Nothing to see here, Australian edition

Well, it turns out I was completely wrong when I said yesterday’s incident in Melbourne would be forgotten by Christmas: it’s largely been forgotten already, disappearing from the front page of the BBC to be replaced by a story about kids dying in Yemen. At least it’s not the Rohingyas, anyway.

As BiG pointed out in the comments, before the ink was dry on my post the Australian authorities had declared it the work of a lone nutter and hence was not terrorist-related. The fact that the guy was an Afghan refugee, complained about worldwide “mistreatment of Muslims”, and was filmed in action by one of his co-religionists who was carrying a sack of knives doesn’t mean a damned thing, it seems. Because, as Streetwise Professor put it, lone lunatics are always accompanied by knife-wielding cameramen.

The authorities are taking the piss, secure in the knowledge the Australian population – like so many others – will just lie down and take it, with a good percentage actually siding with the men with the beards. But they’re not outright lying, it’s more of a lie by omission. I am quite sure the guys who carry out these vehicular attacks are mentally ill and are quite possibly loners. All societies have them, and Australia’s approach to nutters is to not to care for them or make them seek treatment (because that would be judgmental), but instead to clap them on the back and encourage them to roam the streets panhandling and yelling at passers-by. The irony is that most of Melbourne’s head cases congregate around Flinder’s Street Station where the attack took place, so there is an outside chance our Afghan friend has spotted a mate from way back in the funny-farm and just wanted to say hello.

The problem is, mentally-ill Muslims don’t just hang around stations yelling at people; instead they can tap into a large and well-funded network brimming with anti-western sentiment which will welcome them with open arms. There are supposedly moderate mosques and preachers all over the world who will happily embrace lone nutters and, instead of helping them, turn them into jihadists carrying out amateurish but deadly attacks on western targets safe in the knowledge they have no links to an actual terrorist network and the authorities will play along. By refusing to acknowledge the obvious and dangerous link between mentally-ill Muslim men and organised Islamic terror, western governments have entered into a quite astonishing collaborative agreement with terrorist organisations. Then again, given both see the ordinary native populations as representing the greatest threat to their ambitions, this is perhaps less surprising that you’d think.

But their culpability doesn’t stop there. One day I fervently hope that western politicians and their lackeys are held accountable for their considerable role in perpetuating among Muslims this perception they are being mistreated everywhere, and that westerners are to blame. From the hand-wringing over non-existent Islamophobia to the gleeful reporting of the Muslim world’s reaction to Trump moving an embassy, the western media and many, many governments are as much to blame for filling this idiot’s head full of angry feelings of victimhood as any radical preacher. Once again, it is a collaborative effort.

The good news is that I think fewer and fewer people are buying this crap, and compared to five years ago, more of the population are openly mocking the pathetic, craven, and self-serving response of the authorities to Islamic terror attacks. This is a small but important step along the road to doing something about it. When that time comes, I hope little distinction is found between the terrorists and those in power who currently help them.

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A Mystery in Melbourne

An event in Melbourne, completely without precedent elsewhere, leaves us dumbfounded:

Australian police have arrested two people after a car drove into a crowd in Melbourne.

The car “collided with a number of pedestrians” on Flinders Street, a busy junction in the centre of the city, said Victoria Police.

Fourteen people have been injured, with several in a critical condition.

I know that junction, I used to cross it on my daily walk to work along with about twenty thousand other people. It’s busy, and there’s nothing between the pavement and the road. If you want to mow down a bunch of folk in a car in Melbourne, that’s where you’d do it.

Police have said it was a deliberate act but said it was too early to say whether it was terrorist-related.

This is probably true, but I don’t think time is really the issue here. I remember when an Iranian took a bunch of people hostage in a Sydney cafe and shouted Islamist slogans while waving an ISIS flag before shooting someone; when the police eventually got around to saying whether it was terrorist-related they’d decided it wasn’t. Just another of those “lone wolves” we keep seeing everywhere. The public responded with a hashtag fronting a bizarre campaign to sit next to Muslims on public transport. If only their cricket team behaved like this on the pitch, I’d be a lot happier.

The driver and another man have been detained.

“The motivations are unknown,” police commander Russell Barrett said.

Helpfully, 7 News Sydney tweeted a photo of the two men:

Beards and a lumberjack shirt? Why, they’re fucking hipsters! Melbourne is full of them, and they really are a menace.

Witness Jim Stoupas, who runs a business nearby, told the BBC: “It just barrelled through a completely full intersection of pedestrians. There was no attempt to brake, no attempt to swerve.”

He added: “I saw probably five to eight people on the ground with people swarming around them [to help]. Within a minute, I think, there were police on site, so it was very, very speedy.”

Victoria Ambulance said in a statement that a child of pre-school age with serious head injuries was among those taken to hospital.

If the father of that child were Chechen, the perpetrators would not have long to live. I’m merely observing some cultural differences here, celebrating diversity as we’re encouraged to.

In January, six people died when a man drove a car into pedestrians on Bourke Street.

Afterwards, city authorities installed concrete blocks in various locations – including on Flinders Street – hoping to prevent vehicle-based attacks.

Tsk! Someone tell the BBC that the official term is “diversity bollards“.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Twitter that the investigations had begun, and sent “thoughts and prayers” to those affected.

Of course. This will be forgotten by Christmas Day.

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The Bigotry of Low Expectations

Via the comments at Tim Worstall’s I found this article which, if it had been written as a parody, would have made the author a genius:

I’m a young Indigenous man from the south coast of New South Wales.

While growing up, I was faced with a different kind of racism.

I have always been proud of being Aboriginal, but people have always told me that I’m not.

They would say that I’m too white and I have red hair — and that these features mean I can’t be Indigenous.

Adam Piggott did a good post back in July on the Australian Aboriginal industry which allows pasty folk with dubious claims to Aboriginal ancestry to access monies, privileges, and programmes intended to assist genuine Aboriginal communities out in the bush. US Senator Elizabeth Warren did much the same, claiming Cherokee ancestry in order to land an affirmative action place at Harvard Law School, so it’s not just an Australian thing. Is this kid in the article Aborigine? Well, if Linda Sarsour can call herself black I guess he can be anything he likes. He’s not easily dissuaded, anyway:

But luckily, I’m not very good at listening to people who tell me things that I don’t want to hear.

The options in front of this boy are wide indeed, ranging from politician to corporate manager to divorced woman. But this is the passage that really stood out:

So, straight away I think of a way to show my Aboriginal background either through art, didgeridoo playing, language, stories, culture, and Aboriginal songs and dances.

I’ve created artworks for my friends and family and I’ve taught other students how to circular breathe while playing a didgeridoo.

When I was in Melbourne some government body or other put on a display of “Aboriginal culture” in Federation Square and advertised it all over town. I guessed in advance that it would consist of a bunch of primitives sat around bashing drums while metropolitan white folk looked on as if they were visiting a zoo. Child-like art would be on display wrapped in copious quantities of mumbo-jumbo. I passed by one Saturday afternoon and sure enough, that’s exactly what it was. A more patronising exhibition I couldn’t imagine, and it must have been soul-destroying for any Aborigine who aspires to be something more than a museum piece for liberal whites. Any who did would find ginger palefaces have crowded them out and, to rub salt in the wound, are now boasting about how they’ve learned the didgeridoo and circular breathing. What is absolutely certain is the urban elites don’t want these Aborigines getting off their knees any time soon or – horror! – turning up to live next door. Which is why they keep reminding them that their place in Australian society is as little more than curios, and an excuse to keep the guilt-industry motoring along on taxpayer cash.

I mentioned drums earlier for a reason. One thing supposedly right-on palefaces like to do is marvel at dark people’s “sense of rhythm”. Nobody would be interested in an Aborigine – or an African – who’d learned the violin, clarinet, or piano (none of which require rhythm, of course); all they want to do is see them whack drums in an ethnically-authentic fashion while marvelling at their supposed natural talent. South Park covered this brilliantly here:

I had occasion to stumble into some anecdotal evidence on this topic. A friend and colleague is from Jamaica but her daughter – whose father is also Jamaican – grew up in Scotland. My friend can dance as all good Jamaicans can; alas, her daughter is absolutely hopeless and has no sense of rhythm whatsoever. It seems dancing in a Caribbean manner is dependent on growing up in the Caribbean rather than genes or skin-colour. Fortunately my friend, who holds a Masters in Engineering and a PhD in something similar, grew up in an environment where education, self-sufficiency, and genuine achievement were considered more important than “keeping it real” as defined by wealthy, privileged whites; she also believes her daughter’s education is more important than her lack of dancing ability.

Maybe one day Australia’s Aborigines will enjoy such an environment, too?

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A Fear of Heights

From the BBC:

An Australian diplomat has died after falling from a New York City balcony while socialising with friends.

Julian Simpson, 30, accidentally slipped from a seventh-floor ledge of his Manhattan building to a landing on the second floor, the NYPD said.

US media reported he was playing a “trust game” with a friend when he fell.

This is tragic for his family and friends, and 30 seems a bit old to be pulling stunts like this. Then again, I’ve found a lot of Australian men shed the reckless bravado of youth rather later than most, if at all.

One thing’s for sure, you’d not catch me playing “trust games” seven stories up. I have a very mixed relationship with heights: I am fine in a tall building, I don’t mind being hoiked in the air by a crane while sat in a frog, helicopters and planes are okay, and working on the outside of tall structures while clipped on doesn’t bother me (but takes a little getting used to). But put me on a balcony with a low railing, or near a ledge, and I go weak at the knees and start to feel sick. The fear is twofold: I am petrified of someone pushing me over the edge either on purpose or by accident, but also I have a burning desire to jump off which I am never convinced I can overcome. This means I can abseil without much fear, but if I were to visit somewhere like the Trolltunga in Norway you’d not see me taking selfies at the edge, or sat with my legs dangling into the void. You’re more likely to find me a mile away, looking at it through binoculars. There’s something about being up high and unsecured that terrifies me, which is why I’d not be hanging out of windows seven floors up in New York.

Sometimes just for fun I lie in bed and watch videos of those Russian or Ukrainan nutters who climb buildings and cranes with GoPros on their heads. There are two in particular that I like, both in China:

Even in bed these videos make my stomach churn, which makes them fun to watch in a masochist kind of way. This one of a couple of Romanians climbing a chimney in Slovenia is good too:

Frankly, I think the people who do this sort of thing are complete idiots but at the same time astonishingly brave. It’s a shame this Australian lad didn’t stick to watching videos of other people doing stupid things rather than having a go himself.

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Racist in speech but not action

Via Helen Dale on Twitter, this excellent article on the working class. It’s well worth reading in full, but this bit leaped out at me:

In the working-class context, in particular, it’s what you physically do, what you make—the observable physical impression—that counts. That is the native language, the one they are fluent in and the one they trust. And that language often conflicts with working-class speech or attitudes.

I worked in a recycling centre for some years. One of my workmates was a kid (we were all kids) called Ricky. I regarded him as a lowlife brute, and he regarded me as rule-following sissy. We were both right.

Every week an elderly Chinese man brought his bottles and cans to us. He couldn’t speak English, which tends to frustrate racists, and Ricky was duly irritated. One morning the man—who had difficulty walking—accidentally put his car into gear while he was half out the door and still tangled in his seatbelt. His legs went sideways and dragged on the ground as the car took off, and he struggled hopelessly to pull them in, or to reach the brakes, or to loosen his seatbelt to escape. The car was only a few feet away from me, but all I managed was an incoherent shout and an uncertain jog as it picked up speed and headed for the main road.

Ricky dashed past me, jumped into the man’s lap, grabbed the steering wheel, and quickly found the brakes. Then he helped the man out of the car, checked that he was uninjured, and knelt with his arm around him as he cried and shook on the ground. When the man was calm enough to stand, Ricky pulled him to his feet, told him to take care, then walked away, muttering, ‘Fucken Asian drivers’. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it got the job done.

My parents were racists in private speech but not in action. Did that make them secret racists who hid their racism from the wider world? Or were they non-racists who played with racist speech? Or a bit of both? Who can possibly say? My worry is that by conflating racist or offensive speech or attitudes with racist or offensive actions or activism we push people like my parents and Ricky (who represent large chunks of every dominant ethnicity or tribe in every country on earth) over to the wrong side of the political fence. By setting unnegotiated limits on attitudes and speech as well as actions, we claim too much territory and thereby risk losing it all.

The “racists in speech but not in action” was exactly the point I made in this post last January:

 If it comes to a choice between privately held prejudices in a polite society and different, approved prejudices in a society where abusing people in public is accepted and normal, I know which one I’d prefer.

Go read the whole article.

(Apologies if posting seems light over the next couple of weeks: I’m on holiday in Annecy again.)

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Politicians distrust the people, but trust each other

My second-tier research assistant TNA sends me a link to this story:

Greens co-deputy leader Scott Ludlam has announced he will quit politics today because he is a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen and was ineligible to have ever been elected under the Constitution.

Senator Ludlam said his dual citizenship was brought to his attention last week and it was something he should have checked when he first nominated for preselection in 2006.

He should have checked? Surely somebody else should have checked, no?

This is what I found so odd about the Birther thing with Obama. There are criteria in place for anyone wishing to run for President of the United States, but apparently there is no official body responsible for ensuring the criteria are met. From what I can tell, the setup relies on honesty and a sort of “well, everyone knows” approach. I would have thought Obama and everyone else would have had to demonstrate their eligibility to an electoral office of some sort, who would then confirm or reject the candidate. The situation where questions were raised over Obama’s eligibility, dismissed as racist by his supporters, then halfway through a term he releases a birth certificate which is immediately denounced by sections of the internet as being false is the sort of clusterfuck you’d see in Africa. Which is somewhat ironic, now I think about it.

You don’t need to be a “birther” – and I’m not – to think these questions could have been entirely avoided by having a competent vetting authority in place. It is politicians who pass the laws demanding ordinary citizens produce reams of documents: certified copies, utility bills, passports, etc. every time we are forced to interact with the state in any capacity. But for them? No vetting is required, it seems. Good old-fashioned trust and honesty will suffice, even if it means candidates forgetting they’re half-Kiwi.

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More on the Australian Nanny State

I meant to include the picture below in yesterday’s post about the Australian nanny state but couldn’t find it in time. I can’t remember where I got it from, but it was taken somewhere in Sydney’s CBD, as they like to call city centres down there.

The pic is a bit fuzzy, but from what I can tell we have:

1. A sign telling people not to smoke within 4 metres of “entry or exit”. Entry or exit of what? And why 4 metres? This sounds like something a committee came up with, a committee with at least one obese member called Sharon.

2. A sign warning people of the dangers of gambling, as if they’re not known.

3. At ankle height, a sign asking if people are under 25. The drinking age in Australia is 18, the gambling age 18, and judging by the signs, the mental age 7.

4. A sign warning that anyone under 18 standing on the steps and not in the company of a responsible adult is breaking the law. If responsible adults exist in Australia, why all the signs?

5. A sign warning of gangs, and reminding everyone of the laws banning the wearing of gang colours, whatever the hell they are. I’m sure this is effective in keeping warring tribes apart.

6. A sign which appears to contradict No. 4. Are 18 year-olds allowed on the steps or not?

I show this photo to anyone who doubts that Australia has turned into a nanny-state unlike any other on Earth (although Britain is fast playing catch-up). The Australians I show it to despair: none defends it. What makes it worse is these signs do absolutely nothing to solve the alleged problems, and indeed make things worse by treating people like children who respond by behaving like it.

You do see warning signs in France but not forests of them. More importantly, if they did post such a collection you can be sure three-quarters of them would be utterly ignored and, even more importantly, nobody would show any interest in enforcing them.

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Nanny State Fled

Adam Piggott has left his native Australia for the Netherlands, and found it a liberating experience:

Compared to Australians the Dutch have personal freedom. All those kids zooming around on bikes that I mentioned? No helmets. Not a single one. On several occasions I have witnessed a teenage boy giving his girl a ride on his bike. The girl is usually facing the boy, her legs dangling over the bike in a relaxed manner, as she casually smokes a cigarette. It is the epitome of freedom.

Kids don’t play in the street in Australia. Kids don’t get themselves to school anymore. The roads are clogged with parents driving their children here, and driving their children there. It is a sterile society.

Funny, sterile is the word I used when describing Melbourne:

Rather than being a hotch-potch of genuinely avant-garde establishments, they are regulated into places far more sterile than the author is making out.  Walk into any bar and you’ll see enormous signs warning people about drinking too much, detailing hefty fines for various alcohol related offences.  At some point in the evening a squad of police in high-viz vests may well come walking through the joint, and you can be sure none stays open beyond the permitted time (or opens if there are no office workers around).

From my point of view, I’d take a bit of groaning infrastructure over sterility any day.

At street level, it feels as though one has a lot more personal freedom in France than in Australia. Judging by what Adam is saying, the same is true for the Netherlands.

Welcome to Europe, Adam!

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Poverty as described by Australian students

This article on the appalling poverty suffered by Australian students found its way into my Twitter timeline:

Molly Willmott, 19, has been going to job interviews fruitlessly for a year and a half now.

Retail. Hospitality. Spends her time trawling employment websites. She went for one job as a telemarketer. Another as a warehouse assistant.

She’s in Melbourne. Most of these jobs are held by people whose names are hard to pronounce, brought in under policies favoured by Australian progressives.

“It’s rough,” says the politics and sociology major at the University of Melbourne.

Progressives like those studying politics and sociology, for example. But at least, in trawling employment websites for menial jobs, Molly is getting valuable experience on what she’ll be doing once she graduates.

“There’s that stereotype of a student surviving on two-minute noodles and it’s very true. I know a lot of people who’ve had to sacrifice food to be able to pay rent and bills. It’s more common than you think.

Property prices and rents in Melbourne are absolutely extortionate, mainly thanks to government policies favoured by the middle classes whose sons and daughters go to university.

Willmott, who lives with her mother and two siblings in a rented house in Melbourne’s south-east, acknowledges she is one of the lucky ones.

“I am in a very privileged position to be able to go home and have my family there just in case. I don’t like asking them for money but if push came to shove I can do that.”

The UK is somewhat unusual in that it is normal for people to go to another city to study; in a lot of countries people simply go to the university in their town. Because of this, there is usually plenty of cheap(ish) student accommodation in British university towns. I don’t know how things work in Australia, but it seems to me there is a scarcity of student accommodation in Melbourne.

But the luxury of living at home in the suburbs means it’s more than a three-hour round trip to trek to campus in inner-city Parkville, via three different modes of public transport.

“I take bus, train, tram and something’s always late. Travel alone takes a third of what money I have. It just drains away throughout the week.”

Rents are cheaper the further you go from a city centre, but you spend more on transport. This is not a trade-off unique to students.

She’s looking to move out within the next six months, partly because jobs have proven hard to come by where she lives, but she’s not sure how she’ll afford to move.

Jobs are hard to come by in a city where the minimum wage is around $15 per hour for a 19 year old part-timer with no experience. I can’t think why.

Her fortnightly budget has a lot of holes. There’s nothing allocated for clothing, and Centrelink loans for textbooks have been used to buy warm clothes for winter.

“Centrelink has an optional $1,300 loan to buy textbooks every semester. I’ve used that to buy clothes so I can be warm through winter and given rest to my mum. There’ve been times I haven’t been able to buy textbooks and readers.

Hang on. I’ve lived through a Melbourne winter and it’s not that bad. And she’s from Melbourne: it’s not like she’s moved down from Brisbane and had to buy a raincoat for the first time in her life. What was she wearing before she went to university? Do you really need to spend $1,300 on winter clothes in your hometown?

I’ve got so much anger about the treatment of students by the Government at the moment. The welfare system is incredibly underfunded and understaffed. When I got my Youth Allowance I needed to get it urgently. I needed to start uni and buy textbooks and it took four months for that to go through.

A 19 year old is living in one of the world’s most expensive cities and having to borrow money to buy politics and sociology textbooks. Somebody is being fleeced here all right, but unless she’s angry at the government over job-destroying labour laws, insane housing policies, and unnecessary credentialism I think she might have picked the wrong target. Go and ask your tutors why, in the age of electronic publishing and the internet, you need to spend a grand on politics textbooks.

The Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, says waiting times will be cut by the 250 additional Centrelink call centre staff announced in the federal budget. He says massive investment in technology has halved wait times for Youth Allowance and Abstudy claims.

Government creates an unsatisfactory solution to address a problem largely of said government’s own making; affected persons nevertheless demand more government.

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham, said his message to students was clear: “Taxpayers, including those who have never been to university, will continue to pay the majority of your fees for going to university.”

“And taxpayers will pay all of the cost of your student loan up front and not expect you to repay it until you’re actually firmly in the workforce, on track hopefully in your career. If we’re to preserve all of those opportunities for the future we need to ensure the higher education system is financially sustainable.”

Blimey! I didn’t expect that: well said, sir!

Three or four hours’ work a week at the local McDonald’s doesn’t help much.

“It really is borderline impossible to find a decent job. Most places want younger people. McDonald’s — even cafes and stuff — they want to pay junior wages. Or they hire lots of people but then they only give you one shift a week.

Minimum wage laws allow firms to pay 19 year olds less than 21 year olds, thus pricing 21 year olds out of the market. If only there were a branch of academia that could explain all this.

Or they hire lots of people but then they only give you one shift a week.

“It’s that whole underemployment figure. If you earn under a certain amount they don’t have to put in for your super.”

Employers look at the total cost of employing somebody and set shift patterns accordingly? Whoever would have thought?

Colee once had savings from a $9-an-hour traineeship at her local council during a gap year, but that’s gone.

She had a gap year? Why didn’t she get a full-time job?

Right now there is $23 in the bank. Her pay won’t deposit for another couple of days. Rent is due in three.

Here is a picture of her stood in her kitchen. Tell me, does this look like a student hovel to you?

Okay, I’ll not pretend I didn’t live in a very nice flat when I was a student, thanks to a generous father (cheers Dad!) and a flatmate who came from money. But that kitchen above is bigger and smarter than any I’ve seen in Paris and looks as though it belongs to a detached 2 or 3 bedroom house. There looks to be a stainless steel dishwasher in there, FFS! My guess is the “student” accommodation in Australian cities has been snapped up by people from China and the Indian sub-continent who are working full-time, and Australian students don’t even know such lodgings exist. I’m thinking back to the student kitchens I saw at university, and they didn’t look much like the one above. There are no slug trails across the surfaces, to start with.

There is no allowance in Colee’s budget for social activities.

“If I want to go to the pub, I’ll buy a pint of cider which is $9 and drink that all night.

So there’s no money for social activities except for drinking cider at $9 per pint. Back in 1996 I used to buy beer for a quid a pint; I know that was a long time ago and it was in Manchester, but where are all the cheapo student bars in Australia? Or has the nanny state banned them?

“It’s meant to be the best time of your life. You’re constantly told you should go to university while you’re young. You’re told at school it’s everything, that you can do this if you study hard. Then you get there and realise you have to basically buy your way into university because you can’t afford to live without help.

“It’s really hard to struggle in this sort of way and then be told by the Government that I chose this because I wanted to get an education.”

An education in International Studies.

[Welfare advisor Stuart Martin] says government policy on the issue was too often “hollow rhetoric from politicians who are not held accountable for their statements”.

“We have far too many people in Parliament who have sucked for free at the teat of the state and still trot out this mantra about self reliance.

Quite. When do the hangings take place, and do I bring my own knitting or will it be handed out free?

“Things are even harder if you happen to come from a disadvantaged background or have other struggles in your life.

“If you have a mental health condition or family obligations that make it difficult to keep a part-time job, then your grip on study is extremely shaky.

If you have mental health problems that prevent you holding down a part-time job, should you really be going to university?

“Education is seen as the thing that breaks the poverty barrier,” says the 21-year-old, who is studying history and sociology at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus.

Another useful subject.

“You have parents making sacrifices to give their children an education, only for students to find once they enter the system it’s just gradual entrenchment of poverty.”

One would have thought there would be a lot more attention paid to what was being studied under such circumstances, but apparently not.

He makes sure to shop at a low budget supermarket, spending $10–20 once or twice a week.

Surplice is lucky enough to have a car. A second-hand Mazda he bought from his aunt. “It gets me from point A to B,” he says. “It’s got fuel in the tank.”

A poverty-stricken student with a car.

However, he’s sometimes had to go without insurance or rely on the charity of family to pay his registration.

Oh marvellous! So if he maims somebody or deprives them of their only vehicle when he’s driving about uninsured, that’s their tough shit!

“It’s everyday student culture for people to be saying, you know, ‘I’m so broke this week’. You’ll hear it from 10 different people in one walk through the student union.”

Have any of them been t-boned by an uninsured driver?

There’s a lot of time spent in his bedroom at home, or between different volunteer positions on and off campus. Active in the labour and union movements, every Monday is set aside for campaigning. There are also volunteer shifts as a tour guide at a Buddhist temple. The odd bit of cash-in-hand work.

A labour and union activist who engages in cash-in-hand work to supplement his own income. Principled.

“You have to put extra effort into extracurricular stuff to get noticed by employers. I’m the president of two university clubs, which means my ability to look for work is restricted to non-existent.”

Try studying a proper subject. And note there is enough time to be a labour and union activist, but not enough time to look for a job.

It’s not just the financial cost, Surplice says, but the psychological effect.

“I cannot envision my future. Don’t get me wrong — I’d like to one day be settled down in a house with a partner, but the actual practicality of even a simple existence like that? I have nothing but anxiety.”

I once worked with a guy who was sent to fight in Vietnam when he was 18. A lot of his friends didn’t come back. This chap is 21.

National Union of Students president Sophie Johnston says it’s time to “acknowledge the failures from successive governments that have left today’s young people far worse off than generations before us”.

“This generation will be the first priced out of the housing market, our penalty rates are being cut, underemployment is rife and we’ve seen drastically low wage growth for decades.

She is complaining that penalty rates – legally mandated pay levels – are being cut while complaining of unemployment in the same sentence. Hurray for university education!

“Today’s young people are not asking for a free ride, we are merely asking to be afforded the same opportunities as generations before us.”

Ask Grandad which university he went to, what his weekly wage was, and what his house was like.

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I’d rather watch Neighbours

The cringeworthiness of this recruitment video pushed out by the Australian Department of Finance is surpassed only by the hilarity of this blog post ripping it apart. My favourite line:

“I wouldn’t miss it. The last one was great,” she informs him with a level of sincerity usually reserved for hostage videos.

Whoever signed off on the original video needs to be taken outside and shot.

(H/T Adam)

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