Tag Archives: Inequality

Our children still not eating enough in God’s country


So, as we all party at the removal of our very own theocratic government, what has the last month ushered in?

Lots of lovely symbolic gestures, lots of baby steps to restoring Australia’s reputation as a great place to live, a great place to bring up children.

Over a hundred years ago, in 1915, British Army officers were impressed when they saw the Australian troops disembark. They were taller and heavier than their home-grown ‘brothers in arms’, and many were proficient with weapons and even horses. They looked healthy and confident, and many proved themselves in the dark days which followed.

How would our current crop of children look if they were unloaded on a British dock today?

Not that great, I reckon. If last year, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began to affect the price of everything, the United Nations estimated that 16% of Australian children under the age of 15 lived with an adult who was food insecure in 2017. (The Conversation-July 9, 2021).

It is impossible these days to calculate how many more are struggling today. Prices go up daily, rents are ridiculous, MPs collect their indexed pay rises, and middle class families struggle to pay fresh food prices.

One would automatically assume that, no matter the good intentions of that caring adult mentioned above, children were going hungry. That is around one in every six children, going to bed hungry, or not sure if there will be any breakfast.

All such figures are revolting. There is no shortage of them. Governments have been papering the walls with such reports for decades, and stupid, populist politicians continue to pander to those in Australia who still think that poverty is the fault of the poor. How much suffering will assuage the righteous anger of the middle classes towards the unemployed, or even more disturbingly, those unable to work?

There is no way that reports which show children going hungry in Australia is ever, in any universe, or under any government, acceptable. We know how to fix this problem. Give the poor a pay-rise.

No-one in Australia knows how Morrison and Frydenberg stumbled on the solution, but stumble on it they did. In some totally random way those arch monetarists took a leaf out of Keynes’ playbook, and doubled welfare payments.

I strongly suspect they regretted the move, but it served the purpose of stimulating the economy, and if a few hundred thousand were benefitted, so be it. Something like the need to break eggs to make omelettes.

For the first time in years, people on welfare were able to have food on the table, AND to pay their bills. No impossible choices: They could eat, and maintain a shred of dignity.

For health reasons even many of the visible homeless were housed. Who would have guessed that, in the midst of an overwhelming pandemic, Australia would do something for its neediest? We accidentally became Finland, and then we woke up?

Of course the ‘honeymoon’ was destined to end. The neo-liberal gene asserted itself, and these measures were stopped. No transition, no stepping down of benefits. Lots of talk about things not being free forever, and the old “pay your own way” crap.

Disappointing, but not surprising. Frydenberg, who believes in ‘trickle-down economics’, decided to do a little experiment. If he gave billions of dollars to undeserving corporate hacks, would any of it trickle down to the poor and needy?

Well, no. His experiment was a failure. All the big corporates, and the private colleges, the fossil fuel parasites, all continued to rack up profits, and the children went back to going to bed hungry, or wondering if the electricity would be cut off tomorrow. If you happened to be black, and living in your ancestral lands, you might even have the spectre of being jailed, from the age of ten.

So when we have people of the calibre of Peter Dutton talking about protecting women and children from sexual violence, what about protecting them from something as immediate, and as dangerous-hunger and homelessness. The solution is obvious.

This country is drowning in its own callous narcissism and ignorance. It deludes itself, and has the effrontery to decry any criticism directed at it. From a nation which made its own democracy and institutions into something admirable, we have sunk down the ranks in everything worth measuring.

Inequality is everywhere you look. There is no difference in whether a Liberal or a Labor minister looks out upon the land, and spies hunger, homelessness, meaningless ‘gig economy’ jobs, tax rorts for the rich, public schools being robbed to pay the private colleges subsidies. The list is long, and time is of the essence.

I can live with the sceptre of Geelong Grammar getting another computer lab, or another perfectly manicured cricket oval, but I draw the line on starving my fellows, and their children in this, one of the wealthiest countries on earth.

Care of your vulnerable is conservatism as it should be. Preserve what you have, and improve it. Do not create whole classes of land developers and spivs, think tank ‘scholars’ and rentiers, who spend more on reducing their taxes than they actually pay, in taxes.

There is something rotten if both sides of politics don’t get equality, but something especially rank if the Labor Party ducks its core responsibilities. Pick them up, and the celebrations might resume.

Inequality leads to starving our children


Australia has had a chequered past, when it comes to looking after our most vulnerable. The history of our treatment of the First Australians is dark, and shameful. But in what could be an exercise in ‘black humour’, we now have a non-discriminatory policy towards all who are poor.

This means that we have Government policies which, either consciously or not, treat those who are of Aboriginal descent, the aged, those who are disabled, those who are addicted, those who suffer from mental illness, those who are homeless, and those who are either unemployed, or underemployed, as second class citizens. Now that is equal-opportunity discrimination. Consider the millions of Australians who fall into any of these categories.

The most recent example has been the vaccine rollout. Who missed out, from the beginning? All of the above. Aboriginal people are still lagging in the area of vaccine coverage, even after being identified as especially vulnerable. Catching up now, but an after-thought. The disabled? Forgotten, until now.

We are at close to 90% of first doses, and yet this Government has not bothered to include regional and remote communities. I live in a regional town, only 70 kms from Melbourne, and last Wednesday, October 13, we had a visit from a vaccine bus. The first visit, mind you. I don’t have the figures on car ownership where I live, but plenty of people did not, because they could not, travel to Kilmore for their first shots.

Many of the older residents were hesitant to get the jab, because the ‘communicator in chief’, aka Mr Morrison, an alleged marketer, stuffed up the rollout, by not buying enough supplies, and by then bad-mouthing the ‘product’ he was supposedly trying to sell to the public. No wonder he kept getting the sack from his previous jobs.

We will never know how many deaths were caused by his, and his Government’s, sheer incompetence, but we all know they got their shots first. We know that the recent lockdowns were caused by Government inaction on vaccines, because now that we have mostly caught up, state governments feel they can open up again. Cause and effect can be an elegant equation.

Let us move on, to hunger

As part of the Morrison Government’s response to the economic effects of Covid-19, we saw them respond, reluctantly and late, by providing economic support to those who needed help. They even doubled the unemployment benefit. This action saw millions of Australians able to pay their bills, able to find accommodation, even able to feed their children, and themselves.

Their additional spending helped to power the temporary economic revival. The majority of our economists applauded the targeted assistance. Of course they were unaware that the poor were not the only recipients of Government largesse. Billions of dollars also flowed to hundreds of ineligible companies, which, opportunistically and cynically, paid executive bonuses, and even dividends to shareholders with their ill-gotten gains.

But then, as expected, the Morrison Government’s bastardry and adolescent hubris kicked in. They sent the poor back to where they belong, poverty-stricken and abandoned. They sent Australian children into a situation where

“An estimated 1.2 million children in Australia went hungry in the past year, while one in six adults also faced severe food insecurity, a new report says.

Foodbank’s annual Hunger Report, released on Wednesday as part of Anti-Poverty Week, suggests the number of people going hungry in Australia has increased since the coronavirus welfare supplement and jobkeeper payments were withdrawn.” This report was cited by Luke Henrique-Gomes, in the Guardian Australia.

There are many solutions to reining in spending, especially if the Government you elected is stupid and venal, as this one is. But causing our children to starve is unforgiveable. This result is a direct consequence of neoliberal thought. Someone tell me where markets will fix food insecurity, when we export over half of what we grow. This Government needs to be replaced, at the ballot box, as soon as possible.

You can see how conflicted and useless they are. They cannot even agree on mitigating climate change. In the area of providing adequate nutrition for our future, aka our children, you would think they were at least able to see the harm they are doing. Starving children is very un-Australian. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Vote these idiots out, first chance you get. They are dangerous to us all.

Morrison’s economic plans reflect his lack of life experience


While he plans to line the pockets of his mates and the wealthy with ridiculous tax-cuts, we have all read the reports that, with the cuts to Jobseeker and Jobkeeper, Morrison and his sorry acolyte Frydenburg, will be throwing millions of Australians into poverty, and even hunger.

Poverty seems more palatable, pardon the pun, but hunger? Are we really being led by people who think it is in any way acceptable to deny children, single mothers, the unemployed, (whether it is their own fault or not) the disabled, and even those who do not own a house to go hungry? Let us not forget homelessness, either. The pandemic economy will not be kind to the poor, deserving or not.

Scott Morrison lacks the intellect, the life experience and the character to lead this country, during a time when we need to rely on government.

It has already started to bite

I volunteer for a food-bank type operation in regional Victoria. During the short period when the Jobseeker payment was double its previous amount, the food-bank saw a drop in demand. It has now shot up again, because of the cuts; people have had to ask again for help, if they want their children, and themselves, to eat properly.

If we picture Morrison we see a man who has apparently never missed a meal in his life. We see a man so pleased with himself that the smirk may well be permanent. Criticise him for a lack of empathy, and he wants to know who will fund it. Ask how his supposedly Christian faith allows him to visit cruelty so casually on the weak, and he answers that the Bible is not a policy handbook.

Have you ever wondered if he ever had a real job, where he maybe made things that people wanted? Did he start at the bottom, or was it all handed to him? Did he develop a range of skills which would prepare him for running a country? Let us investigate.

All his jobs have been meaningless

Morrison seems to have been a manager all his life. He may have been born wearing a suit and tie. His list of jobs is interesting. He seems to have gone into every job at the top, or if not, just close enough to make the boss nervous. The jobs were not connected to making anything. He has not run a business, nor has he risked an investment in his own business. He is a classic member of the managerialist class.

So he has worked for the Property Council of Australia, a lobby group for property developers. He then moved into tourism, here and in New Zealand. When working in that sector, he left a string of disappointed colleagues behind him, amid stories of ruthless ambition and endless politicking. He has made something of a habit of causing trouble with the organisations which employ him, while relentlessly scheming to advance his career. He then departs, abruptly.

Next stop the Liberal Party, where he became the State Director. Such a meteoric rise, from leadership position to leadership position, without learning anything about co-operation, or collegiality, or even about that funny old thing, our society. When you run with wolves, there is little time for empathy.

Of course there were unsavoury tales surrounding his next step up the ladder. His pre-selection to Parliament was fraught. His opponent won the contest, outpolling Morrison by 80 votes to 8. The organisational wing of the Liberal Party disallowed the result, and a re-run was ordered. This had never happened before. They clearly recognised a managerialist of class, when they saw one.

How will this play out?

Back in some far off ‘golden old days’, the Liberal Party boasted members who had some form of decency, a social conscience even. The so-called Liberal ‘wets’ have been hunted out of the organisation, however, and it is now filled with neoliberal spivs. They cultivate a type of objective disdain for the less well-off, and dress it up as economic rationalism.

If you ever see the job title ‘policy director’ run away. Morrison was a policy director once, for a lobby group. Tim Wilson was a policy director for the IPA. So that is the sort of job many of the Liberal Party did before they got their big chance. And you can see how policy directors turn out!

Think tanks like the IPA don’t actually think. They import their silly ideas from the U.S. – all they have to do is unwrap them. Right wing think tanks provided Trump with his playbook. Pretty well all populist governments follow the same agenda. Increase inequality at the expense of the 99%.

Cut regulations, no matter whatever the cost. Cut welfare, except to corporations and the wealthy. Cut services, especially to indigenous communities and the aged care sector, privatise everything you can get your hands on. Ruin the environment, gut the public service while enriching multinational cartels, let the poor starve.

The worst part is that Morrison has amassed all this power at a point in history when Australia, and indeed most of the world, need real leaders. Not tin-pot dictators like Trump, Johnson and Morrison. Look at the way Morrison’s heroes have handled the pandemic. Scotty from Marketing has followed public opinion so far, but you can see him chafing at the bit to sacrifice ordinary people in the interests of business and commerce. We need to tell him that we won’t stand for being a smaller version of the failing American Empire.

As Oscar Wilde said, a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.