Thursday, November 20, 2014

Warped Voting systems



One vote one value, that should be the primary aim of our voting systems.
I love voting systems, especially the systems designed to reflect real voter preference; like the majority of the wide variety of Australian models across the federal and state administrations. We have straight single member preferential voting and variations of multi-member proportional representation.

On the face of it, they all provide the real choice of the voters to one extent or another, or would if they weren’t tinkered with constantly in attempts to favour the major parties.  Each time they try to control outcomes the systems simply become more warped.

Look at the sample ballot (below) for the Victorian Legislative Council (Upper House). Because of the generally large number of candidates vying to fill these multi-member electorates Victorian politician have actually managed to provide three different methods of voting, most devaluing the intention of the base method:

·         Number all the boxes, (exhaustive preferential) in the example that is 1 to 38 in your order of preference. This is the most pure method, as long as the voter can garner enough information of the large number of candidate to make an informed choice.
·         Just vote one box above the line. Dinky this one, so simple to allow your vote to be skewed in ways you never intended. The parties and candidate make all your choices for you, to suit their own agendas.
·         Limited preferential, number a minimum of five of the boxes; meaning preferences are exhausted at the number the voter chooses to stop at after their mandatory five. It also stops preferences accidentally leaking to candidates the voter doesn’t want to support.

Personally I see the Victorian system as a unrepresentative pig’s breakfast. Far fairer would be to dump the ‘above the line’ and impose a minimum (in these 5 member electorates) of numbering ten boxes. Surely finding information on ten preferred candidates is not too onerous and ensures a reasonable preferences option before the vote is exhausted. But then the simpler system doesn’t benefit the big parties so we can forget that one.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our Intellectually Challenged Leaders



“My government will behave as grownups!” declares the likely new premier of Victoria, after next month’s election. Polls have the Napthine (Liberal/National) government being annihilated after just one term. The same claim was made by Tony Abbott in the lead up to the last federal election. The political flavour might seem different but the claim the same.

 I personally find this trend unsettling; we are after all choosing people to run the complex machinery of modern government, not the school captain or president of the student representative body. Forgive me, but it seems the mere fact these political leaders are moved to assert their ‘grownup’ status leads one to have serious doubts.

So we need to ask the question, why are our (Australian) current crop of political leaders so doubtful of their intellectual maturity? The one constant I can find is ‘religious education’. Inverted commas because it is more probably training or indoctrination, as opposed to broad education; and the religious is a side issue in the process. It seems leadership and compliance to direction are the primary goals of training.

In the words of the legendary Professor Julius Sumner Miller, WHY IS IT SO? I posit two distinct, underlying motivations of ‘religious education’. The first is that religion, based as it is on faith and belief, abhors the teaching of knowledge. The second is even more powerful and compelling, the support and defense of capital.

To the latter issue, it should be recognised that the church (the roman church in particular) is possibly the wealthiest and doubtless the longest running corporation in history. Religion per se is at best a control tool, capital s the motivation. Certainly from the Medici period, but more likely as early as Constantine, the church has been an economic force, with much wealth to protect.

On the issue of knowledge we are already seeing the worst fears of religion being realised. As secular education increasingly produces people who are able to think, able to question and seek sustainable answers, religious power is waning. So our current crop of ‘Jesuit trained’ leaders are in fact intellectually immature. Conversely, the intellectually mature are open to attack, purely because they are aware of doubt, the need to question and accept error and consequent change.

I suspect many who might make the very best leaders are repelled by their own constant self-questioning. Yet we need leaders who doubt, who seek truths and better ways. Perhaps the current, grand battle, between capital and the rest, will spawn a new crop of real leaders with demonstrable intellectual maturity. Meanwhile, I feel extremely disenfranchised as the Jesuit  leaders hold the advantage or rigged electoral systems which lock out real challenge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Giving Meaning to Grief



Whenever I have a fit of grief I like to try and understand just what it is I’m mourning. I have not always been an admirer of Gough Whitlam, in fact I grew up in a household where Gough was seen as an ogre. My father detested him with a vengeance, well before Gough was considered cool, well before he really hit the national stage.

I probably don’t mourn Gough the man so much as what he stands for, dead or alive. You see, he had no fear of failure, something which seems to dog most of our political elite, and he didn’t fail! We only need to look at the Whitlam legacy to realise the changes he wrought in the short time in power; including healthcare and education reforms, recognition of Aboriginal land rights and others not yet rolled back.

Those reforms are now at risk because of his, currently, gutless party, and reticent leader Bill Shorten. To be sure the party and Bill Shorten  face a formidable foe in big money and the Murdoch media. Whitlam led a party still focused on the traditional spirit of collective and supportive community; that has gone out the window. The focus has drifted to the individual, to the self serving political culture preferred by the right, typified by Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women...”

Bloody Hell! Even when Labour does present positive, unifying and compassionate policy they can’t sell it. Is that because too many ALP MPs are busy covering their own ‘individual’ arses to have the guts to openly own Labor policy? Even Abbott’s individuals can get behind, and sell their simplistic divisive messages. They only fail when it comes to the ‘we the people’ game. “Team Australia” appeared stillborn because it sounds ridiculous out of the mouths of Team Divisive.

I was close to supporting my local Federal ALM member Lisa Chesters , but I know was just be supporting the bowl of insipid blancmange that is the current ALP. I’m perplexed by the current rash of ‘photo ops’ of ALP members, from heavyweights to also-rans in kiddie’s class rooms. What is the message? “It Might Be Time, when the kiddies are old enough to vote?” Sweet, and useless!!!

It is not difficult to identify policy targets and craft simple, repeatable messages to sell them. It just means behaving like a team, of championing those things the ALP has been long known for; social cohesion, compassion and equity. Well that, but probably in one and two syllable words. I know ‘m not the only person grieving Gough’s passing, don’t let it go to waste ALP, wake up and start fighting for our country! And keep it simple!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Time for a Wake-Up Call


Now don’t get me wrong, I do think profits is a dirty word
and I also think capitalism is a corrosive,
destructive system. 
I was listening to a news interview recently, about the price of lamb here in Australia. The expert declared, “Prices are fluctuating wildly just now driven by the market.” He meant driven by speculators, which I suppose, is the basis of the capitalist market.

There are essentials in this life, basically food and shelter and in our urbanised world heat, water and power. All of these essentials have not only been commoditised, they have all become the prey of speculators; the prey of speculation and greater profits.

There is a worldwide housing crisis and the GFC showed that banks and sub-prime loans were a big contributor. The reality is, there is no shortage of potential accommodation, only of the will to provide it. US banks left thousands of homes to just rot, after they had taken on-selling loans to their absolute limits. The now truth is there are no profits to be made making those homes habitable.

We are being fucked over by these capitalist grubs for one reason; they have more money to buy politicians than do ordinary citizens. With the acquiescence and assistance of a buyable body politic, these parasites are on track to destroy our society if not the planet, in the name of rampant greed.

I have no idea how the world might be awakened to what is happening to us. Even then I’m not sure if anyone will be willing to risk the little they have to fight back, to redesign our political and governing systems. I do know the greedy bastards destroying us will not yield without a fight. But the worst of them only number 1% of the world’s population. No amount of money will stop a determined population. We just need to wake the world up!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Those harmless, moderate christians



It has been a long long time since I last engaged in a robust religious discussion. It was not intended and, given my current inability to remain calm and rational, might have been better avoided. (see Hillsong.)
Then when I woke at 3 am, mind alive to the trigger of the internal rage the discussion ignited: The Sydney Evangelical Movement. It should be understood, this is not bound to Sydney not to any single church type. They can be found now across Australia, in Catholic and Anglican communions through to the newer American style ‘growth churches, like Hillsong.

These people appear all sweetness and light, perceive themselves as winged angels floating above the worlds woes, not recognising they are waste deep in a stinking fetid shit bowl of destructive self delusion. They generally arise from apparent self confident middle class suburbs, clean and freshly scrubbed wielding the sword of their constructed Christ.

It is not hard to see how this dreamy, touchy feely style of religious behaviour could inadvertently slip into unacceptable behaviours. It’s surprising we haven’t seen more revelations of perverted activities, but I suspect these people pull together, pray together for the healing of any poor transgressor. Fuck the victim; they are the ones who cause the problems.

But if that was the only damage caused by these deluded fools, bad as it is... No it is just another aspect of the carnage ‘innocent’ ignorance wrought on an already troubled society. We are coming to the end of ‘Mental Illness’ Week: An awareness week, into which this discussion segued perfectly. My rage stems from having seen. Numerous times I have seen and experienced just how stupid, heartless and destructive these people can be.

Imbued with the love and vast power of their jesus construct, they truly believe they can heal any ill, but the reality is never addressed or considered after the fact. Whether it is a broken person off the street or one of their own who inevitably succumbs, they jump in with a confidence that is bound to fail every time.

Like a child with a new puppy, they jump in with an abundance of enthusiasm. They lavish love and sustenance; they are all enthusiasm, guiding their charge to becoming part of the dream. They chant their baby talk ‘prayers’ only to find their puppy shits and pisses on their pretty carpets. The puppy barks and bites in inappropriate ways.

Their puppy might be deep in the grip of the black dog or any of a number of the debilitating illnesses, yet are treated with warm communal meals, happy clappy sing songs and fucking prayers! Talking to imaginary friends to help people with mental illness is the absolute height of their destructive stupidity!

And finally, when the puppy becomes unmanageable, having already removed it from any natural support system, they abandon it with scorn. This is the real trigger for my deep, white hot rage. I have seen too many victims of the idiocy of religion; some merely driven to sad isolation and disorientation; others driven to suicide. People I would not normally care to associate with I have found myself being the only source of support, or worse, having to watch impotently as the damage takes its toll.

I do need to thank Wolty and friends for picking up the argument when a white shaking rage struck me. I supposed I owe thanks to some of those misguided twats for making me understand, again, what it really is driving my anger at religion. Perhaps for bringing back to mind those people who I’ve seen suffer the results of this idiocy. Religion is never benign. It always has consequences.