Archive for the ‘debatable’ Category

We did object to being classed with murderers. But she said we didn’t. On silencing the voice of “the other.”

June 24, 2019

On 19/05/2017, in the Western Australian Sunday Times, Miranda Devine claimed that “Liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters (aka Catholics) didn’t take umbrage at being told to repent to avoid hell.”  This was part of her claim that a sports star was unfairly targeted by pro-gay-rights activists, and wrongly sacked from a major sports team for breach of contract, by making an offensive post.

The post was by Israel Folau, as shown:

The post which started the brouhaha.

Like the supporters of homosexuals’ rights, many of those interested in free exercise of religious and non-religious beliefs did object to Israel Folau’s post. I suspect that the media simply ignored their complaints.  My letter to the Sunday Times was ignored.

I objected to his post publicly and in writing because I know children have been bullied by others raised in this belief, a bullying pattern which is a sign of the deeper problem: his post silences the voices of the non-fundamentalist-of-this-sect and of homosexuals, by classing them with murderers and thieves. Their opinions are then discounted or ignored because of this – to the point where, in the USA, it is impossible for an atheist to be considered for President.  It is significant that Hindus, Roman Catholics and others are included in” “idolaters” in the Pentecostal approach – so much so that fundamentalist schools have refused to employ Catholic staff, saying “You’re not Christian.”

We live in a society where it is assumed that a person who commits serious crimes is more likely to be an atheist than religious (despite the statistics showing otherwise – perhaps because it takes moral courage to be publicly atheist, while many churchgoers are hiding unbelief) and where majority cultural groups assume minorities are likely to be criminal. In such a society it is vital that role models do not silence the voices of those who do not follow their religion – that they accept that others have the right to their beliefs, that no religion can be absolutely certain it has all the Truth, and that “My father’s house has many mansions.”

I note that he did not post an opinion supporting death for those who all who curse their parents, the stoning of female adulterers, or animal sacrifice in church. If he will not support these fundamental biblical injunctions, he should restrict his posts to mentions of the Good Samaritan : a member of a despised religious group, yet used as the model for neighbourly behaviour. Israel should be more neighbourly.

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For those concerned by proposed changes to Oz guidelines for Doctors re complementary medicine: what the proposed changes are

April 8, 2019

Actual proposed  Oz guidelines for doctors re complementary and unconventional medicine, from https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/News/Current-Consultations.aspx are copied in below.  Much of the concern seems to be from those who have not read them.  Read before worrying, then you will sound more sensible if you comment in the way described on the medicalboard.gov.au site.

The consultation is called

Public consultation on clearer regulation of medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments

Guidance for all registered medical practitioners

This section of the guidelines includes guidance for all registered medical practitioners including those doctors whose patients use complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments, but who don’t themselves provide these treatments.

  1. Discussion with patients

The use of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments is increasing. It is therefore important that all medical practitioners are aware of these areas of practice and how they may affect their patients and impact other treatments, regardless of whether they themselves provide or recommend these treatments. There are resources available for medical practitioners when discussing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments with their patients.[1]

Good medical practice for all medical practitioners involves:

  • Asking your patients about their use of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments regardless of whether you provide or recommend these treatments.
  • Taking into consideration your patient’s use of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments when determining appropriate management for your patient.
  • Respecting your patient’s right to make informed decisions about their health and their right to choose complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.

 

 

Guidance for registered medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments

This section of the guidelines includes guidance for registered medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.

  1. Knowledge and skills

Safe patient care relies on the medical practitioner having the knowledge and skills in the area of medicine in which they practise. This is both for the treatments being provided and the conditions for which patients seek treatment. This is particularly important where treatments may not be part of standard medical training, for alternative uses of conventional treatments and for new and emerging treatments that are continuously evolving.

Good medical practice for medical practitioners providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments involves:

  • Ensuring you have current knowledge and skills for your scope of practice to ensure safe patient care.
  • Only offering treatments if you have the appropriate training, expertise and experience in both the treatment and the condition being treated.
  • Arranging appropriate and timely specialist referral, when indicated.
  • Undertaking necessary training if you intend to change your scope of practice to include complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.
  1. Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest can arise when providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. This is the case when there are high costs involved as well as because of the experimental and commercial aspects of some treatments.

Good medical practice for medical practitioners providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments involves:

  • Always acting honestly and only in your patient’s best interests when providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.
  • Ensuring that you do not have a financial or commercial conflict of interest that may influence the advice and/or treatment that you give your patients.
  1. Informed consent

Patients have a right to know if the treatment they are being offered is not considered to be ‘conventional medicine’. They have the right to know the evidence for its efficacy and safe use.

Medical practitioners proposing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments must obtain informed consent from their patient. Good medical practice involves:

  • Providing your patient with enough information, preferably in written form, for them to make informed decisions about proposed assessments, investigations and treatments.
  • Providing your patient with clear information about:
    • the extent to which the assessment, investigation and treatment is consistent with conventional medicine and accepted by the medical profession or if it is considered alternative and/or experimental
    • the degree to which, and how, diagnostic investigations and tests have been formally evaluated and what is known about their reliability, safety and risks
    • the degree to which, and how, the proposed treatments have been formally evaluated or proven and what is known about their safety, side effects, risks, likely effectiveness and a realistic likelihood of benefit for the proposed use.
    • the range of possible outcomes, taking into consideration the patient’s expectations
    • the likely number of investigations and treatments required and the costs involved
    • other treatment options (including conventional treatments), their risks, likely benefits and efficacy based on the best current available information.
  • Ensuring that patients who may be vulnerable because of the serious and/or chronic nature of their condition and/or because conventional medicine has not been effective, are not exploited or unduly influenced.
  • Ensuring that information provided about complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments does not create unrealistic patient expectations.
  • Informing your patient of their right to seek a second opinion regarding their treatment and options from another independent medical practitioner when proposing treatments that are complementary, unconventional or emerging.
  1. Assessment and diagnosis

Some medical practitioners providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments use diagnostic methods and tests that are not considered to be part of conventional medicine.

Good medical practice in the assessment and diagnosis of patients involves:

  • Ensuring the assessment and examination of your patient is comprehensive and considers all relevant information.
  • Ensuring that any recommendation for investigations or tests is based on the best current available information.
  • Performing and/or ordering any generally recognised diagnostic investigations and tests that would be reasonably expected for appropriate patient care.
  • Ensuring you consider appropriate differential diagnoses for each individual patient.
  • Ensuring that your diagnosis is supported by sound clinical judgement and informed by the best current available information.
  1. Treatment

Providing a treatment in the absence of an identified therapeutic need can unnecessarily expose a patient to risk of harm. Patient harm can also result if the provision of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments results in delays in accessing more appropriate treatments for the patient.

Good medical practice when providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging medicine involves:

  • Ensuring that you do not discourage the use of conventional treatment options when this is clinically appropriate.
  • Only recommending treatments where there is an identified therapeutic need, quality and safety can be reasonably assured and that have a reasonable expectation of clinical efficacy and benefit.
  • Ensuring that the provision of any complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments comply with any relevant Therapeutic Goods Administration requirements.[2]
  1. Patient management

Good patient care is supported when there is good communication with, and coordination of care between, all treating practitioners. When the provider of complementary and unconventional medicine or emerging treatments does not have a role in the patient’s regular medical care it is important to ensure that there are measures in place for the coordination of care. Follow-up of patients is particularly important where treatment is provided that is experimental and/or part of a formal research clinical trial – both for the patient’s wellbeing and for the contribution to medical knowledge.

Good medical practice for the care of your patients to whom you are providing complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments involves:

  • Documenting information including the diagnosis, treatment, efficacy, side-effects and known risks of interactions in the patient’s medical record.
  • Ensuring that you take responsibility for appropriate monitoring and follow-up of patients to whom you are providing complementary and unconventional and emerging treatments. This is even more important when you are providing experimental treatments.
  • Encouraging your patients to tell their other health practitioners about their use of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.
  • With permission from your patient, communicating with their other treating doctors (if applicable). You should inform other treating medical practitioners of the investigations, the diagnoses, treatments, known risks of interactions and patient progress.
  • Reporting adverse events to the relevant authority to assist safety monitoring.
  1. Advertising

Some patients who seek complementary and unconventional medicine or emerging treatments may be vulnerable to advertising that may lead to unreasonable expectations. The advertising provisions in Section 133 of the National Law include that a regulated health service must not be advertised in a way that is false, misleading or deceptive or creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment.

Good medical practice when advertising complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments involves:

  • Ensuring that all advertising material, including practice and practitioner websites, complies with the Board’s Guidelines for advertising of regulated health services, including the advertising requirements of section 133 of the National Law, of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code and of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
  • Ensuring that you do not create the impression that you are a specialist in an area of practice that is not a recognised specialty.
  • Ensuring advertising material does not create unreasonable patient expectations of the benefits of the complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.
  1. Research and advancing knowledge

Innovation and research in new treatments is necessary to improve health outcomes. However, there must be protections in place for patients. Efforts to make advancements in treatments should not jeopardise patient safety.

Good medical practice in the research and advancement of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments involves:

  • Ensuring that research involving complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments complies with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) current ‘Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research’ and ‘National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research’.
  • Where tests and treatments are experimental, being prepared to contribute to and share new knowledge with the profession.

Acknowledgements

The Board acknowledges the following organisations’ codes and guidelines, which helped inform the development of the Board’s draft guidelines:

  • Medical Council of New South Wales (2015) Complementary health care policy
  • Medical Council of New Zealand (2011) Statement on complementary and alternative medicine

Implementation date and review

These guidelines will take effect on <date>.

The Board will review these guidelines at least every five years.

[1] For example, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Talking with your patients about Complementary Medicine – a Resource for Clinicians, 2014 and NHMRC, Stem Cell Treatments – A Quick Guide for Medical Practitioners, 2013

[2] For example, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australian regulatory guidelines for complementary medicines, 2018 and TGA, Australian regulatory guidelines for biologicals, 2017.

Politicians’ high incomes blind them to the reality of the effects of proposed taxation changes.

March 6, 2019

Most of the political claims around the Australian Labor Party’s franking credits tax plans talk about retirees. The pollies have missed the point – which is odd, as they probably own franked shares!  I guess they are just too wealthy to understand what happens to those on low incomes.

But why don’t journalists pick them up on it?

My understanding of shareholding is that shareholders are basically the company’s owners – each share being an equal “share” of the company.  In Australia the company pays tax on its profit to a maximum of 30%.  When the after-tax profits are shared out per share as dividend income to the owners, each has effectively paid that tax on that income. That tax per shareholding is the “franking credit.” For tax, both the dividend and the franking credit together make the shareholder’s income from owning part of the company.

The shareholder’s individual marginal tax rate may be more or less than the rate the company paid – if more, they pay the difference between what the company paid and their rate. If less, they get back the tax they have overpaid.

Consider a person who comes from a very Labor family.  He is single,  has lived quietly and bought shares instead of travelling and partying, and is now  effectively unemployable but too young to retire.  He cannot get unemployment benefits (“Newstart”) as he has paid off his home and has over $258,500 in assets outside the home.  His shares give him about $14,000 in franked dividends, with the franking credits of $6,000.  That is a total of about $385/week – $272 before franking credit refund  – and he gets by on that, nursing the $6,000 tax refund to get past unexpected expenses.  Newstart would be about $275 per week, according to the humanservices.gov.au website.

Under the proposed changes, he will have his effective income cut to $14,000 – cut by almost a third, to less than the  Newstart allowance he cannot get.  At the same time, a federal backbencher on the 2018 base salary of $207,100 a year with dividends of $14,000 will get the $6,000 back as a tax credit, suffering no change to income .

That makes him angry. And it has made me  angry too.

I feel that if Labor really cared about the battlers, it would not do this – if franking credits tax law must be messed with to stop wealthy family trusts and large superannuation holdings from getting big refunds, Labor should change the rules for large holdings, or say that only actual human individuals below median wage equivalent taxable income should get the credits back.  Or they should abandon the refunds altogether.  Not claim that the low income people who get taxed dividends “have not paid tax” and so shouldn’t get the franking credits refunded, insisting that they can only be used to pay tax due for other reasons.

I would like every journalist who has a pollie claim that the low income people who get franked dividends “have not paid tax” call them on that falsehood.

I would like every journalist who has a pollie talk about retirees and superannuation funds as being the only things affected by the proposed changes, or about “franking credits being returned to pensioners”,  do one thing:  ask the pollies “What about the many people who cannot get a pension or Newstart,  but have poverty-level incomes?”

The same could be asked of any who go on about “increasing support  for working families” (say, Liberals saying they will give tax cuts) – I know that many working families have only part-time or irregular work, end up barely taxable, and are not helped by tax cuts.

I think it is time pollies were put onto Newstart for their time in Parliament, to teach them how it feels.

Bitcoin – not for me.

December 8, 2017

The recent enthusiasm for Bitcoin bothers me.

Not because it has got to the “taxi drivers are talking about it” indicator of bubble status.

Because it is being used widely enough to stay in use when the bubble bursts.

Many of the people using it are interested in the environment, and approve of replacing still-working globes with LED globes to reduce power consumption. They may have installed solar PV panels to contribute to low-emission power.

How will they feel when they understand the impact of the bitcoin computing approach?

The ConversationDigiconomist and IEEE   put it clearly.  A Bitcoin transaction uses 5,000 times as much energy as using a  credit card, and the energy cost will increase as the blockchain lengthens.  The multiple servers maintaining copies of the ledger, and comparing their versions, and doing the complex calculations to solve a puzzle  to be the lucky one to generate a Bitcoin (all the others’ discard the work they have done, wasted electricity) – all burn power and generate waste heat.

I believe  that cold climates are more ethical server locations, as the heat generated can at least be used for warming buildings or preheating for hot water systems, but even so the process leaves me uneasy.

I am glad that the alternative blockchain designers are testing less power-hungry approaches.  Until Bitcoin changes its approach, I think it should be avoided.

Lies, damn lies, Same Sex Marriage and press responsibility

September 25, 2017

Should there be some requirement for “letters to the editor” to be fact-checked? What is the editorial responsibility if letters misrepresent the law?

Re—–
Subject: Editorial irresponsibility
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2017 12:29:40 +0800

To: letters@sundaytimes.com.au

Dear Editor,

In “Your Say” 24 September, Leslie L Cummings suggested that same sex marriage imperils children, Andre Nel claimed that homophobic bullying is a “red herring,” and ID Smith claimed that legal marriage is required for access to IVF, artificial insemination, and adoption. As the “Indicative Survey” is being seen as a serious vote, and as anti-SSM speakers are verging on calls for children to be removed from same-sex couples, I feel it is irresponsible of your paper to print these letters without an associated factual article citing:

– the statistics which show greater psychological and physical
well-being in children raised by same-sex couples (the opponents of SSM generally cite stats from single-parent families to show ill-effects of lack of one gender in the house),

– recent reports of bullying at school of children of same-sex couples because their parents “shouldn’t have children” or are “unnatural,”

– statements of the legal situation in the various States of Australia, for example, lesbian couples can now start a family using IVF in every state and territory in Australia except the NT. 2014 Australian Census data indicate that 12% of same-sex couples have children (3 % of male couples.)

The amount of spreading of false statements about the welfare of
children and the rights to adoption and parenting is nearing
vilification. I hope someone whose children are bullied, or whose house is vandalised, brings a case under the protective legislation.

FYI, I am in an over-30-year hetero relationship, and have 4 admirable adult children. So no homophobic hatemail, thanks.

Cruz Iowa “big victory”?

February 7, 2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/02/ted-cruzs-interminably-long-iowa-victory-speech-annotated/  said “Ted Cruz won a big victory Monday night at the Iowa caucuses.”   Most Australian media had American talking heads referring to a clear victory and Donald Trump coming second, with little talk of Rubio.

From http://www.iowacaucus.biz/, Marco Rubio took 23.1 per cent, Mr Trump 24.3 per cent and Mr Cruz 27.7 per cent of the vote.

Less than a 5% difference?  In polling terms, that’s experimental error.  In USA political terms, at the start of the long chain of preliminaries in  other – less farm-based – States, this is neck-and-neck.

I think the media have not done a good job of reporting here.  We have the right to feel insulted, and the responsibility to wonder about their hidden agendas.

 

I

Marriage Equality: should the elderly and otherwise infertile couples be allowed to marry?

July 2, 2015

I think it is time that anyone who uses the argument that “Children have a right to a father and a mother so same-sex marriage should not be allowed”  should no longer be heard in the discussion unless they answer “Yes” to the  following four questions.

Firstly, the logical extension of this is the forced removal of children from single parents of either gender, including the bereaved partners of ex-servicemen, and their adoption by heterosexual couples.  That would be entertaining.  Do they agree with this forced removal?

Secondly, because the argument ignores the statistics which show that the children raised by same-sex couples tend to be – if different at all – better balanced and happier than those raised by heterosexual couples.  (This may be because they are so much more likely to  be truly wanted children, and the parents therefore usually seek out role models to show both genders at their best.)  Have they  evidence  (not hearsay or anecdote, actual peer-reviewed research) to contradict this?

Thirdly, because this emphasis on children assumes that marriage is solely to produce offspring.  Do they intend to legislate against the marriage of the elderly and otherwise infertile heterosexual couples?

Do they intend to legislate against the adoption of children by single parents and LGBTI couples?

 

Dismissing Freud – baby and bathwater time.

January 6, 2015

According to university student reports, Psychology students are now taught to dismiss Freud – that is, if they are even introduced to his name.  I see three problems with this,  Firstly, they lose the good bits such as  the concept of “Freudian Slips.”  Secondly, they miss the historical perspective – which can inform a properly sceptical view of current theories.  Thirdly, they miss the anthropological perspective, the link between the theories and the culture in which they were developed (for example, penis envy and castrtion fears in a society where men have social power and freedom of movement and body details are a taboo topic, what a surprise….)

The third point is a sad loss in our increasingly multicultural society:  If a woman seeks mental health support and comes of a very patriarchal and female-restricting society, would current approaches help her fit the social rôle her family expects, and would the health professionals be sufficiently aware of the problem to even consider offering culturally sensitive counselling?  I have the uncomfortable feeling that old-style Freudian would be more fitting for some groups – not just Muslim, consider  http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/127114/why-jewish-women-are-wearing-burqas/ and assault on non-compliant http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/03/haredi-modesty-assault-woman-beaten-up-by-haredi-man-in-beit-shemesh-over-skirt-length-678.html

– our underlying WEIRD cultural  assumptions will challenge these families should they migrate here.

Should people be offered the option of psychiatric help to fit in with their sub-culture’s expectations for their rôle, rather than to achieve full mental health as our culture defines it?  To what extent would a Freudian approach help?

A quote that got me wondering – and where I went from there.

October 14, 2014

The quote:

I decided to track down the source of an often quoted bit of “Children of Dune” by Frank Herbert:
When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.
 “Quand je suis le plus faible, je vous demande la liberté parce que tel est votre principe; mais quand je suis le plus fort, je vous l’ôte, parce que tel est le mien.”
Conversation avec Augustin Cochin.
but in French Wikipedia it says
Pierre Pierrard explique que cette phrase a été mise dans la bouche de Louis Veuillot par Montalembert sous la forme « Quand les libéraux sont au pouvoir, nous leur demandons la liberté, parce que c’est leur principe, et, quand nous sommes au pouvoir, nous la leur refusons, parce que c’est le nôtre.»  et citée le 3 juin 1876 à l’Assemblée nationale par Jules Ferry.  Elle a depuis, sous des formes changeantes, été constamment r.épétée bien que dès le 6 juin suivant Veuillot eût protesté et affirmé que cette phrase n’était pas de lui.
– that is, he probably didn’t say it.  But people in 1876 thought it was worth having him say it.

 Where I went from there

 Many countries have signed the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees

the term “refugees” applies to any person who:

“Owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

I know that most –isms and religions have some extreme adherents, who honestly believe that the rest of the world should  follow their beliefs.  Some of these form groups devoted to achieving this.   Some of these groups believe that failing to follow their beliefs makes one less than human, and that non-believers should not have equal rights with believers – for instance,  it may be that atheists, agnostics, and miscellaneous pagans cannot get employment documents.  Some go further and believe that force should be used to make some others comply – for example, live peacefully with “People of the book” but use threat of death to convert everyone else.   Some go further still, and wish to kill  even those who hold to  a  different interpretation of their holy books while  following the same version of the divine, or whatever other social belief is important to them.

Being a devout agnostic, I am deeply aware of these groups. I have met people who assume that I am worse than untrustworthy because I don’t claim to have a god I believe in, even though those who lie about their beliefs or ignore their religions’ rules are much less trustworthy (Seen the statistics on child abuse?)  I avoid going to certain countries because  I don’t want to have to lie about beliefs in order to travel safely.  I worry about their spread.  Especially the extremists who believe that abortion clinics should be bombed, and that no non-christian should ever be President,

 I suggest that all members of the United Nations publicly state the following: 

We will only give refuge to those who commit to reciprocal tolerance of others’ belief and lack of belief,  and to recognition of all human rights.

The extreme case

Where people are  of a social or religious or political group that believes that unbelievers / some other group should be oppressed,  unless they will commit to leaving that group, they should be treated as they would treat others.    If their group generally  say that those who convert from their belief should be killed, they  must not be given refugee status unless they renounce that aspect of the belief, and if they later recant the death penalty should, logically, apply.  If they deny others’ evidence equal weight before the law, their evidence should so be discounted in the country of refuge.   If they would tax unbelievers more heavily than their own, they shall be taxed heavily in the country of refuge.

The moderate case – or is it?

Where people are  of a social or religious or political group that believes that unbelievers / some other group should be oppressed,  unless they will commit to leaving that group, they should be  denied refugee status.  If they are refugees from another such group of differing belief – well, that is fair exchange of oppression.

The interaction of this with overseas oppression

Where a government oppresses others in such a way as to make people become refugees, that government should not generally be assisted if another oppressive group attempts their overthrow.  Intervention should only be on a humanitarian basis. Refugees should not be sent back to an oppressive regime, as they have renounced the oppressive culture and will therefore be liable to greater risk.

If a self-proclaimed government attempts to invade other nations and enforces oppressive beliefs,  that requires immediate and forceful response from the United Nations – Peace Makers, not Peace Keepers.  The attempted invasion  is not just a war, it is a denial of human rights extending across borders, which is a much more serious and urgent matter.  If we stand idly waiting for someone else to fix it, we encourage all extreme belief groups to try their hand at the same game.

And that, I would pay higher tax to avoid.  I would travel to be a “grumpy old pensioner” on the battlefront, to embarrass the invaders until they stop that so that my grandchildren will be safe.   (Besides, it beats relying on the social system in old age, now that the illiberal and small-hearted are running the county.

 

Anorexic approach to “Cutting the Fat” in the Australian public service: cut the fat at the Executive level instead.

January 2, 2014

The Centre for Policy Development   says  that the Australian public sector is as efficient as the private sector once different responsibilities (e.g. more at-risk students going to state schools) are taken into account, and that OECD 2010 reports said Oz had 5th lowest taxing government in OECD but still 9th most effective.

Current State and Federal Oz governments are denigrating their public service staff performance, cutting staff without cutting duties, and not giving the staff guidance as to which officially required activities should be cut when there isn’t time to do everything.  They are  trumpeting “increased investment” in areas when the money is spent on basic construction for aging infrastructure and increasing population,  but actual staff-hours-per-thousand-clients are cut.  They are calling for us to match the  best of OECD results despite lower taxes, less cultural support , and more diverse population – and they dread talk of increasing taxes. Their political philosophy echoes USA conservatives.

It still looks better here than in the USA (read  http://www.viralnova.com/hospital-bill/  ) – but the local politicians are working on matching USA’s treatment of the most vulnerable.  They are even continuing to negotiate “Free Trade” agreements without provision for “Human Rights and OH&S” tarriffs.

It makes sense to learn from others’ mistakes, but our politicians seem determined instead to repeat the errors their predecessors made in using slaves (cheaper than the working class) in Ancient Rome and in too-rapid attempts to balance budgets when dealing with the recovery from the Great Depression.  (See Bill Fawcett’s “Doomed to Repeat”)  We aren’t using slaves?  Consider the conditons in the third-world countries to which work is “outsourced.”

That’s Modern Western democracy in action: “leaders” too much led by daily polls and the “perceived self-interest” push of their wealthy backers.  Alas,  the wealthy backers do not remember that a great gap between employee income and owner’s income leads to social problems which can destroy a civilization.  And our civilization is now global.

So, how about all shareholders (and Oz is, famously, a nation of shareholders – we just don’t usually vote our holdings) getting together and giving our proxies to some socially aware groups, on the condition that they vote to make companies limit the highest pay rate per hour (maximum 24 hours / day 365 days/year)  for any organization to be twenty times the hourly pay of the lowest paid employee – including those overseas, and including those hired by subcontractors.  This includes directors’ “remuneration.”  Remember, as voters, we can limit our politicians’ pay if we choose.   And add an “insult tax” where people are paid too much more than others : where the poorest in your country live on $13,000 pa and the median income is $43,100  an income over $800,000 is a dire insult.

Too hard?

Consider  limiting the “remuneration” to twenty times the workers’ pay as expressed as a percentage of average weekly earnings (AWE) in the county in which the work is performed, and remuneration in terms of the AWE of the Director’s country of residence.

Worried about talented people going overseas?  Consider: if they want more than the limit,  and don’t want to support the poorest, what attitudes will their children bring to our schools?  Do we want that in our society?  What type of society do we want our politicians and business leaders to aim for?

Imagine being known as a country dedicated to equality of opportunity,  and with an underlying belief in “from each according to ability, to each according to need, with our descendants able to live as we do.”  Imagine a society where your value is not measured in money.

Now help make reality fit the dream.