I’ve never been much of a morning person but some mornings it can be a struggle to get out of bed. Crippling depression aside, peeking at what passes for news in the mainstream media to find out what is going on in the world can be enough to send me running for the covers. Just last week there was the announcement that after his latest pay rise, the Macquarie Bank CEO Nicholas Moore “earned” $1586 every 12 minutes. That’s roughly the same amount the average Australian worker takes home in a week.
A Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance last week revealed that BHP Billiton was funnelling profits from Australian minerals through a marketing arm based in Singapore as a way of dodging tax in Australia. From 2006 to 2014, BHP was “selling” minerals mined in Australia to its Singaporean arm at well below market rates. The prices were then marked-up and sold on to third-party companies in Singapore, thereby attracting the infinitesimal Singaporean tax rate.
Tony Abbott’s government is gearing up for another budget, and much has been made about how to raise revenue and what to cut. The government has toned down its previous rhetoric about a budget emergency, which appears to have disappeared despite the government failing to pass most of last year’s budget measures, but it still looks as if they will make the most disadvantaged pay while keeping things sweet for their mates in the big end of town.
It seems you can’t turn around these days without having at least one of your senses assaulted by some form of advertising. It seems that is not about to change any time soon. In fact, judging by the amount of money that will be spent on advertising this year, things are about to get a lot worse.
A couple of weeks ago I was campaigning with Green Left Weekly at our regular Friday afternoon Central station tunnel spot. It’s a pretty frenetic spot as hundreds of people bustle past every minute, eager to catch their trains and get home or out for the night.
As the federal government lurches from crisis to crisis, the hand-wringing and finger pointing in the mainstream press continues. A piece by Murdoch mouthpiece Janet Albrechtsen published in the Australian on February 18, blames the Australian public. Titled “We, the people, are the threat to fiscal reform”, Albrechtsen continues the conservative mantra that argues that government budget debt is intergenerational theft.
There has been plenty of analysis and navel gazing from the mainstream media in the wash-up from the Queensland elections. While some looked at the personalities, others looked for someone or something to blame. One commentator, Tom Elliott writing in the Herald Sun, laid the blame for the state of the political system on voters and suggested what he called "a benign dictatorship".
A study conducted by Oxfam and released on January 19 highlighted the widening gap between rich and poor, showing that by 2017 the world’s richest 1% would own more than half of the world’s wealth. The study, titled Wealth: Having it all and wanting more, was released to coincide with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. It analysed data from Credit Suisse and Forbes about the makeup of the 1% and the global distribution of wealth.
The death of a young man from a suspected drug overdose at a dance music festival in Sydney on September 14 showed not just how inadequate prohibition is at dealing with drugs, but how it also unnecessarily risks lives. Defqon.1 is an annual music festival featuring hardstyle electronic dance music. It takes place in the Netherlands and Australia at different times each year. Each festival has its own anthem or theme song; the anthem for this year's Australian festival was “Scrap the System”.
Information revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the PRISM spy program — which used data from giant internet companies, such as Google and Facebook, to carry out mass surveillance of people outside the US — has provided new evidence about the warrantless spying on civilians by the US government. Although a government spying on civilians is hardly new and will not come as a surprise to many people, what is concerning about this case is the size and number of companies involved and the apparent ease with which this data was obtained.