Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thank You John Howard

I never voted for John Howard's party. But two times since I became an Australian, this man made me say thank you to him.

The First time was in 1999 during the East Timor crisis. When the United Nations took its time deciding how to react to the massacres committed by the Indonesian militia against the local citizens of the East Timor, John Howard was the first politician who sent troops to protect the helpless locals. It was a year which made almost all Australians proud of their identity. I actually can't remember anyone who disagreed with his decision at the time.

The second time is NOW. Two days ago, John Howard decided to send more troops to Iraq to protect Japanese Self-Defence Forces undertaking humanitarian projects in the South after the Dutch government decided to pull out its troops from the area. He may change his mind under pressure. I don't know.

If you think election 2004 was tough here, where the Americans were divided over Iraq, then you should know it was the same in Australia. But, the Australians re-elected him because Iraq's issue wasn't on the top of their agenda. The domestic issues were more important. Still, this new commitment to send more troops to Iraq won't be popular among many Australians.

You may want to know why I disagree with John Howard. I disagree with his domestic policies. I wouldn't list many but there's one I really despise. Australia's social security system is too generous. To be honest, it was generous under the Labor party too. But, I thought when John Howard came to power, he would do something about it. Now, don't misunderstand me when I say social security. I'm not talking about the old people who deserve to have the financial benefits after age 65. I'm talking about the younger generation, mostly the immigrants, who are able to work but prefer to abuse the system and get paid an allowance.

Let me put it in simple words. When you lose your job in America or Canada, you're entitled to six months of unemployment benefits. In Australia, you'll be paid the benefits as long as you're not working. I met people in Australia who never had a job and the government kept paying them without much questioning. That may be fine if the person is really looking for a real job. But, when those people are working cash during the day and still getting the benefits, then we have a problem.

I knew many of those people when I lived in Sydney. They thought my friends and I were somewhat stupid because we had real jobs and were paying taxes. In a way, they were right because part of our taxes were going to their unemployment payments. Most of those people, who loved to abuse the system, built new houses, bought nice cars and sent their kids to private schools. Do you see why I have a problem with Howard's domestic policies? And yes, I don't believe in Socialism. I believe people need to work hard to earn their living. That's how my dad brought us up.

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