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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Politics of Dependence

It's an election year. Now, I have no plans to make this site political, but a thought did occur to me on the way home.

For fear of bringing the full terrifying weight of the Electoral Finance Act down on my head, no parties will be named in this post.

It seems that we have a major party who would be happy for the bulk of the population to depend on the government. And there is another party who would like everyone to depend on the business sector. There are several smaller parties who advocate various positions in between these two. But it seems to me that there is only one party who continue to push for people's right to depend on themselves, and to suggest that the government ought to be willing to support such endeavours.

When we were in Melbourne last year, I noticed that the Victoria State government was paying a rebate of 50% of all costs to people who were installing their own rainwater catchment systems and solar panels (Please, correct me if I'm wrong - there's nothing worse than the fall from a high horse when you're not really in the saddle). Here, it will cost a minimum of about $3000 to retrofit a small solar water heating system in an existing home (its cheaper if you install when a house is being built). Then, if you qualify, the government will pay you up to $500 towards the cost of interest on a loan to pay for said solar water heating system. Which is a start, but is it enough to convince people that its worth the investment?

People need to be encouraged to do more for themselves and to rely less on either A) the government, or B) the consumer market, but the costs of becoming even marginally self-sufficient are awfully prohibitive. Also, the long-term effects of such a societal change are at odds with the overall agendas of both the major parties in this country (and probably in most countries, to be fair). Increased self-sufficiency, while better for the planet, the small community and the individual, is detrimental to the mass triumvirate institution of bureaucracy, industry and corporate greed. If people learn to look after themselves a little better, we won't need the massive machine that grinds away consuming our energy and absorbing our productivity.

There should be one issue that matters more this year than we've ever admitted to before now, and that is the simple fact of how we can best be at balance with our planet in a time of rampant consumerism and depleting resources. Just a little something to chew on as the election campaign gets underway.

And that's me for politics for now. If it takes your fancy, you can always follow some of the links on the right for more comprehensive coverage.

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