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John Passant

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February 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)



What about Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil. It is the largest exporter of petroleum. The country has 20% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves.

According to the CIA World Fact Book ‘the petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.’

Foreign workers – mainly from Asia – produce that wealth.

The country has a workforce of just over 7  million in a population of 26 million. Almost 6 million of the workers in the Kingdom are foreigners.  They play the key role in the oil industry.

Unemployment among Saudi Arabians is estimated at anywhere between 10 and 25 percent. Among young Saudis the figure is estimated at 40 percent. Nearly half the population is under 18.

Their education levels do not make them suitable for many jobs other than feather bedded state ones.

The country is ruled by a dictatorial royal family. The King and crown princes have an average age of 83. 

The country is run according to sharia law. The Islam of the House of Saud – Wahhabism – is a conservative literalist version. Osama bin Laden thinks the dictators in charge of Saudi Arabia are corrupting Wahhabism.

Corrupt they certainly are. Although Saudi Arabia is the richest Arab country, that wealth has been declining per capita since the early 80s.

The disparities in wealth are great. Some estimates have 30 percent of the population living in poverty, without adequate education.

The oil workers – the producers of the wealth in Saudi Arabia – are relatively well paid compared to those working Saudis. They could destroy the Saudi Arabian dictatorship overnight.

They make up only 2 percent of the working population but they are the key to the wealth of the Kingdom. Without them working – either because of strikes or internal unrest possibly targeting them – the economy would collapse within a week.

 Most foreign workers are in fact in domestic work and extremely badly paid and treated.

A large youth demographic. High unemployment. That sounds familiar across North Africa and the Middle East.  

Just across the water – in fact Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are connected by a huge bridge – lies Bahrain. The House of Saud has urged the rulers there to crack down brutally on demonstrators.

Part of the reason for this is that the monarchy in Bahrain is Sunni, while 60 percent of the population are Shi’ite. The Sunni minority do very very well.

15 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population are Shia, and they live in the oil rich region of the country.

Saudi Arabia shares a border with Yemen, another country undergoing a revolution. Egypt is just across the Red Sea. In Kuwait, another country with which Saudi Arabia shares a border, the Bidoon are demonstrating, demanding citizenship rights.

Let’s look at the scorecard for Saudi Arabia. High youth unemployment. Massive inequality. Corruption. Declining wealth. A large minority of the population discriminated against on religious grounds. An economy totally dependent on oil, and the industry dominated by foreign workers who have absolutely no rights. Revolutions nearby setting an example of how ordinary people can change the world.

No, there could never be a revolution in Saudi Arabia, could there?



Comment from Calligula
Time February 22, 2011 at 11:46 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.

[Comments removed as potentially defamatory.]

I’ve lost track.
Might be best if it was said –

John – I begin to suspect that you are an agent-provocateur.
I’m half listening to Phill Adams and that old fart of a gardening expert from Tasmania as I write rhis
Peter Cundall – that’s him – ASIO files a mile deep.

Mine must go back to the time I supported the Green bans behind King’s Cross in the mid 70s.
Shit yeah. I was there.
Finks MC on one side and Hell’s Angels, the other.
What a bloody turnout?
Was I in the middle?


Just happened to have met some wanker who was living in Victoria Street, behind the Cross and did my best to close my eyes whenever the Governor of New South Wales was dropped off across the street in his Maroon Bentley to shag ‘Rita’ and ‘Tina’ across the way.
I’m sure most Australians wouldn’t want to believe that – but that was the arrangement.
When the door was open the Gubernatorial limo stopped – a little dude jumped out of the limo, ran through the door – then the door slammed shut.
Meanwhile the Maroon Gubernatorial Bentley shazzamed onwards and orbited the Cross, one would assume while the Governor, The ViceRoy, took his pleasure.
A few more slow orbits of a limo that must have stood out like dog’s balls but when the front door stood ajar that limo slowed down enough for someone to zip across the foothpath and climb aboard – then whoosh away.

Of course I’m dreaming.
No Governor of NSW would DREAM of exposing himself to the repercussions of behaving that way.
This was In Victoria Street – the focus of intensive media attention during the Green Bans in the mid 1970s.
Funny that, isn’t it. On one side of the street the Governor of NSW had a date with a couple of whores to shag himself stupid.
On the other side of the street the media were following the Green Bans – broken heads, rape, people disappearing every day.

Yet not one member of the media ever looked across that street, never noticed the Gubernatorial erection, just fifteen feet away, as he leapt from his limo toward that momentarily open door?
Why not quit pretending.

Our system has been rotten to the core from day one.
I had no intention of going out there to discover our faults.

They just keep jamming me in the eye whichever way I turn.

No Revo In Saudi, eh?
One right here might serve us well.

Comment from Laptop Battery
Time February 23, 2011 at 3:24 am

Saif Gaddafi just blamed Canada for chaos. I think that’s the first time someone’s blamed Canada for war outside of South Park. libya

Comment from juanR
Time February 23, 2011 at 10:15 am

Dear John, please allow me the following tirade.

Today, 23 of February 2011, is the 30th anniversary of the attempted “golpe de estado”, coup d’etat in Spain.

On this date in 1981, M Tejero, a Colonel of the Spanish Guardia Civil, a quasi paramilitary police, much hated by the people during Franco’s dictatorship, burst into the Spanish Parliament which was in session, followed by a band of “golpistas”, machine guns in hands, and ordered every body to crouch under their seats. An 18 hours siege followed waiting for the second part of the “golpe”, the involvement of a number of army generals around the country. During most of this time Spanish television continued to broadcast the drama inside the Parliament.

Irony of irony, it was left to Spanish King Juan Carlos, to seize the moment, and a microphone and a TV camera and order the “golpistas” to surrender. They did.

In a twist wordy of a Mozart opera, King Juan Carlos, a Constitutional Monarch by personal choice, and the grand son of King Alfonso XIII, an Absolutist Monarch by tradition, whom himself had been dethroned in 1923 by the military led by Captain Miguel Primo de Rivera, was able to thwart the coup, avoid bloodshed in a country scarred by a bloody civil war some years earlier and keep democracy alive in Spain.

King Juan Carlos is possibly the most trusted public figure in Spain today.

Despite the terrible economic circumstances of the country, with over 20% general unemployment, nearly 40% among the young’s, and the constant hounding and punishment of the Spanish Government and other institutions by the global financial oligarchy, Spain’s society today is a vibrant, tolerant and open-minded one. What other country would absorb an immigration intake, both legal and illegal, equivalent to 12.5% of its population, in a matter of a few years and keep its political stability and social harmony.

Democracy is made by the masses’ desire for peace and prosperity. It sometimes needs the help of a King or a Nobel Peace Price winner or a guru in loin cloths or a social network, but what it never needs is the help of the merchants of death, the type of people who accompanied David Cameron on his recent visit to Egypt. I am really concerned about the fate of the poor, long suffering Arab countries.

Hasta la victoria siempre


Comment from Dave
Time February 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

More good news…apparently there are also anti-government rallies taking place or planned in sub-Saharan Africa including Cameroon…this is beginning to shape up to be another 1968, but this time in the Third World…

Comment from Magpie
Time February 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Some time ago, I read a commenter (clearly, not a “loony lefty”), who wrote:

“Remarkable: except for its conclusions it reads like a ‘loony left’ analysis…”

The commenter was impressed with a Citibank report leaked (actually, a very professional one, if you ask me, although my blood pressure rose sky high with it). And he was shocked that many of the things the report said were similar to what “loony lefties” say.

Fair enough.

Here’s a comment by BBC’s Paul Mason on why “ideology”-free political revolutions (like those in the Middle East), which aim to bring democracy, quickly tend to acquire an economic aspect:

“In a country run by old men, where the borders between corruption and perfectly legal patronage and cronyism are blurred (I am writing this in Dublin Airport!), for the youth, the workers and the urban poor, each in their own way, there is NO SEPARATION OF GRIEVANCES BETWEEN ECONOMICS AND POLITICS.”

Maybe Mason doesn’t realize it, but isn’t that what historical materialism is all about?

It’s true: when bourgeois economists and journalists use their brains and do their work properly (as Mason often does), they do sound like “loony lefties”.

Revolutions: the democracy thing is becoming an economic thing

On a black humour note:

Lost in translation: Gaddafi supposedly said: “I will fight to the last drop of MY blood”.

Translated into English: “I will fight to the last drop of YOUR blood”.

Gaddafi wishes to become a martyr. Where is the genie that will concede him 3 wishes?

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