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12 responses to “We are not the world?”

  1. Paul

    Good post. As a foreigner living in Australia I can certainly say that as much as I love this country (and I really do) the insularity of Aussies and their complete lack of context is the biggest gripe I have with it.

    I hear Aussies regularly complain about how this is practically a Third World country with woeful services and no real infrastructure. I grew up on the west coast of Ireland. I can tell you a thing or two about woeful services and crappy roads.

    Similarly I regularly encounter people who have never left Australia and yet spruik at is the greatest nation on earth. How would they know??

    The debt and defecit debate has summed it up for me. Australia has one of the smallest debt/GDP ratios in the developed world (if not THE smallest) and yet a debate about our ‘crippling’ debt has been allowed to fester unchecked by reality. Has anyone read up on the figures for Japan and the US lately?? Doubtful.

    Indeed nobody seems to much care for the push factors affecting boat people numbers or the need for international co-operation to defeat our economic and environmental problems. I just hope when all this comes back to bite us on the bum it won’t bite too hard. But I’m not hopeful.

  2. moz

    Mark, you might want to add “major party” qualifications here and there. I’m a grown-on Greens supporter exactly because of much of what you cover.

  3. adrian

    Good post Mark. It’s an irony I don’t pretend to understand that as more Australians head overseas in an era of cheap air travel, they end up becoming more insular, not less.

  4. Mervyn Jacobi

    I can’t see why in our normal existance we cannot act what we are, living on an island. Sure we are influenced by other countries, when the US changes their tax system, our politicians compare who or which is getting the higher salaries or other income,in 1971-81 US had 70% tax, Australia had 60%. In 1988-90, US had 33%, Australia had 44% our politicians were trying to keep with the US, but the US fell into the recession at that, and Australia into a recession. What is mainly the trouble is that our politicans can’t adjust their thinking to the fact that greedy people who have the oppertunity, will increase their salary or whatever they are on, and the accumulation of all these increases also increases the prices of all the goods and the services, Unfortunately, our treasurers have not been able to see that although we only need 30% of GDP, it needs a proven 66.6% of personal tax and 45% of company tax to restrict the greedy. Lower incomes and profits can and should be calculated with less tax to ensure profitability.

  5. Doug

    Don’t disagree with much of the above – simply a footnote:
    Below the horizon of the mass media there have been a range of community forums at the electoral level across the country focused on climate change, the MDGs etc as well as the more general forums.

    Forum in Canberra last night with the three ACT Senate candidates and an expert from ANU produced an intelligent discussion on the issues that brought some of the personal passion by the candidates and attendees out into the open.

  6. patrickg

    Amen, Mark.

  7. patrickg

    And further, this is something that I think Tony Judt was deeply concerned about prior to his unfortunate death; the growing poverty of the democratic project in the West.

    This is not to say I didn’t have criticisms of some of his points in The Lay of The Land and other essays he published in the last 18 months (most notably, the ellipses of almost any developing world left wing politics and a tendency to get a bit dewy-eyed about past movements), but I do think Judt identified a disturbing and depressing trend. The worst thing is, in Australia at least, his criticisms are just as valid for the right.

  8. Chookie

    Paul, I don’t know where you live, but IME the Aussies with the most gripes on those subjects tend to move in a fairly small circle of people who are just like themselves. They really don’t much life experience, and they haven’t listened to the stories of people who *have* had some experience outside their circle. The Northern Beaches and Eastern Suburbs of Sydney are famously populated with such people, as is The Shire (as the locals call it, despite the fact that Sydney has several shires!).

  9. John D

    There are structural problems with a democratic system that disenfranchises most Australians and puts the real power in the hands of an unusual group of voters in a few marginal seats. I am planning to write a post election post that looks for better alternatives.

  10. Chookie

    Mark @10, some Ad Gurus were on ABC Sydney yesterday morning. One said straight out that the scary ads are targeted at disengaged(*) voters in marginal seats, the ones who are not interested in politics at all and are only motivated to vote for a party by strong emotions, ie fear. This group are impossible to reach any other way, but their votes are unfortunately crucial this election. He did admit that the ads were plainly going to annoy everyone else who doesn’t want to be talked down to!

    To be fair, I don’t think most of those insular unimaginative middle-class Aussies fall into the politically-disengaged category; they are all probably sure which party will serve their interests. This politically disengaged group might well be working-class/underclass people who are barely keeping their heads above water.

    (*) He said “disinterested” – argh!