Thanks to Jaycee for this excellent thread-starter … which I only edited a tiny bit …
(Image Credit: Kalanchoe sp, Freedom Bells)
I have put this piece up without ANY editing for syntax, grammar or clarity of structure. I accept there are some typos, there are grammatical gaffes and some weakness in layout etc. I do this not because I am proud of my grammatical failings, they will always be there, my lousy education guarantees THAT! I do this because it must be realized that there are many who would like to contribute, to post articles, but are sometimes a tad awed by the prospect of judgement not on their opinions, but on their writing. There are many who do post here with admirable skill more accomplished than myself … Ian, GD, Fiona, BB, Aguirre, Kambah Mick, Puff, Leone2, Janice, and others (and I apologise for missing any, but you and we know you!) but I feel there are others who lurk here and who post commentary that would have bloody good yarns and stories to tell. I myself left high school after the second year to go into trade and never sat for another academic exam till my forty sixth year … and then it was touch and go! And THIS TOO is the Labor story … that those who have worked their way through life, perhaps raised a family, developed a trade, profession or business or are on PAYE employment, can draw from their own experiences and pass them on to a listening audience without fear of ridicule and rest assured that what they do pass on will be woven also into the Greater Labor story.
Death by a Thousand Cuts: Living by a Simple Philosophy
Or: “Old Ideas, New Australians”
(Image Credit: Fairfax)
1983 … Business … of Survival
With the Death of Richard, I must now manage alone, on one pension.
The house seems in good condition. No large account, only the small loan I had taken out, which finishes in June 1985. Must try not to take out anymore loans, to [sic] much drain on my low income.
I must try to live on produce from garden, with eggs to help out.
Try to cut down on weekly food bills, most of all on meat.
The animals take quite a lot (money) for food, reg, etc.
As the fowls are all getting old, must breed up some new hens.
That was from an aged pensioner’s diary … sure, we know she was not going to die of hunger or homelessness – or do we? She certainly was afraid of some vague uncertainty … and therein lies the simple truth:
A lifetime of habit, creates a certainty of belief a moment of uncertainty doubts a lifetime of belief.
For that lady, her entire life was constructed around hard work … the old-age pension that Labor and the unions put in place gave her a measure of security so she could live out her final years in dignity. That is a word well worth praising: Dignity. Let’s put that up there at the top of the page of Labor principles.
(Image Credit: Ex-ceed)
And damn if a person who applies their person to contribute toward the social betterment of their family, friends and neighbours for their working life, they are denied that most basic of respects: Dignity! and it only comes from others who have walked that same path. The speculator, always on the make, always on the lookout for the next “win”, the next “deal”, has neither wish nor capacity for dignity … he has traded it away with a Faustian deal with capital … no need to look to him for a “fair go”, his motto is “Opportunity” … but does he seriously believe that if HE did not exist, there would be no work to do?
(Actually, the name that lady called her late husband was not quite correct … you see, his name really was Riccardo. He was an Italian … SHE was born in Australia of Irish / Cornish stock – now, THERE’S a mix! But you know, it is not at all uncommon – of the three sisters in that lady’s family, after the war, one married an Italian, one married a German (third generation Australian) and the third a Polish man. This idea that we are just lately become a multicultural nation is not true. For many years there has been intermarriage in the community … sure, the surnames may be Anglo, but there is mixed ethnicity in the family somewhere, and we should be proud of this … love knows no boundaries, children know no race.)
I keep hearing this catch-cry: ”What does Labor stand for?” To my mind, Labor stands for what it was raised for a simple measure of dignity … in work, in leisure, in the fair go for all people. I remember when I was about ten years old, with my older brother, selling newspapers at the Royal Show. The manager would allocate you so many papers for the day, you’d sell them, putting all the coins into a leather bag at your hip and at the end of the day, you’d give the bag over to that manager. He’d count out what you owed for the papers and any over (you’d get tips, but most times didn’t have the time to separate the tip from the coinage) incl’ tips he’d give back to you along with your pay. But there was this one big bastard manager one year, who’d keep back most of your tips. My older brother, being a stroppy sort of young fellow, challenged him (my brother was canny enough to keep a careful watch on his tips) and the manager got angry, saying, ”If you don’t like the way I do things, you can get off with yourself!” … and THAT included me. So a thirteen and a ten year old couple of kids get cheated by an unscrupulous manager (News Limited, by the way!) – nothing new, neither then nor now! .McDonald’s do it all the time – it’s called cheap labour – but to cheat kids … what sort of people are these? Vermin who steal the rights of their fellows. Labor with the unions, stand up for those rights Let’s put that up on the list.
(Image Credit: Right Now)
And damn if a person applies their advantageous position to cheat even paper-boys … what sort of bastards are we up against? And they ask what does Labor stand for? Labor stands for what it was raised to stand for … the Rights of the everyday people to stop the vermin from ripping off the wages of ALL people and to bestow on ALL of us what Gough Whitlam called for and what Labor calls for now: “A fair go”.
Labor must think carefully before they pass these new “security laws” put up by Brandis. They are not to protect us from “terrorism”, but are deliberately being put in place to track and control our own citizens … it is as obvious as the nose on your face. There has to be a measure of restraint in how far we go to cow and threaten the populace. There has to be a measure of dignity and rights in our confrontation of any threat. Better we offer safe harbour to the majority of whom have been driven from their homelands in fear of their lives or livelihood, like those three men-folk above, than attempt to cow and oppress a minority for little more than their own particular culture.
Now read these comments and tell me they are irrelevant today:
As rivers glisten in different colours, but a common sewer everywhere looks like itself, so the all-powerful rule of capital ruined the middle class, raised trade and corporate agriculture to the highest prosperity, and ultimately led to a – hypocritically whitewashed – moral and political corruption of the nation.”
“The leisure class lives by the industrial community rather than in it. Its relations to industry are of a financial rather than an industrial kind. Admission to the class is gained by exercise of the financial aptitudes—aptitudes for acquisition rather than for serviceability. There is, therefore, a continued selective sifting of the human material that makes up the leisure class, and this selection proceeds on the ground of fitness for financial pursuits.”
Both the above pieces are over one hundred years old The first by Theodor Mommsen on ancient Rome, the second by Thorsten Veblen on post-Victorian capitalism … yet they could both have been written today. Why is it that such rational observations go unheeded in our society? I read such and take them in and use them (as you see here) as moral and ethical fodder in my own life. Where do we see such civilized observations used widely? I don’t know! I don’t hear or see it in everyday life! Where is the scholarly debate among political higher learning in this nation? Education abandoned – that’s where. Let’s put that word up there too
(Image Credit: Workforce Planning Tools)
And damn if the multitude of tomes of wisdom that have been written in the tears of humanity over millennium get abandoned for stupid, facile, quick-fix slogans. What sort of people are these who, flaunting their higher education, claim the high ground of public debate, yet cannot or will not learn from history and will not read from the wisdom of the ages? There are those who cannot claim education beyond the third year high school, who read and revere such books … their shelves a proud display of well-thumbed volumes. And some ask what should Labor stand for? Education … Labor stands for what it was raised for – Education for ALL peoples – not the abandonment of an age of learning but education.
The many different ethnic groups that come to these shores, from the earliest to the latest, have one goal in mind: ”Betterment” of their family fortunes, their security and their children’s education. It is that simple … sure ( and I mean no disrespect, only metaphor) they brought their metwurst and salami and tabouli and prayers with them – that is their immediate security – we all take a bit of “home” when we go on holiday. When one is driven in haste and fear from one’s house, what would YOU grab? a piece, any piece of home? That is what “culture “ is … a little piece of the past to carry with oneself into the future. In the worst case, it could be but a poem, a prayer, a song from the motherland … in the best case it is the family. How can one reject the call of assistance – not charity – assistance to a family in need and still shelter under the common name of humanity?
So there are the players, there are the situations … we know what the problems are today … what can be the solution?
Check this little piece from a short story by Eric Knight; see if it gives you ideas:
Never Come Monday
The Prime Minister thought of a lot of things all at once. Suddenly he called his secretary and said:
“Carrington-Smaithe. It is Sunday to-day, I hear, and it will be Sunday again tomorrow. Pack my things. We’re going away for the weekend.”
“But sir,” said the secretary “What about the international crisis? We have two ultimatums that must be answered immediately.”
“Dear me”, said the Prime Minister. “That is a nuisance, but all the world knows the British weekend is inviolate, and if this be Sunday, as it seems to me it must be, then I won’t be able to answer till the weekend is over.”
“But when will it stop being Sunday, sir?”
“Well, Carrington-Smaithe, how long will it take our fastest cruiser squadron to get around to that troublesome part of the world?”
“Oh, about thirty-six more hours, sir.”
“Hmmmph! Then I think it will stop being Sunday in about thirty-six more hours.”
There is a secret desire in that little piece of the realization of reality (it is well worth a read, by the way), a desire that is really a need for time off from work. But it can be more than that … it can be the barricade between capital demand and producer compliance, a demarcation line between demand and supply. I have never liked sacrificing my weekends for overtime, ever! Damn their work! No-one should be compelled to work on the weekend, and if they must, as in the emergency services then they ought to be suitably – VERY SUITABLY – rewarded. Work will be around a long time after we are ALL dead and gone! And there can be the solution to differentiating Labour from Capital … the inviolate weekend the compulsory time off for R & R. For as long as one stays healthy, one can always earn money … but time is of the essence. You will run out of time before you run out of money. Take the time; screw the money – let capital know it has no price for your free time. And they still ask what Labor stands for … Labor stands for what it was raised for … honouring the eight hour day or its modern equivalent, honouring “family time”, personal time, resting time. Those who would try to reduce the vulnerable to a kind of 24hr. slavery would love to claim ownership of the whole of our weekend … bugger them! They can’t have it!
The solution is that WE who are the producers, the consumers, the life and breath of business, take control of our working lives. WE draw a demarcation line between being compelled to work and a time for life. WE stop the machine for a pause in production so we can enjoy our family and friendships. I say WE take back our lives and deny the vermin their pound of flesh! It has never been the speculator who physically laid the “foundations”, never the stock-broker who mixed the “mortar”, never the wealthy who carried the hod of bricks to build our house. They don’t own it, they don’t own us – they OWE us!
THAT is Labor policy: Dignity, Rights, Education – and what flows automatically from those simple entitlements. Stake your ground, claim your rights and serve your people.
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”