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Greed is not good

“Greed is good” has been falsely attributed to Gordon Gecko – and if he had said it, he would have been wrong!

Another urban myth is that people become more conservative as they grow older.

It is true for some – those who don’t realise that learning is a lifelong process and prefer to live in the past. The ones who say “My father used to belt me when I was a kid and what was good enough for Dad, is good enough for me with my sons.”

Or the unthinking voters who say “This is how we have always voted.”

The older you get, the more you need to look back – not for models for the future, but to appreciate how much has changed and analyse how much (if any!) of that has been for the good.

When I look at the current destruction being wreaked by fires, I wonder whether our First Nations were not infinitely wiser than us. They see themselves as caretakers of the land, to protect and nurture it, because it is their duty, in a self-imposed spiritual context. Whereas, land, to ‘developed’ nations, is just another resource to rape and pillage for wealth accumulation. And when it offers no more riches? Then it is someone else’s problem to clean up the mess!

I can remember history at school in England, learning about strip farming, where a serf or peasant was allowed to farm a strip of land for produce for the Lord of the Manor – and keep a small portion of the produce for himself and his family. Has much changed? Who most benefits from food production? And why do we throw good, but misshaped, fruit and vegetables away, when people in other parts of the world are starving?

Yet there was a time when those with small-holdings grew enough grain, carried enough livestock and basically provided for their own needs, with enough left over to sell in order to buy those other requirements the land did not offer. The corporations have made sure that there is much less of that now.

In the context of which, I also remember school studies referring to the reasons for the creation of the dustbowl in the USA!

We kid ourselves by claiming we live in a democracy and that the governments we elect pass laws and develop policies for our benefit as electors.

Global corporations are in charge!

Accumulation of wealth by those already endowed with wealth who use money to make money and leave a damaged land in their wake. Capital and Labour is another economists’ myth!

The Industrial Revolution sowed the seeds of Climate Change, and, because constant growth has become the Holy Grail of economists (please note: economics is only a trial and error process, masquerading as a pseudo-science!) we are now hooked on a merry-go-round that growth must be achieved even if people’s lives are destroyed in the process.

I have no claim to being a guru. I have never had the patience to study philosophy. Even as a very small child, I wanted to be a teacher. Maths was always my best subject at school, so I specialised in maths and taught it, on and off, for the best part of half a century.

During that time, I encountered so many situations where lack of legal help had damaged people’s lives, so in 1975 I promised myself that I would study law when I stopped paid employment, for which I had to wait for nearly 30 years.

I was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in February, 2008 – promise kept! – and I had also become accredited as a mediator.

I rapidly learned that – while the law had some good points – my real interest was in justice, which is much more likely to be achieved, partially if not fully, through the alternative dispute resolution procedures like mediation than via the adversarial antics of our legal system.

IMHO it is sad that we inherited the confrontational British legal and political systems rather than the European investigative approach to solving legal issues.

Reality is that Australia squanders its resources, that we have extreme poverty and gross inequality in an essentially wealthy country. We have governments of all colours and prejudices which are largely more interested in keeping favour with corporations and we lack the protections that a decent Constitution and an effective ICAC might offer,

For those who have never studied the Australian Constitution, it was written to establish which powers, previously in the hands of the established states, should be passed over to a Commonwealth government in the process of establishing a federal system.

It was not remotely forward-looking – even more so as it made changing the Constitution so hard. Its major concern was to keep some balance of power between what had been autonomous States while Australia still remained a colony in many regards.

Even income tax remained in State control until a later date and the ties with Britain were not finally relinquished until passage in Australia and the UK of the Australia Act 1986!

Small wonder we have problems over nationality at Commonwealth elections!

And small wonder that we are not very good at governing ourselves when we have had such a chequered career as a country!

But now is the time when every governing body in Australia has to recognise the threat presented by global warming.

It is a fact – it is very real – and we cannot wait any longer before taking action to slow, stop and – just maybe – reverse temperature rises.

Cameras! Action! TAKE!

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  1. Ill fares the land

    Greed is certainly not good, but it has long been a staple of the elite. That greed has driven a sustained attack on the rights of the underclasses for several centuries. It happened in the UK when subsistence farmers were essentially forced off the lands they had farmed, often for generations. This meant they had no place to go but cities seeking work (or more to the point to be exploited) in filthy factories to make the elite rich. They did so in such numbers that wages were low (sound familiar?). It happened for centuries between the wealthy northern hemisphere and the less wealthy, but still wealthy southern hemisphere, so for centuries, the 15th century, the wealthy European countries plundered the southern hemisphere countries. The inexorable wealth transfer to Europe and later north America has decimated many of the South AMerican and African countries. Into the 20th century, greed continued – the vile imperialists like the US, Britain, France, Belgium and Portugal ran amok, organising coups and on occasion arranging the assassination of democratically elected leaders who appeared to be a threat to the constant flow of wealth to the colonial masters. The list of countries where this has happened is unbelievably long – the Congo, Uganda, Chile, Iraq and Guatemala are but a few. Greed, as we know it, has been responsible for some utterly vile acts against those too weak to fight back. And it continues unabated, except now, it has inculcated individuals. It is OK for us to be greedy and drive bigger SUV’s, build bigger houses, travel the globe having “holidays we can boast about”, to buy more cheap clothes made in the world’s sweatshops by slave labour, to believe the lies of a PM that wants us to avert our gaze while he governes for the rich and guess what – we don’t care about the impacts our neurotic “wants” that we rationalised into “needs” have on the world around us. Greed may not be good, but the world is awash with people who believe it is – for them at least.

  2. whatever

    Nevermind Gordon Gecko, think of Daniel Plainview from the movie ‘There Willl be Blood’.
    Most of the big players in the current mining industry are similarly psychopathic free-market buccaneers.

  3. Wobbley

    Greed will kill the lot of us.

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