Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On the implementation of long-term plans

To all those who might ever have dreamed of dropping out of their jobs and becoming full-time freelance writers: unless you are truly great or have a very lucky break, you'll have to live on a tiny and irregular amount of money. It will come from ten or fifteen or twenty different places, all with their own special paperwork, and when it comes to getting money out of them, their fingers will usually have to be pried apart and twisted. Be prepared, at any given time, to be owed anything between two and ten thousand dollars for work that was done and dusted months before.

None of which I mind, since I'm living the life I always wanted unless you count the rusting gutter and the ancient stove. But when the government starts paying already well-off women to stay at home and look after the bubs because $250,000 or more just isn't enough to make ends meet otherwise, I start to gibber and froth more than this government has ever made me do before. I bumped my bank balance back down to three figures yesterday in order to pay the taxation department money that is going to go to women with marble bathrooms.

Howard is invoking the nonsense rhetoric of 'choice', just as he does when defending the funding of private schools so they can build an extra velodrome next to the mock-Elizabethan school theatre. Yes, families on $250,000 ought to be able to choose to be even richer than they already are, providing the women, sorry, wives, stay at home.

I remember listening to the radio in the car one day back in the early 1990s when I still had a real job. Howard had just taken over as Liberal leader in the wake of the Hewson debacle, and he was banging on about the importance of The Family in a way that left his real, unspoken meaning in no doubt: Back in the kitchen, you upstart women, where you belong. Kinder, Kirche, Kuche and no mucking about. I felt strangely energised by this moment. He had shown his colours and identified himself as the person who was to be fought tooth and nail.

Well, we've lost. His government has been white-anting women's rights and women's freedoms in this country ever since they got in. Bit by bit, the rights of women to live their lives as they see fit have been eroded here and dismantled there, usually by stealth. Give the Health portfolio to a conservative Catholic; make it financially absurd for mothers to go to work; fork out one-off bonuses for women to pop out more little white babies to outnumber the ravening illegal hordes; downgrade all structures and provisions for women's affairs that have previously been put in place; talk up The Family, by which you mean the patriarchal family.

And now we have, well, what we have. Here you are, Tiffany, here's my quarterly tax. You should be able to buy a couple of gold-plated taps with it. Sorry about the blood.


ThirdCat said...

I hope you didn't watch the press club while you ate your lunch.

The private school funding stuff makes me so cross I can't see straight. That is no exaggeration.

Kate said...

It's not even middle class welfare -- it's rich bastard welfare.

But you're correct about the agenda of course. Keeping women in their place.

R H said...

I've tried keeping women in their place, but they keep coming to my place.

Justine said...

well said. Its too unfair for words. painful topic.

Glad you're living the writing dream, though :-)

Fyodor said...

Correction, Kate, it IS middle-class welfare, as it looks like the fatcats on the top marginal rate aren't going to get the rate cut recommended by Warbie & Co.

Instead they'll continue to fork out pork to the kids & SUV crowd. Now, you're going to argue that the kids & SUV crowd ARE fatcats, but I can assure you that a decent cut in the top rate would be worth far more to the real high-earners than the crumby bribes handed out in the form of housespouse and private school subsidies.

It's just all so fucking mealy-mouthed, inefficient political opportunism, and it makes my blood boil.

cristy said...

What really gets me is that so-called Middle Australia will no doubt fall for Howard's little spin the other night in parliament - where he made it sound like introducing in a cut-off at $250,000 was such a slippery-slope that it could simply be equated with cutting out all middle-class Australians (because, he argued, that is the ALP's real agenda).

I was even more pissed off by his attempt to pretend that this is a women's issue - with his claim that the ALP was trying to shift tax benefits away from women to men, but I doubt that many people will really run with that one.

At the end of the day, all that many people will either hear or, at least remember, is that the ALP wants to take away their FTB. Just like Howard successfully turned the Private School hit-list into an attack on all Independent schools. The power of his manipulation and fear-tactics just falls me.

comicstriphero said...

The man is a genius as far as operating in politics is concerned.

I swing between that sentiment and thinking that the voting public have had their brains removed with a special syringe.

At no point in this process do I feel very nice, though.

What stands out for me is the way that he can seemingly make people believe he is fighting for them whilst his actions represent pure hostility to that cause.

Happy days.