When other people’s money runs out

Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, said that socialism works well until other people’s money runs out (or words to that effect). In spite of my extended life in Australia (almost 7 decades as an adult), I do not believe that I have experienced (lived under) a socialist government. My exposure to the Australian polity ranges from White Australia (with its overt racism) to the current rule under Vaticanite social doctrines.

Although the Australian Labor Party (ALP) purportedly represented the working class, it has allowed generous tax concessions to the wealthy, and to powerful interests (especially the foreign-controlled mining industry). As a swinging voter, and thereby a political orphan, I am perpetually aware that our major political parties are akin to Tweedledum and Tweedledee in that wonderful story ‘Alice in the looking glass’. Changing places in Parliament makes little difference.

The cost of welfare payments is said to be rising. Eligibility seems to be widening. There are visibly wealthy senior citizens receiving some age pension (the cut-off point for couples is close to a million dollars). The disability pension (which pays about 25% more) appears to be easily exploited; I personally know 4 recipients who are not in any way disabled.

By retiring from the work force from about age 55 to 60, and living on one’s superannuation until retirement age, one could then live on the age pension until death. (Super is intended to be a replacement for the age pension.) The use-by date for men is now (Oct 2017) about 80; and for women about 84.

In the late 1980s, when asked about the policy implications of the proliferation of welfare eligibility – and how he proposed to deal with it – the responsible public official replied “I am too busy”!

With the political parties playing politics, were the responsible public officials to sit on their hands in the circumstances of the increasing casualisation of the workforce and falling union membership (about 12%), are those taxpayers who are unable to reduce their tax to be increasingly burdened? How long before the ‘camel’s back’ collapses?

Yet, there are increasing demands for widening welfare payments. In spite of a substantial intake of identified refugees, we are also asked to take more. It has also been suggested that welfare should enable a sustainable lifestyle. Worse still, that ridiculous concept of a ‘poverty line’ has re-surfaced. Under this definition, anyone whose income is below the median income (at the halfway mark) is in poverty; and therefore needs financial supplementation. How irresponsibly generous are those proponents of expropriation of other people’s hard-earned money!

The cost of welfare in October 2017 is reportedly $300,000 per minute or $430 million per day. The total lifetime bill for those receiving welfare benefits is estimated at $2.1 trillion. Furthermore, dole recipients are reported to be not attending interviews. Does anyone in office care?

Welfare is now based, not on need, but on a right; what about reciprocity? I read recently that a nation in Europe insists on reciprocity in relation to payments to refugees. Was I correct in believing during my youth that socialism is no different from communism – and to be fought in terms of a human right – the right not to subsidise those not in need?

White Australian attitudes towards Aborigines

The attitude of Australian whites to their indigene is bifurcated. There are, firstly, the lamp lighters and flag bearers. These are the humanitarians. Colonial values do not cloud their perceptions. They look forward, not to the past. They support reconciliation (a more accurate word might be conciliation) and efforts to have the viability of, and the respect shown to, the Aboriginal people raised to that of the rest of the Australian people. These include the honest people who recognise thefirst nation’ status of the indigene. They seek to have fellow non-indigenous Australians become more aware of the history, cultural values and traditions, art, environmental wisdom, and spirituality of the Aborigines.

Then, there is that majority (a large number of whom have told me about their feelings), with their soul-destroying perceptions of the indigene. This is a grab-bag filled with an interesting assortment of human failings. First, there are the greedy and the rapacious, who may be the cultural descendants of some of the founding fathers, and their protectors in government. Then there are the intellectually-deprived, with their retinal after-image of the white coloniser’s cultural and racial superiority. These are followed by the emotionally damaged fear-filled, lacking the confidence to relate to those not like themselves.  Those afflicted with subconscious guilt about the terrible things done to the inoffensive indigene by their predecessors, not all of whom were linked to them genetically, are also found in this grab-bag. One can sympathise with these. … …

Refusing to accept that the indigenes got the rough end of the pineapple collectively, whilst their women were collaterally used freely to create a new creole people, some modern moral purists argue that the major cause of the initial near-extinction of the indigene was not slaughter but disease. One of these iconoclasts even claimed that it was the Chinese and other Asians who had brought the deadly diseases to Australia. How many Chinese did Cortez take with him into America?

Another defender of ethnic cleansing claimed that the Aborigines should thank God that they were “displaced by Christian people”. On the contrary, I think that the Indians and Chinese might have treated the indigenes better. Their historical record, from the Arabian Sea to the Gulf of Tonkin, down to Bali, suggests that.  … …

The same sort of negative attitudes surfaced when the report on the ‘stolen generations’ was released, except that the counter-attack was strangely bitter. The authors of the report, their motives, methodology, definitions, and findings were all attacked, but only by a noisy handful. The semanticists, pretending to be fair, focussed on the meaning of ‘stolen’ and the scope of the word ‘generation’. The other critics, seemingly less erudite, simply went ballistic, with all manner of quaint arguments. Yet, no one could deny, that many, many, lighter-skinned children were removed from their mothers (pounded may be a more appropriate term in some cases) in ways which were both immoral and illegal. … …

The claimed motivation for removing the children seemed to be multi-faceted. The need to save them from a terrible future amidst the dust of the cattle stations was one claim. A related caring claim was that, as part-whites, they could be assimilated through separation from their mothers and the rest of their people. If these motives were genuine, how did those in authority see the rights of the mothers and their communities? Since the children were to become no more than servants, what did assimilation offer them?

In the event, what does this policy say about the morality of those involved?  A more honest motive was to ‘to fuck them white’, in order to avoid a biological throwback to their indigenous heritage. Preventing the allegedly ‘quick-breeding half-caste’ from contributing to the growth of the creole community seems a more honest motive. As the Aborigine was then seen to be an early version of the Caucasian stock, there were thus hopes of breeding out the black peoples as a whole. But was there any intention to have white families adopt these poor kids, as claimed by a friend of mine?  What were the odds of white families even considering such adoptions?  I am inclined to believe that some did.

(These are extracts from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ published in 2005. Regrettably, Aborigines lacking that attractive tan colour are alleged by some as not being Aboriginal. So, colour remains a determinant of culture and heritage in the eyes of those who want Aborigines to assimilate; yet imported ethnic peoples are able to integrate, with their cultural values intact, into the nation. Why is there so much prejudice?) 

 

 

 

The traveler, the trader, the marauder

Some young children love exploring – when they are allowed to do so. Some youths need to test something within themselves by undergoing clearly risky pastimes or endeavours.

I instance my (one and only) son, who decided, at age 17, to go wild water rafting. With 2 friends, without any relevant experience, they took on the Franklin River, said to be a very dangerous river to navigate on flimsy rafts.

When he left, my wife and I did wonder whether we would see him again. Having brought up our children, who did display early in life a risk-taking nature, to be self-confident, competent, yet careful, he was free, even at that age, to take on the world – if he wanted to (after due consideration).

Throughout the history of Man, either as individuals or in groups, men have travelled long distances – over the land or by sea – to explore or trade. Those who survived learnt about other peoples and their cultures and/or influenced those others with their own beliefs and values. This exchange would be osmotic and peaceful.

Since humans are a greedy species, there have also been, all over the world, almost interminable invasions, brutal wars, and forced religious conversions. Two of the desert religions top the list for rapacious performance over quite a number of recent centuries. The people who were responsible for most of the recorded depredations came out of small tribal nations in Europe: Europe itself being a relatively small peninsula jutting out of the massive continent of Asia.

They were aided by new and powerful weaponry when they went initially to explore, then trade; marauding came naturally when their animal instincts exploited opportunities for subjugation of the peoples they traded with. Traditional economies were destroyed, and much injustice was imposed upon the so-called ‘natives,’ including conversion to a faith offering no more than the prevailing ones; often less. Ask the indigenes of North America and Australia to begin with.

Now the marauders are toothless, and back at home. Yet, the new emperor in the West, the hegemonic one, has harnessed them into a modern aggressive force; but this team lacks a coherent capacity to bite anyone powerful. As with the failed British invasion of Afghanistan in recent history, there may now be another toothless retreat, especially from the Middle East.

The guise of diplomacy can provide a necessary cover. In the long run, only negotiation can provide the pathway to peace with a necessary co-existence.

EARLY MEMORIES: The inculcation of values

Although my uncle had no time for Brahmins and temple rituals, the 2 most important women in my life – my aunt and my mother – would frequently exchange religious books and thoughts. By requiring me to read certain religious texts, my mother instilled in me a degree of spirituality beyond the rituals.

At about age 21, I waved a fist in the direction of the sky, saying “To hell with you,” and renouncing God; Ganesha had let me down. Within 6 years, after a period of concentrated study, I decided, most logically, that there had to be a Creator God, to explain the complexity and beauty of all that we could experience. Riding on that initial underlay of boyhood spirituality, I began my perusal of religion (and religions).

My father’s role in implanting significant values in me was to stress the primacy of freedom. He also pointed out that it is the eagle which flies highest; but that it flies alone. His adage “The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on” (from Khayyam?) has had a sustaining effect on my responses to life’s travails.

The frequent gathering of 3 maternal uncles in our home during my boyhood informed me of the realms of local politics, international relations, the venality of competitive fellow-humans, inter-ethnic community relations, the impending war, and so on. I wondered, years later, how perceptive these men had been, while only in their thirties.

My boyhood expired at age 13, when the Japanese military arrived. After a year of absolute frugality through my father’s unemployment, my family was re-located to the countryside. I lived with 3 men and a Chinese cook in the capital. My life became one of loneliness, lacking relatives, friends, and conversation. Being under-fed was par for the course.

Thus was formed the loner, who had now been prepared for a life of failure, hardship, and frugality. He was, nevertheless, to be a successful survivor, enjoying any pleasure that the Cosmos sent his way. There was plenty of that too, as time passed. He eventually evolved into a communitarian small-l liberal, a political orphan, but an independent thinker.

One’s destiny path may become visible only with hindsight.

The effects of near-starvation

A few years after the end of the Second World War, I was on board a passenger ship of about 8,000 tons – a quite small ship. It took a long while to travel from Singapore to Sydney – about 2 weeks and more. It is difficult to be precise about such unimportant matters after so long.

On board was a very tall, very thin Dutchman. He had been interned by the Japanese military in Indonesia. During the fight for independence by the Indonesians, he had been interned again.

He sat opposite me at meal times, but had very little to say. That was because he ate every course on the generous menu. That is, he ate 2 entrees, 3 main meals, and 2 desserts – rapidly. I understood. Having been half-starved during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, I too ate well. But my stomach seemed to have shrunk.

During the Occupation, we lived on some rice, supplemented by tapioca, and accompanied by a vegetable of some kind; occasionally, we had sweet potato. Our meals were extremely frugal. There was no milk or sugar ever, only palm oil for cooking. There was no fish or meat after the first 6 months of the Occupation. What had been available once a month was a palm-sized slice of goat meat, after joining a queue for about an hour on a hot roadside.

With patches on the patches on my shorts, I grew a little taller, but leaner, during my teenage years. The development of my spine was found, at age 32, to have been impaired. This was to be a heavy price to pay for the rest of my life.

I hoped the Dutchman would find a peaceful life in Australia. I put on 7 lbs. (from 8 to 8.5 stone) in weight on board ship. Consuming lots of steak and milk on Australian soil, I was soon able to play hockey – at A-Grade level. I had become strong, fast, and agile, also through some gym work, having reached 9 stone by then. I soon learnt to stop well-built young man seeking to bowl my slim body over; they somehow fell down, and I would ask if they were OK.

I have eaten frugally all my life because my mind will not allow me to do otherwise. I am unable to throw away any food, because I am keenly aware that a mere handful could represent a day’s meal for a child. Having had a fraction of my pay directed to Community Aid Abroad for more than 30 years has not reduced my concern for the plight of those children born only to suffer. Karma? Not credible!

Post-colonialism: Expatriate advisers

When the Board of the Central Bank in a small recently-decolonised Asian nation sought input from an appropriate international agency about an appropriate policy for the future, it was to convince an inexperienced government. The government was more likely to accept a suggested plan from an expatriate authorised adviser than one developed from within the Bank.

I was told the following story by a friend from that nation. The international expert sat down with each of the ‘Young Turks’ (overseas-trained, fast-rising, young economists). Obtaining their ideas about an appropriate development plan, he packaged into his report to the Board a consolidated version. Everyone was happy. The expert went home with a fat cheque.

Believing that what a European can do could surely also be done by an Asian, one of the Young Turks took off to advise one of the African nations for 3 years. It was lucrative.

He was not the first from that nation to become an expatriate consultant – on expatriate European levels of remuneration – to advise an African nation. As another friend of mine from that nation wrote to me, from his post as an expatriate consultant, the Africans were paying ‘white man’ fees to black consultants.

By the 1960s, there were quite a few economists from that nation in one or more international agencies. Perhaps appointments to such agencies did not involve the intangible, sub-surface, and allegedly flexible processes which were said to apply in nations in the developing world. Personal contacts and relative influence seem to have been disproportionately prevalent in these nations.

However, could even the most sensible, pragmatic, development plans devised by expatriate consultants overcome the stranglehold by the neo-colonial nations over the economies of developing nations? Then, there is the competition provided in the international market-place by developed nations such as Australia establishing themselves as growers of rice, tea, coffee, and tropical fruits, and thus damaging the much-needed export markets of the under-developed nations all over the world. As well, there is the confluence of the greed of some national leaders and the rapacity of the neo-colonial nations.

Add to that the foreign loans which have to be repaid; and the private charity monies which are reportedly deflected into non-development accounts in the receiving nation. In the 1960s, it was reported that, within 9 months, monies lent or given to certain Latin American nations would be back in U.S. bank accounts.

Expatriate advisers can only point the way forward.

Neo-colonialism (Part 2)

How neo-colonialism exploits former African colonies is covered in the following extracts from Neo-colonislism.com on the Internet. European nations, including the USA, are described as exploiting African nations through the purchase of cash crops, the mining of African minerals, and the manufactured goods sold to the Africans. I presume that this pattern of international transactions applies to other developing nations.

“According to Rodney and Amin, European countries, and increasingly the United States, dominated the economies of African countries through neocolonialism in several ways. After independence, the main revenue base for African countries continued to be the export of raw materials; this resulted in the underdevelopment of African economies, while Western industries thrived. A good example of this process is the West African cocoa industry in the 1960s: during this time, production increased rapidly in many African countries; overproduction, however, led to a reduction in the selling price of cocoa worldwide.

 Neocolonial theorists therefore proclaimed that economies based on the production of cash crops such as cocoa could not hope to develop, because the world system imposes a veritable ceiling on the revenue that can be accrued from their production. Likewise, the extraction and export of minerals could not serve to develop an African economy, because minerals taken from African soil by Western-owned corporations were shipped to Europe or America, where they were turned into manufactured goods, which were then resold to African consumers at value-added prices.

A second method of neocolonialism, according to the theory’s adherents, was foreign aid. The inability of their economies to develop after independence soon led many African countries to enlist this aid. Believers in the effects of neocolonialism feel that accepting loans from Europe or America proved the link between independent African governments and the exploitative forces of former colonizers. They note as evidence that most foreign aid has been given in the form of loans, bearing high rates of interest; repayment of these loans contributed to the underdevelopment of African economies because the collection of interest ultimately impoverished African peoples.

The forces of neocolonialism did not comprise former colonial powers alone, however. Theorists also saw the United States as an increasingly dominant purveyor of neocolonialism in Africa. As the Cold War reached its highest tensions at roughly the same time that most African countries achieved independence, many theorists believed that the increasing levels of American aid and intervention in the affairs of independent African states were designed to keep African countries within the capitalist camp and prevent them from aligning with the Soviet Union.” … …

This extract from Enclopaedia.com  shows how colonialism can succeed without the use of arms or OTHER COERCIVE MEANS. I recall an aid agency, one of the members of which required its aid money to be spent in its country. Charity can be materially beneficial to the donor.

 

 

Neo-colonialism (Part 1)

As a former colonial subject, I am naturally opposed to colonialism, but I am not anti-colonial as regards individual colonial administrators. Indeed, I had 2 good friends who had served the Crown in Rhodesia and Malaya. However, neo-colonialism seems more evil.

“Neocolonialism can be defined as the continuation of the economic model of colonialism after a colonized territory has achieved formal political independence. This concept was applied most commonly to Africa in the latter half of the twentieth century. European countries had colonized most of the continent in the late nineteenth century, instituting a system of economic exploitation in which African raw materials, particularly cash crops and minerals, were expropriated and exported to the sole benefit of the colonizing power. The idea of neocolonialism, however, suggests that when European powers granted nominal political independence to colonies in the decades after World War II, they continued to control the economies of the new African countries.

The concept of neocolonialism has several theoretical influences. First and foremost, it owes much to Marxist thinking. Writing in the late nineteenth century, Karl Marx argued that capitalism represented a stage in the socioeconomic development of humanity. He believed that, ultimately and inevitably, the capitalist system in industrially developed countries would be overthrown by a revolution of the working class; this would result in the establishment of socialist utopias. In 1916, Vladimir Lenin modified this thesis, claiming that the rapid expansion of European imperialism around the world in the last decade of the nineteenth century had marked the highest stage of capitalism. Presumably, then, the end of imperialism (which Lenin believed would be the result of World War I) would mark the beginning of the end of capitalism. However, neither imperialism nor capitalism came to an end after the war or in future years. European empires persisted well into the 1960s.

With the granting of independence to colonies, a theory of modernization took hold. This suggested that independent countries would begin to develop very rapidly, politically and economically, and would resemble “modern” Western countries. It soon became clear, however, that this was not happening. Postcolonial theorists now sought answers for the continued underdevelopment of African countries and found a second influence in dependency theory.

Dependency theory first gained prominence as a way to explain the underdevelopment of Latin American economies in the 1960s. It proclaims that underdevelopment persisted because highly developed countries dominated underdeveloped economies by paying low prices for agricultural products and flooding those economies with cheap manufactured goods. This resulted in a perpetually negative balance of payments that prevented underdeveloped countries from ever becoming competitive in the global marketplace. Economic theorists of postcolonial Africa, such as Walter Rodney and Samir Amin, combined the Marxist-Leninist concept of colonialism as a stage of capitalism with the concept of underdevelopment to create the concept of neocolonialism, which Kwame Nkrumah called “the last stage of imperialism.” “… …

(This is an extract from Encyclopaedia.com on the Internet. Of what use were the international development agencies, when imperialism could be continued so easily?)

The myth of a poverty-line

Although a lower middle-class youth (defined by relative income, not by education), I once went without food for a whole weekend; I had no money. For months I survived by finding casual work, but was forced to move from rented room to rented room as I struggled to pay the rent.

Later, my wife and I lived on the edge of financial survival, although happy. Through circumstances beyond my control, I have lived frugally all my life. That is destiny.

My sensitivity to the poverty of others began during my boyhood in British Malaya; true poverty reigned around us. It is also impossible for me to forget the sight, during the Japanese occupation of Malaya, of fellow-humans starving, lying on the ground adjacent to the local shops, for what seemed to me for months. No one stopped (to my knowledge) to offer them any food; I was already semi-starved. Evidence? I was caught and slapped for stealing a piece of tapioca root from the college grounds; I was seen eating it raw.

Today, there is a lot of talk about poverty in Australia. But those who had experienced real poverty, especially during the Great Depression, are long gone. If you have a residential address, and need sustenance, you will (I have been told) receive welfare payments. That is, no one is without an income, except those who, because of mental health problems, are incapable of handling money responsibly. As a nation, we also support a large number of asylum seekers through welfare.

The welfare industry, supported by financially irresponsible politicians and others, reportedly seek more OP (other peoples) money to be given to welfare recipients. Is this just, and in the national interest? They do not say. They remind me of that guy who calls the faithful to prayer at dawn; is that the limit to his responsibility?

Welfare paid on the basis of need is a historical by-line. Welfare has now become an asserted right – but unsustainable on national budgetary terms. Our governments will not acknowledge that. Indeed, middle class welfare is also here to stay. Any effort by the government to reduce the largesse, even slightly, is challenged by the media, which sheds crocodile tears on behalf of those who will be ‘worse off’! Shock! Horror!

Then, for a while, there was a great effort to define a ‘poverty line’ for the nation. This was not based on a measure of minimum need. It was a measure based on the nation’s relative wealth. Those whose incomes are below the median line (the half-way level) would be deemed to be in ‘poverty.’ Amazing!

There was no mention by the proponents of this mystical measure of poverty about anyone finding the wherewithal to fund any official effort to lift the incomes of those experiencing this poverty. As the median level rises in time, would those on the new bottom half of incomes be in need of a financial support?

Reminds me of a dog chasing its own tail!

The ‘black armband’ view of Australian history – Part 3

The following extracts from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ (chapter 3 ‘To have a dream’) touch upon the terrible practice of forcibly removing lightly-coloured children from their mothers. What happened to Christian morality?

“The same sort of negative attitudes surfaced when the report on the ‘stolen generations’ was released, except that the counter-attack was strangely bitter. The authors of the report, their motives, methodology, definitions, and findings were all attacked, but only by a noisy handful.

The semanticists, pretending to be fair, focused on the meaning of ‘stolen’ and the scope of the word ‘generation’. The other critics, seemingly less erudite, simply went ballistic, with all manner of quaint arguments. Yet, no one could deny, that many, many, lighter-skinned children were removed from their mothers (pounded may be a more appropriate term in some cases) in ways which were both immoral and illegal. Can the white tribe do no wrong?

The claimed motivation for removing the children seemed to be multi-faceted. The need to save them from a terrible future amidst the dust of the cattle stations was one claim. A related caring claim was that, as part-whites, they could be assimilated through separation from their mothers and the rest of their people.

If these motives were genuine, how did those in authority see the rights of the mothers and their communities? Since the children were to become no more than servants, what did assimilation offer them? … A more honest motive was to ‘to f..k them white’, in order to avoid a biological throwback to their indigenous heritage.

Preventing the allegedly ‘quick-breeding half-caste’ from contributing to the growth of the creole community seems a more honest motive. As the Aborigine was then seen to be an early version of the Caucasian stock, there were thus hopes of breeding out the black peoples as a whole. But was there any intention to have white families adopt these poor kids, as claimed by a friend of mine? What were the odds of white families even considering such adoptions? I am, however, inclined to believe that some did. … …

… … The maltreatment of many of these ‘pounded’ children is now well documented. They were forbidden to speak their language; denied food, clothing and blankets at times; physically and sexually abused; and not taught to read and write. So said many of the survivors of the policy!

The priesthood does not come out too well from this experiment either. But, why punish the children for the sins of their parents? Who were the sinners? Weren’t they the white men who sired them so casually without accepting responsibility? Or, like rape victims, does one blame the women, or perhaps their ‘culture’? To claim that the intent of the practice of removing the fairer children was of the highest order was to ignore what actually happened.

There seems to be clear evidence of white males in the outback traveling with a black teenager in tow (a sort of multi-purpose slave); of masters of cattle stations and their white employees ‘begatting’ and then ignoring their mixed-blood offspring; of black drovers being ordered to stay out until the sun went down, so that the white men “… could go and f..k … the gins …”; of Aboriginal women who had been “… raped by whites, Greeks, Japanese, Chinese or whatever …” (indicating the common ends of many men in the outback).”