Hello and welcome…
It would be remiss of me not to do what everyone else in the world is doing over the course of this week so here goes…
A lot of people must be looking back at 2009 and thinking, like I am, where the hell did that go. This year seems to have flown by much quicker than usual. Or is it the fact that I’m getting old? Does time pass quicker the older you get? If I think back to my childhood the years seemed to go on forever, weeks and months melding into each other like one long hot summer. Anyway, that’s enough of the Stand by Me crap. On with what I was going to say.
It’s good to see that the capitalists of this world still think the sun shines out of their arses despite the complete and abject failure of their way of doing things.
Oooo, ooo, Mr. Obama… Mr. Obama… I’ve got a good idea!! Me, me! Look I know that in the last couple of years that things haven’t been going quite right. In fact, technically speaking, when you crunch the numbers, they’ve been going quite wrong by quite a lot – mainly because I’ve been trying to make ridiculous amounts of money by effectively gambling on things I didn’t really understand but pretended I did.. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you give me MORE money, and when I say give I mean lend, if you lend me more money I can do some more guessing and gambling and I can make it all better. And once it’s all better, then I can pay you back. Good ay?
6 months later….
Oh, yeah, hi Mr. Obama… look I know that we made some number of billions profit this year despite having to ask you for some readies to tide us over but we really can’t afford to pay you back just yet. But I am good for it, I really am. It’s just that we need that money to do a bit more guessing and gambling. See, we’ve made $60 billion in the last six months, but if you let us keep going with the loan, if we can keep doing what we are doing – and remember we are the experts in the field, we know what we are doing – if we can keep going then that $60 billion could turn into $63 billion or maybe even $65 billion. That would be like an extra $5 billion that you didn’t have before man. Where did it come from? Well… um… I don’t really know. I just checked the balance at the end of the day and it had gone up a bit. No, it’s not like actual money you can hold in your hand, like a $2 note or anything. No no, this is an on-line bank balance. Well, yes, I suppose it could go back down just like it’s been going up, but I doubt that very much. After all, we play the markets like this all the time so we have experience and know how that allow us to be extremely confident in ourselves and what we are doing. No, I don’t have any qualifications other than a diploma I got from a technical college in Halifax. No, that diploma isn’t in finance – it’s in something called book labelling… it’s like book-keeping but instead of accounting for the ebb and flow of cash through the books, I’m am qualified for making sure all the books are correctly named. How did I get into the finance industry? I knew a guy in college who told me I was quite good on computers and adding up and he suggested I become a day trader. The rest is history.
Of course, that’s not to say that ALL of those people still involved in the financial institution that nearly bought the world to its knees (but thanks to some quick cash from those people who actually pay taxes, they can continue on their merry way) have no idea what they are doing. Indeed, I’m sure that most people who take huge daily risks with money that doesn’t belong to them in situations they can barely understand, know completely what they are doing.
I am being incredibly sarcastic here. I doubt whether anyone on Wall Street really fully understands anything about the institution they’ve created. All they really care about is making money – and lots of it. And before you go all funny and start suggesting I’m a communist, or, God forbid, ‘against us’, think of it this way… where does the money come from? If I’ve clicked my mouse to complete a trade, then later that day I sell making money, the only thing changing is a number on a computer screen. Where is the cold, hard cash – the tangible thing that I can hold in my hand that shows I’ve actually done something useful.
If I go out to a market and buy a carrot for 9 cents and later that day sell it for 10 cents, I’ve made a penny. I also have a 10 cent piece in my hand that I can show people and say – look at me, I’m worth 10 cents. Yesterday I was worth only 9.
The thing that really sticks in my mind from this year is the amount of profit these US companies made in the months following their bailout by Obama. For example, AIG made $1.82 billion in the second quarter of 09. This after getting nearly $200 billion in loans. I suppose, technically speaking, these loans have to be paid back by AIG, but all they’re doing is shuffling things around and selling them off to do this. They’re not really changing the root cause of all the financial market malarkey that has occurred in the last couple of years (oh, and in the late 90s, and in the late 80s, and in the 1970s, and so on and so on and so on).
People are driven by wanting to make as much money as they possibly can with little regard to whose money it is that’s actually helping them do this. When human nature is involved, you can’t have a totally unregulated situation in the marketplace, no matter how many times they tell you to let the market provide. Look what it provided last year (oh, and in the late 90s, and in the late 80s, and in the 1970s, and so on and so on and so on) – complete meltdown because those in charge of the money-go-round all got off at the same time. Dicks.
Oh well… I’m sure they’ll do better next time (I’m picking it to be around 2018).
Happy new year!!
Anyone reading my outbursts over the last few months may realise that there’s more on my mind that George W. Bush these days. Indeed… earlier this year Richard “The Dick” Cheney accused Obama of dithering in Afghanistan during a speech where he bragged that they reviewed their war machine there in the fall of 2008 – just as the Bush juggernaut rolled into ‘thank God they’re almost finished’ station (7 whole years after they started their lamewad attempts to control international foreign policy) – I’ve really had no time to focus on that kind of nonsense.
My mind and my energies have been elsewhere.
Friday October 23rd, 2009
After being on hormones to bring a halt to her cycle Mrs. Boon and I head for a wee scan up at the clinic. They need to see if the correct things are happening in her ovaries to warrant taking what’s called the ‘trigger injection’. Before you ask, this is not as violent as it sounds. The trigger injection is taken to release the eggs.
If we go back a step, what the hormones do is to stop the natural cycle of the body. Once the IVF people have control it is that time they need to tell the body to release the eggs. Once the eggs are released into the ovary follicles the harvesting can take place. Phew! It all sounds very pagan.
So, when you head into the clinic to have your follicles checked, you end up getting a picture like the one here. Inside the folicle there might be an egg hiding…
At that Friday appointment we were told that things were going along nicely and that the trigger injection would be needed shortly. It’s a very fluid situation based on hormones being at appropriate levels – not too high, not too low. Results of the morning blood test came back and another scan and blood test would be needed the next day.
Saturday October 24, 2009
The blood test and ultrasound confirmed that it was time to pull the trigger. Technically, I suppose, an injection involved some kind of pushing motion. Anyway, it was to be done in preparation for the harvesting ceremony to be held on Monday – quite ironically this was Labour Day here in New Zealand.
Monday October 26, 2009
So the harvesting went well with six of the little ‘half-bubbies’ (as the wife called them) found and put into tubes. As an aside – did you know that the human egg is the biggest cell in our bodies. See, look, it’s huge!
After that it was my turn to deliver. A sample was duly produced and washed in the lab so the testicular Michael Phelps’s were separated from the silver and bronze winners.
Then our DNA was mixed together in a sterile environment and voila!
Tuesday October 27, 2009
Emily the scientist reported back from the lab. We had one definite, two maybes and the rest were unclear as to whether they had fertilised or not. This bit is quite hard. On the one hand you could have one egg removed, totally fertilised and put back in. On the other you might have 16 eggs removed and none of them fertilise so you have no mini-bubs to put back in. Which is harder? I do not know.
Thursday October 29, 2009
D-day… well not really, it’s E-day. Mrs. Boon gets our little one put back inside and the more natural part of the process begins as miniBoon affixes to the endometrium and begins to grow into a baby. It’s a great little process. The small one is placed in a looooong needle in a bit of solution, bookended by 2 pockets of air. You sit there and watch the ultrasound screen, the needle goes in and pretty soon you see a flash of light as the embryo is deposited. It’s the air bubbles doing it but it looks like a flash of light you see when there’s a star being formed at the edge of a space cloud. It’s all very beautiful. In about 10 minutes it’s all over and you’re sent on your way.
And now we wait. November the 10th is the day we find out whether we are having a baby through a simple blood test.
Sunday November 8, 2009
After doing a wee test on Saturday (and failing), we were both convinced it was all over. That was that – no baby for us, not this time anyway. Well, after going online to her discussion forums my wife discovered that the test she had bought from the chemist may have been about as useful as a Republican at an anti-chastity meeting. So out she went and purchased a different, more robust test.
That was during my school fair day. I got a text asking when I’d be home. I thought that was a bit strange, but thought nothing more of it until I walked up the stairs of our house to see the wife with a goofy yet triumphant grin on her face. She told me she was pregnant then she showed me the wee test she had done. Very cool. That was the first time in my life that I thought, “Wow, I’m going to be a dad!”
After all the dramas of the previous 2-3 years, or however long it’s been, neither of us could believe what the stick of joy was telling us… I suppose you set yourself up to deal with failure so often that when something positive happens your brain can’t process it!
Tuesday November 10, 2009
Today the blood test confirmed the wee test above. More amazement, goofy smiles and whooping for joy. I’m sure this caused some consternation to the people walking past our car in the supermarket car park where we were situated.
If you’re interested, just before our little one was replanted, a quick picture was taken. 7 cells of magic. Thank you scientists, doctors and nurses who made our baby happen.
Suddenly, after all these years of trying, it’s happening! It’s quite surreal really. You go through so long of thinking it ain’t gonna happen and then it’s all go.
Thursday December 3, 2009
Today was the day of our 7-week scan. Today was the day we saw our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Today was one of the greatest days of my life.
We both looked up on the ultrasound screen and there, in the centre, a embryological lighthouse shining through the fog of infertility was our baby. Our tiny baby, no bigger than a thumbnail, heart racing at 180 bpm.
Double wow (wowow).
Wednesday December 16, 2009
Our miniBoon is now 9 weeks old. We are out of the IVF system and in with the ‘normals’ hunting for a midwife and wondering what the hell to do next. Thankfully all our friends who’ve had babies over the last few years know what to expect and will be tapped handsomely for their information.
IVF is the single most harrowing thing I have been through. So many ups and downs, but the ultimate up when it comes is so sweet. To all others out there reading this and perhaps going through the same situation I wish you well in your endeavours. You will try to be positive throughout but that may not work sometimes, so do embrace the grumpy bums when they come, because you sometimes need to yell and scream and curse to get it out.
Kind regards and best of Christmas wishes to you all.
Boon x x x
This week the government – led by the benevolent National Party of New Zealand and their little shoulder parrot the ACT Party – sponsored the delivery of a report on how the country can bridge the ever-increasing wage/salary gap with Australia.
Having read the above you must be thinking, “How very benevolent indeed. Imagine thinking of the worker in this scenario.”
The point I have to make at this juncture is – Bollocks.
To understand by point let us why the report exists in the first place… About a year ago in little old New Zealand there was an election. This election was won by the National Party after they created coalition agreements with ACT and the Maori Party. Traditionally National are a right / centre right party – this means they are like the Republicans in the US – except for the extreme nonsensical gibberish about Money, Jesus and 9/11.
In terms of coalition partners, ACT are slightly more right of National and therefore obvious drinking partners. ACT stands for the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers. Ironically enough, the leaders of this party probably don’t pay any tax thanks to creative accounting. I’m not implying they are breaking the law, I’m implying that they are creative with their accounting. Things like trust funds for family homes, cars and putting things in the wife’s name. This creativity means a reduction in taxation imposed upon them by the Inland Revenue people. As part of their coalition deal with National, ACT demanded a review of things led by Dr. Don Brash, a former head of the National Party himself and a notable proponent of the low tax, low spend government that ACT so lovingly puts forward.
New Zealand has had a long history of low productivity compared to Australia. Over the years our wage gap has remained for years and this sees many New Zealanders eyeing up the sandy Ozzy shores to make a new live. And being just 3 hours away on the plane it’s very easy to return to see the family now and again. In recent years escaping the financial talons of a student loan has also been a great motivator.
Having done some backgrounding of the issue we can now move on to Dr. Brash’s report recommendations. If you can remember back to the 80s when hair was big and shoulder pads even bigger, many policies adopted by governments around the world were very much focused on cutting government spending in a variety of ways including rationalisation of health, education and welfare spending, selling off of state assets to the private sector and lowering personal income tax while lifting the level of consumption tax. Dr. Brash’s report brings us back to those heady days. He called for, among other things, cuts in government spending, cuts in income tax, lifting consumption tax, selling of assets, and cuts to the minimum wage – the argument being that the private sector is able to offer far more efficiencies to the taxpayer than the government-run organisations, and over time these changes will increase productivity and close the wage gap between New Zealand and Australia.
Again, I make my point – Bollocks.
I’m not an economist or a statistician. I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about GDP or tax law. I am not a world leader in the sale of assets. I am, however, a wage/salary earner. If you want to increase my productivity, if you want to make me more efficient than I have ever been, then you reward me for my efforts. This seems, on the face of it, a very, very, extremely, very simple solution.
The minimum hourly wage in Australia is $A14.31 ($NZ18.32), whereas here in New Zealand it is a mere $12.50 – and Brash says this should be cut. I must be an idiot because I would have thought that if you cut the minimum wage and I can earn 50% more for doing the same job in Australia, then I’m going to move there… aren’t I???
Cutting health and education spending is not going to work either. Having a sicker, stupider workforce is unlikely to lift production or wages. I admit that this is flippancy at its extreme, but there is some foundation there. Brash and his report buddies are asking for more private sector involvement in the provisioning of health and education. The idea is that competition will cut government spending levels. This is good I suppose… but the private sector is not the great liberator of spending Brash thinks it is, and they don’t always run things better than the government. Just look at the state of ridiculousness at the end of last year where companies like AIG, Lehmann Bros and so on couldn’t do their jobs properly because they didn’t know how the system they operated in worked.
Who’s to say the same collapse wouldn’t happen if the education or health system were privatised? Once you get money involved in things then maximising profit and returning dividends to shareholders becomes the motivation, not delivering a public service and ultimately those services, and the consumers of those services, suffer.
Brash and his rich little cronies should get their wallets out of their arses and try and live on $12.5o an hour with 6 kids to feed. He never will though and therefore he will never really understand what it’s like in the real world. It’s all numbers to them. Numbers can be made smaller. Unfortunately, and this is the case for all economic arguments, people aren’t numbers.
So again I say: Bollocks. You can’t build a bridge between two things if you begin by cutting away at the coastline on one side.
Brash, you’re a dick, and you always will be (this is slightly inflammatory so I must qualify the word ‘dick’ by adding the word ‘alleged’ to it. So, Brash you are an alleged dick, you nerd).
Until next time. Word.