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January 02nd 2018 print

Ron Pike

Of Bread and Circuses

Enjoy those fireworks? The crowds loved them, as always, so forgive me for a dour reflection on the art of distraction as perfected by our governing class. When the smoke clears, what's left to celebrate? Surely not governments that are gifted in staging spectacles but derelict in addressing dire threats

gladiators IIIn the last hours of  2017, as I looked out on a peaceful Pacific whose moon and stars were at that moment shrouded by light cloud, I reflected on the contrast of that moment with the turbulence of a year of political ineptitude. A year in which personality trumped policy and the Party, which ever of the major one you care to name, played the People like a fiddle. A year where our Fourth Estate, once relatively honourable, slipped further under the spell of partisan sensationalism and thereby distanced itself even further from the presentation of truth, often by the simple device of omission.

My reverie was shattered by the cannon-like barrages of local fireworks booming across the previously peaceful beaches of the beautiful Coffs coast. Perverse of me, perhaps, but I began to question just what this annual spectacle of fire is all about, and why so many feel the need to participate. Are we celebrating something of historic importance? Are we glad to see the end of another year of little achievement? Is it the hope in starting anew?

Retreating inside I am confronted with the wide-screen vision and thunder from Sydney Harbour. Millions, it seems, watch as rockets arc heavenwards in their pairs and clusters, each in its unacknowledged way a symbolic two-finger salute to all who signal their virtue by professing disgust at any form of “carbon pollution”. Many of those same people will be on the shoreline and cheering the plumes of carbide smoke that dull my TV’s image. Volley after volley of multi-coloured explosions light the sky, each drtawing the adoring gasps and applause of a spellbound crowd. Our famous Coat Hanger becomes a burning rainbow.

My sombre-but-questioning mood tells me this whole extravaganza is an expensive waste of resources, more a stimulation of our seemingly endless capacity for short-term enjoyment than a celebration of achievement and confidence in our nation’s long-term future

The term “bread and circuses” came to mind, and I was reminded of Roman satirist Juvenal, who as the Roman Empire was falling, said: “The Roman populace are no longer prepared to fight for their birthright or work for their sustenance. So the government keeps the people happy by distributing free food and staging huge spectacles.”

In arguing that our position in Australia has much in common with the Roman Empire in the fourth century, I will leave it to my readers to decide if Malcolmus is the Australian version of Romulus, the last Roman Emperor, or Odoacer, the first barbarian to preside over the terminally ailing empire. History tells us that Rome fell when crippling taxation was required to maintain the treasury, plundered by the ruling class trying to maintain the realm and their lavish lifestyle. While we as Australians grumble, perhaps, but mostly don’t deign to notice, our governing class legislate for themselves sinecures of plenty. They stack their boards and panels with pals and members in good standing of the New Establishment? Did anyone think, even for a moment, that Gillian Triggs’ deplorable record as the Australian Human Rights Commission’s fact-challenged, partisan prosecutor of all things non-Left would be out of work when her term came mercifully to an end? Of course not! The New Establishment taps the pockets of those little people it despises in order to pleasure its courtiers and cardinals.

When the NSW government spends lavish sums on sports and entertainment stadiums while neglecting the infrastructure needed to supply its citizenswith the basics of water, power and gas, are we not on the same downward path as Rome of the fourth century?

Consider: while NSW is now blessed by Nature with have an abundance of water, allowed mostly to flow in the sea, we now have 50% less water storage per head of population than 40 years ago. To add to this now urgent dilemma, governments, both state and federal, have given control of this dwindling amount of stored water to speculators (often offshore) and green bureaucrats, both of which are pushing the price of this basic resource beyond the capacity of those who grow our food.

While our governing class prospers even as they fiddle amid the ignored problems and perils burning all around them, the people will have insufficient water, power and gas in the near future. Our federal government, lacking any plan or vision but driven by a compulsion to stay in power, just like the Emperor Romulus is delivering us food and circuses to divert anger and delay revolt.

Presently, we have around five million people in the working-age demographic but reliant on the state for their daily sustenance. These people have no permanent, on-the-books, tax-paying jobs and the reason for their mendicancy is not slovenliness; it is a failure of the government to manage our resources and the economy with a view to ensuring every Australian can meet his or her citizenship obligations — to hold a job or run a lawful business, in other words, sufficient to provide for themselves and their families. When all our people have the pride that comes with self-sufficiency, fireworks will be just fireworks — entertainments rather than diversions. Meanwhile, what we don’t get is the courage to speak truth and chart the nation’s course accordingly. We get circuses as distractions from subterfuge and lies.

Recently, the federal government, mostly via Treasurer Scott Morrison, assured us, “We are delivering growth and creating jobs.” But this so-called growth is not a result of increased productivity. Rather, it is built on the huge Ponzi scheme of massive immigration. The economy grows, but individual wealth doesn’t. Another four thousand people each week! Add them to the already unsustainable five million people without full-time work. Before this scheme crashes — “scam” is a better description — the only growth likely will be at CentreLink, among “caring industry” support services, mental health clinics, the budget deficit and police budgets.

For another example, there can be no greater subterfuge than Emperor Malcolmus’ Snowy Two scheme. In response to an urgent need for increased base-load power, now being destroyed as a sacrifice on the altar of the climate-change cult, our Emperor proposes a scheme that will cost billions of dollars (no one has yet determined how much) and which uses more power than it produces. The Romans, even at their nadir, were never that stupid.

Malcolmus then assures the populace his scheme is the “battery” that will make renewable power “reliable”. There are only two kinds of people who could say such thing with a straight face: fools and liars. In which category you place our PM is a personal choice, although a strong case posits he has one foot in either camp.

It is time the good, resourceful and, when allowed, productive people of this lucky country stopped watching fireworks and turned their attention to the circus in Canberra and clown-beset state capitals.

Happy New Year, my compatriots and fellow neo-Romans. Hope you enjoyed the pretty fireworks.

Comments [11]

  1. Davidovich says:

    Thanks Ron, an excellent expose of the ruinous path ahead. Turnbull is truly awful, as is Shorten, and the rest of our well-superannuated politicians think only of self-preservation at the ballot box. A thesaurus could not provide enough derogatory words to describe our political class.

    • Jody says:

      ….of which the people themselves are complicit in their creation. Politicians aren’t from Mars; they are representative of our nation. They didn’t invent a feral senate and the conflicting values or non-existent which arise from our society and culture. They merely respond to the ‘squeaky door’ of politically opportunist pressure groups – most of whom do not represent the people. We demand a leader who will carry us forward and make the decisions; just watch any politician try to do that when he or she is howled down by the populace with screams of “unfair”, “racist”, “alt right, or left, or loony”. On and on and on it goes. No, folks; the government isn’t there to solve your problems and behave as nanny; it is there to provide infrastructure and national security. Make your own lives meaningful, engage with the polity and be your best selves.

  2. ianl says:

    An erudite and amusing comment on the insipid mendacity of our self-described “elites”. The situation is exacerbated, even enabled, by the persistent unwillingness of the general populace to examine it.

    Whichever way one votes, change cannot now occur without prior catastrophe. No way out now. Pious, naive optimism about change is akin to stepping through the looking glass with Alice. Aus has become too stupid to survive.

  3. Jody says:

    You have a much higher expectation about the collective IQ if you think people want anything more edifying than fireworks for their amusement. I do not have such an expectation; being a retired teacher I would have said the top class out of 7 English classes has a reasonable chance of meaningful and thoughtful engagement with something better than the bog-standard; the rest will follow the sheep and are glad to have somebody else do it for them. This doesn’t make them bad or dishonest; just unthinking and unconcerned about much beyond the quotidian.

  4. jeremy says:

    The problem is the political class, those who have dedicated themselves to earning a living at politics with the supreme prize being a seat in Parliament.
    Their entire lives are spent in the warm embrace of the Public Service, so even when they try, they cannot create the conditions for a free enterprise society because they don’t understand what they may be! The result is that they kill the goose that lays the golden eggs – similar to unionism.
    Political staff, the nascent members of the political class, have increased in number at the same time that normal citizens have been leaving political parties in frustration and disappointment. As political staff are always party members, their power as a group has grown massively. They elect each other to party positions, pre-select each other for parliamentary seats, and arrange for safe jobs for each other. Their group think is focussed on cunning political tricks. Bread and circuses for the citizens and cunning traps and betrayals for their opposition and competitors. Policies are simply there as a support for political tricks. The Labor party has been like this for ages, and the Liberals have recently followed suit.
    Of the 54 who voted against Tony Abbott, a very large proportion were previously political staff.
    To return our country to a functioning democracy, we need to introduce rules in Political Parties that prevent staff occupying positions of power, pre-selecting and being pre-selected until a waiting period has been served – say two years.
    Efforts have recently been made to do this in the Liberal Party, but have been frustrated by the numbers of staff and politicians being greater than the number of ordinary citizens.
    The only cure is for more ordinary citizens to grit their teeth an join parties so they can outvote the political class where it matters.
    The new conservative Parties are not yet the answer because their party constitutions offer no greater protection against takeover by the staff.

    • Jody says:

      My son is a political staffer (senior adviser) to a very high-ranking cabinet member of the Federal government and he certainly doesn’t fit the description you’ve offered; he’s EXTREMELY loyal and hard-working and discreet to a fault. The same cannot be said about a number of his peers – both inside and outside politics.

  5. Tony Tea says:

    Juvenal wrote his satires in the first century, which was hardly a period when the Empire was falling. (Although several seeds of decline may have been sown during that century.)

  6. Bran Dee says:

    There was reference to the immigration intake and this increased to 250 000 last year. When added to the natural increase of approx 100 000 pa the total increase is close to 1000 people per day for every day of the year.
    It means that when Scott Morrison claims his government is to be praised for giving us jobs at the rate of 1000 per day he is concealing the fact that the jobs growth is scarcely keeping up with the population growth and is doing little to reduce unemployment.

    • Doc S says:

      Really good point Bran Dee – why can’t our political leaders see it? According to ABS figures departures and arrivals in 2016 & 2017 are roughly the same (18.9 and 18.7 mil respectively) of which in 2017 there were 715,700 permanent and long-term arrivals including migrants. The 245,000 immigrants in 2017 FY were actually an increase of 27% or over 50,000 from 2016. Our natural increase remained the same at roughly 150,000 pa so its the net migration thats the difference.

      Note also that the offset of departures of permanent or long-term residents remained roughly the same at a little over 300,000 so that is a net population increase of about 100,000 per annum – as you say nearly 1000 a day. One inference to draw is that Australians are leaving at a slightly greater rate than the immigrants replacing them. All the more alarming if you also see that our natural increase is disproportionately the result of the resident migrant population literally out-breeding native Australians at many times the birthrate – a common phenomena seen throughout the West.

      This demographice change is also fundamentally changing the face of Australia and not in a good way as we have seen from the many examples of the effects of mass migration in European countries and the UK. The data underscoring this comes from our own government body yet the number of our politicals who are willing or able to draw the same obvious conclusions appear very few and far between and include none of our current political leadership.