That their names may live on
Australia steps up Pacific medical support

God, mammon & coronavirus

Old duffers
Old duffers on PNG Attitude have quite a bit extra to chew over in these troubled times....


‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’ - Matthew 6:12

TUMBY BAY – There has been a lively discussion about capitalism and neo-liberalism on PNG Attitude for a number of years now.

Most of it seems to be among the blog’s cadre of old duffers ruminating about their lives and the current state of the world.

Papua New Guinea is often used as a kind of meme because that’s where many of the old duffers spent significant parts of their lives.

PNG is also a reference point because it continues to be home to one of the most rapacious forms of corporate plunder imaginable.

I use the word ‘discussion’ rather than ‘debate’ because counter arguments are thin on the ground. The rejoinders are pretty tame from those correspondents game to stick their head above the parapet.

At best they are gentle jibes about overt pessimism. John O’Brien’s 'We'll all be rooned', said Hanrahan" is often quoted.

The obvious conclusion on PNG Attitude is that while the discussion is often lively and interesting it is ultimately a case of preaching to the converted.

There’s nothing unusual about that. The promulgation of any idea always comes up against the hard armour of counter ideology and very seldom penetrates it. When it does it is usually in times of crisis and existential threat.

Like the one the world is going through right now with Covid-19.

Who would have thought that the continuing discussion among PNG Attitude’s old duffers would bloom and spread like it appears to have done?

Many people everywhere are now asking themselves, “Do we really want to live in a savagely unequal world dominated by the endless, growth-addicted quest for profit over everything else?

“Do we want the corporations and their malevolently egoistic owners to push the planet beyond the limits of liveability to ultimate destruction, with or without viral pandemics?”

Some people say that now is an opportune time to choose a better course for the future. Explicit in this call is the idea that humanity and capitalism are largely incompatible.

At least that’s what some people say.

Others say nothing.

Some are waiting until the crisis is gone and the world can get back to normal. That this ‘normal’ is decidedly abnormal doesn’t seem to register.

It’s pretty clear now that leaders like Scott Morrison are in this camp. Once the crisis is over all the socialist measures he has used to combat the virus will abruptly end.

It will be interesting to see whether the political capital he has built up from handling the crisis will allow him to survive the savage economic and social reversal he intends to implement.

As a Christian he clearly believes, despite Matthew’s wise words, that it is possible to serve both God and money at the same time.

At least in Australia we know what to expect from our leaders. In Papua New Guinea things are a lot less clear.

It seems that, regardless of what happens, leaders are going to blunder on as normal without an intermediate stage.

They are making the usual positive noises and promises with absolutely no intention or ability to carry them out.

The extent of their planning does not seem to have progressed beyond the old hollow rhetoric and spin they apply to everything.

A political promise is something quickly forgotten in Papua New Guinea.

As the right wing British comedian and commentator, Simon Evans, says, “Apathy is all”.

There will be no socialist revolution in Australia, Papua New Guinea or anywhere else.

People have long been tranquilised by technology into a state of compliance. And, besides that, as Evans gleefully points out, they are now all too fat to get off their arses to do anything anyway.

At best, in the final analysis, it will give the old duffers on PNG Attitude a little bit extra to chew over.

I guess we have to be thankful for that at least.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

Ahh! The wisdom of Hunter S Thompson. I must dig up my tattered copy of 'Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas' and re-read it.

"The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs".

"A word to the wise is infuriating".

"Buy the ticket, take the ride".

Arthur Williams

I think I am entitled to take umbrage in the click bait blog of Phil's where many of us are classified in his 'Duffer' category.

Perhaps like many in UK am getting 'stir crazy' during my spell of Solitary. Apparently some unlucky kiaps got that way in their lonely postings in way out places beyond the ken of normal humans. In 2020 we isolates are far luckier because of digital technology.

One of the best geriatric performances reported in the media over past few weeks is that of the 89 year old former F1 (he did) boss Bernie Ecclestone successfully ensuring his family line when Fabiana Flosi aged 44 proclaimed they were going to be mummy and daddy.

That made me think of an old joke which I print for light relief at this time:

It was the talk of the town when an 80-year-old man married a 20-year-old girl. After a year of marriage she went into hospital to give birth. The nurse came out to congratulate the fellow saying, "This is amazing. How do you do it at your age?" 

He answered, "You've got to keep that old motor running". 
The following year the young bride gave birth again. The same nurse said, "You really are amazing. How do you do it?" He again said, "You've got to keep the old motor running". 

The same thing happened the next year. The nurse said, "Well, well, well! You certainly are quite a man!" He responded, "You've got to keep that old motor running". The nurse then said, "Well, you better change the oil. This one's black."

There is a para-prosdokian that seems to apply to me: 'You're never too old to learn  something stupid.'

So please a smile as I offer a few more ramblings:

Old age! First you forget names and then you forget faces. Then you forget to pull up your zipper, but it’s really worse when you forget to pull it down.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth.... Remember about Algebra

Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know “why” I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

A very elderly gentleman, (mid nineties) very well dressed, hair well groomed, great looking suit, flower in his lapel smelling slightly of a good after shave, presenting a well looked after image, walks into an upscale cocktail lounge.  Seated at the bar is an elderly looking lady, (mid eighties). 

The gentleman walks over, sits along side of her, orders a drink, takes a sip, turns to her and says, "So tell me, do I come here often?"

A prayer is suitable as its Maundy Thursday - Isn't it Phil? Sadly I wasn't one of the 188 lucky duffers or I'd have got 94p in special silver pence in a tiny purse plus a few quid more for my supper in another bag from the #1 Dufferess of the UK.


Grant me the senility to forget the people
I never liked anyway,
The good fortune to run into the ones I do, and
The eyesight to tell the difference

And finally: Thank goodness says our geriatricaphobe!

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson

Keep em coming Phil we love what you do for us.

Lindsay F Bond

Again on “tranquilised by technology” and maybe, passengers expecting to be passing fine at “…self-serve check-in kiosks into a health check for travellers...”
For whom does such a toll tell?

Recall too report from PNG “…passengers will be required to complete certain documentations to allow [National Operating Centre] NOC-19 to not only track movements but also to ensure they (NOC-19) take stock of every single passengers travelling via domestic flights.”

Will PNG folk see announcement of an agency tasked and equipped as “Order Source”? If so, will it be only for information gathering or somewhat a 'para' compared to a collective arm of agencies of Australia’s federal system?

Thus assisting boarders or enforcing borders?

Lindsay F Bond

My lot had a family that migrated to our then colony, surnamed Rainger, which name later was replaced.
No, not by Bond. Nor of a family at Gunyah.

Charles Duffer

Phil and Paul - You will appreciate that this is a sensitive family issue.

My dear old dad, who was Irish and had never duffed a cow or a bullock in his life, preferred to be called a 'mature codger', rather than an 'old Duffer'.

Then, we got complaints from the Codger family who lived in a nearby village, Ballyorfull....

Paul Oates

Just as long as he's not a 'cattle duffer'..........

Philip Fitzpatrick

I don't know what to say Charles.

Are you an Irish Duffer or a French Duffer?

Harry Topham

“I visualise that many men pass their life of adolescence into senility with ever reaching maturity” - Branko Bokum

Charles Duffer

Not all of us are old, Phil.

Philip Fitzpatrick

While controlling who arrives in PNG by air is important Lindsay I'd suggest that a more pressing problem with regard to Covid-19 is who is arriving by other means, particularly from the Indonesian side of the island. As the governor of East Sepik points out the frontier is wide open with little hope of policing it.

It is disconcerting that the PNG government seems to be following places like Australia in its approach while forgetting that, unlike Australia, it has a very porous border. I don't know about what happens in West Sepik but in Western people, including Asian illegal immigrants move back and forth all the time.

The other alarming thing about concentrating on arrivals by air is that in all probability the people coming by land have already brought the virus with them but are not being counted. Instead of the 500 odd suspects already identified there are probably thousands more who are going undetected.

Another thing the government should do is rein in the cops. The crisis seems to have given them a licence to create havoc.

Paul Oates

I am conscious of the possibility that I too could be considered ‘an old duffer’. Yet the expression conveys the notion that being old equates to being senile.

There are some positive aspects to having more than our ‘three score years and ten’ on this planet. There has always been a view that those with experience might be able to offer some wisdom to those who may not as yet have had the same amount of experience. The issue is whether that advice is worth listening to.

Adults are only children with more experience. Whether they have learnt from their experience depends on their subsequent actions at a time when they might find themselves in similar circumstances. General elections for some reason, come to mind.

To sum up many of our society’s concerns could be to say: ‘The rich get richer and the poor get poorer’.
What is the answer? Has there been a better society in history that we could model our own society on? If so, where?

The issue appears to be one of being able to understand what is the underlying problem that is affecting the world and the way we live. At what tipping point, does the underlying reason for running a business apparently change into running a business that demands so massive a profit as to cause the business to be judged on the amount of profit being generated as opposed to the benefit and value to society? At what point does greed then take over. No matter how much Mr Gates gives away, the cost of buying software isn’t reduced to a point that everyone can afford the latest model.

The justification that a large corporation must make sufficient profit to give stockholders or shareholders increasingly larger dividends is used to justify the obscene salaries paid to some CEO’s. In a recent TV program, it was announced that due to the current crisis, the CEO will take a pay cut and presumably ‘make do’ on 18 million dollars as opposed to the normal 25 million plus. The program suggested that viewers could write in with their ideas and suggestions on how someone could possibly survive on 18 million a year. Someone suggested they really didn’t know how they could survive on that figure but would really like to try!

The issue comes basically down to who has the power to change what we all know is a problem and yet no one seems to know how to fix it.

Perhaps there are only two inevitable truths that ultimately never go away. I speak of ‘Death and Taxes’.

Lindsay F Bond

If “tranquilised by technology”, what test of that? Is it true, PNG “leaders are going to blunder on”?

You know, many folk travel by flying even though they are stiffly uncomfortable in doing so. In fact, they agree to a temporary state of imprisonment to hasten an intended relocation.

Into that duration of exposure, creeps commerce, surveillance and accumulation of data.

“Etihad Airways has partnered with an Australian company to trial new technology which turns self-serve check-in kiosks into a health check for travellers, potentially identifying the early stages ...”


[Innovation and commercial reward is an eye-catcher. But any gouging on price gets stern rebukes.]

Meanwhile in PNG, that idea was already taking off. Report is “…passengers will be required to complete certain documentations to allow [National Operating Centre] NOC-19 to not only track movements but also to ensure they (NOC-19) take stock of every single passengers travelling via domestic flights.”


[Note, NOC is not the airline, but seems set to engage amidst commerce of air transportation.]

Quite salutary for me, in that taking particular care of noting a passenger’s name and need was the focus of my contact with a PNG airline in recent months.

Outcome I hoped for is that whereas ‘check-in’ is what intending passengers think they are required to do, it is actually incumbent on an airline to perform the “checking”, more than the reverse.

It is not for the airline to deny travel, for saving cost itself and for safety of passengers and staff? Thus ‘check-in’ process is but an economic expediency for the airline? Do I hear divergent opinion?

Add now an increasingly ubiquitous testing of temperature of ‘customers’, a somewhat low-key lead-in. If shops use such test and for sundry reasons, airlines are less a target about innovation.

Flying but even less obviously, is potential of residuals, any lasting habit, such as a lingering of expectancy that protection is afforded.

By the way Chris, a "clamber off" is triumphant. Too soon some fall off.

Bernard Corden

Dear Chris,

"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Dylan Thomas

Chris Overland

Phil, we old duffers have reached that stage in life where, as long forgotten ALP leader Arthur Calwell once said, we may "speak the truth and fear not".

In our own way we are trying to speak the truth to power too although, as you rightly observe, it seems highly doubtful that they will listen.

For what it is worth, my sense is that there are now sufficient voices joining our croaky chorus where it may just be possible to create some momentum for change.

Even some conservative scribes in the mainstream media and commentariat seem to have grasped that something is fundamentally wrong with the neo-liberal version of capitalism.

The current crisis has revealed the huge chasm between the rhetoric about the infallibility of the market and the reality of its abject, catastrophic failure in the face of an existential crisis.

I have yet to hear any commentator saying that we should simply let the market rule in our moment of crisis.

What I have heard is squeals for help from the previously despised government and public service, unleavened by any hint of embarrassment about the rampant hypocrisy involved.

So the entirely foreign owned Virgin Australia is holding out its hand for a $A1.4 billion bail out. Never mind that its principal shareholders like Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airlines are state owned and hence able to extend a grasping claw towards their own governments.

Similarly, the managing director of Carnival Cruises Australia, while pleading to be allowed to keep his plague ship (Ruby Princess) in Sydney, had the temerity to describe this fully foreign owned business as an Australian business.

Unless the Australian public are very stupid indeed, they ought to understand that only very "socialist" policy actions, hitherto utterly unthinkable to our government of committed neo-liberal monetarists, are standing between them and catastrophic ruin.

When this crisis eventually shudders to a halt, some time in 2021 perhaps, maybe enough of them will have realised that most of the neo-liberal nostrums are self serving crap spouted by those who take the lion's share of the spoils.

In a PNG context, I think there are many Papua New Guineans who already understand this because the actions of the corporate predators operating there have been so shamelessly self serving.

Sure, they have flung a few crumbs from the table to the people but most of the money is disappearing into already bulging pockets elsewhere.

We should not waste this crisis by trying to revert to what was once normal.

Instead, we should collectively seize the opportunity to change the world for the better by selectively restructuring our economies to better serve the interests to the "little people", the nation as a whole and the environment.

There should be a particular emphasis on promoting self reliance and, in some circumstances at least, re-nationalising strategic industries and assets.

If all this means raising taxes, especially upon the wealthy, then so be it. As long as those taxes are not set at absurdly punitive levels, there will still be plenty of incentive to work hard to accumulate wealth.

We should not despise wealth but nor should we place its accumulation above many other important social considerations such as providing decent health, education and social services.

If that is socialism, then let it be so.

Anyway, I will clamber off my soapbox for the moment, recognising that I am just one old duffer howling against a hurricane.

But I fully intend to keep on banging on until either Covid-19 or some other cause silences me permanently.

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