Thursday, 19 April 2012

Joe Hockey and Filial Piety: working up the LibNats shopping list

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I recall a time back in the 1970s when a friend invited me to a Liberal Party barbecue in a Queensland regional city.  My friend explained the sort of economic thinking that was around in the Liberal Party at the time and has come to fruition across the world; is part of the gospel (oops! wrong word - gospel means good news) of libertarian think tanks such as the CIS and the IPA.  The propaganda was, is simple.  If a country, say India, makes better sandshoes at a better price than we can match, we should let them do it and we will do something else that we are good at.  A simple dollar and cents equation with a bit of a hat tip to expertise.

This thinking has spread across the world - recently I have eaten rice bubbles which turned out to be Made in Egypt (didn't like them - preferred the Kellogg's variety to which I have become habituated); pizzas sold dirt cheap through NQR that come from Germany; and of course there are the omni-present labels saying Made in China .... although I did come across Made in Bangladesh the other day.  I buy basmati rice from Pakistan.  Now there are some overseas countries I don't mind buying from - Bangladesh and Pakistan need the trade and the jobs.  And so does Australia.

In the simplistic factoids of the conservative political parties and the libertarian think tanks, everything is reduced to price.  In cavalier fashion they dismiss arguments such as social impact; skills building and retention; and self-sufficiency.  Certainly, the human dignity which fairly paid work provides doesn't rate a mention.  Barriers must come down and we must allow ourselves to be invaded by price cutting built on the back of slave labour or, at least, conditions akin to slave labour in places like China and India.

And what has been the result of all that wishful thinking?

Check the links below for the glowing (NOT) report on working life in Asian countries.  Even in these bad stories, some people feel that life has improved for them - but that is because they have come off a low, harsh and extremely cruel base.

Meantime, in Australia work is being abolished and off-shored to cheap labour markets in Asia.  Australia is prostrating itself before China and India to cut up our country.  But then if we have no respect for ourselves and our country, I suppose this is only to be expected.

Now we have Joe Hockey pontificating about Asian "filial piety".    Filial piety is a Confucianism concept. It also explains why so much of Chinese thoughtfulness begins and ends with the family and does not extend to the nation as a whole, to systemic means of consideration for each other.  Australia has two distinct types of spiritual heritage. The First Nations constructed for themselves a reciprocal society - a society of rights and obligations. In Joe Hockey's pontificating parlance, this construct could be regarded as one of entitlement ... because people relied on the operation of reciprocity. The reciprocal societies of the First Nations have sustained them for sixty milennia.  

Then 200+ years ago, white settlers brought their western European Christianity to Australia.  They key commandment of this culture is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Christianity gives the broadest of definitions to helping your neighbour.  Neighbours are not close relatives or friends, they are not those you choose to like or associate with.  Neighbours include the other, the outcast, the different.  A sense of entitlement is not encouraged.  It is simply that duty to God includes a duty to other human beings.  Now Hockey had a good Jesuitical education - as have Abbott and Joyce.  It is amazing the statements that issue forth from them which are demeaning of others; are vindictive and vengeful  and defaming; and don't exhibit an iota of Christian love, respect and fellow-feeling.  I reckon the Jesuits had better get back to the drawing-board!

Of course, there is a reason Joe has spoken out - and he was so brave wasn't he doing it in far away London!  There is a political shopping list being compiled by the conservative parties of Australia prior to the 2013 Federal Election which, they believe, is theirs for the taking.  Here are some front runners on the shopping list:
  • Abolish Federal mining taxes - and treat Gina Rinehart, Twiggy Forest & Clive Palmer nicely
  • Cut taxes for high income earners and corporates
  • Cut Carbon Pricing
  • Abolish Fair Work
  • Take on the unions - Patricks -v- MUA revisited across a number of fronts
  • Wind back environmental  priorities
  • Give irrigators the Water Act they really, truly want and lust after
  • Please provide suggestions for adding to the list
Things we can't expect the LibNats to do:
  • Provide an improved childcare system
  • Introduce a means test for the aged pension so that the wealthy can't get it
  • Introduce a means test for child care assistance so that wealthy can't get it
  • Please provide suggestions for adding to the list

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