“So this is the end of the story,
Everything we had, everything we did,
Is buried in dust,
And this dust is all that's left of us.
But only a few ever worried.”
The computer room at the University during the 1970’s was an amazing place. I visited the computer room with my mum one weekend afternoon. I can still vividly recall the image of that room in my mind. My mother was there because she was studying an undergraduate degree and I was perhaps a bit too young to be left unattended. The computer room was full of keyboards and black screens with their little green characters. And then there were the huge platters of gold coloured discs which were occasional being dropped into something that looked like to me like a top loading washing machine. The room stunk of industriousness and ultra high tech gear and I felt as if I was in the engineering room of the Starship Enterprise.
It was quite amazing that my mother was even able to attend University because she was a single mother with three children and she also had to work full time. Back then University courses were free of charge. Of course being free of charge does not make them free of work and my mother would have been a rather busy lady.
One of the advantages of my mum being so busy was that I was left to think my own thoughts and become my own person. However, a downside to living with a single mum who worked full time and studied part time, was that there was never much money floating around for us kids. This wasn't too much of a problem for me because I was a self confessed little capitalist who sometimes worked up to three jobs just so that I had enough mad cash to burn on important kid investments such as Space Invaders and pin ball games. I even distinctly recall that one point in time, my mother had to borrow money from me for some reason or other. I was of course happy to offer an unsecured loan at interest with fixed terms to accommodate this need.
The mercenary relationship was a two way street, because when I scored my first full time job as an adult, my mother levied me a regular charge for board which was over half of my take home pay. To be honest, it was financially cheaper moving out of home and in with friends into a share house of five people.
I soon found myself working full time with aspirations of achieving a University degree. This meant that I had to study part time at night whilst working full time. I’d seen firsthand that such an eventuality was a feasible option, and so I just got on with the job at hand.
The very first year of my part time experience at University also miraculously coincided with the re-introduction of course fees for students. I discovered to my horror that I was rapidly accruing a student debt with every single class that I attended.
“Well the signs were clear, they had no idea.
You just get used to living in fear,
Or give up when you can't even picture your future.
We walk the plank with our eyes wide open.”
In Australia student debt is held by the Federal government and repaid through the tax system depending on a persons taxable income. If your income falls below a certain threshold, you don’t have to make any repayments. However, this week the Federal government announced that it would seek to increase University fees by 8%, whilst at the same time reducing the income threshold for repayments for people with student debt from about $54,000 to I believe about $42,000.
Many people who have not attended or have no intentions of ever attending University make the correct claim: Why should they subsidise University courses with their taxes? I am comfortable with this claim. However, that claim also assumes that there is an underlying fairness and equality to government policy, and I am aware that many people who received free University education in the now distant past pay no taxes on their pension income. And I am uncomfortable with such inequalities in policy which are breeding wealth inequality in the community. I for one don’t believe the kids are alright.
“Some people offered up answers.
We made out like we heard, they were only words.
They didn't add up to a change in the way we were living,
And the saddest thing is all of it could have been avoided.”
Today, for some strange reason I was considering the issue of wealth inequality and I recalled a story from my past which highlighted how I felt about the issue of wealth inequality as a very young man.
My girlfriends parents at that time were refreshingly candid about my future prospects in that they didn’t believe I would amount to much. As such it was clear that they felt that their daughter and I were an unsuitable match. I politely ignored them, acted in a surly manner, and simply went about my business. My girlfriend was lucky enough to have been presented with a brand new vehicle by her parents. As a contrast, I had a little very old and very used white Suzuki Sierra four speed vehicle. That Suzuki Sierra was barely reliable and I was forever maintaining it or replacing failing parts.
My girlfriends parents also owned a holiday house on the coast. One weekend the girlfriend invited me to spend the weekend with her at the holiday house which would have been fun. However, that time was also the recession of the very early 1990’s and even though in my youth I was a budding capitalist, I had barely enough income to match my fixed outgoings. And that meant that I did not have the $40 petrol (gas) money to make it down the coast and then back again. You see, my girlfriend had thoughtlessly just driven down in advance in her paid-for vehicle and just assumed that I would follow down later in my little white Suzuki Sierra. Not so! The phone conversation that ensued was less than pleasant as I pointed out these gritty realities in a less than gentlemanly tone.
That evening, instead of travelling down the coast, I ended up visiting some friends who lived only 15 minutes away. Needless to say the girlfriend and I broke up not too long after that incident. Angry on one side of that equation and thoughtless and indifferent on the other, and that to me is how the gritty realities of wealth inequality play out.
“But it was like to stop consuming's to stop being human,
And why would I make a change if you won't?
We're all in the same boat, staying afloat for the moment.”
As an interesting side story: The editor on the other hand owned a large and old poo-brown Chrysler Valiant Safari station wagon that was unable to be driven in reverse. In that poo brown station wagon was often to be found a rather fat brown dog who jumped around the insides barking for the sheer joy of the experience in between chewing the seats. I knew I’d found the right girl (and dog) for me.
It has been another wet and cold week here at the farm. One evening I noticed that the outside temperature had dropped to as low as 3’C (37’F). Even Poopy the Pomeranian (who as everyone now knows is a sophisticated Swedish Lapphund) was feeling a little bit chilly even though he has a double layered dog coat.
|The night time outside temperatures plummeted this week to temperatures not seen for six months|
During the installation of the new wood heater we moved one of the hydronic radiators. The repairs to that wall where the radiator used to be are now almost complete. In another week, nobody will ever know that there even was a hydronic radiator in that location.
|Repairs to the wall where the hydronic radiator was removed from have continued and now only painting is required to complete the repairs|
|One of the tables from the Table Bunch blog post was sanded back this week as the finish was very poor|
|A coat of Tung Oil was applied to the table which was sanded this week. Five more coats of Tung Oil to go!|
|A hedge of bottlebrush (Callistemon and Banksia species) plants were planted along the road above the house|
|An apricot coloured rose was rescued and relocated from a very dense herb garden bed|
|Mushroom compost was applied to some of the newer garden beds|
|A grove of of blackwoods (Acacia Melanoxylon) and sticky wattles (Acacia Howitti) were also planted out this week|
One of the strangest things that I have seen in urban areas was people hauling organic matter or cut grass off to the local landfill. I use the fancy word “strange” to describe that activity because they are actively sending their soil fertility to a landfill!
|All prunings and plant cuttings end up in the new garden bed near to the chicken enclosure|
|The rain and change of soil temperatures has produced copious quantities of mushrooms in the orchard|
|The leaf change is continuing to put on a good show here and Japanese maples are one of my favourite plants|
|Pineapple sage looks great and the honeyeaters love the nectar|
|Succulents enjoy the occasional burst of Autumn sunshine|
|Chrysanthemum flowers are a harbinger of colder weather (and mothers day)|
|The many Pentstemon’s are also producing a good display of flowers|
“With our eyes wide open, we walk the plank, we walk the plank.
That was the end of the story.”
A special shout out to the exceptionally talented local artist Gotye for his song “Eyes wide open” which was ripped blindly in this weeks blog. Some may know him for his famous song “Somebody that I used to know”. His back catalogue of works are outstanding.