Of Myths and Madness

Gripes About Politicians

It’s almost eighteen years I’ve been living back in Europe …  and that’s after a stint of a dozen years enjoying that “rich man’s paradise”: Hong Kong .. but I’ve always tried to keep informed about politics in North America and in Australia  – my homeland … So I thought I’d bring up here just a couple of things that get me annoyed about political life, especially over here in Europe. (Just “a couple” you say!  Well who’s got all day to listen to me?).

Now these gripes of mine may not be precisely the same sorts of things that grate on people’s nerves in Australia and North America … “holy cow, matey!!!” I just had a horrible vision of a kind of intellectual, foot-in-the-mouth, mild-mannered, pugilistic “shirt-fronting” leader who looks like a morphed version of a disappointing Barack Obama and a disingenuous Tony Abbott . .. that’d give anyone nightmares … I’m over it and getting back to Europe and my gripes .. and very likely, you can see the same sorts of politicians’ “world visions” festering in most western democracies, even if at the moment they are only in a gestating embryonic form or going through some sort of slow, laborious birth pains. ….

And ” What are you talking about?” you may ask.

Well if you’ll just give me another minute, I’ll tell you just what it is that I’m talking about.

…We’re All In It Together…

I don’t know if it is me, and maybe it’s not so common in Australia and North America as it is in Europe,  but when talking about how tough times are for lots of people these days, I seem to always be hearing politicians  saying that  “we’re all in it together” …  and  of course, it always seems to be those “pollies”:

  • born with a silver spoons in their mouths,
  • with sublime career connections gained from having beaten each other as “fags” with switches and taken ice-cold showers together in swank private schools, or
  • who happen to have made or inherited multi-gazillions from one or another family corporate empire.

camerons-farm-tshirt_design…  Yes, it’s always those kinds of politicians who seem to think that the poor sods of ordinary men and women with a mortgage, three children’s schooling expenses to pay, increasing energy charges, a car and other household necessities  with ever- increasing built-in obsolescence – like your iPhones and most everything else –  somehow need to be reminded that they are all in the “it” together .. yes …  they want us to imagine that we are “all” suffering in much the same way; ground down by just how expensive ordinary life has become over the last few decades .. since all the world’s wealth has been siphoned off by those few individuals who benefitted handsomely from the private equity banking crisis …. and left with almost no time to worry about what sort of world we are leaving for our grandchildren after we (or someone who’s making lots of money) finish polluting the “Frank Lloyd Wright” out of it.

And all the while, there are our erstwhile political leaders sitting comfortably up there in the political capitols of the western world,  on their leather armchairs scoffing taxpayer subsidized dacquiris and canapés  .. or  .. in the case of the slightly less right-wing ones, feeling only slightly more self-consciously embarrassed on their padded fenceposts with a vintage champagne disguised in stained old coffee mugs  – and all of them  cracking their whips over our bowed heads while we trudge back and forth on our daily toil. And that’s if your lucky enough to have a job … and we don’t even live in poor old ravaged Greece.

Clearly, we are not all in it together ….  but then they tell you…

…Look At How Many Jobs We’ve Created…

.. by giving subsidies and tax-breaks to big business…    ‘Coz that’s another thing these elected (so-called) representatives of the common man and woman (or of corporate interests and rich bankers …depending on you political persuasion)  seem to keep telling us …. is just how many jobs they’ve created and how many lives they have improved by this wonderful beneficience they have bestowed upon us all ….

Of course, critics of our cheerful politicians will tell you that these so-called jobs are mainly “zero hours” contracts, especially in the UK, and there could be 1.5 million of  them in Britain this year … and casual work in the U.S. as well !   You don’t know what “zero hours contracts” are? .. It’s when a contracted “employee” gets a call or a text each morning or late the night before to tell them how many hours they are needed for that day .. or if they’re needed at all (and that means “no pay” that day) – of course, they can’t refuse if they are needed –  and if they’re not needed, surely, can’t they go around to the Job Centre (assuming it hasn’t been privatized and turned into a jobs for “pay-offs to the staff” centre) to see what’s on offer .. of course they can’t get any help there ‘coz they’ve already got a job!  And they should be damned thankful for that .. shouldn’t they?   … Well that’s what the politicians say! ….  Especially because these people are now not counted in the official unemployment statistics.  Damn!  It’s a “win.. win” strategy for the “pollies”: the illusion of more jobs and the illusion of less unemployment – statistics don’t lie!

On the other hand, you’ve got the mainland european (to some people, “smelly socialist”) model … where employers just don’t hire people at all – they can’t afford to, as they have to pay almost as much as their (admittedly low) salaries to the government in charges, to help fill up the deepening “black hole” of social welfare – and because, like in France,  they only have a choice between offering a “contract for life” and a “fixed-term contract” ….   Of course, the banks don’t help by refusing to offer home loans or any kinds of loans to anyone unless they have a “job for life” … and they’re the only people rental agencies want to see if you are looking for somewhere to live.  ….. So employers don’t want to hire at all ….  and employees only want an employment contract for life; they’d rather stay on social welfare ‘til the right job comes along.  And even if they do work “casually”; any pay received gets deducted from their meagre benefits. It’s a “no win” situation all around!

The politicians just don’t seem to have a clue. Or they don’t care.

…Job-Sharing For Politicians…

So what’s the solution? Job-sharing for politicians, but not quite like what has been seriously discussed  in the UK and in Northern Ireland;  not just to bring more women into politics. Something a bit different. …. How about every elected politician is obliged to spend three months each year doing the job of – or looking for work like – an ordinary person (and receiving their pay or benefits) …  a person whose name is chosen at random, or pulled out of a hat.  And that person does the politican’s job (and receive’s the “pollie’s” pay) for three months. It’s a sort of Jobs Lotto.  And you don’t even have to pay for a ticket.

Then the politicans will be able to say, self-righteously: “I’ve been there! I know how ordinary people feel. I know how they live.”   And the ordinary people may just get a better understanding or how much or how little their elected representatives actually do for them or for anyone else.   …  They’ll even get to vote in the politician’s place.  It can’t be any worse than what’s happening already, with politicians voting on strict party lines or influenced by well-funded lobbyists …. remember what those lobbyists said about cigarette smoking …

And if lots more people got a say in political decision-making, it may well be that we’ll be a darn side closer to true democracy than we are at the moment.


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