Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Do we need 'regulating'?

Do we humans, the citizens, the punters, the 'great unwashed', need 'regulating. Are the police the 'thin blue line' separating us from anarchy. Would it all fold like a pack of cards if government wasn't a central influence?

I was talking to my workmate Mal today, and, although he posed the question purposely as an extreme view, that is the question he posed. Do people need government to organise things, to make sure we do the right thing?

I don't doubt there are a minority of people who will do the wrong thing without compunction (probably about 5-7% from what I've read and seen - that is the criminal fringe), and another group who aren't terribly nice (maybe 20%?). But I believe most people are good folk who want to help, or at least don't harm others.

I also believe reasonable laws are not transgressed not because they are the law, but because that is what reasonable people would do anyway. Law is in my view not the hard and fast skeleton of society that some think it is. Rather I think it is the way that has evolved to counter that 7% fringe that is where most of the problems seem to come from.

An interesting and thought-provoking session. One we have at work from time to time.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Clashes of culture, and ideology.

Western artists have not been afraid to insult the Christian religion. Islamic interests claim insult from the Mohammed cartoons.

What is the difference then? If free speech is more important than the Catholic church's sensibilities, why then do the Islamic world's sensibilities count for so much more.

Is it a matter of political correctness (ie, it is quite OK to insult the mainstream in your own society, but annointed minorities have different rules), or is one religion more 'trendy' than the other?

Or is it something else again? Western journalists have long championed minority interests (feminist issues, gay rights, indigenous groups, gun control - NOT of course, the interests of employed white males). To the point that is the safe, 'establishment' position. It takes no courage to mouth and tow the party line, to bully the soft targets.

Take on a hard target though, one which will threaten violence, and actually carry out that threat, that is a different matter. Gun owners, (LAFOs), have long been a favourite target of our media. But the journalists know that the good citizenry who wish to own firearms are just that, and can be demonised with impunity because thay can safely do so, AND be trendily 'correct' whilst indulging themselves.
Take a principled stand when there is danger of a real downside (ie violence being threatened or actually visited upon themselves), especially when taking on PC sacred cow issues, like multiculturalism. and a principled stand on the core requirement of a free media, free speech, is somehow nowhere to be seen.

This issue is shaping up as not just a clash of cultures, but a clash of ideologies within OUR culture.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Political correctness.

Over here at 'D&R' we have at least on died in the wool politically correct disciple - 'Brian'.

I have to give him credit for enthusiastically defending his ideology (and where would debate be without someone to debate with?). He helps us get into the politically correct mindset, and that is very illuminating.

He has recently locked horns with 'Centurion' and C came back with the best post reply I think I've seen on a debating forum. An extract;

"...For 30 years, your social regressive caste has had the ears of the government and the result has been race riots, raped girls, intimidation of Australians, white flight, expanding ghettoes, alarming crime rates, spiralling welfare bills, a heroin flood, reduced civil liberties, and now terrorism. How many times does an idea have to fail before people with your incredible, self deluding mindset admit that your worthy ideals are not up to scratch, and that those flawed ideals are causing intractable social problems that could have been easily avoided?..."


"...Figuring out how university artz graduate types think is why I am on this board. As for “young people”, I used to be one of those myself. I too manned the barricades at the numerous “Moratorium” anti Vietnam War demos, and after that I was swept along by my youthful idealism to denounce Apartheid and scream abuse at the Springboks. But unfortunately for the leaders of “youth culture”, who are experts at manipulating idealistic and naïve youths like me, I am an obsessive reader who could grasp that intractable human problems could not be solved by simply adhering to simplistic moral absolutes.

I had always cultivated an odd choice of reading material, and I knew dogma when it was staring me in the face. Once I figured out that I was being manipulated, I stopped believing in the trendy left wing party line and began to think for myself. I presume that Nicole reached the same point that I did, and I presume that most young people do the same thing as Nicole and me. But something went wrong with you and Bluebottle. You not only never grew out of your youthful idealism, you actually swallowed it’s dogma hook, line and sinker, and then both of you became apologists for a failed ideology...."

Read the posts here, for some good banter. Excellent stuff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Limited Government.

Abraham Lincoln is reported as saying that government “should do those things which the people cannot do themselves, or not so well themselves”.

But government, especially in the Australian ‘mixed economy’ context, gets involved in so much more than the minimum suggested by Lincoln.

If we want to truly reduce both the cost of government, and the intrusion of government into people’s affairs, perhaps that concept bears some thought?

What if our economy was organized so that government was not the first entity expected to provide services? If, instead, the individual was encouraged to be far more independent, than is currently the case. (For example, as superannuation changes the expectation that government will provide in old age, so that concept could expand to include more provision for funded unemployment insurance).

Extended families might get more involved in childcare, and aged care. The process of privatization of things like energy, and telecommunications may widen in scope.

In government itself, we have 3 tiers of government. Do we really need a health portfolio at both the state AND federal level? Surely one level of government (state level) should be able to handle health care. If people were to be expected to do what they can for themselves, then should not government services be handled at the lowest, most efficient and responsive level possible?

I have no problem with the concept of 3 tiers of government. I DO have a problem when those tiers duplicate effort (as in health and education).

If individuals did as much for themselves as possible, and if required services were handled at the lowest level possible thereafter (family, co-operative community, service sector market orientated businesses, government services provided at the lowest tier), imagine the savings in tax, and the reduction in government intrusion in our everyday lives this would make possible.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Arab/Islamic cartoons. Don't do as I do, do as I say!

Here are some examples of cartoons published in the Arab/Islamic press.


Make up your own mind.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cartoons, Free Speech, and one-way tolerance.

Over at Debate and Relate we have been debating the Danish cartoons issue here.

Here is what the fuss is about.

I believe in free speech, but I believe that is only part of the issue. If Islam believes in media tolerance, then it should be a reciprocal arrangement, and it isn't. Have a look here and here some examples of anti-semitism in the Arab media, and here for some further information on the subject. A 'net search on 'cartoons, arabic media' gives you some interesting images. Islamic countries routinely print ant-semetic, anti-west, and anti christian cartoons. Hypocrisy pure and simple at work there.

Another part of the issue is that a minority in one society should NOT be able to dictate to the majority what the limits of freedom of expression should be. (It is my belief freedom of expression should be constitutionally enshrined, and as broadly interpreted as possible). Yes, they can participate in debate, and work to influence the dialogue that forms policy, but if they resort first to threats, and actual violence, that is something that should be resisted.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
(Attributed to 'Voltaire')
A clash of the values at the core of two very different cultures, and I for one don't think appeasement is the answer.