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John Passant

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

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Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
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Sick kids and paying upfront


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From the Middle East to the Midwest: Will this democracy disease infect Australia too?

The revolutions that overthrew Tunisia’s despot and Egypt’s tyrant have spread all across North Africa and the Middle East. There are protests and rebellions in Libya, Bahrain, Algiers, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen…They have spread to Iran and Djibouti too.

The struggle for freedom and food, for justice and jobs, is universal. Bourgeois leaders in Europe, especially in countries like Greece, France, Ireland and the UK where savage attacks on workers and public spending have been made, must be watching the events across North Africa and the Middle East with fear that their own workers might be inspired to fight back even more ferociously.

Even the United States, long seen as the grave yard of working class politics and struggle, is not immune.

In Wisconsin, a t least 25,000 union protesters demonstrated on Friday morning around the Capitol against the governor’s plans to gut their collective bargaining rights, attack their health insurance. Earlier in the week, there had been as many as 40,000. Schools have closed. One rally lasted a marathon 17 hours. [Later reports indicate Ohio public workers have staged protests too.]

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scot Walker plans to force public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, effectively cutting the take-home pay of many by around 7 percent.

He wants to gut the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers, limiting talks to the subject of basic wages.

One of the demonstrators said she stood to lose $10,000 a year because of the attacks. If collective bargaining for non-wage conditions disappears, it will be much larger than that.

Wisconsin faces a budget deficit of $136 million. This could grow to $3.6 billion over the next few years, in part because the Governor is giving big tax cuts to business.

According to Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Roberta Gassman unemployment in Wisconsin in December last year (seasonally unadjusted) was 8.3 percent, up 2.5 percent over December 2010.

As reported on the Wisconsin peak union body site, according to Emmanuel Saez, the E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics at Berkeley and Director, Center for Equitable Growth ‘income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.’ 

The redistribution of wealth to the very rich has been staggering. Over almost the last two decades the top one percent have captured half of all the economic growth. From 2002 that figure has grown to two-thirds.

Inequality in Wisconsin has been growing in line with these figures. Indeed, Governor Walker’s Tea Party agenda in Wisconsin is to further increase that wealth transfer from workers to the rich.

Walker has been Governor for just six weeks. He won the election on a program of attacking workers living standards for the benefit of the rich. The strikes in Tunisia and Egypt drove out the dictators. Cutting off the flow of profits to those who would attack workers’ living standards can force them to change their mind. 

The difference is clear – will the bourgeois democracy of the rich and powerful or the democracy of the masses triumph?

Walker on Friday threatened to use the National Guard against striking or protesting state workers, the first time in 80 years they would be used in the State, and the first time since the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike that they would be called upon anywhere in the US against state employees.

State violence of the kind used against the freedom fighters of the Middle East is now being threatened in the United States and for the same reason; to protect the privileged position of the rich. 

The demonstrations and protests in Wisconsin forced the normally supine Democrats to flee to a neighbouring State to prevent them from being arrested and dragged back in to the legislature. Without the Democrats the legislature does not have a quorum and so cannot impose the proposed increased health insurance increases and destroy most collective bargaining rights.

Sara Murray in the Wall Street Journal 2 weeks ago wrote that ‘Nearly a year and a half into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans continued to rely on food stamps in November.’ This is 14 percent of the population.

If there is one lesson from the rebellions in the Middle East it is that ordinary people can change the world. Not Mubarak, or Ben Ali but the actions of ordinary people  hold the key to the future.

 ‘Yes we can’ in the US was a glib and lying slogan from the campaign of the Obama fake agents of change. The masses in the Middle East revealed the truth. It is ordinary people organising on the streets, and most importantly in their workplaces and withholding their labour  who can change the world.

It is a lesson Wisconsin and other US workers may now be learning. We can hope.

Australia fared better than most countries during the global financial crisis. We did not go into recession. Unemployment is currently 5 percent. If we add in underemployment it means that about ten percent of the workforce are looking for work or more work.

The neoliberal market reforms of both the Labor Party and the Liberals have produced a major change in the distribution of wealth in Australia. According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions in its Economic Bulletin No 3 of 1 October 2010:

The wages share of national income fell from 54.5% in June 2009 to 52.7% in June 2010. The profit share of national income showed a corresponding increase, from 26.6% in June 2009 to 28.5% in June 2010.

The wages and profit shares of national income measure the proportion of all income that is paid to labour and capital, respectively.

The wages share of national income is now at its lowest point since December 1964.

That of capital is at its highest ever.

Australia has many other issues that the rigidity of our two party conservatism cannot and will not challenge. I wonder if, like Tahrir Square in Egypt, we in Australia need a place of protest and occupation in say Sydney or Melbourne to take the struggle forward for aboriginal people, for women workers, for gays and lesbians, for peace, not war,  for refugees, for better public health, housing, education and transport, for real action to address climate change, for union rights, for better pay and conditions, in short a struggle for all working people?

Part of the reason for this failure of action on justice and equity is that Australia is a plutocracy in which both major parties rule for the super rich. The poor, the dispossessed, the working class, all are denied a say in running the country. But as the Middle East shows, we can do it. If we fight back.

The revolutionary left in Australia is small. It could try to organise a multidimensional demonstration and central occupation with these demands.

But it would need other social forces, such as one or more left wing unions, or even the Greens if they can be tempted away from their parliamentary cretinism, to give such a demonstration and protest real life. 

The shit of ages is waiting to be swept away. Can we on the Left begin the task of cleaning out Australian capitalism’s Augean stables and reinvigorate the fight for a society of justice and democracy?



Comment from Calligula
Time February 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Appears those Towelheads (bless ‘em) are shaming everyone.
Or has this stuff been happening all the time without our ‘free press’ reporting it?
Or is it just another huge CIA disinformation project?

Will those ‘Black Helicopters’ be dusted down and fuelled up to go out and soundlessly pluck dissidents off Godfearing American streets?
I don’t see why not.
The CIA need the work while the National Guard tend to be noisy – going by past efforts –

I’m old enough now so that according to statistics I should be conservative in outlook.
In other words I’m supposed to be so smothered in crapola and propaganda that I’d forgotten what happened at Kent State.

Sorry bastards, wrong.
But I’ve learned to survive.
I sit here in my dotage waiting for someone to push the envelope here in Oz.
Believe me, Cal, when I say that I’ll be waiting here in town, wearing my Nazi Party collar pin, leaning on my walking cane, waiting for the police to round up dissenters so’s I can get in a few clouts at ‘em myself.

Just for form’s sake mind you, ‘The Queensland Way’.

The Queensland way, you ask?
• Never reveal your true sentiments.
• Never speak your politics.
• If the mob is after blood pretend you want a taste too.
• If your friend is down and being kicked in the head by the mob – then join in; kick him in the head as hard as you might – for if he awakens he might let slip that, yesterday, you were his friend.
• If your ‘once friend’ survives that – deny ever knowing him.
• If he sees you in the street – turn your back to him
• Never put yourself in the situation of having to speak with him or look him in the eyes ever again.
• When your ‘once friend’ dies – then piss on his grave. Make sure that you have a witness to that so that he can report back to the masters that you are no longer any threat to them.
• Then go home and weep and weep in shame.

That is the Queensland way.

Comment from Calligula
Time February 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

John –
I’ve told you of the Queensland way.
A bit depressing, what?
But then again I don’t overmuch like being called a Nazi and a liar by some of your correspondents.

I decided to speak about how Queensland works – not to reveal how I operate but to speak plain about what it is like to be kicked in the head.
Also to convey the fact that some of us brain damaged do still have long memories.

So now there are revolting people in Wisconson.
Wisconson used to be industrial.
Now, I imagine, it is a sometime (and probably long-term unsustainable) home to several ethnic groups with little allegiance to the founding fathers.

There, in a nutshell, is why Mr. Obama attained the presidency.
The Lodge, the Hellfire Club, the Bilderbergs and the rest hoped he’d be compliant.
Perhaps he’s not. Perhaps he’s an iron willed pragmatist gambling his own worth and the presidency against time?

Demographics change versus greed –
The USSR and its satellite states appeared to collapse under the unrelenting moral and financial pressure of that US export, democracy.
They didn’t, of course, fold for that reason.
Stupid bloody seppos playing stupid games didn’t help but what folded the game was complexity, greed, conflicting interests and entropy.

Exactly the same is happening to the USofA while we speak.

That and more people than ever before who don’t give a continental about share portfolios. – people who’d laugh in your face if you offered ‘em such a useless object for free.

A weakness of the American system is that a person can walk away from debt.
Another is that if you are poor, you die.
It has now reached the stage that if you are well off, then become unwell, or unemployed – you soon go broke, then you die.

The greatest nation on earth has replicated exactly the same conditions for itself as featured in the collapsed USSR.
Meanwhile an increasing number of the population are illegals or of ethnic groups holding little allegiance to Uncle Sam.


Comment from dl
Time February 19, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Democratic senators have actually physically left the state in order to avoid negotiating? That’s sounds extreme. I wish these protesters all the best, naturally, and especially in the face of the enormous bush tax cut extension compromise that was passed I think the reason that such a fuss is being kicked up over this is due to having an anemic private sector, with lacklustre wages, with Public sector employment seeming to be one of the increasingly few things keeping the middle class afloat.

As for Lenin’s pithy ‘days when decades happen’ quote, hasn’t that been vindicated over the past month. I even heard that protests have began to start in Bolivia.

IMHO I think that global food prices have played a massive in role in the spate of ‘Insurrections’ we’ve seen, and an analogy could be made to Imperial China historically, in which periods of major unrest have corresponded with changing weather patterns. In saying that though, I don’t mean to demean the protests.

As for Australia having it’s Tahrir square, I think we’ll have to wait until we have our next period of economic instability, right now the country is fairly sedated on the excellent terms of trade and concomitantly low unemployment that we have managed due to our large volume of commodity (mining) sales.

Incidentally, have you been following the recent BHP Billiton half yearly earnings report. Profits of $US58.2 million a day. I heard Joe hockey the other day announcing that Julia Gillard had lost an estimates $60 billion over the next f10 years due to her Mining tax compromise, a tax that he fought tooth and claw against when Rudd was trying to pass it. Unprincipled scumbag.

Comment from Nelda
Time February 20, 2011 at 1:09 am

“He’s (Gov. Scott Walker) getting riots, it’s like Cairo’s moved to Madison these days.” – Wisconsin republican rep Paul Ryan.

Comment from Ross
Time February 20, 2011 at 2:21 am

No Calligula, the weakness of the American system is not that you can walk away from debt,much of that debt should not exist at all.Both here and throughout the West increases in GDP that belong to all people, are created as debt by the private banking system.The more GDP we have ,the more debt we incur.

Comment from John
Time February 20, 2011 at 10:41 am

dl, rather than waiting for an upsurge here, and linking it to a time when workers are weakest industrially, maybe the Australian left could test the waters with a cal to organise a protest in say a month’s time for action to address climate change, the northern territory intervention, for massive pay increases for workers in ‘traditional’ female workplaces, for refugees, against war, against the Australian Building and Construction Commission etc etc etc. Nothing may come of it but it might be worth exploring given the changed dynamic about struggle that is going on around the world.

Comment from Magpie
Time February 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

John and readers,

Wisconsin goes to Egypt:

Comment from Magpie
Time February 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

And John,

A link with research results and data about inequality worldwide:

Comment from Calligula
Time February 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm

John –
There will never be Australian ‘leaders’ while they are being threatened with violence or being paid off.
I have never received an offer to be paid off.
On the other hand violence has indeed been offered.

It has not been offered to me – but rather to my son.
The offer came from Zac Sarra, Qld magistrate in courtroom 22 in the midst of what was supposed to be a civil hearing.
Sarra offered, that while we were detained at court at his leisure he could have our son killed by police at our home.

We’d lost one son after illness a few months before.
Sarra, a Queensland ‘judge’ threatened myself and my family as if he were a member of the Klu Klux Klan and I was a negro.
It is about time that you, John, admitted that this sort of thing is happening in Australia.

Comment from Duanne
Time February 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

If the people of Australia rose up against our governments, judiciary, banks, corporations and agents, all who have formed a cartel to enslave the people I would willingly participate. The people are living flesh and blood men and women, they are not fictitious entities as is being used against us now. We have common law rights which have been denied to us and replaced by statute laws labeling us as corporate entities. Its time we peacefully rose up and reclaim our democracy.