Thursday, January 31, 2008

St Heath Ledger: Patron Saint of Workers Martyred by the Clock?

While we do not know what the facts are around Heath Ledger's death, we do know that he died surrounded by prescription drugs, and that he was taking them to manage insomnia and anxiety caused by the inflexible demands of his job.

The fact is that for all the glory, kudos, and high pay, Heath Ledger was just another worker who had to be drugged to keep up the regular output that "the shareholders" demand.

Since it's past midnight, DH, an insomniac herself, has no time to summarise the argument that Capitalism is powered by the invention of linear time, the control of the clock, and the theft of workers's time.

But, just guessing: Heath Ledger had, like many (most?) creatives, irregular biorhythms. Perhaps like many (most?) creatives, his prodigious talents relied on mood swings, the bars of excellence are so high that we must borrow prodigiously from future exhaustion to achieve todays heights.

But when the corporation demanded its due, Heath Ledger faced the same choice as all of us. Regulate your biorhythms to fit the needs of Moloch, or go on the Disability Pension. (should the money run out, or the millions be invested in the wrong shares)

Perhaps the prospect of living on $250 a week didn't appeal to him? Perhaps he didn't wish to be scrutinised fortnightly to see if he was "really" disabled, or just faking it to live a life of luxury and ease at the taxpayer's expense.

What's in a Name?

Heath: as in the Bronte's or Shakespeare's Heath, the place of wild untamed dangerous creative forces, the place where madness lay, but also the unenclosed commons.

"This was not 'no-man's land', but was populated by many small-holders, subsistence farmers and masterless men and women, 'living out of sight and out of slavery' (according to Winstanley, the anti-slavery campaigner). The commons was ... [a place where] the people's ideas (not ideas in the mind, but ideas that shaped daily life) of what work is and what a worker is, of the relation between work and need, work and nature, work and time, were also obstacles to the establishment of a money economy."

Ledger: a blank page on which profit and loss statements are written.

What's in a name? What tensions lay coiled in that juxtaposition

Just the tensions we all face...
Wild Heath, Yorkshire,
marginalised by the Enclosure Acts

.... and the Ledger that recorded it all ..

And so to bed, for what dreams may come, and besides, tomorrow, Centrelink waits for no man...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Australia's shame: State's abusive neglect of children of prisoners, offenders and alleged offenders.

DH is just listening to Radio National's Law Report as she types.

She is GOBSMACKED by what she is hearing!

Young children abandoned in the house alone while a sole parent is hauled off from the front yard by police. In the worst cases, the police not even allowing the parent to tell the child, who is left to find out by their own devices! Children left in the homes of god knows who, sometimes in the care of neighbours not even known to the family, in other, with their parent's drug addicted associates. Young children not even at puberty left alone to care for toddler siblings! Young teens left to fend for themselves in the streets. And no services who know or care.

How shameful and horrifying to think these poor darlings are simply abandoned, humiliated, shocked, and traumatised for life.

"Innocent until proven guilty" may apply to the offending parent

But for the children, it is "Scarred for life: Punished whether Mum and Dad turn out to be guilty or not"

How is it possible that in a modern state, there are no protocols in place for dealing with the children of people caught up in the criminal justice system!!!??

How is it possible that there have never been any crusading exposes in the media of this national scandal?

Not to mention the guilt she suddenly feels about neighbour's kids. Could she have done more?

It has often been remarked that society has a two faced attitude to children. On the one hand, holy innocents. On the other, savages. Now we see that in the eyes of the state, there is a third view: Unrepresented no-count swill.

Some attitude to our national treasure, society's future!

Howard's evil decrees: Another one bites the dust

Centrelink was ordered last month to cease stopping welfare payments while it investigated claims of people failing to meet their requirements

Our Kevin who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
For thou has delivered us from Evil
Our mighty Rudd, thou hath smote them
And dashed them in pieces
And hopefully thou shalt afflict them sorely with taxes
And send auditors over them

Thy will be done, in NSW Labor as it is in Canberra

Give us next fortnight our fortnightly benefit
And forgive us our failures of participation
As we forgive those who bungled our rightful claims
But lead us not into inflation, (if thou canst manage it)
For thine is the Mandate
The Power and the Glory
For ever and ever,


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Daily Telegraph cons the public, incites hatred

The unvarnished facts gleaned from the Daily Telegraph You Pay: Tenants Rorting Public Housing are:

No. of tenants understating their income

by more than $80,000 = 1
by more than $1,000 = 11 (excluding the high flier above)
by between $500 and $1000 = 86
by less than $500 = 939


No of tenants NOT understating their income:
(Approximate no of Social Housing tenants in NSW is 150,00)

= 150,000 - 1,037
= 148,963 (approx)

No. of tenants the Telegraph would like you to think are rorting the system:
Oh, most of them probably, if you look hard enough.

  1. Compare and contrast with level of fraud perpetrated by other sectors of society, with special attention to corporate sector

  2. Multiple Choice:
    (Choose as many as you like)
    What is the purpose of this article?
    1. To stir up hatred and sell papers

    2. To soften up the public to accept the first round of evictions on shorten term leases (assuming a lead time of 1 year)

    3. To give a balanced report on the the policy black hole around housing affordability under the Howard Government's watch

    4. To comfort the 70,000 unfortunates languishing on the housing waiting lists and encourage them to believe that problems would be speedily resolved if a few rorters were caught

    5. To divide and rule the lower classes (and sell more papers)

    6. Most of the above...

Ans: Your guess is as good as DH's

Check out the Tele's readers comments on the article. You will find that it has, pouring out of the woodwork, the usual suspects: Axegrinders, outraged taxpayers, and unfortunate naifs on the waiting lists who imagine that their misery would end simply by the elimination of the few thousand rorters. And of course, it's a great opportunity to incite the rednecks who are quite certain its all done by "New Australians". Race riots are always good sellers.

But DH must be honest:

Are there rorters in public housing?
Are there petty crims and drug dealers in public housing?
Are there major crims and drug lords in public housing?
You gotta be joking! They live in the best suburbs of crse.
Are there more than were caught?
Does the Dept know of some of them?
Yes, because their neighbours are always reporting them.
Why does the Dept do nothing?
Just guessing about what goes on in the DOH black box, but local offices appear to be so understaffed and demoralised that they can't even organise basic non-emergency repairs, let alone evictions.
Why doesn't the NSW ALP do something about it?
Good question.
When will a wealthy country like Australia start putting in $$$ to ensure that all its citizens are housed adequately?
As soon as the Daily Telegraph gets a sense of social responsibility and stops inciting class hatred and downward envy.

And finally, whoever it was who earns more than $100,000. Obviously, they qualify for public housing purely on the grounds of mental illness. Why else would they stay?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Daily Telegraph wedges tenants, disses DOH

Despite apparently failing to dig up either a houso who would deign to talk to them, or a resentful houso-in-waiting to exploit, the Daily Telegraph went ahead and published their nasty piece of work "You pay: Tenants rorting public housing"

DH believes in freedom of information and has no issues with the Telegraph publicising the fact that 1037 people underestimated their income in order to live a life of luxury and excess at the taxpayer's expense.

But what a slant! The article manages to create a swatch of new realities for a "Brave New Australia": Analysing the subtext we read

  • People who earn more than circa $1200* a week have no right to security of tenure
  • A wealthy country like Australia has no duty to house anyone who earns more than $1200
  • The long waiting lists for public housing are the fault of tenants, not poor policy.
  • DoH are wimps for not ejecting everyone who earns more than $1200 straight out into the street and the welcoming arms of the biggest affordable housing crisis this country has ever known.
Now DH likes to have a go at DoH from time to time. That's her brief. She does it because she believes democracy thrives on no-bull plain English free speech.

But for all its faults it's still our DoH and the best landlord in NSW***. DoH is full of great, dedicated people with a commitment to the human right to shelter, doing their best with limited funding, impossible staffing conundrums, and a series of dud ministers. ***

DH's blood is BOILING about this article but it's New Year's Day
and she has a life and a family and is not going to spend another minute
jousting with craven hacks.
But tomorrow, she will demolish the argument point by point.
Watch this space.

* Figure varies with number of people in household
* DH has paid market rent on occasion herself. After market rent, HECS, Austudy, prescriptions, and public transport costs, she was not that much better off than she had been on the carer,s pension. She will recalculate the exact figure by current stands soon. It wd be of the order of abt $150 a week.
*Make that arguably the best landlord, not necessarily the most responsive
* DH excludes Matt Brown, who she hears is a decent fellow, so she is giving him the benefit of the doubt despite the fact that his one notable utterance was the surprising statement for a Labor fella that "housing is a privilege, not a right". But perhaps we can blame the sensationalist press for that.