#AUSPOL save the dole!

Don’t think getting kicked off the dole for six months at a time is just some character-building kick in the arse for lazy stoner punks – it will apply to all adult jobseekers under 30 who receive Newstart, the vast majority of whom want to work. Some of those people will have children to feed, clothe and educate while they themselves seek employment, but even those that only have themselves to look after will essentially be consigned to half-lives of desperation and poverty if the Newstart demolition is passed.

Removing the base of the social safety net might save some dollars, but the pressure on society and the state of a new underclass of disenfranchised, impoverished and increasingly desperate people will outweigh it significantly. Most unemployed are that way not through choice but through a combination of factors including economic climate, location, legislation, market forces and plain bad luck. Take away the one thing they can count on to fill their fridges, their prescriptions and their petrol tanks (yes, Joe, in their cars) while they look for work and you run the very real risk of turning good people who need a break out onto the street, placing pressure on already overworked public hospitals, welfare agencies and NGOs and perhaps turning them into desperate criminals, placing undue pressure on their victims, their families, the police and legal system and everyone else who has to deal with them.

People without work should be afforded a basic allowance to enable them to live while they look for work, not punished as part of some unjustified austerity drive. If paying unemployed people a basic wage is too expensive or frivolous for this government, perhaps they’d like to reconsider their baffling, dogmatic contempt for the rapidly-growing renewable energy market as embodied by their fear and loathing of the RET and the carbon tax, their propping up of the dinosaur that is coal as exemplified by their teaming up with a nakedly self-serving coal-miner to scrap the mining tax, or their general coddling of billionaires.

Whether we like it or not, welfare for the unemployed needs to be a non-negotiable fact of life in a wealthy nation, for the simple reason that there are never enough jobs available for all eligible workers to have one at the same time. It needs to be that way too: if capitalism is to function at all and as growth is a desired facet of capitalism, there must always be a pool of available labour to enable that growth. That means that there must always be a small percentage of the population unemployed, ready to pick up the jobs that arise in a growing economy. It is the duty of a capitalist state to ensure its labour pool can sustain themselves while they’re between jobs (of course a minority will just toke up and slack off, but I’d like to see how their malfeasance stacks up next to the rorts of our esteemed elect), not use them as pawns at the behest of a small and unduly noisome cabal of self-interested arch-consevatives.

So sign the petition, go and march, hassle your MP, get loud.

Welfare isn’t a handout, it’s just a hand. And taking it away is pretty much a fisting.


Cyclone Nargis in Burma, China’s Sichuan earthquake…

…what about Hurricane Freedom in Iraq?

I work for a well-known non-profit aid organisation (no more clues than that will be forthcoming, please insert disclaimer about me not representing the official views of this organisation if you happen to guess what it is). Because of that I’m deeply aware of the suffering of the people in the affected areas of Burma and China. I’m also impressed at the generosity of my countrymen (and citizens of the world in general) who are donating money in the millions to our organisation to help us do our job. Further, I’m impressed by China’s mirror-image response to that of the Burmese junta, allowing aid in immediately from all corners of the globe. Regardless of everything else China gets up to, they’ve pulled out all stops to help the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

The press and the leaders of the world, however, can take a flying leap into a pit filled with hungry bears. Yes, the generals of Burma are corrupt bastards who need to be removed from their seats of power at once, and not just because they spent the best part of two weeks refusing vital international aid for their sick, dying & displaced citizens, but because they’re the archetype of a brutal, repressive & paranoid military dictatorship. Populist icon Suu Kyi’s continuing house arrest, about to enter its sixth year (in contravention of laws that Burma’s own generals signed off on) is evidence of that. The fact that a potential donor asked me the other day, and I quote: “You’re not an agent of the Burmese military, are you?” also speaks volumes. If concerned people in my country can’t even trust my employers (who have a long history of assisting people in need all over the world), it’s little wonder that the Burmese generals themselves were refusing aid on the grounds that any international efforts may simply be a cover for covert operations against the junta. Yes, 70,000 people are dead and many bodies lie in fields, streets and rivers, some actually long enough to have become skeletonised. Millions have nowhere to live and nowhere to go, nothing to drink or eat and no method of contacting people that are lost. Aid is needed in Burma faster than it can be delivered.

So what’s that got to do with the press, world leaders and Iraq? The fact that nothing even mentioning the plight of Iraq’s afflicted people, made homeless, sick and quite often dead by the man-made disaster of the US occupation, ever seems to appear in our mainstream media. Our world leaders don’t stand there and condemn the US occupying forces (and the people who issue their orders) for allowing basically everything outside the Green Zone (which has electricity, gas, telecommunications, large secure buildings and even fast-food outlets, for crying out loud) to fall into chaos and disrepair, putting at risk the lives of everyone from new born babies to healthy adults and the elderly. Hospitals are reportedly using incubators that are 30 years old and held together with tape – that’s if they even have electricity to begin with, or staff who know how to use such things.

Where are leaders like Rudd, Brown, Sarkozy et al to condemn the US and its military for not living up to the occupier’s responsibilities as encoded in the 1949 Geneva Convention? They’re full of mighty wrath for the Burmese generals but will they dare to slap the US with same hand? Some even advanced the possibility of military action to force Burma to allow aid workers into the country, kicking off a first aid war! Would they even comprehend intervening in Iraq in order to provide clean water, bandages and electricity to suffering Iraqis?

I don’t expect answers to those questions as they’re semi-rhetorical. Maybe I just needed to vent a bit. Maybe if the media and our fearless Western leaders applied to themselves (and the US) the same standards they apply to our apparently backward & brutal enemies (but not Saudi Arabia, backward & brutal they may be, but they have all our oil in their sand and their hand on the OPEC spigot, therefore they must be courted and fawned over) such venting wouldn’t be required.

Meh, who am I though and why should anyone give a crap? I’m just another disaffected malcontent in the blurgosphere with nothing but a keyboard and a collection of axes to grind and chips on my shoulder. Shit, I don’t even expect anyone to read this babble. But I have to get it out there or my wife has to cop it, and she’s not feeling well right now and needs her rest.