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20 June 1997. Thought for the Week: "It is a fallacy that labour produces all wealth, whereas the simple fact is that production is 96 percent a matter of tools and process, which form the cultural inheritance of the community - not as workers - but as a community and as such the community is clearly the proper, though far from being the legal administrator of it."
C.H. Douglas in Economic Democracy
ANOTHER PHONY DEBATE ON UNEMPLOYMENT
by Eric D. Butler
For example, Victoria's Treasurer Stockdale says, in essence, that black is white and that the Victorian Kennett Government is being "successful" in overcoming unemployment. John Howard admits that the figures are "disappointing", but his Treasurer Peter Costello is much more positive and echoes the refrain from the musical "My Fair Lady": "Just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait". Just wait until the next set of figures, says Costello.
Employment Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone admitted that the figures were "flat and disappointing". But then she said they "were consistent with expectations of jobs growth later in the year". Prime Minister Howard's contribution was to appeal to Australians to be "patient", also stating that there would be no miracle. But he also said that an "improved economic outlook meant that there would be an improvement next year". He was also confident that the Reserve Bank would make the right decision on interest rates.
Members of a desperate Coalition backbench clearly have no confidence in the soothing platitudes coming from John Howard and his Ministers. And the evidence suggests that John Howard and Peter Costello have little confidence in what they are claiming themselves. If they have, then why are they trying to position themselves for an early election? Predictably, Opposition leader Kim Beazley described the unemployment figures as a "national disgrace".
Politically ominous for the Howard Government is the latest public opinion polls which show that a majority of electors believe that Beazley is more likely to deal with unemployment than John Howard. And there is another worry for the Government, the Pauline Hanson factor, which shows no sign of going away. Even if this factor does not translate into sufficient votes to win seats in the House of Representatives, preferences could be vital in many marginal electorates.
As one wades through the torrent of comment on the employment situation, one is struck by the fact most of it is quite fatuous, primarily because the wrong questions are being asked. As C.H. Douglas said, "A problem correctly stated is already half solved." One headline reads that the new British Labour leader Blair is "To offer Howard advice on jobs".
A political editor writes, "The British
Prime Minister is expected to brief Mr. Howard on an initiative
to create jobs that was finalised when Mr. Blair met U.S.
President Bill Clinton last month. Under the initiative, officials
from both nations will identify what reforms have worked,
where and what lessons can be drawn from each nation's experience".
The present deepening crisis in the human drama was foreseen by the founder of the Social Credit movement, C.H. Douglas, at the end of the First World War. Events, which one observer said, appeared to be in the pay of Douglas, have confirmed what Douglas predicted that there was no way in which the orthodox finance economic system could operate without increasing debt and social dislocation, leading to the collapse of civilisation.
The basic issue is philosophical: What is the true purpose of man and the economic system? The correct answer is that the true purpose of production is consumption and to provide the individual with more free time for self-development. The development of civilisation has only been possible because sufficient individuals could be freed from operating the economic system. The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle said that the true purpose of man's economic activities was to provide leisure. Unfortunately the study of the great classics and the eternal wisdom they contain has become out of date.
There is the wisdom contained in an essay, "On The Discovery of Roast Pig", by the English essayist Charles Lamb. Lamb relates how in ancient China the son of a pig producer accidentally burnt his father's house down and roasted all the pigs. He was attracted to the new smell of roast pig and in licking his hands relished a previously unknown delight. An angry father beat the son, but in doing so also tasted roast pork. The father told the son they must keep their news to themselves. But the neighbours could not help noticing that every time this man's pigs farrowed, his house got burned down. Eventually the secret got out and soon houses all over the countryside were burning down. Eating pigs was a serious crime.
The time came when the practice of eating roast pork was no longer banned. And it was discovered that only a small fire was necessary to produce roast pork. The size of the fires was reduced to serve the result required: roast pork. In today's world, instead of treating the economy as a means to an end, and the building of capital works sufficient only to produce required consumer goods, mankind is resorting to the equivalent of burning the whole house down to obtain this result.
Built in obsolescence is a deliberate policy of economic and cultural sabotage. The famous British Prime Minister Disraeli said, "Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilisers of man". If "full employment" is the end of man, then the quickest way to achieve this end is to scrap all technology, going back to picks and shovels to make roads. Military conflicts, the bigger and longer the better, also provide a means of wasting enormous resources.
George Orwell foresaw a time when the economic system could only be sustained by three groupings of nations engaging in perpetual military conflict. There is an enormous amount of constructive economic activity, which should be undertaken in Australia. A few thinkers are beginning to point out that the financing of such activities present no real problems. B.A. Santamaria is one of those, although much more than he advocates is required. But under the pressure of events, there is a shift in thinking.
Australia's Trade Union leaders might
consider looking at the significance of what the well known
British Trade Union leader Sir Walter Reuther has said: "There
are really two basic questions.
There is no evidence to suggest that John Howard and his Ministers are likely to consider basic questions like this. All they can think about is how to tinker with a flawed system; whether a further reduction in interest rates might "stimulate" the economy. And there are Mickey-Mouse suggestions like making the young unemployed work for the dole. Then, of course, there is the ever-haunting problem of how to "stimulate" the economy without "overheating" it, this then requiring more policies of "restraint". And so on, from one disaster to the next.
IS MR. HOWARD A MONARCHIST?
by David Thompson
Former Liberal Party leader Dr. John Hewson, addressing a private Liberal Party function last week, flayed Mr. Howard for what Hewson described as "a clear lack of leadership". Hewson was, of course, referring to issues that divert him, economics and racial issues, saying that he was ashamed that "our side of politics" had avoided condemning Hanson's One Nation. Such an attack ranks as one of the most devastating from a former leader.
Although clearly not a monarchist himself, Hewson's charge of weak leadership on economic and racial issues clearly applies to the more fundamental constitutional questions. Howard's handling of the question of a constitutional convention will, in hindsight, be seen to be appalling. The argument for a convention in the first place is abysmal.
Following the well-deserved disappearance of Mr. Paul Keating, the republican issue almost completely died. It is largely due to Howard and his colleagues that the issue has been revived, on the pretext of the Coalition's promise to hold the convention during the election campaign. Many other campaign promises, some not particularly practical, have been dropped, because they were not "core promises".
Having either decided or been driven by the republicans inside the Coalition ranks to press on with the convention, possibly a plebiscite, and eventually a referendum, Howard has permitted the initiate and the agenda to have been hijacked by the republicans. The appointment of the "father of the House of Representatives", Mr. Ian Sinclair, to chair the convention only had merit of any kind if he did at least assume the cloak of impartiality. But Sinclair now overtly displays his republican sympathies, giving the clear impression that the convention itself is merely a formality, following which we can all go on to vote for the inevitable" republic.
As Mr. Sinclair has no doubt discovered, the grassroots of his own National Party are not enamored with this approach. The fact that Sinclair's deputy chairman, Barry Jones, has only to decide what sort of maximalist" republican he is, makes the convention top heavy with overt republicans, and merely serves to further intimidate or demoralise the monarchists. The convention, in retrospect, will be regarded as a set-up republican operation, generating a backlash against the alleged "monarchist" under whose undermined authority it was established.
The suggestion that Mr. Sinclair would resign from the Parliament at the conclusion of the convention's deliberations, to take up the highly sought after post of Australian High Commissioner in London, adds a further dimension of disbelief to the whole business. If Mr. Howard felt the necessity to re-assert his authority, he would struggle to find a better beginning than sacking Mr. Sinclair, abandoning the republican convention, and dropping the republic issue from the political agenda until unemployment dropped below, say, 5%, and the balance of trade was in equilibrium. If the republicans inside the Coalition were genuine, it would give them a marvelous incentive to get on with what the public regard as the "real issues".
WHO ARE THE REAL BIGOTS?
Former Liberal leader-turned-merchant-banker Dr. John Hewson is one of the latest to have condemned Pauline Hanson as being prejudiced and bigoted. Hewson also charged that the Government's political programme consisted of "prejudice, populism and pragmatism". It is interesting to speculate about the kind of Prime Minister Hewson would have made, in the light of such arrogance. Howard did at least concede Hanson's right to express her views, as a legitimately elected Member of the Australian Parliament, with a constituency to represent. Hewson, however, has the luxury of being able to ignore the large groundswell of Coalition supporters who have identified with what Hanson says. Howard does not. Essentially, Howard must preside over a Coalition deeply divided on issues like immigration and the republic.
Perhaps history will be kinder to Hanson than her detractors, like Hewson. After all, who are the real bigots here? The demonstrators who hurl abuse at anyone attending a One Nation meeting addressed by Hanson are an interesting mob. The faces contorted by hatred and bitterness of these obviously rent-a-crowd mobs display far more bigotry than Hanson ever has. Our close examination of the public record has yet to show a single case of hatred or bigotry by Hanson. Who organises such potentially violent mobs? Who pays for their buses, as they are transported, for example, from Sydney to confront those attending Hanson's Newcastle meeting?
The hatred of the rent-a-crowd mobs is
one thing, but the institutionalised "discrimination" directed
towards Hanson from other elected government agencies is extraordinary.
The Newcastle City Council placed every possible obstacle
in the way of the Newcastle meeting to the extent that it
cost organisers $16,500 to mount the meeting! Clearly the
(Labor-dominated) Council dearly wanted the meeting cancelled.
The most recent case of institutionalised prejudice is that of Ashfield City Council in Sydney, which has taken a formal decision not to consider an application for the use of any of its buildings from One Nation. If prejudice and bigotry result from Hanson's determination to deal with basic issues, it comes more from her opponents than from her. The issues she has raised have been, without exception, legitimate issues of public concern. Other politicians may refuse to consider the racial component of our immigration intake, but it is a matter for legitimate discussion. The public interest in policy concerning Aborigines demonstrates that it is an issue demanding discussion, however much some politicians wish to hide from it. To condemn Pauline Hanson for bigotry or prejudice is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black.
MULTICULTURALISM IN ISRAEL
The Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, has passed the first reading of a Bill that proposes to outlaw missionary activity, which includes "inducing religious conversion". The Bill proposes to imprison preachers breaking the new law for a year. It is clear that the Jewish State is prepared to attempt to prevent Christian conversions among Jews, which has become a political "problem". In the last 20 years, in excess of 800,000 Soviet Jews have migrated to Israel, most of whom are poorly educated in the detail of Jewish religious observance. Many are secular Jews only, determined to escape communism at the time. It appears that these are most susceptible to conversion to Christianity.
Some who oppose the law, which seeks to prevent the "distribution" of offending material, insist that this could mean the selling, carrying, or even possession of such things as the New Testament. Because it is constantly portrayed as a "Jewish State", many westerners either forget, or are ignorant of the fact that Israel is a country with a significant Christian population. Not all the "Arabs" or Palestinians are Islamic at all. Many are Christians with one of the most ancient Christian heritages in the world. Jerusalem is holy to Christianity and Islam as well as Judaism. But it is clear that while many Jews and Jewish organisations promote multiculturalism heavily in their adopted countries, there is no such thing as multiculturalism in Israel. The very reverse is the case.
DOMESTIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE GLOBAL MARKET
We suggest that political actionists take up the debate concerning the Government's slowing of the pace of tariff "reform" in the face of increasing hostility towards the obvious industrial results of the abolition of tariffs. It is argued long and hard that tariffs conceal economic inefficiencies in protected Australian industries. Groups such as the National Farmers Federation insist that their members subsidise the protection of other industries by paying higher prices for such "protected" things as agricultural machinery, motorcars, parts, chemicals, etc. Little attention, however, is given to the consequences of tariff cuts, and the social security burdens that subsequently must be met by all industries.
The first and most obvious cost to be attributed to the elimination of tariffs is unemployment, which must somehow be "subsidised" through the welfare system. Under present economic rules, unemployment benefits must be borne by those still in employment. Associated with unemployment are a variety of other costly results, such as increasing crime. This requires increased spending in law enforcement, court facilities and prison capacity. Are farmers suggesting they do not bear such costs when they are incurred by the community?
The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr. McFarlane, insists that further deregulation of the labour market is essential to be internationally competitive. This means that those who remain employed must work harder and for longer hours, and often for the same (if not less) wages. Effectively, this means a generally lower standard of living.
The inevitable "costs" associated with this, as well as tariff cuts, is increased tension and stress. This means increased burdens on the health system, as the effects of stress are manifest as health problems. The consequent financial pressure also means increased financial tension on marriages, which statistics show is one of the greatest contributors to marriage breakdown. This means another smattering of increased social costs such as pressures on family law courts, increased childcare requirements and the inevitable increase in suicides.
The suicide question alone must be confronted. Recent statistics show that Australian youth suicides are among the world's highest. However, alongside each successful youth suicide, there are 10 unsuccessful attempts. This must impose massive medical as well as personal and social costs on an already-tottering structure.
Are we suggesting that the ballooning social (as well as financial) costs illustrated above are an acceptable cost to pay for cheaper cars and shoes? Are we suggesting that the worst youth suicide rate in the world is an acceptable price to pay for a few dollars off the clothing bill, and the price of imported chemicals? Such is the worship of Mammon that we sacrifice the next generation of Australians. These are issues that should be pursued with increased vigor with political representatives at every level.
WHAT HAPPENED TO PETER REITH AND C.I.R.?
About three years ago, a conference on initiative and referendum filled the Great Hall of the Australian Parliament. It was addressed by Cheryl Kernot, Ted Mack, Tom Kenneally, Peter Reith and many others. One of the key figures in mounting the conference at all was Mr. Reith. He was subsequently warned off the issue by the Liberal Part hierarchy, and told to drop it.
Has Mr. Reith abandoned his interest in the issue? A most able politician, and an excellent administrator and negotiator, Reith's abilities could be crucial in achieving the introduction of initiative and referendum. According to a report in The Sunday Telegraph by Gerard McManus, Peter Reith has not forgotten C.I.R., and still believes it has merit. "I'm interested in looking at an antidote to the sense of detachment, to the sense of being disenfranchised that is out there in the community" he is reported as saying.
Every opportunity should be taken to encourage Mr. Reith to pursue his interest. With the political problems mounting before him, even Prime Minister Howard might be pleased to have some such suggestion as a tool for taking the political "steam" out of issues such as the Wik/native title problem.
ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE, SO ONE SET OF RULES - The Land, 1/5/97"Sir, May I also respond to Nick Greiner's suggestion that we change our flag. However, unlike previous correspondents who were born here, mine is the viewpoint of someone born and educated in a non-English speaking country.
We arrived here in 1955 and clearly understood that we had two options: we either learned the language and the habits and customs of the country and fitted in with those already here, or, if we did not like the place, we were free to return 'home'. Whatever we decided to do we came here to obtain a future and benefits which were not available in our country of origin.
So we learned the language, were neutralised (or should that be naturalised), served in the local military and were bloody proud to be Australian. Then along came a clown called Al Grassby who informed us we were an ethnic minority and a component part of a multicultural Australia.
I live in the hope of meeting Al one day so I can tell him in very blunt Australian what he can do with his ideas. And the same comments apply to those migrants who came here for what the country had to offer, and promptly turn around and try to recreate the slum conditions and inter-racial hatred of their old country. And, sadly, it is the same people, who when given a choice between loyalty to Australia which has given them so much and their 'old country' which they could not live in, opt for the latter.
I'd like to offer some suggestions. Get rid of all multicultural bureaucracies at both Federal and State level and replace them with the voluntary community help scheme called 'The Good Neighbour Council' where old Australians help new ones in their community settle in and get the hang of the place.
Firmly establish the concept of 'one country, one people, one set of rules'. Within that framework, cater for the needy not the greedy.
And for any migrants who do not like these rules, let us develop special one-way packages via Ansett and Qantas so even if they have not contributed anything while they were here, at least we will make a few quid out of them on the way out." D.H. POSTRUMA, Punch Bowl.
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