Covid mixes it with other threats in PNG
China is outfoxing US in the Indo-Pacific

Sick, crippled & besieged by con artists

Illustration by Kal (The Economist)


TUMBY BAY - Hang on, what’s up? The world wasn’t supposed to turn into custard until my generation was safely six foot under.

As Stan Grant eloquently put it, “We are miserable, getting poorer, afflicted with disease, on the verge of blowing ourselves to smithereens and facing a climate catastrophe”.

The planet cooking, natural resources plundered, a profusion of plagues, democracy failing, creeping totalitarianism, mass hunger and homelessness, millions of refugees, a new war everywhere you look….

The one bit of promising news is that population growth is slowing each year. Now 1%, trending down and not expected to rise any time soon. Bit late by the look of it.

It’s a bleak scene and somehow it has happened on our watch. We boomers thought we’d solved the world’s problems in the 1960s. We knew what to do back than but I don’t think anyone listened.

It’s not our fault it didn’t work out. Anyway, we’re leaving something for our grandchildren – a few problems to fix.

I don’t know where the plan went wrong. Everything seemed to be hunky dory then it went pear-shaped.

Can’t really blame people for being fearful and angry. Can’t blame them for the pervasive sense of doom. Everywhere you look, governments seem to have lost the plot. Aren’t they seeing what we see?

There are indecent levels of arrogance and incompetence. Craziness, denial and desperation are rampant.

In Western countries, including Australia, many governments have decided people are expendable so long as the economy survives.

They don’t have the sense to figure out that economies don’t work without the people that do things and buy things. The people the fools are abandoning. It’s just stupid.

The late US comedian George Carlin understood it. “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realise half of them are stupider than that,” he would say.

It’s a circus which the clowns got to run and they’re telling the patrons to walk a tightrope stretched over a crocodile pool.

The usual restraints of logic, knowledge, capability, clear thinking and compassion bolted out of the Big Top long ago.

There was a popular 1961 stage show, ‘Stop the World I Want to Get Off’. I’m trying to remember where they put the handbrake and the escape hatch. Someone email me urgently for heaven’s sake.

It’s not so we can all jump off. I’m not selfish, I just want to know where to chuck all the idiots.

Unfortunately this carnival of madness is set to get worse in the next few months.

In Australia and Papua New Guinea there are national elections to endure. That’s when we can replace one set of clowns with another set of clowns.

Elections in both places will be marked by the usual fairy tale promises, lies and spin, all delivered with creepy smiles.

Then the Americans have their midterm elections. That’s where a geriatric president loses his already blunt edge and the Republicans get another chance to impose Trumpian fascism on their own country and the rest of us.

And watching on from the shadows will be the sinister figures of the dictator Xi and the gangster Putin.

Some people are making comparisons between now and the late 1930s, when the rise of European fascism and Japanese imperialism created a strong and accurate feeling that war was inevitable.

In those years immediately before the outbreak of World War II, there was an ‘end of days’ mood in Western countries that prompted people to throw caution to the wind and engage in spontaneous partying, merriment and bad behaviour.

The theme was, ‘If we’re all going to die anyway, let’s go out happy’. Nobody ever told them it doesn’t work that way. And it didn’t.

Now, there’s a sense of being unmoored and disassociated with no inkling of what the immediate future will bring. That’s at least realistic.

But being so rudderless while waiting to see what will happen is profoundly alarming to humans. The anxiety and depression it triggers is spreading faster than Omicron.

The pedlars of doom are having a field day. In the mass media phony happy day messages from politicians sit alongside dire predictions and conspiracy theories from the great unwashed.

Also having a field day are the commercial carpetbaggers who are working out more and better schemes to make a buck out of you – and out of the government - while they can.

A pandemic, a crippled planet and a cacophony of con artists, who would have thought it would come to this, and so quickly?


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William Dunlop

Ah yes Bernard, by the Mark Twain, Samuel Clements the man, being of good Ulster stock.

Bernard Corden

Con artists indeed:

"It is much easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled" - Mark Twain

William Dunlop

Stop the world I want to get off.

Went to the Queen's Theatre in the West End with a friend in 1961 to watch it. We made up an audience of three. Not long after the third spectator left shouting what a dreadful show this is.

As I recall after about 20 minutes we concurred and also left.

Now the Northern Territory has Joined the Covid Circus this year, 2022. With the exception of premier McGowan in Western Australia who's had the balls to do it his way. The right way as it is turning out.

I believe the NT pollies succumbed to the pressure of business wanting tourists to bolster themselves.

The outcome so far - over 1,000 virus-infected arrivals by air I'm led to believe. In the footsteps of NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Well the outcome for me and the likes of me have been to bunker down.

So businesses have lost out; their takings I'm led to believe are down 50% in the last week on this time last year, where there was also reduced turnover.

There is a message for pollies in general: we the general public, as you like to class us, are not as gullible as you seem to think.

Bernard Corden

Meanwhile, the world’s 10 richest men doubled their wealth and many small to medium businesses lost everything during the pandemic:

William Dunlop

Right on the button Philip, Garret, Bernard and Chris, We have a fine descriptive word in the auld sod for these Clowns. Ejits

Lindsay F Bond

The words 'finally' and 'hinge point' are but wails in the wilderness.
And does it matter that a count afterwards tells of the numb?
From 'Fromelles' furtive follies fizzle, over one hundred 'rungs' ago:
"Most of the bodies remained in no man's land until the war was done more than two years later and there was nothing left but skeletons to find. Of those near 2000 dead, 1299 were simply listed as 'missing' ".

Garrett Roche

Phil, this brought to mind an old Judy Collins song: 'Send in the clowns'.

But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year.

Food for thought.

Bernard Corden

"What is Toryism but organised spivvery? … No amount of cajolery can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party … So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin." - Aneurin Bevan (Speech in Manchester UK 04/07/1948)

Chris Overland

Phil, you have summarised my feelings too.

The pandemic has ripped away the comfortable façade that everything is going along splendidly. Instead, we all can now see the world as it really is, which is much as you have described it.

Our political elite has literally no idea what the pandemic end game may be and certainly no coherent plan to achieve a return to 'normality' (even assuming that this is possible or desirable).

Instead, clinging tenaciously to their ideological beliefs, they lurch from one ad hoc decision to another, always being wrong footed by a virus that makes its own rules.

Their misjudgements and misconceptions have revealed that they are the proverbial 'hollow men', bereft of any genuine capacity to govern intelligently in a crisis.

The forthcoming elections in the USA and here will be a test of whether people have finally understood the true extent of the incompetence and corruption of the neo-liberal fanatics and quasi-fascists who infest the Republican Party and Liberal and National Parties respectively.

If we re-elect them then that is a decision to doom ourselves to an environmental and socio-economic catastrophe.

In a similar way, if the people of PNG elect 'the usual suspects', then they will be double damned, both by our failure and by theirs.

We are at a hinge point in history, where all choices will be fraught with peril and hardship, with some likely to be literally lethal for many people.

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