‘National Security’ And Some Basic Priorities That Aren’t.

Responses to the Liberal’s ‘National Security’ agenda are interesting.

The Conversation has an article today titled ‘Abbotts national security changes are unlikely to make us safer’ and yet the opening sentance is “Prime Minister deserves the benefit of the Doubt that his intentions to further strenghthen Australia’s national security are good, well planned and most importantly justified.” The author, Clarke Jones, continues by going into how the proposed changes have the potential to exacerbate the underlying causes of violent extremism and further damage Australia’s cohesion. You can read the article here yourself. 

Clearly violence in the sense that is committed by the ‘Other’ is hot political tom yum at the moment and like tom yum leaves many people with either fire in their belly or a stomach pain. 

There are two more significant and basic issues I would suggest are more urgent food for the National plate.

  • The level of family violence within our communities

  • The level of youth unemployment

Both warrant significant government input and support rather than platitudes and lip service, cutbacks and ‘corporate buddy funding’.

Two great ABC programs on these topics have touched a nerve for me this week;

Last night’s Q&A on Family Violence, and the most recent 4 Corners report on Work Program rorting. Neither of the issues picked up by the programs are new, and in fact many Australians suffer from compassion fatigue in relation to the plethora of information that is out there on continued concerns around these issues. Both should be core business in any government ‘reform’ agenda. The victims, children, women and men who suffer as the ‘exceptional’ victims, deserve to be protected by our government who blithely make statements about our ‘protection’ being so important to them. ‘Death cults’ as so many tweeters suggested are not the priority.

When Abbott takes the stance of ‘our home is our castle’ in ‘fighting terrorism’ (somewhat of an oxymoron) or ‘shirtfronting Putin’, he embodies everything that sits underneath the endemic problem of male violence, against each other, women, children and community. Let’s face it the guy is a ‘bloke’ and likes ‘bloke speak’ he thinks it makes him ‘one of us’ and fails to see how it sets him apart. He is an embarrassment. Remember he is the ‘Minister for Women’!

Thanks Tony

I have worked extensively in the areas of sexual assault, child protection and family services. These are complex fields that require comprehensive service models and stamina from governments to persist beyond the political photo opportunity. Many of my colleagues are tired, they are angry at the government’s lack of insight and tap turning on the already pitifully low flow of funds that support agencies ongoing work. The liberal and labour shift under a neo-liberal agenda towards provision of social services from corporate enterprise rather than community networks has undermined much good work in this arena and simply depresses those who work in the field, with children, women, men, youth, families and communities.

The result of these policies? – human experience of deep suffering particularly in vulnerable ‘shadow people.’

The outcome of this bi-partisan neo-liberal agenda was painfully clear in the 4 Corners report ‘The Jobs Game’  (here) where the ABC program exposed the extent of taxpayer money stolen by many of the agencies who sit in the service sector now wrapped firmly around the unemployed. The program explored how “agencies have blossomed thanks to the privatisation of the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1998, and are thriving on contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” The program explored how, “unemployment is now big business in Australia with some $1.3 billion spending on its welfare to work scheme.” More poignantly, it exposed the suffering of people forced to undertake useless and soul destroying ‘training’ programs and regularly spend their time and transport money to meet with people who demoralise them and provide little to assist. Clearly Jobs vs jobless is the figure that needs rebalancing, but of course that is not on their agenda, it is in fact a good thing in the world of big business that the pool of unemployed remain a source of potential cheap labour.

(For a thorough look at the economic rationalist fallacies read Bill Mitchell’s blog. His article on the Job Services debacle here)

Job Creation scheme politics-government-jobs-creation-civil-public-cgon748_low-clive-goddard.jpg

Job Creation scheme
politics-government-jobs-creation-civil-public-cgon748_low-clive-goddard.jpg

Again there are so many anecdotal tales of rort and subterfuge in this area, with some ‘providers’ being more honest than others and indeed reputable agencies choosing not to participate because it is contradictory to their values.

The program did not have a chance to explore the fudged numbers that then go to make up the government stats on under and un employed. It did not look at fair wage, it did not examine gender disproportion in wage levels, the ongoing casualisation of labour and the associated insecurities placed on the ‘less fortunate’. (Although QI touched on these power differentials in relation to male violence against women and the increased capacity of middle and upper class women to extricate themselves from situations of Family Violence)

The vulnerable are not only being exploited, but successive governments are continuing to use the people’s taxes to prioritise and implement their ill-thought policies, and worse, transnational pockets. The saddest thing about the failure to sincerely address these issues is the effects of government failure to act with foresight and forethought and to continue kneejerk responses that politicise genuine community concerns.

When government encourages and supports Big Business to spread it tenticles into basic human resources and social interventions like;

  • Our ground water sources.….

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Water/Global_Trade_BG.html

Where there is a demand for the trade of water across borders, it is already well underway. The trade in bottled water is one of the fastest-growing (and least regulated) industries in the world. In the 1970s, the annual volume was 300 million gallons. By 1980, this figure had climbed to 630 million gallons, and by the end of the decade, the world was drinking two billion gallons of bottled water every year. But these numbers pale in comparison to the explosion in bottled water sales in the last five years-over 20 percent annually. In 2000 over 8 billion gallons (24 billion liters) of water was bottled and traded globally, over 90 percent of it in non-reusable plastic containers……………………

Alongside the giants of the industry, such as Perrier, Evian, Naya, Poland Spring, Clearly Canadian, La Croix and Purely Alaskan, there are literally thousands of smaller companies now in the business. As well, the big soft-drink players are entering the market en masse. PepsiCo has its Aquafina line and CocaCola has just launched the North American version of its international label, Bon Aqua, called Dasani. CocaCola predicts that its water line, which is just processed tap water and sells for more than gasoline, will surpass its soft-drink line within a decade.

More on Coke: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1463816.htm

  • Our Health and Welfare System

  • Our Energy ‘providers’

We are firmly in the grip of spin and corporate control and have to speak up.

Thank-you Auntie I was disillusioned with you, but you can still throw a curve ball. (Honourable mention to Media Watch!)

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell

WHERE’S THE FUN GONE? – Communal Anhedonia?

Have you noticed that people around you appear to be really trying to have fun rather than randomly enjoying themselves in un-constructed ways? A festival here, a show there, a pub gig, a long weekend, a reason to go out, a planned holiday. But its all so constructed and contrived, like the smile on that TV host later reported as having died suddenly of a self inflicted injury.

If what’s on TV is any indication of how so many spend their time (or so we’re told) these sources of TV amusement rely on us seeking vicarious pleasure in someone else’s pain. Programs exposing sloppy home videos to make us laugh at unfortunate people being injured through their own stupidity, ubiquitous reality shows of stressed out chefs ‘tearing up’ instead of ‘plating up’ and DIY junkies flogging themselves like dead horses to win the chance to have their mortgage paid out. Then there’s the slips and embarrassments of the famous. Not that they don’t amuse me sometimes but where has the raw fun gone?

We know communities can suffer en mass the same psychological ups and downs as individuals and that the well-being of communities are severely effected by trauma, violence and those additional often ignored emotional harms perpetrated both from within and without those communities. America is desperately trying to stop the latest ‘down’ caused by their extended invasion of Iraq. Not enough to have annihilated the country over the last 23 years (yes 1991 Gulf War Bush 1) they now have to deal with Jihadist Sunni lunatics rampaging across their newly ‘democratised’ state. If they believe In the completely believable conspiracy theory about their own government setting them and the Sunni Jihadists up they would be even more inclined to be feeling traumatised.

When emotional pain is not caused by the obvious as in war, famine or environmental catastrophe, its much more difficult to recognise, but its no less there. Perhaps we also don’t recognise it when we are a part of a suffering community feeling despair alongside our neighbours. I suppose you’ve picked up the increased media concern and concurrent raised public concern around the numbers of people suffering with depression. The distinction between the medical definition and the understanding of the general population is often chasms apart and we are being educated about what constitutes being sad and what’s a medicatable diagnosis.

Then there’s…….Anhedonia – a distinct lack of pleasure in what are or have been typically enjoyable things to do or share. Anhedonia can be an element of depression. It is also I believe a socially absorbable phenomena, it can be ‘caught’ just as hysteria can be. Anhedonia often gets overlooked amongst more readily acknowledged elements of depression like low self esteem, isolation, irritated mood, or low energy, but can play a huge role in maintaining these other elements because it becomes nearly impossible to find things to do to alleviate those feelings of depression. Leo Tolstoy is believed to have suffered from it, (and probably passed it on through his writing of War and Peace!) and I would like to suggest, on a broader community level anhedonia is increasingly being ‘shared’ by the poor.

The challenge for everyone in being constantly bombarded with the ‘amazing’, the ‘phenomenal’, the ‘awesome’, and dare I say the ‘iconic’ is not to be completely underwhelmed by everything and not to become anhedonic. Things are so often less like their advertised selves and more like a complete con. This challenge is more complete for people with zero ‘disposable income’.

I remember when being asked to complete a form on my financial expenditure there was a section set aside for ‘entertainment’. This might have meant movies, videos, music venues, the costs of holidays or the purchase of a football ticket. None of these things are available to anyone on ‘benefits’ especially if their rent, utilities, transport, food bills and increasing debts are paid. Reason? Zero excess.

So with zero excess ‘entertainment’ means finding amusement in the little things, the crazy guy on the bus, the dog that barks strangely every day when you walk passed his gate to get to that job interview, the time you answer your friends phone with a stupid voice when their granny with dementia calls. With zero excess, reliance on being ‘entertained’ as the working class are has been forcibly removed.

The other thing that has changed is the capacity to measure your experiences against the ones you cant afford. Descriptors have become so far removed from the reality of our experience everything we do becomes mediocre in comparison. Words like awesome used to mean awesome now they just really mean ‘that’s great’, whereas words like ‘great’ just mean ‘sure I’ve seen or heard that one before’. This next example came across my desktop this morning… “Entrepreneur Natalie Archer has a policy of doing three “extraordinary” things each day. For the founder of $8 million strategic advisory firm Bendelta, this might mean watching the sunrise on a morning jog down Bondi Beach or having a meaningful chat with one of her staff……… “If you want an extraordinary life, you have to do extraordinary things.”

If that ‘entrepreneur’ thinks either of those things are ‘extraordinary’ she must have been particularly boring before deciding to change her ways. So having a case of anhedonia could well be causing me to have lost interest in her dull little existence. Or maybe I just don’t carry youths exuberance about such dull shit being described as ‘extraordinary’. Then again perhaps her belief that she is telling anyone anything other than she is rich because she does the extraordinary and only the mundane are poor!

More annoying than believing a jog in Bondi as the sunrise is ‘extraordinary’ (which it probably is if you have to get a bus from Punchbowl to do it,) is that talking to your employees is something out of the ordinary! Perhaps it is! Perhaps I am wrong and this is the real reason people are feeling depressed they have no connections to their work or their colleagues or their boss, or indeed they have none of the above. I think the person who wrote that drivel and the millionaire strategic adviser they wrote about are both very underwhelming and have had more than enough of my time and are distracting me and my community of the great unwashed unemployed from our anhedonia.

I will leave you with a quote from Tolstoy about those who do not appear to suffer from anhedonia and who live off the work of others:

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.

When you are freed from your controllers.

If I denied there was anything that controlled me, I would be a liar. I don’t want to be a liar.

‘Liars’ are ubiquitous in Australia. Its a qualification as the pop-media confirms, an ‘essential criteria’ for a career as politician (particularly party leaders), a cop before a royal commission,  a lawyer anywhere but the bar (the one with alcohol)  and a shock jock radio host (at any time).

But this is definitely not me today! I am not lying, I AM controlled.

I would love so much to say I am my own person and that NOTHING controls what I say or do… but ME. But I can’t.

Recently I had an epiphany about this.

I concluded my every move was being CONTROLLED including even my thoughts.

When I ate, where I ate, who I had coffee with, what I carried with me, how long I could concentrate, if I drove my own car. I couldn’t walk down the street without the control entering my mind.

I have recently  regained control over what activities I engage in and in particular how my body is invaded.

Writing about it is strangely dangerous. My writing is the one thing that is genuinely assisted by me kowtowing to my controller. Research has proved me right about this. (For a fantastic read on this see the link after you have read to the end of this post). I knew being controlled in this way was almost necessary if I wanted to write any sustained, reasonable and informed piece.  Writing about my controller draws me closer to him, (I give that gender in the same way they assign to ships, apologies to any offended males at the end of reading this piece by my gender allocation to my controller but there is no way they are female for me and they can certainly not be called an IT, we are too intimate).

That last paragraph complete, my psychological sweating is over, the danger is passed and my hankering to be ‘managed’ while continuing to think myself free has dissipated.

My controller is banished…………………….He has been gone for 7 weeks.

My son told me I sounded like I had Stockholm Syndrome as I relayed how, despite recognising I had been under supreme control, I had shaken him and now felt I had lost a true friend……………. I really missed my controlling captor.

It IS Stockholm Syndrome…..

Check this

In order for Stockholm syndrome to occur, at least three traits must be present:

  • A severely uneven power relationship where the captor dictates what the prisoner can and cannot do…….TICK
  • The threat of death or physical injury to the prisoner at the hands of the captor………………TICK
  • A self-preservation instinct on the part of the prisoner………..TICK

­­Included in these traits are:

  • The prisoner’s belief (correct or incorrect, it doesn’t matter) that he or she cannot escape………TICK
  • Survival occurs within the rules set by the all-powerful captor………..TICK
  • The prisoner’s isolation from people not being held by the captors…TICK
  • Outside views of the captor fail to infringe on the psychological processes leading to Stockholm syndrome….TICK

I have now determined (in conjunction with my clever friend who pointed the  similarities of my situation to those of SS) that a new therapy for NICOTINE addicts should mirror that used to cure Stockholm Syndrome! I am still in love with my captor.

Image

http://therumpus.net/2010/04/nicotine-chic-writers-as-smokers/  

“JOB CHALLENGE” AND OTHER REFLECTIONS ON LOOKING FOR WORK.

I was so happy to read David Greaber’s interview on Salon.comi about his thoughts on reduced working hours, ‘bullshit jobs’ and why the jobs that give to society seem to be the lowest paid. An Anthropologist (and anarchist) lecturer at the London School of Economics,Greaber has run with issues that have always been on my mind. I guess we all wonder at times why the spread of pay for work is so horribly inequitable.

As a member of the great mass of unemployed, the concept of fairness in pay for work really hits home as I question why others are paid to, well think about this……….

I recall inventing an unemployment policy I called “Job Challenge” when I was thinking more Graebery in my past. It went something like this……..

A. You attend an office, shop or are simply on the phone seeking a service from someone paid to do a job.

B. They treat you poorly, do not provide an appropriate service or correct information, and don’t help you at all.

C. You believe with reasonable certainty that you could provide a better service than they do, you have suitable qualifications or the expertise to do the job they currently do.

D. You raise your arms and shout….”JOB CHALLENGE” and are immediately in touch with the person’s manager, who on hears your challenge and sums up what you and that worker have told them.

E. If your challenge is “found”, You get the job and the other person is sent to seek Social Security.

F. You undergo a two week trial.

G. If you pass the job is now permanently (until challenged) yours.

This policy has many good outcomes……

1. It immediately improves customer service.

2. It gives the unemployed a real chance at finding suitable work.

3. It makes dealing with dickheads more fun.

Ahhh, we can but dream.

With yet another recent job knock-back. I tell myself ‘there is always a reason’ and reflect on my presentation, behaviour, thoughts and experiences. This is how I convince myself I am progressing despite feeling I am sliding further downhill. My “Individual Assessment Report” on the recent “suitable but not preferred” Assessment further drove the reflectors in my brain. All I can say is I hope the interviewers never find themselves in my position. (I don’t believe they ever will because they are unlikely to ‘leap empty handed into the void’ as I have done, leave a very reasonable ‘No bullshit’ job, throw themselves to fate and move thousands of kilometres across Gondwanaland. (No real regrets by the way)

However back to the ‘Assessment’. Some background………….

1. I am now what’s called a ‘mature’ jobseeker, and Mr Abbot our venerable PM has suggested a further 10 years of work should be about right for me.

2. I have a solid working experience of over 30 years across my field, and never till my move here has this been in a ‘bullshit job’.

3. I provided the panel with referees that have known me and my work well over those years.

The panel did not call my referrees insteadthey contacted me for names of recent supervisors from their own department (all 3 of whom had known me for an average of less than 4 months, and therefore not that well. They then asked them about “past and current performance in relation to the position’s selection criteria, primary objective and key responsibilities…..”

My ‘Assessment’ Results:

Referrees said I was-

‘very knowledgeable’, ‘very passionate particularly about working collaboratively’, was ‘diligent and reliable’, could ‘work in a self directed manner’ but ‘tended to ‘over research’ topics’

Now for the “Not so good for getting a job in the public service” ones.

‘has been observed to sometimes express considerable frustration about bureaucratic systems and processes‘ has developed good relationships with managers and other team members, despite initially presenting as over-confident and abrupt‘ ‘personal style can be abrupt‘ has‘strong personal style had potential to ‘rub people up the wrong way’ though this not witnessed as occurring. (My emphasis)

I did however address the Panel’s questions about referee comments in an open and reflective manner, and said that I had learned to “lower expectations about what could realistically be achieved” in a bureaucracy.

Recommendation: Suitable. though not successful applicant

I am sure others with PS experience would agree high expectations about what can realistically be achieved (for others if not oneself) are often dashed in the public service. But there’s more bad news for them…ii

Now of course I cant sign off without mention of the situation for public servants keen on blogging or merely joining the farce book community who are now crippled into silence if not chosen for their compliant loyalty.

Well reflection really is a fine thing.

I thing these are excellent credentials for becoming a blogger. I am eminently suitable.

Possibly also excellent credentials for becoming a Human Rights Commissioner. (Although I am NOT a Liberal Party member or past member and am not a mate of Senator UNOCCUPIED PALESTINE Brandis.)

Although our ‘Freedom Commissioner’ appears to come further down the line from other aspiring candidates in relation to, ” demonstrated superior performance in sensitive problem resolution”

JOB CHALLENGE Mr Tim WILSON!’

Don’t think I’d have a chance with the boss do you? Must be time to review the policy.

I http://www.salon.com/2014/06/01/help_us_thomas_piketty_the_1s_sick_and_twisted_new_scheme/