Wednesday, May 10, 2006

a high price ride

While in the art room this morning* doing my budget, I was treated by a visit from some prospective parents who were so impressed by my school artwork on display in the local community that they wanted to come in and see what else we had on show. woohoo, go me!

One of the grade 4s wet his pants in class today. He didn't come to art until half way through the lesson. Not knowing why he wasn't in class, I asked where he was and the whole class knew and let me know. No wonder the poor kid didn't want to come to class. Everyone knew! When Miss poo pants, did poos in the art room and I had to stop the whole class to have the 'poo talk' I didn't feel sorry for her. Firstly she stank up my art room, secondly she didn't own up, thirdly; she's five - it's to be expected. I felt sorry for this boy though, he's older and he knew that everyone knew! When he came back to class he was almost in tears, but he eventually pulled it together and got on with it. He can be a real shit of a kid at times but I really admire him for that. That's a real boy thing, you know - to suck it up and just get on with it. This is not necessarily all good though. Crying is a real release and if I hear of one more guy who "hasn't cried since kindergarten" then I'm going to scream. That's not really an accomplishment boys. I'm not saying you should cry when the kleenex ads come on or anything but hey if you get hit with a bullet and you're bleeding everywhere and you're about to die ..it's okay to cry!

I can understand now wanting to cry in public though. Despite many an hour spent blubbering over various miscellany I am not a public crier. I had a best friend in high school that would cry at the drop of a hat - I think she put me off the whole business. She cried at sad moments in history class (the rest of us were just bored), she cried at the year 12 formal because it was the last big get together (I was rapt)... she even cried when we did dissection in biology class (for fucks sake, all the other vegetarians just went to the library to bludge and admire their all leather shoes but S cried her eyes out first). I think there's a moment when crying excessively in public is done just to draw attention to oneself and/or manipulate men (if you're a woman). Hey it works, men are easily manipulated by tears for some reason.

Today saw the miners in Tasmania walk free from their underground 2 week prison. I don't know about the rest of Australia, but we in Melbourne have been living on the edge of our seats with every development concerning their rescue. It seemed like all we were hearing was "they'll be out in 48 hours" for the last 2 weeks with never an ending in sight. I'm glad they came out safe. It must be horrible for the family of Larry Knight, who died down there. I really feel for them. PS: what was up with Kotchie (Koshie?) from Sunrise storming the ambulance and ambushing the poor miner? Talk about kicking a man when he's down!

Today also saw numerous discussions about the new federal budget. Let me say that this budget was all about giving back to the public. Why on earth would the government be giving anything back? I hear you ask Well, the next federal election is just a hop away and if you want to pay someone for voting for you then giving back through taxes is a really good way of doing it. There's a bit to smile about this time round, for sure. I think everyone gets a bit of a tax break but come on, the big winners yet again are the people already having holidays in the south of France every year. Yeah, let's give the high rollers a tax break - they must really need it while paying off their South Yarra apartments and Italian imported bathroom tiles. How hard they've had it until now - nannies, maids, gardeners, BMWs... But now they can finally afford to live above the poverty line.

Philosophically speaking, I don't actually support tax cuts, especially those that will ultimately result in taxes being raised further down the track (ie: after the election). In a material sense it's nice to have a few more dollars in your purse, but with petrol prices the way they are and that affecting the price of goods and services Australian families and singles aren't really all that better off with the tax cuts. A whopping $20 a week extra in your pay packet is probably just going to cover the cost of milk and petrol, not the rate rise in mortgage repayments. But hey, all people see is the initial glory of the "tax cut". It's not a good thing IMO.

Basically I subscribe to the rather unpopular notion of rather paying more taxes in exchange for better public services, more affordable child care, free health cover for all (or at least where it counts), free/better education. This is why we have taxes in the first place! - to pay for necessities. Besides funding lavish overseas trips for politicians our taxes pay for funding health and education. Already our schools and hospitals don't get enough money to adequately cater for individual needs. Interestingly, without education we can just keep the down trodden wallowing in the endless cycle of shit jobs because they can't afford to get "learned". Not putting money into education means we are not preparing for our future - a smart, educated future. You think teachers are shit and get too many holidays? Well let's make teacher education a priority and pay teachers a decent salary instead eh? I found out today that the people that stand at the side of the road and flip the "stop" "go" "slow" signs make way more than I - private, of course. Not that I'm any better than them - it just interesting as a comparrison. It all comes down to priorities, I guess. Why would a top scientist want to teach high school science where they may indeed inspire the young to strive and learn in that area when they may be ridiculed by the media and paid a pittance? What's the attraction in that? I know teachers 5 years out who are burnt out and ready to quit, now because of conditions, lack of resources and stress. Meanwhile, every child must attend school - and teachers are burnt out and tired, working without resources and stressed. Priorities, folks.

Anyway, as soon as taxes are cut it's not the politician's holidays that stop, it's funding for state schools, it's funding for hospitals and medical research, it's funding for mental health and human services, it's keeping our roads safe...so many things like that. The initial afterglow is more money in the pocket and big budget spending. A few years down the track we're going to be kicking ourselves..

And you know, if there is extra money being pumped into roads etc - and taxes are being cut then I want to know where this extra money is coming from...not the evasive version from Parliment Q Time. A surplus in the budget can only go so far after all..what about 10 years down the track when the purse strings need to be tightened again? I want to know what the povos are going to have to pay more for and what other rates are doing to rise, just so that "extra money" can be realised. The budget isn't all bad, and I know it's all interconnected - cuts in one area mean that other areas can be replenished. I like the idea that lump sum super isn't taxed and more money for doctor training etc.

It's just the big picture stuff that gives me pause.

*I actually wrote this yesterday - so while I may refer to "today" etc. I mean Tuesday.