LNP Capitulates

For the last fifteen to twenty years Australia has been carpet bombed with hate and fear, ignorance, stupidity and prejudice by the obscene greed of Murdoch, the IPA, Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and the others who have sought to screw the poor to give to the rich as their sole objective. In spite of everything that has been thrown at the Australian peoples the penetration of the neo-lib ultra-greed has been low. Yes, there has been a rise in racial and ethnic hatred and vilification of the disadvantaged, we do have One Nation, but considering the amount of time, effort and money that has been poured into creating those conditions we should all now be living in the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max. But we are still here. We have survived. The Libs are now copying Labour in an attempt to cling to power, but they have done too much harm for too long for too many for that to work.

Yesterday’s Claytons Labour budget was still a neo-lib budget with all its the hidden inequalities and unjustifiable aspects. Turnbull/Morrison still rely on fear, internal security and defence as the backbone of their budget, but have capitulated by finally accepting in a limited fashion that the Australian people have a voice that has to be listened to. Not a great budget, but it does mark the beginning of the end for the horrible little people that currently call themselves the government front bench.

It is not time to relax. Now, more than ever it is time to push for Australia to re-establish itself in the world as a fair and progressive country with a belief in equality for all. Time to close the unthinkable horror of concentration camps. Time to stop judging people by their gender, their belief system or what they wear on their heads. Time to treat the disadvantaged with dignity and respect, and to end poverty in what is one of the richest countries of the world. Time to bury the extreme right under the same rock as Azazel never to be seen again until the day of judgment. Time to tell Murdoch that he cannot buy Australia, and Australia will be around long after he is dead, buried and forgotten.

Advertisements

Being a LNP Supporter does not make a Person Inherently Bad.

I have never been a person to believe that a division based on herd membership defines a person. Being a Labour or LNP voter is no indication of goodness or badness. There is no validity in the idea that justice, empathy and compassion is the exclusive province of one political party over the other. How then do we account for the existence of Abbott, Morrison, Dutton, Bernardi and others existing as a mutant cluster within the LNP? How does a small group hijack a whole political party? That is like asking how a fit and healthy person develops cancer. It happens. When it does happen the cancer needs to be removed before it spreads to the whole body.

Democracy is not an efficient form of government. It is slow, tedious and frustrating, but for now it is the best we have. Democracy also has it limits it must operate within if it is to remain democratic. Too far to the left and it becomes Communism. If it lurches to far to the right if morphs into Nazis. Neither position is within the boundaries of democracy. When these boundaries are breached it is up to all of us to bring democracy back within operating limits.

It is to all our benefits to have a healthy exchange of ideas within our society. This is the slow and tedious part of democracy. But the extreme right of the LNP does not work with an exchange of ideas. It works in s secret. It denies the public access to information and hides behind phrases like ‘operational matters’. It runs concentration camps we are excluded from investigating and shows a complete lack of compassion to anyone who gets in the way of its agenda.

It is time for all who believe in democracy and compassion, no matter what their political leanings, to join together to rid Australian politics of the extreme right cancer so democracy can resume.

Universities, LNP Style.

Mr Turnbull is seldom economic with words but when it comes to education he has reduced the old style Abbottesque three-word slogan to a two-word slogan. The old ‘Stop the boats’ has become ‘Innovation Nation.’ This may sound like a step forward but it is the same old LNP following the same old policy of repeating simple slogans often. If the ‘fine print’ words of Malcolm Turnbull are listened to it is the same old LNP policy of screwing the general population for the sole purpose of giving to big business.

Malcolm Turnbull wants Universities to produce graduates that conform only to the demands of big business. He talks of producing graduates that are ‘relevant’ to ‘today’s world.’ If the sole criteria for a balanced healthy society were the performance of a particular narrowly defined task in exchange for money Turnbull would make sense. But is this all there is to life? Does a well-rounded education built around the ability to think and create mean nothing?

Good universities have been places where students are encouraged to push the limits with the understanding that as much can be learned for failure as from success even if it appears to lead nowhere. It does lead somewhere of course. It leads to a population that can think and create, that can accept that failure is not failure but a step towards future progress. It would be impossible to list all the failures of university research that have lead to accidental discoveries that have changed the world. It is not generally understood that the world we know today with all of its technological progress has come about largely from recognizing the accidental success inherent in failure.

Big business is not about exploring. It is about finding new ways of becoming more efficient at doing the same old thing based solely on the accountant’s bottom line. This is a recipe for stagnation. Over the years Australia has become extremely efficient at digging holes in the ground. Economically his has been a delight to accountants but now that there is an over supply of holes in the ground there is a problem. Turnbull’s Innovation Nation is not about filling in the holes of the past but digging new holes for Australia to fall into. The problem is that when big business is allowed to focus all of a country’s educational resources in one direction the rich diversity that guarantees the future health of the nation is lost. Malcolm Turnbull must not be allowed to focus all of their educational resources to fulfilling the dictates of big business. There may appear to be short-term benefits to the bottom line but would only be another disaster delayed for a few years.

Malcolm Turnbull talks of a nimble economy able to respond to change. The reality is that Turnbull style education policy destroys the ability to respond to change. They are focused only on the short-term interests of bug business that has never understood that tomorrow things will change.

Much of what universities teach and research may appear to be useless to the general public but nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Somewhere in our universities there are students and researchers working on totally useless projects that are going to lead to the happy accident that will cure cancer, MS and a multitude of other medical aberrations. Somewhere a happy accident is waiting to happen that will lead to a clean sustainable world with unlimited clean energy. What are our universities discovering with their useless research? We don’t know because it has happened yet. But when it does happen it will surprise everyone, even the researchers.

Big business is not interested in happy accidents because they are not conducive to higher share prices and returns to shareholders. Finding a cure for cancer and MS will be majorly detrimental to pharmaceutical companies bottom line. What will Clive Palmer, BP and Santos do when somewhere a university announces it has made an accidentally discovered how to produce unlimited clean power from a common renewable non-polluting source? The University won’t say it was an accident of course. They will say they have been working on it behind closed doors for years. These accidents won’t happen unless universities are allowed to carry out research and play just because they can.

Business relies on scarcity. They must have more of what others don’t have. This is crunch for our universities when they must decide if they are going to be educational providers that advance knowledge for all or are they gong to be instruments by which big business increases scarcity in the name of ever increasing profit.

Which way our universities go will depend on if the public allows Malcolm Turnbull to destroy our university system and replace it with a system of training human robots to be exploited by big business for profit, and to the detriment of society in general.

Australia. The land of Educational Minimalism

I came to Australia as part of the Ten Pound Pom scheme. I would like to say that the migration selection process involved some sort of test of intelligence or education levels but it did not. It was purely a physical selection process. Being physically capable of hard work for the foreseeable future and the ability to breed more physically capable specimens was the sole criteria. Not having a criminal record helped the process.

Australia has been built on physical labour. Generation after generation has earned a living based on physical labour and an educational level best suited to adding up a time sheet and signing it. This model has served Australia well in many ways with its abundance of sheep, coal and iron ore but these assets have fostered an attitude for many that education was low down the list of priorities. Who needs an education to be paid ridiculous amounts of money for digging holes in the ground and shipping the contents of the hole to China? It may take some time for Australia to understand that those days are gone and are unlikely to return, but that is that way it is.

Education has been downgraded to job training. Job training is basically monkey see, monkey do. With a few outstanding examples the Australian education system has been about producing clever monkeys. The latest pretence of an education revolution is the ‘Innovation Nation.’ A better description would be educational minimalism.

We have Malcolm Turnbull talking about Innovation and coding in the same sentence as if coding was is the answer to everything. Either Mr Turnbull knows nothing about coding or he is knowingly feeding Australia rubbish. Coding is a simple process that is quick and easy to learn. It requires the training of clever monkeys. There is nothing in coding that could require anything resembling innovation or any superior intellectual endeavour. Coding on its own means nothing.

If Australia is to have an education revolution it has to be more than training more clever monkeys. It has to be an intelligent and creative education system. Coding is not creative and requires very little thinking. It is a process of production, but who is going to think creatively about what to produce?

Thinking and creativity require a different type of education than has been the norm for Australia in the past. Creativity requires a very wide education and to be interested in everything. Clever monkeys are trained to do what they are required to do and no more. Creative people have to see the relationships between the seeming unrelated and this will often appear to be totally useless to clever monkeys. The current Australian education system is geared to the attitudes that if you cannot eat it, drink it, buy it or screw it then it is of no value.

The difference between the two models of education is that training teaches specific skills to perform a function and is its own end while creativity may posses certain skills but those skills are there to create a far larger goal. Creating a far larger goal requires a far greater range in education levels. The only way to create an education system that produces truly innovative and creative population is to have a very wide curriculum.

Rather than just teach science we need to teach what science is. The quantum physicist Richard Feynman said in one of his lectures that if something is not scientific it does not mean it is not true, only that it is not scientific. When we talk of science there is often a god-like aspect to our arguments. Science is very powerful but has multiple limitations. Malcolm Turnbull’s narrative that science is the alpha and omega of all progress belongs in the dark ages.

We need to teach how recognise fallacious argument. I used to wonder how politicians could get away with the arguments they put forward. Tony Abbott got away for years with totally meaningless three word slogans as a replacement any discernable argument of any substance. Does this make Australians stupid? I think not. I see it as an indictment of the Australian education systems that produces so many graduates that do not understand basic forms of argument and how to recognise a fallacious argument when they hear it. Mr Turnbull’s performance since his rise to power has not improved matters. Mr Turnbull just uses many more words and his delivery is much smoother in achieving the same intellectual amnesia.

We need to teach about the culture our first peoples and of peoples of other nations. Creative builds, it does not destroy. Building bridges to others peoples so we can create ways of living together for the benefit of all is creative. Clever monkeys build bombs. Clever monkeys lead race riots and call themselves patriots.

We need to teach what is required to protect our planet so that the human race can continue in balance with our environment. Creative people understand that finite resources will one day run out. The energy we need must be from a sustainable source. It is going to take an army of creative people to bring that about. Coding isn’t going to do it. In the mean time the clever monkeys continue to dig holes in the ground and burn the contents in the delusion that this can continue ad infinitum.

We need to first have a nation of well-educated creative and knowledgeable people, and then we can train them code if that is a skill they need to create whatever they are in the process of creating.

Scientists are useless unless they are creative scientists. Engineers are useless unless they are creative engineers. First must come the learning of how to think and create and then the specific training for roles they chose to fulfil.

But it does not stop there. A creative society is a wide and diverse complete society. We cannot ignore our cultural health or spiritual well being. Support for the arts and culture during the past few years has been decimated. More than that the Abbott government actively suppressed the arts and sought to bring our cultural lives under the control of the government. When an education is geared to training it has only one purpose and that is to train students to earn a living. The cultural health of a nation is the cohesion that keeps a culture intact. We cannot put a monetary value on cultural health so it is not a priority to many Australians, but if we destroy it our society disintegrates. Our education needs to maintain cultural well-being as a priority if we are not to lose cohesion as a society. Reducing universities to producing fodder for commerce and industry only adds to the decline in societal cohesion.

If Australia aims for well-educated creative population capable of thinking creatively how they use that creativity will be a matter of choice. If they need to learn how to code they will make that choice.

The current proposed paradigm being proposed by Malcolm Turnbull, teach kids how to code and the future will be perfect is simplistic in the extreme, and is based on the old model of producing clever monkeys. We need to have a real conversation about education. Do we want to create a cohesive society of people who can think creatively and make meaningful decisions, or do we only want job orientated students who can only act according to their training and allocated position in life? The later is another step towards Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World.

Soulless Economics 101

Van Dormael (1978: 32) quotes the British Economist John Maynard Keynes in 1941 as saying

‘the secular international problem‘ of maintaining equilibrium in the balance of payments – a problem that ‘had that had never been solved since methods of barter had given way gave way to money and bills of exchange.’

(and)

‘To suppose that there is some smoothly functioning automatic mechanism of adjustment which preserves equilibrium if only we trust to methods of Laissez-faire is a doctrinaire delusion which disregards the lessons of historical experience without the support of sound theory.’

Basically the problem with economics is that there is no way of establishing a rate of exchange. What is fair and what is unjust? Who knows? The only alternative seems to be no rules and that as been a disaster. This leaves a situation where human attributes (or lack of them) determine economic policies and outcomes. If the object is create a society that has a soul and acts humanly towards all its peoples then human qualities such as empathy and compassion have to be the guiding principle of economic decision making. If screwing the poor to give to Rupert Murdoch is the aim then Joe Hockey is the man for the job, but don’t suggest for one moment that there is any empathy, compassion or soul involved in Hockey’s policies.

Presenting spending years of mental and physical suffering in a squalid concentration camp with no charges laid and no prospect of release as being the only alternative of crossing the seas in a leaky boat is the act of a totally soulless country. How can a country that rushes to war in a foreign country at the slightest excuse, and without being asked but refuses to give significant aid to help stop Ebola until being forced to by universal condemnation from the rest off the world say it has a soul.

I used to like Australia when it had a soul, the days before Abbott became leader of what used to be the Liberal Party. The days before Kevin Rudd sent refugees of to concentration camps. But those days are gone. Can those days be revived?

The simple answer would be to bury Abbott and his whole front bench down the same hole as Azazel never to be seen again until judgement day, but that would be too simplistic. The problem is that if a despot is deposed what happens then? Is there any alternative? Sadly in Australia at this time I don’t see any viable alternative. Bill shorten seems a reasonable sort of fellow but he is no match for Abbott and he leads a party that has lost it’s soul. A beginning for labour would be to accept that Rudd’s refugee policy was a political move that failed and that it was also inhuman. If Labour reversed its refugee stance and supported speedy onshore process and humane treatment of all peoples it would be a beginning. A little bit of soul is better than no soul. Bill Shorten moving aside for Tanya Plibersek would be a major step forward. Tanya is a lady who seems to have empathy and compassion as well as the ability to stand up to Abbott.

With only about eighteen months to the next election we need to begin rebuilding Australia’s soul now because if the extreme right of the Murdoch/Abbott government becomes entrenched Australia’s soul could pass beyond revival.

Reference

Van Dormael, Armand. 1978. Bretton Woods: Birth of a Monetary System. United Kingdom: Holmes &; Meier Publishers.

Clive Palmer the Key to Australia’s future

It is a strange that the maintenance of democracy in Australia should come down to the vote of the Palmer United party.

I would like to see the end of the Abbott experiment but failing that there are two issues I am passionate about, Global Warming and the Australia’s cruelty to refugees. On both these issues Clive Palmer is in a unique position to force changes in the Abbott position. Human induced global warming is no longer a scientific debate. It is a fact and it has arrived. The scientific debate is now what can we do to minimise the effects.

If Palmer is going to stand for his election promise of ‘more love and integrity’ promised repeated continuously in the WA senate election re-run he has to take a long look at his attitude to refugees. This is an issue where humanity must prevail.

I will be lobbying Palmer to take a long look at the issues of global warming and refugees and I ask anyone, from any political persuasion, who has concerns about global warming and the treatment of refugees to do the same. It might just be enough to change the future of Australia.

Official. Australia trashes human rights.

The Human Rights Watch says ‘Australia has damaged its record by persistently undercutting refugee protection.’ The spokeswoman for the HRW on ABC 24 this morning indicated that Scott Morrison had a problem in that even if he wanted to act humanly he has to stick to the hard line rhetoric of the government put out before the last election. If this is a correct reading of the situation what sort of country have we become?

Do we really have a government that craps all over refugee’s human rights for no other reason that it promised the underbelly of Australian society it would in order to get elected? I have a problem thinking of Morrison as a compassionate person but maybe he is just a power hungry wimp who is unable to say he was wrong. Whatever the reason for Morrison’s performance as Immigration Minister it shows just how low this government gone. Just when I think Morrison has reached the bottom he invents a new bottom. This government has to go and Australia return to being the compassionate country it was before Howard began the long slide into the gutter..

Welfare Unsustainable? Stop putting people out of work.

The attacks by this government on the weak and disadvantaged reach a new level with the euphemism ensuring welfare is “simple fair and affordable.” This cynical approach ignores real issues. This government is rapidly ‘liberating’ people from the grinding oppression of having a job. As altruistic as this aim is it ignores the problem of paying the rent or mortgage, or the need to feed and cloth a family. Another major problem is the affordability of housing.

There is the relativity new problem of the working poor. There is now an army of people who have jobs but at such low rates of pay that many cannot afford housing. Sleeping in their car, going to the caravan park for a shower and then driving to work has become a way of live for many in this rich country of ours.

You already know of these problems. How do we fix them? The easy option is to simple abandon large sections of our community and let them fend for themselves as best they can. The bureaucratic answer is call problem A problem B and Problem A no longer exists. Re-label unemployed people, no matter how the became unemployed as ‘dole-bludgers’ and they can be screwed without mercy by an uncaring government because they are now less that human. A major cause of homelessness is mental illness. Why not re-open lunatic asylums and throw the homeless into them? We already have concentration camps why not lunatic asylum for anyone Abbot finds embarrassing.

The other way is to create a sustainable society that realises that the way to cut unemployment payouts is to reduce unemployment even if that does mean occasional industry assistance. Abundant affordable housing is the way to give people shelter.

But that is never going to happen with the Abbott Government in Canberra. Number one priority in restoring the health of Australia as a compassionate and viable country is to bury the Abbott government as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Australia made a big mistake last September, but a mistake does not have to be forever. Is this vicious uncaring marginally human government really what we voted for? Real liberals, as well as labour supports must be asking that question by now.

Australia. The place where people disappear.

Does anyone know how many refugees have arrived by boat since September? Does anyone know their names? Does anyone know where they are? No. They no longer exist in any traceable form. They have disappeared. Australia is now a black hole where refugees can disappear without trace.

What surprises me is how easily Australians have accepted that refugees disappear without trace and have accepted that we have a government that will decide what it will and will not tell us without being held to account. Australians have the cricket, the tennis, BBQs at the weekend and what we don’t know will not harm us. Wrong. If we do not act when people disappear who will act when we disappear. So these are only a few refugees fleeing some war or repression a long way off. Nothing to do with us; who cares if they rot forever in some concentration camp in some distant land?

This is how it begins. History tells us this how it always begins. First a small minority is vilified. Then they begin disappearing. Then the circle of vilification gets bigger and the net gets wider and more people disappear.

Many of the refugees reaching our shores are minorities who belong to groups who ‘disappear’ in the countries they are fleeing. They arrive in Australian waters and the Australian Navy rounds them up and they disappear more completely than if they stayed at home. Does it not worry Australians the we are holding refugees incognito without any records that can be traced by legal representatives and for all we no have no record anywhere of them arriving? How many are there? Who are they? Were are they from? Are they being held in indefinite detention with access to any representation?

Mr Morrison had better remember that being a refugee is unfortunate but not illegal. It is the right of refugees to seek help and shelter wherever and whenever they can find it. The policy of making the result of refugees seeking help from Australia worse than the evil they are fleeing is the most abhorrent that could be invented.  Mr Morrison, when you are held to account please don’t say you were just following orders.

Remember history or repeat it.

New year supposed to be a time to look forward not back. In the case of the Murdoch/Abbott government if we don’t look back the future will be very bleak. The Murdoch/Abbott government is not breaking any new ground. Abbott, as a disciple of B.A. Santamaria has his philosophies laid out in full. Santamaria may be dead but his ghost lives on in physical form in the body of Mr T Abbott. Remember that central to Santamaria policy is that all public and private policy must be in strict accordance with Catholic dogma. Abbott’s radical Catholicism, a form of Catholicism rejected by most Catholics, has become part of Australian government policy. Starting with Howard radical religion has increasingly become part of politics in spite of a definite point in the Australian Constitution separating state and religion.

The policies of the Murdoch arm of the Australian government mirror the policies of Joseph Goebbels. The fundamentals of both Goebbels and Murdoch are 1) work on the week and uneducated. 2) Feed them simple slogans often. 3) Never engage in philosophical argument. 4) Pick one ‘enemy’ for special treatment.

Look back at Joseph Goebbels and compare that with the Murdoch media campaign that elected the Abbott government. Look at Hitler’s writings on propaganda in Mein Kampf and the way to hijack a country is laid in detail. It is detail that has been followed exactly by Abbott and Murdoch. In Mein Kampf you will also find that Hitler followed a radical form of Catholicism similar to Abbott and Santamaria. Hitler and Santamaria both believed that they were on a mission from God; a delusion that is being carried forward by Abbott.

Delusional radicals from either side of politics are dangerous for any country. It is healthy for democracy to have a wide range of ideas and opinions, but there is a point on both sides of politics beyond which belongs to the dangerous lunatic fringe that potentially can destroy a country. We now have a Murdoch/Abbott government that belongs to that dangerous lunatic fringe.

We need to remember history if the future of Australia is not to be a repeat the very worst of history.