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The Genesis of Social Disintegration

By Ad Astra

As an ordinary citizen, do you sometimes survey the social landscape and recoil in bitter disappointment as you witness the social order crumbling around you? Do you despair as you survey the rubble of social disintegration that now defiles our world?

Have you thought about the origins of this social disintegration? Let me suggest that they include: immorality, corruption, dishonesty, deceitfulness, self-centeredness, sectarian hatred, political instability, and sleazy behaviour – exhibited by politicians, leaders, political parties, and civic figures the world over.

Do you feel, as I do, that we are living in a world where so many of the key players in whose hands our destiny lies are deeply flawed, so much so that catastrophic events that might destroy our civilization and our planetary home are an ever-present existential threat?

Do you feel that we the subjects who live under such threat, day after day, are bereft of the power to counter such threats?

As I listen to the news hour by hour, day after day, I am appalled, dismayed, revolted, shocked and sickened at what I hear.

If you think I’m overstating my case, take a look at what follows.

This piece is necessarily lengthy, gathering together as it does the multiple elements that have brought us to where we are.


Of all the examples I could use, let’s just look in depth at a recent one.

Tax immorality
Our progressive tax system is designed to be fair but can be only so if we all pay our fair share. Yet we hear that Qantas, our national airline, has paid no corporate tax for almost a decade, despite generating income over $106 billion since 2009.

Not one of Australia’s biggest airlines has paid corporate tax since at least 2013, including Virgin and its subsidiary Tigerair, Etihad, Emirates and Qatar airlines. They all claim that they have paid the tax that the rules require.

But is such tax avoidance moral, even if it is legal? Alan Joyce thinks so as he smilingly pockets an annual salary of $25 million that Qantas seems able to afford.

Take a look at the large firms and multinationals – all household names – that paid little or no tax in 2017:

  • Adani: $0 tax paid on $724m revenue.
  • Chevron: $0 tax paid on $2.1bn revenue.
  • ExxonMobil Australia: $0 tax paid on $6.7bn revenue.
  • Origin Energy: $0 tax paid on $11.9bn revenue.
  • IBM: $0 tax paid on $3.6bn of revenue.
  • Ansell: $0 tax paid on $326m of revenue.
  • Glencore: $44m in tax paid on $24bn of revenue.
  • Ikea: $11m tax paid on $1bn of revenue (its first tax paid in the last three years).

For all the damning details read this account in The Guardian titled: Australian tax office says 36% of big firms and multinationals paid no tax.

We fume at the immorality of the personal behaviour of some of our politicians – Barnaby Joyce springs to mind – but the immorality of the boards of directors of these companies is a different order of magnitude when they encourage tax behaviour which robs this nation of the revenue it needs to provide the services we all deserve. Despite their pleas that they are acting legally, the public sees them as thieves who are exploiting our society.

I have cited but one example of immoral behaviour – corporate immorality – but I could instance many other examples: poker machine operators and gambling outfits that encourage people to lose their money, often the very ones who can least afford to do so; operators of Internet and phone scams that are calculated to defraud innocent people, too often the old and vulnerable; shonky operators of private training institutions that take money from clients and government, yet fail to deliver; rip-off merchants in the housing sector that deliberately defraud clients; individuals who illegitimately claim work expenses as tax deductions; the gun lobby in the US that bribes politicians with donations so that they will not curtail the sale of weapons, automatic weapons, that recently killed 17 school children in Florida. The list goes on and on. That our own fellow citizens could behave so immorally is shocking.

For more instances of political immorality look at conservative governments the world over that studiously ignore the increasing inequality that threatens the social fabric of society and the menace of climate change that threatens all that live on this planet.


Political corruption
Corruption abounds. We don’t have to look beyond our politicians for examples. Barnaby Joyce, our recently departed Deputy Prime Minister, has the odour of corruption about him. Only time will reveal the extent of it as his dealings with his ‘mate’, Armidale property developer Greg Maguire, are exposed – the rent-free flat, and the quid pro quo which Maguire seems to have enjoyed. Was the transfer from office to office of his highly paid partner ($133,000 +) above board, or were jobs created for her? Senate Estimates will probe that thoroughly.

In a corruption perceptions study of 180 countries conducted by Transparency International, Australia has slipped a further eight points in the Global Corruption Index. It now ranks a lowly thirteenth. New Zealand ranks as the least corrupt nation.

Overseas, we see corruption everywhere.

The FBI is pursuing the President of the United States about corrupt Russian collusion with his election campaign.

In Israel, police say they have enough evidence to indict president Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. His wife is subject to similar charges.

Corporate corruption
Corruption abounds in the corporate sector. We don’t need to dig any deeper for evidence than to look at our own premier bank, the CBA. Reflect on the scandal of how it treated clients seeking loans or financial advice, many of whom lost their savings because of the Bank’s corrupt advice that sought to benefit the bank and its officers ahead of its clients; its defrauding of clients insured under Comminsure who were seeking to make legitimate claims; its illegal money laundering activity that is currently the subject of a trial before the courts, which will likely cost the Bank billions.

I could write a dozen pieces cataloging the corruption that erodes our society.


Where does one start? Let’s leave our own politics for a moment and take a look at the POTUS. Donald Trump is an unrepentant and persistent liar. He lies every day, and repeats his lies shamelessly, as does his Press Secretary. Can you believe anything he says? The extent of his lying behaviour is spelt out in Can political honesty be resurrected.

As we look around the world we see lying in politics is epidemic. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lied when he dismissed as ‘just blather’ the ‘incontrovertible’ evidence of Russian involvement in the Presidential election provided by U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Trump is surrounded by dishonest associates. Many have been indicted for lying. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos have been charged with multiple counts, including money-laundering, conspiracy, and working for foreign governments – Russia and Ukraine. The damning details are here. Much more will emerge as the Mueller probe delves into the complicity of close members of the Trump family.

Past South African President Jacob Zuma lied continuously as he denied the thousands of corruption allegations against him, charges that finally forced his resignation.

Past Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe lied for years as he denied allegations of widespread corruption. His wife Grace did the same.

Corruption and dishonesty is contagious and is worldwide.


No matter where we look we see deceitfulness. Every day we see it writ large in our own political system. Politicians seek to misrepresent facts in a way that is deliberately intended to deceive the voters.

Look how Donald Trump is deceiving the American public by simulating empathy for the Fort Lauderdale victims (he needed a crib sheet to do so), then, in order to placate the gun lobby that so richly donates to his campaign funds, farcically suggesting that teachers should be armed and trained to counter gun attacks on schoolchildren, thereby supporting the sale of even more guns!

The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre praised Trump, accused those seeking greater gun control as political opportunists exploiting the Florida tragedy, and once again repeated his tired old mantra: “To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.” Trump, in turn, praised the NRA as an organization that seeks to protect children!

In Australia, Peter Dutton, who repeatedly misrepresents the situation in which asylum seekers find themselves, tops the list of the deceitful. Scott Morrison misrepresents the economic situation and virtually everything else he talks about. And he does so wearing that cynical ‘I’m smarter than you’ smile.

Our Prime Minister sets out to deceive almost every time he answers a question in QT. And of course, our recently departed Deputy Prime Minister is deceit personified.

Deceit is an art form among our political elite. Virtually all our political leaders are contaminated with it.


This nasty attribute is the bedfellow of all of the above.

Immorality, corruption, dishonesty, and deceitfulness are all driven by selfishness – the need to seize a personal advantage or to grasp it for ones’ party. There are some that believe that selfishness is the source of most iniquity.

Listen to politicians in QT or at interviews, press conferences or ‘doorstops’. Not satisfied with making the case for their own position, they are obsessed with denigrating their opponents and their position. Backhanders fly as they seek to ‘put down’ their enemies. Adversarial politics is fed by selfishness, nourished by putting down those whom they oppose. Those who insist that this is just a normal part of the political process need to ask themselves whether selfishness really is an obligatory ingredient of politics, or whether generosity and collaboration might result in better outcomes.

We witnessed selfishness writ large as the Barnaby Joyce saga unfolded, as he obstinately held on to his highly paid and prestigious position until he was overwhelmed until he finally gave into what almost everyone else saw as inevitable, and resigned. It was all about Barnaby, selfishly putting his own interests ahead of those of the nation until reality finally mugged him. And already he’s not ruling out a comeback!

For another compelling example of selfishness, look no further than the theft of water from the Murray/Darling river system by rice and cotton growers – gigalitres of it. This theft has left those downstream impoverished of the water they need to survive.

Perhaps the most grotesque exhibition of selfishness though is the way the fossil fuel lobby, in the self-centered pursuit of its own interests, fraudulently dismisses the threat of global warming to life on our planet.

Sectarian hate

Hatefulness is the mongrel offspring of selfishness. Think of the white supremacists. They not only want their country and neighbourhood to be exclusively for themselves, they want to drive out as aliens those who don’t fit their ideology.

They are driven by hate for coloured people, indigenous people, Mexicans, Hispanics, Jews, indeed anyone not from their white enclave. The Ku Klux Klan is an embodiment of this movement, which is now incarnated in Neo-Nazi Fascist movements in the US, in Europe, and sadly in our own country too.

Hatred is perhaps the most pernicious, the most corrosive attribute of all. We see it festering in the fetid atmosphere of Donald Trump’s White House. Instead of ‘Making America Great Again’, he is ‘Making America Hate Again’.

On the local scene we see Tony Abbott’s hatefulness whenever he speaks. Will Barnaby Joyce soon join him?

Political instability

Where once we could rely on stable, reliable, robust and people-centered government, we now suffer the opposite. Many governments here and overseas are fragile, easily destabilized, and subject to abrupt change, as we have seen in our own political system over the last decade.

This seems to be due to the adversarial nature of contemporary politics, the factional system that exists in most parties, and the sheer self-centeredness of most politicians and political parties.

Some of our most prominent world leaders exhibit dangerously unstable behaviour. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un spring to mind.

Thomas L Friedman, a CNN columnist, writes in Whatever Trump is hiding is hurting all of us now: ‘The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy is in the Oval Office’.

Unless politics returns to voter-centeredness, with a focus on what is good for the people and the communities in which they live, we will continue to wallow in a self-serving political cesspool.

I am not alone with my feelings. Katharine Murphy, a discerning journalist who writes for The Guardian, describes this quandary succinctly in As Abbott rages and Joyce rails, we are all diminished.

The public watch on agog at the toxic maelstrom we all inhabit, wondering when someone might do them the courtesy of regaining consciousness, and looking outside, and grappling with what a contemporary program for government might look like…

Politics is presenting to the Australian public as little more than institutionalised self-absorption at taxpayer expense. It is obscene, it is exhausting, and it is mostly pointless.’

And of course, political instability is seen in its most grotesque form in war-torn Syria, Afghanistan, and many African countries where gruesome atrocities occur every day.


We need to look no further than our own federal government in its state of disarray for a display of obscene sleaziness. Barnaby Joyce is in a league all of his own, and at the weekend astonished us by raising the sleaze bar still further with his public questioning of the paternity of his partner’s child.

Not be outdone, Michaelia Cash launched her own version of sleazy behaviour with her stellar performance in Senate estimates last week that evoked a caustic comment from no less a perpetrator of sleaze than Tony Abbott!

Sleaziness extends its tentacles widely: Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, is in hiding after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct became public. The head of Victoria Police’s ethical standards body, Brett Guerin, the most senior officer appointed to monitor police standards, was stood down after being linked to a racist YouTube site where he made vile remarks about former colleagues via a pseudonym ‘Demerest’. The upholder of police standards was the very one most egregiously to break them. And now we have disquieting reports of widespread ‘hazing’ among university students, many of whom will become our future leaders!

Need I say any more?

So there you have it, a catalogue of immorality, corruption, dishonesty, deceitfulness, selfishness, hatefulness, instability and sleaziness without equal, which has afflicted corporations, business, politics, and society at large.

Is there any remedy? Sadly it seems far distant – is it beyond our grasp?

Maybe not! Listen to Emma Gonzales of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Fort Lauderdale giving an impassioned speech after the massacre of seventeen fellow students there.

If one so young can make a case so powerfully, what’s holding us back? She has catalysed a movement among high school students across America that is unstoppable, one that will not give up until gun laws are changed to give more protection to their fellow students. Politicians, even the gun lobby, are listening.

She is the ray of sunshine who lights up the gloom. She has given us the lead. We too can effect change if we speak up bravely enough, loudly enough, coherently enough, convincingly enough.

Our spineless politicians will be unable to resist when they see the whites of our eyes and the steely determination we have to pursue virtuous causes, those that seek to eliminate immorality, corruption, dishonesty, deceitfulness, selfishness, hatefulness, instability and sleaziness, and replace them with decency, honesty, and the pursuit of the common good for all of us.

Are you with us? Say so in ‘Comments’ below.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. babyjewels10

    Yes, yes, yes and yes, every day for the past 3-4 years, I’ve wondered about these things.

  2. cjward2017

    I’m 100% with you but there are other factors that can be seen as signposts down the decline. I’ve not written on the subject owing to poor health but equally I am convinced that those who profit from the atomization will never be brought to justice.

  3. Joseph Carli

    If we systematically go through the above list of corporate corruption , deceitfulness, political corruption, etc.. we can see that it is symptomatic not just of a small demographic, but of a whole class of society. A social class that is bereft of new ideas for leadership, bereft of new directions to take the economy, bereft of integrity to guide social equality..This class of our nation is now so indebted to its individualistic obsession for success, that it no longer has any direction at all.
    All this corruption and dishonesty can be laid fair and square at the feet of the middle-classes…it is THEY who have framed this system of governance from the last hundred years or is they who have structured the curriculum of our education system and is they who have populated the majority percentage of members and ministers of so many of the three tiers of governance in all the states of the nation…it is THEY who must be removed from their failure to manage fair and democratic governance.

  4. Matters Not


    the immorality of the boards of directors

    Seems to me that the immorality, or otherwise, of Boards is beside the point. What is strictly relevant, is their fiduciary duty – the legal duty of a fiduciary to act in the best interests of the beneficiary legal duty – acts which the law requires be done – the shareholders. One’s immorality depends on what ethical system one feels bound by. Therefore it’s somewhat subjective.

    Their legal obligations (while also subjective) is more clearly defined. That’s where the emphasis should be placed.

    Change the law! Sharpen it – via amendments, clarifications or whatever. That would be a start.

    Next, make individuals – not companies – responsible for transgressions. In short, don’t fine companies which can’t be imprisoned, jail individuals, even whole Boards, if it can be demonstrated that CEOs and Boards made decisions that were outside the law. Just imagine how that would sharpen the mind of Boards and CEOs. It’s individuals that make decisions – and it’s individuals who must be held accountable. (Regardless of their felt moral position.)

    We live in a society that is (supposedly) governed by the Rule of Law. Why not make it a lived experience as well.

  5. anthony Element

    I confess to being slightly conflicted on this issue.
    There’s nothing in the article I disagree with; all the example of bad behavior presented are perfectly valid.
    And yet, the incidences of murder and violent crime are declining, have been for a number of years.
    Of course, the ones that do happen get huge amounts of publicity aimed at getting – often undeserved – clicks. (Another example of bad behavior to add to the list). So it may not seem as though things are improving, but they are, on some fronts.
    It’s as though our institutions have been thoroughly corrupted while individual Australians are becoming more decent.
    This is one of those times when the sense of things that we’re presented with is in conflict with the data, but in such cases, we always have to accept the data.

  6. ozibody

    Ad Astra , as I read through your excellent article (not word for word at this late hour) , and I agreed with all points raised, one word echoed in my head … ” Standard ” .

    Over the last decade or so I’ve had conversations with people, where I’ve suggested that our Standards have slipped to a lower level than was expected as I was growing up. Whilst I’m 85 years old , most of my acquaintances are today in the 35 – 65 range , and many maintain that ( to their individual perspective) they’re generally unaware of any ‘real’ slippage.

    Since I’m not of an argumentative nature, I’ve tended to offer questions along the lines of some of the points raised in your article , whilst suggesting they could be food for thought.

    The hour is now late and I’ll return tomorrow where I may say more about the origin of the word ” Corporation ” , which I believe was originally invented to take (personal) responsibility away from the ‘human being’ managing a business which performed in a ‘shoddy’ , low

    Whilst CEO’s and senior management of many business enterprises are paid ‘small fortunes’ annually, one feels entitled to wonder, is this price of their short term ‘conscience’ ?

    The word ” Standard ” still resonates within me as I retire to bed !

  7. paul walter

    Comprehensive, black..a must read.

  8. paul walter

    Pity adastra doesn’t fix his/her comments section though. You cant say how many objects are somewhere if there is no picture of the objects to count them,

  9. Andreas Bimba

    As the ship sinks instead of working together to plug the leak and pump out the water we are fighting and bribing our way to the lifeboats and for anything that floats or are passively standing by shocked by what we have become.

    Why, because we know the system of command is broken and cares nothing of our fate. The officers and crew will sail off in a luxury yacht in the middle of the night with all the valuables in search of the next ship to plunder.

    The world’s numerous power groupings have seized control of the mainstream mass media, the minds of much of the electorate and have herded or coopted the political class for their purposes. Organised greed has triumphed over disorganized democracy.

    We must however not throw the baby out with the bathwater as democracy, parliament and government by and for the people is our only realistic hope.

  10. helvityni

    Ad Astra, excellent post….

    We have become a selfish nation, this not the Australia I once knew…I wish and want some good, some uplifting news for change…

    Maybe things will improve with a change of Government, it cannot come soon enough.

  11. Joseph Carli

    Andreas…Democracy doesn’t need to be discarded, but we do need to change the governing class from Middle to Blue-collar . Just as the Aristocratic class had to be removed from absolute power by the middle-classes because of their corrupt, nepotism and spendthrift ways with State moneys, now that same middle-class has become so insular and imbedded in their own constructed and protected form of governance, they too must now be removed from having control of the powers of governance because of their corruption, nepotism and wasteful ways…It is time for the educated working class..and there are now enough of that class that have gone through tertiary education to have a competent handle on administrative affairs to take command of governance.
    See my post also on this very subject above.

  12. blair

    LYING, you forgot Tony Abbott

  13. diannaart

    Excellent summary Ad Astra.

    As you noted this swing to greed, corruption along with its tag-along sibling, stupidity, is endemic across many of the OECD nations; such as USA, Britain, Australia. Canada and New Zealand appear to be managing far better in the post-truth era, however, nothing is likely to change in the USA (till something or someone trumps Trump) and, consequently, Australia while we continue to play Depoody Dawg.

    Just took a moment to picture Turnbull standing up to Trump – hey, helps to dream the impossible…

    Greed, corruption and stupidity aren’t aligned to class, just being human is all that’s required – no more than intelligence, empathy and equality is aligned to race, creed or gender.

  14. Roswell

    A thoroughly enjoyable read, Ad astra.

  15. Freethinker

    At the end of the day all the points mentioned by Astra will not happen if the majority was united to do something about it.
    As I have said many times, greed rules and only when there will be nothing to lose by the people in the majority things will not change.
    This is not only a problem in Australia, as diannaart said, is just being human, IMO is a choice that humans have and will grab it when it comes.
    Greed will be not an option when consuming will be out of reach, with poverty, with unable to consume, when there will be no options the take advantage of others.
    Only a very small proportion of low life individuals will be trying to take advantage of others and will be eliminated.
    I do not have much hopes with the Shorten/Bowen team, they will “touch” here and there but they will not take drastic measures to made a change, there is not in the way that they been educated, they do not know or not believe in other options.

  16. astra5

    babyjewels10, cjward2017, ozibody, helvityni, diannaart, Roswell, may I thank all of you for your complimentary remarks.

    cjward2017, I would be inclined to agree that the culprits will never be brought to justice until recently, when we have seen people power at work. Change has begun and some of the culprits have been shamed into showing some responsibility towards the society in which they operate.

    You rightly point out Matters Not that directors have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. But are shareholders so concerned with making profits and receiving handsome dividends that they want directors to abandon responsibility to the society from which the company draws its wealth? Recent events suggest that this is not so.

    America’s largest store and biggest gun seller, Walmart, has decided that it would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age. It also said it would no longer sell items resembling assault-style rifles, including toys and air guns. Dick’s Sporting Goods said it was immediately ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores. The retailer also said that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines and would also require any gun buyer to be at least 21, regardless of local laws. Directors of these companies have tempered their fiduciary duties to shareholders with their newly found responsibility to society.

    I agree that company directors might act more responsibly, more legally, if individuals – not companies – are made responsible for transgressions. As you say: “In short, don’t fine companies, which can’t be imprisoned, jail individuals, even whole Boards”.

    anthony Element, you are right that some varieties of crime are falling in some places, particularly violent crime, but the non-violent crime this piece describes is rampant and seemingly getting worse. The crimes are against society as whole, so we are all affected. There is an element of truth in your proposition that “our institutions have been thoroughly corrupted while individual Australians are becoming more decent.” It is the ordinary citizen that is standing firm and saying ‘enough is enough’.

    ozibody, your focus on ‘standards’ is germane. It is corporate standards that have slipped so regrettably. Some though are now listening to their corporate conscience and taking corrective action.

    paul walter, I agree that the cryptic question that has to be answered when commenting on The Political Sword is sometimes frustrating. It is there to defeat robot spammers and so far has been successful.

    As you indicate Andreas Bimba, diannaart and Free Thinker, greed is the root cause of much of the selfishness in our society. The pursuit of money at the expense of others is driving our society the wrong way. Greed exacerbates the inequality that afflicts our nation. Whether Shorten and Bowen have the answer to it only time will tell.

    Joseph Carli, you are right – democracy does not have to be abandoned – we just have to do it better. As Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”

    blair, I haven’t forgotten the master of lying – Tony Abbott. Who ever could?

  17. Joseph Carli

    ” Greed, corruption and stupidity aren’t aligned to class, just being human is all that’s required …” I don’t hold to such absolute cynicism…sure the individual is opportunist enough to grasp at a temporary advantage when or if it becomes available..and usually that is out of a need for instant gratification…be it money or utility..and THAT greed, corruption and stupidity is sudden, short-lived and regretted when it is committed in the impoverished classes…BUT..when such deeds are planned for the long-term, executed for the maximum gain from the maximum length of time to commit, and then covered up through associates and corporational disguise…THAT is the action of one particular class…a class that has framed social and legal structures to its sole advantage..History has revealed their modus operandi down through the ages and it starts and ends with political assistance..

    So no… Greed, corruption and stupidity aren’t aligned to class, but their “panoramic view” of maximum profit promulgation through public office and corporate board rooms ARE the singular operations of ONE class….: The entrepreneurial / speculative middle-class.

  18. diannaart

    Joseph Carli

    Despairing of human frailty is not cynical – particularly in a world of great and increasing inequity.

    However, BLAMING an entire class for all the ills of society, doesn’t even make it to cynical, it is just a very lazy argument.

  19. Judith

    Where is the responsibility to leave the planet, not just the economy or the inheritance, in a suitable state for future generations? What of the devastation and mammoth task of rebuilding they will face?

  20. Joseph Carli

    ” . . . it is just a very lazy argument.” …diannaart..I have put forward my “argument” on this subject on this and my own post in approx a couple of thousand words…you have served up only several dozen..I would prefer it if you, yourself took ownership to your claim.

    I see it as a fault when one would oppose a theory only for the sake of being contrary to they who write it.

  21. paul walter

    Astra, The thing is, it was me how many thingummies could I count…but there were no thingummies TO count.

    Usually, if I comment, there is a box below with stuff and you count ’em and its ok.

  22. diannaart

    Joseph Carli

    You can write an ocean of words- doesn’t make your argument correct.

    Where is your evidence?

    Blaming a single ‘class’ (whatever class means) for all human failures is nonsense, simplistic and lazy.


  23. Freethinker

    diannaart, the class that “have not” is the last one to get the blame and the one that has all and want more is the one that Joe is referring and he is correct in any way be a drop of words or an ocean for those that cannot get it between the two eyes.
    People that argue against that or they never being outside Australia, UK or other leech countries or they do not have an idea what it is have callus on their hands to put bread at the table.

  24. Freethinker

    I cannot believe that a study has to be take in a university to agree with Joe and I but obviously some people need it.

    Upper class more likely to be scofflaws due to greed, study finds

    Upper class more likely to be scofflaws due to greed, study finds

    ” The upper class has a higher propensity for unethical behavior, being more likely to believe – as did Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street” – that “greed is good,” according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.”

  25. diannaart


    Of course, people who have never had to struggle to keep food on the table or a roof over one’s head are less likely to understand what it is like to exist from week to week. However, there are always exceptions even in the wealthy sector. I use the word ‘sector’ as I find ‘class’ extremely anachronistic.

    For what its worth, I have travelled extensively, I am well educated and I have worked primarily within the public sector with a wide range of people from around the world as well as a variety of backgrounds.

    Joe has been referring to white collar and blue collar workers – he has not mentioned upper class – the people suffering the most from exploitation and greed are the blue and white collar workers.

    I am not the one making blanket statements about an entire sector of people – Joe is.

    Finally, I do not have the time to waste arguing with fools.

  26. Joseph Carli

    Diannaart..: ” Where is your evidence?”

    I don’t want to drag you into an endless spat here, as I am aware such things are very tiring for you..But in the interests of accuracy, may I suggest that if we take that class that has for many years now “enjoyed” no perceptible pay rise, has experienced massive retrenchments for in some cases pure ideological economic policy, have had their pay-rates cut and spliced , their employment diced and minced till it is only a parody of full-time employment…have their union representatives investigated against, offices raided, several Royal Commissions convened to seek charges against them..a standing Govt’ department that exists solely to regulate against their activities and with no redress against such imposts save outrage posted on blogs and other social media and febrile representation in the Parliament.

    In the same period, we have the other class enjoying unprecedented profit, remuneration, stock-market and shareholder rewards with NO regulatory oversight worth mentioning, NO policing of “irregular activities” worth mentioning and all operating like the well-oiled machine it is under the watchful eye of their “agents” and Prime Minister in charge of Government in the Parliament that like those many above activities, he also utilises the unique opportunity afforded this class in available tax shelters.

    Now….I don’t know…call it a hunch…a guess..but I would say that the former class mentioned above could…COULD be considered at disadvantage to the latter…call it fate, birth-rite…stupidity..what ever..but I would call it class warfare.

  27. diannaart


    I apologise – when I wrote I do not argue with fools, I did not mean you.


  28. Freethinker

    diannaart, there are many scholar papers about the issues between the blue and white collar classes.
    The University of Chicago has a book that perhaps you can borrow in your local library called ” White-Collar Government
    The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making by Nicholas Carnes
    Is about USA but applies here as well.
    It back up what Joe was saying for many weeks about this issue.

    I quote: ” If we want a government for the people, we have to start working toward a government that is truly by the people. White-Collar Government challenges long-held notions about the causes of political inequality in the United States and speaks to enduring questions about representation and political accountability.”

    There are 6 pages here with some of the comments by the author

  29. Freethinker

    diannaart I have not take it personally and I making a lot of allowances in this terrible medium of communication before take offence.
    I do not think that are fools among us, just people with different views according to their experience in their life.
    I respect all ( as long as the moral values are there)

  30. diannaart


    I am aware of the divisions in society called blue collar and white collar, FFS!

    However, these distinctions are not as clear as they once were – back in the 19th century.

    There are well educated “blue collar” people and ignorant “white collar” people.

    Now “white collar” people are not necessarily exploiting “blue collar people although some are. It has been known for “blue collar” people to take advantage of “white collar” and so it goes. Overall it is the moneyed classes, the wealthy, the powerful who are reaping the benefits of contemporary feudalism and who, also, may come from any strata of society – not just “white collar”.

    Margaret Thatcher was actually from humble beginnings… as for “upper class” if Donald Trump is an example of that segment of population… words fail… Barnaby Joyce is from a privileged background – yet has displayed a lack of sophistication only excelled by Tony Abbott.

    I come from a (mostly) blue collar background.

    I will reiterate. the (so-called) blue and white collar workers are being exploited by the wealthy and powerful.

  31. Matters Not

    astra5 March 6, 2018 at 3:13 pm re:

    Walmart … not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age .. no longer sell items resembling Dick’s Sporting Goods .. no longer sell high-capacity magazines

    All true. No argument from me. Many companies making decisions that I think are eminently sensible – although very, very limited – as they may be. But then you provide a ‘rationale’ that I find somewhat problematic:

    Directors of these companies have tempered their fiduciary duties to shareholders with their newly found responsibility to society.

    Not sure about tempering their fiduciary duties. Nor this newly found responsibility to society. What evidence is there that this is not merely a pragmatic marketing strategy in the face of an outrage? And perhaps somewhat temporary? Seems to me that there’s a mountain of evidence to suggest that these outrages are soon forgotten and this responsibly to society explanation is no more than an example of just wishin and hopin ..?

    So certain companies won’t sell assault rifles to anyone under 21 – but after that buy as many as you desire. yep there’s been a big change and it’s all down to … ?

  32. Patagonian

    No offence meant to the lovely men who comment on this site, but with the exception of Cash (who behaved for all the world like a misogynistic male last week), all the problems identified are primarily caused by men: Trump, Putin, Abbott, Turnbull, Dutton, various other horrors such as those who inhabit the IPA and the Young Liberals…the list goes on.An overabundance of testosterone is not necessarily a good thing for our world.

  33. Patagonian

    …and Beetrorter too. I don’t know how I forgot to include him. I’m trying my very best to expunge all traces of him and his repugnant, narcissistic and corrupt behaviour from my mind but it’s hard because I grew up in a small country town with men EXACTLY LIKE HIM. Needless to say I fled the minute I was old enough to leave home and have never been back.

  34. corvus boreus

    How to topple the rule of the ‘over-educated middle-class’?
    Well, to do that we obviously need to change the rules for eligibility of parliamentary candidates.
    My first suggestion would be to impose a maximum thresh-hold for prior earnings capped at $50k a year, and necessitate of the majority of past work duties to have involved machinery or manual labour.
    To reduce the dangers of ‘over-intellectualism’ in governance, we could also add a clause barring the nomination of any individuals possessing educational qualifications above the level of trade diploma.
    Placing such caps on the prior earnings and learnings of political candidates is the only real way of ensuring our government is placed in the calloused palms of minds unsullied by over-education.

  35. Mal

    Thank you for this article; your Aim is good.

  36. diannaart

    corvus boreus

    I like the way your mind works. However, not sure how I will break the news of imminent blue collar supremacy to my sister. She’s a qualified instruments technician, which is fine, being a trade ‘n all, BUT she then studied for a teaching degree and now teaches maths, electronics and science to secondary students – all a bit “overeducated” I guess. As for me, well I should just be rounded up with all the other insidious tertiary educated – I do believe there is now room available on some off-shore islands, conveniently located near Papua New Guinea.

    Vive la revolution!

  37. astra5

    Matters Not

    I do understand your cynicism. Given the ruthlessness of operators such a Walmart whose prime concern is the bottom line, you are likely to be right when you suggest that the recent change to their marketing strategy is likely to be but temporary.

    I hope that the young people who started the push against the gun sellers will watch them like a hawk, and call out any reversion to old habits and tactics. The problem is that for Walmart, making money from gun sales is a primary focus, whereas the young people have other things to do – to study, pass exams and establish a career. It is an asymmetrical battle, but still can be won. The battle for women’s suffrage was asymmetric in the beginning, but they eventually won.

  38. Joseph Carli

    Diannaart..While I might disagree with much of what you write in regards to my articles, and I am aware of your reluctance to respond to both myself and on my pieces out of a mistaken idea that I am unnecessarily aggressive to those correspondents who contradict my opinions, when really, I am but reacting to those rather amateur attempts to be sarcastically witty (and failing miserably) or outright dismissive of my thesis without entering into substantial dialogue, a habit well-formed in some commentator’s personalities.

    BUT..I have to concede here and now that at least you do make the attempt to defend both your social position and stated opinions albeit in a roundabout way and then perhaps TOO aggressively or too lamely…but at least you do not hide behind that coward’s veil of “academic insulation”.

    I have noticed on many social media platforms that there is a tendency for some who consider themselves and their opinions to be of some great import to a subject more worthy of THEIR statement than the defence of said subject. Hence, like an insect hidden behind camouflage they dart out to strike at their quarry and then just as swiftly retreat behind a shield of academic “barleys!”, to once again preen their “intellectual plumage” for their next foray into the world of the common folk.

    I, myself am not adverse to joining in the scrimmage of blogging “all for one – one for all” commentary. And I can take the blows and deliver them with and on equal footing.

    And in the end it is but a cowardice of certain types of academia that is too affeared to look into the abyss of a side of society that will find a wanting emptiness when it gazes back at them. And we can see by their absence on the pages of posts worthy of considered opinion, that it must feel a better satisfaction to conceal ones ideas behind a curtain of scorn than in mutual consideration enjoin…there being no greater measure of the blindness of cowardice, than the silent strike of the hand that delivers the blow.

  39. corvus boreus

    Funnily enough, my own work/pay background conveniently places me squarely in the lowly socio-economic demographic (<$1k/wk gross earnings, no tertiary degrees) that would be greatest empowered by the electoral changes that I have suggested.

    Perhaps my suggestions for humbling electoral reforms are an attempt to build a plebian platform for my own political ambition?
    Or perhaps they merely represent the efforts of a member of the proletariat seeking to avoid being lumped among the lumpen?

    Ps, If asked to describe the hue of my collar from a colour chart, I would opt for a sweaty shade of dirt.

  40. diannaart

    corvus boreus

    Apologies for tardy reply – I am not the “helicopter” type AIM commentator – have other things to do, like recovering from writing even a simple paragraph here at AIM and elsewhere…

    Now starting with your final comment; collar hue. I’ve never really claimed any particular colour for yours truly, however, if I did have to choose it would be a practical shade, not so much sweaty brown (which is quite acceptable and honest) as matt black – I am from Melbourne, after all, and have earned my ‘colours’ since the early days of indi music such as Nick cave from the “Boys Next Door” onwards to his prolific score compositions today. Very proud that Nick is from regional Victoria even though he spends a lot of time in Berlin, Germany, but has earned his colours also as one of Australia’s most enduring, constantly evolving musicians.

    What were we on about? Class divisions?

    Just as when someone mentions, say “accounting” my eyes glaze over at the thought of strict division according to the idea of class. I have known (not in any biblical sense) St Kilda street workers with more class than any property developers.

    May we please agree that good and bad people cross the spectrum of human activity? I have had personal experience of some people who started out very humbly (coal-miner’s off spring) who wound up greedy, authoritarian, just very nasty and, worst of all, judgemental (except for themselves). Irrespective of collar colour, if one cannot turn the spotlight of judgement onto one’s own self… I have spent my dark days of the soul on such pursuits… not easy to do.

    Finally, your own reflections:

    “Perhaps my suggestions for humbling electoral reforms are an attempt to build a plebian platform for my own political ambition?
    Or perhaps they merely represent the efforts of a member of the proletariat seeking to avoid being lumped among the lumpen?”

    I do believe your considered thoughts apply far more aptly to others who believe they are the font of wisdom and make pretensions as being from the left. Such people bring to mind Mark Latham, who it must be said, has realised his mistake and now bats for… any remaining who will listen (and pay a fee).


  41. New England Cocky

    An excellent article. I was greatly impressed by Michaelia Cash’s compelling and realistic impersonation of a brothel madam.

  42. diannaart


    I doubt you have have met any brothel madams.

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