Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 15 September 2007


Reporting about the 13 year old who has been selected as the face of a fashion festival on the Gold Coast has to a large extent missed the point. Kids of this age are exploited every day of the week by corporate Australia, and this is simply an example of this process writ large. Consequently, the media has jumped on it.

Look at how clothes, fast food, television and electronics are sold to sub-teens, and it’s obvious that the corporations see this age group as nice little earners.

Young people are well and truly exploited by corporations in the fast food industry. School kids get weekend shifts because they’re cheaper, and it’s difficult to get a shift with these employers if you’re over 18 during school holidays.

The message the youngsters take from this is that they are simply dollar fodder – it’s no wonder many of them have a cynical view of the world.

The creed they are being taught is – “Before the mighty dollar, every knee shall bend” – and Workchoices reinforces the dogma.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Anna & Natasha

Today's Oz (pages 6 & 7) provides two typical examples of the print media's presentation of Australian women in politics. In the case of Anna Bligh, the heading "Why the 'first bloke' changed his name" introduces Andrew Fraser's ramble about Bligh's struggle with bureaucracy to name her first child. The story about Stott-Despoja "Paid maternity leave bill is senator's baby" - Cath Hart - waffles on about her baby-handling skills.
The substance of each story (Bligh's partner's role in government, and Stott-Despoja's paid maternity leave legislation) is hidden in the subtext.
Looks as if they start with the pictures, and build the story from that - same technique is used by successful children's authors. Maybe each should consider a career change. There's money in kid's books.


The Commander-in-Chief lands on a carrier emblazoned with a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

The major rationale for the invasion of Iraq - that Saddam Hussein stockpiled WMDs - has been completely discredited.

The other rationale - that he was in league with Al Qaeda - has also been discredited - most recently by Petraeus himself in an answer to a US congressman. Al Qaeda is now firmly entrenched in Iraq - primarily as a consequence of American action.

American intelligence failures in Iraq have been acknowledged by the Whitehouse and by George Bush on more than one occasion.

Rumsfeld's gone. Bush soon will be - the Republicans are on the slide. The American people have run out of patience.

Asymmetric Journalism?

I wonder why The Chaser’s APEC stunt scored the highest ever audience for an ABC comedy? Could it be that Australian viewers were unaccepting of the heavy-handed security modeled on the most extreme that the Americans can offer, or maybe they were browned off by the hype? Or maybe they just thought it was funny?
Either way, it made very effective television. Perhaps this heralds a new kind of asymmetric journalism? The best way to highlight absurdity is to turn its consequences on itself, using whatever structures are set up by those who created it.
The people who really suffer from this are the rank and file police who can’t win once they’re caught up in it all. Maybe it’s time the police unions involved exhibited a little bit of courage and spoke up for their members.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Stephen Harper & Veterans

I came across an interesting story from CBS News Online about treatment of war veterans in Canada.


The interesting point is that it’s an example of bureaucrats stymieing government policy. It could never happen here, right? Apparently, the Conservative Canadian government has been caught out on this policy.

I’d love an enterprising reporter to ask Stephen Harper (Canadian PM) a question or two about this whilst he’s here. It might help bust the myth that only conservative parties know how to look after war veterans.

Democracy? Please explain

Coming across the attached graphic in “Time” magazine, September 17th, 2007, made me reflect on my understanding of the term “democracy”. Although the graphic purports to measure governance, as it bears on freedom, I wonder whether a concept which is at the same time as simple and as complex as freedom can be measured in this way.

As I see it, “freedom” is a great deal more than the capacity to participate in the election of my government. Amongst other things, it equates to quality of life, security, availability of choices, capacity to self-actualise, and capacity to influence my community.

I would also argue that having a say in the election of my government doesn’t necessarily guarantee these capacities. At one time I was a conscripted soldier in an army of occupation in a foreign country. I was told that I was fighting for “freedom”. The irony that I had lost most of my freedoms, to protect those of others wasn’t lost on me or my fellow conscripts.

I visit this same country (now coloured red on the graphic –indicating just about the lowest score on the freedom index possible) and when I do so, I see in the day-to-day life of the people, a range of choices generally available to me in Australia, which is rendered in a delightful shade of blue.

What I also see is physical evidence (flags – portraits) of an ideology which is the only one permitted. I don’t see a major connect between this ideology and the perceived lack of freedom from an observer’s point of view. My definition of freedom allows for economic prosperity to have a major influence.

In this country elections are held, where candidates are put forward much as they are here. The major difference is that all these candidates must subscribe to the accepted ideology.

What I learn from this is that not everyone has the same idea of what constitutes democracy, but most agree on what constitutes freedom. I’m sure that the combination of ideology and totalitarianism is entirely a bad mix, but I’m also sure that these conditions can co-exist in what many classify as democracies.

Perhaps the major enemy of freedom is ideology (either of the right or the left) combined with totalitarianism. The dispensation of “left-right” in the twenty-first century may well be a march to nowhere.

Incidentally, the USA comes out at 35th place in this graphic. Now that is fascinating…………..

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