A Classic Piece
I received the following classic piece from someone close with a very emphatic endorsement. It’s by a “Hard Working Aussie” who is a Kalgoorlie mineworker, one who doesn’t mind passing a random urine test for his job but feels that the same should be required of the people to whom the government distributes his taxes:
I felt inclined to reply along the lines of “I agree, well, sort of, but…” and I wondered where to begin. I pondered the significance of this sort of class war propaganda in the processes that brought down the Whitlam government in Australia in 1975, when the term “Dole Bludger” was coined to denigrate people without jobs, living on the “hard earned” taxes of working Australians, some of whom bitterly despised Whitlam for his progressive social reforms. I still recall many of the conversations I had with so many hard working Australians that might well have moved me to say “Well let them have what they vote for. Let them drudge - let them starve!”. Robert Noonan’s book was not of my acquaintance at the time, though I thought those very words!
The Big Picture
So what would I say to this Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, sweating and toiling at his noble and unselfish task of making money for his employers and for his government to squander on the vices of the unworthy?
“Hard Working Aussie” is clearly unhappy, an unhappiness that goes much deeper than merely the injustice of having to piss in a bottle in order to work while his beneficiaries are spared the indignity. He concludes with the remark that “something has to change in this country, and soon!”, a remark that conjures ominous images of a spontaneous rising up of millions of disgruntled “Hard Working Aussies” all over the country. But the image becomes comic when I think of the Australia I have known for half a century. On the last two occasions we had anything like this sort of event we had tragic farce involving excesses of alcohol and unreadiness that seem to be more a part of the national character than meat pies and Aussie rules - or even baseball hats.
But this unhappiness is incongruous because, in the grand scale of things in Australia, as far as the lot of working people goes, for working people without professional qualifications, mineworkers in remote places are, as Australians say “on a pretty good wicket” (well paid) – this I know from experience, albeit from a long time ago.
So I suppose what I would say to “Hard Working Aussie” is to step back and take a look at the big picture. He has a perceived grievance with a perceived cause that induces him to berate that most unfortunate of his fellow Australians – on the dole, on drugs and on the backside of his pants. Certainly, the target of his wrath is the least powerful and the least enabled to change the situation – if indeed the perceived problem is the real problem.
Australia exports aluminium (notice the last “i”), vast quantities of it, smelted at places like Portland Victoria from bauxite that is shipped from the north of Australia. The ingots are then shipped to the northern hemisphere to provide the foundation of a wide range of high-tech manufacturing industries. I’ve seen for myself the enormous shiploads at Townsville on their way north. We ship it all the way south to Portland and back for the electricity required for the smelting process in which an electric arc between enormous carbon electrodes vaporises the ore and the liquid aluminium is extracted. As always, when foreign capital comes to Australia the government puts in the hat – corporate welfare – justified on the grounds that it creates jobs. In the case of Portland most of the purported 2000 jobs vaporised like fluoride into the atmosphere at the end of construction of the plant. Victorians, having paid for the provision of a cable to deliver the electricity from Yallorn to Portland would then commit to contracts that effectively have them subsidising the cost of the electricity for the next 50 years. Along with subsequent privatisation of the electricity supply this is a major contributor to the rapidly rising cost of electricity, which, in turn, contributes to the “perceived unhappiness” of many Australians living in Melbourne and as the grid, expands to include other capital cities the radius of unhappiness increases. I’ve heard it said that “aluminium IS electricity”, because all of it’s value lies in the cost of the electricity required to smelt it – courtesy of Australian taxpayers.
Of course, the government receives a levy payment for every tonne of aluminium exported. In the case of iron ore sold to China, in this present mother of all resources booms, that levy amounts to less than the revenue derived by the Chinese government as import duty on the same ore. Australia exports vast amounts of minerals; silver lead and zinc from Broken Hill and other places, Diamonds from Argyle and other places, Uranium from Olympic Dam and other places, Manganese from Groote Eylandt and other places, coal from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and other places, gold, as our “Hard Working Aussie” is surely aware, from Kalgoorlie and other places. The list goes on and on.
The Philanthropic Cycle
These vast exports of Australian minerals feed the industries of giant economies such as Japan, China, Britain, France, Germany and of course, the US, involving hundreds of millions of people and massively enriching a small minority of them, the people who own Western Capitalism and control the flow of these resources. By comparison with the GDP of the Australian “hobby economy”, engaging some 20 Million people, the daily output value of these resources is enormous. Yet these “Hard Working Aussies” who participate in this economy, some of them (like fools duped into assisting a thief to empty the furniture from their own houses) contribute their working life to the extraction of these resources, pay on average some 35% of their income as income taxes that pay for infrastructure, government services and of course that much-frowned-upon welfare system inhabited by the nation’s “dole bludgers” and drug users. This welfare system runs up an account that is, in fact, small change by comparison with the afore-mentioned corporate welfare system that once went by the now politically incorrect name of subsidies, let alone the levies received by the government and of course, it is infinitesimal compared with the value of the exported resources or even the profits that go to the people who own Western Capitalism.
These resources belong to all Australians as a national heritage, yet somehow we seem to be generating a few billionaires nowadays, who swagger about being filmed for the media climbing in and out of helicopters and spouting all the wisdom of successful entrepreneurs and self-acclaimed “movers and shakers”, seemingly unaware that they are small fish in the pond where the killer whales who own Western Capitalism prowl and shamelessly indifferent to the role they play in degrading the lives of their fellow Australians to political irrelevance, managed ignorance, unemployment, poverty and drug abuse.
Given a situation like this one can only marvel in awe at the obtuseness of a population that can elect or dismiss governments on the basis of “how well the ‘conomy’s doin’” when in fact they haven’t a clue and depend entirely on a corporate media to tell them and have failed to realise, after some 35 years of reflection, their substantial error in rejecting a government for the abominable sin of seeking to borrow $4bn from ARABS for the purpose of buying back control of Australia’s mineral resources.
Waiting for Change since 1906
For the people who own Western Capitalism the name of the game is “owning control by the lowest cost”. On the scale of exploiting national resources this involves paying off the least portion of the population, the people who have the power. In places like Saudi Arabia it comes down to supporting a barbaric, despotic royal family, in places like Iran, Chile, Guatemala and Haiti etc. it involves deposing legitimate, democratic but non-compliant leadership by force, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan it involves replacing the previously-installed but now non-compliant despot with another, more compliant one. In places like Australia it involves using the vast supply of oil dollars to buy control of the media and key elements of the economy, sugar-sprinkling people who have influence in government, industry,, business, political parties, trade unions etc.and coaxing the general population into a Disneyland castle of television entertainment masquerading as news or life.
With institutional control in place populations can be kept submissive by debilitating vices like drugs and gambling or an equally debilitating education system in conjunction with a television “entertainment” network. In countries where the people are the wrong colour, religion or culture the cheaper option of brute force and violent oppression is available. A still cheaper option is to have one section of the community denigrate their brethren by the circulation of propaganda that is as degrading to the people who create and circulate it as it is to the people it denigrates.
Since the days at the turn of the last century when those philanthropists in their ragged trousers sweat blood and life in the service of their affluent masters, things have changed in scale and dynamics, but clearly not in principle. It’s global in scale and it’s capacity for killing and destruction of the planet has increased manifold but it’s still a class war. Part of the challenge for people who want a moral, rational world based on justice, rule of law and sensitivity to the needs of a living planet lies in confronting class-war propaganda. This little piece is peculiarly Australian but here in Poland I find there are people who think it’s wonderful that “the Americans” are at work all over the world fighting these crazy terrorist fanatics who try to blow up planes.
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|Allen L. Jasson|