Why do we bother electing governments, if they don’t actually care for their citizens?


This statement sets out Australia’s mission, its task. I found it on the website of the Parliamentary Education Office:

The Australian Government is responsible for making decisions about how the country is run, including setting a policy agenda, proposing new laws and putting laws into action. The government plays an important role in shaping our society and making sure that Australians have the services and safeguards we need.

Do we share common aims with other countries?

That is how the Australian Parliament sees government, in a nutshell. It is interesting to note that many commentators in the United States, for example, emphasise the need for governments to ensure a safe society, by maintaining law and order. Some concentrate on defending their borders.

Others around the world, depending on their ideological position, will favour militarism, perhaps nationalistic fervour, or they will look after the better off.

Others, like the Scandinavian countries, are thought to follow democratic socialism principles. Of course in a state where the majority have the vote, the state should ideally reflect the wishes of the people.

Parliamentarians will, instinctively, look to systems, or methods which look after their own constituents. This will allow them to be popular, and incidentally, to look after their own interests.

Often, they do this under the cover of darkness. This is because, at least in democracies, such preferential treatment of selected groups will be seen as anti-democratic, or even corrupt.

Whatever the purpose of government is, it is generally agreed, within democracies at least, that the people’s welfare is paramount.

How are the ‘democracies’ faring?

One would have to question where most democracies are headed. In Europe the rise of right wing populist parties is alarming, and it is clearly targeted at the the less educated, and to those who are older. Many seniors are attracted by nostalgia for old attitudes.

These voters all seem to share a fear of the unknown, the arrival of large numbers of immigrants, who very conveniently are usually of different races, and who profess different religions.

The United States has a large dose of the same, although it can be argued that in Donald Trump they unearthed a brilliant communicator, if you are looking to bridge the gap between the rulers and the ruled. He was able to capture a large proportion of the disaffected, and to take the country to the brink of civil war.

Did neo-liberalism contribute to this malaise?

If neo-liberalism can be said to have ‘taken off’ with the advent of Reagan and Thatcher, then the undermining of the welfare state has progressed significantly.

The aim of “levelling up” has been cast aside, with inequality out of control. The belief in markets has replaced any sense of morality in governing. The people’s good is now down to their ability to compete for basics, such as food and shelter. The reality of ‘society’ as a state of being is now openly questioned.

What about ‘the people’?

There has been a vulgarisation of public discourse, such that the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity have become devalued, even mocked, by the followers of a small school of economists, based at the University of Chicago. It is a debased philosophy, because it places the market above the welfare of the people.

This is the tail truly wagging the dog. It is stupid, and it is without care or compassion, and so, it is inhuman.

Do we want to follow Britain down the plug-hole?

Britain has been useful as an experiment in just how debased neo-liberal economics, taken to its ridiculous limits, can be.

It has effectively dismantled its welfare system; it has hobbled its national health service, during the worst pandemic in a century; withdrawn from the single market in Europe, sent home hundreds of thousands of migrants from Europe, incidentally losing the cultural diversity and intellectual and academic contribution of those migrants, and generally increasing inequality.

The country was already burdened by a rigid class structure, with an hereditary upper house in its parliament, and an hereditary royal family still leeching off the tax system.

Liz Truss has earned universal disrespect and mockery for her laughable assertions regarding tax cuts for the rich. Even that monolith the IMF has seen fit to admonish her, and her witless treasurer, for sabotaging Britain’s fiscal and monetary plans to defeat cost of living rises.

Her decision to borrow to pay for citizens’ energy bills beggars belief. She has consciously chosen to allow the energy companies, which are shamelessly enjoying windfall profits, to continue on their merry way, while she is stealing from taxpayers.

What about Australia?

Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have similarly ransacked our national wealth for nine years. They have weakened Medicare, lowered taxes on the rich, stolen taxpayers’ funds to fund obscenely rich private schools at the expense of public schools, and gutted our universities.

They also spent billions adding to the fossil fuel companies’ ill-gotten gains, hamstrung climate change mitigation for a decade, and attacked our national cohesion with deliberate trashing of our international treaty obligations, especially regarding refugees, dog-whistling attacks on minorities, started an unnecessary war of words with China, and essentially destroyed our biodiversity so that land clearing can proceed.

But, I hear you say, we threw them out on their ear. We elected a reformist government, in whose DNA flows liberty, equality and fraternity.

We did change governments, but we are still on track to lower taxes to our richest minority. We still subsidise fossil fuel companies. We will not tax them for their ill-gotten gains, and we won’t even consider increasing the welfare payments of the poor.

Even though we know that it causes Australian children to go to bed hungry, and a recent finding that the average rent increase for the last year was $3000. That is, on average, $60 a week in rent alone. Then factor in energy cost rises, higher food costs due to shortages caused by floods, and you have a perfect recipe for a human disaster.

So there have been changes for the better, but this government is seemingly intent on ‘doing a Truss’, and going ahead with stage 3 tax cuts. Spare me from inhumane governments. They need to wake up as to why they exist, at all.

A quick grab for power?


As we have been detained, reluctantly, at the late Queen’s bereavement party in the United Kingdom, the Heir Apparent has been staking out his own territory.

If you feel there has been an indecent rush to proclaim the new king, you are right. There are no pretenders to the throne; the lesser heirs have maintained an orderly procession, there are no ‘smokies’ hiding in the wings, neither in Scotland nor in France.

The various announcements and proclamations have continued apace since the Queen died. The scene setting and the execution of the ceremonies have gone without a hitch.

Considering it has been seventy years since any of these events were last performed, it becomes clear there had been significant planning, and almost certainly rehearsals. That is why it is probable that the Queen was party to the preparations, even as she soldiered on.

Why hurry?

So why the haste? At first glance the Queen was always a constitutional monarch. As such her powers were strictly limited, and if we are to be brutally honest, she was always restrained by those limits. Part of her impeccable reputation rests on her willingness to act within those limits.

She was tasked with receiving advice from her prime minister(s). This in itself would be crushingly difficult, considering the quality of advisors. Listening to David Cameron, or Boris Johnson, sounds like slow torture. Her greatest victories seem to have been in the area of protecting her own vast wealth from tax.

Her will is forever unavailable to be seen by the public, so the wash-up is that what was hers becomes the new king’s; what was his, in his role as Prince of Wales, now becomes the property of his son and heir, Prince William.

Continue, until you run out of heirs. Be assured that the family will continue to advocate on behalf of minimal taxes for them, and an ongoing lack of accountability to the state, which nurtures them.

Building on the legacy

So the inescapable conclusion is that Queen Elizabeth the Second was a ruler without practical political power, who was nevertheless able, through a lifetime of ‘service’ and exemplary behaviour, to develop a huge, and deeply personal following amongst her subjects.

She has no legislative triumphs, because she has no power to legislate. She has, through dint of many years of dedication, developed a network of people whose lives have been enriched, sometimes by virtue of something as transitory as their having attended a street walk fifty years ago, or by the purchase of a commemorative item, which serves as a marker of time passed.

She has been invaluable at opening anything, from a bridge in Scotland, to the London Olympics, but if you study her achievements they are precisely those of an enabler, one who graces political decisions, no matter how damaging they might be, because that is her role.

We are surprised at the depth of feeling that her death has released, and the intense feelings of attachment to the Queen, are being translated into renewed support, perhaps even fervour, for the institution of the British Monarchy.

The grab for power and legitimacy seems to have been hatched long ago. Both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles must have been acutely aware that the very notion of a hereditary monarchy is completely incompatible with a modern democratic state, and so the moment to declare the continuation of the royal line would naturally be when the nation is consumed with emotion.

That would explain the unseemly haste with which Charles has had himself proclaimed King. The use of ceremony, of gorgeous costumes, the seamless call-up of notables and rarely seen archaic practices, including the use of the ancient language appropriate to mediaeval successions has us all shocked and awed by the mysterious power of the crown.

The new King will, no matter how powerful the assembled courtiers and the nominal military decorations worn so devilishly, equate to virtually no power. The Queen mastered the skill of quieting her own inner voice, and King Charles has already promised to follow her lead.

So forget about the time for reflection, the possibility of making the monarchy more democrat friendly. You have been awe-bombed by a family which relies 100% on our ability to quiet our inner voices, which naturally know the absurdity of a ruling family placed above the populace.

If we ask why do they continue to ‘serve’ we note their lack of political weight, their potential capture by those lucky enough, or devious enough to hold prime ministerial power.

The only ‘sweetener’ in this for a British sovereign seems to lie in the need to satisfy the personal mission of service, and the vast wealth and prestige attached to the office. In a month or so, as the novelty of a new king wears off, he will probably tail off in his relentless efforts to legitimise the existence of a hereditary monarchy, and simply continue the family tradition of opening things.