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Year End 2004   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: The King of Comedy
John Robertson looks back on a year when his comic genius was finally realised.

Unions: Ten Simple Rules
Accepted wisdom has unions all but retired as serious players in the Australian game. A glance through the major industrial stories of 2004, however, suggests improved footwork, and a commitment to boxing clever, might herald a comeback, writes Jim Marr.

Politics: Rampant Indivdualism
CFMEU National Secretary John Sutton gives his take on a year when the political debate took a turn to the Right.

International: Global Struggle
Labourstart's Eric Lee looks back on a year when the struggles for labour increasingly crossed international lines.

Economics: Cashing in the Year
Look back in sorrow or look back in anger? By any standards 2004 has been a hell of a year, writes Frank Stilwell.

History: Grass Roots
Worker solidarity in Australia in the first century of invasion can give us inspiration and clues for our upcoming battles, writes Neale Towart.

Review: Cultural Realities
In 2004 popular culture shifted from reality television to reality movies, and swapped last year's light-weight subject matter for the slightly more substantial, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Y-U-C-K
Workers Online resident bard David Peetz takes inspiration from The Village People for his latest prose.

C O L U M N S

Predictions
The Crystal Ball
Workers Online consults a raft of leading psychics to find out what readers can look forward to in 2005.

The Soapbox
Scrooge Was Right
Christmas has been cancelled this year, writes our US correspondent Brooklyn Phil.

The Locker Room
The Workers Online Sports Awards
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the Twentieth Century, Phil Doyle dishes out the gongs for all things great and small in the world of sport during 2004.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Our favoutrite MP looks for a positive spin on the year at NSW Parliament

E D I T O R I A L

Beyond The Law
Despite the all-engulfing gloom emenating from our political wing right now, 2004 comes to an end on a strangely upbeat note for the trade union movement.

N E W S

 Unions Make Hardie Pay

 Hadgkiss Gives Mourners Grief

 Mum Gets "Hopson’s" Choice

 AWAs Crash on Broken Hill

 No Fun in the Sack

 Tax Office Draws Blood

 Origin Prop a Union Hit

 Good Guy Wears Black

 Security Crisis at Sydney Airport

 Biscuit Bosses Crumble

 Ardmona Urged to Can Racism

 Bomber Predicts Big Bang

 Stolen Wages Cut

 Tomorrow the World…

 Bosses Sack WorkCover

 Activists What's On!

L E T T E R S
 Costa’s Hike Unfare
 Temporary Arrangements
 The Price Of Tea In China
 Goodthink
 Cry For Me, Argentina
 Ho Bloody Ho
 Amen
 Right Is Wrong
 Business As Usual
 All In The Family
 Swing Left Wishful Thinking
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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The Soapbox

Scrooge Was Right


Christmas has been cancelled this year, writes our US correspondent Brooklyn Phil.

*******

Yes, sorry to say, but there will be no Christmas this season. Matter of fact, Santa himself got stopped and detained while attempting to enter our country. It seems the huge white beard and that silly red suit, plus the bagful of "concealed" packages, alerted security. Santa, sadly put, will be spending the holiday at Gittmo along with the other " beards".

Sarcasm aside, how can any sensitive caring soul truly be happy this season? We have kids younger than my sons, kids who signed up for flood duty and weekend marches, now being ill equipped targets for folks who do not want us in their country. Perhaps as many as 100,000 Iraqis are dead since Rumsfeld began his shock and awe carpet bombing of cities, where, duh, civilians live.We have, what, 1200 young Americans body bagged home, along with who knows how many wounded ( some for life). Then you have the depleted uranium and other chemicals that are floating into the nasal passages of anyone on the ground there- screwing up the immune and reproductive systems. And the little emperor struts around from sound bite to sound bite, grinning and smirking how " we will bring democracy to Iraq". Well, Georgie, do me two favors ok pal? Number one, bring " democracy" to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and any other ally of America, yes? And Number two, how about sending your twins over there for a couple of extended tours of duty? Perhaps if Jeb did the same, and countless others in your administration and Congress, this travesty would have a quick " cut and run" exit strategy.

Christmas cannot happen this year, at least not as in the past. How can we think about buying, buying and more buying , things that most of our loved ones do not even need, when the budgetary '" ax" keeps slamming down? They are cutting Medicaid, so that your Mom and Dad, grandparents, whomever, will not get the help they need in the nursing home. This writer has seen what the cuts can do. My Mom and Dad spent the past 6 years in a nursing home. Does anyone who ever really worked for a living expect someone earning $ 7.00 an hour to clean and bathe, wipe and dress our old folks, and do it efficiently? Aides are expected to do much of the work, receiving the lowest wages imaginable.

They are raising property taxes all over. Why? Well, as I constantly tell my radio host friend Big John ( who always reminds me " this is a local issues type forum show") that when $ 200 plus billion of our taxes goes into the bottomless pit of a war machine, we the people have to ultimately pay, pay and pay. Example: due to the increased spending for war related " priorities", federal block grants are eliminated. These are moneys that usually go right to the states for areas in need, as in school construction, Medicaid etc. Thus, the states can no longer funnel these absent moneys to the local communities. Thus, the local communities must raise the moneys by .... you guessed it, higher property taxes! So, the same hypocrites who bang the drum along with Bush and co. supporting wars of " liberation and democracy", now scream and yell " they're raising our property taxes!"

Fairly soon, sales taxes will go up as well. They have to do it. No money. Who suffers when that occurs? That's right, the regular folks, who make up 90% of the population, and earn, if lucky, median incomes. A Sales tax in itself is a regressive tax , as we the 90%, do most of the spending.

How about our Mr. and Mrs." Yes, I love my SUV and my President, a man of faith, and I support this war ( cause my kids are only 6 and 7 years of age), and we need to stop terrorism over there, before it comes here" ? Wait till they either get downsized or outsourced out of a job, and wind up as a non union Wal-Mart clerk or doing pizza delivery. Then we'll see a shift in this nation's consciousness, when that Christmas won't be happening for their family, as it is not happening for many of us this year.

Scrooge, for the first time since I can remember, was correct. Humbug!!!

Biography: P. Anthony Farruggio is co-founder of " Pro Activists of Volusia County", a Central Florida grass roots organization. A small businessman and columnist, Mr. Farruggio spent his formative years in Brooklyn, N.Y. the son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College ( class of '74) , and since the 2000 election has had over 45 columns posted on progressive sites and newspapers worldwide, including Counterpunch.com. He can be reached at [email protected]


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