Saturday, May 15, 2004

War on the poor

Mrs Zen is buying a cork.

The Federal government has announced its budget. Having overtaxed the population it has a surplus to play with and an election to win (it certainly doesn't waste too much money on services, which are very much in decline here). As a "close ally" (read "running dog") of the Bush administration, the Howard gov't (who cunningly and quite amusingly call themselves the Liberals but are anything but) announced large tax cuts for the well-off. For the less well paid, nothing.

The big selling point of the budget was its family provisions. Instead of the current slightly confused system of tax breaks, the gov't proposes to give all new parents $3000 a child. It also offers a $600 bonus at the end of the tax year. This is to make up for the ludicrous child benefit system, where the claimant must guess their income for the coming year (easy if you have a steady job, not so easy if you're any sort of freelance or differently employed), rather than getting paid according to the previous year's income (as in the UK). Many have been stuck with a bill for overpayment at the end of the year, and this has made the whole system very unpopular.

The tax year runs from July 1, and the twins, although due in mid July, are expected towards the end of June. Mrs Zen will need the cork to keep the buggers in until July 2.

The gov't found plenty more money for its boys in Iraq. We're feeling a little left out. Our guys only torture kittens. The war is as unpopular here as it was back in the UK. Howard went to visit the troops on Anzac day and, although he grabbed the headlines, it was seen as electioneering by proxy. The opposition guy, Latham, said our presence in Iraq was symbolic (of our support for the septics, he meant) and that sent the RWC (yes, we have them in spades) into apoplexy -- "tell the guys who've been injured that their injuries are symbolic" the guy in the Courier-Mail (what laughably passes as a newspaper here in Brisbane) said.

The other day Rumsfeld admitted that the mission in Iraq might be a failure. Since the mission's objectives change every now and then, I'm not sure how we'd know, but there seem to be a fair few army voices saying that they fear it's another Vietnam. The military wins the battles, the pollies lose the war. The right wing scoffed at us bleeding heart libs when we said this would be just that -- another dismal foreign policy failure that would break American hearts, put a lot of young Americans and a hundred times more Iraqis into their graves, and solve nothing -- because the land war was so quickly "won".

You know, deep down, we know what the problem is with Iraq. We have absolutely no business there. We have no business fucking around in those people's lives. The fucking around in their lives has incensed them. It's a large part of why they bomb our trains, our embassies and our buildings. We're not fixing the place. We're mostly destroying it. We're shooting civilians, bombing mosques, bulldozing people's homes. That's a long way from getting the power back on or securing drinking water. We're doing what the rich have done ever since there were rich and poor. We're doing it in Iraq, and by the back door Howard does it here.

There are six billion of us on this planet. I don't know one good reason we should not get an equal share, each and every one of us. One six-billionth. You're simply not entitled to more. But the rich will continue the war on the poor as long as they can get away with it. They'll use any means -- bombs, tanks, cash bribes for your vote -- whatever it takes to prevent a fair deal.

My vote remains no. No to Howard, no to the war in Iraq, no to the war on the poor, yes to a world we can be proud to live in, yes to love, however flowery it is to shout it out that you want it, you want it to spread, you want it for everyone, that your world should no longer be at war.


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