COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

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All Ages Matter. As it should.

Four months ago I wrote a blog on Dr. David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – who had been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spanned 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link leads to the short original ABC News article on this 102-year old scientist.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

  • It turned out to be a silly decision.

 

The below link leads to a 20 December 2016 article titled “WA university reverses decision to eject 102-year-old scientist from campus”.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-20/wa-university-reverses-decision-to-eject-102yo-scientist/8136836

 

The 102-year-old scientist will now remain on campus after the institution reversed its earlier decision to kick him out of his office.

“I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits.”

Dr Goodall’s plight gained international attention, sparking debate about the value of older people in the workforce.

“I think people were rather sympathetic to me as a centenarian who wanted to continue life in society,” Dr Goodall said.

“I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.”

Dr Goodall has accepted an offer from the university to serve as an unpaid honorary research associate for another three years.

It feels great to blog a feel-good story in a year when The Grim Reaper and Father Time have plucked away so many very talented artists to perform on The Great Stage in the Sky.

 

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Ageism at Work: “Unfit to be on Campus”

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  • Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

Today’s News in Australia:

 

Dr David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – has been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spans 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link will take you to a short article on this 102 year old scientist:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

This will be a death sentence. Most of his social exchanges are at the University.

This man is a scientist. Not a fitness instructor. Why send him home?

 

The Edith Cowan University is a public university, thus taxpayer-funded.

We also fund jails.

  • And this is where they are sending this man who has devoted his life to Humanity.

 

Says Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward:

  • “This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.”
  • “We are now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where we really do need to make this change in David’s best interest and our own.” (my accentuation)

 

(George Orwell: Rule # 3 on writing: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”

Question: Can anyone spot the excess words in the above statements? Or are both statements excessive?)

 

Here is a snip from Dean Andrew Woodward’s public LinkedIn profile:

  • “In my leadership role at ECU, I have a strong commitment to quality teaching, engaged research and a focus on expanding international partnerships. I believe strongly in ECUs values, particularly those of integrity and respect, and make sure that I demonstrate these values in my dealings with others.” (my accentuation).

 

Mr. Andrew Woodward, let me put this in a different context:

  • So, a person can be too black and must move off campus?
  • Or too white?
  • Perhaps too short?
  • Too tall?
  • Bald?
  • Wrong sex”

 

Or Too Old?

 

With modern science you may even be able to change some of the above parameters.

But age?

 

Here is a suggestion:

  • Let us put in place forced retirement of Deans after one year in their job. And move them off campus. For their best interest.

 

Sounds silly doesn’t it? But to paraphrase Andrew Woodward:

  • This is not a suggestion I make lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.
  • I am now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where universities really do need to make this change in their Deans’ best interest.

 

I repeat: Discrimination is discrimination. And none more so despicable, pathetic and cowardly than when perpetrated against the elderly.

 

I would like to close with 6 points on “Remember – Age is Mostly a Number” from my 2nd book “50 PERSEPCTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen”.

 

KEY POINTS

  • How ‘old’ would you be if you didn’t know your birthdate and real age?
  • Ageism is another –ism, and is as offensive as racism and sexism.
  • Some reach mental maturity earlier whilst others are slower and even stagnate.
  • To age is a privilege. It is neither a sin, nor anti-social. Character is what counts.
  • Knowing and understanding things become easier as we age.
  • Ageing is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one with challenges taking on different hues.

 

I note Andrew Woodward was an IT Network Security Manager and Advisor for 10 years of his life. I can relate to that having been in the IT domain for 43 years of my life, and having had IT Network Security Managers work for me….

I can share the passion for acting with Dr. Goodall, having been able to play in numerous student movies and one feature film (at age 68/69) care of Singaporean independent filmmaker, director and producer Tzang Merwyn Tong. And am thankful for that opportunity to do something outside of the IT world…

 

Hence in closing:

 

“You are not old until regrets take the place of dreams” – Adapted from John Barrymore

Dr. Goodall – don’t be bullied. May you be spared for many fruitful years!

 

We all get old. Or die on the way trying to get there.

Dipping My Keyboard Back Into The Ink

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Don’t Await Destiny. Go Create It

 

I have not updated my blog for some time since I was completing my book on credit cards, which is now available on Amaz
on, Kobo, B&N, Scribd and a host of other places.

 

Red Cover
The good news is that my red cover book “Credit Card Debt Freedom – Part One” is FREEBook front page jpegLY downloadable from the above places.

 

 

The black cover “Credit Card Debt Freedom – Full Book” is available for a small price.

 

I want to clear my debt of thanks to Conrad, Danie and Rupert (in alphabetical order) who beta-read my draft and also proposed positive critique of things which I may be able to get into future editions. I, of course, take full responsibility for the published versions.

 

Now on a point of order: During my blog absence there were a number of local and global issues in response to which I had written blogs but did not post them. I thought it wiser to let the blogs cool off for a while. However, on rereading them, I still feel as strongly about some of them now as I did then.

 

So, I may just dip my keyboard in the proverbial ink soon and publish what might divide opinion.

 

I Felt Amputated – And Home on a Sidewalk

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This is a note I wrote on 30 July 2014.

 

This morning I took a train into town to lodge my tax return. Being in semi-retirement with virtually no income for the past 18 months there was not a lot to report – just a few dollars interest and about $1,000 from some casual work. Not enough to last a winter.

The way to the Tax Office lead past an untidy long-haired bearded and shabbily dressed jobless vagrant on the sidewalk, appreciating his luck of a wrapped sandwich – gifted by a person a few steps ahead of me. A cup of coffee was still steaming next to him – another obvious gift. He did not look up, trying to avoid the stares of passersby – a thimble of pride left in him?

A twinge of empathy seeped itself into me. Winter. No fixed abode. A set of fraying and dirty clothes. Cement sidewalk for a chair – and bed.

As I sat waiting for the Tax Office to open, increasing larger pockets of people murmured by – well-heeled, chatting – some holding expensive brand name drinks and donuts. A thin layer of envy spread over me. Something was amiss.

I started to feel amputated.

The Tax Office doors opened and accorded an escape from myself. The soulless authoritarian Tax Officer and I disengaged as quickly as I could. And I then stepped into a food-court to sit down and gather my thoughts. Around me people sat at small round tables, doing what people do around small round tables.

Yes, I missed the dignity of work and what comes with it.

The way back to the train station became a lonely upstream weave against a flood of workers. The smell of freshly cooked chips wafted out of a shop.

I boarded an empty train home. Opened the plastic lunchbox with fried rice that my wife prepared for the journey. A few shelled peanuts rounded off my lunch – eating them one at a time. A minimalistic frame of mind was engaging me faster than I liked. Even the single paper serviette seemed to have more value than its one time use…

The only difference between me and the jobless “bum” seemed to be that I had a few more earthly things but in reality both of us were amputated.

There is no dignity in being poor, jobless, of pensionable age with nothing to do.

 

Postscript

And then it struck me: Amputated as I might have felt, I was going back to a house I can call a home. With running water and a toilet. A warm bed and clean clothes tomorrow. And hot soup on the stove.

I know where I sleep at night.

And I know where the Ministers of Health and Employment and Social Services sleep at night.

 

Quo Vadis?

But where do our homeless go at night?

 

Conclusion

Don’t underestimate the dignity and value of a job.

 

30 July 2014

 

oooOOOooo

US – OR “THEM”

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It is often said that what we do and say defines us.

 

I beg to differ:

  • Is it not the other way around?
  • Is it not who and what we are that defines our actions and words?
  • Is it not our inner feelings, emotions, thoughts – and sometimes our logic – that drive us to do what we manifest?

 

The answer is “Yes”.

 

And I put logic last since it is more than often not the thing that drives us.

  • Think back in your own life. Are you where you are because of logic? Did you get involved with your partner because of logic? Do you have 3 kids because of logic? Do you work where you work and do what you do because of some flurry of logic?

 

The answer is “No”.

 

As much as we would like to think we are the pinnacle, the top of the tree – The Bee, never mind the bees knees – we are far from it.

 

It has been said that humans use less than 5% of their brain capacity.

 

I believe that it is far less than that. I don’t think we use even 0.5% of our brain capacity. And we are constructed that way. We do not have the physical, mental, psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual make-up to use even that tiny fraction of what we carry in our cranium.

 

And I am not going to buy into some genetic, biological or sociological gumpf here (done enough study in sociology, psychology and criminology in my time) that absolve us from our actions or non-actions. Such as “I had a terrible life as a child, Your Honour. And I was under the influence of drugs Your Honour. That is why I did this and that. So please humor me and give me a pass on this deed”.

 

We have been given this Life. For which we are responsible in all aspects. Our job is to develop it. Maintain it. Respect it. Use it for the good.

 

So let this then be the year in which our words and deeds be defined by who we are. Not the other way around.

 

Welcome to 2016.

Was Your 2015 a Groundhog Year?

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 “Hello Again”

As a year draws to a close we all normally – at one point or another – reflect silently on what we had done during the time.

Two things are important:

  • Things change. “You never stand on the same river bank twice”.
  • Time goes by – relentless. “Our tomorrows are not endless”.

So what do we do to distinguish ourselves from the one period to the next during the passing of Time? Do we groundhog-live the same life again or do we tackle new things, brave new adventures, leave a fuller Chest of Legacies?

Many years ago I spent 3 years with a backpack on the road – and tried to make each day different from the previous day – learning new things, experiencing new places, savouring new cultures, building a mental album of things that I can now both reflect on and find blank spaces to put a “snapshot” in.

I sat on our patio the other night watching a fantastic sunset and noticed that the crumbs that I spilt (I was celebrating the release of my 2nd book) attracted some ants. As dusk settled in it dawned on me that if I sit still long enough in one place I will be eaten by ants.

So, rather than be eaten by some virtual ants, I make it a point to keep moving in life. I do not intend to live groundhog years.

What are your Goals for 2016?

 

My 2015 in Short Review – Activity-wise

  • Published 36 blogs
  • Completed and published my 2nd book (50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen)
  • Started on 2 others (one practical, one semi-autographical)
  • Appeared at Faeryville Singapore Red Carpet Event with award-winning producer Tzang Merwyn Tong, his production team and my co-stars.
  • Enjoying a 2nd season of organically self-raised (“free range”) vegetables.
  • Delivered 6,000 free local newspapers in our suburb, walking 250kms in the process.
  • Played Santa to 2500 children and their parents over 7 Saturday in a national chain store.

 

Missed doing

  • Playing in another movie.
  • Making a record.

DROWNING IN A SEA OF DEBT (2) – BANKRUPTCY

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  • My wife and I climbed out of a near $60,000 credit card debt hole rather than declare ourselves bankrupt due to the impacts it would have had. It lasted 7 years and took 3 years of extremely focused discipline to accomplish it.

Focus and Discipline being the operative words.

My first blog on “Drowning in a Sea of Debt” discussed the depth of credit card debt – specifically in the USA – and the benefits / negatives of credit cards.

There are various ways to tackle overwhelming outstanding credit card debt which we will address in subsequent deliveries.

In this delivery I look at possibly the last alternative that some people may consider i.e. bankruptcy, because of its impact – financial, social and otherwise.

 

DIFFERENT COUNTRIES – DIFFERENT OUTCOMES

In this blog I briefly look at the impact in four countries i.e. the USA, Australia, the UK and Singapore.

Whilst the outcomes are mostly the same in different countries (i.e. debt forgiveness to some extent), the impacts differ – some more sever and longer-lasting.

  • The first impact will be on family situations and your relationship with your partner.

There might have been sleepless nights and differences in opinion about how money is being spent or has been spent. There might also have been difficult times to keep children in school or even to have food on the table.

  • The next impact is of an emotional nature.

You do not go to bed one night and wake up the next day to declare yourself bankrupt. There is normally a long walk-on period of increasing stress as the credit card bills pile up and the amounts increase, followed by demand letters and perhaps even a personal visit (in some countries).

  • It will impact social relationships.

I had to refuse many social invitations for lunch or after work gatherings because we were concentrating on repaying a large amount of money rather than to declare bankrupt. If you borrowed money from friends you may have to sort through some messy relationships.

  • It will impact a host of other things, including property ownership, control over your finances, current and future job opportunities and much more.

 

USA

Different states may approach matters differently but the impact is broadly the same.

There are three chapters under which to file for bankruptcy in the USA i.e. Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.

Chapter 11 involves reorganizing a debtor’s business affairs and assets, and is normally filed by corporations to restructure their debts. We will ignore it in this blog.

 

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy which provides for the liquidation of your non-exempt property to distribute the proceeds to the creditors and wipe out your unsecured debts – which also includes credit card debts and medical bills. You must have very little or no disposable income to qualify for this.

It promises a “fresh start” and there are a number of benefits and protective measures but we take a look here at some of the impacts:

  1. Your bankruptcy becomes public knowledge since it is published in the public domain.
  2. It may impact your ability to apply for jobs, definitely with any financial institutions.
  3. Bankruptcy does not erase all your debt. Recent taxes and student loans are not forgiven.
  4. Your bankruptcy will remain on your Credit Report for 10 years.
  5. It will be difficult to obtain a credit card in future and interest rates will be much higher.
  6. Home loans will become very expensive, up to 6% more than a normal loan, since your credit score will be very low.
  7. Chapter 7 (and 13) filing is not cheap since it requires a bankruptcy lawyer – $800 to $2,500 depending on where you live.

 

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is a bankruptcy filing for debtors who have a regular income and are able to pay back at least a portion of their debt through a repayment plan. The benefits are therefore greater than Chapter 7 Bankruptcy as you are able to keep all your property, even non-exempt assets. There are, however, still a number of impacts and dangerous potholes:

  1. You must put all your disposable income towards creditor payments. That leaves you rather tight for money for 3 to 5 years.
  2. If you neglect a payment your creditors can request to change your Chapter 13 into a Chapter 7. This means your creditors can chase you for the full outstanding amounts and your properties may become subject to seizure and sell-off. This is a serious pothole.
  3. You are considered a credit risk and any loans or new credit cards will be at a premium. It may be difficult to obtain any mortgage for up to 2 years after your filing.
  4. It may impact your ability to apply for jobs, definitely with any financial institution.
  5. Your restricted personal income will definitely impact your lifestyle.
  6. It does not protect anyone who co-signed anything that you are in debt of. Your co-signatory is indebted and may be obliged to repay your debt(s). This will almost certainly impact your relationship with the co-signatory.
  7. Not all debts are erased i.e. alimony, child support, some debt acquired within 6 months of filing, some taxes, willful injuries to person and property, personal injury whilst driving intoxicated and a host more are not erased.

 

AUSTRALIA

Bankruptcy impacts many things including this short summary:

  1. Your house and car may be sold.
  2. Overseas travel may be restricted.
  3. You will have to pay contributions from your income to your trustee if your after-tax income exceeds a certain amount.
  4. Your superannuation before bankruptcy basically becomes the trustee’s money.
  5. You can keep up to $3,700 of the tools of your trade but the rest can be sold by the trustee/creditors.
  6. Your name will appear on the National Personal Insolvency Index forever as a discharged bankrupt and on credit reporting agencies for 2 years after discharge.

Read up on https://www.afsa.gov.au/debtors/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-overview. This site also includes a quick guide on assets – which are not complimentary in its action.

 

SINGAPORE

Singapore laws let you file for bankruptcy if you owe $10,000 or more and you have no way to repay the amount. The whole process may take between 4 – 6 weeks during which time the court will assess your situation and come to a conclusion.

On the other hand, your creditor(s) – such as a bank – can also file to have you declared bankrupt.

The results can be swift:

  1. Assets can be seized and divided amongst creditors for their use or to auction off. There is a silver lining: you will be able to keep the tools of your trade and items that are hold in trust for someone else is also off limits, as is any HDB apartment which has not been refinanced.
  2. Your bankruptcy will be made public. Your employer(s) will be informed and you may lose your job, more so If you work for a financial institution. It may be difficult to find work afterwards, especially with financial institutions.
  3. If you keep your work, a portion of your income will be shared with your creditors. You must carefully justify any expenses and provide a financial statement of affairs, supported by receipts and which is periodically checked. Life becomes rather inconvenient in every aspect that touches on money.
  4. Part of you income can be made available for creditors, but whatever you use to earn a living with cannot be attached.
  5. It will be difficult to obtain credit afterwards. Your credit rating will be affected and may take up to 7 years to rebuild a semblance of what it used to be.
  6. Overseas travel is also normally affected. You will have to inform the court if you want to travel overseas and unless it is for work purposes you may not be allowed. If you break the law you will be jailed (currently 2 years) and fined (currently $10,000).
  7. If you owe less than $100,000 you may be rehabilitated after three years – unless a creditor objects, in which case you remain a bankrupt until all your creditors have been paid off.

Though the benchmark is set low ($10,000) the consequences are severe when compared to other countries, especially since Singapore is a very small country compared to say the USA where work is perhaps easier to find with the ability to travel and move interstate.

 

UK

There is still a lot more stigma surrounding bankruptcy in Europe than in the USA.

  1. Available assets will be sold to pay off your debts. You can keeps the “tools of your trade” to make a living.
  2. Renters may be kicked out of their rental places.
  3. Bank accounts and cards will be frozen and handed over to the Official Receiver.
  4. You may lose your job and it may be difficult to find another one. The police and armed forces do not employ bankrupts.
  5. Any additional income will go to the creditors.
  6. You may lose part or all of your pension towards debt settlement.
  7. The bankruptcy stays on file for 6 years. Your name and details will be published in the Individual Insolvency Register and your name published in the local paper.
  8. It may affect your immigration status of you apply for British citizenship.
  9. If you own a business, it might be sold and your workers laid off, thus causing hardship to others.

 

 

CONCLUSION

Many people have had a fresh start with bankruptcy, but beware the financial, social, personal and other impacts it will have.

There are a lot to think of, so if you choose to pursue this path you will be best served to research and read everything regarding bankruptcy in your country and then engage the best insolvency lawyer you can afford – which in itself may be a hefty cost.