Déjà Vu and Wicked Stories
Thor May, Brisbane
12 April 2012
This story is also on my blog, Thor's Unwise Ideas
So why do you read the news every day? Alright, maybe you don't. I plead guilty. Not all of it of course, just the narratives I've chosen to follow. Funny how we pick our company. For me the deletes run through spectator sport, most local news - especially the TV favourites/ murders/ muggings/ petty scandals, general gossip shock-horror stuff .. it's an eternal cycle. Perhaps that's the beauty of it for people who like corner shop routines. Well, hooked on the grand sweep of international affairs, do I lead some blessed, wise and elevated life? Pardon the self-mockery. In the end it is an addiction like any other, perhaps more pointless than most since no happy band of fellow travellers gathers around the computer screen to survey the wider world. You can't walk into any pub, club or workplace and start a conversation with complete strangers on the state of play of politics in Zhongnanhai, or population trends in northern Africa (but you can do just that for football heroes of the hour). Yes, I'm a fool to my own best interests if popularity is the game, but it is mighty hard to wear the heels of your shoes down in a different way after growing your own special slouch.
This story then is just a grumble about living in a world of predictable villainy and occasional charm. As pretty as snowflakes piling up on a bleak field, I've accumulated a passable knowledge of world history and international affairs (especially Asian). Yet snow is snow, while the seven deadly sins don't really change their cloaks regardless of the weather. No matter where I look and no matter at what time in history, the same underlying stories play out. Good ideas/ideals get subverted by the bad guys (in fact, one-time good guys are apt to be bought out and enlisted in the Evil Empire of the age), wealth funnels to the few, classes are entrenched, sex is exploited, trust evaporates ... If you are young enough, you KNOW that this sorry tale was yesterday: NOW the possibilities are different, right? Why else would we tune into the story again each morning? The grumpy elder speaks: in truth, NOW the possibilities are worse, but only because the number of players (world population) is destructively larger and the tools of oppression chillingly more efficient. The Muse soothes us: just to keep things ticking over, "Good", whatever that is, always fights back and the whole cycle of heroism and romance starts over.
This happens to be AD 2012, so we are freshly aware of certain dramas. (If we ran the movie back by decades or centuries, the same amoral tales would be running). As we look out of the bunker, the whole Iraq & Afghanistan debacle has been a huge financial success for a certain caste of five star hotel American villains. In fact, quite apart from the more or less transparent and vast corporate profits from warfare (a trillion dollars did not go to Middle Eastern peasants or carpet salesmen), and the ego escalator for those who live for bemedalled glory, there is accumulating evidence from economists that some part of this evil crew were gaming the stockmarket with a flood of put-options immediately prior to 9/11 [note 1]. The fuse to those exciting adventures, seems equally dubious. The actual physics of the twin-towers demolition in New York seems scarcely feasible from the supposed cause, a jet-fueled ram-raid by a handful of spoiled Saudis [note 2] ... and so on. The real perpetrators have successfully estimated the dim gullibility of enough Americans to get away with it (i.e. an historical deceit that seems so familiar in American history that it is almost a tradition, yet never fails). Similarly, the GFC is transparently about criminality by elites on a staggering scale.
Well, that is our American cousins. However, we could pick countries almost at random, at any point in their histories, and find a similar kind of bastardry at play wherever opportunity has arisen. Each address has its own cultural recipe of course. My own, Australia, is small enough (population wise) and weak enough to have a democracy that sometimes works. Therefore its political leadership has a long history of hairy chest thumping and timid behaviour - not least in the international arena, where Australia for most practical purposes is an American client state [note 3, note 4]. Perhaps it is no surprise that Australians choose leaders in their own image. If we passed the marshal's baton to most of these Australian citizens would they be wiser and braver than the politicians they love to lampoon? No of course not. Let's look at the worldly obsessions of everyman in the street. 80% of Australians cling to a handful of cities on the edge of a huge empty continent. Without the corner supermarket they would be lost. Their greater purpose in life, and therefore the focus of much latent skulduggery, revolves around bidding up the price of real estate. How has this particular morality drama panned out? Here is the state of play. In Australia, 30% of the population at present (overwhelmingly under 30 and therefore bound to multiply) will never own a house. Why? Well, the particular local dynamic is that governments have bribed votes from the middle classes for two generations by financial incentives to home ownership: an outright $7000 grant to purchase your first home (immediately increases market prices by at least $7000), no capital gains tax on homes, negative gearing (mortgage costs tax deductible), and so on. The predictable result has been asset inflation so severe that Australian housing is nearly the world's most expensive relative to income, and thus there has emerged a large class of people who think they are millionaires but live on hamburgers. That is, one class of "generation-lucky" working people has been set against another class of working people, and no force short of national catastrophe (a Chinese invasion?) will budge their political greed [note 5]. Ha, ha maybe we need to give licenses to a few American banks...
1. Schall, Lars (26 April 2012) Insights into the 9/11 Debate - "Economists are Scared". Asia Times at http://atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/ND27Dj02.html
2. Legg, Frank (6 April 2012) Revisiting the Science Behind 9/11. Asia Times at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/ND06Dj02.html
3. White, Hugh (27 September 2011) No Defence to Warship Blowout. Brisbane Times at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/politics/no-defence-to-warship-blowout-20110926-1ktgw.html#ixzz1t97y2zOh
4. Birmingham, John (19 April 2012) Does Australia Even Have a Defence Policy? Brisbane Times at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/does-australia-even-have-a-defence-strategy-20120418-1x7a0.html
5. Irvine, Jessica (6 April 2012) Housing Outlook Remains Grim for the Forgotten People. Brisbane Times at http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/politics/housing-outlook-remains-grim-for-the-forgotten-people-20120405-1wfd0.html ]
All opinions expressed in Thor's Unwise Ideas and The Passionate Skeptic are entirely those of the author, who has no aim to influence, proselytize or persuade others to a point of view. He is pleased if his writing generates reflection in readers, either for or against the sentiment of the argument.
"DejaVu and Wicked Stories " © copyrighted to Thor May; all rights reserved 2012