JIM COOMBS. Best Things In Life.

The stars belong to everyone: The best things in life are free.” Or they ought to be. The last week of Budget Hysteria, made me think, “Is money all there is to life?” That seems to be what the government and opposition believe is all we care about.

The madness of the capitalist rent-seekers to turn everything into a commodity to be sold has worked up to a point. Bow your head in shame, John Dawkins, you made education, the love of and thirst for knowledge and understanding, into a commodity ! Things which should be the right of all, clean potable water, clean air, health care when needed, time to spend with our children, are being progressively made into purchasable commodities.

You might reflect, as I have just done, on the joy that music brings to the heart, the up-lifting of the spirit singing in a choir, the sense of transcendence one has having played a tennis shot above and beyond one’s natural talent, the emotions wrought by holding one’s infant grand-child, the wonders of nature, walking through the bush. All these are worth more than the cash that comes from joining the Gadarene swine working unpaid overtime, neglecting the things that really do matter.

How do we get the “good life” ? Well, for a start it would help if the government appreciated the values I have adverted to above, instead of screaming, Clinton-like, “It’s the economy, stupid !”: The rush to the bottom of unbridled, unregulated, value free (one of their favourite falsehoods) promotion of “business” of any kind, at any cost to our better selves.

Even the pollsters, who are not too far from guilty, have asked people whether they would prefer the government to provide better services rather than a tax cut, and found to their horror that better services was the clear preference. So why do the politicians ignore the clear desires of the people. Surely they aren’t representing the interests of the rent-takers rather than those of the people they purport to represent? Indeed, polling has even shown a majority for higher taxes if that should lead to better services, protection of the poor, sick and aged, and promotion of cultural goods and abolition of nasties like on-line gambling.

Instead they attack the ABC and “commercialise” SBS. Without the ABC broadcasting would become the creature of business, with the objective of profit, not enlightenment, education or culture. The attack on the ABC is meant to stifle criticism and factual reporting, not simply parroting Rupert Murdoch or providing a platform for the Ray Hadleys of this world, those who are in it for the money.

A return to a more sane and balanced work-place would contribute to a good life. A return to the 40 hour week (remember ? our fathers fought for the right to spend time with their children and to pursue something other than the dollar). Unpaid overtime should be made illegal, as it is simply theft from the worker for the benefit of business owners. Yet the father of the Australian Way of Life, John Winston Howard did his damndest to destroy the bargaining power of labour, while throwing away (mostly to the already rich) the revenue benefits of the mining boom.

Do I hark back to better, fairer days? You betcha!

Jim Coombs is a nearly retired magistrate and economist.

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3 Responses to JIM COOMBS. Best Things In Life.

  1. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    The stars belong to nobody.
    Their charm lies in their Light; and in the fact that we may enjoy that (light). In fact – it’s one of the best things about life on Earth- seeing the stars – which, of course, we create counter-light to mask or obliterate and dense urban clag to make it difficult to get into ‘country’ so we can see clear skies.
    Then: further, if you/One knows your/anyone’s legends and myths – there is a whole galaxy of stories about the stars – what they mean (to us) and what we can learn by being taught about them. This sounds a bit Moralising – which Stars most Definitely are Not (About) – and is probably a sign of the levels of frustration I experience by missing-out so much on Night Skies – and by having tried, on StarParty night, to get beyond the cloudy, opaque skies of suburban Melbourne – with total lack of success.

  2. Rodney Edwin Lever says:

    They used to say that “money is the root of all evil.” Today money has become central to our existence. In the end it will destroy us all. That is exactly the way our life on this planet has become our greatest danger, both for the rich and for the poor.

  3. R. N. England says:

    I’m with you on this one, Jim Coombs. Money is good only in moderation. It can make things fairer for the underdog than the barter system. It is less easy to rip him off when he knows the price that the market usually pays. The mistake is to think that converting a whole culture into a market will produce the good life. That is a dangerous fundamentalism that hollows out the complex culture that has evolved over millennia. Money is a potent drug which too few people are able to use in moderation. It has been allowed to set free a level of competitive individualism that threatens every other aspect of our culture.

    The arts and the sciences, formally regarded as the pillars of our culture, suffer and die under the onslaught of money-making and careerism. The city of London has grown into a huge architectural cancer, as buildings that are their mere by-products dwarf those of the exquisite culture of Chrisopher Wren. Like the architecture, the music, the painting, and the sculpture that have fallen into that system are all a hideous fraud. Science, that was once engaged in by aristocrats as recreation, has become a grinding labour as the capitalist/careerist system demands greater and greater output by those individuals that survive in it. Every last drop of enjoyment gone, most of them can’t wait to retire. Many that are exhausted end up on the scrap-heap. Others revive and continue their output at a level determined by the enjoyment it gives.

    Finally, all manner of by-products of money-making, produced with relentlessly increasing efficiency (and that includes an exploding human population) are destroying other life on earth. Unless we can get world capitalism under the tight control of tough government that understands the dangers (a socialist one), the last hope for the great diversity of life on earth is capitalism collapsing, and the human population crashing. Socialism with Chinese characteristics shows some hope of a managed transition to sustainable human existence, but the West, ruled by the cryptogovernment of capital, has none.

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