Posts Tagged ‘US’

Woe those that save and live frugally

March 6, 2017

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There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.

One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’  This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.

This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth.  While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and  this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.

The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Social-welfare-spending/%3E-%25-of-GDP/Excluding-education

This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished.  Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.

https://www.svb.nl/int/en/aow/wat_is_de_aow/wie_krijgt_aow/

And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.

 

Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich.

January 10, 2017

imagesLoaves and fishes

The latest and most exciting new way of economics to hit Australia is the Government’s  novel way to re-vitalize the economy. Our PM  Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, a multimillionaire, had a flash of genius. Why not give the top-end of town much needed taxation relief with juicy superannuation concessions ?  The stroke of his insight did not stop there. He would also use the opportunity to pay for this by cutting back ‘entitlements’ to pensioners, the unemployed, the disabled and other unwanted flotsam washed on our shores of  previous care, consideration and communal empathy.

For some time now, any kind of ‘right’ has been transformed through careful manipulation by the media into an unnecessary ‘entitlement.’ Now there is the wonder of Western democracy, you can change almost anything. Rights now are unneeded ‘entitlements’ that we can’t claim to own anymore. The way to the future as determined by our Liberal National Government, in all its wisdom, is to demonise those that seek support from governments and with some deft manoeuvring, take away their previous rights and transform them into unneeded and bad entitlements.

The government has now taken away pensions  or reduced them away from the most needy. Unemployed are investigated and letters of demand send to return over-payments. There are no explanations of why our revered model of economics is constantly seeking ways to maximise profits by doing away with workers.  The way to profitable businesses is to employ less workers, preferably by paying them ever diminishing wages.  Combined with taxation cuts by successive governments given to the rich, the rows of those needing support is growing.

Increasingly, health and education are seen in the same light. We no longer can hope to see those as a ‘right’ of a country as a people that sees itself at the forefront of civilisation. Both Australia and the inventor of modern western democracy, the US, are falling behind in educating their young. Australia is way down the ladder in teaching language and math skills with the US  35th on the ladder. In Australia it is not much better.

So, where will we end up? Looking at Turnbull and Trump I am driven to despair. Once we are fattening the porkers and baconers of our societies and neglecting the vulnerable I suspect ‘Western Democracy’ is under threat.

Finally, here is one person’s view on the future of the US and I suspect this applies to Australia as well.

“Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.”

“The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.”

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/us-power-will-decline-under-trump-says-futurist-who-predicted-soviet-collapse

Almost There

 

 

 

 

 

Be quick now. Buy a book! A Happy Christmas to all.

December 19, 2016

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We all know a book’s best friend is someone who buys it.
In the US, it is cold, freezing and some are snow-bound in their vehicles waiting to be rescued.

What better than to be inside, near a log fire, slippers on with a Shiraz or Pinot on the little table. The joy of reading a book makes the picture perfect.

You won’t be disappointed. Laughter and tears are guaranteed, or your money back.

They will be delivered in the US within three days.

Go on, spread the cheer and please go and buy a book. A perfect present too!

May I humbly suggest you buy these books. You have a choice of two, but one will be nice too.

https://www.amazon.com/Almost-There-Fragments-Restless-Life/dp/0994581033/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481670598&sr=1-9&keywords=almost+there

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481670670&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

Thank you,
Merci,
Dank je
Kiitos
Vielen Dank
Terima Kasih
Gracias

Gerard Oosterman (Author)

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDREN IN NAURU:

December 6, 2016

Nauru , Human Dumping Ground for Asylum Seekers

I HAVE JUST RECEIVED AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDREN IN NAURU:“We are 53 underage kids in detention and feeling we have been forgotten in Nauru so we decided to take some photo of ourselves. We are between 16 and youngest is 3 and there is 5 baby that they was born in Nauru. pls if you could, spread them . Thanks”

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The shivers down my spine.

November 7, 2016
Milo with Angels

Milo with Angels

Rain is forecast for today. This prediction might well be the cause of feelings of impending disaster. Just talking about the US election. When I hear intelligent normal people talking how they will vote for Trump one wonders if it is not time to regress a little historically and invoke Godwin’s Law factor. It is assumed that in any conversation, the longer it goes on the more likely the name of Hitler will pop up. The law of averages has proven that.

Prediction are that Clinton will win. She has a waver-thin lead over Trump, but the pull of the dissatisfied in today’s US seems eerily similar to the mood in pre-war Germany which led to the choice ‘by the people’ of a madman. Trump is mad, there can’t be any doubt. Yet, perfectly normal people are now considering throwing rational choice overboard and go for change, any change. They want so desperately to assuage their feelings and suspicions that the greatest nation of their beloved US is in a terminal decline. ‘We will make America great again’ is easier said than done. Yet, that is what Trump has used very effectively to attract the dissatisfied.

Remember the UK’s Brexit? The polls had Cameron clearly ahead. And look at the UK today. All the euphoria of the mad Right evaporated. Things are worse now. At least in the UK they don’t have a madman leading the country. But, there is time yet.

The waning of the might of the US and the waxing of China as the new top nation is what is happening. They forgot the ‘social’ aspect of humanity. Every dog for himself, with the rest of the world seen as a frontier to seduce and overcome.

Australia is also faced with an inability to Govern. It is all about staying in power. How could it have come to this? The children and adult refugees On Nauru and Manus are on the cusp of being re-settled somewhere else. A condition of resettling them elsewhere ( most have been given refugee status) will be that they will NEVER be allowed to enter or visit Australia. It has even been suggested they will be micro-chipped in order to ensure they will be detected at Australian airports.

I hope that the Bernie factor in the US will be a win for Hillary Clinton but I wish I was feeling more optimistic. We will know within a couple of days.

What was that again about Hitler?

The second book for Seniors has arrived.

July 22, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

https://www.amazon.com/Oosterman-Treats-Philosophical-Musings-vasectomy/dp/099458105X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1469075634&sr=1-1&keywords=oosterman+treats

The second book has arrived and is now ready, able and willing to be read. ( and bought) It has come with less trouble than the first one. Some of the pictures had to be reduced. I kept getting messages that the images had to have a minimum of dots or digits. A mysterious image of a shifter-spanner also kept appearing in the returned proofs from Createspace. Apparently something to do with Microsoft Word and unprintable Headings and Footnotes. How people know those things is something that will always delude me. The title ‘Oosterman Treats’ is the only title in the whole arsenal of Amazon. At least that is unique!

The next phase will be to market it. Again I’ll try and go around the local bookshops after enough courage has been gleaned and stored. I notice that some people go and do Toastmasters’ course in public speaking. I am practising my approach to the shop manager in front of a mirror. ‘Hello, howz ye going? I am a local author and wonder if you could put up my title(s)in your shop?’

This is followed up by trying to stay as straight and upright as possible. An image of confidence has to now take over as I wait for a reply, unwavering and with enough fortitude not to crumble or show some dejection. Things haven’t been easy when it comes to present my author’s mien.

A confessed love for roof cavity inspections, no worries. A perusing of dogs and ducks, easy peasy. A raconteur with the Aldi’s cashier girls, brilliant verbal skirmishes. A critic of everything political, even people. Australia, Holland, The UK, the US, and everybody all come under his fire. He is verbosely loose, and banned from blogs, but awesomely inspiring.

The idea of self promoting my book has gained though. I now have two on offer. If a refuse comes with showing the first, I can, with a sweeping and magnificent flourish, whip out my latest, ‘Oosterman Treats.’ from my book satchel strapped on my back. The blurb ‘post my vasectomy’ should get some attention.

We shall wait and see. ( get your copy now, available Amazon paperback and kindle).

The definitive ‘Almost There.’

May 11, 2016
Almost There

Almost There

The book has now been uploaded in a few different versions which I prefer to name ‘editions.’ The nervousness of trying to work out the self-publishing trail on CreateSpace is almost palpable. Even so, one learns from mistakes a lot more than from perfection. So, please, if looking at the different versions, the book with the least formatting and/or spelling mistakes has the cover as shown above. It is now the definitive version of ‘Almost There.’

You might well notice a version (edition) of the book whereby even the name of the author is missing. I did not intentionally choose to be that modest. It might well show up the Author to be really ‘Not there at All.’

The Kindle version has done well and the paper back book is yet to be distributed and shown on all the Amazon outlets. I have ordered a box full (40) of the paperbacks for selling in Australia. The postage from the US does almost double the price of the book. Even so, it is still priced very competitively.

In the meantime, we are hardening ourselves for the onslaught of our grandsons to come over this Friday to ‘share’ the Eurovision music festival on our TV ( with the Philips sound-bar and large woofer.) They are coming by train which both the mother and Helvi are somewhat nervous about. I reckon it will do them good. The protection of children is ridiculous. Surely, train travel is normal and not as dangerous as is made out. Of course, the world-wide beaming of the attack on a train in Germany by a German National is not helpful. Again spouted as an act of terrorism doesn’t do much in bedding down the excessive fears of travel and nourishes fear the world over of stranger danger and terrorism.

We all know that the real terrorism is flourishing within family life. In Australia, two wives/partners a week get murdered by either the husband or partner. Domestic abuse is rife and far greater that those very isolated attacks by a deranged person shouting Allah is Great, before shooting or knifing someone.

I am surprised relationships are not banned or at least looked at by consumer protection bodies such as ‘Choice’, or ICAC. If fridges had failure ratings as much as relationships they would be banned. Domestic violence ‘incidents’ as notified to the police number several hundred EACH DAY.

Next time someone whispers, ‘I love you’, go and run for your life.

Instead, read a good book.

A Cattle baron or Pensioner?

May 6, 2016

Having just received a publishing contract for Almost There, I thought asking your advice. The PDF file I sent off some weeks ago did receive a favourable response from a UK Publisher from the salubriously situated address at the Canary Wharf, London. There was an oval table and an editorial board who decided that the words of the book’s synopsis and its first couple of chapters had enough merit to consider publishing. They asked for the whole book in Word file. I obliged.

I was overjoyed but somewhat baffled by an Editorial Board having a meeting and the somewhat profuse praise over submissions from an utterly unknown Author of which they must receive dozens, if not hundreds every day. Even so, who would not be pleased by some praise and smooth language? I can tell you, praise is always welcome and at my age, even a shopping trolley without going off a tangent makes my day.

After I sent off the entire manuscripts I was told it might take up to six weeks for a reply. Today, exactly about six weeks, I received a thick envelope By Airmail ‘1st Class Royal Mail,’ from Austin&Macauley, London, with a proposal and contract to publish my book. The covering letter confirmed that all the reports and further meetings by staff, editors and the ‘board’, my work was found to be interesting and engaging. Fair crack of the whip. Could it get any better?

However, after further board meetings, they also felt that due to the marketing team having some doubt about future sales and target audiences it would be best to come to an arrangement of a ‘contributing publishing’ arrangement. The contract came in Duplicate and already signed by the sub editor. The sum of the contribution would be 2500 pounds for a paper back and 3500 pounds for a hard cover.

The letter stated that my book does deserve to be published but the contributing sum asked was only small considering the very considerable costs involved in publishing and above all the marketing of the book. They also stated it would be well worth it, seeing my book would be launched for the reading public alongside other famous publications. My question is; Are they coming the raw prawn? Is it on the level? Twenty-five percent royalty? How many books do I need to sell to recuperate 2500 pounds, even if I live another ten years?

Is it possible they are massaging, assuaging my ego? Might they think of an Australian author as a rich cattle baron? You know, half a million hectares and fifty thousands heads of cattle. Do they see me wearing a slouch hat battling flies and fires while leaning against a fence post? A rich man wanting his book with photo doing the social rounds at Wangaratta or Oodnadatta?

I am a pensioner trying to sell and sharing words around, living with wife and Milo! I mean, I just received five proof copies of my well printed and imminently, (after further correcting,) readable book with over forty photographs and counting 277 pages, all printed for free through CreateSpace. The cost of the proof books airflight posting to Australia from the US, within five days of me finishing uploading the book was about $60.- Trust the Americans to be so efficient!

I don’t know. Google showed some unflattering remarks about publishers seeking contributions from authors. I could not believe my eyes receiving the CreateSpace proof copies today from the Post Office. They look terrific despite some faults and mishaps. I am proud having done it all. I made a mistake of re-sending the same file back again without the corrections. I was furious, but after some reflection decided to up-load the corrected file. This meant starting all over again, including re-designing the cover. It could only be done by making it a new ‘the second’ edition of Almost There, and includes a code number for inclusion in the Australian National Library.

The second new book I sent to the previous UK trusted editor. I have learnt a lot. I am warming up to order some fifty copies or so and will try an sell them through some of the local bookshops. Shall I carry them around in a satchel wearing a beret, knee socks and heavy work-boots?

Life is interesting.

The margins are coming for you in Paper Back.

May 1, 2016
Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

We all knew this. The best way to learn to ride a bike is on an old one. I did on my mother’s bike more than seventy years ago. It did not have the crossbar which made hopping on easier. On my dad’s old bike I used to put one of my legs through the opening below the cross bar and managed to ride it that way. The bike would be ridden all askew at an angle because most of the body-weight was on one side of the bike. So did all of my friends. I don’t think there were even children’s bicycles available in those days. We all rode large bikes just standing up and in all sorts of manners.

I notice now that many kids drive cars to high school near where we live. There is a procession of cars with P plates driving to and from school each day. Jeez, do my grandkids expect a car in a couple of years? Even the smaller children are being driven to school at primary level as well. Huge SUVs, often coloured menacingly black queue up. The little ones, almost level with the bull-bar are scurrying to school. The mum or dad wave a bit nervously, and drive off. Many, as a matter of fashion, also combine all the manoeuvring of car and kids holding a carton beaker or cup which probably holds a coffee, obtained somewhere before, most likely perhaps pre-ordered on the mobile phone by text or other electronic messaging.

We live in a fairly small town, and where previously the foot was used as the main form of moving from a-b, now it has to be the car. If economic rationalism has at its heart a refusal to spend money on the unnecessary, who or what is now the determinant factor? Who decides? Should the customer be abolished? At the moment we must spend rather than save. Spending thousands to drive kids with legs to schools seem to be as irrational as anything.

I will just go on with my words. I am much relieved my paper back version of Almost There is also almost there. I had a heck of a time with formatting and checking the proofs. Consider yourself lucky I am still here. Boy, have I got a lot of Word files now. Next time it will be easier. The CreateSpace (Amazon) have an excellent way of helping the self-publisher with a most responsive web-site, guiding one along.

I even managed to survive the US Taxation jungle; I am now holding a “Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Entities).”

Almost There; ‘Fragments of a restless life.’ It sure is.

It is Rack of Lamb time, with baby beetroots.

March 2, 2016
Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

These times are a changing. As the years go by with reasonable health still following, caution gets thrown to the wind. They say carpe diem, don’t they? So, after the week before last having enjoyed a great rack of lamb, the temptation for a repeat has surfaced again. Out of nowhere too.

Lamb chops used to be cheap as chips. I remember the half cooked mutton chops at Scheyville migrant camp. The bluish stamp of the abattoir still visible on its skin,  skirmishing neck on neck with keen maggots. It was during a very hot summer in 1956.

Actually, mutton is very nice in an Indian Raan dish and preferable to young sheep. You have to let the mutton age in a mixture of spices, yoghurt and lemon juice. It was my dish at Christmas time. The grandkids used to dip their bread in the mixture before it was even cooked. Look up Raan on Julie Sahni excellent recipe book about Classical Indian cooking.

Right now and it is only 3.30 pm I will start up the Webber. The Webber is a round US invented barbeque device that needs charcoal or coal briquettes to fire up. We had it since our own kids were still all around. And that is forty years ago. It is enamelled  brown and as sturdy as an outside dunnee during a sand storm. The trick is not to put the rack of lamb on before the temperature is hot enough. Lamb mustn’t be overcooked. It is a matter of timing and getting experience.

During our morning’s walk I had picked up a handful of rosemary. The soft kind of rosemary. Our own has become very woody. Now we just steal it elsewhere. I more or less wrapped the lamb in it, together with lots of garlic and lemon juice.

We both sat outside watching the rosellas and pink galahs feasting on the special birdseed-mix that we leave out. Even that required a special way. The seeds just left in a terra cotta dish were discovered by a smart rat. He told his mates. The droppings left made us suspicious. Surely, the bird’s poop is not that big? We were told to put the dish with the seeds on top of an upside-down turned terra cotta bowl. The rats can’t overcome crawling on an upside down space like the gecko can. In Bali I noticed large geckos crawling upside down on smooth surfaces as well as bamboo or rattan type ceilings.

Scientists have for years wondered about the ability of creatures to move about upside down. It has to do with millions of tiny hairs able to cling to surfaces. A gecko can hang upside down and carry their full weight from just a single toe.

This really floored me.

This from Wiki; “Geckos use something called the Van der Waals force to cling to smooth surfaces. The Van der Waals force is a weak electrodynamic attraction that occurs over extremely small distances, but works with virtually any substance. The geckos’ toes carry millions of microscopic hairs at their tips; scientists call these hairs setae. These allow the creature to stick to a branch, rock or — as the researchers discovered — surfaces such as polished glass.” It would not surprise me that geckos know about fonts too. Perhaps they use the Dante type. Who knows?

It was around 5.15 when the coal in the Webber was deemed at maximum temperature for the rack of lamb to get done. It took about 20 minutes. It was lovely. One of the best. Helvi had made an even better side dish. Beetroot babies. They were cooked with garlic, some sour crème and our home grown herbs.

There is just nothing like sitting in the garden, knowing the birds safe from rats and H and I babbling away about nothing much, waiting for a simple glorious meal.

It is the only way.