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Dangers of democracy

A brief explanation of paternalistic welfare reform following the 2011 Budget

And the wise
men and women came along and looked
over the tops of their glasses at
the people who were outside
the fence and they
said, smiling, kindly, knowingly: ah,
know what's
good for you. We're going to
strengthen you and make you strong and even moral and up
right. You don't

know better. You

won't even really notice if
at first
we put you down.

–John Falzon

Uncommon good
(after reading Shaun Carney's article, 'Complacency may yet undo lucky country', The Age, 9 March 2011)

Shaun Carney and Ken Henry share my swim
A journalist and treasurer who think
The common good is their uncommon Hymn

Today let's hear John Donne's sad tolling ring
Without that tune we all of us might sink
Shaun Carney and Ken Henry share my swim

Each stroke for carbon tax I splash and sing
Our time on earth goes like a watery blink
The common good is their uncommon Hymn

Ken's tenderness for wombats    it could bring
Rare insight that such creatures form a Link
Shaun Carney and Ken Henry share my swim

Our wealth drowns words like Shaun's    pool-sunk and dim
We buy white goods    enjoy the salesman's wink
The common good    such an old-fashioned Hymn

And some say    let's be cool    leave folks their fling
Their harmless habits wash quick in their drink
But I hear Shaun and Ken    they share my swim

The common good    it's real   a cogent Hymn

–Jill Sutton

Listening to 774 ABC Melbourne
Black Saturday, 7 February 2009

Kylie rang and asked —
Should I evacuate?
Where should I go?

And he said — Kylie,
your fire plan should be in place.
Like the headmaster of the world.

I glanced at the nervous husband sitting
at the foot of the table opposite from me

and I said — If I was Kylie I would sue him
for being an utter prick when I needed him.

–Jennifer Compton

El Caudillo speaks to John Howard (2007)

You too, Juanito, are a man of steel
with an impotent nation in your care:
'talk peace; but make strong allies everywhere'
is the best policy, and I think you feel
you've managed that with nothing to conceal:
for Fuhrer and Il Duce, Bush and Blair.
It seems all so straightforward; but beware —
the dangers of democracy are real.

I never joined them in their great disaster
and never suffered their humiliation:
through a long life I kept myself afloat.
Will you remain the smirking little master
though propaganda suffer such deflation;
or will you simply sink in the next vote?

–Evan Jones

John FalzonDr John Falzon is a sociologist, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia, and a member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board.

Jill SuttonJill Sutton is a wordsmith who lives in Melbourne and worries about the future.

Jennifer ComptonMelbourne poet Jennifer Compton's next book of poetry This City won the Kathleen Grattan Prize in New Zealand and will be published by Otago University Press in July. 

Evan Jones is a Melbourne poet and professor. 

Topic tags: Falzon, Jill Sutton, Shaun Carney, Jennifer Compton, Black Saturday, Evan Jones, John Howard, El Caudillo



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