Week off, who is in charge of the asylum & book review

Week off?

14462915_10153959801082379_7371757294116313652_nWas it great having a week off? Yes and no. I went to Melbourne for four days and had a ball. The rest of the time I was working to catch up with domestic and garden jobs. I return to work at TKR knackered.

Meanwhile, the world continues to revolve around the sun and its stated highest life form continues to show its infinite capacity for self-destruction.

The Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton debate left one in fear. Mr Trump is very close to becoming President of the United States of America. He is anti-trade deals that do not benefit the US, which means he should be happy with the US-Australia free trade agreement (FTA) but did say in the debate that the US was losing out in all its FTAs. Details are in the international section.

The US spends about 3.5 per cent of its GDP on its military. Australia spends 1.8 per cent but that’s increasing to 2 per cent. Currently Australia is considering spending $14 billion to replace the army’s bomb-resistant armoured vehicles.

Meanwhile, the $50 billion agriculture sector is suffering because to pay for armoured vehicles and submarines (an estimated extra $50 billion) the government, via then treasurer Joe Hockey in the 2015 budget, decided to charge backpackers 32.5 per cent income tax on all earnings. This would bring in about $135 million a year.

Under pressure, Hockey’s successor, Treasurer Scott Morrison, has reduced the tax to 19 per cent on earnings up to $37,000. In New Zealand the tax rates are:

  • Up to NZ$14,000 ($13,300) taxable income: 11.95 per cent
  • NZ$14,001 to NZ$48,000 taxable income: 18.95 per cent

Backpacker incomes are not large. They work for a few weeks then spend their earnings as they travel. The money returns to the economy. Very little, if any, goes overseas, unlike a goodly proportion of the submarine contract, which will go to France. The amount that backpackers spend on tourism cannot be ignored. Their contribution to agricultural production is immense.

Trump in charge of nuclear codes and Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull and his team bullying the weak is bad enough, but add Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte saying he would be “happy” to exterminate 3 million drug users and peddlers in his country, and the inmates have taken charge of the asylum.

Question the answers

The ad above for Jerry Lockspeiser’s book Your Wine Questions Answered: The 25 Things Wine Drinkers Most Want to Know is there because all profit from the book will be donated to the Millione Foundation, a social enterprise he set up with two wine business friends to fund the building of primary schools in Sierra Leone.

Worthwhile intentions aside, here is my book review:

Lockspeiser is more than qualified to write this style of book. It’s honest, easy to read and packed with commonsense information for the novice wine drinker.

But there is a greater depth than perhaps Lockspeiser realises. Over the years I have read hundreds of consumer surveys and marketing reports, and few have shown any real understanding of consumers’ needs and wants.

I admit to holding a superior position regarding consumers. Having had conversations with so-called marketers I have often thought, and on occasion said, that six months working behind a counter serving and talking face-to-face outweighs a three-year marketing course.

I see marketers as I see the missionaries of the 19th century: full of good intentions in taking God to the heathen tribes of Africa and South America, but spreading disease and destroying culture along the way.

Lockspeiser’s book not only advises the novice wine drinker on basic wine knowledge, but shows (or can show, providing people in the wine business are prepared to observe and note) how the consumer mind works.

Though this book is based on the UK consumer and trade, I would like to see copies go to the staff of our biggest retailers, Coles and Woolworths. It would give them an understanding of what is in consumers’ minds.

The book is not without its shortcomings, especially in its dealing with Australian wine. Sadly, I fear the view Lockspeiser puts forward is probably the view that most of the UK has of Australian wine, but I would have preferred if he had been more balanced with his opinion.

“If you want straightforward bold up front flavours go for Australia. If you are looking for elegance and sophistication stay in France.”   

Hold it there, Mr Lockspeiser. There are plenty of bold wines from the south of France, as there are a heap of elegant Australian wines. And when it comes to climate change I do not think Australia will become “burnt out”. There are regions such as Orange, Hilltops and Young that have cool, high-altitude growing conditions, as well as Tasmania to the south. There are also grape varieties that cope with warmer climates better that the classics.

That aside, by answering some basic questions that consumers have about wine, Lockspeiser gives an insight into the average consumer and for that reason his book is worth reading no matter how much wine knowledge one possesses.

Good karma this coming week.


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