Whenever I hear Mathias Corman (Minister for Finance) Malcolm Turnbull (Prime Minister) or Magic Mike Baird (XXL banker with a w) (NSW Premier) talk I’m transported back to the corporate boardroom and find myself wondering when the book ‘who moved my cheese’ will drop through my letter box……
I joined a big corporation not long after moving to these fine shores (Australialand) and found myself slap bang in the middle of a messy, ugly merger that left many staff traumatised on a daily basis. I should have seen it coming, even the interview was bad, the chap interviewing me warned me of the ‘tough’ working environment and chaos that I’d soon be facing, telling me it wasn’t for the feint hearted. As someone who had, in her past life travelled through the wilds of Indonesia alone, camped for 8 weeks in the jungle, signed up to join the army (hoping to become the first female James Bond), did triathlon’s and endurance races for fun, birthed two kids (one without time for drugs, the other one- the drugs didn’t work) and then emigrated whilst said children were still very much in nappies I couldn’t imagine a scenario more challenging than anything I’d gone through before so I took no notice and signed on the dotted line. I lasted for just over three years.
The ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ book did the rounds about half way through year one. It was during a particularly ugly time when I’d probably already been in tears at least three times. The book was supposed to re-assure us that change was good and that we need to move with the cheese. At the time, being an exhausted working mum I just read the book and tried to get on with my work. If I could transport my now self back into that same situation I would have shoved the book us someones arse and I wouldn’t have even stopped to get the marigolds first.
So now, with a strange sense of Deja Vu I am reliving my corporate nightmare through our present government.
I am aware of the fact that not everyone thinks like me but I happen to think that a government should not run a country like a corporation. Sure having a strong economy is important and looking professional to your mates is important but I like to think of the country I live in as more of an extension of my home than my work. I should feel comfortably protected yet not locked in, should be supported yet not molly coddled, should be able to relax without becoming lazy and should be able to nurture myself and my family without being accused of being a leftie whinger. On top of that I’d like to think that my country would also do their bit to ensure a basic level of all of that for everyone else too.
But we are under a neoliberal economic system and that favours a hard-nosed corporate approach to life.
Work hard. Save hard. Make as big a profit as possible. Be happy if you have got the time. Create budgets that please the shareholders. Talk in metaphors. Don’t give away any detail. Be strategic. Spin your truth. Be the last one in the office each night. DO NOT CRY.
I can quite literally feel the tension in my body as I write those worlds and pre-empt a defensive response of ‘right, so working hard isn’t important to you then? ‘ or ‘well how do you plan being charitable and caring if you have no money’ and ‘so you think we should just give away all our secrets do you’? That is if anyone reads the article, that’s not a given.
But that’s taking what I’m saying out of context.
And that’s exactly what running a country like a neoliberal corporation does to society. It de-humanises us to an extent, turning us into units of economic production, objects whose only value (and worth) is our capacity to generate wealth.
Who moved my cheese is a book about coping with change.
I’m ready for change but the question is, is our government?