Once a jolly swagman
Camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolabah tree
And he sang as he watched
And waited till his billy boiled
‘You’ll come a Waltzing Matilda with me’
It’s a song etched in the memory of most every Australian. Yet seldom do we stop to listen and ponder the words within. Like many song that have been handed down through the generations, this song has much that is lost to time.
We pass by the billabong without hearing the words of the ghost.
Yet the song describes the archetypal Australian struggle; the swagman against the squatter. A struggle that is just as current today as it was when the song was written. Today, the squatter, backed by the law, still wins against the swagman as a direct result of his windfall.
Still today, everyone wants their bit of something for nothing. Still today, because the swagman takes his ‘something for nothing’, the squatter gets away with gouging orders of magnitude greater. And still today, the swagman still ends up ruined.
For the sake of a sheep. After that point the difference is only a matter of scale. With the power of the law, the power of the systems in place, brought to bear, there is only ruin for the small. We don’t seem to learn that it is through the chinks within the systems that are established that the benefits flows, without labour or risk, to those in position to take advantage of them. The beauty and the terror of our system is that not despite but because these flaws are open to all, nothing is done about them.
Because so many do well from owning a home, we seem to forget that society still divides along the line of those who hold land and those who don’t. We see those who take best advantage of the system as good business, the same business we are in but at a different scale. Those who act to preserve these advantages act ‘in everyone’s interest’.
In everyone’s interest; At everyone’s cost. To the advantage of the few, at the cost of the many. For the sake of a sheep. Behind the strength of the law.
The cost, at any one time is not too great. A few percent a year. Each year. Year after year. Generation after generation. Wealth that would have been built never is. Changes for the better that would have occurred never do.
All for the sake of a sheep.