Growing up, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I lived my childhood shifting between worlds, in a permanent state of visiting.
I lived with my single mother who looked after me on a mixture of the single parent’s pension, whatever casual job was at hand and maintenance payments from my father. She sustained herself with cigarettes and cheap wine. We moved a lot around Melbourne’s north-east. A suburb and a street was never a community, just a place where I’d be staying and an audience for potential embarrassment. When the show was over, it was time to move on. Continue reading
I received a beautiful gift from my partner this week, a book called Posters for the People. It contains hundreds of prints of posters created by artists working in the Works Progress Administration, a cornerstone of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The program provided up to 30 hours of employment per week at market wage rates for up to 3 million people at a time during the Great Depression.
Generally, there is a tendency for us to romanticise the past. However, when it comes to the state of reformist progressive/liberal/social democratic politics there is no doubt that things really were once better. Roosevelt’s New Deal was an historic bargain between Labor and Capital that allowed Labor to increase its income as productivity rose. It brought unheralded prosperity to millions of Americans. By contrast employment languishes under Obama. Where there was once a New Deal, now there is No Deal. In Australia we had perhaps the greatest ever Labor Prime Minister, Ben Chiefley, take the creation of a national social welfare system to a referendum in the 1940s. Prime Minister Gillard, on the other hand, tightened restrictions on the unemployed. For that matter, it takes a special kind of shit for Labor to be outflanked on the left on Immigration by a conservative leader who’s election pitch was a simple and brutal “Stop the Boats”. Continue reading