The Guardian • Issue #2040



  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2040

Anyone who wants a pleasant song to sing with children should look up the 2002 They Might Be Giants’ song “Where do they make Balloons?,” a harmless little ditty whose chorus is the childish question of where all the balloons are made. Balloons are on our minds for several reasons, some literal and some metaphorical. A search for the word “balloon” on the ABC website brings up the options of “spy balloon,” “Chinese balloon,” and “Chinese spy balloon.” By now everyone will have heard about the balloon/civilian unmanned airship, similar to one which drifted across Chile not so long ago without anyone getting upset. The balloon performed a useful, if unintended purpose of giving various reactionary American political figures the chance to grandstand, demanding that the thing be shot down regardless of what might then fall on American citizens underneath it. Worrying about consequences for what an American millionaire once called “the little people” has never been the strong point of the American ruling class, who continued to huff and puff when the balloon was eventually shot down over the ocean. The balloon had done nobody any harm and had been assessed by the American defence establishment as not posing any risk, but a gesture is a gesture. We think the opportunistic Sinophobes of the Australian and American political worlds should chip in to buy some replacement balloons for China as a way of thanking them for another opportunity to create fear while acting stern and decisive towards the alleged floating menace.

Speaking of gestures, Australia’s Treasurer has just floated a thought-balloon in the form of an essay in The Monthly magazine. In just under six thousand words, Jim Chalmers has a bash at striking a balance between what his party claims to do (look after the workers) and what they really want to do (stay in power, keep donors happy). Older readers may remember Bill Clinton and Tony Blair’s “Third Way,” which tried to do the same thing. Even older members might remember Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. Younger readers should have heard of “centrism.” This essay is getting a lot of reactions from all sides of our media, and constitutes Chalmers’ claim to being an intellectual heavyweight and possible future ALP leader. (A long essay in The Monthly was part of Kevin Rudd’s path to leadership way back in 2006). Anna Pha has read all 5662 words of the essay so you don’t have to, and provides a Marxist analysis and a response. (see Chalmers’ oxymoron)

Toddlers like balloons, so it’s easy to fob them off with some nice floating objects. Less easily satisfied are the early childhood educators who set the kids on the right path to a future of learning. As you can see on our front page, the underpaid staff of our childcare centres are voting with their feet as an alternative to getting by on pathetically low wages. The Communist Party of Australia is right with them. Early childhood educators deserve a pay rise now!

Unlike the already well-paid Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, who can buy a lot of balloons on $1.5 million per year. We don’t think the decision to try to buy off the anti-BDS (Boycott, Disinvest, Sanctions) lobby by adopting the very iffy Internatioal Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism as university policy earns him any more treats. To find out just what’s wrong with the definition. (see Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism)

The Workers Weekly Guardian welcomes letters to the editor on any topic, but there’s no need to tell us if you know where they make balloons. You never know when the military industrial complex might be listening.

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