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Problems demand solutions

It is one thing to criticise, when those in charge are failing to act in ways which seem likely to reduce existing problems.

It is another to be constructive and suggest possible solutions.

And then again – on the part of those whose failure is being criticised – refusal to listen to suggestions has to be dealt with in some effective way. And that may prove to be the biggest problem we face!

Since the start of February 2020, I have sat outside the NT Parliament House on 32 Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 3 pm, to remind people that global warming is a major issue, requiring urgent action, and it cannot be ignored because of COVID-19 taking priority!

It is worth explaining that the Northern Territory is the safest part of Australia as far as COVID-19 is concerned. We have had no community transmissions, we quarantine visitors effectively, and we rarely, if ever, have double digit numbers of active cases arising from those visitors.

We also have warm weather in the Top End, which includes Darwin, and I cannot remember when it last rained – possibly a sprinkle in May – so I use an umbrella as a parasol to be sun-safe!

We will get rain later in the year – so the umbrella will perform its proper function when that happens. At least it is warm rain!

Not unexpectedly, I am deliberately ignored by a few people, but many stop to chat. They generally agree on the need for action, and criticise the refusal of the national government to make appropriate plans.

I have permission from the Speaker of the House to repeat this exercise until Christmas and have every confidence that I shall continue to do so for as long after Christmas as I feel necessary.

Each week I wear my Extinction Rebellion T-shirt, and my expectation is that, once larger crowds are no longer a threat to public health, the XR organisers will be getting members out on to the streets to increase pressure on governments to take the action which is increasingly urgent.

This is being reported as already happening in other counties!

I am willing to be involved in civil disobedience, as long as it does not involve violence on my part, and also avoids damaging property.

The problems which we are facing are many-faceted, affect nearly everyone, and will not be solved by following any of the policies the current Coalition government is recommending.

The first thing that strikes me is that the government does not seem to realise it has a part in the process of recovering from the pandemic shut-down and the chaos it has created, apart from throwing financial support, mainly to business.

Talk of a ‘return to normal’ shows a total misapprehension of the current state of affairs.

We are in this mess because of the way governments were behaving before the pandemic!

I read this article today (09/09/20), in the New Daily and it sums up the government’s attitude to perfection.

The ECONOMY is the permanent centre of attention, followed by ensuring that business is enabled to ensure that it returns to a state of constant growth.

Increasingly, Scott Morrison has shown his true colours as a would-be petty dictator.

This was never more clearly shown than when he used his slim majority in the most recent session to try to ram legislation through the Lower House, cutting short ‘debate’ and denying the Opposition a chance to speak.

How much longer can we tolerate this refusal to act democratically?

To solve problems, we first have to identify them, then we have to consider possible solutions.

There are plenty who are far more expert than am I who can carry out this process but – if we really are a democracy – it must be done in a non-partisan way, so we are not ruled by an ideology which, for many of us, is an anathema! Again I refer to the article mentioned above.

We are all equal before the law and are entitled to equality of treatment.

If the government needs money, then perhaps it should consider ways in which those with the greatest wealth should make the greatest contribution! Staying good mates with millionaires while children sleep on the streets is not on!

Economics is not a science, but those who have studied it could still make a useful contribution to discussions.

All discussions have to both lead to solutions which will relieve people of poverty, brought about by necessary government actions, and also take account of the lifestyle changes needed to combat global warming.

As a member of the general public, I have a fair idea of the overall sources of anxiety – particularly for women – that need urgent attention.

We all need the security of a home.

The present rather shaky moratorium as regards mortgage payments, rental arrears, and accumulated debt that flows on from that, must be stabilised and clarified ASAP.

An initial step could be to stop putting financial assistance for individuals into a ‘welfare case’ situation, and introduce a Universal Basic Income.

It can be set up in ways that enable taxation to balance it out for those who really don’t need it, but ensure that everyone can afford to pay their housing costs and other essential basic expenses.

(Oh! And by the way – have all those defrauded by Robo-Debt been fully recompensed yet? And did they get paid interest on the money, just as they were expected to pay interest if they failed to pay a claimed debt on time?)

A top priority should be government funding for social affordable housing!

Many jobs have not only been lost, but disappeared for ever.

Many businesses are being propped up by government grants when it would have been better had the business owners gone into receivership.

That situation can be closely examined and decisions made on realistic grounds – not using across the board rules that businesses should not be allowed to fail.

Early Childhood Education is an essential that government has again ignored. By reducing or removing assistance for childcare centres, the government has damaged the most important stage in the lives of our children.

Free childcare must be reinstated, salaries of all employed in the caring sectors – childcare, aged care, nursing, etc, must all be significantly increased, and numbers employed could be among the first ways to enable the ‘economy’ to start to recover.

I can only assume that neither Scott Morrison nor Josh Frydenberg regularly helps with the weekly household shopping.

If they did, they might appreciate that shopping needs money, and many of the goods purchased carry GST. And where does GST go? And does the government need money? So is refusal to provide the needy with succour a sensible policy?

We are not mendicants at the knees of a ruler.

We are citizens who demand to be treated fairly and we should not sit back and allow inferior policies from a government which is clearly out of its depth.

For example, here is another source of investment which is being spurned because superannuation is, for some strange reason, not in favour with the Coalition!

Let’s see the necessary, multi-partisan bodies being established to ensure that everyone has a roof over their heads, sufficient food and clothing, a proper education – particularly for the very young – and equality of opportunity.

I haven’t heard any tales of politicians complaining of not having enough of the necessities of life so why would they not accept that we are also entitled to respect and opportunity for a viable life?

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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10 comments

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  1. Consume Less

    What the, you mean we should funnel more money into community welfare and not military hardware, or something like that. Anyway Rosemary, well done with your commitment to raise awareness about climate change. I just ordered my new climate change busting vehicle. Yes, the humble pushbike. This pushbike is quite a bit more advanced than the one I had twenty years ago with hydraulic disc brakes. Adelaide is flat and perfect for bikes yet cars continue to dominate. Such a shame.

  2. Lawrence Roberts

    Nice one Rosemary,

    Simple early solutions which have not been considered by this caretaker administration. Taking care is what they have not been doing in the panic of the moment. The words Commonwealth and Multicultural have been sadly missing in the rhetorical vocabulary of the politicians and pundits in recent months.

    There always seems to be a sub-plot in the slight of hand and decisions made by the Morrison curry-house cabinet. Always with one eye on the major manipulators and backers of the LibNat coalition. Decisions which benefit the few who don’t need it and to the decrement of Australia. Decisions with finance which are cavalier and obviously open to abuse.

    This government has the smell of decay about it. There is slight concern for nature and our indigenous peoples, as if they didn’t matter.
    Only lip service is paid. It could be that we are led by a man who is apocalyptic in his belief system. Not healthy for the rest of us.

  3. New England Cocky

    1) “It is another to be constructive and suggest possible solutions.”

    Perhaps the best suggestion is for Scummo Sacked from Marketing to have a ”Damascus Moment”, recognise and publicly confess his too many personal failings and consequent sins then resign from all public offices to seek enlightenment in solitude on Manus Island or Nauru without a mobile phone. Just sayin’…..

    2) ”Economics is not a science …”

    and was so recognised by my generation of science undergraduates. Rather it describes the behaviour of persons when there are shortages of resources for any project. Then ”professional economists” in error applied this false premise to every situation on the implied assumption that ubiquitous over-supply of all resources at all times is the only natural situation.

    Paul Keating gave us ”the ‘Recession we had to have” now Scummo has given us ”the Depression we could have avoided with proper government policies”.

    3) ”Increasingly, Scott Morrison has shown his true colours as a would-be petty dictator.”

    The success of Labor state & territory governments (WA, NT, Qld) in keeping COVID-19 under control and their populations fully informed about the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is anathema to Scummo Sacked from Marketing. This was going to be his” Messiah Moment” where he would lead Australians into the valley of bankruptcy and through the desert of economic depression while ensuring that his political donors thrived while destroying industry superannuation funds and idle middle class residential property wealth, leaving only ”The Chosen People of Hillsong” able to afford the bare necessities of life. Who said Moses was the last ”Great Leader”?

    4) ”A top priority should be government funding for social affordable housing!”

    With interest rates for government almost zero, a thinking government would formulate a plan to eliminate the affordable social housing problem by funding each licensed builder four residential projects within their ability to complete within a 12 month contract period. This would put our army of trades-persons into work and provide cash-flow into other now struggling family businesses.

    But here is the rub ….. that would mean mere non-believers would miss out on the experience of the COVID-19 Economic Rapture sent by D*G to cleanse the Australian economy of all those heathen practices like fair trading, equal pay for equal work, industry based superannuation, government regulated wages and permanent full-time work.

    5) “I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.” So will I …..

  4. Matters Not

    Re:

    Economics is not a science …

    If ‘economics’ is not a science, then presumably you are proceeding on the understanding that there is a definition of science that prompts you to make such a claim. If so – care to share?

    NEC suggests that economics involves the behaviour of persons and one would think there’s broad agreement with that assertion but because it involves human behaviour does that rule it out of being a scientific pursuit? If so – what about psychology, sociology and even sociobiology – a field of study that employs concepts found in other areas of study including ethnology, anthropology, evolution, zoology, archaeology, etc.

    What about economics that proceeds largely on the basis of quite sophisticated mathematical modelling. Does that make it more of a science? Or, perhaps, making it too mathematical renders economics less useful? So many questions.

  5. New England Cocky

    @MN: Economics is a description of how persons behave when faced with a shortage of commodities, including money. In this present 2020 world there is rarely a shortage of money or particular resources for a particular project. Jevons and Hayek may assist there.

    Your collection of ”–ologies” are principally descriptive areas of study looking for a way to make experimental results numerical and so give them some semblance of ”scientific’ appearance.

    Mathematical modelling follows the GIGO Rule: Garbage In Garbage Out.

  6. RosemaryJ36

    MN – I am not sure whether this clarifies or confuses the discussion!
    https://www.economicsdiscussion.net/economics-2/nature-of-economics-economics-as-a-science-and-an-art/1982?cf_chl_jschl_tk=69cc04bd2a0ffa4ded9d08b59661f5c331bbbe7f-1599713419-0-AR8gFplGK9-PiBHvWR2f7YUt04-qQ1CaOkGOprACmUEeMmi8zz_c5H35ItHCxvlcPT_lub43CJaDEz6E8888vszKksZMuXeNo7F12t1i0T2GyFtqyJ5J_cyG6heWHMH_0lvuT_Mzcb5Roa84OAtgErq6VdS8BIYWga3qOTsehyQBCaoTKmualZTR7Mr17zbMcRod7SC2_rxkqcGq4AKrve7jwUZV5paGnUcWsOKANfM6XgMGvCiWnKLPThxEgsgTfiJaE9tldH_BIvMfpX4g8inbkgCjFiYEiVx2UEVSFmEgUUsJsaHEKRHXHckbDCdYxWJH7pcbpKKddk3TNlzMsDyYzQSn0shaKpkqS98yoXK7

  7. Matters Not

    Rosemary – thanks for the link. I note that the article concludes rather positively re Economics being a science,

    Therefore, from all the above discussions we can conclude that economics is neither a science nor an art only. However, it is a golden combination of both. According to Cossa, science and art are complementary to each other. Hence, economics is considered as both a science as well as an art .

    In many ways, it matters not to many (if not most), but for me, attempts to denigrate or downplay the social sciences (real or imagined) raises an eyebrow because humans and their interactions are such complex matters. Indeed without peer,

    Again thanks for the link. And here’s one in return that might prove useful for some.

    https://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/whatisscience_10

  8. corvusboreus

    The main problem with economics is that it is relatively abstract science that projects arbitrary but whimsically shifting numerical values (aka money) onto society, and ignores or discards innumerably inconvenient but crucially important complications (eg biology, ecology and other aspects of physical reality) as “externalities” (ie “un-dollarable thus irrelevent”).
    Hence the fact that humans are biology existing upon ecology within a finite biosphere is not a consideration in resource exploitation to feed infinite growth..
    Sums need changing.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    Thanks MN. I guess I think of science in terms of facts which can be deduced from research and maintain their validity, irrespective of other factors, whereas economics, as a ‘social science’ is much more fluid and requires horses for courses.
    For example, science informs us that gender is not binary, nor is it a matter of choice, whereas social science produces solutions which are often dependent on cultural values. Given a society, such as our ATSI First Nations, which holds property in common and sees its members as custodians of the land, laws are different than those for the aggressively individualistic members of most developed nations with very different value systems. Economic modelling for each group would have to take account of those different value systems.
    As a mathematician, I am aware that Euclidean geometry is based on certain propositions, which differ from those underpinning the Non-Euclidean geometry which enabled Einstein to develop his Theory of Relativity. In the same way, we do not always state that our calculations are based on a decimal system, and the technology which developed computer science initially required an ‘on/off’ binary system, but has since become much more sophisticated.
    It is the underlying assumptions which are often overlooked in developing theories.

  10. corvusboreus

    Trivial aside,
    I only ended my long time mental confusion over the symbols for on/off switches (0/I) when I realised it was binary code.
    Me felt reel stoopid.

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