Friday, 11 September 2020

First World Problems


                                                                          Pic courtesy Buzzfeed

It's been fascinating to read some of the *Glibertarian nonsense being currently floated in the media about our government's response to the virus.

First up, we have the meme that this virus is a risk only to old people and those with existing co-morbidities. The proponents of this notion conveniently forget that a very large slice of the population meet both these descriptions, including the 5% accepted as having life altering disabilities. Is this group (and the over 65s who constitute 15% of our population) disposable? Clinton talked about the “deplorables”. Now as far as the Glibertarians are concerned, we have the “dispensables”.

Another emerging meme is that only the private sector is affected.

The fact is, everyone has been affected. It’s just the Glibertarians who moan about it. They are completely unable to consider anyone’s interests except their own. No wonder they applauded Thatcher when she denied the existence of society.

Spare a thought for staff in special schools who work daily in close proximity to children with severe impairments who have no concept of “social distancing” – the same children with co-morbidities for whom infection could mean death.

Spare a thought for aged care workers, many casuals, who have no option but to work for meagre wages across a number of different locations. This situation, which has been brought about by the privatisation of the industry forcing corners to be cut in terms of staff training, wages and qualifications, is largely responsible for the proportionally large number of deaths in what used to be called “Nursing homes”.

There is a bitter irony in that nomenclature, given that there are very few registered nurses working in these institutions. The value of the lives of our seniors, who have contributed throughout their lifetimes has been happily sacrificed on the altar of investment return in the aged care sector.

One whinge that I find more than preposterous is that everyone has now been reduced to a relatively primitive standard of living.

Poor petals. As far as I know, they have beds to sleep in, and they don’t get wet when it rains. I’m afraid I can’t get too sympathetic when I remember government dictat forcing me to live in the scrub for months on end in Vietnam, eating out of tins, and bathing, if I was lucky, once in a nine week operation. Those "privileges" were available to a select few, when the vast majority of young Australians were living comfortable lives back home. Apparently we were all in it together back then as well.

We hear that well-paying jobs are disappearing.

That’s nothing new. Well-paying jobs have been disappearing for a very long time, and it has nothing to do with the pandemic. The gig economy and an increasingly casualised workforce was trending long before Covid 19. The usual suspects (those with the money and power) will come out of it better off in the end, if the GFC is anything to go by.

There are bitter complaints that social lives are being disrupted. I'm sure they are, but I'm afraid I can't feel too sympathetic. The social lives thousands of conscripts was fairly successfully destroyed back in 1965 - 1972. For about 200 of them, actual life was destroyed, and for thousands of others, was never the same again as a consequence of both physical and moral injury. At least this time, there is a real threat.

Back then, the threat was manufactured to keep a time-expired coalition in power.

Some are complaining that the lockdowns will result in a loss of a year of their lives.

In the case of Nashos, it was two years. That was for the unlucky 12% who had their birthdates drawn. Everybody else continued pretty much as normal.  

Then there are the complaints that the politicians don't know what they're doing, even though they are listening to medical advice, in this country at least.

The government of the time that committed us to Vietnam certainly didn't know what it was doing, in a strategic sense, even if their decisions were politically expedient at the time. History has well and truly confirmed that. Back then their ignorance was killing young people. In this crisis, lives are being saved because governments are listening to people who know what they’re talking about. That wasn’t the case in the sixties when it came to defence strategy.

Back then, a false sense of crisis was created. It was all about the bogey of Communism based on the discredited Domino theory. Remember how that worked out? At that time the disruption was caused to about 12% of the male population of 20 year olds. This time it’s everybody. Surely that’s progress.

There are complaints that the media is feeding the sense of crisis. During the war in Vietnam, the media nightly exposed the reality, which led eventually to a withdrawal. It came too late for 57000 Americans, 500 Australians, and millions of Vietnamese. People who distrust the mainstream media are those who can’t abide the reporting of the reality when it interferes with their lives.

Perhaps when this crisis is over, we may emerge with a more compassionate polity as a consequence of lessons learned. Somehow, with the benefit of observing local politics for 50 plus years, I doubt it. 

Our system has an unstoppable tendency to revert to type by preserving the power imbalances which underpin our uniquely Australian form of crony capitalism.

*Glib Libertarians

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Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...