Tag Archives: unfair

Is there too much white collar crime or are we lucky there isn’t more of it?


We live in a society where white collar crime has never been higher, or more well protected.

Just read any book on the GFC or High Frequency Trading. You will quickly learn how so many became so rich at the expense of the hard working lower and middle class. Like you and me.

And no-one has been charged with committing any crime.

In the GFC companies (driven by individuals within them) made junk loans to people they knew were never going to pay them back. They then packaged them up and called them A+ secure, sold them to other investors for huge commissions then bet on those same junk loans defaulting.

And yet we still listen to those corrupt ratings agencies, Standard and Poor and Moodys, and the ratings they put on investments today. Why? Because the corrupr at the top welcomed them back with open arms as being fellow greedy and unlawful money makers, just like them.

They made millions, some billions, and yet no-one was held accountable.

Indeed the senior ezexutives of companies they knew were going to collapse, sold their company for a bargain price but not before they votes themselves huge bonuses. These bonuses were then paid by the US government bailout funds. Tax dollars of individuals put to good use…NOT.

As soon as the GFC was exploding around them the same firms started high frequency trading. I will not attempt to explain it in detail here, because not even some of those who participated do not know how it works. Suffice it to say that the big end of town were making stock trades that made them hundreds of millions while the average investor, often their own clients (people like you and me) lost everything.

Given these are only two situations that we actually know about, there must be many, many more. The current Royal Commission into the finance sector here in Australia has revealed much, but only because the Australian Government was forced kicking and screaming to agree to setup this investigation. They were trying to protect their mates.

Is it a coincidence that our Prime Minister made a fortune as a merchant banker and therefore would have countless contacts, friends, amongst the senior executives now being investigated?

As disgusting as all these examples are, I now believe that the ease that people and businesses can make themselves richer and the poor (us) poorer, we are actually fortunate it doesn’t happen more often.

If you read enough books, and get a pool of money together through friends, family and a few acquaintances you too can rip people off to your benefit.

So as bad as it is, and it is pretty damn bad, I actually believe we are lucky more people do not succumb to this temptation.

Corruption in our society starts at the top with heads of big business and political parties, and as proven many times over the fish rots from the head. So they are setting us all an example that we could easily follow. That example is greed.

Yet approximately only the top 5% do so. It should be more widespread but I do not believe it is. Why? Because the majority of people have ethics and morals that prevent them from acting as decedantly and greedily.

Yes, we live in bad times like never before as the gap between rich and poor grows by the hour.

However I like to believe that it could be a lot, lot worse and will stand with those trying desperately to shine light into dark corners.

Because greed is not hard wired into our system, helping others is.

I just hope there are enough of us to stem the growing tide.

Bonuses – why they should be banned


Awarding bonuses is something I have read much about, taught and experienced firsthand in my career.

They are almost always misused. Instead of encouraging better performance from employees the only thing it encourages it greed, lies and discontent.

Bonuses are usually paid from middle management on up, and therefore breed discontent and envy from everyone below middle management.

Why?

Because the success of a business rests upon every employee performing at their best, not just a select few.

There is now a whole industry that has been built around team building, team bonding and trust, fuelled by bonuses. This is because bonuses are 95% of the time given to individuals, not teams.

This conflict, and disconnect between performance and reward breeds nothing but bitter rivalry.

It also encourages illegal activity, such as we in Australia have seen recently with the Royal Commission into banks. The corruption that bonuses perpetuate has also been evident for a long time and played a significant role in the Global Financial Crisis.

Bonuses are mostly put in place by people who want to motivate their employees, and so they can argue for a bonus system for themselves.

If middle management are given the opportunity to earn a bonus, then surely those above them should be offered one as well! And so it goes, to the very top.

This is where the rot really sets in.

For example; there is a team of five salespeople and it is coming to the end of their reporting year. Three of the salespeople have passed their performance benchmarks but two have not, but they are not far behind.

As the salespeople get a bonus only if their overall targets are met the three salespeople who have already qualified will start to allow the credit for their sales to go to the other two. This way they have a chance of meeting their bonus targets.

It is now just two weeks from the cutoff date to achieve bonuses and one salesperson is still behind. If this remains the case no-one will get a bonus for the past twelve months work.

The senior salesperson has been keeping the Sales Manager aprised of what is going on, because of course the Sales Manager wants his/her bonus as well. They have also been getting more and more phone calls from their Regional Manager who also has a bonus, but theirs relies on the Sales Manager hitting their target.

And so it goes up to the CEO.

So in order to achieve their target, and therefore achieve a bonus for everyone, the leading salesperson goes to the Sales Manager with a proposition. What if they create a fake sale that will meet their target, and everyone elses?

The Sales Manager goes to their Regional Manager and over a coffee proposes the sales person’s idea. Because the bonuses get larger as you go higher up the corporate ladder the Regional Manager will lose far more than the Sales Manager if they just fall short.

So the Regional Manager agrees to let it slip through.

Their Manager might realise it is a fake order when it comes across their deak, but they of course approve it because they want their bonus. After all it is the salesperson and Sales Manager who will take the fall if anything happens.

And so it goes, all the way to the top where the CEO’s bonus could be worth up to a million dollars or more (disgusting but true, just read the financials of the big banks, or any of the top ten companies in Australia).

So everyone gets a bonus that year, everyone is happy…until next year.

This year has been particularly difficult, and it looks like only one salesperson will meet their target. But now they have a ready made solution, and because all levels of management let it go last year, surely they will let it go this year?

So a much larger fraud is committed, but again who is going to complain? If anyone did they would all lose their bonuses.

Although a somewhat simplistic example, this is exactly the way bonuses work. If you set a team bonus the above scenario will occur, and if you set team bonuses (sales team, regional management team, product management team) internal resentment occurs because the top salesperson earns just as much as the salesperson who is lazy and doesn’t care.

You also alienate the people in customer support, who are talking to customers all day, trying to make them happy. Surely the salespeople wouldn’t get their results without the help of customer support? And what about the staff that key in the orders, shouldn’t they receive a bonus for accuracy, because it costs the business a lot of money if they slip up?

Now you have discontent between departments.

Bonuses should be banned altogether. I believe they do nothing but create friction in the workplace and sanction greed.

In my own experience with bonuses I was awarded a trip overseas. I didn’t deserve it on my own because I had a great salesperson and also because one customer placed a huge order that year, the only year they did. What eased my conscience was that my salesperson went as well.

I also was a Regional Manager when our region won a table tennis table. I was told by my immediate boss to take it home and enjoy it. I would have loved to, but I knew it was because of the sales in our Western Australian branch that got us over the line. So I told my boss to send it to the WA office. On my next visit there they were still struck dumb as to why I would do such a thing, and sadly my response of “because it was fair” was considered unsatisfactory.

As I have said, bonuses are like a cancer to a business as they only encourage greed and false reporting. Everyone knows it, which is why my WA team couldn’t believe I had behaved fairly.

If no-one believes bonuses are fair, even if they are rewarded by one, then surely it is game over?

One final thought. If you have to offer someone a bonus to motivate them, are they worth employing?

The Decaying Morality of Big Business in Australia


Once upon a time…yes I am using a fairytale opening, because big business and morals in this country has now become a fairytale concept.

With the Royal Commission into Banks, who would be naive enough to think that all the other big publicly listed businesses actually do the right thing?

Why would they?

Their advertising says that you, the customer, are the most important thing to them when in fact it is hitting targets to gain bonuses. They couldn’t care less how they achieve their bonuses just as long as they receive them.

When was the last time you heard of a major Australian public company contributing to a crowdfunding campaign for someone in desperate need? I cannot remember one.

Small businesses have, however, and enjoy a far better image as a result.

The four major banks should have an ‘Humanitarian Budget’ which is allocated to the worthiest causes as judged by senior, or even middle management (remember them?). They can, and should, by any moral or ethical argument put some of the Billions of dollars in profit they make each year towards dozens, perhaps hundreds, of worthy causes. Their bottom line would barely be affected.

The one stupid, contrary argument (and unfortunately it is law) is that as publicly listed companies they must put shareholders interests first. In other words they must maximise shareholders’ dividend payments.

As mentioned they could easily give away $10M each and split it up into hundreds of worthy causes. However their shareholders would rightly ask “Hey, by law you have to put us first and by giving that money away I got $10 less in dividend income!”

With the law on their side unfortunately it is a circular argument, a Catch 22.

As long as that law remains as it stands, profits will always be put before helping people where public companies are concerned. Perhaps a ‘tweaking’ of the law is required?

Many large private companies (but still too few) are well known for their generosity. I argue it is because they decide what to spend their profits on, not a horde of needy shareholders.

At this stage I must put my own hand up, and reveal that I have owned shares and as a shareholder I lived for those dividends. Yes, I am two faced but at least I admit it and am ready to discuss badly needed change.

The big four banks might point to a number of charitable donations, but they seem to only contribute if they can place a huge logo on it, in order to achieve a return on investment for their marketing dollars. Yes, they call helping people in need “Marketing”.

Westpac used to have a lovely rescue helicopter flying around but only because it was saturated with their logo. Then they did some analysis and ROI (return on investment) calculations and ceased funding this rescue helicopter. Not because they couldn’t afford it, but because they need to put shareholders first followed closely by their bonuses (or is it the other way around?).

Putting bonuses ahead of helping people is disgusting and definitely unAustralian. Which is ironic because had they helped more families they would have received more favourable media coverage and may not be facing a damaging Royal Commission right now. It would definitely would change our perception of them.

But there is one final problem, and this is the biggest and by far the most difficult to understand. Almost everyone hates the big four banks, and will complain about them ad nauseum but they will not close their accounts and take their business elsewhere! The big four easily have 85% of the total market, so there is no incentive on them, at all, to change their ways. In fact it encourages them to behave badly because their customers do not leave them.

So, in the end, it is your own apathy and unwillingness to follow through on your complaints that makes them so comfortable. It also creates the perfect environment for corruption, because they know that no matter what they do their customers, by and large, will stay with them. So up go fees, down goes quality of service and contributing to the community.

Well done Australians, you reep what you sow.

P.S. If you liked this short article please click on the “Follow” button, I would love to have people other than my wife and parents read my rantings!

Chronic Illness: The Curse of Invisibility


I, like many others, live within a predominantly transparent bubble behind several masks.

I was taught, as we all were, to wear a mask that conforms to my surroundings and most importantly the people within those surroundings. All to fit within the acceptable confines of my particular place in society, and the position of the people I am conversing with at that time.

We must choose the particular mask to wear for each occasion in order to meet society’s expectations, as we have all been taught (either directly or indirectly)

The (predominantly translucent) bubble I spoke of earlier is reserved for those, such as myself, who suffer from an unseen ailment. These various ailments could be the result of an action or experience (one incident or many) that we have endured, or the profound loss of someone who had a special (perhaps critical) meaning in our life or, as in my case, a chronic illness.

The bubble allows those of us who would otherwise be viewed as flawed, to outwardly project an image of conformity. It protects us making it possible for a vast majority of chronic illness sufferers to answer politely to such mundane and repetitive questions such as; “How are you today?”. Automatic questions that society dictates people ask out of courtesy every day, but inflict upon those of us with an invisible illness an internal and stressful conflict; Do I answer truthfully or do I value this person’s company?

The correct answer and the one expected is, of course; “Fine thanks”. However this answer is lightyears from the truth.

Steangely, if others have a minor ailment such as a cold, or a short term pain or discomfort that will pass within days, people are allowed to respond (to myself and my fellow sufferers astonishment) with an informed and lengthy response. After they have described their minor ailment the acceptable, indeed expected, response is immediate sympathy accompanied by offers of assistance!

Those of us who suffer a chronic illness do not receive such a welcome response to a description of what ails us, for we appear to be in good health (no sniffles, coughs or bandaged limbs). Alas, the exact opposite is true.

Therefore our answers range from a stuttered; “Oh, not too bad thanks” to naming our affliction and then describing detailed symptoms.

Worse still are greetings such as “You look great, you must be feeling much better!” and “You just need some fresh air and exercise and you will be better before you know it”. Indeed a knife thrust into a random body part is often preferable.

My own predominantly transparent bubble is becoming increasingly fragile, for every time I have responded to this unthinking, automatic (but well meaning) question with a “Fine thanks” accompanied by a smile, internally the lie builds and builds. This internal conflict adds to my stress and threatens to collapse and reveal the real me, something we are taught to hide. In truth I am afraid of what I might see.

My chronic illnesses (ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia) are completely invisible to the naked eye. However they are rated by published peer reviewed research as comparable to suffering the same pain, exhaustion and depression of a cancer patient in their final months.

Yet I have also been taught so well throughout my life, through repetition and society’s expectations, to provide the expected response just as quickly and unthinkingly with two little words “Fine thanks”. Once uttered, the lie is immediately regretted.

The internal anger that follows those two words is aimed squarely at my vacuous utterance, the falsehood of my answer and my (quite unreasonable I admit) regret that my illness is invisible.

I recently attempted a slight change to my response, to avoid my bubble from disintegrating followed almost certainly and immediately by my screaming “Can’t you see how bloody ill I am! I bet you couldn’t last a week in my body!”. I answered some greetings with; “Oh, about the same I’m afraid”, and failed miserably. This experimental response was met with confusion, blank looks and awkward prolonged silences. I should have anticipated such reactions as they are perfectly understandable, for my answer disturbs the flow of greetings that society dictates and indeed expects.

The simple and automatic process of a greeting has been irretrievably programmed into our social subconsciousness, and my unexpected answer was outside the acceptable parameters resulting in people not knowing how to react.

I have therefore abandoned this truthful response in exchange for peace and normality. It also preserves my bubble, allowing me some sort of social interaction and protection.

When I am greeted by those who are aware of my true condition and believe and understand it, I answer truthfully and honestly and am rewarded with genuine expressions of sympathy and offers of support.

Unfortunately this bubble varies for everyone forced to live within its confines, and not everyone has people close to them who believe their illness exists and is completely debilitating. This does not allow them to unburden themselves nor receive the assistance, sympathy and support they so desperately need.

With ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, the illnesses are monumentally painful and include a list of symptoms so crippling you would wonder how anyone could live with them, but the illness and its symptoms are completely invisible. Unfortunately this is why many sufferrers are sadly met with incomprehension and a complete lack of understanding, which often leads to disbelief.

And their bubble darkens and becomes more fragile, another weight to carry equal to all the others combined.

And if their bubble breaks desperation fills the void, followed by even more stress which feeds the illness which then causes more stress…

Unfortunately when someone is confronted with something they do not understand, the social norm is to refute its existence. To not know something and admit to it out loud is to risk being called a fool. If you are a professional in the medical field with years of learning and experience, these illnesses are so rare and contentious that the safest thing for many is to ignore it. Better still, deny it exists.

Many times have I, and people with the same afflictions, been told by a medical professional, “I don’t believe in ME or CFS, as for Fibromyalgia just exercise four times a week for twenty minutes and you will be fine.”

WRONG!!

Countless studies have shown that exercise, even in its gentlest form, causes crashes that can take weeks for us to recover from.

Ten years or more of medical training and experience apparently beats what you are feeling and experiencing and therefore you, the patient, are wrong.

This cannot last as more and more people are presenting with these symptoms. Fingers crossed…if I could as they are too painful most of the time.

The struggle to continually assert to people that we do in fact suffer severely and there are hundreds of A class published research papers and millions of dollars being spent chasing a cure, is ridiculous and exhausting.

The fact that the majority of medical professionals believe their current collective knowledge is ‘obviously inscrutable’ (as it was before penicillin, medicinal cannabis, sterile operating theatres…) and therefore must be faultless and we are fine, just adds the proverbial insult to our injury.

I believe the current scepticism is born and raised on the fact that we appear so damn healthy.

So our bubble becomes solid, unmoving, inscrutable in self preservation. One day it will become so hardened by disbelief that it will shatter, causing us to crash and burn like Icarus but without the luxury of a warning. We simply experience the end of the story, and in too many instances without the preparation or support we so desperately need.

So we constantly use our masks. We smile when we want to cry, cry when we want to scream, and scream into our pillow when we want support and acceptance.

And we may never see our true selves again.

An Awareness Poem for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia sufferers


Suffering chronic pain in silence

Yet not even your medical licence

Makes my illness visible

I can hardly walk

And yet you talk

Of exercise, you’re so derisible

Spend a day with me

And you will see

What I do, just to survive

And yet you doubt

What my disease is about

You think you are so wise

What do I have to do

So I can prove to you

That my illness is very, very real

Perhaps spending a day in my skin

Would allow you to begin

To know exactly how I feel

Only other sufferrers like me

Can really see

The pain I suffer every day

So take your scepticism and leave

Until you come to believe

Because this may be you one day

No known cure nor cause

I deserve a round of applause

When I stand and walk five paces

Pain and headaches go on and on

Can’t tie laces so now wear slipons

A stranger to my favourite places

Now add dizziness, nausea and much more

To understand why my soul is so sore

Your disbelief is ignorant and baseless

Ninety plus per-cent of my days spent in bed

A cold compress and pills for my head

I pray for the day this will all end

Perhaps then you will welcome me

And be ready and willing to see

That this is real, my dear ex-friend

I was King of the world… temporarily


So, I’ve been on a new drug for several weeks and yesterday (it’s just after midnight) morning I woke up feeling a bit better.

Sure, my hands and feet were still in a lot of pain (7/10) and when I tried to read I kept falling asleep and hallucinating while reading. Oh, plus my terrible itching from just below the knees down and a headache that was trying hard to become a migraine, and my skin (yes everywhere, all over my body) was still very sensitive and in some pain and all my joints are incredibly sore… but apart from that not bad at all.

Possibly the best I’d felt in a couple of years.

So what did I do? I overdid it of course, as we all do.

Hey look I can walk 30m with just a stick and don’t need my wheelchair!

So I ended up walking just over 700 steps when I’ve been under my 500 limit for ages.

Oh, and it felt good!

Until I woke up just before midnight (twenty minutes ago) with excruciating pain in my knees. And yes the itching, hand and foot pain are all still there and have been joined by neck and back pain.

And insomnia.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because for two years I had pain all over my body, head to toe, and today (well, technically yesterday) my middle felt reasonable. Not in a ‘let’s go dancing’ reasonable but in a ‘hey, my pain is not as bad in places’ type reasonable.

And now I am paying for it. Just 200 steps over my self-imposed limit (try walking just 700 steps in a day and you will realise how pathetic my 500 steps are) and my knees are on fire.

So did I learn my lesson and will I take it easy next time I have a ‘good’ day??

Of course not!

Centrelink – epic fail!!


Centrelink is there for the needy, sick and disadvantaged, and yet provides the worst service of any government agency.

The top level of management needs to be sacked immediately, along with their middle management that publish outrageously incorrect phone answering statistics.
Then, and I know this will cost us, but there needs to be a Royal Commission into the whole Department and the policies currently in place. It could easily be a case of the right people being tied up by stupid beaurocracy. Until such a public, complete investigation is done those most in need of help in our society will continue to be treated with disdain.
We should all be ashamed (especially the policy makers who make it so difficult for Centrelink staff to do their job) for treating our people so badly.