Ballarat Commuters Group – A bunch of whingers (Part 2)

In part 1 I explained the background of the issues of the Ballarat line, and with a dose of reality.

But these whingers have started talking about electing an independent candidate in Wendouree next year? As if that’s going to make a scrap of difference! That’s why I joined the group I mentioned. To be realistic. To explain the issues and what still needed to be done.

However, there is no patience or understanding in that Facebook group. They don’t want to listen. They want no overcrowding and on time services NOW. That’s unrealistic because of the present infrastructure. We can’t match the demand because we don’t have the track room or (at the moment) the rolling stock. Both are on their way. I’m not sure when the order currently with Bombardier will be finished but it won’t be any time soon. I doubt it’ll be done by the 2018 election, but maybe I’m wrong. It depends on how many of those ordered have actually been done and how many more there are to go. We do know by the end of 2019 (provided the ALP win the November 2018 election), that the duplication will extend from Caroline Springs to Melton and we’ll have two more loops and extra platforms at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan. That will help. But they aren’t interested in it.

For a start, let’s break down the demands of the group;

1. A Ballarat to Melbourne Express train running in under 65 minutes
2. Stopping only at Wendouree -> Ballarat -> Footscray and Southern Cross stations
3. A guarantee that similar express train services will be scheduled both to and from Ballarat though future timetable iterations.
4. Morning: Arriving Melbourne Southern Cross any time between 7:30 – 8:30am
5. Evening: Returning to Ballarat any time between 6:30 – 7:30pm
6. Myki Tap on information be publicly reported on quarterly and used to correctly provision train carriages for the service.

When that express ran before (except that it was North Melbourne at the time) there were complaints from Ballan residents due to the gap between the previous Melbourne train and the next one. This was a correct complaint and it was fixed – albeit by the Coalition when they came to power in 2010 as part of their attack on Ballarat out of convenience. It also ran under an hour by a couple of minutes.

The group ran over the benefits, but totally ignore the negatives under the present infrastructure as I have already mentioned – ie it’s not possible. They then went over the issues mentioning overcrowding, but not mentioning the ongoing work of Bombardier as I mentioned as well. They also mentioned some issue of duplication, complaining that all services (as of August 27) stopping at Bacchus Marsh as well as Ballan. Again, this is an example of ignoring the restraints of the infrastructure. This will be fixed substantively – but not completely – by the end of 2019. I expect the super express to return then, alongside a single service in both directions originating and terminating at Ballan to cover for the Ballan passengers.

And there’s the rubbish that was pointed at me that I couldn’t respond to because I’d been booted. Take a look at these!

pipkorn 1

This was in reply to me telling this person that they had to change their work start time or quit their job – or leave Ballarat due to bad placement of home. I told this person that they had to adjust to the train times, not the other way around and that I’ve been doing that for decades because I have to. This person’s whining shows that they are not prepared to adjust, and it appears neither is the RCH. The stress claimed is self inflicted. Incidentally, if person works in paediatrics, I’m sure they could get work with Ballarat Health Services, especially if they have experience! The claim that we weren’t prepared for a boom in demand is rubbish. We wouldn’t have the project in train for completion in 2019 if we weren’t. The delay is the fault of the Coalition and we are still playing catch up.

sapsead 1

This is an example of the whining I’m talking about as well. My point about the Velocities being introduced since 2006 except for between 2010 and 2014 was 100 percent valid. This reply was an excuse laden load of claptrap that again ignored the issue with the infrastructure.

sapsead 2

The same person, this time assuming that I was talking about overcrowding as a “rare event”. That is a blatant lie. I was talking about a specific incident where despite the train being overcrowded there was an additional stop at a metropolitan station. It was the additional stop that was the issue I was talking about and that practice should be banned under those circumstances. I already described my commuting experience previously.

This person is one of the two admins and I’m pretty sure they chose to kick me at this point or just afterwards when another person accused me of being an ALP listener and not a commuter. I have already proven that I am a commuter.

The people whining on this group are harming their cause. They have no patience. I’d be a fool to say there aren’t issues. Of course there are. But repairs are on the way and it’s a big job. This is in transition and the sooner these people calm down the better. Believe me, if someone does run as an independent trying to carry this line in November 2018 they will be destroyed with facts. And not just by me either. By people who know and understand the issue and are doing something about it. The Victorian branch of the ALP, both at party level (where I am) and at Parliamentary level.

You all need to stop whining and start listening.

Ballarat Commuters Group – A bunch of whingers (Part 1)

For totally separate reasons, I am not staying in Ballarat. I am stuck here for the moment due to certain circumstances that I won’t detail. But as long as I’m still living there I’ll do my bit to realistically improve the train services here.

It was September 2005 when I first moved in to the Central Highlands and lived in Ballan until February 2008. When I first moved there the rail services were not great. The frequency was only just acceptable and the last service out of Melbourne on the weekend was a joke, especially on Sunday.

But nowadays the services are far more frequent, the Velocities have been brought in to make the trips both faster and more comfortable – and most recently the latest trains back have been much more tolerable.

However this isn’t good enough for some whining Ballarat commuters.

Recently I was booted from a Facebook group called Ballarat Commuters for an improved service – for being realistic. They obviously saw me as an ALP lap dog/mouthpiece – when in fact I’ve been trying to get things done for a lot longer than that; because I have to. I rely on trains to get me not just from Ballarat to Melbourne but to other places as well. They seem to think I’m not a commuter. I am, and I have been using trains all over Victoria over a long period of time – longer in fact I would suggest than many members of that group. 1974 was the year I first starting travelling on trains on a regular basis and I made my first regional trip that same year – from Melbourne to Geelong. I have seen the service change a great deal – some aspects for the better and some for the worse. Those two have one thing in common. All the better stuff has come from the ALP. All the worse stuff has come from the Coalition. Since 1955 we have had 39 years of Coalition government and only 22 years (and counting) of ALP government. The first 27 years of that Coalition rule was the worst for rail transport in this state. Infrastructure across the board was neglected with only one real positive development – the City Loop. I don’t count the introduction of the Harris and Hitachi trains as they both had their issues even though they were marginally better than the Taits/Red rattlers.

It took the Cain government to bring in the Comengs and get rid of the Taits and the Harris’, and also get rid of the red regional cars and bring in the new ones that we now call the classic sets. Both had one thing in common – air conditioning. Unheard of on Melbourne and Victorian trains until then.

Unfortunately world finances attacked our own and while in Canberra they seemed to have things under control more or less that wasn’t the case in Victoria unfortunately. We had awful trouble finding the money for the infrastructure work that was needed, and the state (perhaps rightly at the time) threw the ALP out in 1992. That led to another period of neglect by a Coalition government, including a privatisation binge and closures that cost us Mildura, Leongatha, Bairnsdale, Cobram and the Wimmera and it almost cost us Warrnambool, Upfield and Alamein as well. The remnants of privatisation are still around today with Metro Trains (a private company) and V/Line (a government owned independent corporation).

When the ALP got back in 1999 it was tough. It wasn’t until 2002 when the ALP got proper control that the infrastructure repair actually began, resulting in the return of Bairnsdale and the extension to Ararat. We couldn’t go further because of the standard gauge track and the ARTC (a Canberra owned independent corporation) had left that part to the private company Great Southern Railway – again, a situation that prevails today.

So in reality, the ALP has done a massive amount of work since 2002 – save the four year interruption where infrastructure was neglected yet again between 2010 and 2014. And there’s more to come beyond this as well. Ultimately, what’s needed is the full duplication of the entire Ballarat line. But that is a long way off. Right now, the Ballarat line is the worst in the interurban area for full infrastructure. Full duplication at present only goes as far as Caroline Springs, and even that is a recent extension albeit a short one from Deer Park West. That’s closer to Melbourne than any of the other interurban lines – the others go as far as Geelong, Kyneton, just outside Seymour and just before Bunyip. The distance from Caro Springs to Ballarat is 97.6 kilometres – the longest single track with loops in the interurban area, longer than between Kyneton and Kangaroo Flat on the Bendigo line by a little under 32 kilometres.

More to come in part 2.

Sick of this taxi driver nonsense

This past weekend after letting it slide for awhile now I examined a batch of screenshots sent to me by Sam Redfern regarding the taxi drivers and their supporters infesting the Facebook page of Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan. Included in this was a demand to know what my relationship is with the Minister.

Now because of a bunch of sick stalkers I am not in a position to reveal that much. But there are two key differences between myself and Sam – three if you include the fact that I reside in Victoria and Sam doesn’t.

The first is simple. Sam isn’t a member of the ALP. I am, and have been since December 2016. The second is that I have met the Minister in real life – twice. The first was at the ALP’s policy consultation back in March. I am heavily involved in the party side of that as distinct from parliamentary and I am hoping that some of my ideas will form part of the ALP’s transport policy platform come November 2018 when Victoria goes back to the polls. The second was a related meeting, where the Minister admitted that she had read my previous blog entry about transport not being perfect and insinuated a thumbs up for it.

That’s all. Nothing more. It’s laughable that the drivers and their fellow apologists would make such desperate claims. As Sam has said and I agree, they are behaving like the guilty people they are and have been exposed. They have no interest in the truth. And when poor old Christine McKewen got involved she got the same. Sure we have the same interests; on Facebook! That’s why we are friends for goodness sakes!

But while we’re on the subject of taxi drivers let’s get one thing clear once and for all. That lot have been behaving like idiots for years. I still vividly remember that stupid sit down protest blocking the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. It was childish and each and every driver involved should have been sacked for it. There was the more recent go slow over the Bolte Bridge which, whilst it wasn’t as bad, was still just as childish. It’s as though they think they are owed something that they have to earn, and this goes to what Sam was talking about with drivers with hygiene issues, not keeping their taxis clean and tidy, being rude to passengers, and taking the long way around to destinations – and goodness knows what else! Heck, one time here in Ballarat I was forced to get a taxi (as a general rule I won’t unless I have no choice) and the driver tried to give me his personal mobile phone number for extra business. I should have reported that, but compared to the other stuff it’s not really that bad. Ordinary though, seeing as he is taking the very attitude that I don’t like and I have seen a lot. A lack of really caring about their job. It’s a hard job – and that’s something I do disagree with Sam on to a point. The hard working. The problem is they are going about it the wrong way.

I also disagree with Sam about the accountancy identity (for want of a better term) of the taxi license plates. The drivers have called them assets. Sam has stated they are not. I am with the drivers on this one, but there is a point that needs to be made. The license plates are assets – in the same way superannuation is an asset. It’s an investment. And there are two issues that come out of that. The first is the taking of the license plates back, which is the same as an investment collapsing. Look at the number of people who lost heaps over Pyramid as an example. It happens and the drivers have to suck it up and take what they can get in compensation. This is where the Legislative Council is getting it wrong and blocking the legislation, although it’s more complicated than that and I’ll get to that shortly. I do agree with the compensation though, and there I also disagree with Sam who wants to see nothing returned. What I want to know though is what the heck are the banks doing allowing loans against the licenses?? Would they allow it against super? Maybe, and I think that’s a mistake and further proof that we need a banking Royal Commission! It shouldn’t be allowed – at all! Investments are unstable, and let’s face it – because of the bad behaviour of the drivers who do the things I have nominated, the value of the license plates has dipped! Who’s fault is that? The drivers – and those who support them!

But why does this keep happening without a penalty? This is where Sam’s assertion of an internal mafia makes sense. What’s the alternative explanation for it? Why are these drivers still driving? That’s the question that has no alternative answer and it’s why – at least until someone answers that query – that I agree with Sam. Not so much the exact identity of the union involved, not because I don’t believe Sam but because there is no hard proof that it’s that particular group that’s involved. It may well be that again, there is no alternative explanation.

Now let’s get to the other part of the legislation that is complicating matters, and that means talking about Uber. First, the question of legality – and as it stands at the moment I also agree with Sam, although I qualify that in the following manner. The fact that drivers who work for Uber are making a living out of driving passengers around is a point of technicality actually. On the one hand, they aren’t commercial vehicles and are therefore outside the current laws. But on the other hand, it also means that a mate can’t ask a mate for money for petrol in order to get him or her from A to B, and that’s not correct at all. What is happening here in reality is that Uber is taking advantage of that loophole and exploiting it. You can do almost anything in a private vehicle, and it includes paying the driver for petrol. That’s perfectly legal. See the problem? It’s funny because one apologist points to a transcript where the word “technical” is used in a question to I presume an Uber representative. Sam has said the apologist made that piece up. I don’t know if he did or didn’t and he’s not helping himself by not linking said transcript. But giving him the benefit of the doubt, it actually supports what I just said when you read it properly!

Now I assume that’s part of the reason for the Rideshare legislation. But on the other hand we have Uber doing things like inflating prices in times of emergency demand (Sam’s wrong there – it wasn’t fake news at all) and blatantly stating that they won’t pay tax here. I’m assuming that Uber is claiming that their drivers are contractors and work for themselves and they make all the money from the passengers. That’s a technical point and it may be another loophole that escapes even the July 1 changes to federal business tax legislation. But that one I don’t know. Sam is convinced that they won’t. The jury is still out for me. But it doesn’t help when our own Rideshare legislation is being blocked by a gung ho gang in the Legislative Council who think they know better. It’s clear that they don’t and they are listening to whining drivers and their families and their self inflicted stress. In that area Sam and I definitely agree. Pyramid was a risk and it backfired. License plates were just as much of a risk because you were reliant on other drivers doing the right thing, and they have let you down – and badly.

So a message to the taxi drivers. Find out who is pulling your industry down, name and shame them and drive them out. And start competing with Uber as well by working hard on everything including the most important factor that doesn’t have a specific value – customer service. There, you are being thrashed, and not by Uber but by your other competition. Increased public transport in the hours of Friday night/Saturday morning and Saturday night/Sunday morning. That used to be your domain, but not anymore. And people are using that because they have had enough of you. You want a fair go? Change your attitude, or get out of driving taxis and do something else with your lives.

Transport isn’t perfect

It’s very frustrating to read the comments on the Facebook page of Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan.

It’s not the sort of frustration I consider out of line. People have needs, especially in regional Victoria, and as attempts are made to improve the system there are going to be hiccups. The biggest hiccup was having a Coalition government between 2010 and 2014. The Liberals have a history of not caring about public transport. They think roads are the solution. Since 1955 the rail system has contracted incredibly badly, thank primarily to two Premiers – Henry Bolte and Jeff Kennett. Nothing Bolte took has been restored, while only Ararat and Bairnsdale have been brought back from Kennett’s closures.

But what we have is under pressure. There are many complaints about delays on the Ballarat line, and Gippsland passengers are wondering where their fast regional rail is given they have a longer trip through metro Melbourne that the other lines. Passengers are expecting perfection.

Well you aren’t going to get it.

It’s unfair to demand perfection from a transport system that is yet to be up to optimum. It’s one thing to be frustrated with the hiccups in the system. It’s something else to expect second perfect on time services with no one standing. And that’s just the trains.

I’m not saying the way things are at the moment should be accepted. Of course not. But we have a LOT to fix. A LOT!

1. Level crossing removals are the metropolitan priority. 50 were identified by the Level Crossing Removal Project, 10 of which are done (Gardiner, Ormond to Bentleigh, Ginifer and St Albans, Bayswater – both – Blackburn and Heatherdale). Skyrail covers nine more including Clayton and Noble Park as well as the core section from Carnegie to Hughesdale, and along with Thompsons Road between Dandenong and Lyndhurst, Sydenham, Rosanna and Alphington are heavily progressing. Tenders are up for another 14 and and remaining 13 are being planned.

2. The only interurban line that should be running 100 percent is Geelong. But the problem there is that many residents in the Wyndham council region are boarding at Wyndhamvale and Tarneit – more than what was anticipated, simply because it’s quicker from there than it is from Werribee. It’s clogging the line, and that means that more express services are needed on the Werribee line. Beyond Geelong however we have that single line that is holding up improving the services beyond, and the biggest issue there is the tunnel between Geelong and South Geelong.

3. I’ve said before that the entire Ballarat line needs to be duplicated. The $518 million that came out of last year’s state budget is only for duplication to Melton. That will help as will the two extra loops and the second platforms at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan. That’s due to be finished in 2019, and it has already started with the opening of Caroline Springs (something that was delayed by the previous Coalition government) extending the duplicated rail from Deer Park West. We have to take that for what it’s worth and it is worth a lot compared to what we have now.

4. Engineering issues stops re-duplication of the Bendigo line, involving the Chewton and Ravenswood tunnels – both of which are heritage listed – and I suspect similar issues with the Malmsbury and Taradale bridges and some bluestone bridges on top of that. But Sunbury has to let the Bendigo services go. That’s a major issue. Sunbury passengers have to start using the metro services and stay off the V/Line services – and that means more express services are needed.

5. In this year’s budget the silly single line between Bunyip and Longwarry has been covered for. That’s overdue and it will help as well as the partial duplication between Moe and Traralgon including second platforms. The Sunbury issue also repeats itself here at Pakenham. Skyrail will help but they need the extra tracks at least between Caulfield and Springvale. They also need to re-signal between Caulfield and the City Loop and provide a flyover at Caulfield – provided the signal box there isn’t heritage listed!

6. The intercity services are in bad need of improvement – starting with better rolling stock. More services are being planned for Warrnambool and with that in mind you can understand Shepparton residents demanding the same. The hold back there though is the Federal government announcing the inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane – which will go via that route. That will mean a standard gauge conversion. But we need to see the money from Canberra and I suspect we might get it next week in the Federal budget. We’ll see.

One Kennett closure that has been getting a large amount of attention on the Minister’s Facebook page is Mildura. Now I would like to see it return, but I have it on good authority that the numbers aren’t there. The only reason that would be the case is if the numbers on the current services aren’t up to the appropriate level. I’m being told the services are full. Sorry – that’s a nothing answer. What is needed is demand. The booked services need to be full at least a week in advance and complaints about the lack of seats. Is there any of that? No there isn’t. Put it this way – Mildura residents need to force V/Line to consider running two buses out of Mildura on the one trip, and that isn’t happening. The overnight bus for instance could have one going express right through and the other being the stopper. The same for the daylight services – express to Swan Hill and a stopper, and the same for the services through to Bendigo.

Two other locations popped up recently – Kyabram and Heathcote. Kyabram is serviced by the link bus between Murchison East and Echuca. It’s present level will only be improved when the demand is there. The same applies to Heathcote.

Long term, we do need much more work. I’m keen to see populations in the interurban area rise, not just at the terminals in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo in particular, but down to the small localities that have an active station – Little River, Clarkefield, Malmsbury, Tallarook and so on. And even the larger places like Kyneton, Castlemaine and Drouin amongst others.

We are a long way from 100 percent operational. Until we get to that point, we have to take the rough with the smooth. I’ve been relying on public transport for my independence so I am used to this. Yes it is frustrating at times, but it’s the nature of the beast – a beast creating originally by Bolte from which we have never fully recovered.

I have joined the ALP

I delayed this announcement as I was getting things together with committees and so forth, but yesterday on the Phil’s World Podcast I announced that I have joined the ALP. I was accepted just before Christmas late last year.

As explained on the podcast, I will be involved in the ALP processes and I am now an associate member of two committees (with hopefully two more in the chute) as well as attending my first local branch meeting this past Tuesday night. So far things are going extremely well and I am very happy.

Naturally I won’t be specifying the committees nor announcing when the meetings will be in advance, and I’ll only be mentioning anything about them after the fact if something big personally happens – unless I’ve been told to stay quiet publicly (which is likely – that’s how leaks start  and I’m not going to engage in that sort of thing).

As mentioned on the podcast it’s not likely I’ll be able to attend the next state conference in May as it is over a weekend and during the football season that’s out of bounds for me – unless I can swing something (which is unlikely).

This is quite a development and hopefully I can advance in a lot of the things I am working on changing and have been working on for awhile.

True Freedom is a myth

While I was on my football research block in December it was brought to my attention that Kerra Lindsey – an enemy listed on my All About Anti Vaxxers blog – posted the following story on her Real Organic Truth page. I know why she posted it, but that’s not for this blog. This story does serve a purpose in education, but it’s warning is not as clear as this woman I am about to quote believes that it is;

“I am a witness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.”

If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.

“We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls. She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.

“Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force. Not so. Hitler is welcomed to Austria. In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates. Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs. My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily. We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living. Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back. Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.”

“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed. After the election, German officials were appointed, and, like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service. Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been re- quired to give up for marriage.”

“Then we lost religious education for kids. Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,’ and had physical education. Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.”

“And then things got worse. The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free. We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.”

“My mother was very unhappy,” remembers Kitty. “When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew up, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination. I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing. Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler. It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.”

“In 1939, the war started, and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and, if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death. Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men. Soon after this, the draft was implemented.”

“It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps,” remembers Kitty. “During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for military training just like the boys. They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines. When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.”

“Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service. When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers. You could take your children ages four weeks old to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, seven days a week, under the total care of the government. The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had. Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna.”

“After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full. If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries. As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80 percent of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families. All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.”

“We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables. Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands. Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control. We had consumer protection, too. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the livestock, and then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.”

“In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps. The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated. So people intermarried and offspring were sometimes retarded. When I arrived, I was told there were 15 mentally retarded adults, but they were all useful and did good manual work. I knew one, named Vincent, very well. He was a janitor of the school. One day I looked out the window and saw Vincent and others getting into a van. I asked my superior where they were going. She said to an institution where the State Health Department would teach them a trade, and to read and write. The families were required to sign papers with a little clause that they could not visit for 6 months. They were told visits would interfere with the program and might cause homesickness.”

“As time passed, letters started to dribble back saying these people died a natural, merciful death. The villagers were not fooled. We suspected what was happening. Those people left in excellent physical health and all died within 6 months. We called this euthanasia. Next came gun registration. People were getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law-abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long afterwards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily. No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up.”

“Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.”

“This is my eyewitness account. It’s true. Those of us who sailed past the Statue of Liberty came to a country of unbelievable freedom and opportunity. America is truly is the greatest country in the world. Don’t let freedom slip away. After America, there is no place to go.”

Kitty Werthmann

My reflection on this story takes several points. First of all, there is no doubt that Hitler was a control freak. In order to get what he wanted he had to engage in bribes through socialisation. He knew that if he did that he’d get the weaker of the population to believe it and take the perks. Austria was the best example of this but it was the only one as no other country fell for it, as they knew what was really going on back in Germany. Most who really knew were wary of Hitler, and the wary were proven to be right.

But let’s not dump socialisation lock stock and barrel. It has benefits – the very benefits Hitler displayed to Austria. But it also has pitfalls when it is the ONLY way things were done. The old Soviet Union did the same thing. The only difference was they kept it to their zone and didn’t try to spread it like Hitler did. Some countries volunteered anyway, like Korea and Vietnam. The USA were scared of it and that’s why they went to help those in both countries who didn’t want it either. The trouble was, the majority of Vietnam did want it. The effort also split Korea in two.

My point is that this is a demonstration of 100 percent socialisation is not right. BUT 100 percent capitalisation – AKA total freedom – is ALSO not right. And I look at Donald Trump as the perfect example of a person who will push 100 percent capitalisation. Austria, from what Kitty was saying, was on the capitalisation train in the 30’s and look what it did to the country. Look what the Great Depression did to many countries. No wonder Austria grabbed what Germany offered at the time – Austria was a mess. Yes, Hitler created a mess as well but it was a different mess entirely.

Here’s the reality. True 100 percent freedom is a myth. It ranges people against each other and it kills the weak. America has always been like that – bullies. In that respect alone they have been no different to Hitler. America voted for Trump because they WANT someone to take charge as one person. That’s a mistake, not just because Trump is not fit for the job but because the only way he is going to be able to do what those who voted for him want him to do is to become a capitalist despot. And people will be hurt as a result. It’s already happening with the immigration debacle.

We will never be free until we have equality. Equality based in balance. Socialisation and capitalism have their benefits. People do sometimes need to be guided and taught what is right and what is wrong. That’s not political indoctrination. That’s simple education and understanding. In this day and age we are losing the latter and in the process the former is failing. People are falling for simple tricks, just like the Austrians did in 1938. Trump is playing simple tricks. So is Pauline Hanson here in Australia. So are the right wing parties who are gaining favour in Europe. Those who claim vaccines are dangerous are also doing it. They rely on emotion instead of proper information. They hide their true goals. In the case of all of them it’s about power. Trump has what he wants, although hopefully those who are truly educated will pull him down a few pegs and make him realise that things are not as simple as he wants it to be. Hanson’s power remains to be seen but her voice is there and that’s enough to be disturbing. It varies with the European right wingers.

The world is turning nasty. The next generation has every reason to fear for the future. Are they free? No – not in America, Germany, Russia, Australia or anywhere else. Kitty may prefer America to anywhere else, but that’s because she hasn’t experienced the greater freedom that America doesn’t have. The freedom to be who you are without penalty. You only have to be not of white skin in that country to know this is true. The same applies to anyone who is not society’s definition of “normal”. The biggest nasty aside from the War on Terror and capitalism going too far is the refusal to protect one’s children. It’s a complex issue that has solutions, but those solutions lie unfortunately in force. Education is no longer working and children are being harmed as a result. That is inconsolable no matter what and it’s why it’s a big nasty. That’s not just about vaccines – that’s about discipline as well. Senator Richard Pan has seen this and that’s why he has proposed a Children’s Bill of Rights in California – SB18.

And I am certainly doing my bit to help those children from the vaccine side and bring the neglectors to justice. That is the right thing to do because that is deprivation of one freedom that everyone is entitled to. Freedom from disease. Organics are the way we used to do it, and it didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Not for children and not for the elderly – and as I found out the hard way in July 2014 even fit adults aren’t protected by organic solutions, especially from the flu. I was fortunate to survive.

Total freedom is not the answer. Neither is a dictatorship – Kitty was right about that. The real answer is somewhere in between, and those who are doing harm should be punished. Racism should be punished. Other forms of discrimination should be punished. We are all human beings. Those who can’t earn a living should be helped, not left to die as the Tea Party in the US wanted. Jobs are earned, not handed out, but you have to do certain things to get where you want to go. Do all those things and you’ll have employers chasing you, not the other way around. But not everyone is able to do that. The world is a diverse place where there is only one answer – balance. And that includes as appropriate certain freedoms being deprived for those who deprive others of said freedoms – whether it be cultural, religious, societal or on the basis of health.

Think about it, and don’t think for one second you can ever be 100 percent free, because for your 100 percent freedom there is another person being deprived of it 100 percent for no good reason.

We need to pay attention

On my December podcast at the beginning of the month I launched a mighty rant at America for electing Donald Trump as President. On this blog I warned about World War 3. But the ANU has put out a study that Paul Murray spoke of on his Sky News show last night that puts out a very serious warning. Here are the points Paul highlighted;

52% Politicians don’t know what ordinary people think

This is alarmingly high, but I suspect at the same time that it’s out of misinformation. Politicians actually know more than the people think they do – but having said that it doesn’t reflect in their actions, hence the perceived misinformation. I’m actually closer to the political sphere than most people having met with each of my local members of Parliament at federal level at least once – and that includes Julia Gillard (when she was a humble back bencher). The key here is to put everything out there through local newsletters both in the mail and online. Catherine King is excellent at this. There’s also being about and approachable (Catherine again). Do All politicians do this? The backbenchers would because they have time. It’s harder for Ministers but some make the effort (Jill Hennessy was approachable for instance). I would suggest that the Coalition would do well to learn from this, as they are the worst at it. There are exceptions – Ken Aldred for instance when he was the member for Deakin was terrific.

40% Not satisfied with democracy

I would expect this stat. When one doesn’t keep their election promises (and both parties have been guilty of this but I’ve found the ALP better at explaining it) there is bound to be a bounce against democracy. It also reflects on the frustration with the application of political correctness, which is a mixed bag of rightful actions and blatant over reactions.

30% Took a detailed interest in the election

I’m not surprised this is this low, because it would be the case that a high percentage would be concrete voters for one party. This stat represents the swinging voters.

26% Trust in Government

This is too low for my liking, and reflects on what I said about democracy above.

26% People in Government can be trusted

This is related to the previous stat, but this one is more about the individuals rather than the system. I don’t just mean the Ministers. I also mean those who work in the Departments – and believe me right now I have no time for the federal Attorney General’s department as an example!! But on the other hand I have all the time in the world for the Health Department in Victoria. So it varies.

22% Political parties care what we think

This is also too low for my liking and it’s where the angst that was reflected in not only the American election but also in our election shows itself. This angst causes people to bail to minor parties – whether it be Palmer United at the previous election or NXT on July 2 as an example. Heck, even at state level here in Victoria we have the likes of the Sex Party and Vote 1 Local Jobs. The Greens also have a role to play, and the major parties I think are actually mishandling them – attacking them instead of addressing the issues at hand and undermining them. The ALP is progressing in that regard but it’s hard work.

19% Don’t feel close to any party

I actually thought this one would be higher, but thinking about it this probably includes all of the minor parties – including the extremist parties like Rise Up Australia, Australia First, the Socialist Alliance and the infernal Health Australia Party. I would be wanting to see the figures for the party lines that are represented by the other 81 percent. That would tell a much stronger story as to where the political landscape could be heading. I consider that to be an important figure, especially when it comes to predicting future trends and issues that can decide any election – whether it be state or federal. Actual membership doesn’t tell that story well enough.

I didn’t listen to the video from where I got the statistics, so no doubt Paul Murray had his own take on it. I guess everyone will – but the question is, who amongst those who should be paying attention are?