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Monday, August 29, 2016

Waging class warfare by attacking those who suffer from the problem, not those who profit from the problem

Waging class warfare by attacking those who suffer from the problem, not those who profit from the problem

On Thursday 25 August 2016, Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered a speech in which he continued the Liberal Party's war on the poor. Following on from former Treasurer Joe Hockey's societal split of 'lifters and leaners', Morrison maintained the class war by declaring there was the 'taxed and the taxed nots'(1).

This could have been exciting news for Australians. It could have signalled that the government was going to get serious about tax avoiders, those multi-national companies who turn over billions in profit while not paying a cent in tax ... but no ... sadly, Morrison was blaming Australia's alleged economic woes on those who are on welfare.

According to Morrison's logic, those with no money are responsible for Australia's debt.

So Morrison's solution to too many on welfare? Cut welfare. There will still be unemployed people but they won't be earning as much. Problem solved.

What could possibly go wrong?

Treasurer Scott Morrison - blaming Australia's 'debt crisis' on those who have no money

Oh, let's count the ways. Lower welfare payments would make it harder for people, mainly young adults who've just finished school or university, to have some sort of income while they look for work. Without this support, without welfare, many will be homeless and may resort to crime just to live. Is this the world that the Liberal Party wants or are they just plain ignorant of the effects of poverty. And then there is of course the impact on their spending, which could impact the profitability of many businesses resulting in further job cuts and ... ironically ... more people out of work requiring welfare.

We all know that young kids of today are lazy mofos who expected to be showered in phat stax while sitting around smoking synthetic hooch, hooking up on Tinder and Instagramming their every move and thought. And Morrison blames unemployed youth for Australia's economic crisis. After all, youth unemployment is the highest unemployment.

Well, as a Baby Boomer I'd like to say sorry to the youth of today.

Sorry for screwing everything up for you. Sorry for loading you up with unaffordable housing, sorry for over-regulating the crap out of you because of the need to legislate against dumb-ass Baby Boomers (but we had fun, you know like hooning and drugs and stuff), sorry for expecting you to pay for basic human rights (you know like health care and crippling you with debt for your education), sorry for only offering you part-time work instead of a full-time career and then blaming you Gen Y noobs for wanting to be more mobile, sorry for the whole global warming thing (but hell nothing like a V8 smoking up that high-lead fuel), sorry for extincting a few species here and there (black rhinos I'm looking at you), over-using resources (who needs rainforests anyway, it just sits there doing nothing but taking up valuable space), declaring war on people with no reason other than making the rich richer and expanding the American Empire (we didn't invent war but we've had a phat time blowing up innocent people and facilitating terrorism. Oops), sorry for the increased airplane security (we all used to have a hoot going into the pilot's cabin on international flights, I guess you'll never know the joy), racism (again, we didn't invent it, but many of us are certainly exploiting it for you), truly sorry for reality TV (really not our finest work)  ... oh, also sorry for AIDS. Our bad.

As a disclaimer, I'd like to point out that personally I'm opposed to most of those things listed above that muh-muh-my generation has unleashed on the world. No wonder the young people of today tell us to all fuh-fuh-fade away ... or words to that effect.

But I digress.

A recent report showed that there was a fall in the number of full-time jobs but an increase in part-time employment. The truly delusional Employment Minister, Micaelia Cash, stated that this was good. Apparently it is a good option for many people and that it was people's choice(2). For some this may be true, but for the majority it means they are under-employed and unable to provide many of the essentials in life, including housing, adequate food, education and health. Few people chose under-employment and poverty regardless of how Ms Cash tries to spin it.

Minister for Part-Time Employment Micaelia Cash 

I agree there are too many on welfare. However, the solution isn't to cut government benefits because the people receiving it are still going to be here, as will their essential and unmet needs. Instead the solution is to provide jobs with living wages so they don't need welfare. Preferably, create careers. Just like in the olden days when Baby Boomers and their ancestors could rock up to a workplace and not leave until they were ready to don the fluffy socks and bust out the briar wood pipe wiling away the twilight of their lives in a rocking chair on the verandah overlooking the street they've lived on for 50 years and bitching about 'kids of today'.

When university students struggle to find work, there is clearly a problem. When qualified and experienced people struggle to find work, there is clearly a problem.

That problem isn't the fault of the people on welfare. It is the fault of corporate greed which has resulted in job cuts to increase profits for greedy share-holders, it is the fault of a neo-liberal government agenda that believes in cutting expenditure programs which would help maintain industry and business, driving innovation and job creation.

Attacking welfare is attacking the symptom not the cause.

If Morrison, if the Liberal Party, genuinely want to reduce the number of people on welfare, then they should be stimulating job creation not enabling job cuts.

Australia's manufacturing industries are almost non-existent and on life support. The car manufacturing industry has practically gone. Steel factories are on their last legs. Yet instead of investing in the industries of the future, the government is cutting funding to renewal energy and the National Broadband Network. It would rather see us return to the 1950s with a reliance on coal and copper. This is a backward thinking party, not a forward thinking one.

The Liberal Party has for years been criticising Australia's debt and using this to justify the need for austerity measures. Remember the GFC? The countries that ran austerity programs all went into recession. However, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Treasurer Wayne Swan invested in stimulus programs from the start. As a result, Australia was the one western nation that avoided recession. This stimulus added to Australia's debt, but it also saved more than 200,000 jobs(3). For this the Labor Party has been ridiculed by economic simpletons.

Sometimes government's need to spend money to earn money.

The Liberal Party whinges about spending, with welfare at the top of their hit-list, however, they haven't considered the need for revenue as a measure to pay down debt or fund government expenditure. Some government expenditure, predominantly at the hands of the Liberal Party, is unnecessary and only serves to cause harm and division, such as the billions wasted on the systemic physical, sexual and emotional abuse of innocent people seeking asylum. Similarly, Australia kowtowing to the United States led 'war on terror' cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, created the conditions for the rise of ISIL and furthered radicalisation throughout the globe. Good one, John Howard.

The need for government stimulus at this time is quite clear. After all, how much more indication does the government need? The Reserve Bank of Australia has been cutting interest rates for the last few years. Currently, the official interest rate is at an historically low level. The reason the RBA cuts interest is to stimulate the economy. With interest rates at such low levels, the RBA doesn't have much more room to move. The economy needs stimulating and it is the government who should be providing this through investing in job creation programs. Instead, we see the economically incompetent Morrison wanting to cut spending on welfare and other areas.

The government is attempting to get its 'Omnibus' bill passed which will result in more than $6 billion of cuts. All of this is a result of the inability of the Liberal Party to pass elements of its previous budgets. The reason they weren't passed? Predominantly they were unfairly targeting the poor and low income earners. The Libs haven't learned.

Morrison's latest mantra of the 'taxed and taxed-nots' ignores the fact that those on low-incomes or welfare are paying tax through the broad-based tax regime of the Goods and Services Tax. The economy benefits when the government maintains welfare programs because those receiving it will pass that money into the hands of small, medium and large businesses, who then continue to employ people and pay tax. Oh wait! The only way the government won't benefit is if businesses avoid tax and continue downsizing just to fatten their shareholders dividends. This gets back to revenue and means the government needs to stand up to the tax avoiders and ensure they are paying the tax that they should. Perhaps, the government could start by targeting the legislation and use of tax havensthat are facilitating the avoidance of tax, and which are used by big business and people such as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Morrison says that Australians are not earning enough, yet the Liberal Party has waged a war against Unions and workers for years, including a Royal Commission aimed at destroying Unions, not to mention trying to damage Labor through their historical Union ties.

In contrast to Morrison's attack on the poor, former Labor Party Treasurer Wayne Swan co-chaired a report by the Chifley Research Centre, entitled 'Inequality: The Facts and the Future', which detailed how Australia should fix wealth inequality(4).  The report didn't recommend waging war on the poor. Instead, it suggested redistributing the wealth. Funnily enough, Australia is a very wealthy nation. There is no excuse for record levels of unemployment, for record numbers of part-time jobs or for people to be on welfare for prolonged periods of time.

Australia's wealth can be shared. This may come in the form of, dare I say it, lower CEO salaries in order to create more jobs and better sharing of the profits among workers and the community. Rather than down-sizing and off-shoring, corporations should be encouraged to keep jobs local and re-invest in their own people, in innovation and in the community as a whole. Rather than being driven by short-term greed, they should be driven by long-term gain. Corporations will argue that their raison d'ĂȘtre is profit therefore it goes against the grain for them to share their wealth like some radical 19th century Marxist. However, sharing wealth begets wealth as more people have more to spend which boosts consumption and business longevity.

As an aside, corporations are in the business of making profit on the goods and services they deliver, while government is in the business of delivering services without a focus on profit. For this very reason, government should be very selective about what they privatise. Essential services should remain government-owned and the focus be on the service not the profit, furthering the redistribution of our wealth.

Unfortunately, business is putting profit ahead of people and the government blames the people.

Ideally, government and business working together for the good of the community through job creation programs and more equitable sharing of wealth will result in much less reliance on welfare.

Instead, Morrison sees the results of a problem and attacks its symptom. Dr Amos Wilson commented on those who did a similar thing in America:

'If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to focus on who profits from that problem, not who suffers from the problem'.

Morrison is attacking those who suffer from the problem and lacks the fortitude to address the cause of the problem.


1. The Guardian, Gareth Hutchins, 'Scott Morrison hits out at 'taxed-nots' and warns of recession risk', 25 August 2016, Accessed 27 August 2016.

2. Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Martin, 'Labour force: We're moving part-time jobs as the jobs market hollows out', 19 August 2016, Accessed 27 August 2016.

3. ABC News, 'Stimulus saved 200,000 Australian jobs: oeCD', 17 September 2009, Accessed 27 August 2016. 

4. Chifley Research Centre, 'Inequality: The Facts and the Future', August 2016, Accessed 29 August 2016.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Turn the other cheek to deradicalise the radicalised

Turn the other cheek to deradicalise the radicalised

Way back in the day, say back around Matthew 5:39, a do-gooder named Jesus Christ said 'whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also'.  This has been paraphrased over 2,000 or so years to be 'turn the other cheek'.

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that it may well be the most difficult verse in the bible. After all, if someone attacks us shouldn't we defend ourselves?

Perhaps it is the ignoring of this scripture that is seeing the world plunge head-long towards the fascist abyss and the resurrection of Nazi-esque politics in which adherents of one religion attack another.

It's a little ironic then, that we are witnessing Christians attacking Islam in the name of freedom and democracy and 'our way of life'. Of course, not everyone who has taken on the mantle of protector of our freedoms is Christian. Many right-wing hate groups are peopled by non-Christians, however the message of Christ, the message to 'turn the other cheek' still applies.

Following the 2016 federal election, Australia woke to find that Pauline Hanson's One Nation had won four seats in the Senate. Their platform is predominantly opposing all things Islam.

Section 116 of the Australian Constitution states:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

Hanson finally realised that One Nation's anti-Islam platform is unconstitutional so she is now calling for a Royal Commission to determine if Islam is an ideology rather than a religion. Yep. Hanson wants to overturn 1400 years of religious history not to mention the theological faith of 1.5 billion Muslims.

The Commonwealth cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. Whether it be Islam, Christianity or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Not all Christians in Australia have been turned over to the anti-Islam hate and fear-mongering of conservative politics. A number are standing beside our Muslim brothers and sisters, attending Iftar events, visiting mosques, befriending and loving Muslims, and welcoming refugees.

One such Christian is Father Rod Bower of the Gosford Anglican Church. Father Bower has a billboard in front of his church in which he often promotes messages of loving Muslims and caring for refugees. Messages which are at odds with the hate and fear that is being preached or promoted through social media by some right-wing politicians and Christians.

On Sunday, 14 August 2016 a right-wing hate group called the Party for Freedom stormed Father Bower's church dressed as Muslims and terrorised his congregation, warning them to stop promoting Islam and giving them a taste of what they consider the future to be if Islam were to be the dominant religion in Australia.

The Party for Freedom showed that it clearly had no concept of the word 'freedom'. They attacked Bower's freedom of speech and attacked Islam's Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

It then came out that the Party for Freedom are followers of Pauline Hanson. Did she condemn the attack? Where was the outrage from the right-wing?

Hanson simply said that the attack was 'counterproductive in the serious argument One Nation are calling for in our Parliament'. Counter-productive to One Nation's unconstitutional message of hate and intolerance. She said that Australia needs to listen to the anti-Islam sentiment or there will be more of this violence. A threat? A call to action for the easily-led?

What we are seeing is a right-wing response to a perceived attack on our way of life. Attacks such as the installation of squat toilets which will 'destroy our way of life' according to Hanson(1). But what is our 'way of life'? Hanson has even criticised the way of life of the original inhabitants of Australia with her message of white supremacy.  Nonetheless, for around two centuries, Australia has welcomed people from all over the globe and been a multicultural nation. In fact, the Southern Cross flag, first flown at the Eureka Stockade in 1854. Rafael Carboni, an architect of the rebellion, made the following declaration under the Southern Cross:

'Irrespective of nationality, religion and colour, I call on you to salute the 'Southern Cross' as the refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on earth'

Ironic then that some on the right-wing have hijacked this flag and use it to promote a message of intolerance and refuse to offer refuge to the oppressed from all countries on earth.

Australia's 'way of life' is one of multiculturalism.

Anti-Islam sentiment is a result of people fearing Islamist terrorism and linking it to a misconception that it is the goal of Islam to conquer the world and install a brutal and barbaric version Sharia Law.

Yet it isn't Islamic nations who have attacked the West. Terrorism is the result of people who have been radicalised as a result of the West's attack on Islamic nations. It is the West has has invaded and bombed Islamic countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan and so on. It is the West who supported the illegal creation of Israel and the on-going genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Rabid right-wingers who merely blame Islam for terrorism clearly lack self-reflection and fail to understand world events. Nothing happens in a vacuum. To think that the West hasn't contributed to global terrorism is to deny the funding and training that the United States and other Western nations have provided to various Islamist groups or regimes such as the Mujahideen in 1980s Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Bin Laden, the Shah of Iran, President Suharto, not to mention billions of dollars in aid that America provides to Israel as it illegally expands its occupation of Palestine. Many of these regimes committed genocide and gross human rights abuses against their own populations.

Islamist terrorism arose out of decades of bombings, despots, brutality and oppression sponsored or undertaken by the West.

If Australians feel aggrieved enough to become radicalised and justify violent attacks on Islam simply because of issues such as halal, burqas and a misconception of Sharia, then surely this vindicates Muslims who become radicalised as a result of their grievance and anger with the West's attacks on Islamic nations.

The bombings, the drone strikes, the invasions and occupation of Islamic countries is providing impetus to the radicalisation of some Muslims. Imagine if Australia was the target of bombings, drone strikes, invasions and occupation by Muslim nations. How would we react? The radical right-wing groups such as One Nation, Reclaim Australia, Party for Freedom, United Patriots Front are all using the perception of an Islamic invasion and occupation to justify their hatred.

This is why Christ said to turn the other cheek. He didn't say to hate those who are different to us. He didn't say to preach hate and fear. In fact, he said to love our neighbour and to love our enemy. Most Muslims do not see Christians or any non-Muslim as their enemy. However, many right-wingers, including Christians, view Muslims as their enemy and constantly vilify them even though they are commanded to love their enemy. Vilification is not love.

Failing to turn the other cheek results in radicalisation, retribution, violence, hate and fear. A better way is to love and understand. Instead of building walls, build bridges.

Turning the other cheek doesn't mean turning our back on terrorism. While there radicalisation and terrorism needs to be addressed, there is nothing productive in attacking Islam or quoting the Koran out of context. There is nothing productive about blaming innocent people for the actions of others. In fact, this sort of generalisation of a people group is the basis of racism. Yet many Islamophobes will say Islam isn't a race therefore attacking Muslims and Islam isn't racism. Well, if you don't want to be called a racist, don't act like one.

To effectively address terrorism an radicalisation, we need to involve the Muslim community. Terrorists attack innocent people for political, religious or ideological reasons; whether that be in the name of Islam, Christianity, Australia, patriotism, nationalism, democracy or 'freedom'. Becoming a terrorist to oppose terrorism is the ultimate hypocrisy. Yet this is what we are seeing from the right-wing. Only a couple of weeks ago, a leader with Reclaim Australia was arrested on terrorism charges(2). A few months ago a car was fire-bombed in front of a Mosque(3). And then there have been numerous attacks, both verbal and physical, on Muslims going about their daily business. Mosques have been vandalised and businesses run by Muslims have been attacked. Such incidents are being reported and documented through the Islamophobia Register(4).

The anti-Islam brigade are alienating Muslims and playing into the hands of Islamist organisations who preach that the West hates them, that Christianity is waging war on Islam. Alienation and exclusion breeds anger and hate. Whereas if people feel welcome and included in society they are less likely to become radicalised. It also means that those who have a tendency to radicalisation are more easily identified and their families and friends have the social support needed to hose down those radical ideas.

The ongoing violence and verbal abuse of Muslims, raids and vandalism of Mosques, the storming of a church, the attacks on those who support Muslims is terribly reminiscent of 1930s Germany. A time when conservative Christians sided with the Nazis to attack Jews, socialists, unionists, homosexuals, gypsies; essentially anyone who didn't fit their idea of a perfect society.

The populist politics of conservative parties is fanning the flames of bigotry purely for votes and power. It is normalising hate crime, making it acceptable in the eyes of many.

It is time for right-wing politicians, conservative media and Christian ministers to reign in their bigoted rhetoric and stop encouraging and feeding hate and violence before we see a Kristallnacht-type event or worse.

Islam isn't the problem.

Hate is the problem.


1. The Insider, Max Chalmers, Pauline Hanson says a new toilet could destroy 'Australian way of life', 15 August 2016, Accessed 15 August 2016.

2. The Saturday Paper, Martin McKenzie-Murray, How Reclaim Australia hid a 'terrorist', 13 August 2016, Accessed 16 August 2016.

3. ABC News, David Weber and Nikki Roberts, Perth mosque attack: Car fire-bombed, anti-Islam graffiti sprayed in 'act of hate', 29 June 2016, Accessed 16 August 2016.

4. Islamophobia Register Australia,