Saturday, 29 October 2011

Occupy Brisbane - world order changing

I was born into the Cold War. The US and USSR were bumping chests over world hegemony. I lived through the Vietnam War, too young to protest against the war itself or conscription, but aware enough to find the whole matter repugnant.

I stood and ate cherries as I watched the East German border guards patrol the border between East and West - effectively the border between USSR controlled Europe and US controlled Europe. I stared in mute horror at the bunkers holding nuclear weapons ready to be used and end life as we knew it. Finally the USSR crumbled under the weight of investment in non-productive assets, namely the machinery of war.  I have a shard of the Berlin wall in a biscuit tin, next to treasured geological specimens. I thought life had to be safer and better.   

Sept 11 2001 I was working late - past midnight - when a friend called and asked me to turn on the TV. It was early morning in New York and two huge buildings were burning. I watched them crumble. There ensued the "War on Terror" - by now I was too cynical to believe propaganda. I read an online article that said the US would "win", but the cost of the war would weaken it economically and cause it's reign to end.  I think I am seeing that now.

The investment in non-productive war assets notwithstanding, poor management of the financial industry and government budgets is hastening the decline of the West in favour of the new East -  the EU agreement with China appears to be a landmark in that regard. I am troubled by the implications of there being a new emergent world master.  

There are however, more immediate concerns - as governments in Europe and around the world cede power to mobile financial capital and cross-border supply chains, they are losing the capacity to meet citizens' demands. The result is a global crisis in politics. 

On Thursday I heard  a protest echoing between the buildings in central Brisbane. Finally I discovered what appeared to be "occupy Post Office Square".  

It is interesting and disturbing to live so long.

27 October 2011, Post Office Square


  1. Update - today protesters moved on by police.

  2. They went to Queen's Park but were again moved on early this morning. I found some of them lurking nearby. They have been offered to move to Roma Street Gardens, but while this is a superb camp ground, it is quite out of the way and therefore not a good place to occupy anything but paradise.

  3. I think the occupy Brisbane protest is essentially over. It seems to have failed to attract the mainstream - and no wonder when our economy is going pretty well and most people are comfortable as compared to some other places in the world. I was saddened that out mayor seemed so gleeful over "defeating" the protestors. I respect people that devote their lives to political protest and therefore improving our society.

  4. I sympathize w/ the protesters. Even the most right wing of the right wingers wants to provide food for he poor and healthcare for everyone that really needs it. There really are many people in genuine distress who need our help. Sadly many people take advantage of our charity. People who can work just refuse.

    In America, if I am poor I can get 2 free meals daily from charities. I can get free healthcare from local organizations. The local shelter will take in me, and the children i father. doesn't matter if i can afford the kids or not. I can get tax credits for earning money, any money at all. I get paid a paycheck from my employer AND the govt pays me to work too. I can get free babysitting services and childcare from the govt. free tax services. on and on.

    With all these handouts, why should i even show up for work? work is hard. work sucks. Free stuff is much better.

    how do we distinguish between the truly needy and the lazy?

  5. In reguard to the geopolitical balance of power shifting an even scarier scenario is that China is an even bigger house of cards than Europe(for just one example the ghost cities they keep building else their construction bubble will burst).

    Galt's Gulch is looking better and better.

  6. Anonymous - Thankyou for your comment. Are they protesting in favour of improved welfare in the US? I had guessed it might be about a society where wealth is better distributed????

    I believe people naturally want to work and do well. The situation in which they live crushes their spirit and directs their efforts. From a policy perspective this more positive approach allows you to design programs and strategies that bring people together rather than alienating them.

    I've lived at a lot of different economic levels in society. Being poor sucks and I cannot see all the freebies making it worthwhile. Life is sooo much better when you have your own money and can make your own choices. Sometimes it just helps to show someone this bare fact.

    You can often recognise chronically lower economic level people by their being thin and thin featured (from a lifetime of poor nutrition), by their rotten and missing teeth (dental care is not free here and I doubt its adequately available in the US - I've paid monsterous amounts to keep my smile!)or by their being overweight and poorly presented (again poor nutrition, cannot afford services etc). I've never wanted to be them!

    I've struggled all my life to try to get above the level where people get richer rather than being in the group where people (and their families) get poorer. Unfortunately I've not made it above the line - especially with rising utility costs!

    I'm lucky to still be able to work - around 50% of working age men on welfare in Australia have a disability. Even the unskilled work is in some areas being swallowed up by students, migrants and out of work professionals. For example, if you want to be a cleaner, you are likely competing with a young, fit, tertiary educated person who will get the job because they know someone. Forget even applying if you are old, tired and mildly disabled!

    I've also noticed that chronic welfare consumers may not have the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours required to make a decent living AND they pass on less successful approaches to their kids - so the cycle continues.

    Before you can do something about the structural issues that predispose towards poverty, you need resources. I'd raise taxes from increased mining royalites and from taxing unhealthy foods.

    I'd teach kids work and life skills in school and provide supervised work teams after they graduate to train them to be high performance workers who can take care of their wealth, health and families. I'd also make sure that those that are naturally less competitive (e.g. handicapped) also get a chance. Of course, I'd also make sure work was regulated to be safe, satisfying and uplifting!

    Thank you for your comment - it provided a valuable insight and raised thoughworthy questions. Please feel free to comment again!

    :-) C

  7. Odysseus - thank you for your comment and yes China is a worry! I read an article called "Shanghai wac-a-mole" the other day - the author reported growth was so rapid that government was reduced to wacking down issues as they popped up. I'm concerned about the grey lending the government cannot control and the obscene wealth of the well connected compared to the poverty of the vast majority of people. Rising unemployment could easily see massive civil unrest.

    What is Galt's Gulch?

    Thanks again and please feel free to comment again!

    :-) C

  8. Galt's Gultch is a reference to "Atlas Shrugged" by Ann Rand. A difficult but worthwhile book to read, though the first part of it was recently made into a movie which released to DVD last week.