Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

23 10 2011

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.

Hubert Humphrey

This is a cropped image taken (stolen) from the Herald-Sun’s #occupymelbourne gallery. I was flicking through, & this poster caught my attention. I flicked back & forth & still ended up at the same image.

Why? Because it speaks to me so loudly of everything that I find disturbing about the occupy movement as it exists in Australia. No economics or factoids in this post. Purely visceral.

Firstly, an apology to #occupysydney participants for not fully understanding why the camp was established outside the Reserve Bank of Australia. I was hammering away, railing inside my head & on Twitter as to why camp hadn’t been set up in Bridge Street (drunken aside: #occupybs would be a cool hashtag) given it’s home to the ASX? I asked a question on Twitter tonight (depending on how quickly I write this, maybe last night) and, thanks to @hailants, I learned something. Securency. I thought polymer notes were just a cool invention. I asked politely, genuinely, & I got a polite, genuine, informative answer about something I knew nothing about. That’s pure gold to me.

OK, so back to the poster. This is so fucking far from pure gold to me it’s not funny. Starving African child juxtaposed with obese Western kids eating junk food. Seems like everything capitalism, everything wrong, everything #occupy represents. Not to me.

I am in no way accepting of how totally fucked it is that gross poverty, is delivered in white 4WDs to the Global South by, yes capitalism, but also inept, corrupt governments & non-state actors. The answer (according to me) to a fraction of that starving African child’s problems is not the carte-blanche, lazy finger-pointing at evil capitalism. It is pathetic infrastructure. It is more expensive to transport food to famine-declared areas from a food bowl IN Africa than it is to ship food aid from Europe. As this Massachusetts Institute of Technology project contends, it is only through global actors such as the World Bank that intra- and inter-country roads in Africa can be built and maintained (the example it uses is the Mombassa – Nairobi road project in Kenya). People in sub-Saharan Africa starve not because there is no food, but because transportation costs are so high, making them aid dependent, and if the greedy Global North cannot be arsed, they die. Dambisa Moyo’s seminal work, Dead Aid may not be popular, but her central thesis, that cutting aid will force these capitalist solutions to take hold, is worth study. I do not agree with cutting foreign aid; but I would play with the idea and put forward the following solution – that the member states which signed up to lift aid to 0.77 per cent of GDP under the UN Millennium Goals – make that abysmal fraction higher, and invest in an infrastructure fund that will assist in building transportation routes and enable, empower the most impoverished to trade with their neighbours. It’s a capitalist solution to a problem that exists, that is so obvious, that for the life of me, I cannot understand.

Next: is this problem assisted by a poster in Melbourne? No. Bring forth the person in, Melbourne, or my Sin City of Sydney, this city of 4.5 million, who is not aware, that somewhere in the world, people are starving. Seriously, I will travel to them, I will jam my foot in their front door  & show them this poster if I am wrong. People know famine exists; they may not understand why, beyond natural causes such as drought; but we know it happens. Forgive me, Occupiers, but where are your solutions, where are your ideas, to fixing this unnecessary, base evil, ill? Capitalism Isn’t Working? It’s not an idea; it’s a statement of questionable fact. There is no attempt to make a constructive argument; it’s not even a talking point memo. Where, in the general assemblies or working groups, are the solutions? I know what the problem is. I’m disgusted by it. I’ve been to Dharavi, one of the world’s largest slums. I’ve seen poverty in South London, where I worked in social housing; in Gaza; in Russia; in Redfern – none of which this poster represents – barring one teeny, tiny thing. The fat kids. The ultimate representation, the tool to demonstrate, about the greedy Global North. Shyeh, right on.

Yep, the fat kids eating junk food. What greater depiction of corporate greed could you imagine? Oh, I can. Teeny, tiny mind of mine suggests that the kiddies sat at the Golden Arches of the capitalist piggery of the Global North, are the the poorest percentile, those totally dependent on welfare; the kids who grow up in households where generational unemployment is a fact of life … these kiddies, the fat capitalist pigs gorging on the fries – they are the 99 per cent. Not you, not even me, with my multitude of fucktardness visited, uninvited, on my childhood. Fact: poor families sacrifice, or cannot afford, fresh fruit and vegetables. They eat fried food. They have less playing space. They are the children whose life expectancy is slashed; who will develop NCDs (non-communicable diseases) such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They will die earlier, their lives straining public health systems in between. They will, on average, not go to university. They won’t make these posters & camp in Martin Place or City Square, because they have never fucking been to Martin Place. They are in our rural and regional centres. They are on the fringes of our cities & at there epicentres. They do not regularly attend school. They are supplied with breakfast & taught how to read by the best of the 99 per cent – our under-valued teachers. These are the children Occupiers need to speak to; not Twitter twats like me. These children are growing up poorer than any of us – not in terms of disposable income, the measurable, cold, economic indicators I have written about before but under-educated, not even disengaged. They are the scorn of our ‘current affairs’ programming. Fringe-dwellers, regardless of race. The underclass. The illiterate and innumerate. The kids who set London on fire while we, the lucky 99 per cent of the Land of Oz sat here and watched. Rail against quantitative easing, #occupysydney … give me a small break while I imagine an austerity package, two or three, visited upon us. The truly frightening thing is that these children are not the stereotypical fat, unruly progeny of Macquarie Fields, or Fitzroy Crossing, or Frankston: they are the middle classes of  the BRICs, especially China and India. There are 78 million Indians with Type 2 diabetes. To work these most basic health issues through, we – who are not the 99 per cent – must get off Martin Place and reach Mumbai. Indians don’t see themselves as victims of capitalism. Indians thrive on trade; not just now, but through the ages. They live in a post-colonialist, still caste-ridden and religiously-divided country. They are more powerful than this lazy portrait, the Indians, South Americans, South Africans, Russians than our piss-poor democracy can imagine.

OK, I am drunk, and tired and I have ranted and railed more than enough for the early hours. Please leave a comment or tweet me about what this poster says to you. I am a cranky old woman, sure; but I genuinely want to know, in more than a cut and paste about how we are controlled by the banks, the media, the corporations and politicians, just what this poster represents. I want more of you,from you, as the individuals who claim to make up the 99 per cent. Agree, disagree; just don’t ignore. Oh, and don’t bash the people you have so long admired for kicking against the pricks of the right, and laughed at the idiocy of the Convoy of No Confidence. If you believe that Wayne Swan is going to chuck a Tony Abbott and stand in front of an ‘occupy buildings, abolish gaols’ banner, you are sorely mistaken. Barack Obama is endorsing #ows in his cool, pragmatic style. He wants to save his presidency by appealing to his base. End of Politics 101. Time for bed. Like this, loathe me, just think about it. Please.





The perfect social media manager (via Prakkypedia)

29 08 2011

Professional communicators are often terrible at selling themselves – eight points on what sets us apart from the rest!

The perfect social media manager A lot of blogs have been written about the ‘perfect social media manager’ or, as often called these days, ‘community manager’. Social Media Today wrote about “What Makes an Exceptional Social Media Manager" and there are some great traits listed on this blog by Powerhouse USA (an older post, but still valid). As social media seeps more into organisations, employers are grappling with finding the right person to manage their online forums, Faceboo … Read More

via Prakkypedia





Dear Nellie …

15 11 2010

Nellie of Penrith Posted at 5:54 PM October 17, 2010:

… as for Kristina Keneally allowing her husband and sons appear in a family photo and allowing the stillbirth of her daughter to be used as brownee points for politics. She should be ashamed, I know any respect I had for her has gone, gone, gone.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/spin-out-of-control/story-e6freuy9-1225939672167

Dear Nellie,

My name is Kimberley. I have one brother, and three sisters. I was born a huge (9lb, 11 ounces, 23 inches long!), healthy baby girl at 1.18am on 6 December 1971. I am my parents’ second child; their oldest surviving one. I am the younger sister of Kelly Margaret, who was born, and died, in 1969. In all of our birth notices, my parents celebrated their healthy babies’ arrival with the words, ‘sister / brother of Kelly, in heaven’. I cannot begin to tell you how much I respect my Mother, who quietly, but factually explained to us as children that she went into labour with her daughter’s heart beating; a heart which stopped beating before Kelly was born.

As the member of a family with first-hand experience of stillbirth, I find your comments, which I believe relate to this story (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-act/kristina-keneallys-sad-memories-of-a-stillbirth-10-years-ago/story-e6freuzi-1225939374867), abhorrent. If you click on this link, (http://www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au/node/125), you’ll see that the story relates to the Premier’s decision to become patron of Stillbirth Foundation Australia.

As an adult, I look at my parents in awe to think that they could even attempt to turn what must be unspeakable pain into a part of our lives; just as Ben & Kristina Keneally have done for their sons. I am proud that the Premier has shared her love for her daughter, and her very real place in her family’s heart, since she entered public life. You may not know, but Caroline Keneally’s name is in the NSW Parliament Hansard, in her mother’s maiden speech, along with the rest of her family. Like the Keneallys – and too many families – mine has an angel in heaven as well.

Yours sincerely

Kimberley Ramplin

PS: You can help make a difference to this parent-run charity by visiting http://www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au/node/95. The five-year Little Feet lunch raised more than $50,000 for research into why so many stillborn babies’ babies’ deaths remain unexplained.

DISCLAIMER: I work in NSW politics, as a ministerial adviser. I disclose this on my Twitter account and in the ‘about’ section of this blog. While this post isn’t about politics per se, it was sparked by the ‘anonymous, vicious, troll’ debate. I actually agree with the, ‘yes to anonymous, vicious, trolls’ argument, but I have been obsessing over it today because it instantly brought to mind this pseudonymous online comment – almost one month later. If you think I didn’t cry when I read it, or cried again when I started typing tonight, think again.