Bottom Line

Warming to global whatever

There is way too much serious debate going on about global warming. Humour may be the best tonic, if it really is the end of the world as we know it, due to man’s inhumanity to the planet. Here is how some of the world’s funniest people are coping with it all.

American comedian, Arj Barker:

"The earth is just fine. People ... it's the sun! When I burn the toast, I don't blame the bread!"

Jay Leno, US talk show host:

"According to a survey in this week's Time magazine, 85 percent of Americans think global warming is happening. The other 15 percent work for the White House."  

"President Bush said global warming is happening much quicker than he thought, and then his staff pulled him aside and said ‘It's just springtime'."

"Climate experts say we should tell villagers in developing countries to reduce the amount of cooking smoke they generate to help fix global warming. You know, it's as if these people don't hate us enough already. I mean, they live in mud huts, they have thatch roofs, their clothes are made of straw. We pull up in a bunch of Humvees and SUVs going, ‘Hey, you want to cut the smoke out of here?'"

"According to a new UN report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet."

"Heating bills this winter are the highest they've been in five years, but President Bush has a plan to combat rising bills. It's called global warming."

"Al Gore said over the weekend that global warming is more serious than terrorism. Unless the terrorist is on your plane, then that extra half a degree doesn't bother you so much."

"Barbra Streisand told Diane Sawyer that we're in a global warming crisis, and we can expect more and more intense storms, droughts and dust bowls. But before they act, weather experts say they're still waiting to hear from Celine Dion."


David Letterman, US talk show host:

"Experts say this global warming is serious, and they are predicting now that by the year 2050, we will be out of party ice."

"President Bush says he's really going to buckle down now and fight global warming. As a matter of fact, he announced today he's sending 20,000 troops to the sun."

Conan O'Brien, US talk show host:

"President Bush told reporters he won't see Al Gore's documentary about the threat of global warming. He will not see it. On the other hand, Dick Cheney said he's seen the global warming film five times, and it still cracks him up."

"Yesterday, a group of scientists warned that because of global warming, sea levels will rise so much that parts of New Jersey will be under water. The bad news? Parts of New Jersey won't be under water."

"Governor Schwarzenegger spoke about the dangers of global warming.  Schwarzenegger's exact words were: fire, hot, bad."

Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear presenter:

"If we can push the winter so far back that by the time it comes along we're already into the spring, all should be well. To cure the common cold we simply need to get rid of its breeding season. This means producing as much carbon dioxide as possible. Yup. The cure for the common cold may well turn out to be the Range Rover."

"Recently, Boris Johnson (London Mayor) jokingly wondered what had happened to all those Trots and Bolsheviks from the 1970s. Boris, my dear chap, they never went away. And now there are many more of them, living among us, posing as normal, respectable members of the human race. It's just that they're not called Trots and Bolsheviks any more. They're called environmentalists and health and safety officers. Think about it. A single health and safety man can inflict more damage on business and industry than an army of Red Robboes. And the goals of an environmentalist far exceed the aspirations of even the most hardbitten 1970s communist."

"I'm sorry, Mr Nboto. We'd love to build a well in your village, but unfortunately Mr Porritt (Jonathon Porritt, head of the UK's Sustainable Development Commission) is spending all our money on a new type of possibly unnecessary engine that runs on saliva." ♦


Definitive definitions

Dictionary: The only place where success comes before work.

Life Insurance:
A contract that keeps you poor all your life so that you can die rich.

A person who wakes you up to give you sleeping pills.

An agreement in which a man loses his bachelor degree and a woman gains her masters.

Future tense of Marriage.

The hydraulic force by which masculine willpower is defeated by feminine waterpower.

An art of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either.

The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.

The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes he got the biggest piece.

Conference Room:
A place where everybody talks, nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on.

The only place where success comes before work.

Books, which people praise, but do not read.

A curve that can set a lot of things straight.  

A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

A sign or expression to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

The name men give to their mistakes.

Atomic bomb:
An invention to end all inventions.

A fool who torments himself during life, to be spoken of when dead.

A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.

A person who starts taking bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

A person who, while falling from Eiffel Tower, says midway, "See I am not injured yet."

A person who lives poor so that he can die rich.

A banker provided by nature.

A guy no different from the rest ...except that he got caught.

Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

A person who kills your ills by pills - and you by bills.



Economic briefs and jockularity

IF YOU THINK the economy is not quite out of the woods yet, but things are getting better, you may just be feeling it in your jocks.

You are not alone. Millions of Americans feel the same way – although they tend to feel it in their underwear and briefs rather than jocks – as the MUI carries a lot of credence in the US.

The MUI is the Men’s Underwear Index and it even has former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan as an aficionado. He has a long history of running things a bit loose.

The theory is, and it is widely reported by such luminary publications as The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, during times of severe financial stress, men will stretch the time between buying new jocks – so sales dip.

One of the most severe dips in underwear sales on record in the US has occurred over the past 18 months – but now sales are hitching up. Are we in for an underwear-led recovery, or is it just another adjustment out of discomfort?

A Washington Post interview by Ylan Q. Mui with Marshal Cohen, senior analyst with the consumer research firm NPD Group, qualified the trend as, “It’s like trying to drive your car an extra 10,000 miles.”

Brings a whole new meaning to tightening fiscal policy …


But Time magazine has the economic indicator turf truly covered. Time has discovered 10 economic indicators that seem at least as conclusive as global warming.

Writer Brad Tuttle says indicative of the state of the US economy are ‘hot’ waitresses, blacked out football games, Appalachian Trail hikers, long distance relationship and – incredibly – the ‘toughness’ of Marine TV ads.

“You know the economy is struggling big time when your underwear is old, the armed forces don’t need recruits, there’s a hot resale market for cemetery plots, you can’t find the local pro football game on TV, your rich neighbors are clipping coupons, and your waitress looks like Megan Fox. That is, if you’re eating out at restaurants at all,” Mr Tuttle wrote.

He found that hikers on the Appalachian Trail were in the rise, “when the going gets tough, the tough take a hike”. Time put it down to people having lots of free time on their hands. The sale of cemetery plots has also gone up dramatically in the US. When times are tight, realising the cash now and saving a little bit on the side for cost-effective cremation seems to be the go.

In the US, the NFL tends to only play home games on television when the stadium’s seats are sold out. The seats remain unsold, even at a discount, and the fans are furious that not only can they not afford to go, they even miss out on TV. Are Americans happy about this? NFL.

A time-honoured indicator of the state of the US economy is the trend to postpone having children until finances recover. So tough has the job market been in the US that the Marines have met all their recruitment goals this year. So now the TV recruitment ads are showing Marines tackling barbed wire and even a spot of throwing up. “Because now they can be picky, and they want to attract the toughest, most highly motivated recruits.”

But most telling of Time’s indices is the Hot Waitress Index. When times are flush, attractive women have many opportunities to make money through marketing jobs, modelling, and hosting corporate parties and exhibitions. When it’s down, restaurateurs snap them up to wait on tables “and to attract diners who like being served by hot waitresses,” according to Time and Mr Tuttle.


One of the main economic indicators developed in the US and mimicked in Australia is the Consumer Confidence Index. We at Bottomline have developed an adjunct to that index which we have called the Consumer Confidence TRICK (Totally Reliable Index of Consumer K – where K stands for thousands of dollars).

This Bottomline Index points directly to where all the money is being spent. Here is what we have noted so far – and when these trends reverse, we are out of the Global F. Crisis.

• Sales of surfboard wax go up as the economy goes down and people have more time to surf. But maybe the poorer surfers make do with ear wax …

• Sales of Coles rubber thongs go up at the expense of leather and Billabong ones.

• Sales of male Speedos go down as learned economists stretch them for another season, as do sales of board shorts which stay in the drawer as they no longer fit. (This can have a disastrous affect on the tourist trade if allowed to persist).

• Foxtel probably gets replaced with digital set-top boxes.

• Cask wine and clean skin wine bottle sales go up at the expense of name brand bottles. Beer sales remain unaffected.

• Gym memberships cop a flogging as, contrary to popular belief, people utilise their memberships more to get fitter – time and reduced working hours are now on their side. There is also an increase of sporting activity in the home, with more digital set-top boxes and the savings from dumping Foxtel re-invested into guilt-free beer and cask wine.

Gardens are being weeded. Zero sales are down. Band-Aid and Dencorub sales are up. ♦


Global F. Crisis: Lots of tax losses means taxes lost

BOTTOMLINE: Desperate times call for desperate measures. For that matter, desparate times call for desparate measures. 

These times are desparate, desperate times, despite what you read in the financial pages about green shoots and financial legumes.

One thing you would certainly not – yet – have read, but Bottomline alerts you to it now, is of a certain secret Federal Government plan to introduce a marvellous new growth tax, temporarily of course. 

It’s all about taxing losses. No, not tax losses – taxing losses.

You may have heard this term ‘marvellous new growth tax’ before: Malcolm Fraser described the Petrol Price Parity scheme in much the same fashion – and look how well that did.

Paul Keating and then John Howard also described the GST as a ‘marvellous new growth tax’. Look how well that did.

Taxes are described in this positive way not because they promote economic growth but because they grow their take irrespective of whether the economy improves.

But how do you find a marvellous new growth tax in a time of GFC in the wake of the FCUK up in the Northern Hemisphere? (see story panel for acronymic explanation).

How do you find a marvellous new growth tax in a time of falling prices, low interest rates, rising unemployment and massive government spending that needs to be paid off within about 80 years?

You go with the flow. That flow is downhill.

Here at Bottomline, we can reveal the super secret plan by Federal, State and Local Governments, plus a few statutory bodies and at least one airport, to tax losses instead of profits.

A hallmark of the GFC has been the massive losses most corporations have drummed up. Even those making money have massive drops in profit. Hardly enough left to tax.

Now that the secret is out, it seems bleedingly obvious. Tax losses become taxed losses.

The greater the losses, the greater the windfall. So, greater become government revenues to pay off the infrastructure spending and the tax bonuses.

Sure, moves by the Federal Government to tax losses instead of profits may be howled down as misguided and unfair by the Opposition and human rights activists including the Federation Against Retrospective Tax (FARTAX). But this is as much about attitude and building confidence in the marketplace as it is about government revenues.

The psychology is clear: businesses won’t want to make losses because of their tax liabilities.

But the government needs to strike an important balance here, or it won’t work. Tax on losses needs to be much larger than taxes on profits.

In this way, business will see the sense in making profits because losses will mean a much larger tax liability.

This is where the plan may unravel as it is believed more than half the members of Caucus want to stick to established principles of taxing profits heavily and letting companies run rampant with untaxed losses.

Another area of disagreement is the ‘grey area’ of companies that break even and, therefore, are not subject to tax on profits or losses. A retrospective ‘break even’ tax is mooted.

FARTAX has already announced it will oppose any break even tax, except in the case of a company wind-up. FARTAX is pressing for an amendment it calls the break-wind-up clause.

Is this a good idea, or are we all simply at a loss? ♦


We are still not out of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC, as it is referred to, incessantly) yet. Things are bad, but perhaps not as bad as the International Monetary Fund thinks.

They tried unsuccessfully to re-brand the GFC as the Great Recession, but most media wouldn’t buy it. Recession doesn’t sound scary enough, compared with Depression. After all, you don’t hear of anyone going on anti-recessants.

So it doesn’t matter what size it is, Recession doesn’t sound Great, ever. Not Great-bad and certainly not Great-good.

Depression is what you have to go with, in times like these.  From that point on, it’s just a matter of scale.

Perhaps they should have gone for the Not-So-Great Depression instead – the NSGD – but probably catchier would have been the Second Greatest Depression, SGD. A canned meat manufacturer apparently still has dibs on the Sub-Prime American Meltdown.

It’s all too late to upgrade the branding, now that the GFC has won its place in prime time history – which means it will be forgotten in about three months. 

Be aware, though, that originally the IMF was working on its crisis branding when the situation was known in banking circles as the Known Financial Crisis. But KFC had already been taken by some old US military guy.

Similarly, in Britain, the Financial Crisis United Kingdom showed promise, but amazingly some crazed fashion label beat the IMF and the World Bank to the IP. And they just couldn’t wear it.

Or maybe the penny dropped.  Pigs can’t fly, even if they happen to hold money. ♦

e-mail WARNING:

If you receive an email from the Department of Health telling you not to eat tinned pork because of swine flu ... ignore it ...

It’s just spam. ♦


Global Fruit Crisis

IF MONEY was fruit, would we have the same problems with the GFC? Just say we were in the grip of the Global Fruit Crisis instead of the Global Financial Crisis.

How did the GFC get to be so critical? A quick overview:

It all started when US President Bill Clingdon decided to legislate that people who had traditionally not shown an interest in fruit, or did not have the resources to service a regular fruit bill, should have better access to fruit.

US Government Legislation ensured fruit markets had to set aside boxes of fruit specifically for those disadvantaged people – even though they may not be able to pay for it, all the time.

Meanwhile, the Fruity Reserve, chaired by Alan Greenspurt, was delighted with the amount of fruit it was able to get out into the marketplace, by keeping interest rates lower for longer. Things were going well.

Fruity Banks, meanwhile, were busily trying to get all that new fruit, being steadily piled up at the back door, out there to buyers.

To do so, they were finding they had to smarten up the packaging and offer some extra bananas or tangerines to ensure that fruit went out before it went off.

Even though some of the fruit was on the verge of going off before it left the bank, which they called Sub Prime Fruit, a packaging spruce up with luscious fruit pictures on the boxes reassured the market. Buyers that President Clingdon had legislated in favour of got first dibs at these very appealing cut-price fruit boxes – and all was very well indeed.

Things began to move even faster. US fruit markets and traders thought they could modernise the way the fruit industry works by creating some new products and ‘instruments’ known in the trade as Fruity Instrument Tailoring (FIT).

This accelerated the whole process, fruit markets earned big bonuses on the turnover of their fruit and soon all the major fruit financiers were having FITs.

Seeing these events, fruit financiers and investors all around the world began to buy into this burgeoning market as Walnut Street developed new Fruity Annuity Funds (FAFs) and Fruity Activity Reserve Trusts (acronym withheld – Editor) with high rates of growth.

None of this seemed to trouble the IMF (International Melon Fund), or the Fruity Reserve, which bathed in the glory of unprecedented fruit growth,  because everybody seemed happy.

These august institutions felt we had reached a new fruit markets paradigm where everybody who wanted fruit could get it, farmers could grow fruit on demand, everybody who wanted to sell more fruit could and none of this modern fruit ever seemed to go off.

This was a revelation. For hundreds of years, fruit had traded more or less in the same fashion on Walnut Street. You asked for a ripe banana, you got a ripe banana. You asked for a ripe orange, you got a ripe orange. You asked for a raw banana, you also got what you asked for. Forget pineapples.

However, some of the traders got some advice on the possibilities of GM (greed modified) fruit – guaranteed to be bigger, more colourful and even ‘straighter’, in the case of bananas – and realised these would appeal to even more unsophisticated investors.

They started a whole marketing and publicity campaign based around GM fruit that began to fire the public’s imagination. These fruits were not, of course, modified in any particular way other than to go through another stage of personal handling from the markets. In the case of bananas, they were tugged a few times before going in the box, to help straighten them out.

The bewildered public loved the concept of straighter bananas, it seemed, and soon fruit market providers all over the world were tugging themselves. (It would later be alleged by psychologists studying the GFC that the entire problem was driven by male testosterone that led to greedy competitive decisions among the men on Walnut Street, who could see nothing at all out of the ordinary in tugging bananas).

But then somebody in the fruit media pointed out that things were turning rotten. Delays in getting the fruit stockpile to market meant a rise in pre-packaged GM fruit going bad almost immediately it was unwrapped.

Some consumers saw through the pre-packaged banana tugging scam. They became tired of the bent untruths – and the fruit, since it began to smell and taste bad – and they sent their now rotten boxes of sub-prime fruit back to the banks.

This impacted other fruit markets, as people began to fear that other fruit had also been GM-ed which, of course, most had.

Unfortunately, a few of the major fruit trading houses, some of them generations old like Leafman Brothers, had put too many of their resources into these new fruits and FITs, never imagining they would turn bad, leaving an abundance of worthless rotting fruit.

Soon, fruit traders everywhere were hit by bad fruit and a surplus of all the most unpopular fruit.

A couple of the big international trading houses went bust before the government stepped in and started giving them good fruit from the government’s own supply, a vast majority of it actually grown in China.

So, here we are today and the Global Fruit Crisis is far from over.

In Australia, where most of our fruit goes to China before it is put into tins and sent to the US, our Government has wisely guaranteed the fruit supply for our banks, who may or may not sell it on at a fair profit to Australian business, depending on their appetite for risk.

If only the GFC was the Global Fruit Crisis. At least then our currency would be edible and we could make jam instead of being in a jam.

The prime lesson from both GFCs is: if you’ve got a bunch of yellow things that look like bananas, feel like bananas and are bent like bananas, no amount of GM science, re-packaging or delicate manipulation by the markets will set them straight.

It’s all still just bananas.

 - Mike Sullivan, 2012. 


Say what you mean when it’s mean, what you say

Sometimes, what sporting people intend to say is not what they mean and what it means is no mean feat. Or something like that … just ask these American Football linguistic legends.

Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model:
“I wan’ all dem kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I wan’ all the kids to copulate me.”

New Orleans Saint running back George Rogers when asked about the upcoming season:
“I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.”

And, upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the ’Skins say, “I’d run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl,” Matt Millen of the Raiders said,
“To win, I’d run over Joe’s Mom, too.”

Torrin Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John Jenkins: “He treats us like men.
He lets us wear earrings.”

Football commentator and former player Joe Theismann, 1996: “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: “I’m going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.”

Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: “You guys line up alphabetically by height.”
And, “You guys pair up in groups of three, and then line up in a circle.”

Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson going to prison: “Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton.”

Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left wing, explaining why he keeps a colour photograph of himself above is locker: “That’s so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes.”
Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of heavyweight Andrew Golota: “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning, regardless of what time it is.”

Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: “My sister’s expecting a baby, and I don’t know if I’m going to be an uncle or an aunt.”

Frank Layden, Utah Jazz president, on a former player: “I told him, ‘Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?’ He said, ‘Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.’”

Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four Fs and one D: “Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

Amarillo High School and Oiler coach Bum Phillips when asked by Bob Costas why he takes his wife on all the road trips, Phillips responded: “Because she is too damn ugly to kiss good-bye.”

All president accounted for

Any wonder such confusion reigns, when their very President – well, now former President – of the United States can come up with these pearlers. (George W. Bush, we miss you already.)

“The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.”

“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”

“One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is to be prepared.”

“We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.”

“I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.”

“The future will be better tomorrow.”

“We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.”

“I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.”

“We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe.”

“Public speaking is very easy.”

“A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.”

“For NASA, space is still a high priority.”

“Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.”

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”

And, perhaps, most prophetic of all:

“It's time for the human race to enter the solar system.”

– George.W. Bush



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