A report released on August 30 by the Australia Council Of Social Services (ACOSS) shows that the number of Australians living in poverty has increased over the past 10 years. Using an international poverty line of 50% of median income, the numbers increased from 7.6% to 9.9% of the population between 1994 and 2004, or nearly 2 million Australians. This measure is used extensively in OECD countries. Using the same poverty line used in the UK and Ireland, 60% of median income, poverty has risen from 17.1% of the population in 1994 to 19.8%, or 3.8 million Australians, in 2004.
PM John Howard denies these statistics. "I have difficulty with their measurements of poverty," Howard said.
"It is logic that if there are fewer people out of work there must be less poverty — the greatest driver of poverty is people without jobs."
When the facts get inconvenient just deny them and put on an aggrieved look — that's a well practised Howard tactic.
But it isn't just our PM who does not see what's inconvenient. When US President George Bush comes to Sydney for the APEC summit he'll be bringing a huge security retinue. But their job won't be just to protect him from assassination attempts, they will also be shielding him from all dissent.
As Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive and author of You Have No Rights, explained to Truthdig.com:
"He's almost completely shielded from protest right now. He's like a medieval king who sends out his vassals to clear any scruffy peasants from the carriage route. There's actually a White House manual that came out as a consequence of a couple of the people I profile in this book suing the White House and suing the Secret Service.
"The White House manual from the advance team of the White House tells people at the White House, when the president and the vice president go out somewhere, that they should be shielded from protests, that the advance team should do everything possible to keep the protesters out of earshot and out of eyesight of the president and vice president.
"If that doesn't succeed, the advance team should get together a rally squad — what I would call a goon squad — to stand in front of anyone who has an anti-Bush or anti-Cheney protest sign. If the protesters are making any noise, this rally squad, this goon squad, should shout down the protesters with chants of 'USA, USA, USA!' And then the manual advises the White House advance team to recruit people for these rally squads from Young Republicans associations, from athletic teams, and from fraternities and sororities. It's really an incredible document."
Hans Christian Anderson's fabled Emperor paraded naked through the city until a child, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage.
"The emperor is naked," he said.
Today that child — like rich Australia's 3.8 million poor — would have been disappeared before he got into the truth-shielded zone.
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