A recent cartoon by Bill Leake in The Australian gave me a good chuckle, although not for the reason you might expect. Captioned “The Road to Ruin” and featuring references to the recently published book of the same name, there was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at his local newsagent picking up “his” morning papers, sighing while saying “just the papers thanks”. The papers were the Sydney Star Observer with the headline “Marriage Equality special edition” and tucked in behind it was a copy of Green Left Weekly.
When looking at the world through the prism of the mainstream media it can sometimes be easy to get stuck in a pessimistic feedback loop. Take, for example, the US presidential primaries, where candidates vie to become the presidential candidate for their respective party. On the one hand there is the almost unstoppable rise of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race and, on the other, there is the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
"WOW. This is something you don't often see. Goldman Sachs says it may have to question capitalism itself." So went the tweet from Bloomberg TV correspondent Joseph Weisenthal. I wondered what could possibly cause one of the world’s largest investment banks, a company that is heavily invested in capitalism (both literally and figuratively) to “question capitalism itself”? Why isn't this bigger news?
Happy New Year for a few weeks ago or coming up in a couple of weeks, depending on whether you rely on a calendar or the moon for such things. I hope you had some time off and got to spend it relaxing with people you love, or if you were working, that you got plenty of time and a ... WATCH OUT FOR YOUR PENALTY RATES!!! Yes, that's right, while most of us were working or preparing for the strange rituals of the season, those busy little elves at the Productivity Commission had been slavishly working, day and night, to deliver a lovely big present to business and the government.
So the Malcolm Turnbull-led government thinks we need to reform the tax system. When looking at the extent to which multinational corporations are shirking their responsibilities in Australia, this sounds like a good thing.
Do you like listening to alternative music? Have you attended a protest for the environment? Congratulations! According to the Radicalisation Awareness Kit produced by the Australian government, you could be on your way to becoming a violent extremist.
If it wasn't painfully obvious before it should now be crystal clear now that there is no such thing as company loyalty. Loyalty from companies that is. ABC’s 4 Corners revealed last week that convenience store chain 7-Eleven was engaged in a wide-scale rip off of its workers by paying them below award wages, and in some cases below the minimum wage. It seems employees are fair game for the rapacious nature of capitalism.
Did you hear the one about how Vegemite was going to be banned in some alcohol-free remote communities because it was being used to make homebrew? This wasn’t satire, this was a widely reported story in the mainstream press. It ticked all the right boxes for successful click bait, but there was just one problem: it was bullshit. The source for these claims? The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion.
Tony Abbott’s government has managed, yet again, to delay making a decision about equal marriage. Opinion poll after opinion poll shows an overwhelming majority of Australians supporting equal marriage — more than 70% support for marriage equality in the last poll conducted by Liberal Party pollsters Crosby Textor — but Tony Abbott continues to drag his feet.
Racism is alive and well in Australia. You would think that such a statement would be relatively uncontroversial. But the shit-storm surrounding AFL footballer Adam Goodes’ decision to call out racism on the sporting field reveals how desperate a section of the establishment is to avoid any scrutiny about where racism comes from and how it is perpetuated. They want to cling to the fiction that Goodes brought the whole controversy onto himself by “playing the victim”.
"The age of entitlement is over". I'm sure it seemed like a good slogan when it was cooked up, at least to the party room hacks and spin doctors in Tony Abbott’s government. Of course it was only going to be a matter of time before they tripped over their own words: “The age of entitlement is over”.
As the example of Greece shows, the ruling elites and financiers are more than happy to extract their pound of flesh from working people, no matter the cost. As times get tougher it can make it harder to contribute to the Green Left project. I speak to a lot of Green Left subscribers, particularly those who are renewing, and a common thread is that people are already feeling the pinch and having to watch every dollar carefully.
Website blocking legislation aimed at curbing Australian's access to online piracy was passed by the senate on June 21. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 allows copyright holders to seek a Federal Court injunction to block websites they deem to have copyright infringement as their "primary purpose". The bill passed with bipartisan support and was opposed by Senators Ricky Muir, Glenn Lazarus, David Leyonhjelm and the Greens. Greens Senator Scott Ludlam put a series of amendments to minimise the most drastic elements but these were voted down.
Newly released court documents show the US government won a series of court challenges that led to Google having to turn over one years worth of data of user Jacob Appelbaum. Appelbaum is a WikiLeaks volunteer and a developer for Tor, a free browser and an open network to protect online privacy. He was being targeted by the US Justice Department as part of their criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.
People sometimes ask me while selling Green Left "In this day and age, why even have a newspaper?". The nature of print media is changing and most commercial newspapers and magazines are currently suffering an existential crisis. Many advertisers that traditionally used print have made the leap to digital media. The columns of classifieds, once referred to as the rivers of gold, are now drying up and newsrooms are shrinking along with the quality of journalism.
So a member of the Coalition government said something tone-deaf and out of touch again. It must have been on a day ending with “y”. When asked last week about housing affordability, federal Treasurer Joe Hockey came out with this cracker: "The starting point for a first homebuyer is to get a good job that pays good money." Oh, of course, Joe! Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?