The Public Affairs Page
Public Affairs Page Welcome
Here you will find commentary on Public affairs such as politics, public institutions and other areas of life that we rely on and should be able to trust. Here you will find discussion on the broader affairs of public life as well. Look here for continuing comment on these weighty and important issues.
Public Morality and Ethics
We have seen far too many cases recently of those in public life failing to meet moral and ethical standards. From the worst of the worst in the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse at the worst to Bronnys helicopter ride at the infuriating but relatively low. It seems everywhere we look we have public figures that forgot morality and ethics existed. And they are just the ones that got caught, there would be more around not known about. This is also reflected in the behaviour of the everyday public as well, how we treat each other. We don't fare any better, it is just that by virtue of access the everyday citizens transgressions are generally smaller in scale.
However, this is not how it should be. Public morality and ethics matter, especially to those that count themselves as religious or spiritual. This is part of an everyday expression of your spiritual path and should be observed at all times. In public office this means not treating refugees and low income people like political footballs for instance Tony Abbot and Kevin Rudd (Both committed Christians). Or being part of a massive cover up like any good secular company man (George Pell) and especially on such a heinous crime. These are two examples of what I consider to be lip service religionists, not living a full path but cherry picking time after time what parts of their path they’re going to perform today. This is not treating the sales assistant like dirt because she dared suggest you've grown out of a size ten. Or expect the checkout operator to tolerate you chatting to your best friend on your mobile while you are being served as though she is nothing. Or treating her like dirt. It is all a part of it.
Same way as corporate decision making is not a moral and ethical vacuum. The corporation as a person is a psychopath and this shows in the state of the world today. Considering Adam Smith also wrote ethical tracts I am sure he did not mean go out and plunder the third world in his wealth of nations, he just meant that the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker don't ply their trade out of the goodness of their own hearts. They want a living out of it as well, preferable a prosperous one. Add the fact that this was all rooted in the protestant traditions of America, which should (and do) at their best include charity, mercy and a good disposition to your fellow man we have a slight misinterpretation. In short, all the context around the main message that brings the person, morality and ethics that come in with this.
It is this context that we have lost sight of with neo-liberalsim and Statisim (to borrow a term from Francis Fukuyama) rampant in this modern world and need back. Morals, Ethics from whatever source be they Religious, Spiritual, humanist or Eclectic are sorely needed again as we move towards a world where we increasingly don't have contact with those we're making decisions about to balance out distance. This is especially true for those that claim to be truly righteous or lead us in some form of another – they have so much more relying on their decisions.
The Morals and Ethics of Leadership
Wether you supervise, therefore lead a small team, or you run a company or country you have an awesome responsibility on your hands. You have the responsibility of leadership. Leadership is a position of responsibility to those under you one of service to those under you. It is not power, it is not privilege, it is responsibility and service. The higher you are, the more people you are responsible to, the more impact you have the more responsibility you shoulder. Understandably, this is not a comfortable position at times, trying to do the best you can for the people you are working for. Which is why it is often well remunerated, and in many roles far too well remunerated. But make no mistake, you are there to serve the people under you.
This makes you morally and ethically responsible for the decisions you make about them. First off if you have a choice and you do not think you can do it, don't. Don't do it just for the promotion or the prestige if you think you can't live up to the responsibility, it will just end up worse in the long run for all. Own up to this and let them find someone who is. A leader should be a better person than those they lead, an example. Not a paragon exactly, but someone who is able to balance out who they are and what is needed of them in a fair and balanced manner. If you do not feel up to this don't take the position up. If you feel you are however, remember, you are responsible to these people as they are responsible to you. You need to take into account their welfare, what jobs they do and honour their work commitment by being loyal to them in return to your superiors. The higher you get, the harder this gets of course. You have to understand so much more, work with so many more personalities and expectations and manage so many more issues. But this is where being honest with yourself on how you can do this is very important. In some areas e.g. Combat leadership this might be more important than others, same as it might be more important in highly charged areas such as medicine. However all people who lead should recognise this in some form.
Ideally too you should know the area at least well enough to work in it. It is no use being the head of an IT department if you know nothing about it, for instance. Or head of engineering if you are actually a business consultant. Know something about the area, at least well enough to understand the experts. This is part of your responsibility as a leader. Sometimes in the modern day businesses like to have outsiders, if you are bought in like this it is not ideal. However, you can still work better by quickly learning at least the basics of the field so you can work with these people and show them the rrespect of understanding them. Likewise, listen to them, work with them and protect them from undue pressure rather than add to it. You are more responsible to them than you are to those above you at the end of the day.
The final thing to remember goes along the same line as the reasoning for a slave with the Roman General in the triumph Chariot whispering remember you are only human. The same thing goes here. Remember, you are only human, you are not god dispensing from on high. Power corrupts, the more you have the more you have to watch yourself that you see your responsibility of leadership more than the power of leadership. You may not have the slave to say you're only human, but you have your team, your charges to listen to. Listen to them, understand what they think of you. Are you serving them well enough? This gets more important the higher up you are and the more allure the power has as a result. Watch yourself, have your own self checks for when you're getting too big for yourself and your team. This is perhaps the most important part of this.
It does not matter the position, this combines in the same way wether you are talking about a Prime Minister, President, Company CEO or a floor supervisor. It is just the scope and scale that changes, how much you have to know you have to be ready to do the job, and how much you have to check yourself.In an Insight special on leadership Claire Martin, the former NT Chief Minister noted there was nothing more humbling than to go door knocking her constituents personally, even as Chief Minster, and see what they wanted. This is a very good example of a self check that works. Or as Chris Bowen puts it, you need a wife to tell you to do your chores when you get home. An army example given by a former Head of Army is the RSM of the Army being able to do the same thing. You need no people around you, you need a self check to know that you are doing things right, that you are not getting too big, that you are serving the people under you properly. But if you know that you can do it, if you know what your job is, and you have your self checks in place to ensure that you can follow a good moral and ethical path in leadership then I wish you luck and that you make the world a better place in whatever you choose to do.
Government Policy, Government Expenditure and The Morals of Public Affairs
This is a topic that is very hot at the moment considering the no-liberal small government cut the deficit stance that is around at the moment. This means that everything has to be 'Sustainable', even such services and homelessness services, poverty alleviation services and family violence shelters. Leaving out the moral implications on anybody that would think the problems homelessness and family violence shelters serve should not end this also runs into the problems of the morality of using a business model for areas that will mean people suffer due to lack of services. This can all be summed up in a simple idea – The strength of a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. By that we are failing.
But not just us, but one that goes through the western world. How the Euro zone is treating Greece is a very good example, as is the way that the American and British recovery is leaving all but the wealthy behind. This is not a good thing and dire judgement on us. Same as here in Australia we can find massive amounts of money to keep our elected representatives more than afloat but not those on government Transfer payments and the vulnerable such as refugees, the homeless and proper living conditions for the mentally ill. This is a disgrace and needs to be stopped. To understand why we need to look at the morality and ethics of the situation. And the ethics are simple – Just like the duty of a family is to help and protect the vulnerable, it is also a societies job to protect the vulnerable. This is paramount over the concerns of money, the concerns of prestige, or the politics of wealth. It has been a constant struggle since societies were formed to balance this out but we are failing badly here in this time and place when we have the resources. This goes whether you are a country such as Greece in the Euro zone to a homeless person in the street. If there is the resources to do something about this it is the duty, not just right of a group of people who can to do something about it.
Not doing so whether you are government, the Euro zone or a better off individual is not an option and completely misjudging why you have that wealth. It is not for you, it is to redistribute to those that need it. In that light the whole debate looks very different doesn’t it? Like taxation, discussed in Social Justice, this is not optional if you follow a good, valid path, this is a duty, a necessity. It is not a case of you are good person if you do it, you are not a person fulfilling your duty if you do. This goes to governments as institutions, even the Euro zone, and there will be laws of return, or Karma will see them eventually. But for now they are not learning and it to the detriment of vulnerable people.
This is an extension of the simple fact that we are here to learn and grow as souls and the material trappings are meant to serve that, not the people serve them. For this reason we need to change path, need to change tack or those putting the means of exchange and other material trappings. If we don't group Karma will be visited on all in this incarnation cycle, even those that don't deserve it. The publics part is to lobby the governments and vote in one that will fix this. The Governments job is to find a policy and level of expenditure to fix this, be that a national or euro zone level. If we do not we are headed for a crash that nobody in this materialist society will see coming.
Does Consumerism have more Benefits that Drawbacks?
We see it every day. Consumerism drives public policy. Cut taxes so people spend more. Cut interest rates so people have more in their wallet to spend. The more people spend and buy the more people that get employed, the more goods get made and the more that gets sold again. And so and and so forth. If people like the federal treasurer are right we work to get wages to shop so others can get a wage to maybe just get by after we buy a coffee off them. This means that we need to keep spending more and more, expanding our economy more and more to help more people and keep the cycle going. Like a shark, keep swimming and taking up more and more fish as we go along.
Now it's put that way it doesn’t sound so smart, does it? And in many ways one can say that it is society feeding in on itself and sucking up all the resources around it like a vortex destroying itself. But we are so wedded to this over consumption of goods and services that we can't see straight or a way out of it. This has massive implications for public policy that we don't really want to see but are there. The biggest one of course is how long can we keep growing? How long can we just keep on growing an economy in a finite world, especially with that many more people wanting to become over consumers in the middle class. It is just not sustainable and when the system crashes this will be our deaths, not just a recession. It will be our deaths because we will not be able to grow food, drink the water or live on the cursed land that is left after we have mined, polluted and built our way to planetary destruction which is what will happen when all those consumers come online and spend as much as we do, demand as much as we do. There is not the resources there for it and in attempting it we are signing our own death warrants. This will happen, we have to face it. We can't keep the growth economy up the way we want to, it is impossible. We will have to stop, stabilise and redistribute at some point, a public policy decision that will be faced at some point or another.
The next one of course is the toll it is taking now on society itself in Western developed nations. Under this model people are not people as part of a society, in many ways they are just a wallet to spend to keep the economy going or a unit of labour that ensures people can spend to keep the economy going. This means people lose their value as sentient beings and become mere units of goods, skewing public policy, hardening peoples values to those that are not good economic units such as the homeless and the mentally ill, and creating vast under classes. It is not as bad in Australia or Britain as it is in America, but there are moves to get there through the no-liberal economic system which is something I am appalled by. When our solution to solving unemployment is to cut the value of peoples labour, therefore under the system the intrinsic value of the person this is wrong, very wrong and shows our priorities are not right. It is making a society of people serve the economy not the economy serve the society of people, which is a great moral and ethical mistake only benefiting the well off.
Then of course there is the global rich and poor – Developed nations versus developing nations, which once again the moneyed classes win, turning quite often the developing nations into vassal states as best through the IMF and World Bank, and at worst colonies that are just as bad if not worse through the same economic power. This means that over time the resource share, economic wealth and sustainable development of these nations does not happen and like the vast under classes of the west they live dependent on the Trans-nationals and exports destroying their countries and rapidly ensuring they don't have a future faster than the west.
All of this means that if we want to value people no matter where they live, what they do, what part of the world they live we need to make a change. Consumerism offers a lot of choice but at a very steep cost that is not worth it. We need as a world to rebalance, take stock and ensure that we can live beyond the next fifty years. This is something that we should look at before we destroy ourselves with it, starting with the developed nations governments who have the most to do about it because they can afford to do so, like a rich man paying taxes.
What are the Environmental Consequences of Consumerism?
In the other pages we've looked at what the social and public affairs consequences are of consumerism. We're now looking at what it costs the environment. In short it has cost environmental degradation, climate change, vast gaping scars where mines used to be and other environmental problems. It is changing the climate, it is changing the climate system. It is doing this because it is using up finite resources at an alarming rate and creating catastrophic amounts of pollution in the process. This means that we need to clean up our act or we will kill ourselves.
Those of you who doubt this should not take my word for it but read the last few chapters of a New Green History of the World by Clive Ponting. Humans have never been perfect, destroying land as long as they cultivated it but since the two big changes in industry – the wide scale burning of coal and the wide scale burning of oil we have tremendously changed our resource using rates, using up more and more as time goes on, making ourselves even greater parasites on this planet. Metals, fossil fuels, food, water, minerals for fertilisers. You name it, we started looking further afield to consume more rather than think these things were finite and we are perilously close to reaping the consequences of our mistake. And what has this been in the name of? Making more so we can buy more, even if we don't need it. In short, consumerism.
In the early 21st century this has got to epic proportions in the developed nations and the developing nations want to follow using up just as much resources we do. No matter how hard you try if you live in the west you will use far more than you want, it is just the living standard we generally want and expect to keep up. Put quite simply there is not enough resources on this planet for China, India and Africa to modernise and have the same lifestyle – this is a planetary suicide pact. I think in the West we could start mining dumps for metals we've thrown away so much while using it like it's going out of style, same as all the oil we use not just for transport and obvious things but things like the plastics in the Laptop (re: moveable desktop) I'm using (By the weight at least a tenth of a barrel I think. Still I got it second hand and in a way recycled what would have been E-Waste). These are also in the Sofas that we throw away like fashion items, the cheap artificial fibre clothes we buy. If you buy cotton don't think you're off the hook either, unless it's organic you're buying a thirsty crop that uses so much pesticide that the water can't be released back into the environment. And once again, literally fashion, thrown away when still good rather than when is no longer useful as clothing or cloth. Even cars, a very large, plant and energy intense item are basically throwaway today because car manufacturers rely on consumer churn through to grow sales. If the rest of the world follows this then we're really dooming ourselves in the long run. Then you get to the amount of food waste a consumer culture leaves.... That is shocking in itself without the rest added. Like I said none of us can be angels in this day and age, just less irresponsible and cut down where we can as individuals.
This is what I have been attempting to do, indeed many people have. But each person who is aware can only do so much with the way the system and society is set up. It is set up basically to run on this wasteful churn through rather than on actual need, to keep up our living standards even. Planned redundancy makes it impossible to buy lasting items, many things that don't need to be are throwaway, very few items are made to be repaired necessitating replacement. This overarching concept of the want consumer economy is why the collective that needs to make the effort. Each individual can only reuse, reduce and recycle so much. And unless you have the resources to go total solar, still your own fuel and be self sufficient you're not going to are not going to be able to go it alone. The collective of society has to take responsibility and simplify the entire way of life. This means not just a few aware people moving away from consumerism, but the entire society from a consumer churn through want economy to a more responsible but no less comfortable needs based economy. We can do this and model this for the emerging middle class in the developing world, ensuring our mistake is not repeated.
For us this means buying less, using less, investing ethically in good companies that run wind farms and Solar farms not consumer brands such as Nike. Even large supermarket chains like Woolworths and Coles here in Australia, Tescos in Britainare suspect here, throwing away an eye watering amount of food per year that could probably feed the poor and homeless quite well meaning more food has to be grown to supplement this waste. It means divesting from consumer based economies and finding a more stable, responsible economic model. It means the government and money markets moving away from this unsustainable growth path to a more stable economy that does not rely on growth but redistribution to ensure that all have what they need. If we do not do this, divest ourselves of the consumer economy and the expanding economy it supports we won't be here in a few generations. Why don't we do something about it?
The Public Affairs Implications of Water Distribution
To those of us who live here in the developed west this may seem like a non-issue, especially in cities where you just turn on the tap and it flows. But access to water, especially with the massive boon and labour saving device of running water has clouded our view of water and what it means. When it runs out of a tap for cents a day we forget that it is a precious resource that we must protect because well... it seems abundant.
There are varying degrees of this ignorance of course. Those that live on tank water are certainly very aware of what fifteen to twenty minute showers mean. (Generally this means dry tanks in a week and paying for a load of water upwards of a hundred dollars to replace the water used and the person taking long showers getting into lots of trouble). For farmers too, knowing how much you use and what you paid so your tap turns on gives an acute awareness. But among many urbanites in developed countries three bathrooms, massive water usage each prevails because water is well... Cheap and plentiful, externalities priced out that tank water users and farmers know all too well. This means that many people are not aware of what water means, at all. But here in Australia entire towns have run out of water and rely on water deliveries during record droughts, farmers have to plough in crops due to drought at various times and livestock detstocking plans have to be in place due to droughts and other water shortages. This is the reality that the comfortable city turn on the tap hides.
What does it mean? Well, it's life. We die if we're without it for seventy two, we can't grow food and will starve without it. Water brings all life, without it life is dead. This means big public affairs and policy problems surrounding water use and distribution most are not aware of. If food can cause riots, What can water do? A long running drought in Syria was the start of the civil war that has now delivered us ISIS. Along the Nile and the Euphrates tensions nearly led to war more than once, generally about upstream dams and dictators dreams of controlling the river. As water gets scarer and more people rely on the same amount this kind of tension will ratchet up. Equitable water distribution means stability and peace, inequitable water distribution and therefore shortages means warfare and regional destabisation. We see this semi-constnatly in Africa where drought tips into ethnic conflict and war. Imagine that across the globe. While perhaps the ultimate extreme of this it is enough of a possibility that we should pay attention to it, because it is a possible Public Affairs consequence. More likely California is a model for what could happen around the developed world, where water markets mean that the well off can afford an adequate allocation and the poor suffer. This inequality can breed massive civil unrest and possibly civil war.
Remember, the civil war in Syria started because of a drought? Syria, as remote as it seems now, was a modern nation. What it shows us above all else is that we're not above repeating it's problems, and could head down the same path if we're not careful. That is the biggest lesson we need to draw from this case study, one that was a major part of spawning the monster we're now fighting. Lets learn from this rather than repeat it so we can learn to live in a world where an ever dwindling resource is going to become that much more precious and have a civilisation rather than Mad Max.
The Public Affairs Implications of Gender Imbalance
This may seem strange, but think of this and watch the Drum if you can from Friday 11th September where the conversation went around what needed to be done to empower and help women and girls in Australia. This is a time and place we must do it or the job is half done. Ideally it would be very nice if you wore a skirt or trousers would not make a difference accept which public toilet you went in. Sadly it makes far more.
The first difference it makes is Domestic violence and sexual assault statistics, which require a large and urgent public response. This is in many areas from putting back all the funding taken out and then increasing it from there, to better policing, to commensurate sentences for both family violence and sexual assault. The law has a normative function, lets use it properly. Watching the news I've seen far too many under ten year sentences for sexual assault and the sentences for family violence are far worse, averaging under a year in some jurisdictions. One of the first lines of defence are Apprehended Violence orders which only seem to work on those that don't need it anyway. On those that do they are just another reason to hurt or kill the victim. Many a time someone with one has had it displayed proudly around their corpse by someone who just killed them as though, see, it didn't stop me? There needs to be a more effective response rather than this useless paper tiger. At the end of the day we're looking at people who have no respect for the law so a legal response won't stop them, a real on the ground response will. There needs to be specialist services for both males and females so all can report if we are fair even if women are the majority victims as well as unfashionable as that sounds. Dual focusses are needed targeted at where they are needed most each. Public policy needs to catch up and fast because this disgraceful oversight means loss of life and worse, loss of dignity day by day. Living is not just breathing, living is being able to be whole enough you can feel you live. So ensuring both can be served is very important.
The Second area is the general attitude to women and girls among the male population. All the arguments aside when polls can come up with results like a significant number of men say it's okay to force a woman, or if you pay for drinks of course she's got to have sex with you we have a problem. A big one. Same as the problem that allows a certain level of sexual harassment in the workplace such as dirty, demeaning jokes as normal. Or that a woman is still more judged on her appearance than her ability at times. All of these are alive and well, such as Emily Maguires searingly honest tale about her expereinces with it in Bewitched and Bedevilled which included not so random airport screenings (Pretty girls only) to being slapped on the butt in line and expecting to take it, to a buisness aquantace commenting on her breasts. And this is just three inicdents she mentions, there are more folks. Many more. And this is just one womans expereince with this, there are many more out there with the same or worse. This needs to change and this is again public affairs, this time in the form of awareness campaigns. Male White ribbon ambassadors are good for this, as are those that start local campaigns in their areas of influence such as footy clubs. While I would not put the words champions or heroes to this as it does not create the right kind of rebalancing to equal, a term like Equality partners would be quite good in this event to show that they are partnering with women to help educate their fellows on how to listen to women, how to treat women, and most importantly, how not to treat women. This is a public affairs campaign that is very welcome and could not only save lives but do a lot to rebalance society as men who come in contact with this mature through the contact with the women in their lives to men, learining their lessons on controlling their energy and becoming useful instead of destructive.
The last is of course pay gaps, work conditions etc... Which is very much once again a public affairs area. Much of this is looking where womens 'Pink Collar' areas such as registerd childcare are grossly undervalued and lifting the award to an equivalent skilled occupation. This would take out a lot of it. Another area is of course the double shift of caring, and here again workplace conditions and awards normalising child caring and other carer leave to both genders would help tremendously, as well as a push to parental leave being the norm, not just maternity leave. Balancing out the male and female in caring would balance out the part time work factor many women face and once again start solving this. All of this is public affairs in setting awards, conditions and public education campaigns to take the gendered notions out of work.
That is before you even get into developing world disadvantage, which is another complex can of worms that requires so many tailored solutions. Form targeted aid, to funding good family planning and health care, to education, to micro loans for women to start businesses, this is all in the mix and will work in different ways for different places. Here the best public policy approach is to provide aid money to people already doing this no strings and allow it to work the best way it can in these areas. It will work better than micro-managing everything down to the last cent. Those on the ground know the unique local solution better so leave them to it, just give them enough resources to be effective. Overall, public policy is affected by this, and should respond accordingly. There are so many things that can be done outlined above which are not and should be. Why don't we start doing them rather than sitting on our hands?
Syria, Myanmar and Refugees – Why we Need an Truly Global Solution
We are watching day in, day out desperate Syrians, Iraqis and Libyans streaming through Europe and being treated like security risks. We're watching on and off the plight of the Rohinga being ethnically cleansed from Myanmar. And we sit here, watching wringing out hands saying what can we do? Of course there are others who say they're Illegal, not in my backyard and there is a massive backlash against anybody who helps them, but there are equal numbers of people who want to help. This means that there is room to do what we really need to in order to help these groups, global and regional solutions.
First off the easiest, the Rohinga. They are clearly not welcome in their country and some of the unspeakable fate worse than death horrors inflicted by the people smugglers are just adding to the impact of the miseries. I don't need to watch the graphic scenes and retelling to know this is wrong, I know it anyway just from the dry accounts. If some people need the graphic realities then it is their problem of a certain lack of humanity. Just a basic retelling without all of the horror added to injury should be enough to tell you action should be taken. This, despite what we think should be a regional solution where we take even the desperate ones that went out to sea on boats. This is a population being ethnically cleansed out of their homes, being denied basic human rights. When this happened in the former Yugoslavia we eventually took the right action, but here tucked into the jungles of Myanmar (Burma) we feel safe and secure ignoring it. Where is our humanity? We need a regional solution to resettle these people even the ones that dared get on a boat and put pressure on Myanmar to let them go if they don't want them. If we don't it's just double standards. Australia as the middle power needs to lead on this, we need to to cleanse our own sins by closing offshore detention, taking these people in and working with other countries to ensure they are settled well where they are welcome and don't face further violence and discrimination, even Australia.
Then we get to Iraq and Syria. This is a place where anybody in the coalition of the willing in the 2003 invasion is morally complicit and needs to get their finger from their arse and start to really pitch in. Look up Books of Note – How we created ISIS to understand the true depths of our culpability and why we really need to go in and do something. Not just a few bombs, but a truly international response akin to the former Yugoslavia and long term commitment to stabilising the region. This will involve most likely breaking up multi-ethnic states along ethic lines, Facing reality and allowing the Iraqi Kurds to formalise the independence they have already, possibly adding the Syrian Kurds to this state by consent for instance and going across the region doing the same things. Vulnerable populations like the Allowites ( Assads sect), Christians and other minority groups and religions should be granted real, properly enforced safe haven to prevent retaliation and allow room for negotiation. This would get them away from the dictators they currently see the better hard place that Islamic Extremisms rock, meaning that we can have a negotiated peace with far less chance of either another dictator or Islamic extremist group rising. As the area is so blasted we need to put money, and I mean real money into rebuilding these new states and only get out when order is well established. In the meantime we need to have a global response to the plight of the refugees that takes into count our moral culpability and take a similar number as we did after the Vietnam war, not a token number within an already inadequate refugee take and mostly the ones we like. This is not on and shows how shallow we have become as a nation.
This notion is not popular, I know. We don't want to bomb and the illegitimate wars in the area have poisoned the population against such actions. But first off don't blame the troops, blame the politicians that sent them. Second off, we need to get over the war fatigue and really commit to a long term Marshall Plan/Yugoslavia peace deal plan in order to get this area back on track. This is one of our reckonings, the stuffing up of the Middle East. The wrong action will make it worse but so will total inaction – we need to find the right medium where we help the local population help them help themselves. We can't just ignore it or use it as election fodder, we have to put the effort to get this right. We don't not only will more innocent people suffer but it will reach our shores and hit us. We need to take care of the refugees and stabilise the area. If we don't we'll be facing a lot more funerals than we already are.
Of course both of these pale in comparison to what we will face in the public affairs challenges of refugee flows from climate change. This is just the foretaste of what is to come if we don't act. Not just Islands drowned but coastlines gone, mass refugee movements internally and externally and more.... We can't get this right what hope do we have then? Why don't we work to get the ones that we have now right so we have precedents when the real challenges hit?
Climate Refugees – Current Reality or Future Challenge?
This issue came into stark contrast with the not so lovely little vignette of our now former Australian Prime Ministers and Immigration Ministers ignorance of news boom mikes. Leaving aside how delicious laws of return are at times, this was a prime example of how we are not really thinking of the problems we're coming into with climate change. Those islands flood we get boat people because they have no other way of getting off. By the way,, this will include the one housing one of our infamous Concentration Camps... Sorry, Detention Centres. This means we will be facing this as a future challenge, definitely. But are we already facing it as well?
I would say yes. Well, not us, it's in someone else's backyard and apparently that means that as a nation we generally feel free to ignore it. It is Sub-Saharan Africa where they have been facing this for at least thirty years and droughts and famines increase. It has destroyed countries, societies and caused unspeakable suffering not just from famine but from war as water and food get scarcer and conflict ensues. This is a foretaste to come on what the world can expect if we keep going. Climate will become more unpredictable, droughts more common and will floods, damaging storms and Cyclones/Typhoons/hurricanes, whatever you want to call them. Along with this the sea level rising will mean land loss at the coasts as well as loss of farmland to salinity. Australia is going to have two problems, well three. All the major cities are vulnerable on the coastline, as are tourist centres like the Gold Coast and many coastal towns. The second part is more land is vulnerable to salination as a result of more salt water in the water table. As well as this we would be the first port of call for those who used to live on drowned islands. This will all add up. Climate change refugees are already happening in other places other than Africa.
In a way the Syrian refugees are climate change refugees, coming from a civil war that started from an unprecedented drought. As already stated Africa has been facing the cumulative effects of climate change for years creating famine, war and refugees. So far we have been lucky, but we will not for that long. As time goes on we will feel the effects more and more in both our nation and the changing security environment causing push factors for refugee flows. We can't ignore it. Not at all. This is something we have to face and either limit the warming to the one point five degrees that the pacific nations would like us to or face the prospect of getting even more boat people. One thing is for sure, our refugee crises are going to get much worse if we don't sort this out. How are we going to react then?
The Public Policy Aspects of Balancing out Society
We have so many areas we need to balance out as a global society. Equality in terms of trade, Income equality in our developed societies, and gender imbalances all abound. As does the inequality we treat our planet. This is all things we need to balance. The challenges are many yet at the moment the responses are few.
There is little doubt that the system meant to help what used to be third world, what we now call the developing world is being strangled by debt and unequal terms of trade. Their environments are being plunders and people are starving in order to meet loans and terms of trade. This is not a good state of affairs and we need to work through to balance with the help of the IMF, the UN and the World Bank. Debt cancellation is the first step I would think of, then I would look at good redistributive aid. We owe them due to neo-colonialism and colonialism, growing at their expense. Why don't we own up to it and rebalance this out through he international foreign policy mechanisms?
The next part is the inequalities in developed countries. This is well and truly rife and is perhaps the easiest to fix with political will through the tax system. Neo-liberalisim and capitalism has failed to deliver and we need to change this to a better system. Before you say Socialism doesn’t work look at the low countries. It does work and we need to move away from the more extreme variants if capitalism for the sake of own societies. The economy should be the servant not the master which it currently is. We need to make it the servant again and rebalance out, working to create a more equal society.
Then we get to the planet and our relationship with it which really needs rebalancing. Here again pubic policy with an opportunity to rebalance the public relationship with the planet through regulation, emissions trading and environmental laws. Sadly this is a debate that is being lost on the side of the environment but this could easily be reversed and the right balance struck. It is about will not ability, the lack of will to do anything about it.
There is collective will in the general public for many of these things to happen, it just does not get translated through public institutions and public policy. This is not a good thing and public policy needs to start to follow collective will rather than the interests of powerful and entrenched corporations, miners and well off individuals. Government and power is about serving the people, as sis making public policy,. Something which seems to be lacking. If we bring this back we can start brining the growing awareness that we have to balance out these areas into public policy action and start balancing out our world.
What Should the Fourth Estate Report?
Lately watching the news and current affairs shows I am growing more and more tired of what even the ABC broadcasts. I am not talking about the storm in a teacup about Zacky Mallah and Q&A, he went on to ask a serious question under his right to freedom of speech and the democratic right to hold our politicians to account. To me that is a non-issue accept for the hypocritical backlash. That falls under the fourth estates duty.
What does not is the way that they broadcast intimate and unnecessary details the public does not need to know after tragedies and criminal matters. What is also not needed is the damaging inferences in much of the mainstream tabloid media on accused individuals. This is not fact, this is news. The salacious details of a rape case is not news for instance, and neither is the juicy soap opera details of a murder trial. The victim, or the victims families pain and anguish is not news, it is their private pain and tragedy. For this reason I do not think it should be reported and turn the volume to mute whenever it comes up if I am in range, and say, not cooking in the kitchen. Put quite simply the news introduction is enough to do the job of reporting the matter as far as I am concerned. The rest is unnecessary pain and anguish for the families involved.
None of this is necessary. It also drags down the entire tone of news reporting to a sensationalist Daily Telegraph or one of the famous stories of the now defunct News of the World Stores. Even worse it takes away from reporting in detail the public needs to stay informed on issues such as the TPP, the China Free Trade agreement, actual facts and how to deal with worldwide human rights abuses (including our own), climate change the actual causes and method to fight ISIS etc.... It also takes away genuine reporting on underlying issues such as the basic, non-sensational facts on domestic violence and how to deal with it, inequality in society and housing unaffordable. It is the fourth estate being lazy and when even the ABC indulges in it we know the fourth estate is in a state that needs reform.
It is not needed. It makes us look bad. It hurts the families that are suddenly in the limelight. Where the victim is still alive I cannot imagine what having to relive their trauma on the news would inflict on them. Especially in sensitive cases such as sexual assault where they are likely to have had to go through it twice already, once when it happened and a second time in the court at the hands of the defence barrister. This is not good for them nor says good things about us that we allow and watch this in the media. Private tragedies and traumas should be kept private not writ large as news, reported sensitively as a fact only simple headline format. This not only spares the victims and their families but allows the time to cover and debate the issues that really are needed to be covered.
NCIS Sydney Season Two
I was Horrified to find out what first looked like a minor reaction was actually a major overreaction with 200 police, some looking like Gurkas on a mission, military vehicles etc... That descended on Western Sydney today. Looking at some of the pictures I could almost see the NCIS LA team coming ahead of actual armed solders. Now, my Condolences to the family of the dead police worker as well as the young man really a patsy in the shooting. But... Also my condolences to anybody in contact with the media and the police in the matter today as well. Whatever happened outside the police station this was a set of massive over reactions and a set of home invasions that just happen to be legal because the police are home invaders. Two, really three points on this.
Number one, a home invasion is a home invasion wether it is police or not. Imagine you are a five year old kid who is caught up in this, your window broken on top of you, pulled out of bed by a guy with the gun. But then told no, that guy is actually a good guy, and the fact that you wet your pants now every time mum gets pulled over and she's shaking to the point she can barely get through the random breath test.... Does it matter to you that this was a police officer pointing a gun at you, or does that just make it more terrifying and the world seem against you? This is a home invasion, make no mistake. For this reason they should be used only as an absolute last resort and this should be especially strict if there is a child under the age of twelve there. The parent, or possibly the parents are the criminals, get them without traumatising the kids. If it is only the man of the house so to speak don't put the spouse through it either. If going into a home and holding people at gunpoint is wrong for a criminal, it is at the least highly questionable at least for the police. This is before we get to the media coverage, which was sensationalist and disgusting. Even the ABC overstepped the mark on how it demonised the young lady who was clearly unhappy for good reason. That scene of police and media irresponsibility is unedifying outside something like a gang clubhouse, but outside a family home completely wrong. For many reasons, including the second one below.
The second point is radicalisation. The Five year old boy grows up, still hyper vigilant about police. His mother who was shoved around 'A Bit' read black eye and sprained wrist which was efficiently covered up is still not leaving the house without someone with her as a witness this time is no help when he gets into a bit of trouble. He's picked on in school, his sister is picked on worse because of her hijab, and everywhere he goes he knows he's being watched because dad was arrested and charged, convicted or not. How alienated would you feel as that boy? Well, that sense of alienation is exactly the root cause of radicalisation when someone reaches out over the internet and saying yes, we read you. We feel your pain. Come son, bring your sister, you're welcome here when your authorities hate you.... It takes a lot to get back and not go there, doesn't it? In this way the big raids such as the first Season NCIS Sydney last year and the Second season this year is their best advertisement. Sure they lose four people that might be useful, but they gain their sons, the sons friends and even possibly the sister... As far as they're concerned I'm sure they would love the police to keep doing it. I would if the other side was kicking an own goal like that. It isolates the community, it creates tensions which means that information gets missed, youth become even more alienated and better fodder just ripe for the picking. Why are we making the mistake of helping them at a basic tactical level?
The third is of course we don't need to do this. In the last chapter of David Killculens Quarterly Essay Blood Year the rather well versed ex-colonel and strategic Analyst has stated we won't wipe out this threat, it will just have a police state. This is generational and the best chance is still to live with the low level but occasionally tragic threat. This is because the greater loss would be our souls, a complete surrender and loss of ourselves. It will be difficult, we will have to live with a certain level of threat. However, to be a little hyperbolic the only other choice is to surrender ourselves completely and become something George Orwell predicted. This a strategic commentator saying this, someone who was commissioned by the security infrastructure to make a report that became a Quarterly Essay. If I can get it why does not government, law enforcement? Perhaps because it does not win elections.
Kyshera Du'Skall Kre'Mashen
Material World Reflections
The Nature of Wealth
Money, it makes the world go around. It is the means of exchange that allows most of us to live. It is a means of exchange used to get what we need and want, a form of energy to others. It is the subject of the laws of attraction, we all want it. And some have more than they need hoarded. But really, what is it?
Well, simply it is a means of exchange. It is an accepted means of exchange between individuals with an agreed upon value. It is supposed to be representative of actual resources that we need and use, and once was. When it was gold backed, backed to an actual commodity that was finite, it had a finite limit. Same as Pound Sterling which was backed to the value of silver, also a finite commodity. But now we've unbacked it it has taken a life of it's own and become master. In this it has already unbalanced the world more than it already was.
I firmly believe that there is enough in the world to go around if we take our share, work with others and are not greedy and lock up resources. Our current worship of one and zero digitally stored currency is not the first time this has happened, in Ireland and India people have starved while food is exported showing that even tied resources can be distributed wildly unequally. This in a way shows the true nature of wealth – Wealth is the practical resources of life as we need to live them. Food, land, shelter, means of exchange to ensure we have adequate. This is all wealth. In a way the more finite, the more wealth that commodity represents. Why gold and silver have been so prized by many cultures. That is material wealth. Spiritual wealth is an entirely different matter. Gold, silver, castles and land or Mansions, penthouses and fat bank accounts mean little to real spiritual wealth. The Buddha, Jesus, several spiritual masters all made that point. Spiritual wealth is our growth, our evolution, how we treat people and how much we contributed to help ourselves and others grow and learn. This is our spiritual wealth, our bank account. If this is good, we will generally have adequate in some form or another without chasing mass amounts of spiritual wealth. Chasing the means of exchange does not supplant this despite what is taught in the west today.
But of we have material wealth can we really have spiritual wealth. Well, Yes and no. Material wealth that is adequate for our needs, or if we have extra we use it wisely to help those that may not have enough in redistribution, yes. You can have that and still lead a very spiritual life. Indeed you may have that wealth because you agreed to hand it out to those who needed it and didn't have it otherwise. But those that hoard wealth, the proverbial Scrooges cannot really say they live truly spiritual life seeing that a majority, if not all valid religious, spiritual and humanist paths include charity, helping the poor and modest living. Some may quibble about what that is but certainly having more resources than you could ever use and not redistributing them, or having immorally, even if legally gained means is not considers spiritual by most paths. There is enough in the world for each person to have adequate, comfortable in most years even. There is not enough for all of us to be greedy upper middle class consumers to billionaires. Someone has to miss out for that to happen, and that is creating economic inequality on a vast scale.
Those that are spiritually inclined need to look at this, look at their lives and understand this. In gaining wealth we do not need and not treating it spiritually we are risking our souls on the real wealth of spiritual growth and advancement at the hands of the laws of return on all that we dispossess. This is something that we should all think about on a spiritual path when we look at the hunt for materialism and consumerism. Which one really matters, the material wealth we have here or what we take with us? This is something for each believer to decide and act accordingly. A wise decision will see you learn and grow in a way that really matters. Those that don't.... At the very least they will have to go through it all again to learn the lesson.
Kyshera Du'skall Kre'Mashen
Spiritual Modesty and Dress
This is a topic I have been thinking about for a long time and backs up after our discussion on wealth. Modesty in dress is a part of many religions, nature or otherwise and in many spiritual paths. Wether that be not dressing in expensive or ostentatious clothes or not exposing large amounts of flesh this is valid for many Christians, Muslims and Jews. Indeed, the headscarf or dressing to Orthodox dress codes is a sign of spirituality to them, not of oppression, same as to the sky clad witch it is not about gratuitous nudity but her own sense of sensuality and place. Disrespecting either is equally bad and can hurt very badly no matter which way that goes. This is not something to be dismissed. Likewise depending on the new age spiritual tradition there are many different ideas on how this works. Some are more conservative than others.
For me as a Solo practitioner for my own reasons I have my own little rule on dressing from the collarbone, to the elbows, to the ankles. Part of this is experiences in how even the average male sees a pair of legs in the average office skirt. Another part of this is I see sexuality as a very sacred and private thing and for me not something to be seen in public. Therefore I wear adequate clothing to ensure nothing of this is seen that I don't see as necessary for the outside world to see. Other will have different ideas. Some will push the boundaries, others to my opinion walk around half naked. The smallest I would ever consider even for a work uniform is just below the knees and covering what a decent business shirt should cover. But that is me, others have different standards. Some Witches and Wiccans have sky clad (naked) ceremonies and that is their right. This is one aspect of spiritual modesty that will be determined by your path, religious, spiritual or otherwise. This is something we should all respect and not go the way of France, which has banned head scarves, leaving young women effectively feeling naked in schools and workplaces is not respectful or on.
At the same time we have to consider modesty in the terms of expense and ostentation in dress. This involves considering expense and ostentation in dress. For instance, the difference between a functional fifty dollar pair of jeans and a two hundred dollar designer pair. Both are the same quality, both do the same job. Do you really need to pay the extra for the price tag? And the same goes with all styles of clothes. Some designer or higher end clothing is worth it, so much you pay for the tag. And be it in a fancy versus adequate quality ceremonial robe, dress or designer dress this is a consideration. Modesty here is about being well dressed without ostentation and trying to one up the rest. This is a basic in most forms of worship and should be respected. Remember, this is not a designer competition, it is about who and what we are as spiritual beings. The designer bling competition takes away from this spiritual aspect and makes it a material competition, defeating the point.
So, in this light look at yourself, how you treat others for how they dress and how you dress. Does it reflect you, are you in the bling competition, are you taking away from who you are? And then think, do you need to change. Modesty, both in how you present yourself physically and how ostentatious you are materially matter and that may be holding you back. Look at your life and decide for yourself what is really important – Material or Spiritual benefit?
Kyshera Du'Skall Kre'Mashen
The Concept of Living a Total Path
If you have a path wether religious, secular humanist or eclectic then living this path as a true, valid path is very important. This is about using this path to help you learn and grow through your lessons as a true, valid moral path. This is meant to enrich your life and help your growth and thus is very important.
As we go about our daily lives we need to be able to follow our paths. This is not in a born again Christian way, but in a way it informs what we do, our decisions and how we live our lives. This means in the workplace, when we face difficult decisions and in our day to day interactions. This is living your path, even in difficult circumstances. This could mean helping out and speaking out for others, defending others or just taking the difficult action even if it costs you in some material way. This is not to say that this is the easy thing to do, under many circumstances it can be the hard path. This is part of having a path and living a truly good life thought, sometimes taking these consequences. You do not do this you will not get the full value of your path. This is because you're short-circuiting lessons, possibly having to come back to this place again in this life or the next.
Following a path fully may not be easy, it might take some sacrifices, and it might not always mean taking the easy, expedient path. But you get more out of it in the long term where it really matters. This is being a better person, learning growing and evolving rather than sacrificing this to the material. Which is what life is all about especially if you have a path.