In the mid 1970’s as the punk movement took hold in the United Kingdom and a speed rush of youthful “fuck you” rebellion and the scent of uncollected refuse hung in the London fog, some aspects of this “movement” dribbled their way to our very own shores, taking up residence in a few dank inner city pubs and their surrounds and mostly typified by previously untroubled young things joyously embracing a newfound enthusiasm for tipsy nihilism, all things black, and thirty thousand ways with hair gel.
It was all about striking an attitude, a pose and looking the part down here, as there was really fuck all to get worked up about, the two-finger salute to authority, injustice and oppression little more than a limp-wristed “whatever”; rebellion was swigging a half-bottle of cough syrup on Bondi Beach Friday nights and a mandrax.
The Occupy movement currently taking place in various capitol cities around Australia reminds me of this.
A (valiantly) peaceful, if somewhat bedraggled stand of empathic solidarity with our oddly-voweled compadres from the land of the free and the home of the brave, a country with an economy run ragged for a decade by the havoc of war and battle’s confusion and whose broad stripes and bright stars are looking decidedly lean and dimmer than a dying candle’s glow right now.
But we really do not have that much to protest about.
Things work. Mostly.
We have a national healthcare system. We have a welfare system. Public education. Low unemployment. A resilient economy.
Things work. Mostly.
The minimum wage here is $15.51 an hour.
I wouldn’t get out of fucking bed for $7.25 an hour.
In a very few states, you might earn up to a whole eight bucks and a few bits for your one hour of toil and labour, though if you’ve been cursed with the bitter misfortune of being born and resident in either Georgia or Wyoming, you’ll still only get $5.15.
My rent is $360.00 a week.
If I were earning the minimum national U.S. wage, I’d have to work almost 50 hours a week to pay it.
I’d have to get a second, maybe a third job to rack up another 20 or 30 hours a week to afford food, clothing, utilities.
If I had a family to care for, health problems to treat, school expenses to pay …
Fuck it, I’d emigrate.
And I’d come here.