Published on Webdiary - Founded and Inspired by Margo Kingston (/cms)

Black dogs and diamonds

By Justin Obodie
Created 03/02/2009 - 00:10

Justin Obodie [0](aka The Albatross) regularly soars the thermals of these pages. This is his third piece for Webdiary.

Not long ago Richard asked me for an update on the privacy thing. To be honest I wasn’t keen. But having read Adele Horin’s piece, "You'll work like a dog to make Centrelink happy" [1] (SMH Saturday 31st January 2009) got me thinking.

Adele’s article found me recalling an recent episode with Centrelink that I have mentioned previously on this site. In that post I was wondering how the system and punters were going to cope with the coming downturn. I read Adele’s piece and agreed. I recalled my bewildered sister-in-law being suspended from her disability pension, for no good reason but pure bloody mindedness. I remembered the problems my daughter had with Centrelink, when she was extremely ill and vulnerable; problems that were a result of staff ignorance and insensitivity.

Today, 2nd February, there appeared another article in the SMH by Adele: "Retrenched workers told they must wait for help [2]". Adele must have it in for Centrelink.

Apparently punters with only modest savings were told they must wait for help. I personally know people who have lost their jobs, been given a few grand termination pay and told (by Centrelink) they would have to wait six weeks before they could apply for benefits. A few grand won’t last long. Many are angry about this and maybe for good reason; in their minds, they have done nothing wrong; it was the greedy bastards as usual.

Do you have any Centrelink stories to share?

But what has this got to do with privacy per se? Not much (maybe) but I thought I’d have a go in mixing up a few issues, after all, most our threads go off into weird and wonderful tangents anyway, sort of:

The unfolding economic crisis

Social unrest

Social unrest and privacy

This economic crisis is unparalleled. Comparisons are made but no two events are the same. Never the less the black dog of depression / recession is descending upon the globe. Many are losing / have lost their wealth, as the globe finishes its first course in this avoidable Grande Boufette of financial fuck ups. We all know what the root cause was – greed with very large doses of stupidity. Feel free to discuss same.

My concerns are with the punters and how they and their loved ones are going to cope when that black dog arrives howling in the night. There will be many, and for the young it will be their first experience with the unforgiving nature of capitalism, as we know it.

Most of the biggest banks across the globe are insolvent – we’re stuffed, it is the punters who are paying for this mess; that was always going to be the case. Grin and bear it if we must. But we don’t have to, do we?

As the punters get their pink slips one day, their credit card bills the next, they are going to find it increasingly difficult to survive; the dole queues (across the globe) will grow and more and more people will be forced to deal with the government for their survival. And it won’t be pretty. After our initial sympathy for these victims wears off, they will become a nuisance to some and an embarrassment to others. Their numbers will grow as the black dog runs wild.

Today with the help of the internet the punters’ information sources are wide and varied. The message is getting through and becoming clear that we have been screwed, and we taxpayers are being forced to trust the greedy bastards (with our cash) who got us into this mess to fix it.

The banks get billions of cash (your cash) to spend how they wish, while the punter has to act like a circus poodle just to get a couple of hundred. And if the punter misses an appointment at Centrelink, it can be no cash for up to eight weeks. The banker gets his bonus regardless.

More and more punters will be looking for less and less work; they will have to get creative to survive. Many will become criminals; working for undeclared cash is a criminal offence, a very serious one in fact, for both the master and servant.

For those who end up with a dose of the black dog it will be difficult: no cash, humiliation and anger, they will think: what did I do wrong? Though forgetting it was probably unwise to overstate their incomes to get that big fat mortgage. Regardless, the Indians may get restless. Just how restless is matter for speculation.

Already we are seeing demonstrations and riots in Europe and elsewhere. The black dog descends with a bite.

I’ve been watching the Yanks for the past number of years and it is in the US and UK that we see all types of things happening regarding privacy. We have seen illegal wiretaps, but the punters were indoctrinated into feeling this shocking attack on their liberties was OK by them, it will keep them safe from the bad guys. Besides, what do honest law abiding citizens have to worry about – it’s them pesky terrorists, welfare groups and pensioner associations that the wolves seek out.

Soon enough there may be a critical mass of citizens of like mind, who have simply had enough of stupidity and greed. This will be a problem for our democratic oligarchies; especially if those of like mind are peaceful, creative and seductive – and honest.

The powers that be will fight back with whatever tools they have at their disposal. I won’t go into that here, maybe that could be one of those tangents we could explore, for there are many weird and wonderful tools to spy on, and track "criminals"; whether they are "dole cheats" or terrorists, or someone who may be a "threat" to the government of the day.

And the Diamonds – when times are tough, the nebulous dreams of justice and fairness may consolidate within the hearts of those who dream of better things, those dreams may harden, and then manifest as the collective will of humanity, for better or worse. One would hope the former, but as we all know things quite often go "round and round again".

Also in hard times, individuals, like diamonds can sparkle – it’s a matter of being tough and creative (in mind and spirit) in spite of everything.

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