Friday, March 30, 2007

Digression: David Hicks, Amnesty, Gitmo

With all the renters in the nation being left to the dogs by Howard and Co, and State Govts dithering ineffectually, DH feels it is churlish to complain about her lot, which is enviable while she's got it, but dont let any pollies hear about it, lest they sic the "downward envy" mob onto her in a classic divide-and-rule manouevre...

So, being relatively secure DH will for the moment devote herself to Good Works, and nothing seems more important than the David Hicks case.

Pay no attention to that silly bitch, Miranda Devine, who only lives to stick it to the "intellectual" suburbs, ie the people who pay for her bread and butter by continuing to buy the the SMH, even when it allows the likes of her to insult them. Now there we have a case of "upward envy" - she doesn't seem to have much of a brain for complexity, does she?

Anyhow, DH has said it before: personally she thinks David Hicks should be made an example of, to deter other young men with more testosterone than brains from throwing themselves into Islamo-fascist adventurism, but not at the expense of Australia's self-respect. She quotes with approval which states

Because the evidence against David Hicks will never really be tested in a proper court, we will never feel certain whether five years plus of punishment was given to an innocent or guilty man. Because unlike other governments, ours has failed to stand up for its citizen's basic human and legal rights - and that matters more than what kind of man David Hicks is or isn't.

The Federal Government has diminished Australia by legitimising an unfair and illegal system, by allowing an Australian, guilty or innocent, to be imprisoned year after year without trial despite serious reports of mistreatment and abuse; by failing to do what America, its allies and even its adversaries around the world did, which is to say "no citizen of ours will be treated this way."

Our Government should stand shamed, not smirking. And to help remind our Prime Minister where the Australian people stand, we've got a delivery planned: 17,000 postcards from you, plus 10,143 directly from voters in his own electorate, demanding David Hicks be returned home now. Collected in just ten hours by GetUp members, that's roughly one in every eight voters in Bennelong; people who, regardless of their opinion of David Hicks, have written directly to John Howard asking for justice.

That's because they understand something the Prime Minister apparently doesn't - that the values of a civilised society, including the prohibition against torture and freedom from imprisonment without a fair trial, are bedrock. They're w hat we fight for when our soldiers are sent to war; they're what we look to in times of uncertainty. They're part of what separates us from the dictators and thugs we condemn.

DH recommends that readers check out this video too, by the defence team at Gtmo:, Horrifying when we know that many of the inmates are completely innocent, perhaps in the wrong place at the wrong time, confessing to anything to get away from the United States ingenious methods of torture - being taped inside a sleeping-bag and hung upside down being the one mentioned in the tape. To think the DH has lived to see the West, to which her family escaped from Eastern European tyranny, to sink into such depravity in her lifetime

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Labor win it - let's be in it

To have the final word on the preceding argument between Garry, "Himself" and DH: Labor has been given another chance by the electorate. Given this reality, it's not enought to sit on the sidelines and carp and criticise. While DH has a great old time as a satirist and Labor is as often in her sights as the Liberals, she is also inside the party doing her best to influence its future direction.

While she can't see a great deal of result and mostly feels like an outsider in the party, this is only because she really always will be an outsider unless other marginal and dispossessed groups take it upon themselves to join the party and reclaim its agenda from inside. At the moment the social conscience of the party is a museum piece with middle-class curators doing their best to keep it alive. The curators are wonderful people and DH admires and respects them for their goodwill and dedication, but its up to those minority groups who have been cast out and dispossessed by the C*p*t*list (DH can't quite bring herself to utter the daggy and unfashionable C-word) mode of production to take up the tradition and make it really live again. She increasingly finds herself agreeing with people like Noel Pearson Give us help to help ourselves and Taking Ownership - sooner or later change has to come from within. This includes nurturing whatever seeds of tenant's will to self-respect there are, and their capacity for self-criticism and will for change. This is not a moral argument, but simply that tenants have to realise that if they don't do it for themselves and stand up for themselves, they will be swept away by Globalisation Warming's economic Tsunami. Real change has nothing to do with moralising around the ballot box once every 4 years but at getting in there, into Labor, or even whichever political party, getting educated, and struggling to get more effective every day,

Garry responds
(note the use of the colour green to denote Garry's bit is not to hint that DH has any inside knowledge whatever of his voting intentions - it is merely that green is the theme colour of TSN posts)
Amen, DH, Amen....provisionally!

The provision? Remaining with the party, on the inside, with the intention of driving change, is all well and good, if that's what one genuinely and actively intends to do and eventually does. However, more often that not, in my experience, the "you've got to be in it to win it" justification is simply an excuse deployed by the party-political-punter who is in fact as happy as Larry with their party's current course.

Because I know and respect the individual making the 'affirmation' in this instance, and publicly at that, I think it's a rational and productive course of action to follow and I applaud it. But I'm sure DH will appreciate, more than most, why I taken the "you can't change it from the outside" mantra with a grain of salt.

It's a very short trip down the philosophical highway, from "I was only with them because I was trying to make a difference" to "I was only following orders". Stockholm Syndrome is a sad enough malady, without justifying one's actions with the Nuremburg Defence.

Finally, it's perhaps another symptom of Stockholm Syndrome, that sufferers appears to be unable to present facts without bias. "Labor has been given another chance by the electorate", the statement oddly fails to mention that a considerable portion of "the electorate" in fact did NOT give Labor a second chance. The biggest swing against Labor since the 1980s, I heard one commentator call it. So in representing what your party does and does not have a mandate to do, lets try to remember that a near-miss does not a convincing or overwhelming mandate make.

DH's last word

Points taken, though this is a classic and irresoluble political dilemma - risking co-optation versus risking irrelevance - different people resolve it in different ways at different eras of their lives. Fortunately the world is still made up of all kinds - and idealists can always change their spots. As Little Red ApparatChick said to DH, what big eyes you have - all the better to scrutinise your internal processes with - And what a big mouth you have - all the better to critique you with, m'dear.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stockholm Syndrome continued.

Garry Mallard responds to a commentator on the previous post who wrote:

1. It is wrong to suggest that things 'couldn't be worse' under the Libs: they could be. The Libs could completely abolish public housing, selling it off. Brogden's public service cuts could only further deteriorate the service at the drastically understaffed DOH.

2. DH is right to argue that being a member of the Labor Party may help you guide it in the right direction, while voting for it will only confirm the bastards in their complacency. The problem is that if you are in the ALP you are a) expected to vote Labor b) expected to tell everyone else to vote Labor . You could preference another party without the ALP finding out and expelling you, but to suggest voting for another party will certainly get you expelled, no? That's the determining reason why I won't join the ALP: I believe that voters who want the ALP to move to the left should send out a clear message by voting Green, even if they are closer to the ALP's politics that the Greens'.

Posted by "Himself" to Diary of a Desperate Houso at Wed Mar 21, 07:55:00 PM EST

Garry's response:

Stockholm Syndrome - I rest my case!

Yes, I've heard the hysterical bleat, "but they'll sell all the public housing" the sky will fall. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the evidence justifying that paranoia would be? And the difference between selling-off public housing, and privatising it through stealth either by selling it off or clear-felling it one estate at a time (Dubbo, Minto, Bonnyrigg, St Mary's) or via transfers to community housing organisations and banks like Westpac in 35 year Public Private Partnership redevelopment deals a la Bonnyrigg would be what exactly.....??

And just for the record, Labor has been in power for the 12 years during which, public housing stock has decreased in a not-inconsiderable way. Labor doesn't build additional homes. It just builds the odd new one from time to time and calls it "new" - NEW not ADDITIONAL. Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the pre-election media bumph will have seen how the Iemma govt's $230 million affordable housing (election) strategy has been totally and profoundly debunked by analysts, who have also exposed the fact that the only new money going to housing in the aforementioned election promise is $30 million dredged up from interest on Rental Bond Board investments and unclaimed other words tenants - punters on the waiting list and/or in housing stress are subsidising the Iemma Govt's pre-election fraud.

And who introduced the "Relocating tenants for Management Purposes" policy that was dropped on the DoH website by dead of night on March 16, giving the department guiding parameters by which it has the power to shuffle tenants around as it pleases, for whatever reason takes its fancy? Who has gradually robbed NSW tenants of every provision of the act and management convention that once made public housing the bastion of security and affordability it once was? Was it the Greens....the Democrats...the Coalition....the Shooters' Party perhaps? was Labor. And Labor is doing the same thing right around the Nation, robbing tenants of the security of tenure they once enjoyed - selling off stock rather than building additional units.

There is plenty of money in NSW to solve the housing crisis. It simply isn't the govt's priority to do so, because it knows that of all the portfolios, public housing is the only human service it can totally ignore without fear of criticism from the tax payer. It can do that because a Labor Minister (and 2 predecessors) keeps running the sector down in the media - "Public Housing is housing of last resort!" "The Department is the Landlord of last resort!" "Housing is a hand-up when you need it, not a hand-out for life!" "We're getting tough on bad tenants" - and in this statement in particular govt conveniently forgets that it now only houses "those most in need" who are often those least capable of taking responsibility for their own actions - the new target groups - the mentally ill - the homeless (who are often mentally ill) - "people who cannot maintain a tenancy in the private sector" (the mentally ill again, the drug addicted and Indigenous people to name a few) - the frail-aged - " Is offering housing only to people who are the most disadvantaged and least capable of sustaining successful tenancies and then kicking said disadvantaged people while they're down, all part of the state Labor manifesto is it?

Honestly, why vote Labor again? What is it we have to be grateful for? Why do we do it? The last one's easy to answer. We do it because that's what we always do!

I say it again, Stockholm Syndrome!


Posted by Garry to Diary of a Desperate Houso at Thu Mar 22, 09:39:00 AM EST

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Housos and Labor: Stockholm Syndrome? Election comment from Garry Mallard

As the clock ticks towards the NSW state elections, DH has received the following email from Garry Mallard, the Co-ordinator of the National Tenant Support Network, and generally considered to be one of the most knowledgable and influential housos in Australia.

From Garry

I wonder how many of your readers are familiar with the condition known as, "Stockholm syndrome" ? If you're a low income earner and/or a public housing tenant, and you vote Labor, chances are you're a sufferer... tho, you may not consciously realise it.

The condition refers to an emotional attachment to a captor formed by a hostage as a result of continuous stress, dependence, and a need to cooperate with said oppressor for survival. The syndrome was 'coined' in pathology following an incident in Stockholm in 1973, during which a bank employee became romantically attached to a robber who held her hostage. What has this to do with Labor? Everything!

The working classes; the battler and the underdog, have traditionally voted for Labor because, equally traditionally, Labor has sold itself as their advocate and protector. Yet it is Labor that is the architect of the residualising housing policies we're subject to today. It is Labor, not the Liberal-Country Coalition that has destroyed the concept of security of tenure. It is Labor that has so residualised public housing that the only people who qualify (at time of writing) are those most desperately in need of housing....those experiencing the worst form of disadvantage. They alone get a guernsey under Labor. Great news for one-armed, sociopathic, quadriplegic, drug addicted, comatose, banjo virtuosos, with acute tinnitus and a harelip. Not so good news for the rest of us.

It is Labor that has introduced a formal policy (March 16, 2007) enabling the Department to shift you whether you like it or not, for "management purposes", which include getting in the way of property developers. It is Labor that can evict you for refusing to move when asked.
It is Labor that introduces these draconian policies to cover the terrible doesn't build houses like it used to in halcyon days of yore and Green Bans! When you don't create additional resources (houses) you have little choice but to tighten the rules about who gets to inhabit a shrinking resource. And as the houses built at a time when Labor WAS Labor crumble with age, so Labor of the 3rd millennium tightens eligibility still more.

In fact, if Labor keeps tightening eligibility at the current rate, and given another decade to avoid its responsibilities, practically no one will be eligible for public housing....the waiting list will be zero and the Department will boast tens of thousands of vacant homes - supply will outstrip demand and, lo, there will be a cheer from the tax-payer and bunting will stream at every mast in celebration. And it will tout this result as an example of responsible management.....the operation a success!

Despite this, come March 24, the working classes; the battler and the underdog will vote for Labor AGAIN! They might just as well drop their pants when leaving the polling booth, to facilitate the next 4 years of Labor rogering they've chosen for themselves.

For a decade, when asked why the social housing sector is going to the dogs (if only the dogs had houses), Labor's response has been various variations on, "It's the Coalitions fault! The Feds have gutted the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement!" Yes, there is no denying that's true, but NSW voted for a Labor state govt. The role of a state govt is to manage the business that is the State. In any other business, where a manager employed to solve problems proved to be incapable of doing so, the owners of the business would sack that manager. Not so in the case of the business known as NSW, oh no. We assess the managers' performance from time to time and, finding it wanting, we extend his/her contract. Stockholm syndrome! We identify with our oppressor....we even parrot its philosophies.

Right about now, those of you with advanced, acute and incurable Stockholm syndrome will be saying, "If we had a Coalition govt we'd really be in the sh*t!!!" In rebuttal I offer a response I've not uttered since 6th class, "Prove it, go-orn, I dare ya!" The fact is we don't know we'd be worse off with Johnny & Co. In fact, judged on social housing performance alone, I challenge anyone to suggest a horror future scenario under the Libs that Labor hasn't already either implemented or foreshadowed.

There are other parties to vote for.....there are other ways to send messages to govt. There are 300,000 + (yes, three-hundred-thousand plus) votes in NSW social housing...not to mention all the votes sitting on waiting lists, and all the votes wondering why "affordable housing" is a term relevant only to lotto winners these days. That's a lot of messages! Regardless of who you choose to give your vote to, every vote you don't give your oppressor is a step toward your recovery from the dreaded Stockholm Syndrome.

DH's response
DH herself believes that Housos should stick with the ALP, not necessarily as voters, but as members. It may look almost impossible to distinguish the Lab right from the Lib left, but there is a lot of symbolic leverage that can still be extracted from the ALP's traditional commitment to socialism. It's up to the battlers to get politically active on their own behalf, to learn the system and use it. We are not living in compassionate times, everyone is running scared, and if you don't look after yourself, there are only a very few benevolent souls and organisations left who will. DH would like those 300,000 people plus all their mates, the private renters, to take it on themselves to stack every branch in the ALP, support good candidates, and let all the political parties feel their muscle. And of course, irrespective of party membership, whoever you actually vote for when the crunch comes is between you and the ballot box.

Friday, March 09, 2007

NSW Elections: Decisions, decisions! Mummy Party, Daddy Party, or "The Kids"?

DH reckons that we should call things by the name that most accurately defines them.

"Labor" is a name that comes straight out of the 19th and early 20th century, and is no longer terribly relevant. What Labor now stands for, or should stand for, is social justice and compassion, nurturing and looking after people, being indulgent and forgiving of all it' wayward children, traditional "Mummy" values.

The Liberal party no longer stands for laissez-faire values, being more concerned with surveillance, control, and punishment. Its strict, prudent, punitive attitudes, are all traditional "Daddy values". Vote for them if enjoy being sternly disciplined from time to time. Just watch out for an outbreak of "Deadbeat Dad" values when the Daddy State tries to do a runner on his Welfare Mummy bride, abandon the kids and refuse to pay maintenance so they can get an education, get their teeth fixed let alone buy new shoes.

Being a mummy herself, DH makes no secret of being a card-carrying member of the Mummy Party, and reckons that in the Inner West, you can't beat the excellent trifecta of Tanya Plibersek, Verity Firth and Alice Murphy. Although how Joe Tripodi, the Leb Maronites from Fairfield, Michael Costa's shining pate, Leo McLeay's son and heir, shonky "builders", and assorted alleged wife-beaters and pedophiles, to name just a few, got their ugly mugs into this cosy picture of domestic bliss and harmony is anyone's guess.

Having once been a Kid herself, before she had to learn to balance budgets and get totally real, DH still has a soft spot for the Greens. The kids are the future and light the way forward, but DH isnt ready for generational change just yet

But wearing her Houso hat, she reckons Sylvia Hale should be up there in the Senate where she does a brilliant j0b keeping housing issues on the agenda.

DH feels a bit guilty for having a go at Morris Iemma simply because he looks so dorky - after all she is no beauty queen herself, so should not be endorsing Looksism. And Morris may yet turn out to be like the contender in Aesop's fable - Tortoise and the Hare - slow and steady wins the race.

Though heaven knows Debnam is no Hare. This is definitely the Race of the Killer Tortoises.

However, DH doesnt really fully understand why Debnam is so unpopular. Before she became a houso, she hung on precariously in a Bondi redbrick walkup, and was a School Councillor at one of the local public schools. Peter Debnam used to come in to advise the committee from time to time, and she found herself liking him despite an ingrained aversion to all things Liberal - she found him modest, earnest practical and helpful...

DH heard Cherie Burton speak at a public meeting in Glebe recently, and for the first time, she sounded like she was more across her portfolio, and generally more reasonable and even caring as far as mental health issues were concerned. The Labor party certainly seems to be moving to invest more in public housing, and clearly some of the old stock has to be rebuilt. However they badly and insensitively mishandled the way they notified Lilyfield residents of the imminent redevelopment, and have only themselves to blame if such behaviour costs them votes among their traditional bases.

DH's housing activist friends argue that the Govt is deliberately allowing housing stock to be run down in order to sell it off. They see the devil lurking in every detail. While DH loves to indulge herself in a good rant, personally she is more optimistic and doesn't believe everything is black and white, or that politicians are pure evil, or that community housing is a trap, or that a formula can never be found that would make public private partnerships work in the public interest. She is opting to work within an imperfect system as best she can - politics as the art of the possible. Or has she simply been co-opted by party membership in an era in which poll driven parties all espouse the same values, so that it becomes harder to take sides, and you end up being driven by tribal allegiances - barracking for one team against the other, when they both play by the same rules anyway, simply because you chose them for the colour of their shorts...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Work tragedy: BBQs from Hell

DH has a strong personal stake in this story. Her father, one of the best men in the world, worked as a salesman for Barbecues Galore, till he died in 1995. DH is confident that Barbecues Galore's owners and slavedrivers will have their own little private rotisserie in hell. DH's father worked as a shop assistant six days a week, with only Wednesdays off. And Thursday mornings, so that he could do the late shift for late night shopping, one of the most banally evil practises dreamed up by Capitalism. All this for a wage that barely paid for rent plus maintenance on the old lemon that got him to work. As the carer for DH's disabled mother, he was not able to take on a more agressive career path, and as a renter, he could not afford to retire. It was heartbreaking that he missed out on all the social activities that took place among his friends and relatives on Sundays, so that ultimately a fragile family already affected by disability and low income, was further isolated and removed from its remaining social supports. BBQs from Hell unconscionably used the letter of the law to deprive DHs father of whatever tiny benefits he may have got.

For instance, DH was HORRIFIED to discover that despite working unsociable hours for 6 days a week, BBQs galore refused to pay her father full holiday pay, arguing that as he only worked 4 week days, his holiday pay could be pro-rated accordingly.

This is the reason why DH foams at the mouth whenever Howard talks about his "Family Values".

Any political party that talks about Family Values at the same time as refusing to endorse the basic tenet of Judaeo-Christian civilisation, the preminence of the Sabbath day of rest, will surely have their place reserved in the big Rotisserie for Hippocrites down below

From todays SMH

(See also below, research findings that indicate that mental health may be declining due to work stresses in what is now the hardest working country in the world)

Work killing the family, report says

Matt Wade March 6, 2007

AUSTRALIA has emerged as one of the most intensely work-focused countries, but it is creating a human tragedy.
Research has found a strong link between long and unpredictable work hours and the breakdown of family and other relationships.
Australia is the only high-income country in the world that combines very long average working hours with a high level of work at unsocial times - during weeknights and weekends - and a significant proportion of casual employment.
These work patterns are making employees unhealthy, putting relationships under extreme stress, creating angry, inconsistent parents, and reducing the well-being of children, says the report by Relationships Forum Australia, titled An unexpected tragedy.