Hello Cruel World
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
US-Australia FTA, the Trojan Horse, and a Tale of Three Camps
[TO BE FINISHED]
Though people are objecting to particular examples of how this "Free Trade Agreement" may affect us badly, I'd ask us to look at the ideology at its base. This Trojan horse provides a legal way to lock us into an extreme economic kind of fundamentalism. The ideology also affects any government or charitable ("non-profit") involvement in almost any part of society, including public schools, hospitals, heritage, arts, the environment & natural resources or national parks, even parts of defence, and calls it "unfair" or "subsidies".
It says that the basis of society and democracy, particularly the Australian version*, is wrong. That public good and public service should only ever be a by-product of the drive to private profit; that the "best and highest" use of human effort and intelligence is to serve that aim, not to improve the world, express humanity, or whatever.
Any improvement or service provided in order to make money is to be the least possible, produced as cheaply as possible - whatever this means for your staff, your providers or the natural resources you use - for the highest possible price (called "efficiency" and "productivity").
An example will be the future history of NRMA, originally set up as a community based, though private, non-profit service-provider. Most of its recent troubles have been conflict over changing from that to this other basis of operation.
The costs - human, social, environmental - may be dumped on whatever poorly-funded government services are left, or in an ironic twist, also used as a source of profit, say by setting up a services company to bid for tax money provided (because of public pressure) to help with the damage, as government services are corporatised or privatised to follow the managerial ideology.
Representative government and accountability are, like following the letter of the law, perhaps necessary evils, but to be used as sparingly as absolutely necessary. Law-makers should be lobbied &/or "donated" to, to make the laws, including tax, as favourable as possible.
It is better to pay this, or lawyers, public relations firms and advertisers to give an impression of a "good company" than pay the same money on *being* a "good company". That might set an expensive precedent, and not be noticed by consumers who would prefer to use a "good company". Sponsorship should similarly be not just tax deductible, so tax money is either paying much of it or reduced by that amount so public services are disadvantaged, but the splashiest for the money, not necessarily applied in the most useful way, or to the neediest cause. (Sally's "spin doctors" will confirm this, but use language to justify it).
[* Australian version - A Tale of Three Prison Camps. During the Pacific war (there's an oxymoronic name), perhaps in Singapore, the Japanese army set up three camps for prisoners-of-war from British, Australian, then American forces. Being hierarchical themselves, they provided better supplies to the officers in each camp.
In the British camp, the officers used the enlisted men to build themselves better quarters, kept their own rations, gave themselves better medical treatment. The enlisted men resented this, were as unco-operative and insubordinate as they could be, and were punished for this.
In the American camp there was fierce "free" trading in food, cigarettes, medicine, so that some ended up sick & poor without anyone to help them and others became "King Rats".
In the Australian camp …
This is the legend, and I'm sure that there was some bad & good behaviour in all of them, but it points to the best purpose & moral foundation of Australian society as evolved from the mid-nineteenth century until about the 1980s, when the "Free Trade" push -- so reviled for many years for things like exporting wheat from Ireland during the Great Famine, because English markets could pay for it and starving Irish couldn't -- made a comeback.
Don't let people tell you "it's inevitable". So was the Thousand Year Reich, so was the Divine Right of Kings, and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. They say that because they want you to believe it. Remember evil can only triumph when good people do nothing. It's taken between 500 and 1000 years of struggle to get a legally-bound and legally-removable ruler, representative government with voting rights for all adults, support for the mentally & physically ill …
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