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The people must be involved

! July 2011

Without the active opportunity for the people to have, not only a say, but one which it is evident that parliament has to respect and seriously consider, we can have no confidence in government and there will be the continual see-saw of one party after another, all notable for their arrogance, either in or out of power, and having the temerity to want to run government without us. Even the advent of a couple of independents can be no real advance, as they have no option but to work alongside, and with the parties.

Without a radical change, government will continue for ever on its downward path, with our ersatz democracy. While democracy is much cherished in theory, it is ignored in practise. Without including the people, government will continue weak, corrupt and incompetent in comparison with what could be. That the media is partner to this abuse. was demonstrated in a recent article, which mentioned the 'money for influence’ which is rife in politics, but then said that those exercising influence through political donations were thus enabled to ‘feel connected’ to the process of government! What a statement! It is extraordinary in its blind acceptance of the rottenness of such common practice. There again, the blatant advertisement of tax-avoiding measures, legal but, by any measure unethical, are a blatant insult to all the people who pay their taxes but would never countenance such things, if they had any say in the matter, if government was in any useful way accountable to the people at large. The many that pay their taxes have no option but to grin and bear such arrogant disregard of their honesty and weakness, as the strong and unprincipled take advantage of the rest.

Righteousness alone exalts a nation, and we are showing the world that our nation is sick at its core, and the world is not so stupid as to not realise it. Why would they follow our party-based democracy?

Budgets, elections and confusion!


18 May 2011

A secret ballot parliament would approach all matters, including each budget, on a non-partisan basis. Cooperation and effective achievement would replace the hindrances of antagonism and confusion that now dominate, destroying public confidence in the sanity and effectiveness of parliament - and any real public respect for it as well.

The haunting fear of elections is a constant in all that party government does, under constant attack by the opposition with no real necessity to be objective and truthful. The hung parliament with dependence on third parties and independents just further complicates matters. Note that the role of independents at present is to exercise unique powers which will never accrue to independents with a ballot parliament, in which there will be no leader conflict, as each member will be an independent and the leadership will be open to all, both to help determine policies on all counts, including budgets of course, and to possibly be elected to a secure term in a specific ministry.

The ballot in parliament would not hinder the passionate pursuit of just causes. But it would become totally objective, as causes would not be at all helped in the succeeding ballot otherwise. Sense and harmony in parliament would quickly banish party attitudes there and in the community.


Democratic Revival


Democracy has never been given a good run in the English Speaking West. Nothing's perfect, though Europe has some better examples than ours. Dominance has been the constant habit of mind, and it is fundamental to our problems with the version of 'democracy' we embrace. What stupidity in both government, and people!

The really sad part is that politicians are all so earnest; firmly believing they are engrossed in serving the public interest, while others, of course, are not! And that view is common within parties with all the various factions etc, which trouble each party.

The unruly conflict, point scoring, and arrogance which is displayed by so many of our politicians, going their own self-assured way, in sublime ignorance, or stubborn refusal to acknowledge the idiocy of the way our so-called democracy operates. The main cost of this failure is not just the money cost. That is probably miniscule compared with the societal cost of the failuire to approach the needs of the country with the sanity of a caring cooperation at all levels. It is not merely disappointing, it is seriously destructive of our way of life, discouraging when it could, and should, be inspiring.

Our form of government demoralises the entire population, with the tensions in parliament and news media, together with their budgets and elections, all of which breed worry and confusion, instead of breeding confidence in the community, with a job well done. So much to do and so much ‘carry-on’, for so little achieved, when the world is crying out for a solution to all the tensions in many nations – not to speak of the frustration of the UN struggling to achieve a better world.

Is it any wonder that we have so much criminal neglect and misbehaviour when we consider how hopeless many marginalised people of various age groups feel. While we see so many ‘good’ folk struggling interminably with problems, can we wonder that our society manages as well as it does.

There is a much better way than to persist with this impoverished version of democracy, which is at the root of most, if not all of these problems.

We all prefer the peace and success of a cooperative approach in our daily lives, and many successfully maintain the discipline to achieve such outcomes of self restraint and cooperation. Then why can’t we have cooperation and restraint in the practice of government in our parliaments? Well, we could, if we think about it. Just, read on …

A Democratic Mess



We are in the middle of a democratic mess both in America and Australia, with arrogant leadership which cannot see that it is inappropriate for a democratic country to allow leaders to have such power, when the power of government belongs to the people.

If we just stop for a moment to consider again the words of the ancient Greek, Pericles, that: 'We are an example to them rather than they to us. We call it a democracy because our decisions are made by the many rather than the few.

Not only do the leaders of both our nations ignore the people, but they also ignore the opinions of their own leadership team.

There is nothing quite so pathetic as leaders who have lost the democratic plot. They struggle desperately to convince us that they haven't lost it and, with every effort to recover lost ground, they become, not only more helpless, but even more determined in their error strewn path.

We have to abandon the ease of dependence on parties to govern us. Party politics is not democracy. In fact it is ruining it. The people are dumbed down, creating difficulties for us all, in attempting participation in the growiing complexity of government. We need good leaders, but we should not 'throw them the reins'. The standard of accountability to the people under the party system cannot be viewed seriously, with all power transferred to party leaders between elections. It is also obvious that the more power they are able to acquire, by being half way 'good leaders', the further do they go in their efforts to consolidate their power, until the logical result of the increase in power is to go from one bad decision to another.

When will we wake up to the fact that only the ballot in parliament will recover parliamentary government. with responsible independent representation?

Time is running out for our world with its severe, advancing problems and with governments still spurning the principles of democracy, which alone can save us from impending disaster.



THURSDAY 24th August



Democracy is about cooperation in society, in search of the best answers to the problems. We need to get away from the competitive divisions in politics (parties) each of which thinks they have the best answers. It is quite clear that durable policies need the considered input of the uninvolved thinking community, through a real independence of all representatives. As we look towards the next Australian election in November there are many challenges.

In particular there is the escalating challenge of the strains of the federal system of government arising in the past from settlement of the states in separate colonies, from Britain.

The federal constitution retained the separate state governments as the price of setting up a national government in 1901. The situation has become exacerbated because of the takeover of income tax powers from the states in WWII, due to the exigencies of war. Now the states have the jobs to do but the federal government has the money and criticises them for poor performance all the while sitting on a large surplus of tax revenue.

Party politics is a problem as all the states have Labor governments, ideologically opposed to the federal government. It is obvious that in the context of hospitals that the federal government approach should be that of a 'good parent', with cooperation and responsibility. It seems that Kevin Rudd is more likely to go that way with a policy of 'cooperative federalism'. There are some who think that the states should be replaced with regions. That may well be in the future. This would be a massive reorganisation of life in each state, but the dispersed regional population areas might well be better off with government closer and more responsive to their problems. (The principle of subsidiarity suggests that government should be always be as close to the areas of service as possible.)

But the problems of federalism, requiring a cooperative approach between the two levels of government would be no different. Party politics is always likely to make the problems more difficult.

Let's hope for better things. We need good government and so does the world. If we can't learn to resolve these minor problems in a cooperative spirit what point is there in democracy? Or perhaps we haven't even tried it yet! There can be little hope for a world government to secure peace and justice, if we can't even do it here, can there? We've a long way to go, and all uphill!

THURSDAY - 9th August 2007


Is our democracy advancing, standing still or actually degenerating?
Malcolm Fraser (Melbourne Age 3/8/07) says it is eroding and that this must stop.
Politicians have the power to make impetuous, populist decisions, ignoring the expert advice of wiser heads, and enhance their power base among a worried and ill-informed, even gullible, electorate.
We have become a fragmented society, disoriented, rudderless, at the whim of political ideologies – and don’t think to blame our cultural diversity - multiculturalism. That is NOT the cause.
No, party politics is the cause, replacing the rule of the people with ‘strong leaders’.

Is it right that a US President can exercise a pre-emptive right to invade a non-threatening sovereign nation?
Is it right that a Prime Minister can send troops overseas without even a parliamentary debate?
Is it right that a Prime Minister can order big warships, to carry one thousand troops, complete with heavy tanks and helicopter gun-ships with the ability to forcefully attack another nation, with little, if any, reference to parliament or people?
Not even Robert Menzies would have done such things.

Or, is it right for a Victorian Premier to set in motion a plan to pump water from the country over the dividing range and order construction of a desalinated water plant with clearly high CO2 output and environmental damage, to convert a portion of sea water to drinking water, with a large heat component dispersed into the sea – as near- boiling brine?
Clearly, drought and other woes have created a fearful people, ready to be led anywhere, without rhyme or reason, by politicians desperate to retain the reins of power.

Do we respect the principle of democracy, the involvement of the people, the principle of equality of political power and influence for all?
Do we also respect its unifying purpose - through community inter-action and consultation?
Have we the self respect – the determination to have some say in what goes on?
Are we willing for the responsibility of ‘community’ – the democratic involvement in the interchange of ideas? – And ideals?!
As a democratic community, have we that goodwill toward others which would enable constructive interaction with those with differing views - to fully understand the basis of alternative viewpoints?
Could we not, by such interaction, move toward a recognisably rational consensus on the issues - finding a sound basis of values and ideals that we can live by, as an Australian – and world community?
They are there already – in the hearts and minds of hearts of us all.
All we need is a new basis of gathering together in community. It is called democracy!

Only the mechanism is lacking - the secret ballot in each of our parliaments - to connect us again to the power of our parliaments, via representatives who have been set free from party politics, so they can, and will need to, represent us, instead of other vested interests.

TUESDAY 24th July


Last night I had a google Alert for 'ballots in parliament' and found a speech by the newU K Labour Party leader with some startingly new ideas on the devolution of power he is setting in place. See http://www.mattwardman.com/blog/2007/07/08/audio- and-transcript-of-gordon-browns-proposed-uk-constitutional-reforms-on-3rd-july-2007.
>

WEDNESDAY 4TH JULY


Today's Age, Business final page, featured a scathing condemnation of democracy - as it is practiced in the Asian democracies, quoting India, Korea and Taiwan. In his view a strong economy is the only way to a successful democracy.
That leaves little hope for democracy as strong economies are the cause of global warming. So we'd better just hand over government to business (not far to go) and all learn to live under dictatorships - benign of course!
His business interest approach sticks out all over, and must be music to the ears of such governments as we now have!
A clever fellow. Heaven help us all!

Saturday 30th June 2007



Reflections


When Michael Gawenda sent his final dispatch from America, he noted the 'huge depth of sincerity and neighbourliness' he had found there, in contrast to the 'repugnance at much that was superficial, from beefburgers to Bush'.

In another comment, Dr. Paul Strangio of Monash University spoke of the 'Coalition dominance', in contrast to the democratic ideal of 'dispersed power'.

It's rather obvious that our 'democracies' have failed very badly to enable the solid good of ordinary people to permeate all areas of our lives.

Please compare the remarks of ex-County Court Judge, Peter Gebhardt, on the essentially moral character of the democratic ideal. !3/6/07.

Political reform is surely an urgent matter.

Wenesday 27/6/07

Andrew Polger retires, talks to Kerry Obrien - ABC TV Melbourne

I am just sad that a man of this calibre is now gone as Public Service Commissioner. He was gentlemanly; restrained and wise in speech and manne, one of the old school of apolitical, wise advisers to government. I just hope that he may become Governor G eneral . He would not want it but Australia woud be the better if we recognised more pople of such value. While we no doubt have many more we don't see much of them as our iniquitous, gross public life forces them into the background. They should be our leaders.
His interview with Kerry O'Brien on last night's seventhirty report was a gem of decency and missing quality in our less public life. You can see it on the net - by video. Don't miss it.
What a stark contrast is his quiet manner to the bully-boy, ignorant, blustering produced by party politics.
I looked for a write-up on this valuable man in the Age early this morning but instead was treated to an article by an Opinion article Catherine Deveny, satirist, aetheist journalist - attacking hypocrisy. There's plenty that can be said about that. I don't blame her for her unbelief in, and ignorance of the love of God - that revelation does not come easily, but to reduce our young to the level of hormone driven animals is both disrespecting of animals and abominably destructive of the human values which make us just a little different to animals. Neither will her article change those she targets. It's just about money I guess
Perhaps she could get to know Andrew Polger.
But my question is, I suppose, being all things to all people, to sell papers, is the Age just mirroring and depressing our society instead of being a force for a better nation, a better life. Paul the apostle was not wrong when he said: Whatsoever thigs are good ....think on these things.' After all it is true that as a man thinks, so he is.

Wednesday 13/6/07


Peter Gebhardt's excellent article today (Age Opinion 13/6)warns of the fragility of our democracy, quoting from Naomi Wolf's Guardian article: 'It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler.' Clearly, democracy is an endangered species.
He comments further what may not be generally recognised: the '...democratic ideal that is first and foremost a moral one' ... '...a moral enabler.' But that demands that we, as democrats, undertake a moral responsibility for what government does.
But: 'Rule of the people, by the people and for the people' is seriously neutered

Further pursuit of the democratic ideal demands ballots in our

Tuesday 12/6/07

Something to consider

(Received from ex-missionaries)





Very powerful and history proves it is true.

Pass it on

A man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War Two owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.

"Very few people were true Nazis " he said," but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."

We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that

Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.

Alt hough this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.

It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.

The hard quantifiable fact is that the "peaceful majority" the

Communist Russia comprised Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China's huge population, it was peaceful as well, but Chinese

The average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel and bayonet.

And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were "peace loving"?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch it all unfold; we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Lastly, at the risk of offending, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on, can contribute to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand.

So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on!!

Let us hope that thousands, worldwide, read this - think about it

- and send it on.

Tuesday 5/6/07

RED TAPE

Another gem on the back page of 'Age, Business'. Today Steve Burrell tells it like it is. It's bad news!
"A basic part of the problem (of government red tape) is that the urge to overregulate is built into the incentive structure of modern politics,...'

(Regulating agencies tend) to adopt strict and often prescriptive or legalistic approaches, to lessen their own risks of exposure to criticism".

Adding furher to the horrific problem is the growing fe

Steve notes that a principle of "one in, one out" (obviously rare in practice) would help stem the flood of regulation. Every year thousands of pages of laws and regulations are added by enthusiastic party governments without any review of the confusing mess to reduce it all to manageable proportions.

The jealousy and conflict of party political ambition destroys our hopes of govenment sanity and the best fruits of community goodwill, peace and productivity that a real democracy (without party politics) would nurture. But our dysfunctional society still foolishly places its faith in party politics!

Friday 1/06/07

Let’s hear it for natural gas!

Hiding on the back page of Age Business (today 1/6), is a reminder of the advantages of natural gas compared to coal. As to water, the article states, it uses 20-40% less water for power generation than coal.

With regard to environmental emissions it is obviously a shiner. Considering that energy by burning coal (C) produces a 100% CO2 (carbon dioxide) output, while natural gas (CH4 and similar), produces CO2 and H2O (water), in a ratio of perhaps 1:4. And a gas-fired power station is now on the back burner while the coal industry carries on in its polluting way.

John Howard’s ‘handpicked taskforce has now released its finding after six months, advising ‘a flexible “cap and trade” scheme no earlier than four years from now’. Where is the ‘man of steel’ who can make the tough decisions?

Thursday 31/05/07

Assault on Reason

Al Gore, who missed being President of the USA by a whisker, has a new book out, ‘Assault on Reason’. He is critical of the state of democracy in America, saying that in America governments can apparently act with impunity in defiance of reason and seventy percent of public opinion.

At the same time Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to strengthen environment protection provisions, in California with its high levels of car exhaust pollution, but is blocked by a bureaucratic Environment Protection Agency (EPA It seems the EPA is merely echoing the reluctance of the Bush administration to disadvantage their supporters. Bad luck Arnold!

Sounds just like the Howard government’s determination not to disadvantage the coal industry’s huge investments, markets and profits.

Party government likes to talk about the ‘tough decisions’ but caves in to vested interests, nor can it trust the public when hard facts and reason demand public sacrifice, being scared of the public it has long seduced by pork barrelling.

Wednesday 30/5/07

Forums

Some time ago Amanda Vanstone noted a vital aspect missing from our democracy - the lack of forums for community consultation.

But they will appear like mushrooms when the secret ballot is adopted in our parliaments, and all MPs will be anxious to connect with their constituents.

Last night we saw a kind of forum on our SBS on Melbourne TV. Attended by a variety of people, including various notables and thinkers, World Vision’s Tim Costello acted as kind of referee on a TV hook-up. Jenny Brockie presented in true ‘Hypothetical’ style swooping questions here and there, not altogether at random.

But there was something lacking. Viewpoints varied from altruistic to selfish, from simple to complex, but without the finality that only a ballot can give to each contribution, no coherent solutions could be found to the best way to spend the current estimated ten billion dollar budget surplus.

To find a way to give the people at the local level an effective say in today’s problems is the challenge. People in such forums must feel that sense prevails and good results can be pursued decisively.

Long ago in Communist Hungary a TV program showed the way we might eventually go. The program was called ‘Hat von hot’, meaning ‘sixty six’. That was the number of guests invited to the program, from the viewing audience. This forum was different in that there was a secret voting station on the arm of each seat.

Official visitors to the program soon found that their authority at the office was of no account before this well-armed group of constituents! Officials soon found that these ‘peasants’ were a force to be reckoned with, as they freely expressed their opinions on each matter raised, with their secret voting facility.

To have local forums like that may not be so very far away. In any case, secret ballots in our parliaments will initiate the move to responsive representatives convening local meetings and a realistic citizen involvement in the affairs that concern us.

tuesday 29/5/07

The election

The media onslaught on Rudd's wife is (an intended?) distraction from a more intelligent, objective analysis of the more serious issues at stake in this election. Natasha Cica (what an asset she is) so relevantly points this out in today's Melbourne Age. The 'dirty' war being conducted so desperately by the Howard executive points up forcibly the debacle that party politics makes of our democracy.

Financial

Ross Gittins (Business back page) highlights the disastrous financial wastage of the windfall from the resources boom in tax cuts, government spending, and election handouts instead of emulating the Norwegian response to oil wealth by extensiveglobal investment. The short term policies engendered by fierce party conflict are a primary cause of the neglect of the long term policies of real statesmanship.

Centralism

State government powers are quickly evaporating as the federal executive increases its reach into state politics by attaching controlling conditions to the funds it provides from its 'infinite' taxation resources, taken over during WWII in the exigencies of the war, and never returned.
While there is concern about overgovernment due to the overlap of federal and state powers, and there are arguments for a two-tier basis replacing states and municipalities with regional governments, the present danger to our democracy is the increase in conditions attached to funds provided by Canberra for essential state services.
The drift to centrallised government endangers the rule of the people.
These and many other factors to which we have, and will continue to draw attention, point to the urgent need for parliamentary reform through the extension of the secret ballot into considerations of that august assembly.

Comment = 15/6/05

Someone once said that publishing a book of verse and waiting for the public's reaction, is like dropping a stone into the Grand Canyon and listening for the bang.

I can vouch for the fact that broaching the subject of serious reform of our ailing democracy is just the same. The eyes glaze over! I remember only one (scathing) comment on Margo Kingston's Webdiary - 'Poppycock (how very senior), to my proposal for ballots in parliament instead of 'divisions'. (I was also rebuked for mentioning my party website.)

Clearly the status quo has everyone firmly in its grip. Until the dam of frustration bursts, it seems that real reform is never achieved, When the people are really desperate, as in the American War of Independence, The French Bastille, and our own Eureka Stockade, at last the people get, by violent action, the reforms that they could not otherwise achieve

For democracy to advance we have the two alternatives of serious intelligent response to proffered solutions, or revolution.

Clearly we are not lacking in intelligent participants, and many good points are often raised, but why are we so fearful of dealing with the root of the problem? People who clearly can think, usually do not. I quote the sarcastic comment of Barry Jones (of no mean intellect) on one occasion years ago, to the proposal of non-partisan democracy, via secret ballots prevailing in our parliaments: 'Next you'll want secret debate, I suppose!'

Well, actually, that's what we have now - in the ruling party room, where the actual decisions are made; public debate, in parliament, being s mere charade.

Every country has had to find its own solutions to its own political structural problems and we must do the same. But the goal of complete democracy can never be fully realized, It is a an ongoing response to changing circumstances,and will never be easy'. There is now substantial concern about the possibility of a growing conflict between the old and the young, in the political tussle to share the GDP equitably. It is only one of many problems.
I submit the only real, and practical, answer to our political dilemma lies in eradicating party power from our political system by the rule of the secret ballot to settle all decisions in parliament.

We must remember that the problems are set to become larger, not smaller, as time goes by.

Leave God out of it. - Comment - 23/5/05

Yes - Pamela Bone, writing in the 'Age' (Melbourne) today, is quite right - and wrong.

Right in claiming that ethical values are intrinsic to our human nature, and wrong in dismissing the relevance of the 'power' that formed us.

But for a politician to claim religious authority for a personal view as a Christian is to use an authority that is political, not Christian.

Here is the nub of the problem.

In our corrupted democracy we have ceded so much power to party politicians that it is easy for them to become 'a law unto themselves'.

The path to less power for politicians (and more ethics), needs a restoration of the authority of parliament, vis-a-vis the executive, with conscience voting of members prevailing via secret voting in parliament.

Then, individual and minority views, political, religious or otherwise, will not have the present power to unduly influence or worry us.

Comment -19.5.05

Are we ever likely to have governments hand over their stranglehold on public affairs with a statutory bill of rights of any kind, or offer to open up the possibility of constitutional change by referendum?

No way.
There are many who are unhappy about the hold over us that elected, but dictatorial government has, but we need to rally around to attack the root cause of the problem.
There is one cause that is common to every gripe we see and hear in the public arena - the power of 'democratic' government to ignore the people. Let's face it, democracy is a process of the people looking for better answers, not an accomplished goal, despite the rhetoric of the powerful.
Some have said that we need more independents, even a parliament of independents.
The view is that without such locally responsible representatives there can never be adequate involvement of the public, or representative accountability.
Some have said that many independents would form parties again.
Again, some have said you can't have coherent government with a parliament of independents.
But there is one move which could resolve those objections in one fell swoop - a public demand for all debates and appointment of ministers in parliament to be decided by secret ballot
The secret ballot would make all members independent, giving them equal power in parliament, but propelling them back to local policy involvement and responsibility.
Furthermore, ministers appointed by parliament would immediately become answerable to parliament for their individual and team performance.


Party politics - the enemy of democracy.

Comment -16.5.05

In his 1942 book 'The Forgotten People - Chap.33 'The nature of Democracy', Menzies says: 'Government of the people by my party, for me, is not democracy. It is just a system of crooked bargaining. It cannot support any decent new order, and it is not worth fighting for.'

Democracy is not just a political system to which the whole world should aspire. It is an attitude. One which respects the rights of others, refusing unfair advantage, and embracing the golden rules of 'Love your neighbour' and 'Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.'

The heart of democracy is therefore the secret ballot. Where it is excluded, democracy suffocates, with frustration, emotion and conflict - or, just apathy. The ballot subtracts excessive power from the powerful. Where it is the rule, fairness prevails - and calm.

Comment - 23/2/05.

Today we are informed that four hundred and fifty more Australian troops will go to Iraq on combat duty, to protect Japanese reconstruction workers. So far it seems no one has connected this government's foolhardy, and promise-breaking move with the history of the Vietnam war.

18/2/05.

When an Iranian nuclear physicist has been intent on circulating nuclear expertise to other Islamic states, with the motive of making Islam great, then we can know that serious confrontation with the West (read Judeo/Christian countries) is on the rise. It is obvious that little common ground exists between Islam and Israel, and the West's neglect of the Palestinians' problems firmly positions America, and its coalition allies, at risk of 'terrorist' action.

With threatening attitudes the US has triggered fear and aggressive attitudes and responses from a number of states on the subject of nuclear proliferation. Continually, and justifiably, in view of its aggressive stance, fearful of attacks on its soil and interests, it is also extremely vulnerable, despite its massive military capability.

While being polite to (loving?) its enemies might fit well with its avowed religious convictions, there is little sign of the lateral thinking that might reverse the worrying dependence on desperate threat and military expenditure to resolve the growing tensions. The way back to peace and sanity is daily becoming longer.

Comment - 16/2/05.

It troubles me considerably that our politics consists of so much squabbling, so much evasion, so much jostling for advantage, when we are the proud country of the fair go, and when our practice of the secret ballot for elections so clearly indicates its unique power to achieve just ends in the calmest way.

Since parliament is where decisions must be made, why not give our representatives the assurance of the secret ballot to enable them to make their decisions objectively, secure from outside pressure, in a calm and sane manner.

Comment - 4/1/05.

The Tsunami disaster has stunned the world with its countless casualties. And who knows how many more, with inadequate resources to treat the injured, threatening diseases and starvation? As efforts to deal with this international crisis escalate we see how normal is the compassionate response of ordinary people and also of governments.

Theology seems to be getting a thrashing as the diverse religious views attempt to explain the way we should see this tragedy. Is God to blame they ask? Is He all powerful? over nature? or in the affairs of men? Clearly not, in either case.

Our physical world is governed by physical laws, not by a giant intelligence controlling everything from the sky. Living things have spirits. Living things are not automatons - all have freewill from the creator, responding to situations as they will. Go near a bull-ants nest and see.

God inhabits His universe - the Spirit of Life. Jesus commented that even a sparrow cannot fall to the earth without God - not as people often say:'without God knowing'.

A hurt infant will cry out for the love of the parent, and a drowning person will cry for God - the Creator. God is not absent in the sky. His Spirit is everywhere, all about us, as well as in us. The Bible records Paul's reminder to the Athenian philosophers (of what they already knew): 'In Him we live and move and have our being'.

God cannot directly control man - who has freewill and can makes mistakes, and do terrible things. So we see that there is no master mind in the sky, responsible for the acts of nature (nor the mischief of Man). But the Bible tells us that God is love. There is an obvious corollary. God is not a distant complacent, careless being in the sky. God loves, so He suffers, interminably - but that love is unquenchable by death. That is the real message of the Cross. Suffering is the inevitable consequence of living on a dangerous planet (boiling not too far below us), amid the dangers of a less than perfect mankind. But perfect love overcomes the fear of death.

In the film 'Thursdays with Morrie' a self centered-ex-student, after many years, eventually calls his favourite teacher who is dying. At length the ex student gets the life-changing message. Until you know how to handle death you cannot really know how to live.

It is the message of the Cross which inspires the faith and the love that is selfless - empowering life in a troubled world. The story is told of Lord Shaftesbury (an eighteenth-century Christian) who, while visiting slums in England with a clergyman, was confronted by starving people. His companion said exasperatedly: 'Why doesn't God do something?' 'He is' said Shaftesbury, and immediately hurried off to organise relief measures.

Theologians, and others, who seem to be puzzled at this time, may well heed and be reassured by the compassion of ordinary people queuing so promptly to give.

Comment - 2/11/04. - The US Election

Today is the day when the result of the election, which no one can call, will be decided by the decrepit US voting system

The US system appears to be a shambles, with voters queuing for hours to vote, and with much doubt about the accuracy of the subsequent counting.

At least Australia has a competent, reliable and orderly electoral system, with its compulsory involvement in the ballot.

With the US election sullied beyond measure by partisan enmity and dirty tricks, apparently found necessary in the pursuit of power, what respect can the world have for the 'democracy' which the US boasts so constantly about.

In this age of such superior advance in many fields why are they still struggling to advance their electoral process beyond the horse and buggy days? Because they still believe in leadership power, with its accompanying strong emotions of pride and fear, not by the deeper values of democracy - truth, and mutual respect.

The Australian election - October 9 - A matter of trust!

How does this battle between two leaders line up with the original concept of democracy --- which means power to the people. Two leaders battling for the power to make war or anything else they want to do with little, if any, reference to the parliament, let alone the people.

Only the reorganization of parliament under the control of the whole house, with the essential tool of the secret ballot, can reintroduce democracy to this country.

It's time for this revolutionary change, before our system of government is further sunk in the mire of autocracy.

Islamic 'terrorism' - As I see it.

George Bush has done nothing to heal the fifty years of Israeli scarifying the Palestinians out of their own land - just as if they were weeds.

Can anyone doubt that the wave of 'terrorism' by Palestinians, al Qaeda, or any others is a direct result of this criminal neglect.

Remove the primary cause and then the further problems will become tractable.

The West has preyed upon the Middle east for two generations, bleeding it dry, just the same as the colonial powers have done throughout the whole world.

Terrorists see themselves as at war. What's more they see it as a holy war, endorsed by God. Who knows? Even Nebuchadnezzar, when attacking Jerusalem, was called by God (according to the the Scriptures) "My servant". God, 'gave' Palestine to Abraham and his descendants, but it is plain from the Scriptures that the promise was conditional on Abraham-like faith (or character)which is plainly what the prophet Micah (6:8) says: 'He has showed you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?' Similarly, the prophet Jeremiah, C22:3-5. Who then are the real descendants of Abraham?

With Western sympathy, many refugees from the holocaust settled in Palestine. But the pursuit of an Israeli state, the Zionist dream, propelled the immigration, resulting in the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into refugee camps in Lebanon, the West Bank of Jordan and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians sought recognition of a separate state and their own government. This had been long agreed by the UN but permanently stalled by Israeli governments, heavily supported, financially and militarily, by the US, by reason of the political clout of the American Jewish lobby with the agreement of the Christian Right. The Christian Right are making a serious mistake. They should note the words of Jesus, especially His attitude to the temple, and prophecy of its destruction. In due time the Romans rased it to the ground after successive rebellions and the inhabitants fled the country. Now after two millennia they believe they can have it all back. The world does not agree and the UN designed a partitioned land as the best option. Extreme opinion on both sides have rejected that solution, and having the power to do so have been intent on preventing its happening.

The power of the extremist Palestinians and Arab friends (politically and militarily to weak for warfare) lies in the passionate sense of injustice combined with the suicide bombers' Islamic conviction of a wonderful hereafter.

In Israel, the majority who want peace are thwarted by the climate of fear (engendered by the failure of the UN initiatives) which enables the right wing minority, with the moral, financial and military support of American right-wing (religious-influenced) government, to pursue the demise of the Palestinian dream of a separate state. The government-assisted establishment of numerous Jewish strategic settlements throughout Palestinian territory is spelling the end of a separate state for the Palestinians, they being despised and gradually enslaved in their own remaining .

< Added to the general view of Islam that America is a godless, immoral nation, with its powerful interference in the economy and politics of many countries, the Palestinian injustice has proved the last straw, and the notion of Jihad has taken hold.

Here we have an evil situation, the product of two religious misconceptions:

1. The Zionists fail to recognize that the promise that Abraham understood God to make to him and his progeny concerning the inheritance of the whole of Palestine, was conditional, stemming from Abraham's character, as exemplified by the moral stipulation in the prophet Micah (C.6:8): 'He has showed you O man what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God',

2. The Islamic myth: that the Jihad suicides will enjoy fantastic honour and physical pleasures in an after life - even for the murder of the innocent.

Only the '... meek shall inherit the earth.'(Matt.5:5)

One might well wonder what might be the solution. It is clear however that the UN must find it. America's involvement is too complex for it to be trusted. Furthermore American involvement in support of Israel is widely perceived to aggravate, even possibly is, the problem. Additionally American abstinence from the full support of the UN has substantially weakened, and hindered a solution by the UN.

While minorities rule, democracy languishes and satisfactory progress is denied us. It's the same the world over. When will we wake up.

The Palestine issue is far harder to resolve than military attacks on the 'axis of evil'. This matter is important and urgently needs reasoned debate - with goodwill.

It is a firm principle that, where there are problems to be faced, the best way is to tackle the hardest first.

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