Sunday, August 3, 2014

Plus ca Change

Personally I am not complaining about my own part in shouldering the burden for the budget emergency.  As an old-age pensioner its hard not to feel like some kind of useless charity case and yes, this is a new day in a smarmy resurgence of bone- heads but that doesn't mean it isn't time to give something back.  My benefit reductions will barely make half the nominal sacrifice of the Prime Minister on his  half mil, not counting what I will lose on state concessions for local rates, power bills, and whatever extra heavy lifting I will be liable for locally; or his foregone wage hike.

And no this is not unjust. There is no-one more contemptible than the entitled but undeserving poor.  We have to stop giving them things.  There is nothing more worthy of adulation than the entitled wealthy.   We have to keep giving them things so they can be the drivers of economic growth in this country.  I recall Bronwyn Bishop explaining it once in those smug John Howard years; how she would hire a maid if wages were low enough.  Well, if she lived close by and could keep her damn mouth shut I would hire HER to do the vacuuming if her wages were low enough.  But the funny thing about these Ayn Randian ubermenschen is that for all their talk of free enterprise and the self-regulating magic of the markets they are neither innovators nor do they want competitive market discipline to set their own incomes.   Having spent a lot of time in the construction industry I have known and worked for a great many; where they call themselves 'developers'.  All have claimed to be visionaries, and proudly flaunt their credentials in their quest for elected positions in local government and more. They have wonderful dreams for our communities.  But I have worked endlessly it seemed putting that crap together and it was generally devoid of any of the touted revolutionary aesthetics or quality.   And they were all psychopaths.  The best thing you can say about them was their socially desirable focus on making money rather than strangling young women.

Land is purchased or optioned at a market price or better in view of existing zoning and other restrictions.  To make a big leveraged investment work they have to get finance which means to first lock in a profit.  So maybe you thought your swampy pasture was agricultural or a protected wetland when you took his offer; which it was for you or anyone else who didn't have powerful friends in local or state government, or make political donations or hire an architectural firm to draw an idealized artist's concept of your dream.   After that it goes to the following plan.  During the pre-Olympic boom I worked for subcontractors in Sydney on the tools on several major projects.  All my bosses had tendered for a particular job against many others.  And some optimist can always be counted on to  make a mistake.  On some projects all the subcontractors were going out backwards.  One who wasn't was fingered by the CFMEU.  He had imported Korean stonemasons.  They wouldn't speak to you (if they could have) and had been packed into cheap rented houses six or ten to a room including meals.  That's how 'price discovery' works (for labour).

On our next job I and a couple of Irish boys were exiled out to replace rotten floors in a far western suburbs pub for talking to the union rep over a salvage attempt on the contract's financial viability.  It would have required us to become self- employed contractors and work for peanuts and we weren't willing to budge.  That's the trouble with us entitled poor.  We are geared and driven by self interest, just as surely as the family dog.  In a moment of weakness you let the bastard inch himself past the doormat and next thing you know he is hogging your favourite chair and sleeping in your bed.  Unconsidered largesse transforms instantly to inalienable entitlement.

But the new government's austerity budget has already started to bite fevered imaginations and subsequent market behavior.  My Melbourne son was moving house and  it coincided  with 'hard rubbish day' in his suburb.   As he was clearing out his garage and depositing unwanted worn-out old power tools and what- have- you on the curbside, a couple of steel-eyed junkies on pushbikes rocked up and parked by his pile.

"Oh wow man does this old drill work?  Wow!" and they piled their selections over to one side.  But then they got distracted on the neighbour's garbage and turned to see not only that their pile had been  plundered but their bikes were gone as well in one of the many utes and vans that had converged from all over town for the bonanza and were buzzing up and down the streets.

"Stop! stop!," they shouted as these vehicles passed from both directions and of course the drivers paid them no notice.  One rushed out into the centre of the street screaming after a suspicious-looking load;

"Don't mess with a schizo, mate, I'll effing kill ya!"

The future is now, mate, and its a jungle out there.

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