A silent voice

A silent voice

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

It was my turn to cook dinner the other day, chicken biryani made with thigh meat, coriander, and a healthy teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli.

Whilst waiting for the chicken to defrost, I decided to progress my step count and march up and down the hallway. Indoor exercise looks odd but is necessary in a La Nina year when it seems to rain 24/7 here in Sydney.

Rather than just march, I fired up Spotify and chose a few tunes to make it easier to move. This track came up first.


I always put this version in my ‘best ever’ top 20  — the performance is sublime, and the song, written by Paul Simon when he was just 21 years old, is a work of genius.

And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning

In the words that it was forming

Then the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

In tenement halls”

And whispered in the sound of silence

This lyric tells us we have made trouble that we dare not speak. It is as powerful today as it was in 1963 and ably supported by Disturbed, I am spontaneously singing at the top of my voice as I march up and down the living room.

The delivery builds until the prophets scream their words… only I can’t. 

My vocal cords are starved. My core pushes hard at the air in my lungs only for the words on the walls to stick in my throat. 

I am silent.

I keep walking up and down in shock until the next relatively obscure track with delightful African rhythms makes everything okay again.


The chicken is ready to simmer with the basmati, and it all comes together into a delicious dish. My wife came home, and we chatted over our dinner as though nothing had happened.

The impact of my strangled voice took a while to register. 

Not until the following day did I realise that my closed throat had been that way for years, maybe even my whole life. I can’t sing from my core. My best is to mumble a few ideas through closed lips. 

Just thinking this reality shocked me again.

Then I realised where it all came from. 

I was brought up in a religious household scared of alternative world views. My parents couldn’t listen to anything other than the bible and the church. 

As a lad, just as an adult, I was curious. I had a lot of questions that needed answers. Why must I go to the church three times every Sunday? Do I have to wear this uniform? Why do I have to pray? What is God anyway?

But if I spoke it was, in Paul Simon’s words, to ‘people hearing without listening’ and so after a while, I shut up and said nothing.

I didn’t know that this clamming up would last my whole life.

It took music for me to realise.

The irony is that my career has seen me become an educator, advisor, author, and blogger. This combination of activities is all about voice. I have had plenty of things to say, or so it seems.

My constricted throat screamed at me because even with the tools and the opportunity, I was silent.

This is a big deal for me.

Now that I know my voice is strangled, I can rescue it.

Money from air

Money from air

The world is weird right now. 

Here in Sydney, we exited COVID lockdown thanks to a sudden spurt in vaccinations and a decision to live with the virus after 18 months, thinking it could be kept out. 

Lockdown is hard for folk used to freedoms. Everyone is over it, and yet the exit vibe felt more cautious than euphoric while fronting to the GP for a double jab.

Then we lost our state premier, Gladys, forced to resign because the ICAC had to investigate her involvement in dodgy deals by a disgraced Liberal MP, her secret boyfriend at the time. That is a shame because she was one of the few pollies holding it together. The federal government ministers, and especially the PM, are just racing to cover their arses.

Now La Nina has dumped weather on us for weeks. We try to be upbeat and say that the cold and wet is better than wildfire. It is, but even that sounds hollow.

Meanwhile, in Australia…

The 2021-22 Budget committed an additional $41 billion in direct economic support, bringing total support since the beginning of the pandemic to $291 billion as of May 2021.

The Treasury, Australian Government

Such large numbers are hard to fathom, so for comparison government revenue was  $472.4 billion in 2020-21 (24.3 per cent of GDP) and in 2021–22, Government revenue is forecast to be at its lowest level as a share of the economy since 2011–12. Submarines notwithstanding, they are hard up for cash.

COVID economic support has cost the government nearly one year’s revenue. 

This is way above the initial fiscal commitment and goes onto the books as debt.

Here is a graph of the government debt loads for OECD countries in 2020, essentially the pre-COVID numbers from the OECD website

Australia is a mid-ranking OECD country for debt relative to GDP. However, the debt load rising steadily since 2007, has spiked with this extra expenditure. 

Alloporus has already mentioned that the global debt load has climbed to nearly $240 trillion, a number so big that it cannot fit on the screen of a standard calculator. Australia has made its modest contribution.

Gran always lived by thrift, a frugal approach that ensured there was no debt. Before people had access to credit there was no option but to live within means. 

Then the economists told us that 

the two primary causes of hyperinflation are (1) an increase in money supply not supported by economic growth, which increases inflation, and (2) a demand-pull inflation, in which demand outstrips supply. These two causes are clearly linked since both overload the demand side of the supply/demand equation.


Not being an economist my naive observation is that borrowing money or printing it to maintain the economy during a crisis that kicks economic growth in the nuts, fits primary cause number one.

But not to worry because…

“In the U.S., the central bank does not pay debt with the money it creates. Rather, it lends money at its targeted interest rate and the private sector employs that capital more productively. The money created is paid back, which is a crucial reason this monetary policy doesn’t produce hyperinflation.”

Economist Asher Rogovy

Truly, the world is weird right now.