Monday, February 26, 2007

Go Maxine! ... and deliver us from the Right Hon. Mr "Banality of Evil"

...thinking of the "budget surplus" extracted from the nation's rotting teeth, the choking of public housing, the ruination of childcare subsidies, the disgraceful transfer of funding from the poorest schools to the richest, the harassment and villification of battlers while pretending to be on their side, the transference of wealth from the working poor to the big end of town, the punitive and humiliating regimes of Centrelink, the gutting of Centrelink subjecting welfare recipients to bungle after bungle and desperation-inducing delays in payment, the breaches of the weakest, the deliverance of the effective CES (Commonwealth Employment Service) into the hands of unscrupulous private operators, for blurring the hard won boundaries between church and state, the tolerance of extremists if they happen to be Exclusive Brethren, the wedge politics, the non-core promises, the attempts to stifle dissent, most recently the unbelievable attempt to make individuals pay for organising boycotts, the Serf "Choices", the trashing of the ABC, the conscription of people with disabilities into pointless low paid jobs, the training of strike breakers in a Moslem state, while subtly stirring up race hatred at home, the fear campaign on terrorism used to supress civil liberties and freedom of the press, the toadying to that pathetic little jackanapes Bush in the Iraq debacle, Christmas Island, the detention centres, Siev-x, the Tampa, the undermining of Habeas Corpus with the Hicks case ...

But thanks for the free "Be Alert but Not Alarmed" fridge magnet!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Who says Australia isn't an egalitarian society? ...

DH is heartened to discover that as a nation, we show no fear nor favour, and just because someone is a billionaire, like Malcolm Turnbull, is no reason why he should be deprived of the right to the same rental subsidies as every other rentpayer. We don't want to see our politicians reduced to sleeping in the Parliamentary benches after all with only a newspaper to hide behind... that would be unthinkable.

And so what if a billionaire with two children gets $175 per day compared to the $8 the rest of us get, because its all roughly proportional, and some could argue that if the proportions were more fair, ppl like Turnbull, should rightly be getting abou $17,500 a day, so in fact, he is actually making a huge sacrifice, proportionally speaking compared to the rest of us.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Nationalise Mum-and-Dad landlords?

Yeah, in DH's communist dreams, from an era that didnt quite deliver on its promise...

But wouldnt it be nice to end this pernicious dog-eat-dog scramble for survival between the weak and the even weaker?

We've all heard the mutual horror stories between bad landlords and bad tenants.

Can't some scheme be worked out where small landlords are bought out, rid of their worries and ongoing insecurities, and rental properties are properly managed, licensed and maintained?

DH knows that this blog is read by lots of housing illuminati. She eagerly awaits having her grand vision shot down in flames by the experts

Titanic moment...

What's weird about it is that DH has no idea what got into her. What is it about the zeitgeist that suddenly made Sydney all go mad like this?

All she knows is that totally out of the blue and without knowing why, like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, she suddenly got up, grabbed her flamingo under one arm and her protesting child under the other, and without any further ado, we must needs go all hell bent for leather to the nearest ferry to go and see the QM2.

She just thought at the time that she'd had a really good idea for a relaxing low cost excursion to see the Harbour at dusk with the prospect of gawking at something stupendous.


What does DH care about luxury liners for the rich? Maybe she was hoping to see a replay of the Titanic and a spectacularly good riddance to a large number of rich bludgers.

That's the most likely explanation.

Anyhow its really not fair to blame the govt or the RTA for this. Who'dda thunk that everyone else had the same idea?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wake up and smell the bad breath. Something rotten in the state of Howard's Australia

As DH never tires of pointing out, see for instance Budget surplus extracted from our teeth, nothing says more about the Howard Government's true attitude to families than their...

  • immediate cancellation, in 1996, of $100, 000,000 a year for free dental care.

  • and now, $368 million a year, which pays 30 per cent of the cost of dental care for those rich enough to have private health insurance through the private health insurance tax rebate.

What a pity it took the media 10 years to wake up and smell the bad breath.
Read this FINALLY (!) from the Daily Telegraph, and weep for our nation.

We're a charity case

by Sue Dunlevy

WHEN a group of Thai Buddhist dentists feels compelled to come here to provide charity dental care for Australians, the true shame of our nation's appalling public dental program is revealed.

We live in a nation sporting a $10 billion Budget surplus but there are 650,000 Australians living in pain, many unable to get a job or eat normally because they can not afford to see a dentist.

I was embarrassed when I learned on a trip to outback Australia that the
highlight of the year in the tiny desert-bound town of Bedourie in Queensland
was a visit by five Thai dentists.

No disrespect to the burghers of Bedourie but you could see why they came when you saw the blackened, rotting and disappearing teeth of some of the people who lived in the area

In Sydney single mother Sue Gandy told The Daily Telegraph she was unable to get a job or attend her daughter's parent teacher interviews because her missing and broken teeth and rotting gums were ruining her life.

The NSW public dental service had offered to pull out all her teeth but told her she would have to wait two years before they could supply her with dentures to take their place.

The Australian Council of Social Services and the Health Services Union point out that poor public dental care has ramifications beyond the disfigurement and pain it causes the individuals who suffer from it. In the end it means many of these people are unemployable. It means they are left living off welfare and pain-killers and antibiotics paid for by the taxpayer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Affordable Eating:Recipe for Troubled Times

Don't forget that DH is a mother, and frankly, she is a little worried that you are all getting way too thin.

She offers the following Affordable Eating recipe for these trouble times that will soon get your cheeks rosy again.

DH asks all her readers to respect the fact that this Diary is a "No Vegemite Zone"

The Recipe

Back in the bad old days of the Iron Curtain, when the proletariat of Eastern Europe struggled to make ends meet while enduring a rental housing shortage reminiscent of Sydney 2007, Eastern European parents became expert in creating delicious food out of next to no ingredients.
DH feels the time is upon us when we might have to revive this tradition. She herself was fattened up on this wonderful dish, and still can't forgive her parents for thus aborting her career as a supermodel. On the other hand, she has the satisfaction of all her child's friends wishing she was their mummy after trying this heavenly concoction.

And it couldn't be cheaper, just the thing for the day before pension day, when all we housos have left in the world are a few spuds, some spilled frozen peas stuck to the floor of the freezer, that unopened bottle of No Frills Canola oil from last year's Vinnies food parcel, ditto can of No Frills Tomatoes, and No Frills Corn* and if you scratch around in the bottom of your handbag, you might get lucky and find the price of an onion or two.

But if you can hold out till pension day, for true luxury, the addition of a good quality sausage will make you the toast of the estate.


Bottom Line

  • 6-10 potatoes depending on size, sliced evenly lengthwise thru the middle into 6 - 8 portions
  • 1-2 onions
  • 3-4 tomatoes (can or sachet of paste equally good)
  • garlic to taste, mild flavoured oil (avoid virgin olive oil, even if you could afford it in your dreams, because anyway the flavour is too strong)
  • a generous handful of peas

Value added

For the authentic Eastern European experience ...

  • 1 large or 2 small European sausages such as csabai, chorizo, kabana. Avoid anything with a pallid white/ thick bright red plastic skin, or similar "cancer hazard" warning.
  • Table-spoon sweet red (not hot) paprika,
  • A capsicum in thin slices (leave it out if kids hate it)

How many people it feeds...

...depends on how many potatoes you think your admiring dinner guests can polish off in one sitting. Just keep adding potatoes, no-one will notice, and it will be just as good.


Slack version

  1. Chuck out the No Frills Creamed Corn, or pass it to the desperados in Number 17.
    No self-respecting household should own such a culinary travesty. Alternatively you can drop it off at the next Vinnies Food Drive, along with that tin of diced carrots that you can't stand. Don't worry, it wont be lost, it will come back to you next Christmas. Few people realise that there is a vast underground river of Tinned Corn flowing from charity to charity, kind of like the Carbon Cycle, except made of tin, according to the 4th Law of Thermodynamics: "Tinned corn is never created or consumed, it just changes owners".
  2. Chuck all the remaining ingredients except peas into pot, almost cover with water, bring to boil, then simmer on low until done. Throw in peas, cook till defrosted but still bright green.
  3. Enjoy your meal.

Master class

Repeat: NO TINNED CORN should ever find its way into this dish.

Cover bottom of saucepan with oil, sauté the onions and garlic on medium till golden.Add tomatoes, capsicum, and sausage, and continue to fry on low, stirring till the ingredients soften, but don't let the onions burn.Stir in the paprika, having taken the pot off the fire first, because burnt paprika is bitter.Stir the potatoes in, cover with water, bring to boil, turn to simmer until done, keeping the saucepan lid on at an angle to half cover the saucepan, which allows the steam to escape so the broth reduces, but keeps the heat in. By this time, the broth should have reduced to about 1/2 coveringDon't stir once potatoes soften. If they break up, it wont look as good.Just before turning off heat throw in handful of peas, fold in gently, and turn off as soon as they have warmed through. They are there for colour and a bit of sweetness, not to take over.

What it should look like

The final result should look slightly soupy, the potatoes floating in rich red broth, with the green peas making a bright contrast.

And finally, the dish's real name... Hagyomanyos Paprikas Krumpli - didn't want to scare you off ...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Credit where it's due: Federal initiatives on mental health

DH hates to admit it, because positivity is outside the terms of reference of this blog but sometimes our governments get things right.

As DH has mentioned before, she suffers from depression, and "suffers" is the operative word. She does not consider herself to be "mentally ill", a term already discredited in the 60s, and now making a comeback as our culture runs out of the energy for dealing with any level of complexity. The reasons for DH's depression are not some mysterious chemical insult to her brain, but the results of a combination of carer stress, lack of familial and institutional support, and the resultant poverty according to the simple formula:

Poverty = Disability **2

When DH sought support, which is what she needed to balance the equation, she found none. Whenever depression struck, particularly over the Christmas holidays in an ill-designed DOH house that provides no rest, no escape from heat stress (all glass, facing west, no insulation, no cross-ventilation) and with no family supports, other than the disabled mother who necessarily takes more energy than she gives, there was nothing.

DH couldnt find a psychiatrist who bulk-billed without months long waiting list. Finally she found one, a fellow very highly regarded in his profession. In his generosity, he told her that as a bulk-billed patient, he could only give her 1/4 hour of his precious time. She slammed this gift horse in the mouth. She tried a crisis service, but they didnt have funding for "mild cases" like hers. (It helps to have suicided first before applying). In 2005, she had a marvellous counsellor who had been her mainstay, an invaluable sounding board for life's difficulties. She met him when she received financial counselling on how to survive on $300 a week or whatever it was from a church run charity. Her counsellor was funded by gambling revenue. It seems the State Government has run out of gambling revenue, because the service was suddenly shut down. See this blog, State Govt runs out of Gambling Revenue! Counselli... In the meantime, DH's anti-depressants stopped working, and she found herself having to go cold turkey without any support whatsoever other than having a different script shoved at her by her GP. It was an awful time, and took about six months to stabilise, a period of roller-coaster dreams and mood swings, during which she was also holding down a very demanding job, doing volunteer community activism, caring for her child, and playing a part in amateur theatre. Her last 6 months of unemployment are a recovery from that frantic era.

Now for the good bit: Finally! The federal government has made 12 psychological counselling sessions available a year through Medibank, and DH has found a counsellor who is brilliant! Plus DH is seeing a careers counsellor thru Centrelink at CRS who is not just trying to shoehorn her into the first available job, but into helping her to find work that is meaningful and sustainable.

So it looks like the worst is over.

Of course no job will get DH out of the poverty trap that DOH has plunged her into with its lack of a strategy for transitioning out of public housing, and of course, no government has made any kind of commitment to doing anything serious about the housing crisis affecting renters.

But DH reckons, with a roof over her head, watching on in safety as 100 Generation Xers are battling to get into one 2nd rate rental property in her municipality, a meaningful job, her depression controlled, and her current range of very satisfying interests, her life is sweet, and she is very fortunate compared to the majority of the world's population


Oh how sweet it is!
To see that annoying little mosquito whining around the US body politic being swatted back where it came from.  
Forget Hilary, Obama is the man!

Obama blasts Howard on Iraq

6:35am | US presidential hopeful says if the PM is 'to fight the good fight' he should send another 20,000 Australians to Iraq.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hicks: Wicked King John of Oz forgets his Magna Carta

Looks like King John the 2nd of Oz, has forgotten yet another history lesson.

DH seems to recall that back in the good old days when she and John Howard were growing up, every 4th Grader in the realm learned that the proudest achievements of British civilisation was underpinned by Magna Carta. A quick check at the British Library reveals that 2 relevant sections to Our current travails still stand:

+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights
or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or
deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force
against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his
equals or by the law of the land.

+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice

Now it is true that back in 1215, King John I never had to face anything quite as abominable as Islamo-Fascist fundamentalism, (suicide archery having its technical limitations). DH would in principle be very happy to see Sheik Hilaly, the Brotherhood of Hizb-ut-Tavrir, all the "Moustaches with Fists" that from time to time grace our television sets, as well as their hood-blinkered wives, put on the slowboat back to Mecca, or any Islamic earthly paradise of their choice, if they can find one.

But not if comes at the cost of unravelling all that we hold dear about our civilisation

It was bad enough when Howard wanted to turn back the clock to the 1950's.

But to 1214??????

Learning to reframe, accept, and love the poverty trap

DH has flatly run out of things to complain about. She has now accepted that the only way out of her poverty trap, in the continuing absence of a transition strategy by the DOH for aspirational housos who want to save up to move out, is via lotto win or marriage. Any of you eligible bachelor DOH fatcats interested in taking up this challenge?

So in the absence of takers, she is now reframing herself not as poor, but as "environmentally sustainable". And really it's a great life. With nothing to lose, she can gad about being a professional victim, an endless source of downward envy for her middle class friends, doing good works and being a social critic to her heart's content. She can hang out for meaningful low-paid work in the public sector, and resist the temptation to be a highly paid-sellout, as a high salary wouldn't do her any good anyway. As long as she can still afford her daily latte...

And as she watches the drive-by petrol belchers, she knows that when the Antarctic Ice Shelf finally cracks off, and we'll all be drownded, it wont be her fault.