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Why is it so?

If you are as old as me, you might recall Julius Sumner Miller’s program Why is it so?  It was both fascinating and terrifying as we saw him confront quaking school students with scientific problems and ask them for an explanation.

Imagine if he did the same with politicians.

Why would mentioning boat turnbacks be forbidden because they “send a message to people smugglers” whereas braying about “foiled terrorist plots” and televising police raids is ok?

Why do Labor see the benefit of bringing government, unions and business together but point-blank refuse to work with the Greens on policy formation?

Why is a surplus more important than fixing our aged care system and lifting people on Newstart out of poverty?

Why are we claiming to have “smashed” our Kyoto target of reducing emissions to 5% below 2000 levels when they are now 0.5% above 2000 levels?

Why is it legal to sack people for not being religious but not ok to sack religious people for proselytising or discriminating in inclusive workplaces?

Why are so many government contracts awarded without a tender process and with any details obscured by phrases like “commercial-in-confidence” or “national security”?

Why do Australian government schools receive the third-lowest funding in the OECD, with only Turkey and Colombia doing worse?

Why is the government pursuing deregulation and privatisation when we have seen the shocking results of that in the banking, aged care, and energy sectors?

Why do we sack public servants and then spend billions on consultants?

Why does the government use public funds for political ads?

Why are we allowing big agribusinesses to harvest water and then paying them a fortune for the rights to buy it back from them?

Why are we condoning rampant land-clearing when it is having such a devastating effect through erosion, sediment run-off, changing rainfall patterns and increasing emissions?

Why do politicians fly all over the country to have their photo taken with a shovel?

Why are we so obsequious to the madman who currently occupies the White House?

Why are politicians paid huge allowances to sleep in their investment properties?

Why were women criticised as double-dippers if their workplace also offered them paid maternity leave when ex-politicians can receive a pension whilst still working in highly paid government quangos and sinecures?

Why does the government rail against subsidies for renewable energy (or the vehicle manufacturing industry) yet fiercely protect fossil fuel subsidies?

Why are the police investigating and prosecuting whistleblowers but not the crimes and corruption they expose?

Why are Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor still ministers after overwhelming evidence of their incompetence and shady dealings?

Why do we pursue a paternalistic approach that has entrenched Indigenous disadvantage rather than seeking advice from them on how to close the gap?

Why are over 3 million people, including 17.3% of children, living in poverty and over 116,000 people remain homeless in such a wealthy nation that has experienced uninterrupted growth for almost three decades?

Why are young disabled people put in aged care facilities?

Why did we underspend the NDIS budget by $4.6 billion when people are crying out for help?

Why are there 120,000 older Australians waiting almost two years to receive Home Care Packages?

Why are genuine refugees still incarcerated on Manus and Nauru?

This list could go on forever.

Why is it so?

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25 comments

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  1. John Boyd

    Indeed!!

  2. Paulene

    Even if people are not ‘genuine refugees’ but asylum seekers, incarcerating them for years is wrong, and as such, they deserve freedom.

  3. Terence Mills

    And then people go and surprise us.

    At the World series baseball game, Trump who did not arrive in time for the national anthem or the first pitch, was shown on the videoboard ahead of the fourth innings during a Salute to Veterans. The crowd immediately responded by booing Trump loudly.

    After initially booing Trump, the crowd continued into a “lock him up” chant.

    Take comfort where we can.

  4. John

    On a related theme check out a topic which will probably upset a few people, including Julius if he were still alive
    Why Is This Legal by Laura Hayes.

  5. Jack Cade

    The question .’why is it so’ applies to the Australian people.
    We have a government that is utterly incompetent, utterly mendacious, utterly sexist, utterly corrupt, and almost utterly racist.
    It has had three prime ministers in two terms, the minor partner in the Coalition gets 5% of the vote, has a lockdown on the deputy leadership, has repeatedly elected a member who actively participated in – and boasted about – the theft of river water, to some of the people it was being stolen from; and what did they threaten them with? Why, switching their vote to a group of people who would flourish in Alabama.
    Why is it so, indeed?

  6. George Swalwell

    Splendid scalding denunciation of failures and cruelties.
    Thank you again, Kaye Lee!

  7. Josephus

    This should be posted in every possible place, Kaye- can’t you send it please to a large circulation newspaper or the Saturday paper or Guardian at least? Or in a journal, preferably eg Quadrant? Can’t you get yourself on ABC radio or TV?

    One small query though: surely the so called government needs to mention boat turn backs ad nauseam to deter the customers? What logic is there in covering it up?

  8. Kaye Lee

    Josephus, this is my safe place.

  9. David Bruce

    Why do we have politicians who have no other current world experience outside politics and have little or no understanding of ethical behaviour?

  10. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Kaye. Lovely to be reminded of Professor Sumner Miller after all these years! But sadly, what a list of inexplicables! All of these conundrums are in grave need of explanation, but in view of recent events, this one has been particularly puzzling: ‘Why are the police investigating and prosecuting whistleblowers but not the crimes and corruption they expose?’

  11. Keitha Granville

    Why is it so? Because we are being governed by fascist thugs

  12. Baby Jewels

    Crush protestors, lock up whistle blowers and silence the media? Can they feel the anger yet? What will it take for Australians to rise up?

  13. Kaye Lee

    Baby Jewels,

    What they are banking on is people being so disgusted (or threatened or defeated) they turn off from politics altogether so they have free unscrutinised rein. I see that in my own family. They don’t want me to talk to them about this stuff when they get home from work. It’s exhausting. It’s demoralising.

    I remember when Gough Whitlam visited my school when I was in second or third year of high school- we all felt enthused, we felt empowered, we felt excited, we felt proud. Might I add, Gough didn’t bring a camera crew or a photographer. Kids from the school council took a couple of photos for our magazine – Gough didn’t take any. He addressed the full school assembly in the hall and then invited questions from we kids – the first was about the Vietnam war so we obviously weren’t issued Dorothy Dixxers. It is hard to remember that time in politics and compare it to now.

  14. Matters Not

    Re:

    Why do Australian government schools receive the third-lowest funding in the OECD …

    Because both sides of the political aisle give a particular and peculiar meaning to needs based funding. Yep, here in Australia, we fund schools through the political lens of parents needs and wants while ignoring students’ rights.

    Politically – it works! When it comes to the contest of rhetoric Versus reality, the citizen voter invariably buys the sizzle and is blind to the steak.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-23/catholic-school-funding-scott-morrison-jane-caro/10291370

  15. totaram

    Kaye Lee: All your questions are rhetorical questions for those who read this blog, and doubtless most of us have an answer.
    What I have come to realise is that most “voters” don’t even know that these questions could be asked, or if you ask them, they won’t have the foggiest notion what the question even means. Or they will give you an answer that shows clearly that they don’t understand the question, or they have an understanding that defies all logic. These voters include self-identified “progressive” or Labor voters.

    If we can crack that nut, a lot of other things will fall into place. Until then, I don’t see much hope. I am not holding my breath, and I don’t expect too much will happen in my lifetime. It is too hard for most people.

  16. Matters Not

    Re the ‘others’ and their lack of interest or manifest ignorance:

    It’s exhausting. It’s demoralising. …

    don’t even know that these questions could be asked,

    Perhaps some context. Perhaps some more ‘why is it so’? The wider world has, and is changing at an ever accelerating rate. Take information/entertainment as a minor example. Through SBS on demand and Iview, watching TV is no longer a waiting game for me. It’s there at the flick of a switch or a keystroke or two. Can also buy and sell shares almost instantaneously – not only in Australia but across the world. Don’t have to go out to eat or buy attire amongst other possibilities. It’s a world of instant gratification (almost). Even sex is just a phone call away (so I’m told.)

    Yet when it comes to making effective decisions in a (so-called) democracy, a citizen has to wait for years and years before symbolically ticking a few boxes on a piece of paper – even then the choice is between a few candidates who are most likely to be beholden to an organisation – far, far away. A Democracy is name only. Delayed gratification at best and then a type of intellectual masturbation. Sweetness wasted on the desert air.

    And we wonder why most citizens (particularly the young) are focussed elsewhere. Politics is for the dim-witted. The easily fooled. The retards. And what is this citizen nonsense anyway. Indeed most citizens never see themselves as citizens and see the world through taxpayer eyes even though the majority are a drain on the public purse – effectively non-taxpayers – receivers rather than contributors. But it makes them feel good (powerful and all that) to define themselves that way. Citizenship is for ceremonies. And besides there’s all those brown and black people involved.

    My offspring earn more than I did and couldn’t give stuff about politics even though they have credentials that suggest they should. Can’t have a serious political discussion. Just the head-nodding, polite responses

  17. Kaye Lee

    totaram,

    I read an opinion somewhere that many migrant voters are so grateful to be here that they think it disrespectful to criticise the government.

    As a teacher, I was sent a letter by some parents after I joined a stop work meeting when Nick Greiner landed in a helicopter on our school oval for a photo shoot and we asked him to, instead, meet with the teachers to answer their concerns.

    This is part of the letter and perhaps part of the problem we face with religious people?

    “As you are aware, children have to be taught to obey and respect authority from their earliest years. This includes parents, teachers, police, government, the Premier. Prime Minister, Governor General etc.

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God – Romans 13:1-2

    The principle of trade unionism (especially strikes) is lawless and anti Christian. and combined with the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few will shortly lead to universal slavery under the ‘man of sin’.

    I cannot recall such a blatant demonstration of lawless disrespect and rejection of authority as the stop work meeting in the presence of the Premier.”

    We may well ask why the Exclusive Brethren MET school gets record funding from the government.

    “The sect first made headlines on the political scene after it funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars into former prime minister John Howard’s re-election campaign in 2004, and was later referred to in Liberal Party documents as “friends.”

    https://www.smh.com.au/education/exclusive-brethren-met-school-gets-record-funding-20160704-gpy31p.html

  18. Paul Davis

    Thank you Kaye Lee. Great stuff. Julius Sumner Miller, what an inspiring person, exhorting us all to question, to think, to experiment, to research, to find truth.

    Hope everyone catches a repeat or podcast of Peter FitzSimmonds Andrew Olle Lecture. Best defense of ABC and press freedom i have heard in quite a while. Of course in the audience were a few LNP zoids and one cabinet minister who will dismiss all that was said as just so much whitenoise..

  19. Luise Cawthorne

    Josephus, Quadrant is run by the far right journalism nut wing. Type in Keith Windschuttle, and you’ll see what I mean

  20. New England Cocky

    I dunno Kaye Lee, next you will be claiming equal pay for equal work, gender balance on corporate boards and six months full pay for mothers on maternity leave.

    As for demanding proper equal funding for state schools, cutting out ill-skilled, self-serving (“I’ll give you the answer you want”) private consultants to government, and opening up the opportunities of alternative energy generation over fossil fuels, well, I mean, you are just ignoring the happy clapper rules that women should be seen and not heard while they live out their existence bare-foot, pregnant and in the kitchen preparing meals for the self-indulgent, egomaniac males that they married to achieve a comfortable lifestyle. This just IS NOT THE CHRISTIAN WAY!

    Oh, don’t stop; if you lie down there is an equal chance that some bastard will step on your face as they crawl to the top of the political dung pile. That Sumner Miller has a lot to answer for … fortunately!!

  21. Aortic

    Great stuff again Kaye. As Plato once wisely said, ” Wise men speak when they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” How many like Morrison, Christensen, Abbott, Abetz, Kelly, Canavan, Taylor et al fall into the latter category. Those of the Deep North and Clive Palmer are an affront to our so called democracy and have left us with mediocrity at best and downright and patent inability and ignorance at worst.

  22. wam

    The prof was a great educator and my science class knew that I would ask questions based on his show in the friday test so they all watched him and became ‘why is it so’ addicts.
    Sadly we left Adelaide and shifted to tvfree darwin in 68, so missed nearly 20 years of him and his wonderful attitude,
    But he is still revered and when lord uses his words, I shudder.

  23. totaram

    Kaye Lee: “..The principle of trade unionism (especially strikes) is lawless and anti Christian. and combined with the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few will shortly lead to universal slavery under the ‘man of sin’.”

    How does this even make sense? Can anyone explain how Trade Unionism COMBINED with the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few will … etc.?

    A perfect example of how you can stitch some phrases together and make a “reasonable sounding” sentence and bamboozle all the gullible, unthinking persons. Amazing but true!

  24. Kate Ahearne

    totaram. I think you might have missed the significance of the inverted commas in Kaye’s remarks.

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