WE ARE BLESSED
We are blessed to live in Australia, but I suspect we are somewhat profligate with regard to our birthright. Over the next few entries I thought to outline what we might do differently and better. This does not come from an expert, rather from an aging Australian born and raised citizen, whose next 'major' birthday centenary will take me to the threescore and ten - getting closer by the year.
Old people see things differently, possibly more reflectively than the young. We have experienced what is yet to unfold for them albeit in a different world. The constant is that we all have youth, then grow older.
I worry about this country and will share some thoughts.
1. SELLING OUR INHERITANCE - BLESSING DESTROYED
Australia is so wrong, at government and private level, to be in the game of selling off assets and companies into overseas control. We used to be a country that was clearly identifiable as 'Australia' in terms of asset ownership and management. No longer. Increasingly we have sold of segments of our birthright for cash advantage. Sadly, that cash is soon wasted, generally squandered on some 'quick fix' and wholly unsustainable project. We keep selling and we keep wasting.
Increasingly, we Australians are now tenants in a country owned and controlled by overseas principals. We have allowed ourselves to become bankrupted yet continue to sell off whatever bits of the farm are still left.
2. PREOCCUPATION WITH SOCIAL OVERLAY
Many Australians are so into the giddy world of social engagement they have little time for the real world. It often seems we are in a whirlpool of giddy recreational pursuit that hides the real world. We don't want to know about the serious side of life. Escapism is the order of the day - every day.
Unless and until we are prepared to confront the real world, denial and an ostrich like stance will continue to afflict us. We need recreation but carrying this to excess is destroying of our country, culture and us an a people within.
3. THE SILENT MAJORITY 'WIMP OUT'
Too often our agenda is set by a vigorous and raucous minority who make noise sufficient to convince authorities they speak for far more people than is the case. The majority are 'middle of the road' people but not given to responding - rather they remain silent and apathetic. So it is that interest groups influence agendas in an unfortunate manner because authorities react to their suggestions in order to pacify their vociferousness.
The fact that we allow these myriad of splinter groups to unduly influence our country is a factor ripping away at the blessings this country should offer.
4. WE HAVE BECOME BALKANIZED
The personal touch and familiarity that used to exist between people has largely evaporated. We have become remote, focused on work, and withdrawn unto ourselves. Verbal exchange has largely been replaced by emailing and other more impersonal forms of dialogue.
There are distinct threats to personal safety, meaning that guard dogs, fences, security systems, locked gates and blacked out fences have reinforced this balkanisation to the extent of conferring a fortress mentality upon us all. We care less about others and share less. The sweetness of the Australian personality has soured.
5. THE EXAMPLE OF POLITICANS
The example set by politicans within our parliaments is often little short of disgraceful. Question times,the abhorrent exhibition of manners and lack of courteousness is justified by a shrug of the shoulders. Those involved seem to regard this period of parliamentary time as one when 'anything goes'. Sadly, this is the period that draws most people into public gallery's, including school children. It is small wonder that teachers and parents are challenged by the verbal and listening behaviour of children when they see this sad display of manners and courtesy so publicly manifest.
The way politicans behave is a major detractor from the image Australia seeks to portray. Our country, its states and territories are 'put down' and 'sold short' by this behaviour.
6. TAX AVARICIOUSNESS
The taxation systems under which we labour are no blessing. I abhor the way in which small and medium income earners are robbed by a system that allows lots of 'outs' for those who earn a whole lot more than the small wage earner. I feel it grossly unfair for the taxation systems to be so convoluted and unstraightforward. Those who want to do things honestly are often left in ignorance of legitimate deductions because the knowledge they need to effect those deductions is shrouded and unclear. On the other hand, magnates, huge companies, CEO's who earn hundred of thousands and millions of dollars are able to find their way around the system through the astuteness of tax accountants. Tax rules running to thousands of pages impact on those who earn far less - and who through lack of knowledge and understanding pay far more that the rich.
7. THE 'WE' GENERATION
When growing up, I was taught by my parents that my life was 'not for myself alone'. I should be there to support and help others and needed to be aware of social obligations. It was essential that I took the 'we' into account when it came to interacting with others. Sadly, this wise historical approach has largely gone by the board in our modern times. Advertising and attitude ingrained into young and old, is that life is about 'I'. 'I' am all important and nothing else matters. This attitude if practised tears at the heart of our social fabric, reducing it to tatters.
8.'AGE AND ERA' CHANGE
The country in which we live is hindered by the fact we have moved from the 'age of responsibility' to the 'age of entitlement'. Hands are held out for government largesse. People young and old say 'give me, give me'. No longer is the country a place where people accepted responsibility for their own destiny and forged a path to the future based on effort and enterprise. We expect to be 'kept' and care not to contribute through work and effort to the development of this place. decreasing numbers of people show initiative, enterprise and resourcefulness. Increasing numbers are parasitic, living off benefits derived from the public purse.
9. SELLING THE FARM AND THE ESSENTIALS
This warrants more comment. Not only do we sell down our companies to overseas ownership. Our country has gone from being heavy weight to lightweight, quite literally. We sell millions of tonnes of 'Australia' offshore each year -
then buy back as manufactured product. Never would we put that resource through local manufacturing processes. We mine gas and commit almost all (WA excepted) to fulfilling overseas contracts. We sell it on the futures market, leave our own domestic situation short and compensate by charging hugely for energy consumption on the home front. Now Treasurer Hockey wants states and territories to sell off government owned assets, using money to commit to infrastructure - which will depreciate with time. So we are going down the path of short term gain for long term pain. Our blessed country is in a poor state of health.
10. ADDICTED TO ENTERTAINMENT
Australians so often abrogate their responsibilities top real life because of their addiction to entertainment. It is a case of escaping from reality and the responsibilities of life at all costs. In every large city and provincial city, our citizens drink and carouse for all hours of the late night and early morning. How can they possibly come up for work the next day.
We are a population living from one holiday to the next, in between times whiling time idly and spending plenty for the alcohol and social drugs we take into our systems. We are a population sadly sliding downward.
11. SELLING RESOURCES
We counter the blessings Australia could offer by selling our natural resources with an abandon that is almost wanton. Natural gas is an example. Selling almost all our gas by long-term contract negotiation onto the overseas futures market, means we are destitute in terms of our own domestic needs. While future sales are necessary to secure the capital investment which establishes extraction and refining facilities, we have hardly been smart by going the 'sell all' route.
12. TAXING REGIMES
The blessing our country offers, palls more than a little because of taxation regimes. Pay as you earn (PAYE) people contribute, in proportionate terms, a lot more than their due. Those who make up corporate Australia and the very wealthy know all the tricks when it comes to legitimately minimising their tax liabilities. They are well served by their tax accountants. Opportunities for tax deduction are not flagged in a public context. One has to 'find out' about concessions, therefore being disadvantaged by lack of knowledge. This is not at all fair or equitable and leaves a very sour taste in the mouths of many of Australia's less well off.
age of entitlement