I let the news in this morning. They sneaked into my living room disguised inside the fragrances of freshly brewed coffee and grass just mowed down.
I should have been more vigilant and never let it in. Because it is early this Saturday morning and my working-class neighbourhood is just stirring. We can sleep a bit longer on weekends while there is no work.
Then stroll down to the markets for some food, and a bit of a gossip. Load our cars with kids, assortment of gears and friends, and friends of friends, to go to sports, or picnics, or just down to the harbour to sit in the shade and watch small boats gliding across the water. While there is no work.
In the evenings we might come out to smoke, and drink, and socialise, and to complain about the prices of food, and petrol and booze. And how rich bastards are getting even richer every day. Before to go to work on Monday. If they give us work that is.
But I was not vigilant. And the news splattered itself in front me.
Gina Rinehart is an Australian woman who has $19 billion dollars, and was reported the world’s richest woman earlier this year. Gina originally inherited the mining enterprise, but has since expended it to its present stratospheric level. Gina sits on pots of money.
And she writes a column for Australian Resources and Investment magazine. In her column she fumes against class warfare and tells all the poor souls out there to stop attacking the rich once and for all, and go to work instead. Because as Gina writes; ‘there is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire’. If you happen to be a born-poor, or a working-class poor, or any kind of poor for that matter, and have time and energy to complain, get over it and go to work. Do not sit around complaining. Do something to make money for yourself; ‘spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working’ she chirps. If Gina has her way; taxes will fall in Australia, red tape will be cut down, environmental rules erased and the minimum wage made even lower.
That’s right Gina, you just sit on your pots of money and tell us. We deserved it. Because we let you grow into a woman without making sure you read Dickens, and Hugo, and Orwell and Steinbeck, and many others, while you were just a young girl. Until you knew at least some of it by heart.
But we have neglected you.
Because we have failed to take you to the orphanages and prisons and detox centres, long before we gave you any money.
We have failed to make you hand the food, (even just for once), to self-maimed street beggars, and change dressings in field hospitals under the shelling.
We have failed to show you slums, and shanty towns and brothels. We never made you sleep in leaky refugee boats, or give medications to AIDS victims.
We never made you hold an infant dying of starvation. Or stand in a long queue under the rain and snow waiting for work. Hungry and embarrassed.
We have failed to show you why you don’t need $19 billion dollars for yourself. Because there is only so much space you can, and ever will occupy on this earth. Because there is only so much time you have been allotted and there is not a second more you can buy with any money. Not even pots of it.
And this is our worst failure; to have never thought you that by erasing tears of anguish, and huger and shame, your own space becomes bigger, and your time extends. Into eternity.
But we have forsaken all our duties to you. And so you know no better Gina.