Reliance on computers and the mistrust of subordinates mean that we are losing our minds.
Mention the word Centrelink to people and most give you a look of mixed terror and contempt. I am applying for a Commonwealth Health Card through My Gov. It took me three visits to Bendigo and three to Castlemaine to complete the application. (And I understood as much of that as I understand of my tax returns. So much for fifteen visits to Cambridge, Harvard or Oxford.) I spent about twenty hours on a process that should take twenty minutes. After a couple of months, I got a computer generated reply which ignored everything that I had said in a letter, made a request for further information, which request I have asked them to explain to me, and said my application might lapse if I did not respond in fourteen days. If you screw up your courage to ring them, you get warned about being cross with them. I first encountered this civilian terror at H M Customs on the Gare du Nord. Feisty Brits turning up late with a skin full.
For reasons I forget, the two Master Cards I have from the Bendigo Bank have very different limits. (I also have an O/D which is secured. There is no home loan. The security is worth more than ten times any permissible debt.) I attended at the Branch to say that I wanted the same limit on each card, but so as to reduce the limit overall and so reduce the risk to the bank – by about half. It took me a while to explain this. To my horror, I was told that if I wanted to do that, I would have to back to the beginning and fill in a very long form about all my finances and then attend by appointment to discuss it with a bank officer – and, presumably, be cross-examined. I was told this politely but in a manner that suggested that this would be the end of the matter. All this because I wanted to reduce my possible debt to this bank. When the word ‘ridiculous’ fell from my lips, my interlocutor looked bemused, if not hurt. I am a shareholder in the bank, and this kind of madness worries me – it makes them look like the big four, from whom I deliberately walked away. I have sent a note to Head Office asking if they are serious, and after some days I am still waiting for an answer. I regard this as a sackable offence.
Two days later, I was exposed to worse madness. I was appointed a mediator in a court ordered mediation. An unrepresented litigant defaulted on paying his share of the fee. I got my clerk to write to the court asking it to nominate a government official to whom I could apply for an indemnity. The answer was that it was not appropriate to nominate someone else because this officer of the court though there was no basis for such an application. If you saw it on Monty Python, you would just laugh. But it isn’t funny. There is a legal question of whether a person carrying out a function pursuant to a court order is entitled to indemnity on the ordinary principles of agency. But there is also a policy question of whether a government that relies on the cooperation and support of a profession should be seen to treat a member of that profession in a way that ordinary people would say is lousy. As far as I know, no legal advice has been sought on the first question, and no consideration has been given to the second. What do they want me to do – sue the State of Victoria for a declaration? (It’s OK – I’m not that mad; just browned off.)
Then I had to notify Telstra of a change in my credit card. I was desperate to avoid a phone call – for reasons you will understand. But the computer kept stopping me doing it on-line. It refused to accept my date of birth! It’s been the same bloody way for seventy-three years, Mate. (It was the day on which Luther took his stand – ‘I can do no other’ – and nailed his theses to the door. He was protesting!) So I went to ‘Contact us.’ Have you noticed how corporations then make it as difficult as possible for you to get anywhere near the bastards? You have to fill in forms and answer questions and do really sensible things like give your driver’s licence. Then I was blocked again. How? Surely you have guessed. ‘Contact us’ also refused to accept my date of birth! Hullo Asia, coming ready or not. For sheer bastardry and difficulty, and mistrust of people generally, especially their own staff, Telstra is up there with Centrelink. That’s why I sold all my shares in that company – getting out of Centrelink is not so straightforward.
The idiot who said that that which does not kill us makes us stronger did not have to deal with these bunnies. And as I understand it, those two Boeings drove into the earth killing hundreds of people because the pilot could not override the computer.
We are losing our minds – and our souls.
Retiring as late as 64 would make the French die younger, said the radical left party France Unbowed. French lawyers said the reform was a death sentence for their profession.
The Weekend Australian, July 20-21, 2019.
No wonder French roads are clogged with campervans. Why would anyone want to retire at 64 – or at all?
KPMG is another prominent supporter of a constitutionally entrenched voice, as are other major accounting firms, the Law Council of Australia and several ASX-listed companies. Those trying to railroad their staff, and the rest of the country, into supporting an ill-defined voice to parliament are the new workplace bullies…..Some have been put on notice that offering support for a fundamental change to Australia’s founding document without any meaningful details is tantamount to condoning constitutional sabotage. (Emphasis added.)
Janet Albrechtsen, The Weekend Australian, July 20-21, 2019
Does all this shrillness ever get anywhere? Does anyone ever read any of this stuff – before or after publication?