Fighting Fund

It is amazing the conversations one overhears sometimes.

I was attending a vigil for Omid Masoumali, the young asylum seeker who died a few days after he set himself on fire in Australia's notorious refugee detention camp in Nauru. The atmosphere at the vigil was sad and tense. Among those at vigil were two young women quietly holding flickering candles.

Another woman holding a Teachers for Refugees banner asked the young women: “What school are you from?”

“I am not at school,” replied one of the young women.

Remember the discussion the Coalition government was going to have with us about tax? You know, the one where “everything was on the table”?

Well, the metaphorical table, which started off as an enormous boardroom centrepiece carved from oak is now looking more like a tatty old cardtable with a wonky leg, as more and more items are dropped.

Even Treasurer Scott Morrison's near-daily mantra of "We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem" is apparently not resonating with most Australians.

Less than 1% of rental properties are affordable for low-income families in Sydney and the Illawarra, according to a new report launched on April 21 by Anglicare Sydney.

The revelations from the Panama papers continue to reverberate around the world. While the Australian angle has so far been a bit anticlimactic, it did kick off a discussion about the banking sector and tax havens.

Bill Shorten, in an uncharacteristic display of spinal-cord solidification, seized the initiative and announced that the Labor Party would conduct a Royal Commission into the banking industry if elected.

Tony Shepherd is the former chair of Abbott's National Audit Commission, former president of the Business Council of Australia, a right-wing lobby group that represents some of the biggest corporations in Australia and a former member of the board of directors of Transfield, the company that profits from the misery of asylum seeks locked up in Australia's offshore refugee detention camps.

Apart from that he has been an over-paid fat cat for conservative governments. Shepherd is the embodiment of the greed and evil of corporate rich.

The release of the Defence White Paper in February reveals the Malcolm Turnbull government sees engaging in a regional “arms race” and securing its borders as far higher priorities than guaranteeing our healthcare system, quality public education, housing and welfare entitlements.

While this thinking is nothing new and continues the trend of successive governments — both Coalition and Labor — the Turnbull government added an extra twist, in quarantining the defence budget so that it is protected from cuts if revenue decreases.

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.

When I am out selling Green Left Weekly on the streets, I am often asked: “Where does the money go?” I have to tell people that it just goes to producing the next issue of the paper. The cover price is not nearly enough to make such a profit that we would have to decide what to do with it.

In fact, GLW would never have survived 25 years without huge ongoing efforts in appealing for donations and organising fundraisers to raise the additional money needed over what we get through sales and subscriptions.

"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?

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