Big business rip-offs


Here in Australia we are at the tail end of a Royal Commission into our banking and superannuation sector.

Shock, horror, surprise, they were all ripping us off by charging excessive fees, charging fees for nothing, and cost us all thousands by not investing with our best interests at heart.

The penalties? Fines, with possible repayments to customers.

Here’s the thing. They gained billions of dollars and will have to pay back a couple of billion. Net result, billions in their pockets.

Why isn’t there a very simple law? Rip off your customers and you have to repay them double what you charged, and the onus is on the business to locate every affected customer or they pay back triple the amount.

Easy, simple and a deterrent large enough to make them think twice about expanding their bottom line at the expense of integrity.

It can apply to any business, large or small.

If these penalties are considered ‘excessive’ by anyone, please consider the hundreds, maybe thousands of people who lost their homes because of perverted financial advice born from greed.

Imagine having to pay back double the price of a lost home. How many times would this happen before behaviour changed?

Not many, I believe.

Quite simply, make the punishment fit the intention as well as the outcome of the crime.

Everything in life comes down to one thing – Timing


Well, alright, there are just a few more things involved, but for me timing is the most important.

I suppose it relates back to that ‘sliding doors’ moment. Had you not turned left when you got off the bus this morning and turned right instead, you might have bumped into the love of your life.

Depressing but a possibility.

But more to the point, I am referring to those who rave about how great they are because they made lots of money when they sold their house, or bought shares low and sold very high and gave their lives a freedom from financial woes that ninety percent of us go through each month (or at least every few months when the dreaded power bill arrives).

These people are not geniuses, they have not discovered the secret to the financial markets. Yes, they would like to think they have, and indeed tell us so, but no they haven’t.

How can I be so sure?

Do a quick search of the main so called ‘expert’ economists, financial ‘wizards’ and see what they wrote as their predictions at the beginning of last year. They are there for all to see. And the one common thread throughout? They are almost all completely wrong.

I saw one the other day, adamant that inflation would reach twenty percent by the end of last year in the US. I have seen others who predicted a major crash in China (which will no doubt occur one day but no-one knows exactly when).

Timing. It is like predicting an interest rate increase. If you predict one publicly and loudly and one actually occurs within a month you are an instant expert. You could have been predicting an increase every month for two years but because you finally got one right you know everything, right?

Wrong!

Or if you predict that the next Apple iPad will be a total flop, which very senior people have done every year since the first model was released, and that year you happen to be right, suddenly people think you know everything.

Sorry, but it was just a lucky guess.

The markets are mainly driven by emotion. Yes there are some facts in there that a very, very few can follow and predict how people will react, but no-one gets it right all the time. Not even Warren Buffett.

The vast majority get it utterly, completely wrong, especially now when our markets are so wildly unpredictable.

So the next time someone tells you of their great gain when they sold their property, think how lucky they were to find the one buyer who fell in love with it and had to have it. Or the shares that could easily have tanked because of a bad asparagus crop out of Croatia.

It is all timing. Yes some call it luck, and I suppose it is lucky to get the timing right, but I prefer simple timing.

So next time you get off the bus, walk a different way to work.

You never know.

Why are Tablets all 7-10 inches?? Yes, size does matter!!


And they wonder why overall tablet sales are declining!

Please, manufacturers, in much of the world we use A4 paper. All our documents are A4, our magazines, business documents and pretty much everything we want to read, without glasses like coke bottle bottoms, is in A4.

A4, for you are obviously unaware, is 14″ diagonally across.

Most of our phones are 5″ in size or over, so why would I pay up to $1,000 for a tablet only twice the size of my phone? Yes I know that measured diagonally it is actually more than twice, but I’m ranting here so give me a break.

Equally, the US market uses Letter (those funny people who refuse to go metric because it would somehow interfere with their masculinity, or something) so their Tablets should be 8.5″ x 11.5″.

Why is this so difficult??

If I walk into a meeting with all my documents on my tablet I do not want to spend my time apologising for the the small sized print and handing around magnifying glasses.

So give me a tablet that is the same size I have been looking at in business for the past several decades, not some small, so called ‘elegant’ sized tablet I can’t read because it was designed to “fit nicely in a small case or bag”.

Stuff the bag, that’s why I’m carrying a tablet, so I DON’T NEED a bag!

As always, either the entire world is bonkers or I am, and since I have been asking myself this question more often than not lately, it could go either way.

Am I crazy? People have said 14″ is too big for a tablet, but then they go into the newsagent and buy an A4 magazine to read.

And no, I don’t want a 14″ windows laptop. Windows is half my problem.

I have everything I need with the Google apps (which I protect like crazy and have three backups of, just because) such as spreadsheets, documents, presentations…all shrunk from A4 to make me feel blind, but it does fit into my jacket pocket.

That’s OK, I have arms, carrying one tablet (if it’s the right size!) is very doable.

If we have trouble describing our illness how can we expect others to understand it?


For my fellow sufferers of Fibromyalgia, ME and CFS we have a unique issue.

To all outward appearances we appear perfectly healthy, and yet, as I have explained in many previous posts, we are anything but.

I will spare regular readers the long list of ailments we suffer from. The main ones for us all are pain all over our body that never quits, dizziness, brain fog and devastating exhaustion.

I think this is enough for people to realise that we cannot be judged by how we appear. And yet many do.

Unfortunately if someone asks what we suffer from we cannot say ME or CFS (at least in my experience). Firstly they have no idea what ME is (say the full name and watch their eyes glaze over) and secondly mention CFS and you risk receiving “oh you’re one of those” looks. Everyone is tired in today’s world, and if you call it exhaustion people have difficulty making the distinction.

Fatigue, exhaustion, aren’t they the same? Well no actually. Fatigue means you are very tired whereas exhaustion for us is not being able to get out of bed, sometimes for days at a time.

Still, it doesn’t quite get through to them.

Fibromyalgia though, well that’s a lovely long and confusing word so it must be important, plus didn’t one of those pop stars cancel a tour because of it? But she’s alright now though isn’t she, so when are you getting better?

Hmmmmm….give us patience.

Telling people there is no cure still doesn’t seem to sink in, because the next time you see them you are usually greeted with, “Hey how are you feeling, any better yet?”

So, what part of ‘no cure’ did you not understand?

Actually, I believe it is our fault that we receive these reactions. If people do not understand them it is the message and the messenger that are failing, in my opinion. Harsh that might be, but I believe we need a simple, easy to understand explanation of our illness or we will never be understood.

Suggestions? Mine is rather simple and to the point.

“I have Fibromyalgia. Basically it means every nerve in my body has decided to tell my brain I am in excruciating pain 24/7, without any reason, and there is no break from this as no-one knows why it happens or how to fix it.”

I know this leaves out many of our symptoms, but I find it gets the message across. If they want more information then go for it, but in the interests of raising awareness for our condition I find it is a great place to start.

If we try to tell them everything they will remember nothing, so baby steps are required.

If you have a better response please, tell me so I can use it!

By the way, as a conversation starter and to add to the credibility of our condition, please visit The Awareness Store and get yourself a Fibromyalgia bracelet or necklace or, if you’re daring enough, a t-shirt! No, I receive no commission or benefits whatsoever, I just think they are a great idea and my wife and I wear their purple bracelet.

It’s a great conversation/awareness starter, and they can be found here.

No, were are not antisocial. Just chronically ill.


One of the biggest issues I encounter with family and friends is, “why don’t we see you much anymore? You have withdrawn yourself away from us?”

My standard response is, “I’m home 98% of the time so you know where I’ll be, just let me know before you pop in so I can try to look respectable or, worst case, ask you to please visit on another day.”

We are not withdrawing, in fact we crave contact with others. It is just that we often have no energy to hold up a conversation and it can take us days to recover from one.

Nothing personal. In fact we love you dearly and appreciate enormously your support and concern for us. You have no idea what that means in our daily struggles and we simply cannot tell you how grateful we are!!

So please understand we really want to see you, our lives are utterly boring without you, just let us know before you pop in.

Unfortunately many will still see this as you withdrawing and some will take it personally, but we need to put ourselves first or our condition will never improve.

We love seeing people, it makes us feel normal and is often the highlight of our day, we just have to be careful as to which day we choose.

Forgive us our daily absences, they are not an intentional barrier. We prefer human contact (as do we all), just don’t expect a tidy house or me in anything other than my PJs.

Most days we are silently screaming for a break in our boredom, so come on in, you know where we are, we’re not going anywhere!

Unions – why I’ve changed my mind about them


A long time ago, before the powerful wharfies union was beaten in a protracted and often ugly (children brought to the front line to hide behind) battle against much needed changes, I thought unions were archaic and had lost their relevance.

Now I wish they would return.

Yes we still have unions, but they are mostly powerless and dictated to by employers who know how dire our unemployment (and underemployment) situation is in this country. They know the real numbers, not those controlled by Canberra.

They consider you to be employed if you work just one hour a fortnight. Blatant manipulation of those without a voice, and yet no-one reports on it and we don’t hear it mentioned in the evening news or asked of our leaders during interviews.

Why not??

We also used to believe in a ‘fair go’, but after seeing record business profits go straight to the executives, with often job cuts announced in the same week, our fair go has gone.

Large company tax cuts will NOT result in more employment or higher wages. There are countless incidences of the exact opposite occuring during the past ten years, and yet somehow the rich deserve to become richer.

The current Royal Commission into the banking and finance industry only seals this belief. Banks announce record profits then sack hundreds, sometimes thousands of workers to make sure their profit margin remains high, to maintain their bonuses.

And our unions can do nothing but feebly protest. This is not their fault and I believe they do what they can, but their thuggish behaviour of the past (1970s and 1980s) turned the public tide against them. Now they are reduced to media obscurity.

This is wrong, the pendulum has swung too far and seems stuck, unable to swing back to normality.

And so the rich executives get away with disgusting levels of pay (please, no-one is worth paying millions to each year unless they have completely turned your business around from a basket case to stratospheric profits – none of which the current crop can claim to have done).

We also have business after business not paying superannuation, underpaying and mistreating workers, and unless it makes headlines nothing is done. Even after being in the media headlines the spotlight moves so quickly in our miniscule news cycle (not to mention the fact that the vast majority of our journalists have been sacked) that all businesses have to do is wait a few days until it moves on, leaving them free to act as they please.

I certainly do not want a return to the ‘bad old days’ of unionism, but we definitely need them to be moral in their actions and outrage and powerful enough to scare big business.

Unfortunately their own actions of recent maladministration have made this nigh impossible.

So our senior executives are left to their own devices, or should I say vices, whilst their workers suffer insecurity and are paid wages that have steadily fallen behind inflation.

The gap between the rich and poor is only being enhanced by the absence of good unions and the willingness of our most senior politicians to assist those they were elected to protect.

Instead of giving the wealthy more money via tax breaks (as if they don’t earn enough), why not simply remove the $18,000 tax free threshold for those earning $200,000 or above? Why should the very rich enjoy this tax free threshold that was meant to assist the poor, which now includes our middle class?

And yet it will be the organisations, not the guilty individuals, that pay the multi-million dollar fines sought by our current Royal Commission. Those who assisted terrorists and threw Australians out of their homes and killed the ‘fair go’ continue to make more in a year than most of us do in a lifetime.

It is so absurd I’d burst out laughing, if it were not real.

Our true inflation figure and how it is ripping us off


I am sure you have all noticed the same thing.

For almost everything you purchase from the supermarket today, you are receiving around 20 percent less in actual product than you used to receive a year ago, and for the same price.

Our real inflation figure is around 7-8 percent, maybe more. Yet the figures coming out of the the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate inflation is no higher than 2.5 percent.

So our wages increase by a quarter of the increased costs we pay for essential goods every day, meaning our buying power is being significantly eroded. We simply cannot buy anywhere near as much in the supermarket today as we did last year, the year before that and so on.

No wonder we all feel a lot worse off today, and get very angry when politicians state the ‘official’ yet wildly inaccurate inflation figure.

Its official title is ‘household gross disposable income’ and it is decreasing as fast as water draining from a bath once the plug is removed. Or at least it sometimes feels that way.

The ‘statistics’ say we should all be fine, yet we have more people seeking assistance than ever before. And our purchasing power has reduced by 20 percent or more on many of our regular food items.

For example, packets of nutritious nutbars we used to enjoy did come in packs of six. Without any price reduction they then contained five per pack, and now only four. They then reduced the size of each individual bar by 20 percent. The price of each box has not reduced at all

So the ABS, who only look at the surface and so obtain meaningless figures, sees no increase.

Obviously their data collection is way off, and they should have started to include the size of items as well as price some years ago.

It started when bottles of wine and spirits reduced from 750ml to 700ml, with no increase in price, and the ABS registered no increase in inflation.

Many of us did not notice this seven percent increase in overall price, encouraging others to do the same.

The ABS has been completely wrong for some years now.

Packets of potato chips now contain far fewer chips, and they cunningly fill the rest of each bag with compressed air. This actually adds weight, meaning the weight shown on the packet is the same, or very close to the same, weight was before. Unfortunately we cannot eat air, yet we are now paying for it.

Once again the fast diminishing cash in our pockets tells the real story.

If the ABS does not get its act together quickly and measure the real cost of living increases we experience every day, we will soon have our buying power reduced by 50 percent with only, if we are lucky, an increase in wages of 2.5 percent.

Businesses know this, and also know it contributes to their ever increasing bottom lines so they are not going to speak up any time soon. The government, likewise, loves announcing ‘low’ inflation as evidence of their wonderful economic management.

I have read quotes from officials within the ABS admitting they are not getting the inflation figures correct. How about they simply include measurements/quantities of food items we now receive for the same money? It would quickly show the correct inflation figure, at approximately four times the current figure.

However that would mean admitting to incorrect calculations for the past several years. Why do that when the government is so happy with the way they calculate it now?

We are all being squeezed in a vice consisting of business profits and fast diminishing products for the same amount of our money.

Once again our confidence in those who are meant to know what they are doing, because it directly affects our quality of life, is eroding almost as quickly as the size of the products we buy.

So if the increased profits businesses are making from this underhanded price manipulation are not being shared with us in higher wages, why does the federal government think their planned tax cuts will be passed on?

As always the lower and middle classes suffer so the rich can get richer. The current gap between the rich and poor has never been bigger and shows no sign of slowing.

When the results of all the bi-elections from yesterday come in and victory is dominated by independents, the two main political party’s have only themselves to blame.

We are not as gullible as they think we are.

Finally I must, in the interest of balance, mention the new government here in South Australia. So far they have met all their election promises and look like they are doing their best to meet all of them wherever possible. This is reflected in recent business confidence figures being the highest this State has seen for a very, very long time.

Unfortunately they have no clout when it comes to calculating real inflation. We can only hope that a federal government will follow their lead soon and tell it like it is.

In the meantime we progressively get poorer and, unless we read and note the weight and quantity of everything we buy, it will only get worse.

But hey, with inflation at only 2.5 percent why worry?

Retired early due to chronic illness I now write about my illness & current events.

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