21 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Single mums miss out on cash hand out last December and the raise in the pension BUT Govt will have to pass a special legislation separating them from everyone elses benefits. What the…..is with this?. There isnt a needier group than this and they have been for three decades or more (document after document after document of public sector reports note this fact). They have kids to support. Its machiavellian, discriminatory, patriachalistic and downright wrong.
    You go Bob Brown and Fielding….. Swan, this one is wrong. Very wrong. Stop throwing the money at private schools and reallocate it where it is needed (public schools and single mums). Invite the well off to wean themmselves off their recently acquired welfare habits that JH got them hooked on.

  2. While the USA suffers massive economic, finance, currency and social problems, it still has one big Ace in its hand. That is its massive military power. My observation has been that whenever the USA feels its interests are threatened, it does not hesitate to use its military power against 2nd and 3rd rate powers.

    Presumably, we have to rate Russia and China as 1st rate powers; Russia certainly and China probably. Russia has an enormous nuclear capability like the US and China has an enormous land army.

    The question is this? Who will the US attack? I am fairly certain they will attack someone soon or expand a war like the war in Afghanistan / Swat Valley, Pakistan. Iran is also a likely target although Russia’s status as an Iranian ally might dissuade this.

    The least likely scenario is that mankind in general and the US in particular will resolve the economic and resource shortage crises peacefully.

  3. So far as China’s credit servicing of the US goes, it is immaterial. The US can;

    (a) repudiate all its debt to China;
    (b) tell China to shut up if it complains;
    (c) embark on an import substitution revitalisation of its own industry by dirigist policy (the US being just about best placed of all nations to follow a policy of at least semi-autarky);
    (d) print money to make it happen (there being little danger of hyper-inflation during the huge de-leveraging depression event which is imminent.)

    The US can cut the economic Gordian knot. It is easily powerful enough on all fronts to do this. All the US needs to do to achieve this is;

    (a) ensure its resource security post the fossil fuel era. (via nuclear transitioning to renewables)

    (b) avoid strategic over-stretch militarily and an over-interventionist imperial policy globally.

  4. Just to note a few comments and reviews over time…(decades in fact).

    1. “Trends in the Disposable Incomes of Australian Families 1964-65 to 1985-66.”
    J. Moore and Whiteford P.

    “However, comparing the positions of pensioners and beneficiaries with children in 1985-86 to what they were in 1976-77 there have been only slight improvements in the positions of some families, and in many cases, pensioner and beneficiary families are still behind their 1976-77 positions. Those worst affected have been sole parents.

    A particularly disadvantaged group seems to be sole parent pensioners. These pensioners have shared in the substantial real increases in basic rates and have also benefited from a major expansion of Commonwealth programs of assistance for sole parents. However, it is notable that sole parents with up to two children now receive relatively less compared to other pensioners than they did in 1964-65.”

    2. Dept FACS occasional paper no 4 “Hardship in Australia.”

    “All the identified categories of sole parents have rates of multiple hardship well in excess of the community as a whole.”

    3.Dept FACS submission to Senate. (2003)

    “Some two-thirds of all jobless families are sole parent families, and 91.5 per cent of jobless sole parent families are headed by women (ABS 6203.0 June 2002).”

    4. Dept FACS Policy research paper non 24.

    “The demographic composition of the bottom income quintile varies from that of the bottom expenditure quintile with a higher tendency for sole parents and single-adults living alone to be represented in the lowincomegroup.

    5. Dept FACS policy research paper no 21.
    “the prevalence of clinical anxiety and depressive disorders among lone
    mother recipients is between three and four times the national average with
    45 per cent of lone mothers experiencing a diagnosable mental disorder.

    In particular, policy and service delivery directed to sole parents needs to take
    account of the very high level of distress within this group. P.Viii

    Australia’s relatively high rate of child poverty can be seen as stemming
    from high levels of lone parenthood and joblessness, together with medium levels of
    wage inequality and social expenditure. P.Xii

    6. “Sole Mothers in Australia” Marilyn McHugh. SPRC 1996.

    “Sole mothers form almost one in five of all families with children. They are mainly white english speaking women, ex married with one or two children. They are heavily reliant on state benefits either as a sole source of income or as an addition to low earnings and / or child support. They have a much higher than average risk of poverty.”

    7. 2003. P. Butterworth “Multiple and severe disadvantage among lone mothers receiving income support.”

    “In Australia, 22 per cent of families with children aged under 15 are lone-parent families, and most of these (around 90 per cent) are headed by women.”

    Sole parent families, remain mostly headed by women and are now approx in every four families with children.

    Thats a lot families to exclude from any revision of pensions (and tob exclude from the fiscal cash rebates stimulus). Is this budget just delivering pat on the head to many Australian women and children and ignoring a problem that has been documented fully and is getting worse… for 40 years??

    I suggest its blatant and flagrant gender discrimination.

  5. I agree that sole parents (mostly women) get a raw deal.

    I’m a male, now retired; held several jobs, both private enterprise and public service over the years, these being both manual, clerical and line manager jobs.

    In between all this, we had twins and in the spirit of equality with a working wife, I spent 7 weeks at home helping my wife with the newborns and then later on six months at home looking after twins from 3 months to 9 months.

    I can tell you that looking after babies is probably the hardest job anyone can do in peacetime. OK, I accept that emergency workers and brain surgeons can have rougher days. Outside of that, most jobs are ****-easy compared to looking after babies and toddlers.

    But in typical fashion, such work is de-valued, because it is largely performed by women and largely outside the calculation of measured economic activity.

    However, don’t expect anything from Rudd. Both major parties are interested only in retaining power and in doing that by retaining corporate support for their party. Thus they govern for corporate capitalism and not for the people.

  6. I’m a man in my 50’s and I loved looking after the children – did lots of it and would have much rather been a full time parent than an academic. I didn’t find looking after babies, toddlers, chidren, teenagers much of a chore at all. But obviously some people don’t like it at all and prefer work. I don’t think such ‘family’ work is devalued only because of gender, I think anyone who deals with other people in a caring role will be exploited by those who don’t care about others at all because the carer is easily pressured into submission precisely because they care.

  7. The cruelty to sole parents (mostly women) did not start with Rudd, although it would appear to now be being perpetuated.. JH brought in welfare to work provisions that affected this group particularly harshly, combined it with workchoices to make damn sure they usually got no security and casual jobs staying in the low paid end of the labour market, provided economic disincentives to education, and on top of that he reduced the affordability of childcare and it became a case of those who could afford childcare got it, creating waiting lists miles long around the country (then Eddy Groves stuffed it up – so much for private provision) to make it even harder. JH then reduces male contributions to child support in exchange for a few hours or one day on a weekend’s care, in the interests of “fairness” or “shared parenting” (never mind that the father is likely to receive higher income from earnings)…..and yet.. – the required child support payments were already absurdly low in the first place.

    In fact this group has the highest employment rates of all pension recipients at around 50% of them yet still they feature very strongly in poverty stats and its not helping them get off welfare (as noted by Bob Gregory).

    Its national disgrace actually. If I was a single mother – I have one word of advice to all of them – vote green everywhere you can, until traditional governments clean up their despicable and discriminatory policy actions in this area in this country.

  8. Dear friends,

    I’m just writing to see if anyone here is interested in taking one last stand for pension reform before the Budget comes done.

    I’ve written my own angle and you can find it here:

    http://leftfocus.blogspot.com/2009/05/one-last-plea-for-justice-and.html

    If we could have as many emails being passed on to Wayne Swan’s desk – I’m hoping it may make a last-minute impact.

    Mother’s Day also seems a good time to raise the issue of Sole Parent rights… Everyone please write to the Treasurer supporting the rights of ALL pensions…

    Perhaps an idea would be to email Xenophon, Fielding and the Greens as well…

    And you’re all welcome to comment at Left Focus too…

    Again see: http://leftfocus.blogspot.com/

    most sincerely,

    Tristan Ewins

    tristane@bigpond.net.au

  9. I’m just writing to see if anyone here is interested in taking one last stand for pension reform before the Budget comes done.

    I’ve written my own angle and you can find it here:

    http://leftfocus.blogspot.com/2009/05/one-last-plea-for-justice-and.html

    If we could have as many emails being passed on to Wayne Swan’s desk – I’m hoping it may make a last-minute impact.

    Mother’s Day also seems a good time to raise the issue of Sole Parent rights… Everyone please write to the Treasurer supporting the rights of ALL pensions…

    Perhaps an idea would be to email Xenophon, Fielding and the Greens as well…

    And you’re all welcome to comment at Left Focus too…

    Again see: http://leftfocus.blogspot.com/

    most sincerely,

    Tristan Ewins

    tristane@bigpond.net.au

  10. Tristan, the problem seems to be with links to your site. I don’t know why this is. I’ll rescue a few from the spam file and see if that helps.

  11. Its Elsevier again. Universities should get together and jointly cancel their subscriptions to this publisher as a matter of principle.

  12. Having a professional background in the Pharmaceutical industry, I can say it takes about a minute or two to figure out if research is funded by Big Pharma. Now this alone is not a crime, given that the prescriber in his/her professional capacity should be able to spot the difference between genuine evidence based research and marketing.

    The “crimes” of Big Pharma are two fold as far as I can see:

    a. The witholding of research data that won’t benefit Pharmaceutical sales. The ugly drugs eventually are exposed because of the medical/pharmaceutical communities efficient reporting mechanisms. Being the skeptic I am, I suspect those pharmaceutical companies will have done a cost benefit analysis before releasing the ugly drug in attempt to recoup expensive research and development costs.

    b. Big Pharma (aided by well looked after health professionals)use the mechanism of fear to scare people into thinking there good health and every breath is under threat if they don’t dose themselves on a Pharmaceutical. The combination of fearmongering and calming rhetoric is nauseating. A classic example is the current swine flu outbreak. As Roche (owner of Tamiflu) and GSK (owner of Relenza) rake in the bucks on the back of a sensationalised fearmongering campaign, aided and abetted by the media. You could almost compare the demand and inevitable short supply for these drugs to a bank run caused by the fear of an insolvent bank.

  13. Don’t forget we are discussing a category of “undeserving” poor. Unlike, say, Tristan; a true victim and entitled to all the extra income skinning welfare beneficaries thru “reform” can net him.

  14. Paul – I don’t think I ever wrote that there is such a thing as the ‘undeserving poor’. I never make those kind of judgments about people – especially those who are vulnerable – and especially those whose circumstances I don’t understand.

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