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Living with uncertainty

Over 20 years ago, Paul Kelly published ‘The End of Certainty’, about power, politics and business.

The title would be totally appropriate, in a broader context, today!

There no longer is a ‘normal – of that we can be certain!

Those currently in power are wasting their time looking back into history for a pattern to follow, because there is no record of past history which even begins to provide a path forward. And Josh – please refrain from suggesting we return to Thatcher and Reaganomics. You are exposing your ignorance of real life!

We have been pitched into uncertainty, comparable with having suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a war.

In fact we are fighting a war for our lives and livelihoods against one of the most insidious enemies ever.

In order to save as many lives as we can in this country, we have cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, in terms of face to face contact, but, thanks to modern technology, we can still communicate freely.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a fresh start and rethink what life is about.

The three things which stick in my mind as being of concern to Australians prior to being hit by COVID-19 are:

  1. Corruption in government, as evidenced by the Sports Rorts – and other extreme, politically biased imbalance in sharing of government grants;
  2. The need to support those whose lives and livelihoods were destroyed by the bush fires, and to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence, and
  3. Connected with the bush fires, growing evidence of the need to act in relation to global warming.

Australia is an island with limited influence (apart from abundant resources) on a global scale.

New Zealand, which has two islands, and is much smaller, has something which we do not enjoy – a leader who has a vision of helping the people for whom she governs to enjoy a future as a united nation.

Since the current Prime Minister of Australia abandoned COAG for a National Cabinet, there has been more, but not enough, input into policy making from other political perspectives.

But the reliance on advice from a group of business leaders, biased towards fossil fuels, particularly gas, is positively alarming!

Despite having barely 50% of seats in the Parliament, Morrison insists on trying to be the prime mover in policy making, yet he just does not understand that the world has been turned on its head.

He is, in many ways, as blind to the impact of the coronavirus as is the current POTUS.

We are never going to ‘return to normal’ because ‘normal’ was part of a world which has gone forever.

On our own we are not going to save the world from the increasing sequence of disasters which are predicted as a result of global warming.

But we are not alone in the world, and we have a chance to lead others to realise that the economy is only of value if people are properly cared for – which is far from the case at present.

Just think how many of our elders who have died in Aged Care Homes might still be alive if those running the homes had not put profit before compassion.

And why did they?

Because governments passed laws saying a Corporate body is a legal entity which is required to prioritise making a profit for its share holders.

And many family members could tell you that caring for an elderly relative is an arduous, sometimes distasteful and often expensive process which they do through love.

Paid carers are expected to perform the most intimate tasks, often with insufficient training and always with insufficient recompense.

If salary scales worked on the basis of paying most to those performing the least sought after jobs – guess who would be best paid?

The way in which many, who are far from wealthy, particularly those who depend on Centrelink payments to scrape an existence, are treated, is not conducive to making them feel part of a caring community. So it should come as no surprise that they do not automatically recognise a need to care about the problems of strangers.

Much unnecessary criticism has emerged in recent months. COVID-19 is a Novel coronavirus – an unknown quantity, about which knowledge has been gleaned the hard way – by trial and error.

We did not know for sure how the infection was transmitted.

We did not appreciate that someone could be infectious without displaying symptoms.

We did not realise how randomly different the effects could be, with some dying without being regarded as particularly at risk, while others have been left with permanent damage to various organs.

We were slow in gaining certainty about how the virus is spread.

So the importance of wearing masks was not initially recognised, and the fact that doing so might save the lives of other people, other than just the wearer, was not always seen as essential!

We are not all selfish, but we are often persuaded to put our own needs first, because those whose role is to help and support us, do not display compassion for others.

How many politicians have taken a salary cut, while millions are forced out of work or suffered a significant loss of income?

The government acted to save lives, while in the process reducing the ability for many people to cover their needs.

It is therefore essential for the government to ensure that people are properly recompensed!

Over 7 years of Coalition policy making, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened astronomically. Wage stagnation has ensured an inability to save against a rainy day, and casual employment might pay lip service to the idea that holiday pay and sick leave are ‘covered’, but cost of living pressures means the money for those contingencies is swallowed up in everyday necessities.

Zero hour contracts should be banned, as they ensure living in a continuous state of stress – just as many of us are now doing – with no certainty of having enough to cover necessary expenses!

The government has gone so far in ensuring that employers have the whip hand,that the idea that the unions are of concern is ludicrous.

Sadly, as always, power corrupts, and the few union leaders whose militancy has verged on the criminal, has blinded the average wage earner to the universal benefits which were won for workers by the unions – and which, by reducing union membership, have now been largely lost again!

Anyone who has been a parent know that it is usually for life.

You might heave a sigh of relief once the offspring have launched into flight from the nest, but, if they get hit by adversity not of their making, you will always be there for them.

Well, Mr Morrison, you should be counting your blessings.

You have taken away from us and you need now to support us.

If it were not for the need for social distancing, we would be out on the streets demanding that you listen to the climate change scientists.

You need to be creating jobs through re-establishing the steel industry, developing renewable energy – heaven knows there are a myriad ways in which clean energy can be generated – mining the rare minerals which are needed for modern technology, building electric and solar powered trains, and generally heeding scientific advice as carefully as you have been doing during the pandemic!

Forget politics and ideology.

This is a life and death situation and we rely on the government to keep us safe!

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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20 comments

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  1. Andrew Smith

    Good luck, Australia’s salami slice tactics to becoming even more US/UK influenced in neo liberal, radical right libertarian and (unashamed spruiking of) eugenics being applied to recent ‘immigrants’, while ignoring or even avoiding one’s own, but especially, future generations own interest in the region and the world.

    For this to be achieved democratically a plausible majority was and is needed to vote a party into power; not about what we think but how we think (or not).

    Repeatedly we have observed Australians voting in LNP governments by falling for their bigotry or nebulous notion of the prosperity gospel; at best we want everything but do not want any tax increases, even if insignificant and beneficial to broader society.

  2. RosemaryJ36

    You can never succeed if you never try!

  3. B Sullivan

    “Because governments passed laws saying a Corporate body is a legal entity which is required to prioritise making a profit for its share holders.”

    I recall hearing an ABC broadcast long ago that the history behind this law in Australia was that a managing director once decided to reward his employees with extra pay in gratitude for their part in producing higher than expected profits. He was taken to court by the company’s shareholders who successfully argued that the director had no right to reward the workers as his prime duty was to maximize profits for the shareholders. So it was the courts that established this law by their ruling. No government since has been able or willing to pass legislation to overturn this ruling.

    If Clive Palmer wins his case, closing state borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could become illegal. And who knows if parliament still won’t be sitting in time to pass any new emergency laws that may be required to deal with that outcome.

  4. Matters Not

    In the late 17th Century, Voltaire asserted (several interpretations)

    While doubt is not a pleasant state of mind – certainty is a ridiculous one

    And so it is – at least the ridiculous bit. Yet people choose to proceed on the assumption that Truth (with a Capital T) is somehow there just waiting to be discovered. Or if they are of a religious persuasion – to be revealed – albeit, sometimes only in the fullness of time. It’s a reality they construct and we know all reality constructs come with consequences. As Thomas’ theorem states:

    If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences

    Witness the press conferences re COVID-19 with reporters pressing politicians and medical scientists for the ‘truth’ or to make predictions that they can be held to. That they are accountable for. But scientists know they don’t deal with truth – they don’t deal with certainty and thus they are somewhat in a bind. (Having said that, it should be recognised that science is the best way of knowing we have at the moment – even if any conclusion(s) reached should always be regarded as ‘tentative’.)

    For politicians, any admission of not knowing can prove fatal. Politicians feel they must have answers. That they must ‘know’. So, for me at least, it’s refreshing that Dan Andrews sometimes comes clean and admits he doesn’t know what the future looks like. That there’s loads of doubt. The worry is, that he will be punished at the ballot box by so many who can’t live with uncertainty – who want politicians who ‘know’. Thus the real, deluded enemy is the collective us, And that’s the (tentative) Truth.

  5. Ken

    We all need to try to get better people into positions of power so better decisions are made. The current lot are useless.

  6. Michael Taylor

    MN, when a few spare minutes presented themselves last night, I tweeted this:

    “What’s the odds that all those numpties who scream that Daniel Andrews is doing a bad job believe deep in their hearts that Donald Trump is doing a good one?“

  7. Rossleigh

    Yes, I heard a journalist ask Brett Sutton a few days ago if he could guarantee that the lockdown measures would work and I wondered why no journalist ever asks the Federal government if they can guarantee if their economic solutions will be successful. Personally I’d worry more about someone who professed that they could tell the future with certainty…

  8. A Commentator

    “What’s the odds that all those numpties who scream that Daniel Andrews is doing a bad job believe deep in their hearts that Donald Trump is doing a good one?“

    Interesting, I think the Andrews Government will carry quite a lot of (legitimate) public opprobrium.

    I also think Trump is the worst president I can remember, and that includes Nixon. I hope Trump is utterly and resoundingly defeated and consigned to as an unpleasant memory. The only positive in his administration is that his narcissism hasn’t been manipulated into a new disastrous war.

    But…Andrews deserves plenty of criticism .

  9. Michael Taylor

    I also think Trump is the worst president I can remember, and that includes Nixon. I hope Trump is utterly and resoundingly defeated and consigned to as an unpleasant memory. The only positive in his administration is that his narcissism hasn’t been manipulated into a new disastrous war.

    Nicely put, AC. Right on the money.

  10. totaram

    Rosemary: “Forget politics and ideology.”
    Dear me! Why don’t you try and make tigers into vegetarians?

  11. Matters Not

    Re:

    hasn’t been manipulated into a new disastrous war

    It’s early days yet. Plenty of time to manufacture an incident or two – always keeping in mind that a Nation at war is most reluctant to change a leader. Desperate people engage in desperate behavior. Trump has so much to lose. As has his family. Can’t see him going down without one hell of a fight.

    As for:

    Forget politics and ideology

    All people have an ‘ideology’ even if they aren’t aware of same or give (perhaps) a particular and peculiar meaning to the concept. As for ‘politics’ – that’s the world in which he lives. That’s why he’s referred to as a politician and, needless to say, he’s not alone. It’s an essential part of modern-day life in any political system including a democracy.

  12. Michael Taylor

    MN, between his expected election loss and the inauguration of Joe Biden – should he win – is when Trump could become even more unhinged (if at all possible) and dangerous. And of course, we don’t yet know what this election cycle’s October Surprise will be.

    He (Trump) continues to show us how deranged and stark-raving mad he is. Two gems from the past week:

    ▪️ His tweet having a sook that negative hashtags about him were trending on Twitter. Said they were “illegal”. Illegal hashtags 😳

    ▪️ Yesterday saying that if Biden won the election it will hurt God. 😳

  13. Matters Not

    MT – yes he’s delusional but the ultimate physical power (the defense forces as represented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) are loyal to the Constitution not to an individual – or so the Head recently affirmed. Perhaps Trump will seek asylum? Lots of spectacular Palaces in Russia – some with very nice beds and mirrors – as any tourist will attest.

  14. Michael Taylor

    MT, Bill Barr will be doing what he can to save him. Barr has demonstrated no loyalty to the Constitution, only to Trump.

    A despicable man.

  15. Michael Taylor

    The four most dangerous and powerful men in the USA, in my opinion, are:

    Donald Trump
    Bill Barr
    Mitch McConnell
    Rupert Murdoch.

  16. Andrew Smith

    I’d add Koch Networks too, in fact more influential now and into the long term, in cleverly developing and promoting radical libertarian ideology, policy and promotion over the past generation in the Anglo world and coordinating the donations that facilitate it; a ‘long game’.

    From The Guardian, focusing upon just one of their groups ‘Americans for Prosperity’ (like a fellow network member the local IPA, but turbocharged and quieter): ‘How the Koch brothers built the most powerful right wing group you’ve never heard of. Americans for Prosperity is a little-known, billionaire-funded organization that has pushed US politics to the right. How did it happen?’

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/26/koch-brothers-americans-for-prosperity-rightwing-political-group

    The findings of journalists Jane Mayer in ‘Dark Money’ and historian Nancy MacLean in ‘Democracy in Chains’ regarding the Kochs et al. are both revelatory and disturbing…..

  17. Michael Taylor

    The Koch brothers (one is now deceased) were pure evil.

    Their only saving grace (if they are to have one) is their dislike of Trump.

    In the lead up to the 2016 election they reportedly donated $880M to the Republicans to help with their campaign, on the proviso that none of it went to Trump. It was to go to state Republican governor’s campaigns only.

  18. Andrew Smith

    Their father Fred Koch was a founding member of the very ‘whiffy’ John Birch Society, hence, partly explains why eugenics is joined at the hip with socioeconomic libertarian ideology they promote.

    They were flexible on Trump……

    I would guess that Kochs, along with Mercer, were supporting Cambridge Analytica’s creative techniques in collecting US data, to support Cruz campaign, a more natural ideological fit. However, when Trump won the nomination Cambridge Analytica’s support was then simply transferred to Trump and used well by Bannon…. guess a lot of wheels within wheels in the background…. the public faces are merely sock puppets to facilitate policy.

  19. RosemaryJ36

    Totoram and MN – we need policies based on humanitarian outlooks, not political point scoring and ideological biases. The government has effectively forced thousands to unemployment. Now it has to support them to at least the level they enjoyed before COVID-19.

  20. Matters Not

    RosemaryJ36 @ 2.38am Don’t necessarily disagree with what you want re not having political point scoring and ideological biases but it seems to me that the necessary starting point is a description of the current situation which is underpinned (in part at least) by exactly what you don’t want. We need to establish the IS (and in some detail) before we can move to an ought – what might or ought to be.

    Also seems to me, that, until the average punter has an appreciation of who benefits from the status quo (also the how, when and why) then there’s little chance that significant change will occur. As Niccolò Machiavelli pointed out all those years ago, change has few friends.

    “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/274551-it-ought-to-be-remembered-that-there-is-nothing-more

    So that’s where I come from. (As for non-ideological biases – don’t think that’s logically possible.)

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