Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shoulder to the plough

Now that I'm back from Brisbane and back at work, I'm more in the frame of mind to post this quick update and catch up on what's happening.

About the only things positive I can say about yesterday's Australia Day is that I'm glad – proud even – that Mick Dodson is Australian of the Year, and that we went to a lovely, small barbecue at our friends' place in Melbourne's west and met their new (well, not so new after six months...) baby, Alex, who is gorgeous!

Monday also saw the start of the Chinese New year of the Ox, hence the lovely photo of oxen pulling a plough in the mist in India that I found on flickr. Happy Chinese New Year to all my readers! I hope this new year brings good things for you, especially peace, safety, health, good cheer and love. Just as importantly, I also wish the coming year brings you the forbearance and fortitude of the Ox to withstand the vicissitudes of the economic crisis and the emerging social hardships accompanying it.

For all the talk of the economic crisis in the media, I have been somewhat cushioned from the full extent and possible horror of it, seeing that I work in the community sector (but not in welfare/service delivery) and thus am sheltered from the financial shock of profit meltdowns and job-losses in the commercial sector. And I don't take taxis much, so don't hear the stories of taxi drivers going bust as the rest of us tighten our belts.

However, it realy does hit home – as it did me this afternoon – when the retail worker serving you asks where you're working and comments that your job must be safe, and mentions that her boyfriend has just that afternoon lost his job in the car finance sector. Ouch. At least, she comments, he hated his job and hoped he could get another that he liked, and that his real passion was music but you can't make a living as a muso...

I wondered what would happen to her job if the rest of us keep tightening our belts and stopped buying things – or at least cut down – however well made and useful they are.

What I hate so much about how the media, corporations and government are approaching the economic downturn' is that it involves throwing more money at a system that I'm sure is broken in the first place – to encourage us to spend, spend, spend our way out of recession when I think it was our over-consumption-fueled debt crisis that contributed in no small way to the current economic troubles, and certainly does contribute to our current environmental predicament of consumption-propelled fossil-fuel burning global warming.

We are being offered a poisoned choice – to consume our way out of recession to save each others' livelihoods, and to forget how we are consuming our planet's resources at a rate of knots and warming the globe in the process.

I feel like we are people drowning at sea being thrown life-rafts with holes in them. Or worse, with fires lit in them.

[Image: 'Oxen in the mist' by Roshnii under CC license]

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