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9 April 1999. Thought for the Week: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."
IS EASTER OF ANY RELEVANCE TO MODERN MAN?
by Eric D. Butler
There is, for example, what might be described as the Money Myth, which all the best "elected" people believe reflects a reality, which is immutable. "Progress", with a capital P, is only possible by increasingly feverish material activity, preferably on a big and highly centralised scale, all of this associated with an escalating scale of financial debt.
There is no such thing as debt in the world of Nature, of Reality. The acceptance of financial debt is a manifestation of superstition. Debt places the individual in the position where it is virtually impossible for him to take seriously Christ's instruction that he cannot worship both God and Mammon. Spokesmen for the organised Christian Church remain generally silent on this question. The result is that large numbers of younger people find it difficult, if not impossible to believe that Easter and the Resurrection have any relevance for them. They have been divorced from an understanding of how Western Civilisation is the partial incarnation of a revelation, which stressed that the individual possesses within him the potential to discover the Kingdom of God.
Using parables as His major teaching method, Christ enunciated a number of Truths concerning how the individual might enter the Kingdom. In the eyes of His most deadly enemies, the Pharisees, Christ deserved death for enunciating these Truths, the most vital being that institutions exist to serve the individual - "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath". Human relations should be governed by the law of love.
The Easter Season is a most appropriate time for a realistic assessment of why the Pharisees demanded that Christ be crucified. But this requires that we face the Truth that today's world is increasingly dominated by the spirit of Pharisaism in many forms. The Easter of 1999 will be recalled in the future as one in which the major Western nations unleashed technical terror against the Serbs allegedly in the search for peace. As all informed commentators are now admitting, at the end of the use of this technical terror, there will be less genuine peace in the Balkans than there was before the terror was unleashed. The same type of terror was used against the people of Palestine over 50 years ago. The poisonous "fall out" from this terror still influences world politics.
The basic plight of the world may be summarised as follows: After 2,000 years of the growth of a Civilisation which held the promise to reflect Christ's teachings, that Civilisation has been progressively corrupted to the point where it is near to death. But is resurrection possible? The answer is YES. But the first requirement is that there be genuine repentance and a return to a meaningful worship of God the Father. When this is done, there will be a re-birth of that Spirit which Christ spoke about.
Christ's famous prayer concerned the creation of God's Kingdom on Earth. Easter is a most appropriate time to consider how the Kingdom can be achieved.
FINAL REPORT - MULTILATERAL TREATY ON INVESTMENTS
by Jeremy Lee
These and other conclusions sum up all the corruption that has perverted the proper function of Parliament. Above all, the duty of elected representatives is to act as watchdog on the Executive. Yet here we have a situation in which a government department - Treasury - negotiated a Treaty with major implications for the whole democratic process for two years before any details were tabled in Parliament. It is likely that politicians would never have examined the proposals at all, had it not been for the strenuous efforts of a growing number of concerned citizens and organisations.
From Edmund Burke on, statesmen have
warned of the consequences of a dereliction of responsibility
by politicians if the Executive was allowed to act without
constant surveillance. The following report in 1993 highlights
Over 900 submissions by ordinary Australians were made to the Treaty Committee. Some were more detailed than others. But it is safe to say that, without the efforts of ordinary concerned men and women, the MAI would have been a fait accompli. They were actually doing what the elected politicians were failing to do. It is doubtful if the MAI has gone away. Sooner or later, when it is hoped the people have gone back to sleep, it will come again.
The multinational banks and corporations believe the world is their oyster, and no one else's. They are used to ignorant, compliant, grovelling politicians. They don't like to be thwarted by ordinary people. But they also fear the truth, and dread those who fearlessly espouse it.
STRONG ANTI-PARTY BIAS IN NEW SOUTH WALES
The first impressions of a comfortable
Labor win in the New South Wales State election masked a number
of significant developments. A major survey in The Australian
Financial Review (Easter Special edition, 1-5/4/99) offered
The election result in the bush exposed an anti-privatisation vote which One Nation and independents were able to successfully exploit... Federal MPs report numerous phone calls and letters to their electorate offices about the privatisation giveaway scheme... The fact that One Nation, after all the ructions and examples of internal ineptitude, was able to make significant gains, with David Oldfield securing a seat in the Legislative Council, is a stunning example of the anger and the disillusionment with the major parties. One Nation is now an instrument of protest on a scale not seen for a long time in Australia. If it does no more than force some accountability onto the Executive and the lazy, faceless "hacks" in the major parties, it will have served to give Australia a breathing space.
THE BUG GROWSLatest estimates for cost of Y2K compliance have burgeoned from last month's estimate of $10 billion to $19 billion (Australian Financial Review, 29/3/99). That's more than $1,000 for each living Australian - a lot of money and effort for what some people still think will be an inconsequential problem.
PUBLIC COMMENT ON MULTILATERAL TRADE
The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade is inviting the public to comment on the government's approach to multilateral trade negotiations through the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This is an ideal opportunity that should not be missed. Views are invited on the desirability for Australia of including such issues as trade, investment, competition policy, transparency in government procurement, electronic commerce, industrial market access, etc., on the WTO agenda.
Of most interest is the invitation to comment on "The operation and effect on Australia's national interest of existing WTO agreements". Any comments or submissions should be directed to Trade Policy Section, Trade Negotiations Division, Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, R.G. Casey Building, Barton, ACT, 0221. Further information from Mr. Moran on (02) 6261 2980.
In our view, comments should begin from the basics: the right to protect our own industries, the threat to Australian sovereignty of the WTO and the importance of the policy of national economic self-sufficiency.
TRADE DEFICIT CONTINUES TO WORSEN
Following the biggest quarterly trade deficit in Australia's history between last October and the end of the year, during which the deficit ran at $3.5 million each hour of the quarter, the situation continues to deteriorate. During February the deficit blew out by a further $1.5 billion ($51 million a day over the 28 days of the month).
The Australian Financial Review
(31/3/99) quoted the Treasurer as follows: "
blamed the result on low prices. 'This is the sort of result
you would expect if export prices are at 20-year lows,' he
said. We cannot change the world economy but
we can make
sure we run a strong domestic economy and make sure people
don't lose jobs and home owners don't lose their houses...'
Many of the consumption goods imported used to be made in Australia. Now we measure "growth" in how much Australians increase their personal debt in order to purchase cheap imports from the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the great advocate for free trade, President Clinton's US, is putting up trade barriers against such things as Australia's fat lamb exports and cheap steel flooding in from Japan and Korea.
MURDOCH'S TAX STATUS
Apparently Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is finding it hard to find some nation that will accept tax payments! The Australian Financial Review (22/3/99) said: "The tax affairs of Mr. Rupert Murdoch's global News Corporation have come under renewed scrutiny as a new report claims that it has effectively paid no net corporation tax in Britain for the past 11 years.
"Despite making profits of $A3.6 billion since June 1987, Mr. Murdoch's newspaper and TV operations in Britain had been left with no net tax bill at all once rebates were taken into account, according to an investigation published in this week's Economist magazine. The report reveals that in the four years to June 30 last year, News Corp and its subsidiaries paid only $325 million in corporate taxes worldwide on consolidated pre-tax profits of $5.4 billion...
One can only imagine the despair of the biggest media monopoly in global history that it cannot find one nation prepared to accept its fair share of tax revenue!
THE SERBIAN ADVENTURE - ANOTHER VIETNAM?
by David Thompson
The "NATO" initiative raises more questions than it answers. But the first and most basic question is that of the nature of information available on the conflict. As usual, the old saying that "in war, truth is the first casualty" applies in this conflict. The highly centralised Western press is carrying the message that this is a morally justified strike by the US as the world's "policeman". However, for the first time, alternative news media - based on the Internet - offers a very different view. Internet research shows very clearly that there is another side to the story being peddled by the monopoly media. It is impossible to verify the reports published on the Internet, and the accuracy of "the other side of the story". But it is clear that when a super-power takes the steps taken by the US in Yugoslavia, there is no room for doubt in the minds of the troops involved, nor their families at home.
Reading between the lines of the Western press coverage, a number of issues need to be addressed. Can the West turn a blind eye to "ethnic cleansing". No, but yes. For 50 years we have turned a blind eye to the same process in the Middle East. Although fully aware of the facts in Palestine, the US has never dared bomb Israel, who developed terrorism in its modern form, and pioneered "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians. Neither have we bombed Turkey for its treatment of the Kurds. The spectacle of the Luftwaffe flying with the NATO forces is also a disastrous public relations "image". The last time Belgrade was bombed, it was by the Luftwaffe, when the Serbs were junior members of the Allied forces.
Nothing is better calculated to unite the Serbs under Milosevic. Will the Americans be forced to commit ground troops to the area to achieve their "objectives"? If so, there will be heavy American casualties. The Serbs are brilliant guerilla fighters. What will Russia do? Even if Moscow confines its activities to providing arms to Serbian forces, this could easily turn into another Vietnam-type conflict for the Americans. That is, another "no-win' war.
What will Australia do? Unable to commit troops to the NATO exercise, Australia looks set to take Kosovan refugees, thus transferring the conflict from Europe to Australia, where we can deploy our own troops (such as they are). Has Australia thought this through?
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