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Letters from Downunder

Big county, small minds

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

It is a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
(Shakespeare, Macbeth, act 5 sc 5)

(9/2015) Australia and the mainland United States are very nearly the same size. They are, of course, vastly different – your country has 35 people for every hectare, we have 3. 17% of the US is arable, ours is just over 5%. We have almost unlimited sources of iron ore and coal, and the longest coastline of any continent, but we also have one of the biggest dry areas in the world, and are the second driest place on earth – only the Antarctic is drier. We are, on average, closer to the equator, and have a milder climate.

But we are a democracy, speak a version of English that is generally comprehensible. We have hitched our wagon to your star for the past 60 years, being a small customer and supplier, major user of your entertainments, and the sycophants that have pleased your rulers (oops, I mean elected representatives) greatly. It has not mattered the flavour of our politicians, left, right, middle, they have all seen the light and blessed the day.

But no more.

In true theological style, we have an abbot in charge and a bishop in foreign relations. The abbot was trained on that most devious system of power, the Jesuits. The bishop missed out on that, and it shows. She is, at least on TV, aware of the need for sanity in her job. She’s tough – she has to be given her boss – and has won some popular support. You may have seen her, for she’s been leading various enquiries on the world news, and we suspect she is waiting in the wings.

But back to the Abbot. He is at home when the ways of the world-that-was are on show. You know, about 100 years ago. For instance: There is no such thing as climate change. The best hope for mankind is to mine our coal faster, open new mines, and sell it to China and India because then we won’t be responsible for any CO2 produced. Thus wind is a waste, solar is silly, clean is dirty, and he can prove it because the scientists say so. That is, by the ones who serve at the altar; the rest have been kneecapped, the post of science minister disbanded, any subsidy on alternate energy withdrawn, and the reduction target he was forced to come up with will be about the same as that of a pacific atoll. We have one of the lowest total emissions in the world, but per capita it’s one of the highest. We add to the total more per capita than any other country when we count that produced by burning our exports.

Then we have a wonderfully bulletproof border, the ocean. About a hundred miles out there’s a thing called a ‘sovereign border’ past which no refugee may pass. If they do we promptly send them back to where they came from by plane, or to Malaysia if we catch them on the high seas. But We Will Not Have Them. This is a good country, a white country, a conservative country, and others can fend for themselves. The border is a word, not a fact, and is a slogan of heartlessness. Had our white Australia policy been in force he would have reveled in it.

But there is one hot issue that defines his goals. Homosexual marriage. It has 65% support among the people of Australia, and Federal Politicians have traditionally had the right to vote according to their conscience on matters like this if the party room agreed. Considerable pressure was brought to bear for this matter to be treated this way, so wily Tony brought in the other half of the coalition (The larger party, the Liberals, are with the Nationals, (the names oppose the facts) who are more conservative than most liberal members. The result was a ‘NO’ to allowing a conscience vote, causing revolt in the ranks. It matters not that it is now known Homosexual love forms exactly like the hetero kind; it is not something we choose to do. (So you CHOSE to fall in love?)The church is against it, and that’s enough for Tony. To hell with the people.

Perhaps the highlight of the Abbot’s reign is the rhetoric, which according to one definition is language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content. But his does possess meaningful content. How about ‘I will do whatever it takes to stay in power?’ (a summary of the direction of his tirades). This is about the same amount of leadership that your very own version says, the man who trumps idiocy with absurdity. Do you remember Abbott and Costello, that very funny comic double? Well, here we have Abbott and Trump, equally as silly, but far less entertaining and far more dangerous. They deserve each other, so I’m proposing they get together and form a new party, the ILI, or International League of Idiots. Only idiots allowed to join, so it will be a major player on the world stage. Headquarters the Trump building, of course (Can’t imagine Donald coming here), Slogan ‘Whatever it Takes’, and there would be no lack of senators and members: Four idiotically talented men from here, the Tea party from you, extensive media coverage, and a deal with Mr. Murdoch.

But Tony is so far out of step with the rest of the world that even Donald may blanch at that thought. Power may corrupt, but they want absolute power with absolution.

But it would be fun to see who won the stupid remarks stakes. We could then buy shares in the comedy club, because if either do get to power (again, in our case), we’ll surely need to laugh as we scour the rubbish bins of life. We both deserve better than that.

Let’s wish each other luck.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker