15 May 2007

What Would YOU Do (or not do) For Money?

For those of us who spend our time dissing the immoral, money-grabbing, power-mongers of this world, it's an interesting question. I just spent a few minutes doing a rather trite online survey. For example:
You are being considered for a promotion. Would you flirt with your boss or someone else who can help you get the job?
89% said they wouldn't (including me: my boss is a rather unattractive man). Only 1% said they would. Note to Wendi Deng:
Being flirtatious is not a crime, and it's certainly not unethical. Neither is trying to appear as attractive as possible to the person making the big decision. But encourage him or her to believe your interest is more than playful or imply that you're available for a mattress dance - then you've crossed over to the dark side.
So how many Australians are now living on that "dark side"? We might not be ready to sleep our way to the top, but we were happy to re-elect a War Criminal rather than suffer the threat of higher interest rates. What else would we do for money?

Well, a majority of us are apparently happy to embrace uranium mining - or so we are told:
Overall, the poll of 1,000 people found 75 per cent believed uranium would make a big contribution to Australia's future while 92 per cent of people viewed climate change as a problem Australia could limit.

Fifty-nine per cent of people supported uranium exports to supply energy needs overseas.

"It is clear from this data that Australians are changing their minds about uranium," Mr Angwin said.

"And in every state, more people support it than not ...

"They support it because of the economic benefits and because they see it making a contribution to climate change."
Of course, the poll being cited was commissioned by the nuclear industry itself. And nobody asked how many respondents would be happy to have a nuclear power station in their local suburb. And it's pretty bloody obvious (reading between the lines) that the poll first raised the issue of global warming, then suggested nuclear power as a viable solution, thereby ensuring the answers they wanted. So don't believe the hype just yet, Mr Rudd, however enticing the prospect might sound:
The two day summit was officially opened by Northern Territory Mines Minister Chris Natt, who said there was $US50 billion ($A60.19 billion) worth of yellow cake in the ground up north.

"As far as proposals for uranium mining are concerned, we (the NT government) will consider all applications," he said, adding that uranium had hit a 25 year high spot price and was currently worth $US120 a pound (0.45 kg).

"(This means) the value of known uranium in the ground in the Territory is $US50 billion ... this is a very significant resource" he said.
Sigh. We lazy Aussies have lived off the generosity of this wide brown land for a bloody long time. We cleared the trees and killed the Aborigines as we grabbed the gold, oil, zinc, copper, iron ore and every other resource available. We sent it all overseas, then converted our profits into stock options, Commodore V8s and flatscreen LCD TVs. OK. But are we really prepared to ignore all the obvious problems associated with uranium mining, just to preserve our fat-ass lifestyles?

The key to the problem seems to be how to dispose of radioactive waste. And based on our previous polling history, our Howard government (and Labour?) is betting that we will be happy to send the problem overseas. Out of sight, out of mind. It won't be our problem if dirt-poor foreigners in corrupt Third World countries are being forced to abort the births of their tragically deformed babies. Right?

Sadly, we rich, well-educated, well-informed Westerners still suffer under the wilful illusion that an Australian (or US, or UK) life is worth more than the life of an impoverished foreigner abroad. Nowhere is the problem more obvious than Iraq:
Using publicly available numbers, one can calculate that the U.S. government values an innocent civilian slaughtered by al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001 at $1.8 million, and an Iraqi civilian killed by Marines at $2,000.
Are we happy to watch the process of economic globalisation evolve to a point where we have an affluent, powerful West living off the labour and suffering of an impoverished Third World (whom we must continually subdue by force) to maintain our beloved lifestyles? It's a question we all should be asking ourselves.