Bondi View

The end of days

Sir David Attenborough at the Great Barrier Reef, taken for his Great Barrier Reef TV series. Photo: WikimediaCommons

Opinion By PETER HEHIR

Blind adherence to the discredited economic philosophy espoused by Milton Friedman, coupled with a complete absence of compassion, leads the Neo Cons to ignore the legion of human casualties and the suffering that their retrograde and reactionary politics brings.

Their indifference demands that a respected and productive Sri Lankan family, with their two Australian-born children, be forcibly removed in the dead of night, separated from their mother and the Biloela community that embraced them, and that they are then incarcerated in an offshore detention centre.
This soulless pursuit of a universally derided economic principle and its ruthless application sees men, women and children imprisoned for years on end, guilty only of the crime of attempting to flee persecution and even death in their countries of origin.

Blood of the innocents
The worth of Friedman’s trickledown economics is measured in the blood of the innocents while our Pentecostal leader assuages his conscience by raising his voice and singing his Sunday songs of prayer.
And his esteemed colleague, the ex-policeman, continues to wield his truncheon, expelling those whose only crime is to seek a better existence; fleeing one where persecution, torture and death were the inevitable conclusion.

The bitter irony is that the victims of the lure of sanctuary in the lucky country find themselves in a hell hole without end, created and fine-tuned by the Pentecostal and the ex-cop.
The push to privatise, to decimate the public service, to sever the safety net, to rebrand environmental and social regulations as red tape, to relentlessly pursue those who have lost their jobs and have the temerity to apply for government assistance, drives inexorably onward; while the Neo Cons massage the unemployment figures, boosting their image as sound economic managers, all the while illuminating the hypocrisy of their professed Christian values.

Both Russell Brand’s The Emperor’s New Clothes and David Attenborough’s Climate Change: the Facts tell the true story. Friedman’s long discredited economic philosophy has about as much merit as the Emperor’s invisible garments, but it’s still willingly embraced by conservative politicians on both sides of the political divide.

Just how can businesses in the developed world compete with products produced in third world sweatshops? Where the daily remuneration is a bowl of rice; where women and children toil, stood over by thugs wielding automatic weapons.
Keating, way back when, explained his dropping of tariffs by citing the example of the Bankstown factory worker who could now afford a new Mercedes. What he neglected to mention was that the removal of the tariffs protecting the Bankstown worker would ultimately cost that worker his job.
The goods that he once made now came from the sub-continent, more often than not produced under the barrel of a gun. The Mercedes was long out of reach. Even a second-hand Holden was problematic.
He and hundreds of thousands of Australian workers lost their manufacturing jobs and the workforce became ever more deskilled. Scores of factories closed, forced to either compete with products produced by slave labour or go under.

As a nation, we became ever more reliant on an ever-increasing range of imported goods. We lost our ability to innovate, to produce, to compete; and in all of this we also lost our independence.
“Let the market decide” is the credo of the Friedmanites. Strip publicly owned institutions. Call it “asset recycling”. Greed is good. Good government is bad.

Absurdity of planned obsolescence
Attenborough’s dismantling of the “growth is our salvation” mantra is equally compelling. It should be obvious to all that we live in a finite world with finite resources. This fact is key to understanding the predicament that the throwaway society has bestowed upon us all, underpinned by the resource depleting absurdity of planned obsolescence.

We live in a world where the climate crisis is incomprehensible to those scrambling over scraps and is branded as “fake news” by those who know the truth but won’t admit it.
The mild amusement engendered by Mr Robinson with his one-word utterance as he dispensed career advice to Benjamin Braddock’s graduate in the film of the same name now reveals its hidden and ominous portent, with plastic contaminating our food and water; permeating every corner of the globe, even to the remotest of regions where humans have never trod, from uninhabited islands in the middle of the oceans, to the rapidly thawing poles.

Religion tells us that heaven here on earth is an impossibility, an affront even; that our life begins in the afterlife; that there’s no point in trying to make the world a better place; that the damage we continue to do to each other and the planet is inevitable – and is but another sign that the end of days is nigh…

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