Friday, 25 September 2020

A Tale of Two Crises

Pic courtesy Wikipedia


It's happened again.

It's fascinating to examine the origins of these crises, and to look at what governments have done to ameliorate the consequences. Doing so reveals a great deal about our political culture, and the undercurrents lurking beneath the rhetoric rationalising financial management of the issues.

In 2008, the crisis was man-made. In 2020, it's about biology. Back in 2008, the crisis was a consequence of lame and inconsequential regulation of the US money market. The contagion spread offshore, and economies went into free fall all over the globe. Australia was no exception, and the Labor government went fast and hard into stimulatory activity, which was effective in that there was no recession.

The stimulatory measures, especially the BER initiative, had other benefits. these included the construction of thousands of physically accessible additions to school buildings which transformed the school experience of many students with disabilities. For these children living in remote locations serviced with old fashioned inaccessible school buildings, attending school meant moving to a larger centre where purpose built units with wheelchair access were available. The frequent consequence of this was the splitting of families. Usually with the mother moved with the child, and dad stayed with his work and life in the remote community.

The accessible additions which had to meet contemporary access standards, meant the child could go to the local school, and families were reunited.

This initiative, and others, was roundly condemned by the Coalition opposition led by Tony Abbott, as a waste of money, and he was fond of calling it a "debt and deficit disaster".

Move forward twelve years, and a Coalition government is pouring billions into stimulatory measures, making the Rudd/Swan initiatives look like chicken feed.

Suddenly, borrowing and spending is kosher. Whatever happened to the debt and deficit disaster? It seems to have fallen down some kind of memory rabbit hole.

Abbott has fled to the UK without saying a word.

I'm searching for a word to describe this behaviour. "Hypocrisy" springs to mind...

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Sunday, 20 September 2020

Back to Mass

 

The parish diversity flag.

Today marked our return to weekly mass for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. We could have resumed attendance a little earlier, but my bride’s compromised immune system, as a consequence of her cancer treatment delayed things somewhat.

It was a very different experience. No longer are parishioners sitting in rows. Each person’s chair is positioned in a pre-determined location, a metre and a half separated from his/her fellow parishioner.

You have to provide sign on details on arrival, and are issued a basic ID card. There is no longer a procession of readers and celebrant at the beginning of mass, and the sign of peace is now gestural rather than physical.

Today’s gospel was relevant to the times. Matthew’s parable of the labourers in the vineyard was used by our priest as a metaphor for Jobkeeper. If you don’t get the connection, read the gospel.

I hadn’t realised how much this weekly observance has become part of our lives until it was inaccessible for a few months. The last time I had gone for months without mass was in Vietnam. That was over half a century ago.

Whilst I’m blogging about the church, it’s timely to link to the bishops’ letter about the upcoming state election.


The Bishops’ statement highlights a number of key issues that Catholics may wish to consider as they prepare to participate in the State Election.

These include:

  • combatting homelessness
  • support for survivors of child sexual abuse
  • dignity of employment, a just living wage and combating poverty
  • healthcare, especially in regional and remote areas
  • funding for Catholic schooling
  • Closing the Gap between Indigenous Queenslanders and the rest of the population
  • euthanasia, assisted suicide and the need for increased access to palliative care
  • providing for sustainable, quality aged care services which provide older people and their families with choice and control
  • an increase in the incidence of mental health issues, especially amongst young people
  • support for women and families, including the great challenge many women face when confronted an unexpected or difficult pregnancy
  • responses to rising levels of family and domestic violence
  • the need for a ‘new universal solidarity’ to combat climate change.
The eighth point on the statement, referencing quality aged care services, has been thrown into stark relief by the pandemic.

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Hugh White - Without America

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