it to them.

And so the swim went well at a moderately busy Swan Aquatic, and we finished with a cup of tea and a walk along the Swan at Fish Market Reserve. I was back home with The Dear Leader – having picked him up – soon after half six, to be in time for our dinner guests: the Chocsons, being Reeve and Chocci, and The Babies Ink&Peggletter.

As is always the case whenever the Chocsons are involved, we had a wonderful evening, with Missus Inkletter having cooked up a delicious storm in honour of Chocci's 49th next week, when The Dear Leader and Missus Inkletter will be away gallivanting down at Balingup for five or so days; thus the early celebration. Chocci says she will only be having 49th's from now on, and by the look in her eye she means it!

It was about half eleven by the time our guests had all left, and consequently I missed my usual Aunty programs live: but not all is lost, courtesy of the wonders of modern technology, namely recording: Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: the long interview tonight was with a pair of journos, Niki Savva and David Penberthy, and they tackled, very sedately, several topical matters, from Monday's scheduled Council Of Australian Governments meeting and its hospital funding reform agenda, asylum seekers and immigration policy, Prime Minister Rudd's popularity among his own department, Tony Abbott's progress as Opposition Leader, and more. However, I jump ahead of my usual commencement routine:

Ms Sales was excellently attired in a dark grey striped jacket with a red underbodice, making for an ideal contrast, subtle effect make-up, loose falling and flared hair that so suits her face, and her jewellery, whilst still minimalist, numbered two sets, her diminutive earrings being supplemented by a diminutive necklace, both ideally feminine and resembling, from the TV viewers' compromised distance, pearls. Niki Savva looked lovely, most Greek, and apart from her trademark Cleopatra hairstyle, she had a comely cerise woolen top, complete with epaulettes and pockets, a barely visible thin gold chain necklace, and only faint pink lipstick and a little eyeliner – more credit to her for going easy on the make-up. David Penberthy was flamboyantly outfitted with a dark pinstriped suit and crosslined light shirt, toned down by a dark blue textured tie, suitably off centre to hint at a possibility of one of the lads being present; I decided from this visual that those who suggest David Penberthy has more than a passing resemblance to Yogi Bear, sans hat and after a black rinse, have a moot point.

Ms Savva was a font of moderate analysis, and Mr Penberthy was not afraid to stick his neck out a bit. They both felt Mr Rudd has got to do a lot worse to lose the next election. Ms Sales got a cute if predictable sobriquet from Penbers when he referred to her as 'Salesy', on the matter of Lateline's popularity on a Friday night.

It was interesting to note the difference between Mr Penberthy and Ms Savva regarding the significance of Mr Rudd's high rate of staff turnover; Ms Savva's view was more convincing to me, and that it does matter a lot for any minister to have healthy relationships with those who work for him or her. How we treat all people, no matter what position we hold, is telling of character and it is always best to strive to be worthy of respect, admiration, loyalty, and love, even in the fraught sphere of politics.

The gem of this interlocution came from Ms Sales tonight, when she might have been heading for a Germaine Greer moment, but she put all concern out of my mind when she finished the point she started with a wonderful expression of humility: I'd best first explain the Germaine Greer moment: was it a couple of years or so back? that she made a remark, to the best of my memory along these lines, on Jennifer Byrne's First Tuesday Book Club: "…you understand Henry [not the actual name of some academic or whatever], and I understand, but the average viewer out there doesn't understand…". This was a condescending remark. Ms Sales began: "People like the three of us aren't remotely representative of the average voter, in large part because we all read four newspapers a day; we're immersed in this stuff to a level of detail that just 98 per cent of the public are not. How do you, David Penberthy, keep in touch with what average Australians might be thinking about the political issues rather than getting bogged into sort of that insider group think, I suppose?" She expressed that so well without pumping herself nor her guests up in any way, with her statement '[we are] bogged into sort of that insider group think' which had not a hint of superiority about it – rather the opposite; actually, I need not have had my anxiety rise when Ms Sales began her statement, for she has repeatedly demonstrated a humbleness on this program that is admirable.

This was an easy job for Ms Sales tonight; no arguing politicians, no egos struggling to squeeze into the studio, no need at all to crack her Hussy label whip, which she keeps just out of camera sight velcroed onto her side of the desk's lip (I've minuscule doubt she's used it with Stephen Long, however, with his full cooperation, when she wants some more economic analysis – I refuse to lower the tone of this review by saying 'wants to see his stimulus package'…).

Speaking of the devil, what a treat when Mr Long appeared for his 3¾ minutes of glory: The (Stephen) Long and Short of It: The subject Ms Sales wanted Mr Long to wax economical on tonight was executive pay rules changes recommended by the Productivity Commission. Mr Long sported a light grey jacket, light shirt with lines, and dark shiny grey tie. His hair came through well from its recent tousling from his mum, and he was ready to serve it to the bastards…

What do I mean? Well, I have to admit that while I find good reason to dote on almost everything that Mr Long says in this weekly segment, he resonated even more than usual with me on tonight's topic. From the outset he all but said 'SFA' in answer to Ms Sales' query as to what difference would these proposed changes make to executive pay; only in extreme cases would it make any difference, in his considered opinion.

Mr Long noted that the Productivity Commission was bound to recommend a light touch approach, and intimated that the Government knew that it would, and he justifiably cynically dismissed the furphy that our executives have to be paid so well as rewards for performance, and to protect talent. Mr Long knows it's bullshit, most Australians know it's bullshit; if it looks like bullshit, comes from the back end of a bull, and smells and tastes like bullshit, then you don't even need Occam's Razor to conclude that it's bullshit.

The gems flowed from Mr Long's lips, and I was cheering louder the longer he talked: "it was designed from day one basically to do very little, and they [the Government] are doing very little"; "the company directors and executives are pretty lucky"; "very flimsy evidence"; "[when] you set the trigger points low"; "the bigger the slush fund, the more money they get"; "we had an interesting and robust discussion on it [with Gary Banks on whether talent is being rewarded]"; and I had my shirt off and was swinging it above my head when he finished with:

"Well, again, where's the evidence? Where are all the Australian executives who are leading companies overseas? If there's this brain drain that we potentially face so we have to pay big money, well, Jacques Nasser who stuffed up Ford, that's one you can think of; and the other way, well we got Sol Trujillo, look what he did to Telstra. I just don't think the evidence is there to support that idea other than at the margins." Bloody brilliant Stephen, because you're so damn right, sadly.

I've written here somewhere long back that I'd support a limit on executive pay to no more than 7 times the average pay in the company, excluding their level, and recently I've warmed to the further idea that a seventh of whatever remuneration they get be in the form of shares, with restrictions upon when they can be divested. Such strictures would give incentive to these bloodsuckers to lift the payscales for everyone who works in the company, and to plan for the long term success of the company.

Should we be surprised that executives the world over, having been given control over their own pay levels and rises, have rewarded themselves to the ugly extreme, compared to the wealth producers' backs upon whom they ride? Not until the average human's ethics have advanced enormously could such an arrangement be safe and reasonable. The more these bastards squeal, the more we know we are right to enforce the constraints which they haven't demonstrated as a class that they should have done voluntarily, decently, fairly.

Ms Sales got a great deal of wisdom from Mr Long tonight, and it cheered me enormously. Stephen Long for Prime Minister!


Damyanti said...

I come by often to your blogs, but get a tad confused, there are so many :)

Also, hope you're getting more sleep now...I know I'm getting almost none.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Damyanti: It's very kind of you to drop by; you are doing very well if you're only getting a tad confused: I get the night terrors trying to navigate my sites, and I created them!

Seriously, I need a webmaster.

These days, 'In other news...' will generally register most all changes happening in the Fool's Paradise realm. There's sometimes a bit of tomfoolery going on over at the Visitor's Book in fits and starts.

Thank you for the kind wishes regarding my sleep, but alas, I have the sleeping patterns of a grizzly bear washing down a mountain river. 'Circadian chaos' would describe it.

I hope your sleep problems quickly rectify: we read so many warnings of the health consequences of insufficient sleep.

Gladys Hobson said...

We too often hear the cry 'They'll all go abroad' when restrictions on obscene pay and bonuses are suggested. I feel like yelling, 'Let them go! Give others a chance to use their executive muscles.' But no, the salaries and bonuses continue to be pai. But in the end who is doing the paying? Those who find themselves out of work, those who lose out on their savings, in fact all those who are powerless and many who are at the bottom of the heap. Greed is an unpleasant characteristic and can such people really be trusted with other people's money and jobs that ride on their decisions? At the end of the chain it is the poorest of the poor in developing (or stagnating) countries that pay. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Maybe the world would be a better place if they all cleared off to a tax advantage land where they would be falling over each other to outdo and, eventually, consume one another
I like your full description of dress and demeanour of those you watch and listen to. I can actually 'see and hear' them. I find myself reading aloud all that you have written (in a crazy Aussie accent!) which makes it come even more alive.
I guess things here are not so very different to your place. Election fever set in? If it has I think it has turned everyone moribund. Another election 'do' tonight. This time between the chancellors (actual and shadow) of the three main parties. Of course the Scottish lot want part of the action but let's face it, a lot of Scots already run Parliament — Prime Minister downwards!
Last week we had the three leaders. The Liberals came out top, which scared the pants off the other two. But Mr Nice Guy was just too simplistic about the issues, and when the other two eventually yelled at each other, he had the opportunity to look smug and oh so reasonable about everything. Scary!
Couldn't tell you what they were wearing though. But I would have noticed if they were starkers!

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Gladys: 'I would have noticed if they were starkers!' Never a truer word spoken, from the lady who ogles clinging lycra clad bums of Cumbrian male cyclists, according to my reliable sources.

You share my cynicism about executives needing to be allowed to set their own pay to obscenely out-of-proportion levels to that of the working slaves under them. Yes, take the risk, let them desert ship when they are remunerated reasonably, fairly, in proportion.

I'm chuffed that you 'see and hear' the interlocutors whom I describe; in general they turn themselves out very well, given that their television personas can make or break them. I do get a bit mischievous though with some of my descriptions, safely tucked away in the privacy of my own castle.

Election fever is growing here, and the trouble is, in Australia we face Federal elections every three years or less, and a State election four yearly in most cases. We're never really out of election mode.

gladys Hobson said...

From what you say there seems to be quite a lot of that which issues from the back of a bull flying about (soon to hit the fan?). Yes indeed. Not only does your description of TV events enable me to see and hear what is going on but smell it too. Poo!
But your adorable Ms Sales deodorises by her very presence.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Gladys: Aren't we the long suffering public served a great deal of bullsh*t from government, business, media, educational institutions, …?

Ms Leigh Sales is one of those serendipitous combinations of talent, effort, and niceness while still young, and thus even better is yet to come.

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