We have been here before – and we must not forget it.
At least, the world has, and some of its older residents remember at least one lengthy period when we have had the world turned upside down by events outside our control.
We do not need to repeat the mistakes of the past.
There is no returning to ‘normal’, because the most normal thing in the world is constant change, and our failure to adapt to change is the cause of most of our problems!
Greta Thunberg has been the leading voice of young people telling us that we have to take action on climate change.
They, rightly, tell us that it is they who will be most affected by the inevitable costs and changes which we will experience, because we have tried to harness the universe to meet our needs for possessions, convenience and power.
And in the process we have unleashed the dragon!
Interestingly, the current greatest problem in most people’s eyes is COVID-19, yet it is, indirectly (and, hopefully, temporarily) our best friend.
Because of the reduction in manufacturing and travel resulting from the pandemic, we have benefitted from a reduction in greenhouse emissions – nothing like as much as we need, but – never look a gift horse in the mouth.
[I wonder whether younger people know the origin of that saying?
The age of a horse can be fairly accurately gauged by the state of its teeth, so a good diplomat would never examine a horse’s mouth, if gifted a horse – and wishing to sound sincere in expressing gratitude!]
The real gift from COVID-19 is time.
And the benefit will be undone if we let a group of neo-liberals stick to their policies of putting money, power and convenience ahead of the need to care for and properly protect people’s lives.
The economy is their god, but it is no friend to the lower paid majority of the population!
The talk of using gas as a transition to renewables is a smokescreen for a total avoidance of necessary policy change.
And as for building a pipeline across the country – ?????
We know change is being resisted, because, having had RoboDebt clearly declared to be illegal, what was Human Services – and now more accurately named Services Australia (possibly having recognised that the very title of that Department was an oxymoron!) – is still beavering away trying to find out who has been overpaid benefits, when everyone out of work is struggling to make ends meet on hand-outs!
Before the pandemic, unemployment was high, as was insecurity for those fortunate to have employment, wage rises were a distant memory for all but those who did not need them, and numbers of active job seekers far outnumbered the numbers of positions available.
Privatisation and out-sourcing in the name of efficiency are two of the means whereby the world of work has been de-humanised.
As each day goes by at present, PM Morrison appears closer and closer to the concept of a petty dictator.
Every time I see the video of his ignominious attempt to make a woman shake his hand for a photo-op, when he belatedly returned from an ill-timed holiday overseas (‘must keep my children happy while other peoples’ kids are being terrified by out of control fires” – such a good look!) I feel sick!
I was born well after WWI – the Great War to end all wars – some hope! – and the Great Depression, but for almost all of WWII, I lived in the western suburbs of London.
Food rationing came in very early on, concentrated orange juice for children was essentially medicinal, eggs and milk were dried, only once during the entire war did we have rump steak in the house – which my father brought back from Dublin after attending his father’s funeral in Belfast and visiting his older brother in Eire – and ‘offal’ was a regular source of protein on the weekly menu.
The car was laid up for the entire period with no petrol available except for those designated as needing private transport.
Clothing coupons meant our basic winter and summer wardrobes consisted of school uniform, one on, one in the wash, something old to change into after school and something suitable to wear to church on Sundays.
If you grew out of your uniform or your shoes, you had to be measured up to prove you needed additional coupons.
Years after the war was over, I was horrified to read the story of a boy who was probably about 12 and living in London when the government evacuated children to the country. I think his father was in the army, his mother was working in a factory and he was sent to one of the more western counties to a farming family, to be well away from the areas being regularly bombed by the Luftwaffe..
He was underfed, made to work like a slave and got the strap if he stepped out of line.
The contrast between the appalling conditions he suffered and the much more limited discomforts we had faced made me feel ashamed that I might have ever complained.
And there was no magic switch back to normal when the war ended.
Clothing coupons were required from 1941 to 1949, while food rationing did not end until July 1954.
Our first real summer holidays, post-war, were in North Wales from 1948 to 1952, and we had to take sandwiches to eat en route because cafes and restaurants were not yet open.
We were hardly destitute as far as my family was concerned, but waste and extravagance were definitely off the menu.
But the plus side was that we had to make our own entertainment, events and parties were almost non-existent – food coupons prevented catering for more than immediate family – so the pleasure obtained, from anticipating the very infrequent treats, more than offset their rarity!
It is not until you cannot have something that you really appreciate how much you can go without.
And if you are doing so as part of a whole-of-society set of restriction, there is readier acceptance.
We expect so much that we do not need, and if we accept that we have to forego some activities and lower expectations – well – we are capable of biting the bullet and accepting the facts of life.
But we need to be led by people who are explaining what and why we have to do without and leading by example.
What riles many people at the moment is that those who are out of work, as result of government policies, and likely to remain so for an uncomfortable amount of time, are being reluctantly provided with limited assistance – at least some of them are! – but face having the amount reduced without any likelihood, that their living costs will also be reduced.
The government’s strategies seem to indicate that business get top priority, when it comes to financial assistance, but people are regarded as bludgers if they are not making umpteen job applications daily.
Do any of those devising these policies have the first idea how soul-destroying it is to complete job application after job application, often getting no acknowledgement nor hearing if the vacancy has been filled?
To say it is demeaning would be a gross understatement!
AND POLITICIANS ARE CONTINUING TO DRAW THEIR FULL ENTITLEMENTS, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ATTENDING PARLIAMENT, AND HAVE SUPERANNUATION FLOWING INTO THEIR ACCOUNTS.
What is going to happen to rental and mortgage payments if unemployment increases?
Stop blaming Dan for Victoria and start putting your own house in order, Josh Frydenberg!
And PM – when will you take responsibility for the private Aged Care Home debacle – resulting from your hatred of over-sighting regulations?
If I started listing all the wrong moves the Coalition governments has made since the pandemic hit, I would be up all night!
I will mention the worst, which, in my opinion, was allowing young people to draw on their superannuation. Thereby the government has cheated many of them out of comfort in their old age!
In fact I think the Coalition government is pretty ignorant about superannuation generally!
I see that Extinction Rebellion is starting to get active in the UK and I am sure that events in Australia will be publicised as soon as mass action ceases to be illegal because of COVID restrictions.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to put pressure on the government to remember what the past has taught us – that change is good and inevitable and we will not survive unless we recognise that.
We need to learn from the past not try to return to it!
Alone, we have limited power.
Together we can change the world!
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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