David Lovejoy, Echo co-founder
There’s a sense in the air that a culture change may be on the way. The need for change has become abundantly clear since the notion of honour disappeared from public life.
Ministers used to resign when they misled the House, when they were caught red-handed fiddling expenses, when they forged evidence against their enemies, when they awarded contracts to their mates, when they were found to have conducted secret trials, when they rorted public service bodies…
Not any more. Unless there’s a black-letter criminal law forbidding their behaviour, and sometimes even when there is such a law, the modern parliamentarian thumbs his nose at precedent.
Honour is a notion for losers.
And it’s not just politicians.
About two in five of those public companies receiving JobKeeper have awarded million dollar bonuses to their CEOs.
Most have also quietly paid shareholders profits that would not exist, but for the government subsidy.
A much smaller number have repaid what they received when it became clear that the assistance would not be needed.
So a large number of the people in charge of public companies receiving JobKeeper have no honour, and are not susceptible to shame, even when they are caught in a clear display of greed and ruthlessness.
The super rich believe that adherence to the letter of the subsidy regulations relieves them of any further moral consideration.
Incidentally, while these profits and bonuses were being announced, the government reduced unemployment benefits (in effect: the tiny increase was undermined by the end of the COVID allowance), and increased the number of job applications the unemployed must prove they have made if they are to retain their fortnightly pittance.
Lacking work is made a matter of shame, in line with the government’s practice of protecting the strong and attacking the weak.
Of course this overbearing, dishonourable behaviour affects us all, but the members of society who suffer most from the jackass brigade are women.
When businessmen and politicians appear to be unaccountable, it signals to some men that they can press themselves on a woman, knowing that in a workplace they hold power over their victim’s career, knowing that in the unlikely event of a complaint, their denial will carry more weight than her accusation.
Their white, male, entitled, private-school, conservative, Big Swinging Dick denial.
Over the last few weeks ‘patriarchy’ has become more than just a concept in sociology.
There is a real problem with males having too much power in all levels of society, and although any solutions will be bitterly fought by reactionaries, who are over-represented in parliament and the media, it is a fight that honourable people of all genders must take up.
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