Trying to be original about the disaster in Afghanistan is very difficult. It truly was appalling. First, what a tragedy for the people of that benighted country who will now be dragged back into mediaeval tyranny by a band of cutthroats. Then there is the humiliation of the US that comes with its surrender. Next, it shows, as in Iraq, just how slack the US intelligence field-work must be; it completely failed to pick up any sign of the Taliban advance and the Afghan retreat. Moreover, the Americans, with an overabundance of weaponry seem to have dumped it all by the front door on their way out, showing complete irresponsibility but typical waste. Finally, the message that this debacle sends to US allies is very dispiriting. It must surely be: don’t count on America because it may not last the distance. It might just give up. That is my concern. I would go as far as to say that the US alliance, unless we re-calibrate it and get the rules straight, looks like a very dubious investment. I lived through Vietnam where the US, under pressure from the Left, the media and the Hollywood mafia, did not have the fortitude to hang on and we lost for that reason alone. We seem to be re-living the Vietnam nightmare. But the stakes are higher. How can the US ever live up to its promise to defend Taiwan or deter Putin from invading Ukraine and the Baltic states? Yes, I want a US alliance. But I want a partner who is reliable, has staying power and unites its people behind a good cause. I don’t see that in Washington today.
Back home, there have been a lot of reasons why I have not applied for any of the money sloshing around in one form or another of Covid-19 relief, tempting as it has been to apply for some of it. First, for the whole of my life I have always missed out when the gravy train has been passing by and there have been a lot of gravy trains passing by these days. But I have always been too old, too young, too rich or too poor or for some other bizarre reason I just do not qualify. I must admit that I have cast the occasional envious eye over some of the current handouts to see if by some bureaucratic oversight I might accidentally be eligible for something but, true to form, I only have to scratch the surface before it becomes painfully obvious that, yet again, I do not qualify, so these days I do not even fill in the application form. The second reason I have not applied for a handout is that I have been appalled at the wanton extravagance of all governments in handing out money and the demeaning enthusiasm of everyone to take it, particularly businessmen asking for ‘help’. You would expect this from the Labor party, but I had expected better from the Liberal party (fool that I am). But no, it is worse, and it has doled out billions, with no means test, no proof of need, no obligation to repay it, and no obligation not to spend it on corporate perks, dividends and bonuses, sending the budget into outer orbit and leaving our kids with a national debt that will never be paid off. The worst offender has been young Frydenberg because he has dressed up his brazen waste of money with a phony invocation of the spirit of Bob Menzies as if he would have approved of it. Anyway, it seemed a bit rich after condemning this irresponsibility to ask for a lick or two of the ice cream for myself. Thirdly, I do not really need the money and I can look after myself. I know that is an old-fashioned attitude, long since abandoned by the more responsible and enlightened sections of society like politicians, businessmen, economists, public servants, central banks, celebrities, commentators and anyone on Q&A. But there are still a few of us who believe we should look after ourselves and not look for a handout whenever things get tough.
However, things have now changed. My business is declining. Things are getting tight. I worry about keeping my research assistants employed. I am getting touchy, as the madmen of the ALP throw us into one useless lockdown after another and now, the final humiliation, another curfew which the police say is useless. But, wonder of wonders, a scheme has emerged from the state government sludge of Lockdown Six (yes, six!) under which I might qualify. It is called the Small Business Covid Hardship Fund and is intended to cushion the blow to businesses doing it tough. But wait; there is a trap, as you would expect. The form requires you to say if the business ‘operates as a private gender-exclusive club, where membership is only by invitation or nomination by an existing member’. What! If your answer is ‘yes’, you can kiss goodbye to being the happy recipient of a grant under this scheme. The money is only for the woke glitterati who measure up to the socialist moral principles of the perfect society, including abolishing private clubs. So, the world is in the grip of a pandemic; death and pestilence stalk the land; debate rages over rival vaccines; schools are closed and mental health problems surge, but what is it that keeps the socialists awake at night? What is the sole ground on which they will refuse a grant? Why, it is one of the litmus test issues on which they will never let go, the heir apparent to same-sex marriage: the one-gender private club. And the rule is clear: agree with us or we will starve you into submission. I will let you know if I get my grant.
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