"THE 'GLORY' OF THE POST-INDUSTRIAL INFORMATION AGE"

"FALLING BRIDGES OVER TROUBLED WATERS"


INFORMATION AGE UTOPIA?

"So the economy is growing strongly, right? Wrong. Communications is. In fact, it is absolutely booming. But the rest of the economy is as 'flat as a tack' - going backwards in fact, with the possible exception of property services like lawn mowing and cleaning.

"The truth is that the communications revolution, about which so much is heard and so little is understood, is creating a massive distortion in the economy.

"It's as if there are TWO economies: the new economy of communications and computing, which is undergoing a kind of sustained boom rarely seen in human history; and the old industries of retailing, construction, agriculture. manufacturing and transport, which are struggling to find a way forward. According to detailed figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, all of those old sectors went backwards in the June quarter." - Alan Kohler "THE AGE" 23 August 1996

The dramatic fall over the 1970s to 1990s, reflects the decay of the "post-industrial" decades, when Australian manufacturing declined, and "free trade" and "outsourcing of policies shifted the supply sources to foreign countries for many Australian "market-basket" items of household and producer consumption.

FALLING BRIDGES

In the US, the American Automobile Association (AAA) reported on 12 August that one third of the US bridges are in ruins. New York (that wonderful town) has the highest percentage of deficient bridges among the nation's states. Nearly two thirds of its 12,308 bridges are in dangerous condition. The result of the "post-industrial" syndrome.

TROUBLED WATERS

In Washington DC, water safety problems made headlines this Northern Hemisphere summer. Warm temperatures brought a 'flowering' of bacterial contamination in the corroded city pipe distribution system, Risky drinking water in the nation's capital epitomizes the problems in the productive economy. No longer does the US produce enough to maintain itself. Instead the US and many nations of the world are using the water of those nations where the products are made (outsourced) and which require industrial use of water. Therefore unless a nation's industries manufacture, construct, grow food, and transport adequately, the nation's infrastructure and with it, living standards, decline.

Floods wreak destruction because of lack of river basin projects - dams for storage and for flood mitigation, levees to protect infrastructure. In the US, waterborne diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis, and cholera are spreading. The current rate of pipe replacement by water utilities translates into the prospect of taking more than 200 years to rebuild each area's water distribution system. The problem is that the systems are already in a state of collapse.

THE GLOBALIZERS UNDER ATTACK

There is a new protest wave. Economic debate is beginning to make the monetarist banks, the globalizers, and the corporate "down-sizers" much more the target of criticism. While earlier in the year, prior to Costello's budget, "proving that deregulation and down-sizing creates hundreds of thousands of jobs" was being worked at 'hammer and tongs', the weeks after the budget saw "austerity models" discredited in the eyes of many experts, and there is now much more awareness of the US and British critics of those "models".

The US Department of labor has produced work on a special taxation policy of favoring firms that employ new workers. A special tax to be raised from firms that have a radical downsizing approach, would provide revenue to be used to support firms which show a commitment to employ new workers, but which lack the funds to do so, and get no money from the banks except at prohibitive rates and charges. This is the situation of many of the medium to small industrial producers.

The idea is growing for giving considerable tax breaks to firms that employ new workers, while keeping full or even loading punitive taxation on those that fire workers and invest abroad, as well as giving tax breaks and funding to firms that employ new apprentices, and fully taxing firms that don't. For too long brutalized, deregulated "free market" conditions have dominated the employment market of Australia. In the last two decades this has led to the "production" of 2 million un-and under-employed. In an astronomically wealthy country like Australia, which cries out for resource development, industrialization, and infrastructure, policies which force people out of work are crimes against humanity.

What is becoming visible in the above mentioned initiatives, is a return to the principle of beneficent state intervention. A counter attack against the globalizers, downsizers, and 'outsourcerers'. (Note, that our Constitution directs the Parliament to "make laws for the peace, order and good government").

Integral to such moves is that banks must be subjected to policies which force them back from financial speculation. It is plain that unless this is done Michel Camdessus' prediction that "banking" would be the next "international crisis" could eventuate. The Bank of International Settlement is foreshadowing a "regulation mandating banks bring all their derivatives exposure 'on balance sheet' within three years of a given date". It is clear that without such regulation the "Tobin Tax" proposal, for a 0.1% to 0.4% levy on speculative investment, would be "unenforceable". This proposal has surfaced in a number of political statements across the political spectrum, in recent weeks. The urgency of Camdessus' message, and the nature of BIS proposed regulation, indicates that this may well be the direction which the debate will take in the last quarter of 1996.

In one of the world's major economies - Germany, the chaos produced by financial deregulation and "free market" policies has culminated in one of the biggest-ever labor rally of 350,000 or more in Bonn on June 15. The debate is centered around the US Department of Labor proposals.

The Canberra rally was disrupted by 'professionals', the implication being that the organizers of the violence aimed to discredit the labor union movement.

THE PATHOLOGY OF 'CULTURAL DETERMINISM'

The Howard gamble of "screwing down the economy" to "create hundreds of thousands of jobs" is a discredited model based on fallacious International Monetary Funds rhetoric, which has brought nothing but poverty, disease, conflict, wars, and genocide. Moreover not one nation which has adopted IMF conditionalities has prospered. Even Germany, after Maastricht (IMF conditionalities in disguise), has declined rapidly.

It is to be hoped that the Howard administration is rapidly cured of the "pathology of cultural determinism" evident in the "shared delusional belief" of mainstream politicians infected with the "same utopian 'clever-country-information-age' pathogen", which in the terminal phases extinguishes intellectual life, and transforms the 'mind' of the victim into that of a bureaucrat.

Another solution is that the Parliament is purged of these paranoid delusional victims at the next election (dissolution) and are replaced by mentally fit independent political representatives who still believe that our "Future Is Ahead Of Us". And who reject the thesis that the world is governed by powerful 'Opinion makers/Administrators'. Parliament needs independent minds who repudiate the 'a posteriori' view of history that: "Nothing will happen which the 'opinion makers' have not already decided shall not occur".

For too long Parliament's benches have been occupied with servile 'learned ignorants', aka 'The Informed'. The 'Informed' of the world suffer from a syndrome which ranges in severity. At the 'milder' level it takes the form of: "if anyone's opinion is something we do not fully understand this person must be immediately and thoroughly roasted". A more dangerous homicidal condition of the syndrome takes the form of: "If someone in any position of any importance is suspected of thinking, this person must be instantly and permanently silenced".

For those among the many unfortunates, who can claim to have a representative of the "Informed" as a member of their own immediate family - a word of advice. Never discuss the question: "What would happen if the Depression comes and all administrators (option makers) have to be sacked?" The 'Informed' faced with such a proposition, is seized by a paroxysm of life-threatening convulsions, which if survived will render the subject silent, and absolutely still, into a permanent catatonic state. (Apologies to Lyn). wandjl04.htm

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