I fully agree with recent comments made by YourLifeChoices columnist Peter Leith on our disappearing industries, and the short-sightedness of past governments in allowing them to go.
I have lived in Australia for well over 50 years. When I first came here in 1966 it was, in some ways, a better country. There were many manufacturing industries and jobs. With regret, I have seen these industries and jobs disappear. To some extent it was ‘out of control’ unions that hastened the demise of these industries, by excessive demands that sent many businesses to the wall. Union leaders felt they had to provide continuous gains for their members, even if it would send some businesses broke, or make them subject to takeovers, as happened to one I was in. The unions were also trying to usurp the function of government or blackmail it. (Then, fortunately, the Hawke years came).
On the other hand, governments pursued ‘ivory castle’ economic policies based on untested economic theories. How were we expected to compete with people who are happy to walk, use public transport, or a bicycle, as their main means of transport, and accept living in ant colony-like, unbelievably cramped, quarters. We should not become so reliant on other countries, with radically different political systems, for our essential goods, and for purchasing our exports. We are already, not very subtly, being blackmailed to influence government policies.
We must be self-sufficient, if we are to be truly independent to do what is best for us. It verges on treachery that the port of Darwin was leased to a foreign power (or to some ‘corporation’ that takes its orders from it). We have fed and strengthened those that would like to subjugate us economically, if nothing else! It is better to accept a more modest lifestyle, than to lose our independence.
In this country, we have allowed unbridled capitalism and the pursuit of wealth to run rampant, to the ultimate detriment of the majority of the population. It is untenable that some people, such as (but certainly not only) the CEOs of big banks, who have done such damage to their own clients and society in general, should be paid salaries and bonuses that are equal to the wages of hundreds of their employees, while they wreck the lives of others. The pie is a certain size, and there is enough for all to live comfortably, as long as individuals or small groups do not take such a large part that it means poverty for many others.
Such inequality in the distribution of wealth in a country, leads to people losing faith in the so called ‘democratic system’. Disenchantment and the breakdown of society follow, as well as more criminality, as those without hope will do anything to try to get somewhere in their lives. The political scene changes and allows ‘demagogues’ to exploit the discontent. We have seen this in modern history (e.g. World War Two), but are also seeing it again today in America and other places. It makes the world more dangerous and unpredictable.
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