Cheap human beings

THE FAIRFAX NEWSPAPERS HAVE long figured in this country as an expression of liberalism's two-facedness; as the cliché goes, able to entertain two opposed ideas at the same time, and put them both in a single edition. That they can be demonised by the political Right as the mouthpieces of the inner city élites and also by the political Left as unashamed barrackers for corporate and boss power, and that both can be right, is only credit to Fairfax/Nine's editors. Consider this pair (the italics are mine):

Shaun Carney, 'As we prepare for recovery, we should ask what "recovery" will mean'

As we prepare for recovery, we should ask what "recovery" will mean. Before we went into lockdown, our economic model was sputtering. Wages had long been stagnant, growth was tepid, and we were too reliant on the import of cheap manufactured goods and human beings for our prosperity rather than our own ingenuity through innovation and entrepreneurialism.

John Hart, from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), quoted in Fergus Hunter, Business backs easing of restrictions to boost corporate travel:

"There is a hell of a lot of movement around the country that is business and corporate-based and that's a really important start of the restart, particularly as we start to see business events picking up again."

Mr Hart said there was a case for eased quarantine arrangements for countries deemed low-risk and travel should be permitted based on the benefit individuals were bringing to the Australian economy.

Here is the model for the 'new normal', a set of classes for participation, according to one's worth. There are cheap human beings (migrants and their grandparents), and worthy human beings (richer migrants and executives), the first is explicitly denied a place, the second gets its plastic card for entry into the QANTAS Club of post-pandemic Australia. This is not a division of human good, it's a division of productivity and, needless to say, a colour bar. In fact the new normal looks a lot like the old normal, just shittier, and with the mask torn off; a society of crass inequality in which one class gets excluded from the future, and the other gets to have free muffins and beer at airports.

In an extremely serious pundit voice, we we all be asked—as we prepare for recovery---the Devil's own question:

“Schmidt, are you a high-priced man?”



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