Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ballots IN Parliament - realistic?

My friends,
I am continually saddened by the fruitless argumentation and sterile
conflict in our government circles - (and media). Sound, constructive
decision-making is hamstrung by bitter and pointless disputation. I note
that in Britain they achieved unity of purpose in WWII with coalition
government, after a terrible start without unity. In the beginning of
the present crisis I recall there was talk of a coordinated approach but
it quickly withered through the pressures and pride of partisan

Watching the children singing with enthusiasm at Grandparents' Day,
today, and admiring their excellent work, in classrooms proclaiming the
highest life values, I came to reflect - do our leaders uphold these
values? Does our style of conflict-based democracy support these values?
Will life beyond school cherish, or dash, their enthusiasm and hope?

They certainly deserve better - much better.

Why should we continue with the present divisive, partisan style of
politics when a simple change to an electronic secret voting system in
our parliaments would quickly result in independent representation, with
ongoing, effective, popular involvement, and a growing confidence in the
possibilities of sensible government, to plan well for a secure and
sustainable future.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ethnics & Branch Stacking – a part of political life

Dick Gross (The Age Comment & Debate 12th May) comments: “It is legitimate to organise to increase a group’s political power. Stacking (is) just part of political life.
“It is a story about how all tiers of government operate to secure power bases that go right to the top of the political food chain.” Speaking for himself (as a Jew) Gross says: “we, and every other grouping, need it.”

It is clear enough that migrants from non-European countries are ethnic minorities, with their consequent difficulties and frustrations. Without seeking to pillory them (Gross notes that ‘anglo’ political manipulation tends to excite less criticism) we should realise the extent to which these so common attitudes diverge from the very central principle of democracy – the right to an equality of political power for every one of us.

Throughout the ages there have been the struggles to bring societies nearer to that philosophical ideal, (which possibly echoes the Jewish injunction to ‘Love Thy Neighbour’), to the Greek recognition of the Demos (the individual people who comprise ‘the people’), through Magna Carta, the French Revolution, British parliamentary reforms, the ‘Australian Ballot’ for elections and the Swiss ‘Initiative’ (giving their people the right to initiate referenda).

But we are still stuck with our wretched ‘representative’ system, which hands power to the powerful – and entrenched conflict. And in the middle of all this we note that as long ago as 1911, English writers Belloc & Chesterton recognised that those whom parliament should rule are the main forces in our parliaments, to the detriment of the people. In this winner-take-all world minorities struggle. Is this a good enough ‘democracy’? I, and many others, think not.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shariah Law

The video below reports that an Islamic shariah court has been allowed independence from British law - to operate in Britain.

This weak acquiessence to Muslim extremist pressure is extremely dangerous and is in absolute contradiction to democratic principle.

The law is much worse than an ass to allow this invasion of the rights of all Britons to the full protection of British law and government, from any religious dictatorial principles insidiously creeping in to Western society under cover of more moderate Islam.

It simply cannot be permitted.

Welcome to Saudi Britain

Joining the 'dots'

The Sustainability Commissioner, Dr McPhail, in tabling the Victorian State of the Environment Report, (The Age editorial, Friday Dec 5th) reveals an environment in ‘dangerous decline’, and ‘laments the failure to join the dots between issues … such as climate change and water supply’.

Similarly, ‘Planning Minister Justin McFadden dared lament the environmentally unsustainable trend to McMansions. The report observes that “community support for government leadership is needed”’.

There are plenty of others, in which the solution of one aggravates the problem in another, without adequate consideration of other associated matters.

Examples include:
1. The expansion of bio-fuel production, requiring agricultural land, when a growing world population will need ever more food.

2. Then there is the electric car which will help with the oil crisis. But have governments really got the will to develop the renewable energy needed to supply the extra electricity required, or will we simply burn more coal.
3. Last year a prize for the best and brightest Christmas lights, promoted by Melbourne commercial interests, ignoring the need to cut emissions from coal powered electricity, has passed by, virtually free of comment.

So much for government 'joining the dots'.

World government

The ideal of world government is gaining some attention, a reflection of the serious concern at the multiple conflicts in the world today. The ‘gun’ and the ‘bomb’ still hold sway, while the poorest of the world, especially their children, continue to suffer and die.

No country has yet mastered the secret of government without the corrupting control of minority interests. So what hope can there be for world democracy where the veto still rules in the Security Council? As in Ancient Greece, ‘decisions (would be) made by the many rather than the few’ in a real world democracy. A ‘pipedream’?

I have elsewhere postulated a world parliament based on a valid democracy.
It might be roughly as follows: China 1250, India 1000, USA 300, Indonesia 220, Brazil 175, Russia 150, Pakistan 140, UK 60 and, Australia 20.

If we have come some way in peacefully integrating many different cultures over the years, that owes much to our rather stable political system, largely because so many years ago we were granted the ‘fair go’ of a secret ballot for the election of our representatives.

But is that all we can do? Democracy is still weak and struggling convulsively with the several hefty world problems which cannot be avoided. Is it so impossible, to have the people govern instead of minority interests?

We ourselves need the last neglected step of democratic reform—the secret ballot to rule in our parliaments, conferring independence on all our representatives, restoring parliamentary government—by the people.

Now that would give us the world’s respect, with an image to lead the world to a genuine democracy within and among all the nations. Must it be only a ‘pipedream’?

A nervous electorate

A nervous electorate awaits the outcome of desperate efforts by our governments to contain the financial/job crises, while environmentalists despair of ever seeing an effective program to solve the dangers of climate change.

Meanwhile, the success of stimulus and infrastructure spending being uncertain in the short term, maybe better, maybe worse, in the longer term, Dr. Lindy Edwards, (Age Comment & Debate Tues. May 5) ponders whether Prime Minister Rudd will turn out to be ‘Hero, or villain’, depending on which point of time judgement is involved and whether success is a rain shower or failure becomes a hailstorm.

In the midst of innumerable commentators with widely varying views, and political parties at war in parliament, we have Tony Cutcliffe of the Eureka Project proclaiming our leaders need a ‘two-way flow on decisions’ (Age Business, Opinion May 6).

Cutcliffe claims: ‘most senior decision-makers (have) become isolated from the lives of ordinary Australians’…and ’rather than uniting the community to fight our biggest known threat, Australia’s key decision-makers are leading the community to division, fatalism and fear.’ We need, he says: ‘a structured conversation with Australians—with information flowing both ways’, to take advantage of ‘the highly influential knowledge and skills among staff and constituencies now consigned to irrelevance’. He has a point.

I have long maintained that ordinary people are a resource, neglected by party governments which, being engrossed with the exercise of power, have neither the time nor the will for the profitable interchange with the community which could improve the clarity of decisions and achieve a fully supportive public.

A structured involvement of the people could vastly improve the practice of government, with better decisions and a lot less public frustration. This highlights an elementary aspect of democracy which is missing—to our shame and possible peril.

Guilt, fear and hope

Fear, both real and imagined, has a cause - guilt. Fear reigns in the world today because of the multitude of wrongs. And no wonder. Amongst other things, ‘big boys’ not content with their toys are chasing still bigger and ‘better’ toys, with military robotics—to make war more safely!

Meanwhile our troops are quietly evacuating Iraq, having been in meek support of America for some years. Increasing numbers of troops are going into Afghanistan, to fight the Taliban. How respected are these ventures in the Arab world? And what is our reputation in the eyes of these people? We don’t want to lose any soldiers over there - standing up for the cause of freedom. But we have and we will. Is there an end which is worth it - and can it be achieved? Is what we are doing right?

The growth of China’s economic power is now being followed by an increase in China’s military spending. Does China threaten us? Hardly! What is the point? They like, and receive, large supplies of minerals from Australia – notably steel, coal and gas. Seemingly in fear of China, our bureaucrats have devised plans for the purchase of more dangerous aircraft and new submarines with missile capacity. This has not gone down well with China, and we should not be surprised. Personally, I am staggered! Who do we think we are? Do we think we should do this to help (encourage) America to ‘have a go’ at China? China?
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Euripides - Wikiquote

We have already gone down that path with President Bush’s pre-emptive strike on Iraq - a proper mess - and to what purpose? We know of China’s latent tension with the USA, over the old issue of Taiwan’s independence. But this issue has been bubbling away for decades with no foreseeable likelihood of escalation.

Now we are in Afghanistan - another murky spot - achieving what? The sensitivity of our presence is marked by attempts to hide our troops killing half a civilian family. In this confused land, avoiding such a tragedy is no doubt easier said than done. And winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans seems to verge on the impossible, with us carrying so much American baggage, with Iraq, Palestine and who knows what else. It is far easier to acquire guilt than their confidence, as the invader.

We must look to our ways - and sensible reform of our decision-making processes - to safeguard us from a national foolishness which would ignore the many wise injunctions of the past, leading us in fear, further and further from a healthy respect for the Golden Rule. Building on the Rock of righteousness will always be much better than the sand of pragmatism, guilt and fear. ‘Righteousness alone exalts a nation’ – the way of hope. ‘When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.’ Proverbs16:7