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John Passant

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March 2011



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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)

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

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Welfare meets Workchoices

Labor and the Liberals are in a race to the bottom in welfare bashing. At this stage Tony Abbott is just ahead with various schemes to abolish the dole, work for the dole or die for the disability pension.

But Labor has the May Budget to win the prize and prove to all those hansonite supporters with their Bob’s bitch and ditch the witch posters that they really are tough on the undeserving poor, unemployed and disabled.

By undeserving Labor and the Liberals mean anyone who is actually poor, unemployed or disabled.

Labor’s attacks on welfare recipients were tested on indigenous people through the racist invasion of the Northern Territory before they began to expand their attacks onto poor white people.

Both parties regard unemployment, poverty and disability as some sort of lifestyle choice instead of something systemic. The lack of a major left wing organisation to defend the unemployed and the disabled means that many workers agree.

At the heart of these welfare attacks is the same logic that drove Workchoices – to cut living standards and save Government spending on unemployment and disability pensions. These attacks are aimed at cutting wages. Cutting unemployment and disability pensions, freezing the ability to spend half the payments, puts pressure on prospective workers to take jobs at any wage. It is the logic of neoliberlaism and both major parties have the disease.

Labor can’t therefore substantially attack Abbott’s plans to abolish the dole in areas of low unemployment or to impose qua ranting. Indeed on quarantining Abbott made the obvious link to Labor’s policies.

If it is right and proper for long-term beneficiaries in the (Northern) Territory to have their welfare income automatically quarantined, why isn’t it right and proper for this to happen right around the country?

The answer is that it is not right and proper and that is why the Left has been campaigning with indigenous and other groups against the racist intervention. But Labor itself has the same plans so it can’t criticise Abbott on quarantining as a matter of principle.

All Labor can do is embrace the neoliberal within and criticise Abbott, as Finance Minister Penny Wong has done, for releasing an ‘uncosted policy’, calling it ‘typically reckless economic management.’

Sorry? reckless economic management? Is that it?

What about the fact that this is an attack on the most powerless sections of society. Labor now doesn’t even bother and can’t lie that it defends those groups since it is sharpening its razor and already cutting, as its support and management of the racist Northern Territory invasion shows.

This is debate between Labor and the Liberals over degree, not principle. Both parties are a disgrace, the disgrace that is neoliberlaism and serving the interests of the ruling class.

Meanwhile the tax system every year gives $113 billion in disguised grants to a range of people, especially big business and the rich who benefit to the tune of tens of billions. 

There is no attack from Labor or the Liberals on Defence spending, currently running at around $25 billion a year. Labor has guaranteed real spending increases of 3 percent per annum on Defence.

Gillard tonight was talking about savage Budget cuts. These won’t be on the rich and business. They will be on the poor and workers. Here’s part of what she said:

We can take these tough decisions now to bring the budget back to surplus – or we can put them off to the never-never, which will just make these decisions harder and these cuts more severe when the time comes.

Taking some pain now will ensure that households avoid a lot more pain in the future. 

What drives this budget surplus fetishism? A neoliberal vision of the world, one where the elite and their politicians seize any opportunity to shift wealth from the poor and working class to capital and the rich.

That is why labor backed down over a slightly stronger resource rent tax. That would have bought in an extra $100 billion over the next decade, more than enough to wipe out the eared deficit and pay for some extra benefits for the unemployed, the poor and the disabled.

Labor won’t do that because it is  a party of the bosses and now rules for certain sectional interests of capital, like the miners and the banks. 

It is time to fight back, to spread the opposition to the Northern territory invasion to the current plans of both Abbott and Gillard. This is easier said than done since the powerless find it very difficult to organise.

Workers on the other hand have real power in capitalist society. They produce its wealth. 

It is workers who can stop the neoliberal Workchoices style attacks of Labor and the Liberals on the unemployed and the disabled and in doing that defend their own living standards.



Comment from Auntie Rhoberta
Time April 1, 2011 at 7:19 am

Many of the workers who produce the wealth don’t live in Australia, of course.

Comment from John
Time April 1, 2011 at 9:11 am

True, and vice versa too. Many Australia workers produce wealth for capital in other countries.

Comment from Bill Taggart
Time April 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

By “workers have the power” do you mean all humans who are engaged in gainful employment (i.e. who “work”) or some sub-set? Either way, what do you propose they do in order to re-configure the welfare state to better serve those you deem “powerless”? Pull it apart utterly in an orgy of violence, participate within the framework of liberal democracy and try to influence events, or something else? Also to the extent that the “powerless” are disorganised or less able to organise themselves than others (how you reach this conclusion is anyone’s guess – still you run the blog so who am I to argue) what can you suggest they do to improve their capacity to organise? And to what end? Employment or something else? Your apparent (based on what I see in this site) determination to view every single aspect of life through the prism of the capital/labour dichotomy is fascinating. Do people still swallow this stuff holus bolus? I guess within your community of readers they must. Hope to hear form you in due course. BT

Comment from Calligula
Time April 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Defend, John.
How? Complain to an independent?
Raise the matter with a hypocrite of such proportions he makes Abbott look like the personification of reasonableness?
Work through his staffer, Django?

Part of a letter to Wilkie’s office –
“Hello Django,
Forgive this intrusion.
My curiosity had the better of me this morning so I decided to briefly ‘Google’ your name.
Appears that Django Reinhardt HAS been a bit of an influence in your life – if the references to a Tassie with your name and guitar music are indeed about you.
I only mention this since a certain ‘Django Reinhardt’ makes his appearance as one of the team on my favourite weblog.

Equally importantly, I found the following; your –
” – that shit goes well beyond mere political differences. The deliberate telling of a deliberate lie to the electorate is cynical, underhanded and dishonest. Whomever supports that for government has an ethical difference with me, not political.” –
– wherein that letter you have eloquently expressed what I was too cautious to write yesterday.

Idealism and idealistic public statements are well and good except they do result in people developing a reasonable expectation that positive, expeditious, actions must necessarily follow such words.

Now since you have noticed certain ethical problems within the conduct of affairs of certain political parties and we as a family have been subject to something much worse (at this stage neither you or Mr. Wilkie have any idea of the total of that) it might be best if you let yourselves become advised as to how entirely debased the whole show has become.

Mr. Wilkie claims to eschew this sort of thing. I believe it would be fair to say that he’s told Australia he detests dishonesty in politics and governance.
I have seen and been subject to dishonesty in politics and governance yet our local ‘representatives’ seem compromised to the extent of.being functionally comatose. (For what it is worth we have a fair idea why they’re like that. Aspirant candidates in Qld tend not to be selected if they are squeaky clean: unless they can consequently be subject to ‘leverage’.”) – letter continues

To which Django replies –
“Dear Sir

Thank you for your email. I do indeed play guitar, and am a fan of Django Reinhart, whom I was named after.

While I appreciate that your situation may be complicated and result in a lot of anguish to you, I would ask that you understand that Mr Wilkie receives numerous such representations from around the country and simply does not have the time or resources to give them the attention they deserve.

Please accept my apologies for this – I understand that you have heard similar responses from a lot of different authorities.”
Yours sincerely –

Herein lies the problem.
They are colluding lying bastards who cannot see that their actions fail their words.
They really do not give a continental and cannot see past their next term.
Utterly contemptible.

Comment from John
Time April 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I was thinking of people on unemployment benefits and DSPs as compared to those of us who sell our labour for a wage. We have the power to cut off the bosses’ profits and so win concessions as a start from them and their Governments. Concessions for example that protect the dole and its level and the DSP and its coverage and level as the long term threat to wage levels they are and to stop the dehumanization of those who cannot work because the system doesn’t provide them with the opportunities or treats them as lesser human beings because they can’t work.

Comment from Ross
Time April 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I have a simple question for all thinking people.If real wealth is in the skills,knowlege and wisdom of your people,then why do we now have shortage of money which merely the vehicle of this wealth? The gate keepers of our money supply are destroying real human potential by directing it to their own personal advantage.

It is currently being justified by the elites via climate change and man being an evil that needs to be seriously culled.

The reason is, we have allowed the banking/financial system to be the gate keepers of our productivity.They produce nothing,yet own almost everything.

This system is destroying real productivity and quality of life.We need new Govt banks that creates new money debt free.It was done during the Renaissance, which debt free tally sticks made possible an era of magnificant enlightenment and creation.

We have lost the plot amongst an era of plenty.

Comment from John
Time April 2, 2011 at 5:38 am

I think, and this might sound glib, that individual politicians elected to parliament will not normally be able to address particular concerns but that a democratic society where we all rule gives us that chance.

Comment from Bill Taggart
Time April 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm

So, that’s it? Withdraw your labour and this will somehow force both sides of politics to change their view? Got to say, I don’t see much there to excite me. Is this all just middle class navel gazing, not much substance IMHO.

Comment from John
Time April 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm

well Bill, it hasn’t been tried in about 30 years in Australia so maybe it looks like an abstraction. maybe it is. But people said the same thing about France in January 68. Or Poland in 79/80. Or Iran in 78/79 when workers set up shoras or workers’ councils. Or Bolivia in 2005 when workers began to set up councils. And of course the other strategies for resisting neoliberalism have been roaring success haven’t they? I think the BLF got it right with this slogan, if you don’t fight you lose. Given the state of the union and labour movement today, I am prepared to accept that my views won’t find resonance with many if any workers. But the old mole keeps digging away.

Comment from Bill Taggart
Time April 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

no worries, I think 1975 was about as close as we are likely to ever get to a full scale revolt in Australia, still, things may change if CBDs are suddenly under a few week of water – permanently. Can’t say I see the parallel with France, Poland, Iran or Bolivia, but then I guess it’s all about perspective.

Comment from John
Time April 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Maybe I am just an eternal optimist Bill who sees things others don’t, perhaps because they aren’t there, perhaps not. Maybe.

The historical examples show the unpredictability of revolution, and France 68 is a good example in an advanced Western country of workers stroking and shaking capitalism there too its foundations.

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