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October 4, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: For Sale: Moral compass

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For Sale: Moral compass

Some weeks it’s hard to navigate the big feelings I have around injustice; the kind of injustice that occurs every day, everywhere, underwritten by the privilege of some at the expense of the many. The shit stuff people get away with! The shit stuff no one notices. Shit stuff always happens to people who don’t have much to start with. I sometimes wonder how you can hear story after story and not realise the system is broken. Capitalism sucks. Let’s go break stuff – like, the dominant paradigm! We haven’t managed to subvert it – so can we smash it into tiny pieces? Please?

Something’s got to give. Every few months I reach peak outrage. It’s all I can do to not just yell at the moon.

A community member contacted me to tell me about the users of a storage facility in Byron Bay being given one week to move their stuff. Apparently the developer has sold apartments on the site that are about to get underway. That’s not much time. Couldn’t people have had a little more warning than one week? The owners must have had a little more warning than that to say the vacate date was approaching? Could it be that they were worried about losing income on rents?

Giving people who have their stuff in storage one week to move it out is cruel.

The reason your stuff is in storage is because a) you don’t have anywhere else to store it, or b) you aren’t here. How in good conscience can you do that to people who you know will struggle to find other options? One woman had kept her market supplies in three sheds there for over 30 years. That’s a very long-term reliance on the facility. Wouldn’t you think it reasonable to get more than one week’s notice to vacate? The logistics alone of all those people making vehicle movements back and forth from that site in one week makes it a very unreasonable request.

I don’t have a storage shed. But I felt the outrage. There is a difference between what you can legally get away with and what is right. I wonder whether, in one of those storage units there is a stash of dusty moral compasses – previously owned by developers and investors who found that unflinching integrity was a barrier to wealth creation. Because it is.

Just ask anyone who owns a house with no one in it. Do they get a tingle of guilt when they see a homeless person? Or is the disconnect part of the deal? Do they have special ‘what homeless person?’ vision. Do they see no relationship between their accumulation of assets and the woman sleeping in a tent? 

On the night of the 2021 Census, one million Australian properties were empty. That’s 1/10th of our housing market. That’s because, in this country, some people have extra houses and some people have NO house. Surely it’s clear that a system that allows that to happen is rigged. Who needs ‘extra’ houses? Who needs empty houses? If we have 300,000 homeless people and one million empty houses, and we put those people into the empty houses – don’t we still have 700,000 empty houses left? (Maybe if we can’t live there, we can at least store our stuff there?)

That number fills me with outrage. So many people in our region still don’t have a home. I met a woman the other day who’d lost everything in the floods. She said, ‘My son and I have moved 15 times since March’. I said, ‘Oh god, that’s awful. Do you want me to write about it?’ She said, ‘No, I’m lucky’. That topped up the outrage. She is going back to her flooded and unrepaired house soon because, although it’s not safe, it’s stable. So, she’s ‘lucky’.

Last week, Fiona, a rough sleeper who lived in Byron Bay, died in her tent. I met Fiona many times over the years. I guessed she was my age but our circumstances were vastly different. I am housed, I am socially valued, and I am safe. She was none of those things. Last time we met she was saturated from the rain. I just happened to have a car full of clothes. Extra clothes that I was donating, so we selected some warm dry stuff for her. I saw her over the next few days, dressed like Mandy Nolan. We had a laugh. But it’s not funny. A middle-aged woman shouldn’t have to die alone in a tent.

I saw an ad this morning on Facebook Marketplace:

‘For Sale: Moral Compass. Never used.’

We can do so much better.


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13 COMMENTS

  1. UNDISTORTED EXPERIENCE {Stefanie Bennett}

    It’s growing up diagonally
    at 64 and remembering
    September 11
    (not specifically because
    cousin Ricki
    was there…)

    It’s the tick-tacking accuracy
    of whether anthrax spores
    are absorbed
    in our
    hung-over
    morning coffee

    … pseudo market forces,
    PC hackers
    or trilingual brokers
    ensnared by
    a crust
    of bullion rising

    that collars the phrase;
    ‘we become
    what we deplete’.

  2. Of course you haven’t subverted the system, you are working or it, you just haven’t figured that out. Everything in the green/LGBT/socialism agenda makes people more controllable.

    The housing shortage/food shortage/supply chain problems/power shortage/etc is caused by the government interfering with the free market and causing perverse incentives that inevitably cause perverse outcomes. In a free market, there would be no way to earn money by sitting on an empty house. None.

    Keep screaming for the government to print more money for solar panels/more welfare/immigration/etc and all that inflation ends up in assets such as houses/land/cars/etc. There are other ways to accomplish what you want without causing more problems, but that would require learning economics, political science, systems analysis,etc. Otherwise it’s ‘Get woke, go broke’

  3. Yes yes yes. My moral compass works way too well – hence no wealth creation. The weird thing is how you can give yourself a hard time about that, as if you’re a bad person for not being wealthy! Not just a capitalist failure, but actually ‘bad’ for not being interested in playing the game. I’m working my way through it and starting to be able to stand proudly as this empty handed but rich in other ways- being. But yeah there’s still a stigma. Crazy. The world is arse-about, hey.

    • I did the same 20 years ago. I was standing in the penthouse at the top of Republic Tower looking out the window at the primitive village across the Malacca Strait and felt I had more in common with those people than the people standing behind me. What we were doing wasn’t capitalism, it was corruption, but lots of things are legal when you are working with a government. I never had time to spend any of my money anyway, and I just wanted to be an inventor. Took a while, but I got out of that life, came home, homesteaded some land, and did other things.

      The other day I was painting a shed and realised I was wearing one of my old Versace work shirts. They make good rags.
      I can’t feel any stigma. I simply try to explain to those who blame capitalism/right-wingers/Nazis/cow farts/etc that what’s really going on is the cause of your problem AND the “other sides” problems too. I’ve peaked behind the curtain, and refused to take part.

  4. Most sensible people have got the ‘gist’, Christian. Economics
    are very well understood having simply created the “Broken
    Woke Family.”

    • Cultural Marxism created the “Broken Woke Family.”
      Introduction of Communitarianism into Economics is instituting Neo-Feudalism.
      Economics and Fiscal Policy are simply tools that can be used to Social Engineer a society in any direction you want, but first you have to break down the social norms and structures already in place.
      The first step to community organising is community dis-organising. Order out of Chaos.
      Are thing starting to look a little dis-organised suddenly? Do people seem a little demoralised, as in have no morals? What is this “Great Reset” the World Economic Forum speaks of?

  5. Greed corrupts any system including socialism communism…perhaps greed pervades all the isms.
    What is human greed?
    Perhaps the unsatable need for more to try and fill the void left by the dulling of sensitivities to the natural world and its spiritual dimensions

    • What a strange reaction/ so many people fly under the radar when it comes to being valued. People with wealth / privilege and position take this for granted. I acknowledge the privilege I have that many don’t. I am a nice middle class white lady. Try being homeless and feeling valued and seen.

  6. Can we do better?
    Morality good bad right wrong
    Movable posts set by the dominant culture
    Our Culture demands that we ignore the plight of others
    Follow the rules.

    I closed my eyes and rejoiced in the splendor of existance the miracle of thought and imagination the tantilzing possibilites of humanity i opened my eyes and saw the reality we have collectively created and accepted as normal and found a mediocre dissapointment utterly offensive to my being.

  7. This idea of been born into privilege based on outward characteristics ie racial profiling, is a fraught exercise.
    A white male born into a wealthy family may suffer horrific abuse growing up…are they born into privilege?
    European males born around the 1900 s who were conscripted under duress of the death penalty, to kill each other as teenagers in world war one, where they born into privilege?
    This idea of privilege seems to have taken on a meaning associated with a guilt about been born into certain external characteristics….because people who looked like us did horrible things many years ago to Indigenous peoples all the world over.
    It would be akin to blaming my German friends for hitler.
    We can only judge ourselves as privileged or not…anyone else is speculation based on our own bias.
    By the way everyone has social value …it’s how we value ourselves that really matters.
    I suspect those who feel the need to put down others have a low self value..trolls belong under a bridge.

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