#loveme challenge – Day Nineteen

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Day 19 – Something I Feel Strongly About

Another very broad statement.  I feel strongly about a lot of things.  In fact, I’m sure my tangents drive people crazy sometimes.  What I feel strongly about today though is something that has divided nations and dinner tables everywhere.  We’re all firmly on one side of the fence or the other.  It’s a controversial yet oft-spoke about topic of debate.

Pinapple does not belong on pizzas.

There, I said it.  Fruit should not be touching my ham and cheese deliciousness (I know, I know, except for tomato, which is technically a fruit but is also an honorary vegetable in this instance).  Fruit should be kept until after the meal!  As a dessert, preferably in pie form.  Mmmm, pie.

Mmm

For those firmly on the opposite side of the fence, don’t tell me to just “pick it off”!  Pineapple is juicy, everyone knows that, so just because the little yellow devils aren’t on the bread any more, doesn’t mean we can’t still taste that it was there!

Way to ruin a good pizza, Hawaiians!  What side of the fence are you on?

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PS Yeah, I skipped yesterday.  Sorry.  Just picking up where I left off again!

My Two Cents: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

This is a hot topic in Australia at the moment after the government suggested potential plans to bring this in, in an effort to stop people using their welfare allowances on illegal substances.  I know a lot of you reading this aren’t from Down Under.  We had a slang term to address people like that – “Dole Bludgers”.  It’s an offensive term and something a lot of people actively avoid being called.  It basically means you’re too lazy to get a job and the rest of the country hates you for wasting our tax money.  There are suburbs in every state where there are a large number of Dole Bludgers…it’s those same suburbs that are actively avoided due to their reputation of high crime rates.  I know I don’t go to them unless absolutely necessary.

Anyway, I’m all for the testing.  I know some people – namely those accepting allowance payments – think it’s an invasion of privacy, and there’s no guarantee the drugs were paid for my government hand outs.  They say it doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for work.  If they’re unable to work, they say it doesn’t hurt anyone and it shouldn’t affect their entitlements.  They say they need the money to feed their families.  They say it’s a health issue, much the same as cancer or depression.  I’ve read all the excuses.  That’s exactly what they are – excuses.

Whether or not drugs should be illegal is a completely different argument, but as it stands in Australia right at this moment, they are a banned substance.  Now, if you want to use them despite that, then that’s your choice and I’m not about to go all politically correct about that.  It doesn’t directly affect me (thankfully) so I’m not about to weigh in on that issue.  I will say, though, that if you’re using my taxpayer money to fund your habit, that’s when I’m going to start saying no.  I was unemployed up until last week (though I never got so far as to accept handouts).  I understand it isn’t easy to find a job.  In fact, it’s hard work and it sucks.  That’s why our government has a system that allows for hand outs.  I have no problem with people accepting the money, because that’s what it’s there for, but I do have an issue when they piss it away on dope or ice and don’t even attempt to find a job because they’re too busy being off their faces.

Drug testing would mean that people found to have banned substances in their systems would be stripped of their benefits, and be forced to find work.  While that may initially sound ruthless (particularly to those supporting families), I don’t see this as being a bad thing.  It’s forcing them to get clean, ask for help, admit the problem instead of hiding away, making the problem worse, and possibly endangering their lives and the lives that surround them.  Obviously there would need to be some timeline in place for those that comply and legitimately can’t find work, but this would also need to be accompanied by regular drug tests as well.

Is it an invasion of privacy?  Well, no, not if you’re using taxpayer’s money.  You gave up your right to that level of privacy when you began accepting those payments.  If you aren’t doing anything wrong, you aren’t giving up anything more private than your pee.  Again, this probably sounds ruthless.  Isn’t everyone entitled to privacy?  Yes, of course.  I’m not suggesting everyone who goes on the dole should have to give blood samples and fingerprints.  It’s not a criminal offence to ask the government for help.  It is a criminal offence, however, to use elicit drugs, and if you’re going to break the government’s law using government funds, then it’s you’re own stupid fault if you get caught.

The most used excuse is “it’s a health issue”.  I understand it’s an addiction so in that sense it’s true.  That being said, just the same as alcohol, cigarettes and sugar, it’s something you can kick.  I believe should this testing come into practice, the government would need to give users free access to rehabilitation clinics and support groups, as I completely agree it’s almost impossible to go cold turkey.  I’m not suggesting this testing should be bought in to punish users, but to help them.  If they refuse the help, then they lose their benefits and that’s the end of that, but if they accept the help and successfully kick the habit, then they should be allowed benefits again.  Seems fairly straightforward to me.

The last excuse I want to touch on is the “I need the money to feed my families” one.  This one is particularly disturbing to me as drugs aren’t cheap, we all know this.  If you’re expecting your allowance to cover your habit and your kids food, what are you feeding them?  It’s bad enough they’ve got a drug user in the household, but to then be raised on two minute noodles and baked beans because that’s all they can afford after the drug money?  This is why testing needs to come in.  To help the innocent victims.  To get their parents back on track.  To give them a voice and make them heard.

Australia is a great country when it comes to supporting it’s people.  We have a fantastic health system and a decent support system for the sick, unemployed and disabled.  A lot of this is due to the taxes we pay each year to cover the cost.  I am wholeheartedly supportive of the drug tests.  I think the positives far outweigh the negatives, and anyone who can’t see that needs to have a long hard think about why exactly that is and who they’re hurting in the long run.

-JD

My Two Cents: Gun Laws

So, this is one of the most hotly talked about topics in the blogosphere at the moment, mostly from people in America.  Normally I steer clear of political topics because I generally don’t have a well-formed (or I suppose well-educated) opinion.  This is potentially true in this case too, however I do have a unique insight and overview of the whole thing as I’m not from the US, and I’ve grown up in a very different world when it comes to guns and the laws that surround them.

In my humble opinion, Australia has a fantastic system when it comes to guns.  You firstly need a licence which I believe also requires background checks.  I can hear the American pro-gun uproar at the thought of it: “What do you mean, a background check?  It’s my right to have a gun!”.  Tying in with that, to obtain a licence you absolutely have to be over 18.  Sorry, underagers, but you have next to no chance of picking up a weapon unaccompanied down under.  Secondly, anyone who owns gun/s must have their serial number registered to them.  No, you can’t just go to a gun show and pick one up.  (Side note: who the fuck even thinks gun shows are legitimate entertainment anyway?!).  Thirdly, anyone who owns gun/s must have a secure storage place for them.  The authorities can check.  Cue pro-gunners: “How is that going to help if someone is breaking in?  Where’s the security in that?  What’s the point?”

See, the thing about all these laws is, it means less people have access to guns.  A lot less.  By having less guns, it means they’re less likely to fall into the wrong hands.  We almost certainly will never have a re-enactment of America’s Sandy Hook shooting.  Firstly, because most families simply don’t own a gun.  For the ones that do, they are stored under lock and key, far away from curious little hands and minds.

With our stricter laws, we don’t have gun shows or easy-to-find gun shops.  We don’t stock ammo in everyday stores.  Kids with mental issues – such as the case with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris – can’t just got out and pick up a couple of rifles.  Even if they were of age, chances are they’d have gotten knocked back before even being able to obtain a gun licence.

“I’m sure if they were desperate enough, they’d have found a way to get their hands on some guns.”

That may be true, I can’t completely deny that.  Mentally ill people can do some pretty desperate things.  That being said, Australia hasn’t had any mass shootings at all since before tougher gun laws were introduced in 1996 – and even that shooting was done by someone of age.  We certainly have our fair share of people with mental issues and disabilities.  The gun laws – no doubt coupled with a great health system – have stopped school shootings from happening.  Put simply, it’s just too hard.  Even if they could find someone with a gun (in the populated cities and suburbs I’d say that would be difficult), the person they’re taking the gun from is registered to it.  It would take the police no time at all to trace it back to them.  Who wants to risk that?  Nobody.

“But the right to bear arms is in the constitution!”

Yeah.  So what?  While I appreciate that Americans see the constitution as the be-all-and-end-all, I just don’t get it.  Maybe because Australia doesn’t really have anything similar, I just don’t really follow the logic.  It was written hundreds of years ago.  A lot has changed since then.  We have access to better technology, better heath systems, better education than when that was written.  Why can’t it be changed?  Or I guess, more to the point, even if it says it, why does it mean everyone should have a gun?  Just because you have the right to do it, doesn’t mean you need to.  I have the right to eat fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner…it doesn’t mean I do it.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

I seriously can’t stress how idiotic that line is.  It seems to crop up every time a pro-gunner opens their mouth.  You’re being stupid.  If the guns weren’t there, less people would be dead.  I don’t care how you want to look at it, you can’t kill half as many people in a physical attack (such as a stabbing) than you can with a weapon.  Nobody is suggesting that simply by having a gun, you’re going to kill someone.  However by having a gun, it means you have the ability to do it easily and efficiently without getting into any form of combat whatsoever.  No, the gun doesn’t pull it’s own trigger, but the person behind it likely wouldn’t commit the murder at all without it.

“I only have a gun for protection because everyone else has a gun!”

This I understand.  Completely.  It’s just a reflection of how out of hand gun control is in the States.  If you feel you need a dangerous weapon just because you’re worried other people might use their dangerous weapons on you, it’s time to take a good hard look at why you both have them at all.  Australians don’t feel the need to own guns because we know that our neighbours likely don’t have any to turn on us with, and if they do, they’ve had proper screenings before they’ve been allowed one.  The gun problem isn’t going to get any better if you keep letting people buy them for protection.

Just because we are on the other side of the world, doesn’t mean we don’t feel the impacts of the school shootings Americans go through.  We see it on the news, we read it in the newspapers, we see it on social media.  All those broken families, crying faces, people asking why.  Our whole nation asks that same question too.  Why?  Why do you keep letting this happen to your children?  You watch on in horror, you hang your flags at half mast, you mourn for them…and yet you do nothing to fix the problem.  Do you honestly think this problem is just going to go away?  That it will fix itself?  That disturbed people will just decide to seek help instead of acting out their fantasies?

Wake up to yourself, America.

Collumbine happened back in 1999.  This has been an ongoing issue for SIXTEEN YEARS.  It isn’t going away.  It won’t fix itself.  Mentally ill people aren’t seeking help.  Stop putting guns in their hands.  Stop letting innocent lives be ended prematurely for a constitutional right.  Isn’t it a basic human right to live?  To feel safe in your own country?  To go and get a education without fear?  Until something changes, we will continue to watch in horror as more mass shootings occur, I guarantee it.

*Full disclaimer that I’m not meaning to offend people with this post.  I understand that Americans have been conditioned to believe guns are a part of life.  Also, if any of my facts are incorrect, I apologise.  I’m not an expert.  This is just one person’s view on the whole issue.

I Can’t Stay Mad At You

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Can’t Stay Mad at You.”
Do you hold grudges or do you believe in forgive and forget?

I don’t really believe in either.  I mean, it depends who I’m mad at and what they’ve done, but if they aren’t someone I’d consider a close friend, and if they’ve done something I see as horrible, I will cut all ties with them.  I wouldn’t say I hold a grudge, because that would mean I’m actively staying mad at them.  No, I just try to leave them in the past.  I don’t forgive them and I don’t forget what they’ve done, but I also don’t waste my energy on thinking about them.  Instead, I try to heal myself from the damage they’ve caused…and that, for me, takes a long time because I get hurt by others actions easily.  I try to see the good in everyone and if they’ve gone and done something to offend/upset/hurt me (intentional or not), it takes a lot for me to switch off the hurt.  Admittedly, I am getting better at both keeping my distance from people, and at moving on, but it isn’t (and will never be) an overnight process.  I think holding grudges is a waste of time and something I moved on from doing in high school, but I also think forgiving and forgetting is a recipe for more pain down the track.

That being said, if one of my close friends does something wrong, I am all about forgiving and forgetting.  It takes a lot for me to consider someone a close friend, and for me to do that I have to trust them and their motives completely.  If they’ve fucked up, I always believe it wasn’t their intention and that if, given a second chance, they wouldn’t do it again.  I know that’s contradictory to my attitude towards everyone else, and can definitely lead to issues later on, but I’d like to think if I made mistakes they’d forgive me too.  That’s what friendship is, isn’t it?  Knowing the person well enough to give them extra chances?

-JD