How many of us have a boot on our necks? I would say most of us – at least most of us within Western society. And in many cases we have paid the cobbler’s bill.
Consider – here, right now, as I type this in Perth, Western Australia – I have the following overlords:
- The Australian Federal Government – who will prevent me from selling my land to overseas buyers without scrutiny, from importing cigars without a tax, and divulging military and naval codes. They may also prevent me from tearing a tag off a mattress, for all I know…
- The Western Australian State Government – who will regulate my ability to make liquor from toenails and to sell it to prospective clients, and who will also want a tax for every piece of paper I touch. I am not sure if they tax toilet paper, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
- The Melville City Council who demand obeisance for every bit of building I wish to do on my lot and who send snoopers with cameras to make sure that what eventuates is to their taste. I look forward to my encounter with the next snooper – I have a camera too and a website that can mock him.
- Every trade and professional guild and self-interest group that have gotten a charter from the state government to fix prices and exclude foreigners from their specialty. They have immense and frightening powers – and I am free of them all…having retired.
- The Cat. There is no appeal against the judgement of Cat Meow. If he decides that you will sleep rigid for 8 hours to provide a convenient resting place you must resign yourself to it. So far there has been no demand for human sacrifice but it is early days…
- My hobby club. I don’t know yet the extent of the control it will exercise – but there is a constitution with numerous clauses on discipline. Only hobbies could engender such control…
Note that there are no secret societies, religious organisations, or ex-service clubs included in this list. I do not think I could bear the burden if there were. As it is I am doing research to see how I may free myself from passwords or other forms of electronic pavlovism.
Stay calm. I intend to keep my clothes on…
Note for Out-Of-Australia readers: Centrelink is the Australian federal government office that dispenses welfare payments to many people for many reasons. Much of what it does is possibly duplicated or overborne by the Repatriation Department and the Native Welfare Department, but it still has the bulk of the administrative tasks.
It has a spotted name amongst the people who access its services – some of them want more help than they get and more money than they receive. Some complain of long delays and administrative cock-ups. Others find that it is very helpful. The prospect of approaching it can be daunting – there are horror stories of what seems to be enmity between this office and the needy.
This year I experienced my first contact with it. Heretofore I have never interacted much with our federal government – I was not judged eligible for any student loans nor wanted for the navy. I paid taxes regularly but received no pension at all. But this time I was prompted to apply for a senior’s health card as an assistance to general living. It won’t mean too much – a few dollars off medicines – and I don’t take many medicines. A few dollars off a driver’s license. Perhaps a few more marginal perks. But I was terrified at the possible bureaucracy that might be entailed…Like I say, you hear stories.
The approach to the counter was normal – the ID procedure quite sensible with my Medicare card and a driver’s license – and the waiting room chairs in the big centre quite comfy. Lots of people and an hour’s wait, but no real hardship for a man with a book to read.
The one real hiccup was the procedure of calling my name – instead of using a tannoy or notice board, the staff member who was to deal with me came out the front and called it out. If they had a soft voice or my earwax was bad, I could have missed the chance.
As it was, the young woman dealt with the form work very efficiently and with good humour. We awaitd the outcome of the application for a few weeks, but the experience of the federal department interface was quite positive. Perhaps Centrelink does not deserve the bad rap.
Addendum: The health card came through on schedule and has been invoked to deal with some of the rates on the house and part of the car insurance. I may not need to pay for my next driver’s licence. I am as happy as I can be.
Establishing and ensuring privacy in the modern world is more difficult than it used to be. We are subject to enquiry and observation in nearly every aspect of our lives. People have written in to the BGA Advice Bureau seeking ways to reduce this – we are happy to help. Here is a list of practical measures that the householder can take to increase and maintain their privacy:
- Do not put a number on your house. People who wish to find you based upon your physical location use this to pinpoint you. If you talk your neighbours into adopting the same measure, the entire area can be impossible to decipher.
- Maintain several names. Give one in one location and another at a different venue. Keep a notebook to accurately record who you are at any one place. Do not deviate.
- Avoid using banks to store money. They always take far too great an interest in you once you lodge funds with them, and they can be coerced by the Taxation Department into telling about it. A large safe set into the ground is he best alternative, though you’ll need to pay for the safe in cash and haul it home and imbed it yourself. Place no faith in mattresses as cash receptacles.
- Pay for everything you buy in cash. If the item is too expensive for this method, consider stealing it or going without.
- Use false names on the internet. They should not be spectacular. And never post anything that is so offensive or controversial that the media watchdogs batten upon it.
- Act strictly in accordance with all laws – including traffic laws. This will attract no interest form the police and unless you are selling doughnuts, they will take no notice of you.
- When you go to confession, get the priest to tell you his sins.
- Vacation in-country, preferably in town, and possibly in the house. No travel, no passports or documentation.
- Marry someone who is very secretive, but never ask them why.
- Wear unobtrusive garments bought from goodwill shops. Make no eye contact.
- Become Vice President of the United States.
We should all be prepared to realise that the things we write on the internet:
a. Will never go away, unless they are useful and vital to our well-being. Then they’ll vanish without trace.
b. Are overseen by any number of state and private agencies and snoopy individuals.
c. Are carefully noted when they contain trigger words that deal with state security or criminal activities. Even if we innocently write the words ” bomb plot ” or ” My Kitchen Rules ” they will trigger an automatic recording by someone in Langley, Virginia, Beijing, and Moscow. Also probably in Pyongyang and possibly in Canberra. They will certainly be noted in Bombay and used to provide the telephone scammers with a target.
This is a problem for those of us who routinely write about shelling the local council offices with a howitzer because we can never tell whether the federal government snoopers will think it a bad idea…or a good one. I guess we’ll find out if someone leaves a free basket of 250mm shells at the front door tied up with a pink ribbon and bearing a ” Thank You ” card.
My chief fear is that the things that I write will lead to my friends being arrested, tried in secret, and jailed for long periods. And that I won’t be there to see the fun.
Still, there is always hope – you are reading this right now, and your internet address has been sent to a group of hackers in Athens. With any luck you should be getting your ransom demand in a couple of hours. They are not greedy – you can pay in moussaka and retsina.
Every time a US senate enquiry tried to pin mobsters and communists down about their activities in the 1950’s the parties being grilled recited a prepared statement that they respectfully declined to answer the question on grounds that it might tend to incriminate them*. The amendment is worth reading in total, but the small part they were using applies to testifying against yourself. ie don’t admit nuthin’, Salvatore. Make ’em prove it.
I respectfully suggest that whenever Facebook asks you any question at all – however innocent it may seem – that you take the Fifth. Any information you give about yourself – your history, your family, your likes and dislikes – can, may, and probably will be used, sold, traded, abused, and otherwise bandied about. You will do yourself no good whatsoever by responding to any of the questions, quizzes, games, or provocative statements.
This also applies to posts and shared memes put out by the trolls within your Facebook friends list. And we’ve all got ’em. Those of you who insist that all your friends are innocent may have two or three of mine, free…
* A wonderful red flag, if red flag be needed, to alert the authorities that more investigation would be fruitful.
I love pirates. From Johny Depp as Jack Sparrow to Errol Flynn as Captain Blood they have swashed buckles and shivered timbers from Tortuga to Tahiti. Even Aardman had wonderful pirates as animated characters.
I’m even more impressed with the ones off the Horn of Africa who try to zoom aboard passing merchant ships and rob the crews. And I just loooove the way the US, Britain, France, and the Russians treat them – from opening up on their tin can boats with autocannon to boarding them and blowing them up with satchel charges.
I note that the Iranian floating terrorists are now entering the game and stepping up the pace with ship captures and mines.
Please, let us return to the days of the Caribbean and the Royal Navy sinking pirates on sight. And Wapping Stairs, please. In chains.
Rules of engagement for countering pirates: There’s one, open fire.
PS: Let the air squadrons play too. If they can’t get a Warthog that far out from the coast, surely someone has a spare gun pack in the stores they could clap onto a Hornet.
Pirates are ALWAYS freie Vögel…whether they have a mullah or a mad king at their back. And eventually you get to storm their pirate nest and burn it to the ground. It took care of Port Royal and Cartagena…and Bandar-e Abbas is no different.
Let us now celebrate one of the best days of the year for democracy – a day when the downtrodden finally rose in arms and started to break the power that had always set its foot on their necks. Today is Bastille Day.
It was not a quick revolution nor a clean one – the real ones never are – but it was, by and large, a successful one. The old monarchy tried to return after the new upstart monarchy was defeated. Eventually both their powers petered out and people took more of their lives into their own hands.
They’ve been conquered since, and then liberated and have conquered in their turn, and are facing more of it – as all Europe does. But then Europe has always faced strife since before the Roman Empire – none of it is new.
I take comfort on Bastille Day in reading Tom Paine’s ” The Rights Of Man ” and am inspired by our Marianne in the liberty cap. It is a good day for cheese and wine and paté.