Sunday, 17 February 2008

Local government 101

Why does the media have such a problem reporting the plight of many aboriginals?

Partly because they fly in and fly out and have a very limited amount of time to grab a story - and they want a story with plenty of blood - something that will generate a headline with a bit of luck. They need a story with a strong emotional hook, and have no interest in something as boring as the machinations of local government.

Local government is generally laughed at as a repository of lots of little wanna-be Napoleons and ridiculously jumped up shopkeepers, but it's the layer of government that probably has more impact on your life than the other two.

The federal government could probably all decamp to Tasmania for a decade and we probably wouldn't notice that they've gone. But if the local council is a day late in collecting the garbage, you'll know all about it.

Here's something interesting - I have been in contact with various arms of government for multifarious reasons over the last 10 years, and I've found time and time again that the local mob are the most responsive. The mayor and the councillors and probably most of the staff live here. They care about say the state of the local park as much as I do - because they use it to. We share common vested interests, and when they intersect, things happen remarkably quickly.

State governments are more removed from the local action, and by definition, the commonwealth mob are so removed, they might as well be operating from Moonbase Alpha.

Here in whitey-land (as in that part of Australia inhabited largely by white or yellow people of some description), local government gets things done because that is their job. If I ask the Council to fix a pot hole in our street, they don't ask me which family I am member of, which party I voted for at the last election or whether I am a drinking buddy of a councillor. They just fix the flipping thing, because most of us are treated reasonably equally most of the time.

I'm not saying that a bit of favouritism isn't applied from time to time - human nature says that favours will be done in all organisations at all levels. However, basic service delivery is not predicated on you being on the right side of the Mayor. I can sling as much shit at the greasy little bastard as I like, and my rubbish will still be emptied once a week. That's the nature of things. Service delivery is as apolitical as it can be made.

In short, we do not suffer from the "big man" syndrome here in whitey-land. The idea of paramount chiefs or lords doling out favours on a whim disappeared from our culture so long ago, we are no longer able to accept that such a thing exists in any human society. We've grown up believing that the rest of the planet is as polite and civilised as we are.

Well, sorry to break it to you, but most of the planet runs on the spoils system. Why is Kenya in the shit at the moment? Because the mob that are in power, and have been raping the state for the last 30 years, have been unelected, and they don't want to let go of the piggy bank. They've been doling out fat to their supporters, and only their supporters, for years. Those that have benefited don't want to give up the spoils either.

The big man still exists in Australia, but only in blackfella-land. I guess we rationalise it by dropping it in "culture" bucket - as in, "It's ok if they do that - it's part of their culture".

Funny how the activities that we have long accepted of some Aboriginal big men would get a white man locked up for about 50 offences involving corruption, nepotism, favouritism and all the other -isms that I can't think of right now.

Maybe it's time the tilty heads woke up to the fact that one reason why we have an advanced society is because we ditched the idea of the big man a long time ago. It is an impediment to progress. If you go to an aboriginal community and find that some people are living very well (thank you very much) whilst others are suffering all sorts of appalling deprivation, it's a sure sign of the big man syndrome in operation, because the big man always creams off plenty for himself and his family (leaving a much smaller cake for the plebs).

I would not be surprised to find the 80/20 rule operating in a lot of fucked-up communities - 80% of the resources are gobbled up by 20% of the ruling elite, leaving the remaining 80% of the people to get by on 20% of the cake.

Socialists and their ilk are always raving about income distribution and how skewed it is in white society (the paypackets of CEO's vs the average worker), but they've never bothered to study real income distribution in an aboriginal community. I'm not talking about what people get paid officially - I'm talking about what they end up with in reality after various nefarious schemes and lurks have redistributed the money. And I don't mean redistrbution along the lines of our progressive tax system - I mean redistribution from the have-nots to the haves, and from the poor to the rich. I'm sure a reverse Robin Hood is in action in a lot of these places.

Think I'm barmy? How else can you explain how so much money can be tipped into these places, yet there is so little to show for it (apart from some very new and shiny Landcruisers and aircraft being bought on a regular basis by the select few).

You want to fix up some of these shit holes? Give the people the same type of local government that you and I are used to. If that means smashing up the "culture" then so be it. We did it to ourselves a few hundred years ago, and the results were good. Why are we so hesitant to demolish the worst aspects of aboriginal culture?

What's good enough for white people is good enough for black people.

No comments: