Politicians’ entitlements

Keith Miller’s dad once said to him: ”Son, life will afford you many opportunities to say nothing. My advice is to take all of them.”

1. If only the grasshoppers at Speakers’ Corner had taken that advice! Poor Mr B. He was again besieged by chatters and interrupters of all persuasions.

Though . . . perhaps it’s time he realised the truth: that he isn’t a speaker; he’s just the moderator of a group discussion, and he should just focus on making sure his grasshoppers discuss matters in an orderly fashion.

Indeed, without his constant interruptions, the audience would be able to get on with the job of informing themselves.

2. Last week, Mr B suggested that he might not turn up this week. But he turned up today, as usual. This scribe thinks he shouldn’t be allowed to get our hopes up.

3. We here at Speakers’ Corner are truly blessed with the weather we receive. On hot days we sit in the shade of the giant fig trees, and in winter we sit in the sun. That way, nearly every Sunday turns out to be beautiful.
We are grateful to the 19th century politicians who had the foresight to create The Domain and plant fig trees for people in the future to enjoy.

“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Greek proverb.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Chinese Proverb

Our trees aren’t as big as this one, thankfully.


4. If you had a tumour that grew in your brain that compelled you to kill people, and you were then cured, should you go to jail for your misdeeds?

Answers to that question came easily enough. Then the question was asked, If someone is born with a defect in the brain, and that defect doesn’t allow the brain’s owner to feel empathy or sympathy, and compels them to kill, then should they be left in jail to rot? The answers given were not so straightforward.

Should we at least treat such people humanely, and with compassion, instead of treating them with contempt?

How many people like that are in jails now, suffering because they happened to be born with a defective brain that doesn’t allow them to moderate their behaviour? Should anyone care about them?

Should we admonish sufferers of Tourette’s Syndrome each time they swear?

5. Steve Maxwell had this to say: “In the present economic climate, where greed is touted as good, and politicians are shy in publicly coming forward with their salaries and allowances, who judges their true worth?

Recently, the NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, resigned from the government taking all her entitlements and allowances due her position. According to website, “Salaries and Government allowance for government and parliament,” the NSW Minister received $287,515 last financial year. That is a weekly wage of $5,529.20. On leaving parliament, the Minister can take a life pension of $150,00,00 per annum., which is $2,884 per week. And remember, many (but not all ) officials and politicians claim the allowances and entitlements.

The premier of NSW gets $377,780 while within the government, the average wage of a team leader is $162,976. A school principal’s wage is $132,000 per annum, and student nurses get $17.50 ph. The most someone on unemployment benefits gets is $450 p.w. for 26 weeks (that doesn’t include allowances).”

Thank you, Steve!


6. Today John Donne’s poem ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’* was discussed briefly.

* (Spoiler alert: it tolls for you, apparently.)

This coming Sunday’s poem will be Robert Frost’s famous, ‘The Road Not Taken’.

The Road Not Taken.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

7. One of the poems recited today was Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and thank goodness we had Uncle Pete to recite it and not Mr Nasal himself. The poem was a perfect example of how a poem can create a mood and present a strong message without having every line make sense with the lines above it and below it.

Other poems recited were two love poems by Eric Fried: ‘It is what it is’ and ‘Better Not’; and Peter the Younger read two humorous poems written by John Clarke. ‘Liquidity’ was one.

Next week more poems will be recited. How about bringing one along?

8. Nearly everyone had a turn trying to speak for thirty seconds without umming or saying ‘You know’. It was good to see so many people brave enough to step up onto ‘The Ladder of Knowledge’ and give it a go.

This coming Sunday we may attempt one or two impromptu theatre-games.

9. This week’s assertiveness tip was a beauty and even the grasshoppers managed to understand it.

Sort of.

A little bit, anyway.

Well, they tried to understand it.

Sort of.

Well, one tried.

I think.

Today’s tip was, ‘Show the person you understand their point of view’. Click here to see if the full explanation makes sense to you.

10. Reincarnation was discussed, and pleasingly, no one believed in it.

11. Other matters discussed:
– How big would an orange be if nothing else existed but an infinity of space?

– Mr B tried to talk about apathy but kept being interrupted with versions of the hilarious joke, ‘Let’s not bother talking about apathy’. Such hilarity was too much for Mr B and he moved on smartly to the next topic.

– The efficacy of homeopathy. (Mr Bashful was strangely quiet on that topic. Why?)

– Mr B’s brief holiday at the “hippie” Sydney Confest.

– Helmut tried to finish the day on The Ladder of Knowledge, but couldn’t, because Tony the Garrulous was in fine fettle and wouldn’t let him speak. So Tony replaced him, demanding that Australia arm itself with nuclear weapons.

12. Our Facebook page is just short of having 2,000,045 subscribers, and our archives site is just as popular.