The world is talking. Are we listening?

Sixth installment in Mong Palatino’s series for Global Voices:

Global recession: The world is talking. Are we listening?

He explains the purpose of his posts:

Readers may notice that the articles in this series rarely mention recession stories in the U.S. While recognizing the serious economic challenges faced by the U.S., this series invites the public to study how the recession is shaping and reshaping societies in the world. We want our readers to appreciate how the recession in the U.S. is creating old and new problems around the globe. Many bloggers are providing alternative and insightful views on the crisis. Part of solving the problem is to encourage a global conversation on the economic crisis. This series is a contribution to jumpstart this global conversation.

Are we listening?

You don’t have to live like a refugee.

Despite Malcolm Turnbull’s repeated assurances that the Liberal Party would not politicise the current asylum seeker situation, this is precisely what Turnbull with the support of Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop have done.

Julie Bishop has been proclaiming that Australia has become a soft target for asylum seekers (or as they would prefer to call them “illegal immigrants” or “queue jumpers”) since the Labor Goverment did away with temporary protection visas.

Interestingly the Liberal Opposition hasn’t called for any of the so-called “measures” that Labor supposedly “softened” to be reinstated.

Despite requests from various parties for politicans to refrain from jumping to conclusions about the predicament of the recent asylum seekers, there has been no shortage of illi-informed commentary from politicians and media commentators. Barry Cassidy and Piers Ackerman have been practically apoplectic with fury in attempting to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Rudd Government.

During the weekend, Ackerman went so far to suggest that people who voted for Rudd at the last election may now be realsing that they have made a mistake.

Many have been drawing comparisons with this incident and the “children overboard” saga which heralded Howard’s famous catchcry “we will decide who comes here and under what circumstances” effectively rallying all rascists and simultaneously demonising those asylum seekers at that time and all who follow thereafter.

What received little airplay, was the subsequent finding that the overwhelming majority of the asylum seekers who arrived in Australia during the “children overboard” affair were found to be bona fide refugees.

So Australia, has seen an influx of some 300 asylum seekers this year. Let’s put this in context, the World has become an increasingly unstable place. We have been complicit as a nation, in causing a great deal of instability in the very places these people are fleeing. Don’t we have a responsibility to accommodate, within reason, these people who have been displaced from their home countries?

In recent months, Britain has received over 10,000 asylum seekers and Spain some 15,000.

In comparison, a few hundred asylum seekers seeking refuge in Australia seems paltry.

Or maybe, Australia is revealing its true colours by making such a fuss. Scratch the surface and perhaps we are a pack of thinly veiled rascists after all.

Like it or not, if the Liberals maintain their current response, this will be the message that the world hears.

FBT – the stupidity of it all

On the weekend I was chatting to a mate who said that the previous weekend he drove to Canberra and back for no other reason than he needed to get up more kilometres on his car  or he would not reach the minimum number of kilometres on his novated leased car, or he would be slugged with the Fringe Benefits Tax.

Now this seems completely stupid if you ask me. We have a country where we import a lot of fuel, where the climate is supposedly suffering from the carbon emissions, where companies and people are suffering due to the GFC – and what are people doing? Driving around wasting petrol and money to avoid paying a tax! Bizzare.

I wonder if anyone has done any analysis of the kilometres driven by leased cars to see how many kilometres were made in the last month of the year to see how many are driving and wasting resources just to avoid the FBT?

Why does the government persist with this stupid situation?

Monday by the Magazine Rack.

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I wasn’t sure about how I was going to kick off the Magazine rack today.

However, knowing that I was due to have some blood tests this morning, I thought I’d wait for that appointment to take place, with the idea being that the experience might give me something to write about.

Well it didn’t disappoint.

I’ve just returned from Hobart Pathology after being subjected to no less than three attempts by two nurses to draw blood from my delicate being.

The first nurse, was a pretty young blond woman by the name of Tory, who upon failing to extract any blood on her first attempt, albeit driving the needle right into the vein rather painfully, subsequently apologised and said she’d have to have another go.

So after patching up the first attempt, and surveying the landscape for another vein, Tory sweetly aplogised for the inconvenience and accurately alluded to the fact that “sometimes it can be a little painful”.

“You don’t say…” I said silently to no one in particular.

The second attempt was just as painful and no more successful than the first, and at this point she suggested that she might get another nurse to have a look.

“No problem” I said, quite relieved at the prospect of perhaps someone a little more experienced in the art of drawing blood having a go.

In a flash Michelle appeared at the door, a six foot brunette who looked like she meant business. And no sooner had I removed the cufflink from my right arm, than Michelle was sizing me up for the right place to plunge the needle for the third attempt. A few clenched fists and we were off.

Michelle carefully but confidentally plunged the needle in, while uttering a few comforting words, “you might feel a little sting” and “good boy, just take a few deep breaths…” et cetera…

After it was all over, Michelle explained that she had had no luck either, waving a near empty glass capsule in front of me with what contained something that resembled a small splash of red ink.

“It seems you’re a bit dry” said Michelle dissaprovingly, as if I was late for school.

Tory nodded in agreement “It’s not uncommon” she said.

“A bit dry?” I asked trying to contain my increasing apprehension and disappointment while thinking I’ve just been painfully stabbed in the arms three times for nothing! What Next?!

“Is that a symptom of something?” I asked apprehensively, displaying my complete ignorance of even basic medicine while wondering whether it meant that I was gradually joining the club of Philip Ruddock, the walking dead.

“Come back tomorrow, and have another go” they suggested firmly, adding almost gleefully “we won’t be here.”

I’m not sure whether that last bit was meant to reassure them or me.

“And if that doesn’t work, they’ll probably send you to George Street.”

“George Street?” I asked. “What goes on at George Street?” wondering whether it might be some underground black market organ trafficking thing where you wake up in a bath tub of ice with a small scar where your liver used to be.

“Oh, they’re just more experience in drawing blood down there” said Michelle gleefully. “They’ve been doing it for over twenty years” she added reassuringly, which really only made me wonder why I had ended up here in the first place.

“Oh yes,” added Tory enthusiastically.

“They can get blood out of a stone down there”.

“Terrific” I thought. And so I collected my things and left. With three plasters on my arms, and with what little blood I have left remaining intact.

Maybe I should join that religion that refuses to give or receive blood. The Morons or whoever they are…