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Acquired middle class autism in Melbourne (Article by Sally Pepper)

In the middle class, reasonably well- heeled Melbourne neighbourhood where I have lived for the last 25 years, I have observed when out walking what I would consider to be somewhat abnormal human behavior in the form of a seeming local autism amongst the humans in the area.

I will describe what happens which has led me to this realisation. Typically, I go out for a walk and in the distance I can see another person approaching on the same footpath. If the person is middle aged, as I am, the inevitable footpath meeting will pan out like this: As we pass one another with less than half a meter between us, I attempt to catch the eye of this passerby in order to make mutual acknowledgement.

A low energy smile, nod or greeting in my opinion would be adequate. In 98/100 cases, I am ignored.

Admittedly, I am talking about people I do not know by name and may not even know by sight, but I still find it abnormal. I would not expect or want to catch anyone’s eye and acknowledge strangers in the busy streets of the city, but in a quiet suburban street where two people are fairly obviously locals and the only people in sight, I think it is strange that they do not acknowledge one another!

Today I even took the risk of smiling at a woman about my age in sun glasses walking in the opposite direction on the footpath directly towards me so that at least I was doing my bit! She completely ignored me walking past not remotely changing her blank expression. She didn’t have a white cane or a dog with her, so I assume she was able to see.

On the same walk, a middle aged couple walked towards me side by side with the male coming straight at me on the same side of the pavement with no apparent inclination at all to give way. I was on my extreme left on the edge so I could not move any further aside. I thought it was really incumbent on him to momentarily move behind his partner as we passed one another so we could all stay on the footpath. I held my ground, keeping to the pavement right on the edge as we got closer. Eventually, at the last second, and looking a bit put out, he moved aside so I was not forced off the pavement. It was as though I was not there until my presence was undeniable!

Younger people in my neighbourhood, display similar behaviours. Here are some examples:

Teenaged school boys walk three abreast on the footpath towards me , completely ignoring me as they approach and making no attempt to make room for me on the footpath. I am forced off the footpath, onto the grass, as uncompromisingly the trio files past. Young joggers, without fail have earphones firmly in place and eyes straight ahead. I wouldn’t expect any acknowledgement, as the act of jogging seems to take all their energy and concentration. If they are over about 25 they look agonized and tortured anyway with the effort

New migrants, noticeably Chinese and Indian, who have moved into the neighbourhood, show similar avoiding behavior to those who seem well entrenched. The newcomers must have learned quickly!! (And perhaps I am a slow learner!)

Today I encountered a Chinese man with a white poodle who looked away as I passed by and 5 minutes later, again did not acknowledge me as he crossed my path close in front of me on his way to water his dog at the drinking fountain. This was in a virtually empty scene where we were the only beings in sight except for a couple of magpies (who had in fact greeted me). I might as well have been a post!

A bit later, I passed a young Chinese woman wheeling a well polished rosy toddler in a stroller. The young mother also studiously avoided any eye contact.

So this inept, constipated, rather autistic social behavior has even spread to new neighbours it seems!

How did it come about? What does it mean?

I imagine that it spreads by someone first being ignored and then repeatedly, so that the smiler or greeter eventually stops the behavior. It takes a little extra energy to greet or even acknowledge another person but the energy expended is returned to you if there is a response, however small and you do not feel depleted. But if you are ignored, the reward is absent and, in BF Skinner terms, the behaviour is “extinguished”! Someone in my area must have started this and it has spread like wildfire! It is de rigeur to ignore one another !

All this may sound as though I am terribly needy or have some awful facial deformity but neither is true. My face is unremarkable, I have family and plenty of friends, and my life does not depend on connecting with strangers in the street. But to me it is a matter of neighbourhood courtesy and good manners.

Greeting or acknowledging a stranger is a contextual thing though. You don’t do it if encounters are terribly frequent but you do if they are infrequent.

For example, if you are driving in the outback in Australia and only encounter another car about every half hour , you wave to acknowledge the other traveler, but you ignore other drivers on a busy highway. If you are in a lift going up 15 levels with one other person, you will probably say “good morning” to that other person or at least meet their eye but if the lift is full and you are going only three levels, you will probably not acknowledge anyone unless you have accidentally trodden on someone’s toe.

Going for a walk in less upwardly aspiring areas of Melbourne to the one I call mine is quite a different experience and there, I don’t seem to be invisible. In the the seaside suburbs, I have noticed that people still meet and greet in what I would call the normal way, with a smile, or “ G’day”, as they pass like ships in the morning or afternoon, acknowledging their common human-ness and maybe even their common Melbourne-ness!

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Comments

A great article that captures the collapse of localised community in Australia.

It's ironic that during a period when the mainstream media makes regular mention of various identity-based 'communities' (often based on ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation), little focus is devoted to the degeneration of the traditional, locally based community. Robert Putnam covered the topic in his now classic book, 'Bowling Alone', where he argues that changes to work, computers, TV and different family structures have contributed to the loss of social capital in the US.

In Frank Salter's new(ish) book, 'The War on Human Nature in Australia's Political Culture' he arrives at similar conclusions, but goes further to assail the very concept of 'diversity' as undermining social cohesion. Salter says:

"Diversity has also been associated with reduced democracy, slowed economic growth, falling social cohesion and foreign aid, as well as rising corruption and risk of civil conflict."

Of course, Australians have always been a diverse bunch. Even in the 1950's - now reviled as a cultural wasteland of bland conformity - you had huge differences in lifestyles and attitudes. The farmer of the Darling Downs had little in common with the surfer at Coffs, who had little in common with the culture vultures of Sydney's inner city, who themselves were light years away from the suburban working classes. Nevertheless, the one binding identity that united all of these disparate folk was their national identity - they were Australian. This was unity forged in the hard times of two world wars and a depression. It was a strength. The contemporary mantra is that diversity is a strength, but Salter takes this tired cliché and dismantles it. His book is well worth reading, but will garner little attention on the left.

The organised Left argues that national unity stands in the way of class struggle, because workers will be less inclined to take on the bosses if they feel any commonality with them. The proposition is easily tested; were unions stronger in the 1940's - 1970's, or now? Was wealth in Australia more evenly distributed then, or now? Did the quality of life for most Australians increase more quickly from 1945 - 1980 or from 1980 - 2015? Was getting a job easier in 1972 or now?

A national identity that builds national unity is a strength. It is an extension of strong local community identities - which we can all help build ... just by smiling at each other on the street.

Again - great article.

I think it is important to understand that local ties between people have usually coincided with identity ties. It is the historical norm for a local community to also be comprised of people of similar cultural/ethnic heritage. Therefore it can be difficult to tease out the role that locality and common heritage played.

Especially since there is pressure to come to conclusions which support the modern narrative.

We simply don't have enough examples of diverse but local communities which have existed for long periods of times. Those few that we do tend to be punctuated with trouble.

I think that you're generally right there Dennis. Historically, people living together in an area have been of a similar ethnic and cultural background.

With that said, it seems that in the long term, ethnic differences tend to become less important as individuals - and their children and grandchildren - merge into the broader community.

This goes to the inevitability of assimilation. I formerly lived in a small country town where there were people descended from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including 'anglo', aboriginal, eastern European and Chinese origins. Most had been in the area for their whole lives and many had families who'd been there since the gold rush. All lived harmoniously, shared a strong local spirit and considered themselves to be Australian. Just Australian, not Anglo-Australian, or Chinese-Australian or whatever. They were culturally homogenous, even if they were ethnically different. The cultural unity of the area was remarkable.

Remember that the differences between the indigenous tribes of the area, the Chinese gold seekers and the Anglo-Irish settlers back in the 19th century were huge. The Europeans who came after WW2 had recently been commiting atrocities against each other. By comparison, the cultural distance between some of the identity groups extant in contemporary Australian society is small indeed.

So how is it possible that a small country town can assimilate people of such different ethnic/cultural backgrounds, when our major cities today become more and more ethnically separated and stratified?

Obviously, size matters. Where you have a sizeable minority that is large enough to be self-sustaining, the rate of assimilation slows. Many country towns have barely enough people to support a school and a newsagent, let alone an ethnic enclave.

Fresh arrivals from overseas also serve to slow down the rate of assimilation. These folk will tend to go,initially, to urban areas where there are concentrations of culturally similar people. Over time, the more established families may over further afield, but the new arrivals maintain the existence of an identifiable enclave. This is not a new trend, I should add. Russel Ward, in his 'Australian Legend' noted that newly freed convicts and 'new chum' arrivals to Australia would congregate in the cities as early as the 1820's.

Lastly, it has to be said that the speed of assimilation does depend to some extent on how culturally similar people are. The closer, the quicker. Stands to reason, really.

I personally would favour a situation where Australia seriously limited immigration for a time, for social reasons. I believe that this would facilitate assimilation and make for a less divided nation. Looking outside our major cities for examples of how well a united community can work would also be worthwhile.

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With that said, it seems that in the long term, ethnic differences tend to become less important as individuals - and their children and grandchildren - merge into the broader community.

I see identity politics rising, and rapidly. The Democratic party in the USA play identity politics, and do it will. The Republicans do it poorly, and then lose elections because they go after the Hispanic and Black vote, despite the fact they traditionally vote democratic. If they went after the White vote, they'd need only 4% of Whites to swing to win. They however aren't interested, so will lose. Trump is a wild card though. Eventually, if the Republicans want to have a future, they will have to play identity politics and represent the ethnic groups which don't solidly vote republican.

Similar situations are emerging in Europe, where multiculturalism is quickly becoming a dirty word. Political parties playing in identity are growing and fast. I predict they will outlast the far left parties and become big players. In some cases, they already have.

As I said, in some examples, where the minority group really IS a minority group, you can have stability. But this is idealism. This is NOT the world we live in.

We live in a world where the demographics are changing. The change in demographics changes politics. Most people don't want to acknowledge this, or can't admit error and react to a changing world by blaming those who warn of the problem for causing it. This is typically what happens when a crisis of confidence happens, whether social or economic, so its not unique.

As Europe, the USA, UK and Australia rapidly change their demographics, so too will the politics, the economy and damn near everything else. The norms of the past become irrelevant and so too does its successes. You can no longer use the past as a model for the present, because the situation of the past has been replaced. I still hear people talking about protecting the changes they made to society FIFTY years ago, seemingly completely unaware that the society which made those changes possible and workable no longer exist (ironically in some ways as a result of their actions).

People STILL use ' The Greeks and Italians' as some kind of example today, which I find amusing. My Greek Grandparents came to a country which would today be unrecognisable. A vastly different situation. I doubt their circumstances apply now.

Identity politics has always been with us. This is nothing new.

What is new is that with mass immigration and multicultural policies that encourage migrants to perpetuate their ethnic identities on arrival in their host countries, the focus of the 'identity' has become increasingly ethnic / racial. The examples that you cite are all about racial or ethnic identity and I agree that the focus on this aspect of identity is increasing.

The irony of this is that both 'racial' nationalists and standard issue multiculturists both subscribe to the assumption that racial or ethnic identity is the main or primal source of identity. Their differences come down to whether States should be ethnically homogenous or whether states should require multiple ethnic identity groups to coexist.

But identity doesn't have to be about race or ethnicity. Consider the most unashamedly nationalist country on earth today, Israel. It's people are unified by their religious identity. Race and ethnicity are not the main source of either unity or division in Israeli society. In a grimmer vein, consider Islamic State. Despite their fanaticism, all races and ethnicities are welcomed as long as you agree with their very specific take on Islam.

Even in Fascist Italy, the focus on race was muted and Mussolini was famously dismissive of Hitler's antisemitism.

As long as Australia continues on it's current trajectory, with unsustainable levels of immigration and no cultural or other identity strong enough to unite the various people here, we will see ethnic identity politics rising. One assumes that at some point, white Australians with no claim to another sub-species of ethno-identity may start seeing themselves (and indeed may become) another ethnic minority among the many inhabiting the Australian landmass. They may identify and organise as such and start promoting their own narrow self interests in the way that other ethnic groups do now. Personally I think this would be a tragedy.

I like the sense of community and unity that comes with identity and I think that there is an urgent need to further develop a strong Australian national culture that is not predicated on race. In this sense, I suppose you could call me a cultural nationalist.

But make no mistake, this will never happen while mass immigration and official policies of multiculturalism continue.

The ethnic identity politics that we see on the rise around the world, on the other hand, require the continuation of both.

I take the view that if white Australians were to start forming a political block for their (my) interests, this would NOT be a tragedy. This would be a positive development, as this is natural, and what everyone else does.

I don't care much about culture, and I don't care about conservatism or "cultural nationalism". 2000 years ago, my direct ancestors had a culture completely alien, and in many ways one considered "inappropriate". 100 years ago, the culture was different, and wouldn't be expected today. Even 50 years ago, what was culturally normal has been jettisoned. In 50 years, cultural norms today, which we think are "progressive" will be dumped, and our grandchildren will have a different culture.

You wouldn't comprehend the English language a century ago, nor would I comprehend ancient Greek, but the fact the people remained is far more important than "lost" culture. Far better for these language and cultural changes to occur, than for Britain to wholesale import people because they speak pre-Chaucer English and don't oppose feudalism.

So it is. Cultural nationalism is the idea that it is better to have someone, anyone, practice the same "culture", even if it means that that someone won't be my family or descendants. It is the view that other peoples who don't change culturally are preferable to our own who will.

Cultural nationalism must therefore become traitorous, as it changes allegiance to the backwards peoples who don't change and away from the original peoples. Allegiance is based on a proposition, and when people realise the proposition is faulty, they become enemies. Why do you think fascists went against their people? They didn't agree with the proposition. People who claim were are a "multiculture" then consider national enemies those who see it differently or see issues. At least with a solid, identity based nation, allegiance doesn't swing based on change and progress. People are free to think. Culture based nations have to suppress thought.

Culture is fluid, and just an idea. People matter, and putting vague "cultural ideals" before specific people IMO leads to confusion and division.

Some interesting points, Dennis.

You seem to be saying that because culture is fluid, it's not reliable as the basis for creating a solid identity that the citizens of a society can share. If I understand correctly, your view is that identity is more soundly based around shared genetics.

I agree that shared genetics is a good basis for identity, but recognise that it has it's limits. Outside my own extended family, I don't know whether people are closely related to me or not. They might be my third cousins, or they might be very, very distantly related. Just by looking at them, I can't tell.

What makes it more likely that I can relate to those people is a shared language, values and way of living. Culture, in other words.

To look at, a woman of German or Dutch extraction could be my sister. We may even have - way, way back - some shared ancestry. But so what? We don't speak the same language, our ways of living are different, our history is different and we inhabit very different environments.

By contrast, consider a random person living in my street. Prior to mass immigration and multiculturalism (which is the polar opposite of cultural nationalism) I could expect to 'relate' very closely to that person, even if we weren't genetically related. I could have expected that despite any other differences between us, we would have both shared a language, some history, some core attitudes and an Australian identity. Because people become 'a people' when they have a unifying national culture. There's nothing traitorous at all about this.

When I hear people describe themselves as 'white nationalists', I ask, what is this nation called 'white'? Do they mean that they're Australian / American / Canadian nationalists? Or does their identity transcend national boundaries? Are they really not nationalists, but basing their identity on their shared descent from (very distant) European forebears?

Culture evolves and that's a good thing. If we could focus on Australian culture, as people like Miles Franklin, PR Stephenson and the Jindyworobaks wanted, we could shape it to become something unique and brilliant in human history. But instead, we are constantly flooded with generic western culture, largely from the US, via television - and with people from around the world who are actively encouraged to maintain their old cultures here.

Australian nationalism is largely about culture, because culture is what makes Australians unique.

You seem to be saying that because culture is fluid, it's not reliable as the basis for creating a solid identity that the citizens of a society can share. If I understand correctly, your view is that identity is more soundly based around shared genetics.

Not quite. You CAN attempt to create a nation based on adherence to a culture or an idea or ideology. Even Nazi Germany was stronger about adherence to the regime than to race. Those against the state or the states ideas saw themselves in prison far faster than any non-Aryans (it wasn't a crime to be non-German) or even those who married or had children with non-Europeans.

Defining a nation be an idea or a specified culture means that in order for one to be part of the nation, one must accept the propositions or the culture. IF you don't, you're out. This means that one is therefore not free to question the culture or the principles which people say "make us Australian" or whatever.

So whenever people say "being Australian/American is about ...." where .... is some ideology, moral princple, political or economic system, it means one can't be free to question it. Society then becomes conservative and stagnates.

However, if an identity is based on ancestry, this offers more freedom, as identity isn't based on a requirement to uphold moral principles (Which may have become outdated, or even self destructive) but something less fungible, less changeable. You can't change what you are, so such an identity is more static. A nation with this type of identity can reform, challenge, allow challenges, but nevertheless recognise itself as a nation.

A nation based on principles, ideas cannot be fully free. An identity based on propositions cannot be free. It will turn increasingly to a tyranny. This is how Political Correctness gets a stranglehold.

'White Nationalism' is probably an American thing, where white identity means something compared to their black population. It means little elsewhere. Your typical Pole or German or Hungarian would identify as Pole, German or Hungarian first before they identify as white or European. But nevertheless, it is interesting to observe at diverse workplaces the dynamic whereby this distant genetic heritage comes to the fore regardless.

You mention you relate more to people living on your street. My argument is that through most of history, those people would generally have the same heritage anyway. The two coincided. It is only recently where this has been challenged, where the 'street' is a sampling of people throughout the globe. I remain unconvinced that such a society operates the same. I dont see multiculturalism working, not at work, not in the suburbs. People live with 'tolerance', but something changes, hence why people who promote multiculturalism constantly and relentlessly scream about how great it is. They have to cover up the fact that it is a second rate society. Especially since it takes away freedom by requiring people to accept more and more propositions and ideals.

I'm also sceptical that it can work as people say it can work. It just doesn't appear to work, except when there is a strong, very strong dominating majority. When things become more diverse, society fractures.

I'm not saying a multicultural or multiracial society can't work. I'm saying that such a society can never be truly free (as membership is based on ideas than identity, and those ideas must be enforced), nor will it ever be as cohesive (there is growing evidence to support this).

In the USA, identity politics is growing. It is growing in Europe. It will grow in Australia (it already is showing with Reclaim).

Thanks for the response Dennis. I think we probably would agree on a number of things.

Firstly, I concur with your view that multiculturalism is a corrosive ideology. Modern Australia has always been home to a rich variety of cultures. However, since the 1970's 'multiculturalism' has referred, narrowly and specifically, to national cultures. It does not recognise that the attitudes and enthusiasms common to surfers on the NSW North Coast differs quite a bit from the culture of farmers on the Darling Downs, or from the trendsetters of the inner city. However, prior to multiculturalism, the one thing that these groups had in common was a single national culture. They were Australian. They had a shared national history, a shared language and they shared a landmass. They also, largely, shared some attitudes that were defined as being 'typically Australian'. Things like mateship, a suspicion of authority, a commitment to a fair go. Sure, there were people who didn't subscribe to these values. They weren't enforced. It was just that most people who had grown up here absorbed them from the wider community.

Multiculturalists continually denigrate Australian culture, often denying that such a thing exists at all. In their view, Australia pre-1970's was a boring place of cultural homogeneity. But this argument can only be sustained at all if you view 'culture' as a synonym for ethnic / national origin. In every other respect, Australia was home to a wide variety of 'culture' from very early on.

I support a policy that would encourage the further development of a single Australian national culture in Australia. By this, I don't mean banning ethnic celebrations and such. But likewise, I don't believe that official policy should encourage or fund such things. The policy of the State should support the Nation that it is created to serve, not others.
Secondly, I agree that Australian society is currently fractured along ethnic lines and that this division is getting worse. Conditions of mass immigration and multiculturalism quickly turn a melting pot into a salad bowl. Multiculturalists prefer the salad bowl anyway and find the concept of assimilation, as championed by Arthur Calwell, offensive on principle. Under these conditions, it's no surprise that the people on many Australian streets don't share a language, let alone any common attitudes or history - let alone heritage.

With that said, I don't believe that national culture is necessarily about enforced attitudes. It can be as simple as shared history, language, way of living, space. It should, ideally, also help people to live comfortably and sustainably in their environment. Left to evolve organically it would adapt the best (most appropriate) ideas and ways of life and gradually drop those that are less suitable. Under current conditions, I cannot see this happening.

That is such an important point you make, nineofclubs regarding e.g. surfer culture and cultures in aspects of life in Australia. I think it is amazing how distinctive are the traits of what could be encompassed in an Australian culture in such a short time, let's say a hundred years or even less. I am very conscious of the myth that is perpetuated that Australia does not have a culture of its own but only derives from the mother countries of settlers and immigrants. It's as though there are no environmental factors in the evolution of "culture" and that it is just a hand me down sort of thing, devoid of geographical context. Yet it is clear, that culture derives from environment because many aspects of culture are practical e.g clothing adapted to climate, food from local resources, preserved as necessary for leaner times and many others which are not so utterly obvious. And there are more recent migrant cultures, complete with their own distinctive ways of speaking Australian English that have developed all within a generation. (Remember "Wogs out of work"?) I do not mean transplanted cultures but ones that grew up in Australia.
We do not need social engineering and special institutions to bolster multi-culturalism. All we need is a "fair go".

Well said, Katie. Your clothing example is relevant to the way that climate and environment shape culture, and there are other good examples as well.
Soon after Federation - and riding on a heightened sense of national awareness that came with it - the architecture of houses being built in Australia started to change. The Federation style of architecture was a response to bigger suburban blocks being developed, but it also included verandahs to provide shade in the summer and bigger windows for natural light than had been common in earlier Victorian and Georgian buildings. The detailing often included lead light or other detailing that included images of waratahs or native animals. In the tropical north, Federation houses were elevated on piers or poles to create the classic Queenslander style that's still recognisable as uniquely Australian today.
Today, however, the pressure to accommodate a rapidly growing population means that the sensible environmental considerations that motivated our great-grandparents have been ditched. Many newly developed subdivisions are chock-a-block with two story town houses, made from poorly insulated brick veneer, topped with black tile roofs and no eaves. Not surprisingly, a powerful air conditioner is a must. Our architecture has become increasingly bland, international and inappropriate.
The idea that Australian cultural development should revolve around, or be driven by immigration is nonsense.
If you're interested, I'd recommend reading an essay written in the 1930s by PR 'Inky' Stephenson called 'The Foundations of National Culture In Australia.' This attacks the idea that Australian culture is just British culture transplanted here. You can find it on the web. Another excellent, but longer, work is 'The Australian Legend' by Russel Ward. This traces the origins of many cultural traits that are recognised today as being 'typically' Australian and talks about how social and environmental conditions shaped these traits.
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I find that if you replace 'culture' with 'ethnicity' or 'race', then terms like Mulitculturalism make far more sense. It clears up the contradictions and oddities that one notes. I think that is the whole point of it.

Same with "diverse background", this is indirect language for something else.

You are right about Australia having different subcultures. The same is true in the USA, where one could rightly consider the south almost another nation as compared to the north. New York is quite different to California. The people even look different.

Although I come from what would euphemistically be called a "migrant background", I always found it puzzling when Australia insisted it had no culture or identity. These things take time to develop, and there was clearly one being built, but there seemed to be a sense of inferiority, which I think continues to this day, and exhibited by Australia's need to have the biggest cities ,the tallest building, the most people, etc.. The idea was that people would adopt, or share in 'my background', but how this would actually work was never explained. It was even more puzzling, because Australian history interested me, in particular the explorers of Australias interior.

But as Australian culture is now an all inclusive melting pot, nothing specific, I can't see what new migrants would assimilate into. You can't blame your Middle Eastern immigrant for not assimilating into a culture which is just a mish mash of peoples and ethnicities. What are you assimilating into?

Hence why I'm pessimistic about this all working.

Dennis, I share your pessimism. Under current conditions, Australian culture as a distinct and unique thing is certainly threatened. But outside of the major metro areas, you'll find that it's still kicking along - albeit with some obvious influences introduced via TV.

Personally I don't mind the melting pot idea, but like an actual melting pot it doesn't work when it's overloaded with too much ingredient, or incompatible ingredients.

Your point about the term multiculturalism being a cover is probably right. While it IS about encouraging a multiplicity of ethnic cultures in Australia, it is misleading in implying that ethnic cultures are the only kind of culture that matters. At the same time, it has also been used as a politically correct euphemism for ongoing mass immigration and the ethno-suburbs that have emerged as a result.

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I like the metrics you offer to compare 'then' with 'now'. Let me offer one more.

Is it easier/more common now for an accomplished union official to find lucrative tenure within the private sector?

I heard Martin Ferguson today on the radio supporting the Productivity Commission's proposal to reduce Sunday penalty rates for hospitality workers. Seems he's the face of big tourism now as well as big mining. He has the perfect voice to play a pig in a stage-play of Animal Farm. Brandis should be canvassed to cough up the funding for this one. Tony can play the farmer who has to push the animals hard so as to keep up the steep mortgage payments to Murdoch the evil land-owner.

Diversity provides camouflage and richly sustaining habitat for the politically mobile predator class.

An excellent additional metric, Greg. It's very disheartening, as a lifelong rank and file union member, to see the conceptual gymnastics performed by former union leaders and Labor MP's when justifying the latest bit of 'micro economic reform'.
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Safety Beach on the Mornington Peninsular near Mt Martha used to be an unassuming low key but picturesque settlement with a shallow swimming beach. Today, revisiting this place after many years I was dismayed at the transformation into a hideous collection of monstrous ,oversized junk, imitation modernist housing all in a row dwarfing the landscape and towering over the pretty beach opposite. All vestige of the bush, once characteristic of the area had been eradicated. The new eyesore is heralded as you enter its precincts by an utterly prosaic underpass which has been built to allow traffic to cross the artificial canal around which cluster more ostentatious overblown housing. The aesthetic and ambience reminded me of an area of Jakarta where land has been reclaimed and almost exclusively, Chinese residents have filled this space with jaw dropping, over -the -top domestic constructions.