Our wonderful government and its fantastic communication

Does the government have a media office? A media liaison? I’m sure they do, if they don’t then I volunteer for the position. Because there is no way I could do a worse job than whoever is doing it right now.

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Stop judging me!!!

Penalty rates are being take away from workers. In what some see as a first step towards the abolition of minimum wage. Don’t worry though there are good sound reasons to take away the weekend penalty rates and you can see them all listed cogently in this video that the government put out on Friday…..

Wait…no, no you can’t. Because no such video exists.

There may well be good reasons to reduce the number of penalty rates that Australian workers get. But because of the way this government functions we have to make them up ourselves. The idea that this will boost business may have merit, the idea that Australians value their Sunday less than they did 20 years ago might be something I would consider.  The idea that we live in a 24/7 economy is something I might even get behind. Except that since the government has a “You’ll suck it and you’ll like it” policy around its decisions it’s hard to see it as anything but more of its war on unions and rewarding business for just existing.

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And if anyone should be rewarded just for existing it should be giant eyed, Saurians.

Frankly there are good arguments on both sides of the penalty rate debate, that’s not what I’m really writing about, what I’m writing about is the arrogance of the government and the expectation that the people will “Just go along with our decisions…. because…we are the government”. What they didn’t learn from the last Prime Minister is that you can’t just make changes for no reason. You have to sell your ideas. And you can’t go blaming the media for everything, if you want your ideas to get across, state them simply and get the message across another way. Don’t get Piney or Barnaby to get on the 7:30 report and look useless.

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Or worse…..

Create media, create an argument for your reasoning.

Right now EVERYONE is doing a better job than you getting the message out that this is a bad idea. And I can list their arguments clearly. And I gotta say a lot of them are compelling. People who are on penalty rates usually need that money, it’s not like it will be affecting me or upper management. Will prices drop on products? Will service get better? Will there be more staff? Or will what happens classically just happen, “Oh look a windfall, I keep more profit and my staffing levels that I’ve been juggling for the last 3 years can remain the same, WHOOT!”. Who is it helping? Isn’t the idea to help the largest number of people? Well workers far outnumber businesses?? Also isn’t the fact that the rate does not get handed to restaurants meant that it is JUST SIMPLY a handout for big business?

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Seriously…they do not.

Some might say “Well it wasn’t the government, it was Fair Work who proposed it”, sure but the government doesn’t have to take it up and I’d say if they don’t understand the decision then they shouldn’t.

As its popularity dips yet again to lower and lower levels. It might be worth the government thinking about how it communicates its message. Governing is a privilege not a right, you are there to serve not to dictate and its only when they start thinking like that will the poll numbers change.

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A nice hot cup of Milo.

On one had Milo Yiannopoulos is awesome. He’s awesome because very often I find myself having to hold back. And with him? Well I don’t have to. It’s a breath of fresh air. Here is someone with all the arrogance and ignorance in the world and I don’t feel that this business suit bred with a psychopath deserves any of my restraint. He is the far right’s wet dream (if that admitted to such things) here is a Gay man who openly says that Homosexuality is perverse. Someone who calls himself a “Provocateur”.

Bill Hicks, Richard Prior, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin. This is a list of provocateurs. They provoked thought. But he is using it in the original French meaning “one who provokes.” Or, an asshole.

There is nothing clever or rewarding about being Milo Yiannopoulos. He is a troll IRL. He says provocative things because he needs to think about people being disapproving to get hard later on.  He’s a stupid person’s idea of a smart person. If you ever watch him interviewed his “arguments” are just rhetoric. And his “bon mots” are the mewling of the emotionally stunted.

He lacks wit, substance, style (except for his hair and his suits, which are fabulous). His one instinct is to say the most outrageous and offensive thing he can. And lucky for him that is also his career. Except now he’s discovering that freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

During a discussion about consent, Yiannopoulos recently referred to “coming of age” relationships which occur “in the homosexual world, particularly”:

“Those older men help those young boys to discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love,” he said.

He then specifically referred to relationships between 13-year-old boys and older men.

He also referred to abuse he himself experienced when he was a child, saying, “I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

On one hand my thoughts are “well what do you expect, he’s an asshole” but this is dismissive and it misses the point. What he has said show a deep lack of understanding about power imbalance and the psychological reasons for abuse. Which is strange because, he reports that he was abused. So what is this? Well it’s not really surprising to someone who has met with abuse victims. This is someone perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Much like people who were hit as children defending it. “It didn’t do me any harm” yes it did, it made you think that abuse was ok. So much as he wants to appear like he is strong, a loud defender of people’s rights to free speech, someone defending the right from the tyranny of the left. I find him a pitiable man. He is a child saying what he needs to say to get attention and like a child he still confuses attention with love.

Why people choose alternative medicine

My grandfather is dying. He has cancer and he has a heart condition. He’s had four heart attacks in the last two years and one stroke. He’s in his late 90’s so he’s already beaten the odds. And some would say “Well he’s had a good run”. And that’s a reasonable thing to say. If you’re not a member of his family who love him. On paper things are dire. In practice he is not doing great but he has all his marbles, wants to do things and wants people to tell him if there is a way he can get better. He wants to get out and do more. That might be an unattainable goal but it’s an important one for him. Yesterday he said to me “I need to go for a walk because I have to strengthen my legs”.

The problem is that trying to get appropriate care, care that takes into account his needs, his likes, dislikes and his abilities has been insanely difficult. There’s a wall we keep running into. And that is a “one size fits all” philosophy. “He has cancer? Heart issues? Late 90’s? Well then he needs very high doses of pain meds and to be in palliative care.” Except he doesn’t, not yet, that time will come but it’s not now. People seem to think that he’s been this way for a long time but it’s really only in the last 2 years that he has lost his independence. He isn’t in a lot of pain. And yet. Doctors keep prescribing him morphine. Not just small doses either but high doses of morphine sulfate. That’s a no fucking around pain killer. Except he’s not in pain so it just makes him dopey and upsets his stomach. And when we dialed it back to “pain management only on request” he got a LOT better. Doctors keep wanting to put him on anti-depressants. They especially want to do that when he is in care. Because for most patients it’s depressing but it’s also good for destroying the libido. Not that he in particular is a problem but some are so why not dose em up? He didn’t like them. And he wasn’t told that he was being prescribed them and neither were we, I only found out when I looked at his chart. He is hard of hearing, you have to yell for him to hear you and his replies are often left of center…but frankly that’s nothing new. And he is still sharp as a tack, but he has his own way of seeing things. Always has. So people don’t try.

Last week we went to his cardiologist. A guy who we keep getting told “is the best” a gerontologist and cardiologists, a rare mix. We went in, talked about my grandfather’s issues and fears, he took his pulse, tapped his back, didn’t even use a stethoscope. Asked how it was going, we said it seemed to be going ok. We asked about his medication and its side effects. He didn’t know, he didn’t know what medication he was on. We asked about prognosis and quality of life. Well…not great. Ok, what can we do? Nothing, ok how can we make him more comfortable? Don’t know? What about his ears? I’m not an ear expert. He literally said “well he’s old, what do you want?” Then we were ushered out. Total time 7mins. Total cost $250. If he’s the best the worst must just put their clients down as soon as they come in the door. I would love to say that’s a terrible one off. But it’s not. I continually have to ask “Why is he on this medication” and often the answer is “Well…that’s just what we do when they get to this age”. And then they get annoyed that I am questioning the system.

And that’s the issue for me. If this were a free service, then fine. But it’s not. This guy, apart from his moral responsibility has a responsibility as a service because we are paying him. Rather a lot.

“Sure…this is all very sad and frustrating…But what the hell does this all have to do with alternative medicine?” I hear you ask.

This is in sharp contrast to an experience I had a month or so ago. When in desperation over my feet I went to an acupuncturist. Now I will be clear, I do not believe that it helped my feet but the guy is an old acquaintance and the experience couldn’t have been in sharper contrast to what my grandfather experienced.

I went in, and we had a nice chat. Simon (for that’s his name) couldn’t have been nicer and I suspect that even if we weren’t old acquaintances it would have been the same. Simon had all the time in the world for me. He wanted to know everything, why was I here, any issues? difficulties etc? I could not imagine him saying to my grandfather “Well your old, what do you want?” he was professional and caring. He talked about the realities of his practice and how there probably was an element of placebo to it.

He made sure I was comfortable, that I knew what was going to happen that I felt looked after. Every single step was explained and nothing was left out. And I’ll be honest I left feeling really good. That feeling didn’t last, but it was there and I felt like I hadn’t wasted my money. In fact, I intend to go back to see if it really can work I just haven’t had time. Now I’m not saying Simon is a quack, on the other hand I’m not saying acupuncture is a cure all that is real. What I am saying is that the quality of service, regardless of the outcome is sharply contrasted to what we get with traditional medicine. So of course people vacillate towards it. Frankly the heart specialist guy did nothing, so it was an insulting waste of time and money for someone to basically tell us to get used to the idea that he was going to die. In that instance I would prefer to have someone talk to my grandfather and make him feel good rather that what happened. And it’s not like these places he’s going to are cheap, cut rate doctors or dodgy nursing homes. My family isn’t poor; these are supposed to be “The best” it makes me terrified for those that don’t get “The best”.

I know I’m biased. I am, and I can’t help but be. But seriously if I am paying money for a service “Well he’s old” isn’t a good enough excuse for it being shit. My money isn’t old. It’s doing fine and your bloody happy to be taking it off me. Do your damn job. I can’t think of another service that I pay for where they still get paid if they don’t do anything and they insult you. I think part of the problem is that people don’t know what they are being paid for. Triage? Yep that do that very well, if there’s an emergency they are good. Medication? Well they can provide that by the truckload. Actual care? Nope not our business.

Except it is. How do I know? Well I spent most of last year writing a Cert IV in Aged Care. I know what you are supposed to do, what you are supposed to know and what you should be doing for a client. The question I get asked the most is “Oh are you a doctor?”. No. I just want decent service for someone who has earned decent service.  Ok so maybe there isn’t anything that can be done to increase his longevity and maybe it’s silly to try. Fine. But I refuse to believe that you can’t get simple things like “He likes to have a shave once a day” right. I refuse to believe that he needs ALL this medication. I refuse to believe that he can’t be more comfortable.

So now he’s home and we have hired a home care provider and he seems to be doing a lot better. Because we can monitor everything and this provider only has one client. And obviously they provide a tailored service specifically for him. It’s not perfect because we can’t afford to have someone over all the time and at night. Where either I or my mother take shifts when we can. But it’s better than it was.

And yes now we vet medication. I did a medication audit with his new doctor and we were able to take him off a surprising number of medications. And adjust the dosing as required. (some went up some went down).

So for now things are good. But that’s because we can afford for them to be good.

And the little teeth that gnash at me

I work about 500 meters from an abortion Clinic. This is not something I would have known if it weren’t for the daily presence of protesters. Who abiding by the law cannot actually go near the abortion clinic and so they tend to congregate around our building.  Unless it’s really hot. I guess their conviction is strongly linked to convection because if it gets above 30 degrees they go home.

I have a complicated view about abortion which I’m not going to go into right now however there are some things that bother me about these protesters, perhaps they are not the same things that might bother you.

  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are protesting abortion. I am bothered by the fact that they shove pictures of unborn foetuses in the faces of people who are going through what is already a traumatic time. Because that’s helpful. I also can’t help but feel that it’s not done to assist the unborn foetuses themselves, but to make the protesters feel important. I can’t quantify this can I might be wrong but I feel that’s what’s going on.
  • I am not bothered by the fact that they are Christians I am bothered by the fact that they are almost without exception old, white, men.*
  • I am not bothered by the fact that the hold the idea that abortion is wrong with such conviction. I am bothered by the fact that they are not (as far as I know) spending the same time at foster homes, helping and assisting children who are alive and desperately need people to just pay them attention. And when you politely enquire if they do in fact do this they don’t answer you they just start to sing hymns at you. ** Nor do they say to women “Tell you what, don’t worry about that child that you want to terminate, I’ll adopt it
  • It doesn’t bother me that they want to help children but it does bother me that they don’t ever seem to do so. And it really seems more about “Keep in line with my religion” rather than “These children deserve a chance”. This doesn’t seem to be about the health and wellbeing of children, it seems to be that they need their beliefs reflected back at them at all times. “Don’t do anything I don’t agree with!” maybe if they worked harder at making the world a better place for children who are unwanted then I’d feel better about them.
  • I’m bothered by the fact that they don’t seem to have any love in them. What they seem to have is judgement and hate.
  • This isn’t anti-religion because there are religions people who freely give their time and energy to help children in need and they walk the walk and talk the talk. Although they are rarely found protesting outside abortion clinics because they are busy actually helping people.

A few days ago because it wasn’t as hot as it is now they had a very big sign with them. A sign that reads “Pregnancy Help 1300 737 732 – Free”

This of course is a pregnancy help line set up by anti-abortionists. http://www.pregnancycounselling.com.au/

Which I wouldn’t have a problem with either, if it were advertised as such…but check out the website. Can you spot the bit where they say “We are a service set up by anti-abortion campaigners and have a definitive bias, which is something you should be aware of before you enter counseling with us” I’ll give you a clue. It doesn’t. Not anywhere.

They claim that they are there to help if you are expecting but particularly if you – for whatever reason want an abortion.

It was tempting to call them up and say I was pregnant but I don’t want to turn this into a farce.

Here’s the deal. Modern counseling techniques basically say that you need to listen to the client, you are not to inject yourself into the system in anyway, and you are to be a blanch-tableau for the client to bounce ideas off the idea is that the client has the tools that they need to fix themselves, but they just need to externalise them. Now I am not necessarily in full agreement with that way of doing things but I do strongly believe that if you walk into a counseling session with a firm, set agenda as opposed to just advice or detached interest then the session is going to be useless. Shedding your bias is something that psychologist often struggle with and is not easy to do. Let’s say for instance I was counseling someone who needed to have an abortion for medical reasons, I may personally be against abortion but since I don’t have an agenda that is coded by the people I work for and that I am there to push. I would be free to council the client towards their interest rather than my bias. Now it’s possible that this service would do the same thing, but less likely that’s for sure.

They say:

“At any time of the day or night, from anywhere in Australia, you will be able to speak to a compassionate, non-judgemental counselor who understands your feelings and concerns.”

Except it’s also vitally important that they talk you out of getting an abortion, right? Because that’s why their organisation was started. That’s what they do.  It would be like a Shark advice hotline for Seals: Should you go for a swim today? Let one of our betoothed operators give you unbiased advice.

Not declaring your bias is dishonest and frankly fraudulent. And I am deeply suspicious.

*I’m not saying that you can’t hold an opinion on a topic that you have no personal stake or experience with. Of course you can. I feel that it is however telling that I have never seen a birthing age woman of any race hanging out with these guys supporting their point of view. It’s not a magic bullet but it doesn’t help their case.

**Of course it’s trite of me to pick and choose the causes which these men feel strongly about, but once again it’s part of a rich tapestry that makes them look very bad.