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Monday, May 28, 2007

When Generals Talk by Shane Elson

Before Peter Garrett lost his way and joined the alternative capitalist party, he sang a song with the line "when the generals talk, you better listen to them". At the time he was singing about both the military and economic generals and it is the economic generals who, to this day, continue to rule the world.

A little earlier this week the private, for profit Macquarie Bank announced
its record profit of almost one and half billion dollars, a fantastic sum by
any account but only slightly more than a third of the recently announced
4.4 billion dollar profit of the NAB and on par with the Commonwealth and
Westpac bank's profits.

The media focus over the last few days has been on the "millionaire factory"
boss, Alan Moss', salary and bonus package of $33 million dollars. How does
this compare to the salary and bonus packages of the heads of the other

The head of the NAB, John Stewart, 'earned' a tidy $8 million for his
efforts as did David Morgan of Westpac while David Murray from the
Commonwealth languished at the bottom of the salary and bonus pile with a
measly $7 million meaning that he is the poorest of the mega rich.

These men, between them 'earned' the equivalent of 1120 times the average
amount earned in Australia. That is for every dollar we earn, these guys are
"compensated" $1120. Put another way these obscene amounts mean that for
every one of us who earn a dollar we have helped put another $1120 dollars
into the pocket of one of these thieves. We don't have a Robin Hood to get
it back so where do we turn?

Well, let's not try and turn to the governments. After all they are the ones
who pass the laws that allow these situations to arise. Howard said, on the
ABC radio "PM" program that while the amount paid to Alan Moss was "a lot of
money" he went on to make the most astute observation I think I have ever
heard come from the mouth of a politician.

Howard remarked that the $33 million dollar package was "a lot more than
most people listening to this program make." Wow! This guy is so in touch
with the "battlers" he claims to represent that he knows, in the core of his
being, that MOST people don't make that money. But that is not all. Howard
then reveals which side of the battle for a fair and decent wage he is on.

". I mean I am in favour of the capitalist system. I really am, and I don't
think it's the business of government to put caps on people's salaries."
Wow! Two revelations in the one interview. Howard offers us nothing new. Nor
does his opposite number Kevin Rudd. Sorry but I to have to let all the
welded on Labor voters in on the worst kept secret of the year but Kevin
agrees with John on both comments.

So while the politicians continue to wine and dine with the uber rich, while
the real generals in the battle for the dollar slug it out in negotiations
over their salaries, what about the real battlers out here in "average
Australia" land?

Well spare a thought for the bonus's announced in the federal budget a
couple of weeks ago. I think the pensioners should be jumping up and down in
their Zimmer frames with glee at getting $500 (again) just for being old. No
work or effort required there. Those who are forced to give full time
support to a disabled loved one should also be jumping up and down for joy.
For simply loving their son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, sister
or brother, they will get a $600 bonus.

I mean, come on. How much better can it get? Unlike the hard working the
bank bosses who have to put up with all the inconvenience of having a bevy
of helpers and minions at your beg and call, having to put up with
travelling first class and staying in ratty 6 star hotels, never having to
think about where your next meal might be coming from, these generals of the
economy do it really tough compared to the rest of us.

Think of the carers. They get to stay at home everyday. They spend 24 hours
every day with the ones they love and they get the opportunity to meet in
well appointed offices with some of the most influential bureaucrats they
will ever encounter. What have they got to complain about? Think of the
money they save. They never have to pay departure taxes when travelling
internationally nor do they have to face the inconvenience of the Qantas
lounge running out of those sweet little French pastries.

But seriously. How did we allow things to get this bad?

The last ten years have seen the most fantastic transfers of wealth from the
poor to the rich in history. Beginning over 20 years ago the capitalist
class, to whom Howard and Rudd cleave so closely, began to implement their
strategies. What their real strategies were will probably never be known.
What we do know is that they have included the full purchase of our means of
government, the colonisation of our academies and the destruction of most
means of resistance to their strategies.

John Howard summed it up quite well when he said that he was in favour of
the capitalist system. It has served him and his class interests well. The
noises being made by Kevin Rudd and his offsider, Julia Gillard, indicate
that they too have no allegiance with the working class and the poor. They
also have fallen in to the thrall of the system that has no other purpose
than to concentrate wealth upwards.

The only thing left for us to do is to resist the imposition of any more of
this evil and divisive system. The problem is that there are still too many
of us who believe that our little contribution is meaningless. Nothing could
be further from the truth. However, what is really missing is strong
leadership - something we won't find in the major political parties whose
main criteria for leadership is being able to be led by the nose.

Ultimately the capitalist system will fail. It is not an evolving system.
Sure, the economy 'grows' but this is artificial. The growth is not real and
material. It is theoretical and therefore can be manipulated. The capitalist
system's material outcomes, those things we can truly measure, are,
ultimately, disenfranchisement, suffering and eventually, uncontrollable

The generals do currently control vast armies but neither they nor their
troops can comprehend the battles that are looming. I suggest the ones who
are truly prepared are those who already know how to face adversity,
deprivation and poverty. Unlike the handfed, personally groomed and
manicured generals, those who struggle know how to survive and when push
comes to shove, I want to be on the side of those who already have the
survival skills necessary to cope with a post capitalist society.

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