Suddenly, quite out of the blue, this phrase popped into my head, and I looked up the source – a song which I remembered from my youth.
I know we pride ourselves on the extent to which modern society has benefitted from inventions stemming from research, IT, space exploration – an endless list – but I fear we do not often enough look at the flip side of the coin.
The concepts of good and evil are often regarded as old-fashioned and linked to religious thinking, and certainly the words are more often used by those who claim religious beliefs.
George W Bush referred to ‘the axis of evil’, yet the harm done by his administration in the Middle East and Asia – from which he amassed a fortune through his interests in oil and armaments – belied any claims he might make to be a fervent Christian.
Australia currently is suffering under an administration which is led by another man who claims to be guided by his religious beliefs.
We are part of a world which is battling a health crisis which can only be subdued if we recognise the interconnectedness of people – and the fact that we can derive more pleasure from helping others than from hurting them – unless, of course, we are psychopaths!
Those people who proudly claim the right to refuse to wear a mask, for example, have a totally wrong conception of community obligations.
We wear seat belts to protect us in the event of an accident – and many people would be able to attest to their having benefitted from ensuring they complied with this restriction on freedom.
Wearing a mask in the context of COVID-19 is to fulfill a mutual obligation – that neither party, if infected (knowingly or not), will transmit the infection to others.
To refuse to do so is to put lives at risk – including your own.
That is care at a personal level.
But governments have duties at a community level, and it is when they concentrate on the financial implications of their concerns, rather than the human effects, that we are afflicted by bad policy making.
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) is a clear example of government lack of awareness of the need to protect people from the greed of corporate entities.
The Act imposes a strict duty on a Corporation to put the interests of shareholders as a top priority.
No mention is made of any need for a corporation which offers a service to give any high priority to the needs and rights of the individuals using those services.
The banking Royal Commission bore clear witness to the damage that can – legally – be done in those circumstances – not only through banking practices but also and particularly in the area of insurance – and in the absence of effective regulation.
And, despite the existence of the Fair Work Commission, the power imbalance between employer and employee ensures that the employee gets the short straw in times of financial crisis.
Economists over the years have done people a grave disservice in their discussions involving Capital and Labour, which appears to totally equate Capital, an amorphous entity, devoid of any significant human characteristics – save possibly greed! – with people, capable of emotional reactions.
Capital = money, a non-human entity which is usually shared around very unevenly and can continue indefinitely in circulation.
Labour = living, human beings whose lives, always finite, can be brought short in accidents which can then affect other people quite disastrously.
Many entrepreneurs, hoping to establish a profitable enterprise, seek risk capital to underpin the launch of that enterprise. If they are unsuccessful they end up poorer, but still living. The very term – ‘risk capital’ – indicates the foreknowledge and acceptance of likely loss.
People, on the other hand, when thrown out of work through a crisis, with no prior warning or notice, such as with COVID-19, usually have dependants and commitments requiring support.
The way in which the Coalition government has handled the current crisis has been very ill-thought out, with thousands offered no help at all.
And this occurred at a time when bush fire victims were (and still are !) waiting for promised help to materialise and those defrauded by Robo-debt are mainly still waiting for their money to be refunded.
Governments MUST have contingency plans for disasters, particularly ones like pandemics, which may be few and far between but which are, sooner or later, inevitable.
To have a government which looks after the wealthy with greater care than it does the needy could be seen as incompetent or even evil.
And the next election is still almost 2 years away!
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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