Stupidity, greed in an arm wrestle

WHEN Joe Hockey recently declared the Age of Entitlement dead he would have done the country a service by warning that the Age of Stupidity was still alive and kicking.

Not that such warnings were necessary. Anyone whose brain has not been completely stunted by the abuse of language to recognise that its meaning has been rendered meaningless by the art of political double speak, knew that already.

Joe's end of the Age of Entitlement is just a dog whistle to those greedy and stupid enough to believe Australia's problems can be put down to people who miss out at the trough of increasingly marginalised return and who the conventions of a civil society have required be fed and housed.

It certainly was not a call to cut the sleight of hand subsidisation of big business which benefits from the legislated shift of costs to the public sector, or direct hand outs like the diesel rebates that flow back to miners.

And it certainly wasn't a signal that those who compromise our environment should be required to reduce their profits by paying the cost of the pollution they cause in creating them.

Why is it that too many of us who have enough intelligence to maintain a family and a small business or employment of any kind, still grab at single examples of welfare abuse to argue that the country is full of bludgers, yet appear deaf to the corporate rorting that goes on every day? Maybe it's greed. Maybe they want a bigger slice.

That bigger slice mentality, according to a paper, "Human and Nature Dynamics: Modelling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies" by University of Maryland researchers, is dooming the world as we know it. The paper analyses the risk factors of population, water, climate, energy and agriculture and compares trends today with those that led to the end of earlier civilisations.

Put simply two issues are at play. One is that through our consumption and population growth we are straining the earth's ecological carrying capacity. And economic stratification into elites and masses, the haves and the increasingly have nots, kills the desire to react. Those who benefit most from the unsustainable way in which we live will do everything they can to preserve the status quo.

The reports due next week from the Inter Government Panel on Climate Change will confirm the world's looming environmental peril. The non-reaction from politicians will confirm the Age of Entitlement will not die as long as someone in power thinks there's something in it for them. As for the Age of Stupidity, it will hang in there until the world's last breath.


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