Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Living on the dole

Yesterday, in response to calls to raise Centrelink unemployment payments by $75 a week I wrote briefly:

In my youth I lived on the dole for a time.  It was then  £2/7/6 pw., if that notation means anything to anybody these days. Equal to $70.00 these days. I lived well and even saved money on it.  But I spent nothing on beer and cigarettes and I ate exclusively at home.  I could even afford an egg or two with my breakfast porridge.  Eggs, porridge and milk are very cheap to this day and form a very solid  foundation for a day's nourishment. And you can generally get day-old bread for a song. Good for toast. I don't think it is hard at all if one is not spoilt by uncompromising expectations

My comments that in my youth I lived on an unemployment dole of $70.00 pw evoked some incredulity. The current dole in Australia is $200 more than that. Why the difference?

For a start, I initially gave the actual dole I received: £2/7/6.  I then used the Reserve Bank's online calculator to translate £2/7/6 in 1960 to current dollars.  And $70 was the answer.  The Reserve bank calculator was based on official price indices so is a very scholarly figure which makes allowances for just about anything  that might distort the answers that it gives.  So I think we might have to live with the fact that I really did live on that little.

So how?  A revealing part of the answer is that before I went on the dole I had a job as a junior clerk -- in which I was paid around £6 pw So ALL young sprouts at that time had to live on very little by modern standards.  I was 17 in 1960.

Note the age factor.  As a junior I did not get the full dole.  The full dole was the equivalent of about $100 pw in terms of current purchasing power. But it's still not much, is it?

So how come?  I am afraid the explanation is pretty simple.  We ALL were a lot poorer 60 years ago.  The vast influence of international capitalism has been incredibly enriching for us all over time.  Back in 1960 we did have a lot of the things that people now do but we had to work a lot longer for them.  We did for instance have motor cars but only the well-off had new ones. My father never had a new car in his life.

Eating out was almost unknown but most people could afford a square meal at home at dinner time.  But it was a VERY square meal. Day after day, month after month and year after year it consisted of the same thing: Meat and 3 veg.  Australia has great herds of beef cattle so even working class people could often afford steak a lot of the time but when that failed there were always sausages or minced beef. And it was amazing what you could do with mince. The 3 veg. that came with the meat ALWAYS included some form of potatoes (usually boiled) plus a selection of boiled beans, cabbage and carrots. If you were a bit fancy you might get cauliflower. 

So EVERYBODY lived very economically in those days. They had to.  But there were also people who were really poor -- people who spent half their money on beer and cigarettes mainly.  They had to live the way I did: feeding themselves mainly off milk, porridge, eggs and day-old bread with plum jam on it.  Day-old bread was generally available for half price or less and made very good toast.  And you bought plum jam in big tins to keep the price down. Most houses had a substantial backyard where you could grow most of your fruit and vegetables if you were thrifty.

Food aside, unemployment was less than 2%.  You could get on a steam train and go interstate to visit family and friends at vacation time. There was always the family car for local trips. The newspapers had lots of interesting news, particularly from overseas. You could hear all the latest songs on the radio. The ladies could buy pretty dresses occasionally and even in small towns there were several bars where one could drink cold beer after a hard day's work.  What else is there?  So it wasn't too bad, all told. And there was a lot less obesity!

What I have writen above is a very abbreviated account  of working class life in Australia in 1960 but I think it still has the lesson in it that unemployed people today have lots of scope to cut back rather than raiding the taxpayer for money that will keep them in the style that they aspire to.

And there are some unwise people for whom no dole would ever be enough.  There is a story here of a "struggling" Sydney single mother who spends two thirds of her dole on rent.  And where does she live?  On Sydney's prestigious and very expensive North Shore.  And she feels hard done by! I lived in a small Queensland farming town when I was on the dole. For people with "expectations", that would not do at all at all, of course

Australia to avoid Trump aluminium tariffs

Being old friends with America pays off.  It usually does

US President Donald Trump says he will not be slapping tariffs on Australian aluminium and other products, despite reports his administration was contemplating the potentially volatile move.

The New York Times reported the tariff proposal was supported Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, and Peter Navarro, director of White House trade and manufacturing policy, but faced fierce opposition from US military officials and the State Department.

Australia was one of the few nations to avoid Trump's tariffs on aluminium and steel last year after then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull intensely lobbied the president.

"The Australian situation is interesting," Trump told reporters on Sunday before boarding Air Force One for trip to England.  "But the relationship is very strong. "No, we're doing a very, very special relationship with Australia."

The pro-tariff advisers reportedly urged the president to hit Australia in response to a surge of Australian aluminium in the American market over the past year.

The New York Times reported the US Defense and State Departments told Mr Trump the move would alienate a top ally and could come at significant cost to the US. Australia is a key military ally in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Trump hit allies and foes last year with 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, while avoiding Australia.

The president is also engaged in an escalating trade war with China and in recent days threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico if they did not stop illegal immigrants entering the US from their nation.


Media led astray again by delusions of the Left

History tells us we should not expect journalists and media companies to learn any lessons from the election result but, clearly, they should.

Chris Kenny writes in The Australian:

"Personal embarrassment is the least of the worries that spring from political journalists and commentators misreading elections, events and issues; of more concern is what it says about the fissure in our nation and the disconnect between media and the public they serve.

As we have seen through their demeanour and social media truth bombs, leftist voices are bitter about Labor losing, doleful about their diminished prospects for government patronage, embarrassed about their pre-election boasting, humiliated by their political predictions and angry that News Corp newspapers, Sky News and Macquarie Radio dared to question Labor’s tax and climate overreach.

On top of this, they are apoplectic that many people among those very same media rivals read it correctly.

Woke commentators love to deride and slander The Spectator Australia editor Rowan Dean and 2GB host Alan Jones but they both put their judgment on the line before the election, emphatically calling a Coalition win. The leftist journalistic groupthinkers like to rail against this newspaper as an influential shaper of national debate but surely no one who had read all the news, analysis, polling and commentary in The Australian could have written off the Coalition.

Cry as they might at the ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Guardian about alleged anti-Labor bias in some commercial media, they cannot escape the brutal reality that their jaundice let their audiences down. The News Corp paper, Sky News and Macquarie Radio did not.

Newspoll favoured Labor marginally but any close analysis, taking into account state by state variations, showed an uncertain outcome. Hence, serious analysis focused on the tightness of the contest.

Sky News and Macquarie Radio were dominated by opinionated hosts, many arguing the Coalition could win. They did, however, routinely include a wide range of commentary from all political perspectives leading to a variety of predictions covering a range of potential outcomes. Again, the unpredictable closeness of the result was a predominant theme.

Yet the bulk of the Canberra press gallery got it wrong, making us question their field of expertise or whether basing them full-time in the rarefied atmosphere of the nation’s capital is wise.

Perhaps they spend too much time in nebulous dialogues with the spinmeisters — with Labor’s Young Turks eager to prematurely connect themselves to a glorious victory and the Liberals more disciplined about talking down expectations.

The failure of the Love Media is not a new phenomenon. Over the past decade this newspaper has often examined the false narratives of the political/media class and how consumers of so-called progressive media (including the ABC) would have been dumbfounded by Kevin Rudd’s demise, confounded by Julia Gillard’s travails and shocked that Tony Abbott could win government.

Just last year the gallery consensus was telling us Malcolm Turnbull was safe and there was no problem with the National Energy Guarantee.

Even after the leadership change they couldn’t work out why it had happened and took up Labor’s game of trying to embarrass a rationale out of Scott Morrison. The gallery groupthinkers said the Coalition had no prospect of holding government and would face a defeat so decisive it would force a rethink of conservative political structures.

Remember these people are paid — often handsomely — to be experts on national affairs. Yet here we are again. And don’t forget that in between times, from a distance, most of this cohort also were wrong on Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump.

You might be tempted to think they report and comment based on their wishful thinking rather than reality. As usual, there are only two possible ways to explain the bipolar media interpretations of our politics.

You can have a low opinion of voters and hold delusional and conspiratorial views about media influence. In that case you might argue that News Corp, Sky News and Macquarie Radio somehow had a pernicious influence over the minds of voters, who were gullible enough to be convinced to vote against their own interests.

Or you might believe commercial media organisations, who rely on engagement with audiences for their very survival, might actually employ reporters and commentators who are plugged in to the aspirations, priorities and values of mainstream Australians, and are therefore able to more accurately report, analyse and speculate on political ebbs and flows."


Kristina Keneally is trolled by Peter Dutton as she U-turns on 'embarrassing' comments about turning back asylum seekers

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton took to Twitter to troll

Leftists have no real principles or beliefs.  In their typically psychopathic way, they will say whatever suits them at the time

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has taken a stab at Kristina Keneally after she backtracked on her stance on asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat.

Mr Dutton slammed Labor's new home affairs spokeswoman because she claimed she supported turning asylum seeker boats around and offshore processing - despite labelling both as 'cruel' in the past.

'It’s not for me to offer KK advice, but it might be a good idea to get a security briefing from the Dept before she makes any more embarrassing statements or policy on the run,' he tweeted on Sunday about Senator Keneally.

The former NSW premier and said that offshore processing would remain a key element of Labor's asylum seeker policy.

'It ensures that we are clear: if you come here by boat you will not be settled in Australia,' Senator Keneally said.

The 50-year-old had previously expressed her dislike at boat turnbacks and even called for a royal commission into the treatment of asylum seekers in a series of Guardian Australia columns.

In a July 2015 opinion piece, Senator Keneally wrote that turning back the boats went against Australian values.

'Such action dishonours our past commitments to compassionate welcome and ­violates our international treaty obligations.'

In a February 2015 column, she put out a call for a royal commission into asylum seekers and offshore detention.

The comment followed after the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report into the offshore processing of children.

Then in a January 2017 column, Senator Keneally suggested then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull bring refugees to Australia over doubts of a US and Australia refugee swap deal.

At the time, the US agreed to take in asylum seekers intercepted at sea, and in turn, Australia would accept asylum seekers being held at the US naval base Guantamo Bay.

'There is a solution to [Malcolm] Turnbull’s Nauru and Manus Island problem that doesn’t depend on the whims of an idiotic and unpredictable US president: bring the refugees to Australia,' Senator Keneally wrote.

She has since defended her previous stance and said she is not opposed to boat turnbacks, The Australian reported.

'Let’s be clear, Labor fully supports boat turnbacks when safe to do so, regional resettlement and offshore processing. 'Boat turnbacks are an essential part to making sure people don’t drown at sea.'

Senator Keneally explained that her opinions on border control had changed since she made the comments.

She said she no longer believed a royal commission was necessary as all the children had been moved off Nauru and Manus Island. She also explained she supported the US and Australia refugee swap agreement and only had reservations about the deal.

'Boat turnbacks looked to be a cruel instrument,' she told The New Daily. 'But the conclusion of that article is actually that it is the right thing to do. 'One, it disrupts the people-smuggling trade and, two it prevents people dying at sea.'

Senator Keneally said she also backed a deal with New Zealand to resettle refugees. 'I would strongly urge the government to sit down as soon as possible with New Zealand — there is a solution that can be reached regarding the special visa class (to ban them from then entering Australia),' she told Daily Telegraph.

Senator Keneally's run-in comes moments after new Labor leader Anthony Albanese unveiled his shadow frontbench.

Mr Albanese has divided his shadow cabinet between 12 men and women, all of whom he says, were given the role based on merit. 


In the war on waste, could the hanky be making a comeback?

As a long-term handkerchief user, I rather warm to this idea

In the year 2019, nothing puts one at risk of an audible "tut tut" quite like the public presentation of a single-use product.

Whether it's the rustle of a thin plastic bag on the street ("Do they buy their asparagus at some sort of back alley supermarket?"), to the guilty possession of a disposable coffee cup ("Why haven't they brought a keep cup? Or fashioned a mug out of their bare hands?"), there is a uniquely modern tinge of shame – call it Reucassel Regret – that now comes with failing to make a sustainable choice.

Jokes aside, moving towards reusable items is, of course, good for the planet. So, one can hardly begrudge the early flickers of a trend that is sure to make your gran quite happy: the resurgence of the handkerchief.

As cold and flu season hits, more people seem to be carrying hankies. Before you ask: No, I have no data to back this up. I haven't been papping snotty-nosed strangers in cafes, or polling people in doctors' waiting rooms. But, I am just saying that it seems like hankies are happening. They are around. People are using them.

And, those people are onto something. Used tissues are not recyclable, and facial tissues made out of recycled materials are pretty rare because it can be difficult to make them soft enough (unlike toilet paper and paper towel, of which there are recycled varieties a plenty). It has been estimated that Australians use 273,000 tonnes of tissue product (including toilet paper) each year.

    Hanky use is a natural progression from other 'cool' sustainability movements which require a committed laundry schedule.

While there are some more sustainable options out there – cheeky toilet paper subscription service Who Gives a Crap sells "forest-friendly" tissues made from bamboo, and (if you were feeling particularly diligent) you could also compost your old snotty nose napkins – the reality is that most tissues end up in landfill, where they will take an extremely long time to biodegrade because of the additives used to make them stronger. Hence, hankies.

But will this cool behaviour actually just leave you with a cold? With nine million cases of the cold and flu in Australia each year, you have to wonder if hankies are as hygienic as tissues.

Dr Kirsty Short, influenza virologist at the University of Queensland, says she is not aware of any research directly comparing the germiness of tissues and handkerchiefs, but warns the influenza virus can survive on both for 12 hours.

"Probably the most important thing is washing your hands after using a tissue or hanky to ensure you don't spread the virus to other surfaces," she says, adding that, once transferred onto a plastic surface, for example, the virus can survive for up to 48 hours.

Dr Harry Nespolon, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, says he has not personally noticed any uptake in handkerchief use among his patients. He would generally recommend people with a cold or flu use tissues.

"There's no doubt tissues are the preferred way to go because you do dispose of them after you use them," he says. "But there's a question about disposing of them properly; just leaving them on a table or desk is not the right way to dispose of them, putting them in the bin is the right thing to do."

However, Dr Nespolon says the main issue for the spread of bugs is what happens after you blow your nose, adding there is no reason why rubbing a used hanky rather than a fresh tissue on the nose would prolong an infection.

To reduce the chance of giving your cold to someone else, Dr Nespolon recommends measures such as washing your hands after you've blown your nose (ideally with disinfectant), covering your mouth when you cough, staying away from work when you're sick, and not keeping used tissues or hankies in a pocket with other items, like your mobile phone.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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