Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is it Fear or Stupidity?

A stream runs through my property and then into the neighbour’s few acres. I value all the natural plants and animals that have evolved here, and do my best to support them on the few acres I have by encouraging a forest of native plants. This is the stream as is passes through my place:

 

Above is the same stream as it leaves my property. All trees have been felled. All life except for mown grass is destroyed. All shelter and food for living creatures is removed and the banks of the stream are poisoned.

The man who did this is a schoolteacher. What hope for the planet is there when this is considered the norm and my values are contemptuously considered insane?

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Queensland Youth Justice Amendment Bill

Despite falling crime rates among Queensland Youth, the Queensland Attorney General introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 into parliament on 11 February 2014.  These mark a return to ineffective and oppressive treatment of children who, for the most part are victims of intellectually and culturally poor, as well as often violent family and social backgrounds.

 
The Bill makes amendments to key components of the Youth Justice Act 1992 to specifically target repeat offenders.  The changes proposed in the Bill:

  • Allow repeat young offenders to be publically named throughout proceedings.  This will not apply to first time offenders;
  • Open the Children’s Court to the public, this is to create transparency in the youth justice system;
  • Create a new offence for committing an offence while on bail for another offence.  This proposal will target repeat offenders and seeks to hold them accountable in relation to their legal undertaking not to re-offend while on bail;
  • Make juvenile criminal histories admissible during sentencing of adult offenders.  This will allow childhood findings of guilt for which no conviction was recorded, to be admissible to courts upon sentencing adults and will allow courts to have a complete understanding of defendant’s offending history;
  • Automatically transfer young people from youth detention to adult prison when they turn 17 if they have six or more months remaining to serve; and
  • Remove the principle of detention as a last resort in order to strengthen the sentencing framework and by providing Courts with the full range of sentencing options for consideration.  This principle will also be removed from the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 which means it will be removed for adults also.

 Dozens of submission have been made by respected authorities on the treatment of minors, to the Research Director of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, all of which are profoundly critical. They can be viewed here.

I would like our elected lawmakers to consider the following:

  • The threat of punishment, no matter how severe, does not deter people from committing crimes. Juveniles in particular are convinced they won’t get caught.
  • Prisons are schools of crime and creators of resentment and anger against society. Everyone who enters comes out with the ability to be an even worse criminal as well as socially inept, and increasingly violent against family. The only inmates who don’t become recidivists, are those whose backgrounds were not too bad to start with.
  • A socially aware and concerned government would seek to improve the social circumstances of everyone at risk, so that their children do not become criminals. Surely they are alarmed that 60% of the juvenile prison population comes from the most disadvantaged 6% of the population—Indigenous people! These kids haven’t a chance! What we should be doing is taking them away from their social setting and placing them in a secure, organised, safe environment, teaching them social skills, reading and writing, preparing them for a trade, then finding employment for them when they are released…meantime treating them with gentle firmness, kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness and even love, using positive reinforcement—never cruelty, threats, punishment. If they have never been treated decently, how can they learn to become decent? They will never learn it in a prison—there they will only learn to become worse…or is that what the government wants? Create employment for prison guards and social workers?
  • If you name and shame juvenile offenders, you are making it impossible for them to ever rehabilitate themselves. Their sole survival means will then be to develop a hard, ‘don’t care’ attitude that will make them even more likely to offend again—after all, what will they have to lose? You’ve destroyed their hopes of living a normal life in society!
  • Seventeen year old kids are still children. They may act tough, do adult crimes, but they’re still able to be turned onto the ‘right’ path.  Put them with adults and you are making their lives hell. Everyone knows they will probably be sodomised, terrorised, turned into calloused adults incapable of anything except sharing their sense of injustice, misery and brutality.
  • Offences by juveniles are usually innocent of malice. To bring these up years later when they have done something wrong as adults, is vicious.

When we have reached the point that indigenous juveniles represent only 6% of the prison population, then let the Attorney consider harsher penalties, but while there is enormous evidence of basic inequality and disadvantage among members of that social group, to compound this by punishing the people who are already being punished because of their birth is vile indeed. Like the U.S.A., it seems the Queensland Government prefers to violently punish wrongdoers rather than attempt rehabilitation, despite reams of studies that tell us clearly that what this bill is proposing will have the opposite effect to what the Attorney General reckons he wants. It will create more criminals who are not merely thoughtless of others, but also violently resentful of society, and will further disrupt and alienate the very people in desperate need of assistance, the indigenous population whose just grievances, and the injustices they have received from successive state governments, have never been addressed.  
We should take heed of the U.S.A., which has more of its citizens in jail than any other country on earth, and one of the highest violent crime rates. We do not want to go down that road.

Is there a Formula for Success?

Recently I was asked if there was a formula for a successful life. I decided there wasn’t because a formula provides but one method, whereas there are as many ways of being successful as there are people seeking success. What we need are guidelines that are useful to everyone, regardless of gender, race, aim or social station.
What is a “successful life”? That definition is up to the individual, and depends on his age, abilities and circumstances, so a formula would have to be so vague it would be worthless.
I seldom use the word happiness in the context of success, as it is an ephemeral emotion, whereas contentment is a fairly constant, vague, background feeling that you’re in the right place, doing the right thing, with people you like to be with. It’s akin to cosiness and when it’s absent one has the desire to get it back.
I define a successful life as one in which the person feels more or less contented most of the time.
Fortunately, wise men and women over the centuries have provided us with a plethora of guidelines that, if followed, could lead to a contented life. Interestingly,  despite the philosophers’ differences in time, place and culture, their ideas on how to life are similar.
Seven precepts have guided me to what I consider to have been a successful life.

  1. Be aware of your mental and physical limitations and abilities.
  2. Understand the difference between wants and needs, and after satisfying your needs, want only what is possible.
  3. Everything in moderation – nothing to excess.
  4. Treat others as you want to be treated.
  5. Keep healthy in both mind and body.
  6. The man who has one real friend in his life, is most fortunate.
  7. Waste not; want not.

Looking for a Proper Job in Australia

 

Looking for a Proper Job in Australia?

I was speaking recently with a young man about to enter the work force. He wanted a ‘proper’ job, not just a temporary position serving petrol or fast food.

Reluctantly, I informed him he’s about thirty years too late. Until then Australia had a booming clothing industry, an innovative electronics sector, factories making every type of home appliance, most tools, cars, boats, and all the spare parts anyone could ever need. There were steel mills, oil refineries, printers and publishers, independent tradespeople in every field—butchers, bakers, booksellers, hardware shops, draperies. You name it, someone in Australia made it, small businesses sold it and tradesmen repaired and maintained it. But all those jobs have gone to cheap labour in China, Taiwan, Indonesia… And nothing’s repaired because everything’s ‘disposable’ or there are no spare parts, so we throw millions of tons of perfectly good stuff into toxic dumps.’

Supermarket chains have destroyed local bakers, butchers, drapers, smallgoods shops, pastry cooks, local hardware shops, local electrical appliance shops… which is why Main Streets have empty stores and bazaars full of cheap junk imported by the shipload.

Virtually the only jobs left in Australia are in the service sector—the so-called health industry [sickness industry would be a better description] the finance industry, the education industry, the tourism industry, the fitness industry, the entertainment industry, the transport industry, the military industry, the police and prison industry, or working as a salesperson for one of the giant corporations that have swallowed up small businesses, fueling consumerism by advertising stuff made in other countries, selling stuff made elsewhere.

Not one of the above mentioned jobs requires actually producing anything of value!

As for the mining sector; we let foreign corporations dig up minerals, paying us a pittance for them, then they take them home and make all the things we used to make ourselves, then sell them back to us.

A job on a farm? Thousands of individual farmers have been reduced to a few hundred multinational graziers and croppers whose factory farms take too much water and spray too many poisons, making the rivers toxic, so they can sell their raw produce overseas so we can buy it back in the form of processed meat, bread, cakes, canned vegetables…food we used to make and grow ourselves. The days of hands-on farming are gone, along with about ninety percent of the topsoil due to land clearing. Add a rapidly changing climate and growing enough food for an exploding population is becoming a problem.

Fishing? Giant trawlers scrape the bottom, literally, leaving mud and destruction; their catch going overseas.

Market gardening? Sadly, the best land for market gardens now grows houses as the cities expand, leaving inferior land that produces inferior produce, heavily reliant on toxic sprays and fertilizers. Food imports, thanks to free trade, are putting many Australian horticulturalists out of business. Pretty soon we’ll be reliant on other countries to feed as well as clothe us. We will be dependent on the good will of other countries for our very existence. Not a situation any rational person would relish. Australia is on the way to becoming a third world state with a tiny elite of insanely wealthy people, a struggling middle class and vast hordes of poverty stricken breeders with all the associated problems.

 

The land of the free, home of democracy, planetary policeman and Australia’s greatest friend.

Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his “updated summary of the record of US foreign policy” which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.