There has been some extraordinary news recently that has received very little attention in the United States or coverage by our news media. For the past two months, Australia has experienced cataclysmic flooding. The most devastated region was the State of Queensland where an area the size of France AND Germany, or larger than the State of Texas, was underwater! Imagine that!
Infrastructure, crops, homes, schools, businesses were destroyed in a State representing 20% of the nation’s economy. Thirty-five people died. 5% of the world’s steelmaking coal exports have been removed from the world market. Soon after Queensland, the States of Victoria and New South Wales were also ravaged by flooding.
So, the first extraordinary news is that one of our closest allies has been flooding for two months and most Americans know very little about it.
The second bit of news should be at least as extraordinary to Americans. The Prime Minister and Federal Parliament announced yesterday a one-time tax levy designed to cover some of the reconstruction costs incurred by the floods. Australians earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year will be assessed an additional 0.5 percent of their income. Australians earning more than $100,000 per year will pay an additional 1% of their income to contribute towards the massive rebuilding costs.
Australians earning less than $50,000/year OR who were victims of the flooding pay nothing.
Imagine that happening in the United States of America? Our infrastructure is crumbling and our neighbors are in need. Should the Congress decides to raise taxes for the common good? Fuggetaboutit!
Hell, we just gave an estate tax bonanza of $25,000,000,000 to 6,000 rich families and extended tax cuts to millionaire and billionaires who use teams of accountants and off-shore accounts to avoid paying taxes in the first place.
If a great American city is wiped out by a flood, we wait until Leighton Meester holds a telethon or Justin Bieber organizes a bake sale. Quick! Call a Kardashian! Surely, Jessica Simpson can save the day!
Government is to be avoided at all costs. Charity uber alles!
Last night, I was listening to the BBC coverage of the Aussie flood tax levy and the program interviewed an economist from the Westpac Bank (a major Australian bank). He casually referred to a person earning $150,000 per year as HIGH INCOME! President Obama is attacked for attempting to define $250,000 as the upper limit of being MIDDLE CLASS! The American mythology causes voters to act against their own self-interest based on the fantasy that we will each be a billionaire any day now.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.