The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy! (A portion of To a Mouse – by Robert Burns).
Scott Morrison might be well advised to remember this quote, and cease trying to set in concrete any plans for some sort of restoration of the system.
Job Keeper and Job Seeker CANNOT be phased out yet or even soon – not without some appropriate alternative measures being offered.
Nor can anyone on ‘the dole’ survive on the pre-COVID-19 rate, so don’t even think about it!
While some people might have been being overpaid and others may have got back into regular employment, there is a more than a significant number of people whose circumstances are already dire, and would become even more so if government-funded benefits were reduced or withdrawn. And there are some who have already been totally ignored!
Why cannot Morrison and Frydenberg stop best-guessing the future – which would be a nightmarish task for anyone – and accept that life now consists of living with changing circumstances which carry one imperative – keeping people alive, fed, clothed and housed?
During WWII in the UK, lives for civilians were necessarily put on hold in order to prioritise the war effort.
Food rationing began in January 1940, and followed fuel rationing, which began almost as soon as the war was declared, while it was 1958 before all rationing ceased.
For nearly 20 years, life in the UK was anything but ‘normal’ but we survived – and thrived in beating the challenges.
And having spent my pre-teens life living though bombing and shortages, I actually feel many benefits from not having been able to have what I want, when I want it!
You would be amazed how much more pleasure you can get from anticipating and preparing for a rare treat, rather than having so many options, you get bored!
Surprise, surprise! There was a Mandarin orange or a pomegranate in the toe of my Christmas stocking.
The UK has always been dependent on importing food and many other requirements, and, clearly, wartime conditions at sea had a massive impact.
Australia is basically self-sufficient in many of the necessities of life, but many of the jobs available here are dependent on tourism.
Close the borders and what happens?
What the government should be doing is making use of incredibly low-interest rates to issue bonds to raise funds to develop manufacturing, giving priority to areas like renewable energy, making our own steel and recycling, while also legislating to make it mandatory for single-use plastics to be totally phased out.
Training courses, funded by government, to re-skill those whose jobs are related to the fossil fuel industry must be a top priority.
In fact, if the government were to throw open the doors of all educational establishments and see education as an investment rather than an expense, they might be amazed at the benefits which might ensue!
At a practical level, the skills needing to be developed are largely related to the survival of the planet – and us with it!
Marine life is suffering from waste plastic in our oceans and this has to be ended.
We have to stop thinking that we are wasting our time making an effort because so many others are not.
While that might be true in some areas, many other countries are already making efforts.
What the present situation is proving, beyond reasonable doubt, is that the old system is broken.
Neo-liberalism has failed. The ‘market’ is only serving shareholders, and privatisation of ‘industries’ like hospitals, aged care homes and medicine generally only serves to further enrich the wealthy, while denying vital services to those who cannot afford to pay.
Over the last few decades, ‘user pays’ attitudes have defrauded the disabled and the needy of services they urgently need, and the continuing failure to build a sufficiency of social housing has left too many living on the streets in poverty.
Yes – we have problems with drug abuse – but that should be seen as a health problem. Criminalising drugs and drug users usually fails to catch the dealers, yet decriminalising drug use would put the dealers out of business!
Punishing people, without offering opportunities for rehabilitation is a total waste of resources.
There will always be people who cannot live peacefully in society, but the vast majority of those who appear before magistrates and judges could, with appropriate resources, have been diverted from becoming a problem.
We have an ideal time now, with reduced numbers of visitors to our shores, to re-think what matters in life – and find ways of increasing equality of opportunity, to which we are all entitled.
Introduce a Universal Basic Income, to replace the ridiculous mass of benefit categories.
Refine and simplify the tax laws – after all, it is the loopholes in the tax system which enable the already wealthy to further deprive the needy of resources for the services they desperately need.
Somehow we need to develop a coherent Human Rights Law.
We need to look more closely at the calibre of people we employ in our police services – and elect to our Parliaments!
We need to more highly value compassion. In general, people do not choose to steal unless they are either without necessities or they have mental problems.
Victoria has shown us, without a shadow of a doubt – as has the USA! – that we cannot assert our rights as individuals if that means damaging the health and lives of others.
We are a society – no apologies to Maggie Thatcher! – and that places obligations on all of us to respect other people’s rights.
What we need from government at present is acceptance that we do not know what will be regarded as ‘normal’ in future.
What we must be doing is making people’s lives as livable as possible, with everyone having somewhere to live, enough to eat, sufficient clothing, the ability to be educated as appropriate, and the opportunity to obtain work which is compatible with their talents, as soon as possible.
It is definitely not acceptable to have government members, whose income has remained unaffected, to be prepared to force people out on the streets because they cannot find a job, cannot pay rent and cannot even afford to feed their children in many cases.
If we are going to be pushed in that direction by current government policies, then let’s have an election before Christmas!
We need a government which does not ask; “What will it cost the economy?” but, instead asks; “What more do we need to do to make sure people are not struggling to survive.”
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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