Struggle

People have to choose what they are going to struggle for. Life is always a
struggle, whether or not you’re struggling for anything worthwhile, so it might
as well be for something worthwhile.





Quote from Carla Emery, via Sharon Astyk, with thanks to Johanna Knox for giving me the link.



I love this quote. It reminds me of Paulo Friere, who also talked about the need for struggle in order to achieve change and said (paraphrased here, not quoted) that struggle is constant, there is no nirvana or rest place where the work of enfranchising the disenfranchised is finished. Life isn't about finding a way to spend your whole life on the golf course. I expect to work and I expect that requirement to be universal to us all. What I think is worth fighting for, what I like to imagine I am trying to do in my own small way, is to give dignity to the work and struggles that mark the days and months and years of each of us.


I think of my cousin when I look at the quote above on struggle. Vanessa's little boy, born with severe heart problems, is in Starship Childrens Hospital in Auckland at the moment, having come through a heart operation well but now with fluid around his lungs. The struggle to keep your ill child alive must be so terrible and yet nothing could matter more to a parent. I hope I never have to go through such agony.

There was a lot of talk about our small town yesterday about the recession starting to bite harder locally. A friend who does repossession work is getting very busy and not just for individuals. He told me stories today which brought home the particular vulnerability of small businesses, who might be owed money, significant sums, but who so often have to wait behind the big guns to get any money back when individuals and businesses go bankrupt.

So I was very mindful of where I spent money while in town yesterday. Yes indeed, payday is still a bit exciting. I paid off another $50 on my new boots. My current boots (gumboots being, unfortunately, inappropriate for work) are six years old and need the zips replacing. I don't muck around with cheap winter footwear and consequently I don't need to replace it very often. But in the small local shoe shop (the kind which I want to keep going but which must be struggling in the current climate) here in Wetville, you can still do layby. I bought the last pair of really good, fairly classic black leather boots a fortnight ago and I will pay $50 off per fortnight until either I have paid them off or other bills stop and I can clear the full sum earlier. The same shop also offer a repair service, and when I have my new boots I will send my current ones away to get new zips fitted. Currently I am careful how I hold my tongue each time I do them up, never keen on having to wear gumboots or really extremely old tatty shoes to work.

Then I took my sewing machine in to be fixed. Last week I posted about my windfall of fabric and clearly I'm not going to get far with a broken machine. I figured it was me - I probably shouldn't have a sewing machine driver's licence. But our wonderful local sewing shop lady checked a few things and identified that the tension spring is broken and made a note for the repair man for when he came in later in the afternoon. Service like this is totally wonderful and worth supporting and preserving in my opinion. Life ain't all bad in smalltown.

Something else to struggle against: big pharma ruling our lives. The big pharmaceutical companies have a huge global reach and the way in which capitalism and modern medicine are intertwined make it extremely difficult for each of us to make truly informed decisions about our health. The sway which big pharma has on national health providers is gobsmacking. Individuals who have made choices not to vaccinate themselves or their children are very effectively kept as isolated individuals - the way in which non-comformist choice is branded anti-community has nothing to do with medicine in my view and everything to do with market control. For me, a sea shift came with the realisation firstly that the herd immunity theory was just that, a theory, and secondly as I wondered why I had never asked before why an effective vaccine was so apparently reliant on other people having it. Either it gives you personal immunity or it doesn't, surely?

The other big gun in medicine which I think is worth struggling against is antibiotics. There are still doctors, many doctors, prescribing antibiotics very freely and also patients demanding them without sufficient knowledge of how they work (or don't work). Last night I began reading a book by Dr James McKenna on natural alternatives to antibiotics. He freely acknowledges that there is a time and place for antibiotics and also that the overuse of them threatens their efficacy when they are really needed. So I'll be furthering my knowledge with him for the rest of this week. Maybe there will be more herbs in the garden soon so I can opt for more homemade remedies as time goes on. I've already noticed liberal mention of echinacea. I managed to raise one plant from seed but then I killed that when I transplanted it in year two. Time for another go, come spring.

As for the big picture of economic struggle. Over the past five days, I have seen assertions that New Zealand debt is variously 25%, 40% and 97% of our GDP. Rather big differences. I'm finding it very difficult to really understand how New Zealand is placed in terms of debt burden and how to compare apples with apples, not cherry guavas. Any suggestions of good reading (preferably online for cost accessibility) on this are very welcome.

Comments

nova_j said…
and i bet you just fell over in shock when you heard that the tax cuts were being "postponed" huh? ;)
Mary said…
NZ debt could be short hand for:
Government debt
Public debt
Corporate debt
Private debt
Household debt or
National debt

And then there's gross debt vs net debt - gross debt being the measure before assets are taking into account. Net debt includes assets.

So - you need to be really specific with your definitions to compare those apples.

Here's some definitions from http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/befu2008/60.htm#_tocGlossary_of_Terms as a taster:

Gross Crown debt

The total borrowings (both sovereign guaranteed and non-sovereign guaranteed and including derivatives in loss) of the total Crown. This is the amount in the total Crown Statement of Financial Position for Reserve Bank settlement deposits plus other borrowings. It represents the complete picture of whole-of-Crown debt obligations to external parties, excluding payables.

OR

Net core Crown debt

Debt after deducting financial assets of the Core Crown from gross sovereign-issued debt. Share investments in supranational organisations, such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development & Bank for International Settlements, are excluded from the net Core Crown debt measure as are the assets of the NZS Fund.

OR

Gross sovereign-issued debt (GSID)

Debt issued by the sovereign (ie, Core Crown) and includes Government stock held by the NZS Fund, ACC or EQC for example. The gross sovereign-issued debt indicator does not eliminate any internal cross-holdings.

Here's a link which includes some pictures:

http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2008/fsr/b08-fsr.pdf (eg graph on page 6).
Thank you very much Mary. I really appreciate this information and link. Now to digest it properly and apply it to the news articles, then I will really be making progress.

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