Friday, August 28, 2009

A few of problems I have with governance and money

A few things have happened lately that have irked me a lot. Not just a bit, a whole lot. So much so that I question certain systems. Everyone does this now and then. But these ones just really got me annoyed.

The first is the Superannuation system, and the government mandated 9% contributions.

A lot has been made of superannuation funds losing money, causing some people nearing retirement age to think again. Their super fund is suddenly worth 20% less than it was twelve months ago, and they simply cant afford to retire.

As was pointed out, and I completely agree with, why should something we are legally obliged to contribute to, and have little control over, be able to lose money hand over fist?

Why should I pay 9% of my wage into a pool that may well disappear before I have a chance to use it? Can I not contribute that money where I control it? Then again, who wants the trouble of doing that? If I am being forced to pay this, then it should be protected, in the same way that banking deposits are treated. I dont give the bank my wage and then go to withdraw it only to be told "sorry sir, its all gone". Superannuation should not be any different.

Of course there is the demand that superannuation grow and prosper, leading to risk and exposure. So make it 15%, protect it, and retire later. The days of retiring at 55 and then taking a world trip are long gone. Jet travel has seen to that. People see the value in spending now, leaving the super as a necessary evil until they absolutely need it.

The second thing is Medicare, bulk billing, and child immunisations.

Again, this is another case of one of those things you have to do, at your own peril. Some people dont agree with immunisation for various reasons, and rightly so. They can be risky. We all know someone who has been impacted by immunisation side-effects, in mild or severe forms.

Case in point: #3 went for her 12 month immunisation this past week. $62 for three needles.

$62 for something that any school in the country will ask for proof of. $62 for something that if she didnt have them, she would not be allowed in daycare. $62 for something that the government medical offices have sent us letters asking "why is this overdue?". $62 for something that nobody obviously sees as 'optional'.

How much did Medicare reimburse us for the privilege of doing what is required? About half. What is going so wrong behind the scenes that the doctors feel obliged to charge double the going rate for sticking required needles into kids for three minutes? You can bet if we were in a lower socio-economic suburb we'd be bulk-billed without question.

I'm not demanding free national healthcare, but its things like this that really irritate me.

Which brings me to my third item. What compounds the doctor issue for me is the private healthcare for over 30's issue. If you're over 30 and dont have private health insurance, the government will increase your tax for the rest of your life. You have no way to remedy this. You are marked for life.

This has the seeminlgy nett effect that private hospitals are turning into money factories, and the funds are coming from private health funds. As people opt for surgery in private institutions due the 'ailing nature of public facilities', they see the cost as their basic excess. Surely $250 for fixing that dodgy knee is a small price to pay now rather than wait 2 years to get it done free by so-viewed 'second rate' doctors forced to work in the public system? It may seem a good option, but the doctor at the private institution charges the fund five times that, and the premiums inexorably go up to cover every man and his dog getting it done.

Dont sit back and say the thought hasnt crossed your mind that private hospital doctors are a better class of doctor just because of where they work. You know it has.

Its a cycle of money feeding on money, and its just one thing that stinks.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One of those calls

I had a great phone call in the office the other afternoon. Ostensibly it was "large format inkjet printer market research". Not a problem. Except for the lady on the other end of the line, who obviously wasnt in Australia.

Indian accent. Delays on each sentence. Difficulty grasping some Australian english terms. Asking whether I was on Melbourne time.

One of my favourite parts was the confusion created by the fact that our large format printer is (what I believed) neither inkjet or laserjet based technology.

"Is it inkjet, sir?"

"No...its a large format photocopier technology that also prints..."

"So its inkjet, sir?"

"I dont believe so, no 'ink' is involved, it uses toner."

"So its inkjet, sir?"

" It doesnt use ink."

"What model is it?"

"Ricoh..." yada, yada, yada.

"Give me a moment sir. I cannot find that model on Google. Are you sure?"


"Give me a moment sir. I cannot find that model on Google. Are you sure?"


"Is it a ..." at which point our Indian struggler rattles off twenty options on machine models, none of which are ours.

"Give me a moment sir. I cannot find that model on Google. Are you sure?"

"Try putting WP at the end of it."

"Give me a moment sir. Ricoh 3***WP?"


"OK. It says that it is inkjet technology."

"Well, it doesnt use ink, so if you reckon thats it, go for it."

"I dont understand sir?"

"Of course not...go ahead."

From there we rattled off two minutes of questions about importance of features, brand recognition, etc, etc. You know the type of thing.

What would've been four minutes worth of call ended up at ten minutes plus. All due to struggling with the model number that was of no importance at all. The obligitory questions came at the end:

"May we have your email address sir?"


Stunned silence.

"OK. Your number is 2, 94..." etc.

"Yes. They didnt teach you very well. You dont know our phone numbering system very well do you?"

"Pardon sir?"

"Never mind. Next question?"

"That completes the survey. Is there anything you'd like to ask me?"

How is Bangalore today? Can you make a butter chicken? Do you prefer garlic naan or plain naan? Will Tendulkar last much longer? What are you going to do with this call you've recorded for 'quality purposes'? Why were you rude to our secretary when I wasnt in last week? Can you juggle? Why have you made me late for dinner?

"No, goodbye."

I hung up before the reply.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mark Webber cracks it

Following on from Mark Webber's friendly warning of last month, those of you who have just crawled out from under a rock would be unaware that Mark Webber won the German Formula One Grand Prix last month. 132 starts for that 1st victory. I'd bet a fair few people would have given up long before that. The fact that he qualified a lot of inferior cars up the order obviously gave a bit of hope.

First Australian win since AJ in 1981. I'm surprised they had the Australian national anthem ready to go.

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