“Well at Least I’m Better Than Americans”

“Well I just think we should have, you know, some control over our borders.”
“There’s barely any people if you compare asylum seekers to normal immigrants, the economic cost would be completely eclipsed if we started taxing Qantas, or any of the other big companies that pay zero income tax, their qualifications aren’t worth much here plus most of them aren’t allowed to work anyway so losing jobs to them isn’t really a worry, and they’d be housed if we stopped counting houses as investments for negative gearing laws so don’t even try to start about putting them ahead of homeless people.”

I’ve got him. He can’t get around the fact that there’s no reason to support offshore processing. He’s doomed, like a factual piece of information at The Daily Telegraph. Victory is near.

“Haha, at least we’re not in America! They’re gonna elect a guy who’s gonna build a fence to stop Mexicans and “make them pay for it” haha! Bernie Sanders is the only guy who knows what’s up and he’s gonna lose!”

trump

Time to make excuses great again. image taken from businessinsider.com

Everyone has a laugh. All is well again.

What the hell just happened?

Time and again I meet people who use the ‘at least I’m better than Americans’ line to get themselves out of trouble, or just to feel better about themselves. I thought it was just a university student thing, like feeling ‘nostalgia’ for Catdog, or thinking our opinions matter, but it’s not. Fully grown, fully intelligent people still use this line. And other people agree with it. Everyone agrees with it. Hell, American tourists, worried about not fitting in here, agree with it. Forget global warming, forget nuclear de-armament, this line will be the thing that unites the peoples of this planet and bring about world peace. And, frankly, it makes no fucking sense.

refugees

We, the nation keeping refugees in indefinite detention, in order to evade international law, with bipartisan support, are laughing at Trump’s wall. Okay. image taken from looppng.com

Let’s go with this example. Let’s compare illegal immigrants in America with our offshore processing policy. Ignoring the fact that illegal immigrants aren’t refugees, which already invalidates his argument, the number of illegal immigrants in America dwarfs any statistic related to boat people in Australia. According to reasonably reliable estimates, there are as many as 11 million illegal immigrants in America, 8 million of whom are employed, in a nation with 22 million unemployed people. Even if we scale this down by a factor of 15 for Australia’s population, we still end up with ~730,000 people. We in Australia do not and have never had anything even remotely approaching this number of asylum seekers. And in America, it’s actually considered controversial if illegal immigrants are deported, whereas we don’t bat an eye when a student who’s overstayed their visa here gets the same treatment. We are, quite objectively, far worse in this area.

But does that matter? Do people actually care what the facts are when it comes to America? I don’t think they do. No one seems to know or care that America spends proportionally more on medicine than Australia, or that their news programs are required to hire with diversity in mind (have you seen Australian news that isn’t SBS – it’s like looking at a freaking salt lake), or that they recently made gay marriage legal, or any of the (many) other things which suggest that, actually, America is quite a progressive society. We even have the bare-faced cheek to talk about oppression of black people there, when we have the Stolen Generation, a ten-year difference in life expectancy for Indigenous Australians, sub-40% home ownership rates, 1300% higher homelessness rates, and a broad public perception that they complain too much, leading to very little action to solve the issue. None of this matters. They base their view of America on news outlets which I can only assume have their entire foreign crew based in the dodgiest town of Texas, cultivating some sort of hick story so far removed from the rest of the nation it shouldn’t even qualify as a caricature. And they’ve been doing this for years now, conservatives and liberals alike. It’s become a part of our culture, like Vegemite or pretending to watch and/or care about soccer. I don’t think I’m exaggerating here when I say it’s become politically correct to hate America.

bad living conditions

‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ image taken from pub209healthcultureandsociety.wikispaces.com

Now, hopefully, you’ll see that this is bad. Hating a nation is getting woefully close to xenophobia. But it gets worse. You see, people have started justifying their terribly callous views to themselves by using this phrase. Want cuts to Medicare? ‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ Want to support offshore processing? ‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ Want to stop paying unemployed Indigenous Australians Newstart, the only thing keeping them (barely) alive, unless they move to a town where no one’s going to hire them anyway? ‘Well at least I’m better than Americans!’ Love the tax cut that gives $80,000-$87,000-a-year families, far above the average income, more money, whilst introducing work for the dole at $4 an hour? ‘Well. Well.’ By using this extreme-right non-existent nation as an excuse, we’ve been slowly sucked towards the right, telling ourselves that as long as it’s better than ‘America’, it’s okay.

What I’m really saying is that we should all move to America. They’re, ironically, the only ones unaffected by this nonsense, and it’s actually a pretty cool place too.

-Z

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When did Australia start its terminal decline into a boring dystopia?

Australia was once considered “the lucky country”. We sold dirt to every continent and received all the fancy household goods and nick knacks we could possibly desire. Those other nations never bothered us because we were too stupid to be a threat, and we kept dealing the lovely cheap dirt out like a donkey following a carrot. What happened to those fruitful years of plenty? What happened to the seemingly endless economic prosperity that fuelled our first world society? Well, like most failed civilisations, Australians and the Australians who ran Australia were too particularly stupid. You probably have all the crazy ideas and common sense to see why we are screwed as a nation but I want to alert you only to the tipping point toward our decline.

The point at which this country made a turn for the worse was simply when Pizza-Hut restaurants started closing their doors. You probably remember them, because they were so fantastic. You went to a fast food pizza restaurant and got to actually sit down. You were treated to meals and treats galore. There were self-serve buffets with mini marshmallows and bacon-bits. It was the place were any old ruffian who had crawled in from the dirt mines of prosperity could eat like a king in a utopian palace of happiness and safety. I think it was no accident that they often had a colour scheme very faintly, vaguely reminiscent of an ancient Roman villa. We in Australia were at the peak of our civilisation. But sometime near the transition between my early childhood and wanting to leave earth for good the restaurants vanished. I realise now that it is the lack of these restaurants that make life no longer worth living.

Like the well fed fat-cats in ancient Rome I am now sitting in a blissful ignorance as the empire collapses around me. I feverishly consume the computers and cars and smart-phones that are testament to our wealth and yet are produced by other nations now growing because their people aren’t simply lucky for a living. The heyday is over, Australia is on the way out and these are the last days of our hedonistic existence. The dystopia is here already and we daren’t look it in the eye. This is why synth-pop bands exist here now that celebrates the opulence of the late 80s and early 90s. For all its social shortcomings it was a time when the country had more money than it could poke a stick at and all problems could just melt away in a sea of our expensively expensive plastic money.

So what does this dystopia look like? Not the cool radioactive wasteland of Mad Max, but much like the Australia of old, only without Pizza Hut restaurants. Sad really isn’t it. There is more detail of course. We actually have telescreenesque TVs which record our conversations and tell us what to think with increasingly shit news. Digital profiles and metadata mean that big brother is always watching you, only big brother wants to sell you toothpaste and lodge insurance claims against you for something you did online. Again, this is a lot sadder and less exciting than in the books. Where’s Room 101, and why doesn’t everyone have helicopters? Well that’s because reality is shit. Hedonism doesn’t mean people enjoy good things. It just means they enjoy a lot of whatever is around at the time. Which in light of dwindling cash means shitty stuff, nothing exciting.

Even shiny new submarines aren’t enough to make us lift a finger and give a shit about what happens to this place. So long as I can extract my super before Australia is occupied by people who don’t want to waste money and have another party. That’s the mentality now. The government will wheel and deal over where to build submarines because the country might need them but their heart wont be in it, because no one else’s is. Why build submarines, what are we defending anymore? Go hard or go home is a lost phrase because the country has lost its youthful vigour and gone limp. Better go home.

If there were anything here to instil a sense of prosperity and competence it would be abundant Pizza Hut restaurants, but they’re gone now. Case closed.

-W

Why do Australians Love Soccer -Cough, Sorry- “Football” Now?

A couple of years ago when I was a wee little kindergartener, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, I played under-fives soccer in Sydney. My uniform was orange, and since then I have thought of good old no-arms-rugby as just that – a preschool pre-sport. It was something that would make for a fun little kick-around before the head-pounding puberty that was rugby or ping pong. You know, real sports for real Aussies. And it was never talked about again unless you knew some kid who “played for state” and thus was a mythical beast from another time. Internationally, there was no internationally. Australia sucked at soccer because Australia didn’t play it. But things are different now.

Australia just won the Asian cup. That’s right, an Australian team actually beat teams fielded by other countries, several times in a row, at soccer! Suddenly, from out of nowhere, we are an international soccer country, which “loves soccer” and has “veteran players” revered among toddlers who adorably think that Australia has some kind of institution around soccer. How did this happen? And what does it mean for this fat and lonely island we call home?

Even though it sounds like a strange sub-Saharan ruminant, soccer, or ‘football’ as it is referred to by people whose minds have been warped by living in the wrong hemisphere, has somewhat of a decent following. It is in fact one of the most popular sports in the world and is played in probably every country except Atlantis, which has different rules and was obliterated by Brazilian warships for calling the sport “soccer” as if it were just a game and not an act better than sex with the god of sex. Its popularity has even been hinted at on Australia’s own racist spy TV station, SBS (spy bloody secretly), which keeps an eye on those shady foreigners. It calls soccer “the world game”. Unfortunately for SBS, the national broadcaster the ABC has jealously stolen SBS’s soccer coverage now that the game is of great national importance. Could its international popularity have anything to do with its increasing prevalence here? Surely not, but lets look into it anyway.

Australia, as a unified country, was founded after a bunch of whiteys took it with flags in the 1800’s. However, the only ones who did were from the “British isles” or thereabouts, because it is an island, like Britain, and thus Australia’s habitat was identical to that of British and they were able to settle down nicely. This led to sports in Australia being derived from very British sports such as rugby, cricket, Gaelic football, croquet and pub-fights. The rest of Europe played games like soccer and all competed amongst themselves and the countries they beat up around the globe. Now everyone smiles and plays soccer. Population demographics in Australia has only recently started changing as the racist powers-at-be have wanted to appear trendy and let in “multiculturals” who can clean the whitey’s clothes or something, they rationale racistly. As such, soccer players from other countries have become more prevalent in Australia.

But surely this can’t explain a sudden cultural shift. No, its time for the conspiracy theories. It’s all about the money. I know now, my Dad told me. The world game is all big bucks. As a burgeoning industry fuelled by violent, gambling punters, soccer is promoted big time by the cash cows and the media and the kids that sell peanuts at matches or whoever. Australia’s sport culture may just be corporate society’s little bitch.

However, there is still hope. The rise of soccer in Australia may be more Australian than evidence suggests. As a tiny population of people who reckon they’re hot shit, Australia is a country of sport in general. But not just any sport, sports we win at. We love sport, if we’re winning it. With a little success in soccer come the masses of southern-cross tattooed dumb-shits yelling ozyozyozyyyyyy! Because at the end of the day Australians love to spend all of our material wealth on a bunch of blokes kicking shit and each other in a field, better than other blokes do. Oath.

At least we didn’t inherit competitive bloody darts from Britain.

-W

So, This Tony Abbott Nonsense….

“Tony Abbott might get kicked out! Well, no one’s challenging him … but … it’s gonna happen … probably….”
-all the political news I’ve read recently

Now, from the outset, let’s be clear. I, like apparently everyone else in Australia, don’t like Tony Abbott as Prime Minister of Australia. I mean, he tries to evoke some sort of Manly Bronzed Aussie Mateship in what he believes is the majority of his electorate, but he doesn’t promote drinking beer? Seriously, Hawke cried several times on national TV and he’s still more of a man than Abbott. I could also bore you with how bad his policies are for Australia but I’m sure someone else already has. The point is, I don’t like Abbott. Okay? Good, because I’m going to defend him now.

As I see it, we’ve two issues here: the media and the backbenchers. They’re sort of connected and feeding off each other at the moment, like the very hungry caterpillar. First, the backbenchers. Listen here. Grow the hell up. The party does not exist for your own career. Sure, fight for your electorate, but don’t make it public and damage your own party, which got you elected and is the reason you have any semblance of relevance at all. Mind you, this isn’t exactly new; there’s been lots of mouthy unliked backbenchers in the past – who can forget Wilson “Iron Bar” Tuckey, the backbencher that always sat in front of the cameras (I’m sure it was just a coincidence…) during parliament sessions? Oh wait, you did forget him? Don’t worry, I only just thought of him myself. Nevertheless, mouthy backbenchers, one can argue, are an integral segment of political parties; they can say controversial things (usually stupid but there are occasional exceptions) without too much fear of reprisal, unlike ministers. They’ll always be around.

So why am I so annoyed now, and why should you be too? Well, mouthy backbenchers were mostly harmless; they said a lot of edgy against-the-grain stuff to puff themselves up for the media but they never really achieved anything. That is, until Rudd. Rudd was thrown out, whilst in government, by edgy party members who got scared of losing. It was a freak event, something that shouldn’t have happened and should never happen again. Or so you’d think. Right now, the same thing is happening; Liberal Party members are getting anxious and apparently lobbying for a leadership change.

Is this now the precedent? Every time backbenchers get edgy from the polls, they try to throw out an elected leader of Australia? Hell, Abbott thinks The Average Voter is impressed by iron man participation more than intellectual credentials, and he has a whole team of people and apparently millions of dollars analysing them. Are we going to say that when these people are uneasy, mid-term, we’re going to take drastic action? While you’re at it, you might as well build a new school because kids have been telling you they don’t like going. We already make jokes about how long it takes for progress to take place here, so are we going to make this new layer of caution that apparently every post-Rudd prime minister has to exercise? Visionary governments will always have times of unpopularity during their terms; they can’t only do the things The Average Voter wants if there is to be any real progress. And I know, I know – Abbott stands for anything but progress, but we can’t make exceptions here. Leadership change is bad for a party, bad for a government, bad for the country.

And the media. There is no news. So please for the love of god, stop ‘speculating’. All this speculation and attention is, I’m fairly sure, 50% of the reason why Rudd was kicked. Of course, report facts and issues that are in the public interest, but let’s be honest, there’s a seriously disproportionate number of articles about the current situation, whose latest bit of news is that there is still no candidate willing to contest Abbott. The thing is, media attention worries people far more than opinion polls; it’s not so much a spotlight on the situation, more a death ray that pulverises instead of seeing anything. If it’s shone on anything, given enough time, something will give way. If the Abbott camp wasn’t in trouble, it sure is now, and it’s going to lead to actions that would otherwise not have taken place. If journalists weren’t just being lazy and regurgitating the same crap over and over again, none of this would have happened.

What’s even worse is that those edgy backbenchers are actually feeding this death ray with leaks and shows of ‘disillusionment’ (spell check assures me that’s a word). They feed information in hopes of bringing about a change of leadership, which news outlets gobble up to make a news story, which brings about more panic within the party, which brings about more leaks. It’s a cycle of destruction that benefits the news outlets but destroys the public image of the party and is sure as hell not going to help those leakers get re-elected. Scott Morrison’s done what he should be doing (I never, ever thought I’d say that) when he told the backbenchers not to follow the Labor Party’s example and stfu.

I, for one, am hoping that Abbott does not get thrown out. I hope the Liberal Party come to their senses and ignore and/or placate the media with something other than a leadership change, not just for their own sake, but for the sake of Australian politics. If mass media, in the aim of getting ever more readers, can bring down a second elected prime minister in 8 years, we can forget about action on climate change, a proper NBN, legalising gay marriage, and the many other very-slightly-controversial reforms Australia needs. We make jokes about America’s difficulties in passing universal healthcare, but ask yourself, if we didn’t have a national healthcare scheme, would we, in our current form, enact one? Or would we have The Average Voter saying it’d only help dole bludgers and have it shouted down by edgy backbenchers and The Herald Sun?

-Z

Small things may actually amuse big mi…No wait. no.

Summernats was on in dear old Canberra the other month, the festival of burnouts and cars with engines bigger than their chassis. Picture the scene.

Now, some history: in nineteen-eighty-something, Suzuki thought it would be a good idea to make a go-cart with a lunch box in lieu of a boot. What they made was the Suzuki Mighty Boy, a “mini truck”. It was about the size of a helpless baby elephant, only without a trunk. It had a ‘tray’ which could, at a stretch, carry up to 30% of the contents of a wallet. It was sold in only two countries, the first being Japan with its megalopolis cities, an environment which favours tiny fuel efficient vehicles for small entrepreneurial businesses. The other country? Australia. God only knows.

It was the cheapest vehicle in Australia at the time because it was sold in toy shops to children. Needless to say, the bogan masses of Australia descended and put turbo V6 engines in them and they became slightly famous … in Australia. So if you see a Hotwheels ute screaming down the highway you’ll know what it might be.

Long live the Mighty Boy.

-W