Conventional wisdom holds that America leads and Australia follows. As a general rule, this has been the case since around WW11 when the country began to be infiltrated by American culture, epitomised not just by tastes in music and clothing but franchises such as McDonalds, KFC and Hogs Breath.
So it was with some surprise that a recent article referred to ex-President Obama and the three things he admired about Australia so much that he wanted them for the USA.
The first was health care. Here Obama tried hard but was frustrated all the way by congress, until an opportunity arose to do a deal and sneak through an emasculated version of what he really wanted. But something was better than nothing, and “Obamacare” was born. So far Trump’s desperate efforts to unravel it have failed as some Republican congressmen begin to realise how badly it will leave their own constituents (many others just don’t care). I’m afraid it’s still a case of “watch this space”, but maybe reason will prevail. Maybe.
The second was compulsory voting. Voting is optional in the USA and utilised by less than half the population. One can say; “serves them right,” but the feeling has grown over the years that their vote is pointless. Some analysts contend that the votes of the missing would counteract the current strength of the Republicans and make for a more representative congress. There is not enough space here to go into the intricacies of the American voting system: it seems to have been devised to be anything except the British system, and the Presidential electoral system is nothing short of a chaotic but very expensive rat race. But the Yanks love them and defend them with feeling.
The third? Gun control. This didn’t mean banning all guns, but even banning automatic rifles as was done in Australia would bring your ordinary American citizen into the streets to march on Washington. It’s one thing to own a rifle for hunting (which some consider a sport), but it’s the types of rifles that Americans favour which call their motives into question. No self-respecting hunter would boast of shooting prey with an army assault rifle. Needless to say, Obama didn’t even try to touch this one, although he did speak forcibly after the many mass murders that occurred during his presidency.
Energy cost are very much in the news lately, but have you been taking notice of the fuel prices around town?
Your scribe travelled to Grafton last month, through Parkes, Dubbo, Tamworth, Armidale and Coffs Harbour. Unbelievably, the cheapest petrol prices were in Grenfell, even allowing for the discounts which the supermarket-linked service stations offer. Unfortunately I didn’t price diesel.
In the local area, prices are similarly higher at Cowra, Young and Orange.
As a great physicist oft said, “Why is it so?” The reason doesn’t matter as much as the benefit. This is a good news story for the town and must tempt the passers-by to fill up as they pass by, thereby giving the local economy a shot in the arm.
Hopefully some of those caravanners who take advantage of the free camping at the railway station, also realise the situation and fill up as they go. It’s good news for the locals too.
By Feather Duster No. 3