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Out of the Pod!

“Out of the Pan,” 3 CR’s program covering pansexual issues and “knowing no boundaries of sex and gender,” is now available via podcast as well as being broadcast live at noon every Sunday on 855 AM and www.3cr.org.au via streaming.

Simply go to www.3cr.org.au/podcasts and click away!

Whether you’re sleeping in, partied hard the night before, working, in another time zone, needing your beauty sleep — or simply wanting to listen again — you won’t miss the news and views.

My huge thanks to 3 CR’s technical and management teams for achieving this, their support of the show and the people “Out of the Pan” aims to reach.

Sally Goldner
North Fitzroy, Vic

Rapist no role model for youth

I am outraged to hear that Clint Rickards, the ex Auckland Assistant Police Commissioner — who resigned after twice being accused of involvement in the pack rape of a teenager — was admitted to the bar as a lawyer this year and has now been offered a job at the Waipareira Trust in West Auckland, working with troubled youth.

Clint Rickards and fellow police officers, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, were acquitted in 2006 of raping 18-year-old Rotorua teenager, Louise Nicholas. In 2007 they were acquitted of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl. Both crimes occurred during the 1980s. However, the juries didn’t know that Shipton and Schollum had already been convicted in 2005 of the abduction and rape of a 20-year-old Mt Maunganui woman during the 1980s and were serving prison sentences at the time of their trials. At the time, feminists and unionists tried to inform the public by handing out a leaflet titled “We believe you Louise Nicholas.”

These rape trials highlighted the lack of justice for rape victims, the brutal cross examination of the complainants, the suppression of vital evidence, and the low standard of “consent.” The policemen claimed that the sexual activities were “consensual,” and that Louise Nicholas was a “liar.” Rallies and marches about these injustices, and in support of Louise, were held at the time of the 2006 trial and on International Women’s Day in 2007.

Louise Nicholas says that Rickards should not be allowed anywhere near troubled youth. Heather Henare from the Women’s Refuges, says that Rickards has never shown any remorse for his behaviour and is unsuitable for the job. “He was a police officer when he and his colleagues took advantage of a young 18-year-old woman in a situation that was beyond her control.”

Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum are also walking free after serving less than half of their sentences.

West Auckland feminists are planning a protest at Clint Rickard’s appointment. We have a long struggle ahead to achieve justice for rape survivors — and a society where these abuses do not happen in the first place.

Janet Robin
Auckland, New Zealand

Home ownership does not a capitalist make!

With mortgages the tripwire for the sub-prime implosion, clarity about the relationship between home ownership and capitalism is overdue. In brief, a mortgagee does not become any kind of capitalist with the final interest payment.

Two examples demonstrate the long-standing confusion of owning personal property as capitalist. At the 1949 elections, the Minister for Post-War Reconstruction in the Chifley government, John Dedman, lost his seat after declaring that the Labor Party was not interested in creating a nation of small capitalists by promoting home ownership. Sixties radicals joked about becoming POMs — Property-Owning Marxists — when they took out a mortgage. Both statements represent the triumph of petty bourgeois moralising over scientific analysis.

Owning one’s own dwelling cannot make you any kind of capitalist, even if that home is a penthouse in Dubai. In that case, you almost certainly needed to have been a big capitalist to afford such an abode. More significantly, paying for it could put an end to your being a capitalist by soaking up all your funds for reinvestment.

For the rest of us, rent is one of the socially necessary costs in the reproduction of our labour power. We struggle to make sure that our wages cover that outlay, along with food and clothing. If rents or interest rates go up, so does the pressure on wages. Equally, if all the workers in a labour market were to possess their own dwellings, employers would strive to push down wages until the homeowners would be no better off than those in the rental sector. The outcome, of course, depends on the relative strengths of the contending classes.

In 1936, the South Australian government demonstrated this principle by setting up the Housing Trust with low rents to reduce average wages in order to attract manufacturing to the State.

Erstwhile head of Treasury and the Reserve Bank, Bernie Fraser, has never owned his own house, arguing that it is more profitable to rent and to invest his savings. High returns are more likely with his skills and contacts. However, his exceptionalism underlines that homeownership is not the first step to becoming a capitalist. What about the situation that more Australians have put themselves in lately by buying into a rental property? In those cases, they benefit indirectly from the values added elsewhere in the economy, making them rentiers. Had they set up a small building firm, they would live off the direct exploitation of their employees, and indirectly from the purchasers, so that they become part capitalist and part rentier.

Australian workers seek home ownership to escape the costs and disruption from eviction. In addition, owning your own place has been insurance against impoverishment in old age. Both reasons remain part of the socially necessary costs of reproducing labour power. They are not shortcuts to living off the labour power of others.

Humphrey McQueen
Griffith, ACT

Editor’s response: Thanks to Humphrey for his contribution making a vital point that we did not cover in our feature on housing in the last issue. We agree wholeheartedly that owning your own home does not make you a capitalist!

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