So-called 'class warfare' has been getting a pretty decent run in the media over the past 6 months. The idea that stumping for a fairer distribution of wealth and a stronger safety net for ordinary battlers is somehow playing one class against the (wealthy) other is largely a theme being pushed by conservative forces as a means to bringing about smaller government while minimising the influence the left-wing commentariat may have on the public.
In fact the theme itself is divisive, though of course they would never acknowledge it. Nevertheless the reality is there are distinct haves and have-nots in even the most egalitarian of societies and not necessarily based on traditional concepts of class but more to do with who's in the information loop. No better illustration of this can be found than the recent falling out between millionaire entrepreneur, John Singleton and champion racehorse trainer, Gai Waterhouse.
When "Singo" Singleton heard from a few mates that his champion mare, More Joyous, was not in good shape for an upcoming race he confronted the horse's trainer and good friend of 30 years, Gai Waterhouse, at the racetrack on live television, wanting to know why he hadn't been told beforehand. Waterhouse denied she knew anything about it. But it was her son and prominent bookmaker, Tom Waterhouse, who allegedly had told one of Singo's mates that the horse was "off". This apparently happened two days before the race, and it went from one mate to another mate then to another mate then to Singleton.
Tom Waterhouse has since denied he said anything to anyone, while Singo's mates who also happen to be Tom Waterhouse's mates have come out in public giving conflicting stories. Meanwhile Tom's father and notorious fellow bookie, Robbie Waterhouse, has told Singo to "fuck off" after being told by Singo to "go fuck yourself", Singleton has sacked Gai Waterhouse as his trainer and removed all his horses from her stables citing a conflict of interest between a trainer mother and a bookie son, and now the whole thing is about to be investigated at a Steward's Inquiry with possible serious repercussions for the Waterhouses or even Singleton if he cannot make his allegations stick.
Until the inquiry is completed it is all but impossible to say who is at fault or whether it's just a misunderstanding somewhere down the line of whispers. Whatever the case may be, this latest episode in the colourful world of racing is an ideal example of social division based on being in the know ... in the loop. In other words being successful enough to benefit from the status of that success at the ordinary punter's expense. Class in these terms is not an issue of background or schooling or even great wealth, it's about taking advantage of one's position to feather one's own nest. It's important to note that the players in the Singo issue are all from non-privileged backgrounds, especially the "mates". One is a jockey, another a footballer and the other a former brothel owner.
There's is a world in which information privileges are closeted within a tight knit circle while ordinary people are kept out of the loop leaving them at a distinct disadvantage. In the world of big business, insider trading is no less notorious. In this, the age of information technology, how much more does insider privilege represent a threat to a level playing field and social cohesion? One only has to watch the actions of the all seeing all knowing Google as it swallows up competitor companies like Meebo, not as an investment but to stop it from competing with Google apps. The old school world of horse racing indeed sheds a light on the future. From a mug's game to an info-tsar's game where not class or even vast wealth but information-control is king. It is a scenario playing out right before our eyes and one we need to be vigilant about.