there’s a drawer in my study

There’s a drawer in my study.

From the outside it looks like any ordinary drawer. It has a wood facia, and a simple aluminium handle. It’s like any other drawer in the cabinet.

But inside this one hides something that fascinates me every time I open it.

It’s full of superseded electronic equipment. Maybe you have one too.

There are about four different old model iPhones and an old-school iPod. There’s a very early Samsung phone or two and a stand-alone digital camera. A fairly original iPad whose battery died and rendered it dysfunctional. There’s a couple of cheap mp3 players and a small stack of USB memory sticks with enormous capacities (one holds all of 64mb!). There’s even a genuine 1980’s Sony Walkman, and it’s cousin – the ’90s era Discman (if you don’t know what those do don’t be ashamed, just ask your parents).

Just opening the drawer is a walk down memory lane. I remember when each of those devices arrived, heralding new possibilities, new technology, new connectivity, mult-functionality. Each seemed to promise a whole new world…and for a time each delivered.

Portability, storage, connection, communication. Even coolness (let’s be honest, I’m not now nor ever have been cool, and even an iPhone wouldn’t have changed that, but dreams are dreams). Each device tells a story to me, and I often find myself spending a few minutes reminiscing about an earlier stage of life in which that device played some part, or about an earlier, simpler time (that Walkman…and a 1982 mix-tape!).

They remind me of just how much more capable 2019 era devices are. My phone can perform every function that I find in my drawer, but faster, more effectively and more intuitively.

But they tell other stories too, stories that I’m finding myself much less comfortable sitting with.

Stories of waste.

Stories of consumption.

Stories of chasing fashion for its own sake.

Stories of designed obsolescence and rabid consumerism (my own, just to be clear).

Stories of the relentless pace of change.

The drawer is a reminder to me that I (and lets be honest, we) have been writing cheques that our planet just cannot continue to cash. We continue to pursue more and more and more, faster and faster, fancier and fancier. And the cost to our planet, our environment, and maybe even our selves seems to be getting higher and higher and higher.

What cost to produce this drawer full of now useless, superseded electronic items that are mostly less than 20 years old? Or the companion pile of outdated laptops that sit on a nearby bookshelf (maybe I’m a low-level hoarder)? What cost for all of this designed obsolescence and now superseded technology?

I don’t know the answers, I just now I sit less comfortably with the story of this drawer every time I open it.

betting the grocery money

Tasmania has a population of around 500 000 people.  It’s a relatively small place.

Staggeringly, so far in 2010, we have collectively lost over $100 million on poker machines.  $100 million.  That’s $200 for every single man, woman and child.   Something like 120000 of the population are children, so that bumps the per adult loss up to the vicinity of $260 each.  There are obviously a lot of families who don’t gamble at all…..so the picture for those who do, and those who are ‘problem’ gamblers with serious addictions just keeps getting worse and worse.

Those stats are the tip of a horror story. It’s nothing less than frightening that as a state we’ve lost $100 million from family budgets to poker machines in just six months. That’s not including losses at gaming tables, betting on horse racing or other sporting or community events.

How many families are on the edge because of gambling addiction? How much crime is gambling related? How many relationships are damaged or destroyed?

I’m declaring myself not to be a wowser. I don’t mind the odd raffle ticket to support a community initiative, or maybe an office Melbourne Cup sweep, but how far do we let our collective addiction to gambling go?

Right now you can bet on anything you like.  Julia Gillard for PM? You’ll currently win $1.52 for every $1 you bet.  Meanwhile David Wirrpanda is at $26 for a $1 bet to win Dancing with the Stars.  Daily news and sports reports will let you know the odds for your football, basketball, cricket or european handball team.  Every day. Time after time.  Encouraging you to lose your money, your family, your groceries. I can only imagine how much the internet gambling companies pay our commercial news providers to include that information in impartial news bulletins.

We’ve invited gambling into our lounge rooms – not just via the internet, but on the evening news.

If I’m frank, I’m appalled by it.

But the pokies still seem to be the big issue, at least here in Tasmania.  Everywhere poker machines are installed, gambling revenue goes up.  In lower socio-economic areas the pokie losses are higher that other places.

And the state government? They earn almost $90 000 000 each year from gambling taxes. Think they’ll do much about it? Wanna bet?

What does it say about us as a community? A society?

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be letting my community leaders know that I’m very concerned about the costs of gaming machines and gambling for our families, our communities, our state.