Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Democracy's serious problem No 1 - conflict-based leadership

America has a problem. The leadership contest. The party primaries system to choose party candidates drags on for months, destabilising business planning. Additionally the system attracts huge money to assist candidates so money not quality dominates the choice of a party candidate at the subsequent election. So far we are lucky that this system does not apply here but there are murmurs because we too have leader problems. They are endemic in any party system of government because, so far, peoples have not the wit to realise that parties are not compatible with democracy, and never will be. Check for more information on the democratic advance which could and ought to be, in so-called democratic countries, let alone the dictatorships and oligarchies that rule so many other countries.

Democracy should be about decisions made by the people for the people as in Athens long ago, in public gatherings. We need to do this again and dispense with the leaders. They are the source of all the trouble and are the instigators of every conflict, in many places, so often armed with guns and bombs.

For example, our parliament is experiencing at present a particularly odious conflict between the ruling and opposition parties in the lead up to another election. The hung parliament of the last election was only rescued by some independents choosing the present party in power to form a stable government. Deposing the previous party leaders and Prime Minister has not cleared the air and the Opposition leader is having a ball, joyfully attacking the ongoing leader in most repulsive performances every day. All this is quite foreign to democracy of any claim to reality. It simply could never happen under the reform long proposed by followers of the secret ballots in parliament concept detailed in the above site.

For example, there would be no parties, all the members being independent and the prime minister and other ministers being elected by the members. With all decisions being made by ballot of the members, all power would be confined to the ballot of the members on every debated issue. Democracy would soon be complete with the members returning to establish their relationship with constituents by holding regular local forums, connecting the people to parliament in a democratic structure of rising people power.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Retrospective Legislation

It appears that, in Victoria, many criminal cases are in jeopardy because affidavits have not been sworn in relation to search evidence faxed from police stations as required by law. The government, naturally, proposes to enact suitable legislation to ensure justice can proceed. Interesting! Lawyers exiting the courts are seen on TV saying that they do not favour retrospective legislation, but now it is necessary. Usually, any mention of retrospective legislation produces a hue and cry from many interests. At a time when tax avoidance became rife the Whitlam government proposed to introduce retrospective legislation so that new schemes to avoid tax could be legislated retrospectively against them when they became evident. The Democrats, with power in the Senate, could well have supported such legislation. However the latecomer to the Democrat fold, Don Chipp, reflecting his earlier connections with the Liberal Party, personally vetoed it, although the Democrat's mode was for the members to approve policies. In this case it was not. So we have two situations where retrospective legislation is acceptable in one case but not in the other.

Plainly, retrospective legislation, which is seen as a dirty word in official circles, is not a dirty word. It all depends on the situation which gives rise to its application. If it is tax (to fill the government coffers - a really dirty word), then the idea of retrospective legislation is seen as totally unacceptable to business, as business planning becomes more difficult. No doubt this is an understandable principle, in general, but hardly so when legitimate tax is being dodged by tricks. Parliaments should be able to clearly distinguish between true business arrangements and phony ones. But, of course, the lack of real ethics in party politics prevents us from fully trusting parliaments with retrospective legislation.

However when we see taxation in the light of the responsibilities of government and its funds to meet them, our view of tax avoidance may very well be different. Conservative politics prefers tax cuts at the high end of the tax scales and sympathises with minimising tax which is legal but far from ethical.

If democracy were complete, with genuine rule of the people, parliament could be entrusted with the ability to use retrospective legislation more widely, and the practice of clever lawyers and accountants ferreting out weaknesses in legislation to enable some of the wealthiest in the land to pay little, if any, tax would end.

A corollary to this unethical weakness in parliament is that government comes to be regarded as having nothing to do with morality. That is hardly surprising when money makes its own rules, demolishing democracy.

********************* The old Australian song 'Waltzing Matilda' comes to mind! Its origins shrouded in history, it has slightly different versions. At various times throughout Australia's comparatively brief history, there have been quite a few really 'doing it tough', for whom this ballad is an emotive reminder. Its history can be found at, with explanations of its strange wording, and the sometimes harsh conditions conditions which brought it into being.

Thus, unemployed men, 'tramps', also known as 'swaggies' often visited the same homes, year after year, where a meal 'out the back', was gratefully enjoyed. Without such kindness these men would have been driven to theft of food, and probably gaol. I well remember one such in my young days. He was known by us as 'Dirty Weather'. He had little on which to base conversation and this was a yearly comment! After the meal he would shoulder his 'Matilda', or bedroll and make his way elsewhere, perhaps many miles away, hopefully to another such home. The photograph of a 'swaggie' in the above site could well have been him!

Democracy still has a way to go to remedy the fallout from our economic ups and downs. 'Life was not meant to be easy' - as someone once said, but the encouragement of the few with targeted help is sometimes an essential on our way to a 'perfect democratic society!

So, how easy it is for genuine democracy to become subverted!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What a mess!

The current stoush between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and the enmity behind it all will damage our country, leading nowhere, but may annihilate the Labor Party. That the ballot on Monday will only give a temporary reprieve is clear. The half-hearted assurance by Rudd that he will not pursue the prime - minister-ship should he lose the ballot, quite clearly means that the Monday ballot will not achieve longer term settlement for him. He is too deeply convinced that he has a public following and a major role to play. But the Labor Party does not want an ambition-obsessed leader with little respect for the rest of the team.

What sticks our plainly is that the factional system in the Labor Party breeds division and enmity very similar to the division in the community created by the political parties.

This messed-up state of democracy in Australia is proof positive that factions and party politics do not mix with any definition of democracy. Surely this nonsense has no relationship to the people at large except to divide and dis-empower us all. Where is self government - the government which Abraham Lincoln so usefully defined as government OF the people, spelling out the need for government to be strong, to give good order and discipline, government BY the people which determines that powerful people must never be all-powerful in government, and government FOR the people which is to ensure that the needs of all the people will be duly respected.

In other words, while the majority must rule, there is to always be the latitude for the needs of the weak to receive the consideration that they deserve. There is no doubt that Lincoln's definition echoes the deeply respected 'Golden Rule': 'Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you'.

In Australia we are fond of the expression 'a fair go' which also sums it up - meaning a caring society. And there is no good reason that progress will ever be hindered by giving everyone a fair go. NO, that is the very climate in which everyone can contribute their best, making a prosperous, fair society.

But it's quite clear that in the absence of the ballot ruling in parliament, to give the discipline of a level political playing field with independence for all members, and local forums in which the people can have a part to play, we shall continue to slide backwards.

God help us all - until we can see the people rise up to claim their true democratic governing role, in a real parliamentary democracy, upheld by the operation of the ballot in all our parliaments.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Israel & Iran - subtext Palestine

Somone has said that relations between nations are affected by the same attitudes which are evident in human relations - e.g. aggression begets aggression. Absolutely!

It is obvious that the Iranian zeal for nuclear arms is a reaction to the aggressive stance of the world towards her, especially the US and Israel. Pakistan has nuclear weapons so does India, but apparently that's OK because the Israel has no argument with them. Friends can have the weapons but unsurprisingly, not a country with which there is enmity. Clearly it is the Palestinian issue, as Osama bin Laden once asserted. Can force end this old contest? No way! Israel has virtually ensured that it will never be resolved.

What is surprising is that the Arab states, generally Sunni Islam dictatorships, rather than Shiite, have kept out of the argument, presumably being more content to be happy producers of oil wealth. They know which side their bread is buttered!

But, a word of warning! With the Arab Spring on the move in various Arab countries the status quo may well, in time, change dramatically.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Democracy - What a shambles!

What a shambles democracy is, the way we currently play this game. But it’s no game, while arguing between the opposed interests grows heated. And where is the logic and the calm reasoning? While there is, in the end, a rational solution to every problem, can it be found in this climate of antagonism, which is generated by the fear that bad solutions might triumph.

Are we, as a people, really happy with this, so gross, system? Why are we so willing to put up with a system operating so dysfunctionally? Of what are we so afraid?
Would a move to a ballot parliament with MPs all independent be so difficult?

Let’s consider.
Firstly, representatives will engage transparently and honestly with constituents, their careers being entirely dependent on their relationships with them. Initially perhaps difficult, they would soon grow in stature as statesmen/women, aware that other interests, beyond the local, must not be ignored.
Next, what extra burdens would we, as citizens, have to bear? The answer is ‘None’, unless we should want to.

What options would there be for anyone wanting to have some involvement?
1. The opportunity to attend regular community sessions for discussion of any public matter, conducted by the sitting member.
2. Participation in discussions with informed and intelligent constituents, together seeking good answers to difficult questions.
3. Learning to understand and concede the validity of the needs (and possibly the opinions!) of others, in a context of confidence in the fairness of the process and the increasing success of calm and logical debate.

With secret ballots in parliament all members will be independent, free to act in parliament on behalf of their constituents - and, as true statesmen, on issues of national interest and importance.

See FAQs

Iran/ Israel standoff. - "How to Create an Enemy,"

"How to Create an Enemy," by Sam Keen, an American philosopher and professor, From 'The Globalist' Start with an empty canvas Sketch in broad outline the forms of men, women, and children. Dip into the unconsciousness well of your own disowned darkness with a wide brush and strain the strangers with the sinister hue of the shadow. Trace onto the face of the enemy the greed, hatred, carelessness you dare not claim as your own. Obscure the sweet individuality of each face. Erase all hints of the myriad loves, hopes, fears that play through the kaleidoscope of every infinite heart. Twist the smile until it forms the downward arc of cruelty. Strip flesh from bone until only the abstract skeleton of death remains. Exaggerate each feature until man is metamorphosized into beast, vermin, insect. Fill in the background with malignant figures from ancient nightmares — devils, demons, myrmidons of evil. When your icon of the enemy is complete you will be able to kill without guilt, slaughter without shame. The thing you destroy will have become merely an enemy of God, an impediment to the sacred dialectic of history.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Probably, the greatest damage to life in all its dimensions, including the problems of democracy, is the human factor of arrogance. It is the converse and the enemy of that self-giving love which is the basic human ingredient on which life in all its fullness must be founded.

Activism is democracy's failure.

Government is plagued with many problems - so many that delays abound and governments take far too long to solve the problems with good solutions. Decisions are uniformly unsatisfactory, for the simple reason that the people, whose cooperation and acceptance is vital for difficult decisions, are excluded from participation and the involvement necessary to be part of the background discussion which would unite the people with and behind government.

It is assumed that 'activism' is both legitimate, necessary and important - a necessity to get governments to attend to the peoples' problems. Genuine participatory democracy

Under the existing circumstances one could not be surprised but, isn't that a terrible indictment on the state of democratic government and the disconnect between a caring people and their government. So we have to rely on loud noise in the streets for harassed government to be pushed to act.

It is the isolation of the people from government by the party system - and their dis-empowerment, that produces a defeatist despair in the face of so many problems which cannot be truly solved without the widespread concurrence of the community. Retired Judge Gebhardt once said that democracy is a moralising force in the community. But it is plain that aspect of democracy is working feebly and incompetently at best, when we consider the crime among youth, the irresponsible, and often fatal, manner in which cars are seen (or just heard in the wee small hours) hurtling through our streets.

Moreover, law abiding citizens are now less inclined to be involved in incidents for safety sake. Gebhardt's viewpoint is underlined by the comment of Al Smith, Governor of New York in 1923: 'The solution to problems of democracy is (simply) more democracy!'

The point is plain. Our democracy's intimate connection between people and government has never materialised to bring the community unity that can extend the moralising process community wide. Gangs and murderers should be terrified, not law abiding citizens. The Secret Ballot must be adopted in our parliaments to settle all debates - ASAP It is essential to a real democracy, to give a live connection with the people constantly by means of a much more genuine representation be 150 independents!

A curious thought

Unlike family life, our politics is based on competition. Families are created by a common interest, so that all of the group find the cooperation of unselfish love benefits the whole with the example and encouragement it gives.

But, ‘where there is money there is a will’ as wealthy families regularly attest. The love of money is the root of all evil, for money is power.
In politics there can be differing convictions as to what is best for the country. For some, this is based on a constructive rivalry - competition that is genuinely friendly. Fair enough if it is, but is it? And why isn’t it?

Just saw a Getup video of a secret crisis meeting of the mining industry relating how the press could be manipulated to their advantage through the power of money. With their exponential exports pushing the dollar high, high wage rates ruining Australian manufacture, their greed knows no bounds.

In Athens, politics was a family-like community affair, in which everyone joined in to settle each issue. That is still our ideal isn’t it? Only the people can do this by a rejuvenation of ‘representation of the people’ to the exclusion of the power of the press, lobby, pressure groups and parties to dominate politics and ruin the power and authority of parliament and the people.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Failing democracy

Our politics has fallen so short of the ideal of democracy that there is little conviction that there is an ideal to which we should aim.

There is an interesting little incident, in the James Herriot series about his experience as a veterinary surgeon In Yorkshire years ago. So the story goes, an old man’s dog was lying under his chair in the pub. His eyes were sore and dirty with infection. ‘Always been the same – a ‘cold’ in the eyes’, the old man constantly repeated.

But Herriot could see that a simple operation to reform the eyelids, so that the in-growing eyelashes would not irritate the eyes, was all that was required. Although tempted to offer help, Herriot decided he could not just barge in and do it at no-cost. However the idea caught on with the pub’s patrons and they agreed amongst themselves to meet the cost.

So, down to the surgery they all went and gathered round to watch the operation, which was straight forward and soon done without incident, (except that the biggest and toughest of them slid gracefully to the floor in a dead faint!)

Here we see a democratic forum in action. Wide public forums are the missing link in our failing democracy.

The leadership cult is a mirage, a travesty of democracy - sidelining the people from active involvement in the system and preventing democracy’s essence - ‘government of, by, and for, the people.