Why wait? Let’s just rip-off the public service band-aid now

I’ve just had a fantastic idea, why don’t we just abandon all public assets and hand them straight over to the private sector and be done with it now.  There’s little point dragging this out any longer when it’s clearly a foregone conclusion, we may as well rip-off the band-aid quickly than peel it away inch by inch, drawing out the pain over a longer period.

Normally, I would have been the first to stand and fight for the public to retain their public services and assets, but clearly they can’t manage them as well as the private sector can.  Here’s an example, just look at the kinds of award winning buildings the private schools are putting in.  Evidently, they are far more efficient than public schools, who seem to be in a state of constant disrepair.

Despite my reservations, it looks like our government have been correct all along, we shouldn’t be resisting the lure of privatisation any more.

It has become as clear as daylight to me that we need for the government to stop funding all public services because they are simply too inefficient, roads, education, health, police, water, electricity, the lot!  All can easily be just handed over to the private sector where they can run them all with ruthless efficiency AND make a tidy profit for those willing to assume the risks, something the feckless governments seem unable to do.

So now is the time.  No more dilly-dallying, no more vacillating, no more unnecessary community consultation and pointless objections, strike while the iron is hot and the public have their backs turned watching the footy, and privatise the lot!  Everything, the job lot.  Sack all those useless public servants and invite the private sector in to run the show.  Stop collecting taxes that are only going to be used to for dole payments, or for single mothers to have babies to 8 different fathers, or to keep illegal asylum seekers in the lap of luxury with their 27 wives and 67 kids, all getting more in benefits that war veterans.  That’s right, shaft ’em all and make ’em work properly instead of lazing around in best until lunch time.

Revolutionary idea I hear you say.  Well thanks! 

But how would this work?  Ha!  That’s the easy part – we simply adopt a User-Pays system where you only pay for the things YOU use and you don’t have to pay from anyone else.  How good would that be?  No more paying for refugees or gay marriage and stuff like that.  Instead, all the money you earn would all go straight to you, instead of ripped away as tax by the useless government and you’d only ever have to pay for the stuff you use.  It’s called Libertarianism and a dream come true.  Let’s have a look…

Going to work will be much easier now, you’ll just need to get a tollway pass for each separate section of privatised road you want to travel along.  Of course we couldn’t allow a monopoly to form over the roads because monopolies are bad for competition, so different roads will be owned by different operators, each charging different tolls and using different billing systems and RF tags, so you’ll need a different tag for each road.  If you don’t have a tag, don’t worry, you’ll simply get a bill in the mail for the cost of the trip plus an administration charge for each kilometre you travelled.

Oh regarding the mail, you won’t be getting deliveries straight to your door every day because that is so old fashioned and completely inefficient.  When a package arrives you’ll be notified via e-mail and SMS (premium call charges apply).  If you want your mail it will be held for up to 48 hours in our conveniently located mail handling facility in Dubbo.  If you’re unable to get to Dubbo, the mail will be returned to the sender and you will be billed a handling fee of $4.50 for non-receipt.  This bill will be sent to you in the following mail.  We do however offer a convenient home delivery  service for a yearly subscription of only $6oo and a modest delivery fee of only $19.95 per item.  Mail will only be delivered during business hours and must be signed-for or you will incur an additional handling fee of $7.95.  You may request your mail be delivered within a specified 6-hour window by subscribing to our premium mail service for an additional $60.00 per month.  

Sick of garbage filling your bins?  Tired of jamming it down or buying more and more bins?  Why not pay us to take it away?   “Two Blokes and an Ex-Council Garbage Truck Pty Ltd.” offer reliable garbage removal services in your area.  From just $30 per kg ($180 for large wheelie bins), we will collect that garbage and drive it away, to be dumped elsewhere, out of sight and smell of your house.  (Wastes must be separated and placed neatly into each bin, we weigh and monitor the contents of each bin and any non-standard items may incur an additional handling fee of $75).  We can even take away recyclables ($20 per kg), garden waste ($15 per kg) and toxic chemicals/asbestos ($120 per kg).  We offer short-term pick-ups or long-term contracts at rates to best suit your refuse removal needs.  Call our number to speak to an operator about one of our cost-effective refuse elimination contracts (call charges apply).  

Feeling a tad sick?  Why not attend the mega health clinic (located on the site of the former public hospital).  Make sure you book for an appointment (call charges apply).  Doctors are busy people so make sure you are on-time as you will be changed on a per minute basis from the time of your appointment until the time you leave.  Standard consultations are charged at $20 per minute with a minimum charge of $200 for a 5 minute visit.  Additional time is charged at $30 per minute.  All private health insurance funds are recognised and most offer a generous 20% rebate for services.  Emergencies happen and your appointment may be delayed accordingly, if this happens, you will only be charged the standard waiting fee of $5 per minute, until your appointment commences.

Victim of a crime?  Call PolSec for all your policing needs and don’t forget our motto – “PolSec – we’re better than that lot!”  For a modest subscription fee of only $2500 per year we offer personalised 24/7 telephone response for break-ins, assaults, theft, and personal property crime.  Call our emergency hotline (premium call charges apply) and one of our experienced ex-police operators will note your details in our highly specialised crime database.  If you require on-site assistance, one of our cars can be dispatched to personally take the report.  Response times may vary depending upon urgency, workload and your level of coverage.  An attendance fee of $240 is applicable and our highly-trained crime operatives are billed at $100 per hour (minimum 1 hour applies.  Higher rates applicable outside business hours, weekends and public holidays – see our website for details).

Which school will your children attend and will it provide them the right pathway to the future?  St Google Of the Blessed Web intra-Cathlo/Baptist Schools offers only the best in services, facilities and teachers for your very special child.  We offer personalised training in each area of the syllabus (payable separately), including; Social Media, Coding, Wealth Creation, Religious Studies, Golf, and Tax Avoidance.  Our highly specialised tutors have been sourced from the best private institutes including the Institute of Public Affairs and the prestigious Abbott School.  Our commitment to a test-free, stress-free environment is renowned and thanks to our stand-in policy, we guarantee every one of our students will pass with a perfect ATAR score, enabling them access to any university they may wish to attend.  Our facilities are second to none, offering pools, saunas, gymnasiums, cinemas, restaurants, cafes, grooming salons, stables, garaging facilities,  VPN secured wi-fi connection,  personalised accommodation and 24/7 security to make sure your precious little darlings are pampered and able to learn in an environment free of other races, and the lower classes.  Located on 60 acres of prime rolling hillsides and surrounded by serene lakes, manicured gardens and nature reserves, our campuses are hidden form prying eyes by electrified fencing and monitored by state-of-the-art security systems to ensure no riff-raff are able to come within cooee of infecting your precious progeny.  Naturally, an educational advantage like this is not something we quibble over.  Our fees commence form a reasonable $80,000 per term for  the basic core package, through to our $450,000 per term plunder package with includes school vacations to Paris, Tokyo, New York and London.

Well, how was that?  A small but pleasant taste of our future in which we won’t have to pay taxes and where we will only have to pay for the things we use.  Sounds good to me, not having to pay for all those other people, those dole bludgers, the social sponges who can’t be bothered working hard and getting a good job like me.  No more subsidising cripples, single mothers having babies to 8 different fathers or housing scarf-wearing refugees, their 12 wives and 54 children, all living in the lap of luxury.

I say to the government, let’s do it!  Have some balls and rip-off that public service/public assets band-aid now.  The sooner we privatise things and allow the far more efficient private sector to run things, the better off we will all be.

 

NOTE: This is post intended to be sarcastic.

Lest We Forget. “Remembering Abbott’s Past”

A fair and thorough assessment of one of the most contemptuous individual’s ever to reach power in Australia’s history.

The Australian Independent Media Network

Abbott Lest We Forget.

The Guardian has judged him as ‘’politically incorrect to the point of dementia’’

New Statesman said Abbott represents ‘’politics at its most crass, exploitative and disturbing’’

UK Labour MP Paul Flynn called him ‘’a bigoted airhead’’

The LA Times called itself ‘’scandalised by his prejudices’’

The Sydney Morning Herald said ‘’Tony Abbott had plumbed new lows in government decency’’

Le Monde thinks he is ‘’sexist and vulgar’’

The influential Huffington Post said ‘’he is simply an idiot’’

In the midst of the New South Wales Premier’s resignation a reporter asked a seemingly legitimate question about corruption on the conservative side of politics in that state. The Prime Minister’s reaction was indeed unbefitting of the highest office in the land. His anger at the mere suggestion of corruption from his side of politics was palpable. Lest we forget.

But then his ability to feign indignation is only surpassed by that of…

View original post 2,974 more words

What exactly is productivity?

According this this article in the SMH this morning, the federal government are advocating changes to the award conditions of federal public servants, in an attempt to make them work longer hours, in the name of “productivity”.

Yet this proposal seems to run counter to an article in The Conversation, which identified a number of countries including Sweden and France who are legislating to reduce working hours because they realise it is beneficial to both workers and the nation

Unlike the Abbott government approach of “clock punching” – evidently a relic of the 1950’s style of “command and Control”management style of which the Coalition seems so fond, a number of studies show that longer work hours tends to make us less productive, leads to poorer health outcomes and increases mortality rates.

In this 21st Century we seem to be working longer and harder than ever before, and the advent of telephone and mobile technologies is enabling more of our working life to intrude into our personal time, and for what benefit?  Or perhaps more importantly, for whose benefit?  Is it we who are gaining from the merging to work and private space, or is the balance heavily favouring the employers?

Read the e-mail or Facebook memes that circulate daily and note how we are bombarded with too many mixed messages, you know the kind I mean – “The 10 things effective people do.” or the obligatory “Take the time to relax and find yourself”.

On one hand we are told we need to work longer and harder because that is the path to success.  We are flooded with images of US television where lawyers, police, medicos and ordinary people never seem to go home.  At all hours of the day or night they may be found in their office getting things done, meeting that deadline, taking calls from the boss, walking out on dinner parties and kids sporting events because “the boss called”.  Amusingly, both they and their partners simply take it in their stride, as though the intrusion is common and the price of obtaining wealth or freedom.

Yes on the other hand we are flooded with messages to “love what you do”, or “spend more quality time with family and friends”, “work to live” or messages that stress we need to find a “work/life balance”.

The relentless push for productivity only seems to work in one direction and has assumed almost cult status.  We’re all told we need to have a strong “work ethic” to succeed, but reading between the lines this effectively means, we will be paid to work 38 or 40 hours per week, but outside those hours the expectation is that we will make ourselves fully accessible to our employer at any time, to perform additional work as required by them for no additional recompense.  And we do it because the messages tell us we need to, in order to be successful.

The stupidity of doing this is manifold because it empowers the employer further, in an already imbalanced relationship and it encourages them to go even further with their demands on our time.  The very thought that productivity is correlative to physical hours worked does not bear up under scrutiny, and is certainly not supported in many studies. 

In many respects, shorter , more intense work days with longer periods to rest, recuperate and recharge seem to be significantly more efficient, but alas, that doesn’t hold with the Conservative mindset and their need to assert control.

The balance needs to shift back toward the more rationalist approach being adopted by the Europeans.  Holding the US model up as a paradigm may have gained us a little in monetary terms but we have also sacrificed must more of our precious time and our relationships with family and into the wider community.

As individuals we are powerless against the weight and might of the corporations, but together we are immensely powerful, and the truth is  – they know it, which is why they keep attacking unions and collectivism. 

Like a pack of wolves, the employers know they can’t take-on the numbers of the herd, so they harry the herd, nipping and niggling, all in an effort to dislodge and isolate individuals, so they can pick them off one-by-one.  That is exactly what has happened to our workplaces, we have allowed ourselves to become isolated – easy pickings for the scavengers, instead of standing firm for the benefit of all.

Rather than bowing ad allowing the government to define our terms, it is us who need to force a stop, a refusal, an effort of non-compliance, until we asked the question and answered it to everyone’s satisfaction.  What exactly is “productivity”?  Are we measuring it correctly and and how can we best to achieve it?  Considering our intelligence, our capacity to innovate and the technology at our disposal, surely we can devise a better solution than the simplistic approach of making people work longer hours?

Response to a climate change denier

I was reading an article the other day and was struck by the ignorance of the deniers making comments.  I know most are deliberate shills paid to express an opinion or simply be obstreperous trolls, and that even when confronted with the mountains of evidence that underpins Climate Change, they refuse to accept it.

I started a comment in reply, but it grew out of all proportion, so I decided not to post.  I leave it here as a reference.  There is still a LOT I could add, and may do some time, but for now…  Here it is:

 

OK.  Let me get this straight, using a few examples.

  • A physicist from CERN announces that have finally discovered the Higgs Boson and the whole world is aghast – Amazing!  Do you even know what a Higgs Boson is?
  • How about when an astrophysicist claims they have measured gravity waves generated 1/10,0000th of a second after the Big Bang.  Awesome – science is so cool.
  • Your cell phone rings, it’s a video call from your friend on the other side of the world, calling to wish you a happy birthday.  Do you have even a basic inkling of how the phone works?  What about the hardware, the transmission infrastructure, the wireless spectrum, the phone’s operating system, the software streaming the video and enabling you to chat in real-time with someone half a world away?
  • What about when a doctor claims they re-engineered the DNA of a newborn baby to completely eradicate all traces of the HIV virus from every cell in it’s tiny body.  You are simply astounded at how rapidly our knowledge is growing, how mind-blowing our science is and how fortunate we are to live in an age of such profound scientific advancements.
  • Only this week an article was published about scientists implanting nanobots inside cockroaches.  Unbelievable.  If someone had you this story 15 years ago, you’d have laughed it off as science fiction but nowadays we accept our science is capable of doing phenomenal things that were fiction only a short few years ago.
  • Perhaps, you feel fatigued, so you see your GP who sends you for an MRI which identifies a faulty heart value that needs urgent treatment or you will die in the next few weeks if untreated.  The surgeon performs the critical surgery and implants a cutting-edge silent electronic heart pump, affording you another 50 years of life – all thanks to the collective knowledge gained though our science.

In all these cases, your personal knowledge on the subject is minimal to none.  Even if you do have a degree of knowledge you still listen to and are guided by the advice of these scientists because they are “experts” – people who have devoted years of their life to study a a specialised field of endeavour in the endeavour that is science.  They have worked so long and hard to achieve “expert” status, and in doing so we afford their opinions significantly greater weight than those of the untrained.  Imagine the result if we had listened to Uncle Jack

Yet, when it comes to Climate Science, it seems the opposite rule applies.  When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) announces that CO2 in the atmosphere has reach levels unprecedented in 800,000 years, why is their expertise ridiculed, and called into question?  When NASA tells us solar radiation has been in decline for years, why do we question?  When the Bureau of Meteorology tells us 8 of the hottest days on record occurred in the past 10 years and that we broke 156 separate weather records in a single year, our Prime Minister calls it “crap” and quotes a poem about droughts and floods.   When major organisations like The Royal Society say our oceans are becoming so acidic we face a major threat to the entire marine food chain – yet our news services constantly indulge unqualified lunatics like Christopher Monckton who says CO2 is good for plants.

Why it is that Climate Scientists who have devoted decades of their life to intensive study are simply dismissed as Alarmists, Chicken Littles, attention seekers or those merely trying to get funding for their futile, money-wasting projects.  Yet all other branches of science are perfectly valid – even though we know far less about them and many present far less compelling weight of evidence than Climate Science does.

Do you know the really funny part about Climate Science?  It isn’t just one area of study.  It isn’t just looking at atmospheric CO2, it encompasses a vast range of other sciences including; physics, chemistry, meteorology, geology, palaeontology, botany, anthropology, climate sciences, earth sciences, medicine, biology, engineering, marine sciences and more.  It is the aggregated findings of research conducted in all these separate fields that forms the picture of Climate Change and it is the reason why the message should be so compelling, because it is fully supported by more diverse fields of scientific research than almost any other study.

Finally add to this the very foundation of science – the peer-review process.  Unlike journalism or social media, scientific research can’t just be thrown on the net and allowed to spread.  Each study must under a rigorous peer-review conducted by other experts in the field.  Their aim is not to rubber-stamp the findings or even to verify them.  Their job is to review and question the robustness of the methodologies employed by the scientists.  Only after a research paper has been through this whole process can it be published.  So, when you see statistics that say 13,950 peer-reviewed articles support climate change and only 24 do not, you know the findings have been rigorously tested and as true as our science can make them.

So, all those millions of scientists spanning most nations across the globe, working in multiple fields of endeavour all devoting many years of their life and considerable effort, using their acquired knowledge and expertise to build upon the wealth of our collective knowledge over many decades.

All those scientists (who clearly chose science as a career due to the extravagant lifestyle it affords; the money, the fame, the groupies, enormous houses, fast cars, etc.)

All these scientists somehow got together, concocted a fanciful disaster story of biblical proportions.  They then came to a collective agreement to commit the greatest fraud ever perpetrated upon humanity, risking their personal and professional reputations, their life’s work, their livelihoods, the security of their families, and the reputation of hundreds of major, independent scientific bodies, associations and organisations worldwide.  They did this just for a bit of a laugh or so they can destroy the worldwide economy and drive us all back into the dark ages.

Of course, I can fully understand how anyone could leap to that conclusion.  Most scientists would definitely fall into the category that makes them haters of technology and advancement.  Each of them I’m sure would love to work by see their job made much harder without the amazing technological advancements science has produced like; electricity, flight, computers, transportation, space exploration, television, internet, medical advances, etc.

What’s that you say?  The models they use are all wrong?  Duh.  If only those scientists were clever like you and devised thousands of new models every year, models they ran millions and millions of times, using the best available inputs to mimic the real-world observations and to tweak them to extrapolate multiple possible outcomes or to isolate the variables.  I can’t believe those scientists would be so stupid as to continuously use the same imprecise models over and over again.  You’d think experts would know better.

Still, based on that you still believe ALL those scientists and the respected organisations they represent are ALL WRONG and YOU are RIGHT.  Why?

Because it is easier for you to deny?

Or is it simply that the truth is too big and too scary to face?

Do you believe the problem is insurmountable, so why bother even trying?

Or maybe you think you’ll be dead before the worst effects occur, so why should you care?

Maybe you believe your god will take care of it or possibly that we brought it on ourselves through our sins?

How about blaming the foreigners and everyone else like the Chinese, the Indians or the Russians?

Perhaps it is simply a matter of laziness and expedience – that it is easier to abrogate one’s own responsibility than to acknowledge that our actions and our lifestyles have made us all complicit in this mess, and that they need to change, if we are to provide a better future for ourselves and our children.

Or is it simply that you don’t give a toss about anyone else outside your own sphere of ignorance?

Have you ever considered that there are people out there who profit from the status quo?  Who don’t want to see us change our lifestyle because it may affect their multi-billion dollar profit margin by a few percentage points?  People whose whole sociopathic existence revolves around acquiring as much power as possible or accumulating vast amounts of money for themselves, even if it comes at the expense of everyone else on the planet?

What you choose to believe is irrelevant – Climate Change is real and we are the major contributor.  It is therefore incumbent upon us to act, to mitigate the damage and to work to make amends.  If we don’t we condemn ourselves and future generations to a life worse then the one we currently enjoy.or not is irrelevant

Whether you care about future generations is not my concern.  However, by not helping or by arguing and being obstructionist, you are standing in the way of those of us who do care, who do want to act, who feel compelled to address this massive problem.

Therefore, get the hell out of the way and let the rest of us work toward fixing this mess.

The language of news

Two headline stories in the SMH this morning demonstrating how effective framing and language can be in the media sphere, and how that language can affect the opinion of the reader.

The first a story about how the government have slumped in the opinion polls, despite, as the headline states, its “Best Week Yet”.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-slumps-in-polls-despite-best-week-yet-20140413-zqu9c.html

The language couldn’t be more biased –

 The April Fairfax Nielsen poll shows the government has paid for a month in which its central economic policies such as repealing the carbon and mining taxes and crafting a fiscally responsible budget were allowed to be swamped by self-inflicted political controversies.

These were the surprise restoration of the royal titles of knight and dame; the furore surrounding the suspended Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos and his links with the disgraced Obeid family; and the government’s divisive efforts to weaken racial anti-discrimination laws at the urging of a tiny but powerful group of shock-jocks and libertarian fundamentalists.

Only a third of Australians back the return of British titles – albeit within the Australian award system – and nine out of 10 Australians believe it should continue to be unlawful to “offend, insult or humiliate” based on race or ethnicity.

Tellingly for the government, which has pursued the removal of legal sanctions against offending, insulting or humiliating, within the Racial Discrimination Act, six out of 10 disagree with Attorney-General George Brandis’ statement that “people do have a right to be bigots”.

Both issues blew up in the government’s face in recent weeks, right when it was trying to make a strong public case against Labor obstructionism over the mining and carbon tax repeal bills.

Note the words imply the repeal of the mining and carbon taxes is carefully crafted and fiscally responsible and that it is clearly the public who are fickle and liable to walk away from the government’s mandated agenda.

But not just one article form the Herald, not it is then followed immediately followed-up by another

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/greens-benefit-from-main-parties-unpopularity-20140413-36lk3.html

In this one, journo Michael Gordon calls the result of the latest opinion poll Counter Intuitive.

Tony Abbott enjoys the finest week of his prime ministership and goes backwards, Bill Shorten goes on leave and goes forward, and disenchanted Coalition voters park their votes with the Greens.

And that’s just for starters. For all the talk of primary producers benefiting from freer trade, the big drop in Coalition support has occurred outside the cities, in regional Australia, where support has fallen by 8percentage points.

“His finest week” – flying out of the country and negotiating a trade deal that will benefit the big end of town and open the door for corporations to sue our government.
In particular the deal with Japan – the Japanese agree to lower their tariffs and protections slowly over the course of some 18 years from 29% to around 15%. Yep, you heard right – lowered over 18 years – not eliminated as one would expect when the term”Free Trade” is bandied about.

We, on the other-hand have dropped our protections on the importation of cars immediately because hell… we don’t have a car industry any more, thanks to Abbott and his unwillingness to protect Aussie jobs.

Wow! We’ll save $1500 on a new Japanese car. Won;t that be nice for the displaced workers at Holden and Toyota.

Gordon goes on to say:

For all the seeming contradictions in the latest The Age/Nielsen Poll, two points are clear.The first is that the Abbott government remains deeply unpopular, having surrendered much of the support that delivered the emphatic victory at the last election.

The second is that there are plenty vying for the attention of voters whose inclination more than two years out from an election is to disengage, with no consistent pattern in thinking emerging other than the fact that neither side has a clear ascendancy.

Again, we have a statement that it is the voters who are to blame for the slump rather than the government – the voters “inclination.. is to disengage with no consistent pattern of thinking” infer the voters are all dullards, incapable of consistent thought and an ability to see the government is doing such a great job – in the journo’s eyes.
I think we all know the truth behind the plunge, that this government has finally revealed their cards and the public have realised they elected a bunch of duds uninterested in governing for all Australians – their intent is to give to the rich at the expense of hurting the most vulnerable, and Australians have finally woken-up to the mistake they made last September.

But the importance of this post is to recognise how deliberate use of the language has the ability to affect the reader.  By using words that make the government look upstanding, honest, committed and reliable, the journalists infer that it must be a small number of fickle voters responsible for the poll slump.  A simplistic point of view, evident in much of the MSM nowadays, where it is easier to dismiss trends as anomalies rather than asking the questions, doing the analysis, and looking at the deeper root cause.

Australia 2035 – a glimpse into our privatised future

You wake with that falling sensation and the feeling something is wrong.  Taking a few seconds for your brain to engage, you realise the light coming through the blinds is a little too bright.  You glance at the bedside clock to see the digits flashing 3:13. You didn’t get to bed until after 2:00am, working on that project for the boss.

3:13 flashes 3:13 – Damn, the power went off again last night, you just knew you should have set the alarm on the MFD.  You call “time” and the MFD display lights-up “8:11”. “Shit!”.  Leaping from bed you race to the shower, yelling to the kids to get up.

You decide for 60 degrees 2 minutes.  The readout tells you they cost of the water and power will be $4.80.  You stop and think for a second, reducing the water temp to 50, the display changes to $4.35.  30 seconds shorter and the cost comes down to $3:60 – good enough.  You step into the shower and start lathering-up.

Almost too soon, the water stops.  You still fully haven’t washed all the soap out of your hair or eyes. You consider another 10 second burst, but can’t justify the $2.00 flag-fall.  You step from the shower remembering to set the child-lock this time “Can’t afford $45 showers – sorry kids” you think to yourself as you rapidly towel yourself dry.  Racing back to the bedroom to get changed, on the way yelling at the kids; “I told you to get up.  We’re late!”.

You hear the kids getting-up as the MFD projects traffic conditions onto your wall.  Traffic volume already approaching 88% arterial, with 22kph speed instruction already being broadcast across the network.  The bike trip is out once volume exceeds 70% – don’t know why some people bother between the traffic, road rage and pollution.

Too late to catch the bus – yet another $18 since it was privatised, so your only option is driving.  Even then you’re looking at a 90 min trip, which will make you late by 25 mins, that’s another $8.00 in lost wages.  MFD says fast toll lanes are running at only 21%, averaging 90kph, but even at that speed you’d still be up for $32 for the 10km trip.  Sure you may just make it to work on-time but the cost of the toll outweighs the wages loss – the boss won’t be happy but she’ll survive.

Dressing, you hear the shower running along with the usual complaining from the kids about a lack of time to wash.  “Stop whining.  You know we can’t afford longer showers any more with the aquifers gone and all the water coming from desal.  Just get on with it, we’re running late”.

In the background you hear the familiar chime of the fridge yelling you to select power reduction mode before the the higher tariff changes kick-in.  Cursing and half-dressed, you run to the fridge, arriving 2 seconds too late.  The fridge has switched over to $6kwh.  Even if you stop it now, the contract states you’ll still be charged for a whole day, so you decide to leave it running, but vow to turn it off again tomorrow morning, the thermal mass should keep the food cold enough, you hope.

15 mins later, hair still wet, kids partially dressed, you bundle the kids into the car.  The GPS HUD prompts you for a destination.  School and work you enter in quick succession.  The HUD splashes the route across the windscreen highlighting bottlecks and average traffic volumes/speed for various routes.  Average speed is now reduced to 16kpm and volume over 90%.  “Shit!”  Tolling prices increase corresponding to traffic volume, to account for the supposed “wear and tear” on the privatised roads.  Thanks to time of day tolling, if you’d started your tip on time it would have cost $21 and taken 40 mins, but thanks to the extra traffic congestion caused by lanes now being used as private PAYG toll lanes, the HUD is now presenting several options – 116 mins / $35 in usage tolls or 21 mins / $52.

You decide for the slower, cheaper option because you can’t justify the expense.  The car starts itself and turns left out of the driveway toward the slow road and all the traffic.  “Dad!” come two cries in unison from the back seat.  “Why can’t we ever take the fast lane?  Henry’s mum always…”

“Enough!  Please.  I’m sick of hearing about Henry and how lucky he is!  You both know he has a mum and a dad and they have enough money to afford proper Internet and can both work from home.  You know we don’t have as much money now your mum’s gone.  I have to to travel work every day.  Be thankful we can afford a car.” (for now, you think to yourself)

“But it’s not fair.  I’d like just once to be able to afford proper Internet”.  Cries Elle, your eldest.

“So do I dear, so do I.  But life isn’t fair.  Some people have money and it allows them to make more money.  When I was a kid we used to have lots of things.  We used to own most of these things.  Roads were free to use, there were public schools that offered an education to everyone…”

“But you used to pay for everyone else, didn’t you?” William (your youngest) chimes in.  “That’s Socialism and that’s bad – my teacher Mr Franks said so.”

“Yep Will, that’s Socialism and many people will tell you it is bad to pay have to for other people, for the things they do.  To pay for resources and stuff you don’t use.  But you know, looking back now, it did seem to work.”.  The HUD is displaying an average speed of 14kph now and a cost of $45, thanks to the extra congestion tax.  You’re ruing the decision not to take the privatised fast lane now – the HUD reminds you you could be at work in just 18 mins for only $49.

“Oh c’mon Dad!  States Elle firmly.  “You can’t tell me paying over a quarter of your wages in tax to the government was a good thing?  What did they ever do with it?  Squandered it on dole bludgers and refugees!  Surely life is much better now you don’t have to pay from everyone else and especially now you don’t have to pay any tax?”

Still contemplating the time-saving lane change, you turn to face Elle; “Of course life is better now in many ways.  We only pay for what we use – everyone does.  Those who work hardest and get ahead get the rewards for their effort, so they can afford to not sit in this traffic, they can afford to use the private fast lanes or if they’re really fortunate – work from home on the Internet.”

“They must be lucky” claims William.

“No Will, they work very hard, and that hard work affords them those kinds of benefits”.

“But you work hard too Dad.  You sometimes don’t come home until 8 o’clock and I often hear you using the MFD late at night talking to your boss.  Surely with you working so hard, you should be making lots of money?”, questions Elle.

The HUD now flashes a red warning – a minor collision ahead caused by a software glitch.  The vehicle is stopped while the company installs a patch.  Average speed is dropping and congestion fees hiking by the minute, “Car – fast lane authorisation”.  The HUD acknowledges the instruction, changing to green as your car slides smoothly into the fast lane. Amazingly, you feel much more relaxed in the fast lane, even the road feels smoother.

“Yay!  Go Dad!”, yell the kids.  You smile but in the back our your mind you’re seeing the price register.  $72 for that lane change, yet it was only $48 a few seconds before that.  Then you remember the company uses real-time traffic monitoring and demand-driven pricing.  As soon as the algorithms became aware of the hold-up the demand for the fast lane increased, so they could jack the price up because commuters would pay it.  “Clever bastards”, you think.

Turning back to the kids, “True, I do work hard and I am trying to get ahead, but finding and keeping a job is getting harder. More and more jobs are being automated, the price of everything keeps going-up.  Even this trip – back when I was young a trip like this used to take around 10-15 mins and all it would cost me was the petrol I used.  Or I could catch public transport for around $3 and it would take 25 mins.”

“Public Transport!?!” both kids blurt-out simultaneously.  “Talk about the olden days!” says Will.

“Showing your age Dad”, laughs Elle.

Before you can object the car decelerates and pulls from the line of traffic. Cars in the general toll lanes slow to give you priority access.  You get a warm feeling of superiority but you can’t help seeing the glares of resentment from some of the other drivers.  You feel the car bump across the lanes toward the school “Ahh… so the fast lane is smoother! you think to yourself as the car slides to the front of the kid’s private school.

The door opens and the kids both leap out, “Seeya Dad!” they both yell.  Elle turns and fixes you with a stare, “Not too late tonight please Dad.  I know how much this trip cost, but it would be nice to see you for dinner, for a change”.

You manage to squeeze out “I’ll see what I can do, love” just before the door closes itself and they car glides back into traffic again.  You catch the look from the drivers in the slow lanes again; envy, contempt, disgust.

The car reaches the fast lane and starts to accelerate, the HUD says 12 mins to work and $69 for the journey, you’ll make it to work on time today.  The company policy is that you must be at work on time or you are docked.  Slowly it occurs to you how unfair this policy is.  If you’re late you get docked, but they don’t pay you extra for all the work you do after hours or late at night – that’s kinda expected by the company, and of course you do it because you can’t survive without a job.

Sitting back, the image of your daughter’s face replays in your mind “I know how much this trip cost…”.  You realise that the whole exercise of waking-up and going to work has so far cost you over $100.  That equates to more than 5 hours work and you still haven’t travelled home yet.  No lunch again for you today – can’t afford it.  Still, you consider yourself a lot more fortunate that many others who are out of work, especially since the government stopped paying the dole.

Elle’s face again – “Showing your age Dad”.

“Yes I’m afraid I am”, you say to yourself aloud.  The towers of the CBD loom visible now through the haze of pollution surrounding the city, growing larger with each second.  You recall when those towers were half the size, when you could see the towers from 50 kilometres away, before they deregulated away all the green tape.  You remember riding public bus to work just for a few bucks, or even driving on roads without regulated fast and slow lanes – you laugh now at the freedom of a road with no congestion surcharge being paid to the owner of the road.  Remember when you never had to negotiate your wage, it was done for you by a union and they fought for things like weekends off and penalty rates for working long of unsociable hours.

Ahh… a pipe dream, if only you could telecommute – you start to reminisce, to a time when the Internet cheap and was affordable for most people, when kids were able to go to public school for free, when the government somehow provided things for everyone to use; hospitals, police, emergency services, public facilities.  Back in the days before it was all privatised, when tax was abolished and everyone decided it would be more efficient to pay only for the things you use, rather than paying for everyone else.  What a great bonus that would be, reduced taxes means freedom for businesses to create more jobs, freedom and flexibility for workers, you could choose where to spend your own money rather than a government dictating or spending it on bludgers and welfare cheats.  All this would naturally enhance economic growth – a win/win situation in which everyone benefits.

The MFD shocks you from your reverie with the ringtone your wife always loved.  It’s your boss calling.  You’re 2 mins away from the office, do you answer it or you you take a few more mins to relax?  You decide to cancel the call and relax, but a few seconds later you receive a priority vid message from your boss.

“Hi Greg.  I thought I should call you and advise you not to bother coming-in to the office today.  Just between you and me, the company believes your salary is too high and they want to review it.  Take the day off mate, oh… without pay of course, and think about whether you can afford to reduce $4 per hour from your wage or increase your productivity up to the standard 60 hours per week for your current salary.  Thanks mate, I’ll expect your answer later tonight.”.

“Car.  Turn around and go home.”  The HUD acknowledges your instruction and displays several routes on the windscreen, you choose the longest and the cheapest, knowing you’re in no rush and not knowing when you’ll be in a position to pay the next bill – $26 on top of the $70 you’ve already paid to get to work.  Oh well, at least you won’t have to pay the $45 parking today.

You lean back in the seat to ponder whether you can work more hours or take the pay cut instead.  Sleep creeps upon you slowly with Will’s words reverberating inside your head; “That’s Socialism and that’s bad”.

As you drift off to sleep you start to question, for the first time in many years – if that statement was ever true, or whether it was simply a lie.