We Need Connections Not Bonds

Posted on 9 October 2019 | Comments Off on We Need Connections Not Bonds

Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-10887 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Cmglee / CC-BY-SA 3.0

If we are in lock-step with one another, we don’t have to be afraid of being judged. If we are in lock-step with one another, we don’t have to spend time thinking for ourselves. If we are in lock-step with one another, we can become a formidable group capable of easily dominating others. There’s a lot of safety in numbers here, but no safety in individuality.

If we think more for ourselves, we still need one another. We need shared experiences where we connect. We need to cooperate in order to achieve important goals such as developing new medical treatments or addressing the climate crisis. This sort of group behaviour requires a lot more emotional intelligence, since we must constantly negotiate interactions with a wide diversity of individuals, and find agreement through choice rather than social pressure. This is why it is so hard for the left to get their act together. Not all of them have the means to develop emotional maturity. Such maturity is what makes healthy group behaviour possible.

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

A Fairer Distribution of Wealth

Posted on 8 August 2019 | 2 responses

Half Penny and Penny

Currently Australian minimum wage is $740.78 per week.

If you lost your job due to automation, off-shoring services, company bankruptcy, a national recession, or any number of reasons that may be out of your control, as a single person with no children you could possibly receive $277.85 per week from New Start provided you are able to jump through all their hoops.

If you have a partner, then you can expect $250.85 per week.

The poverty line in Australia is considered to be $433.00 per week.

The base salary for a Senator or Member of Australian Parliament is $3,932.69 per week. Though in actual fact, many make more and are given a sizeable superannuation payment each year.

The Australian Prime Minister makes $10,547.30 per week.

This means our Prime Minister is making more than forty times what our poorest people are and more than fourteen times minimum wage.

According to the Federal Treasury department the median wage in Australia is $1,057.69 per week. So the Prime Minister is also making about seven times what an average Australian takes home.

Purdue University in the US using data from Gallup polls determined that the point at which people were satisfied with their lives in Australia is $159,000 or $3057.69 per week. Let’s say that we aimed for that to be our new median wage.

Since the Australian poverty line is determined to be half the median. Let’s reset it to $1528.84 per week and make that the legal base line for social welfare payments. Let’s also increase minimum wage to $2293.26 per week. Personally, I think it should be closer to the median. However, it is more than our current median wage and would potentially ensure two people living together have sufficient funds to achieve life satisfaction.

Now let us put into place legislation that says the Prime Minister, Senators, and Members of Parliament can not make more than twice the country’s median wage and they most especially can NOT make more than four times the lowest social welfare payments.

If a Parliamentarian wants a raise, then the whole country gets a raise! This reduces Federal corruption and ensures greater social fairness. It might also encourage government to tax both wealthy individuals and corporations, so that they are more fairly contributing to the well-being of the nation in which they are creating their wealth. I would also hope it would encourage the creation of a maximum as well as minimum wage rate.

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

Balanced Budgets?

Posted on 24 July 2019 | Comments Off on Balanced Budgets?

Poussain Jean 2007 CC BYSA 3.0 unported

What government is genuinely seeking a balanced budget when they cut taxes from those who have much more than enough?

What sleight of hand is at work when upon giving money to the well-to-do, those in power wail that they have no choice but must cut government services to keep that budget balanced?

What sort of balance is this where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?

This one-way stream of money from those in poverty to those of wealth, faciliated by the government, is a means of dissolving our democracy.

Those with money can buy politicians through campaign contributions. Those with money can even buy a position in government through their advertising dollars.

Keeping people poor means they no longer have the time to stay abreast of issues in order to vote effectively, nor can they have their voices heard through the corporate owned media.

Democracy only works when our lives are secure and we are all equal. There is no equality in a rich/poor divide.

We have to give up status-seeking. Each one of us should have the capacity to feel that we are enough. We have to give up dominance. There is greater security in cooperation. Being special should not be necessary to living a contented life. Once we give these things up and learn to share, it becomes much easier to remove the bullies from power. This is how we renew our democracy.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

Block the Trolls

Posted on 23 July 2019 | Comments Off on Block the Trolls

I firmly believe that it is important we remain available to and show patience toward those with a genuine wish to grow. But that “genuine” is an absolute must.

We open the doors to those who are respectful, to those who will listen, to those who are clearly making an effort.

We show basic kindness and respect toward everyone, providing an example of the sort of world we wish to create.

It is important to not waste our best efforts on the people who will not listen, do not care, twist our words, and wish us harm.

So much needs to be done in the world. Why break your heart over the intransigent, when people and creatures and living beings much closer to you are in need of your help?

Wrecking yourself to save the world will not save the world.

Trust that by helping those ready to be helped, they will be available to someone a little behind them and help that person to grow and so on. This is the daisy-chain effect and it does work.

In the meantime you have every permission to block the trolls.

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

How the fear of death makes people more Right-wing

Posted on 20 June 2019 | Comments Off on How the fear of death makes people more Right-wing

Loving hug.
Marcus Quigmire CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic

Author Bobby Azarian is a cognitive neuroscientist, a researcher in the Visual Attention and Cognition Lab at George Mason University, and a science writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and Scientific American, among others. His research has been published in journals including Cognition & Emotion and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. He also runs the blog Science Is Sexy.  

A string of terror attacks across the globe have shaken the world’s most powerful nations to their core. As a result of these tragic events, and the fear-mongering from politicians hoping to exploit them, many feel that an existential threat is nigh.

To make matters worse, a highly influential and experimentally verified theory from social psychology predicts that, as long as an existential threat looms, the world will grow ever more divided and increasingly hostile. Terror management theory (TMT) explains how and why events that conjure up thoughts about death cause people to cling more strongly to their cultural worldviews – siding with those who share their national, ethnic or political identity, while aggressively opposing those who do not. 

Consequently, sharp increases in deadly terror attacks around the world serve to create a sweeping psychological condition that sets the stage for waves of far-Right nationalist movements that encourage prejudice, intolerance and hostility toward dissimilar others.

Europe’s nationalist surge, Brexit in the United Kingdom and the presidency win for Donald Trump in the United States are just the most recent demonstrations of TMT, first proposed by social psychologists in the 1980s and derived from cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work of philosophy and psychology, The Denial of Death (1973).  

Becker’s big idea was that much of human action is motivated by a fear of death. Unlike other animals, which lack higher cognition and the ability to reflect, humans recognise the inevitability of their own death. The conflict that results from this realisation and the natural desire to live produces cognitive dissonance that causes profound terror and anxiety. According to Becker, humans invented culture as a buffer for the terror. By adopting cultural worldviews that instil life with meaning and value, one can effectively manage the subconscious dread that is always bubbling below the surface.  

While religions offer a path to literal immortality through the belief in an afterlife, non-religious cultural worldviews – such as political ideologies and national identities – provide paths to symbolic immortality. Symbolic immortality refers to being part of something larger that will ultimately outlive the individual, such as a great nation or a movement with a collective identity and pursuit. Much of human effort is dedicated to acts that might help one be remembered by groups or society long after death.   

Of course, no matter how logical o intriguing a theory might sound, it is merely speculation if it makes no testable predictions that can be confirmed or disproven by experiment and measurement. What might be most impressive about TMT is how much success it has had in the laboratory. Hundreds of empirical studies have provided support for the theory by confirming something called the mortality salience hypothesis. 

According to this hypothesis, if we do in fact adopt cultural worldviews to curb a fear of death – as TMT posits – then reminders of our mortality should produce actions that serve to strengthen faith in our worldviews. Specifically, death reminders should motivate individuals to invest more in groups to which they belong and, conversely, to act more aggressively towards those with different cultural worldviews and national or ethnic identities.      

A particularly amusing experiment used hot sauce to measure the phenomenon. Students were broken into two groups and asked to write an essay about their own death or another, more benign topic. They were then presented with someone who did or did not disparage their political views, and asked to decide on the amount of mouth-burning hot sauce that person should have to consume. In line with TMT and the mortality salience hypothesis, participants who’d written about death allocated a large dollop of hot sauce to those who didn’t share their worldview, while those in the control condition did not. 

Another mortality salience study on aggression conducted on both Iranian and US college students shows disturbing results. One group of students was asked to ‘jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you as you physically die,’ and to describe the emotions aroused. Participants in the control condition were given similar questions related to dental pain. The results showed that Iranian students who were made to think about death were more supportive of martyrdom attacks against the US, while those in the control condition opposed them. Similarly, death reminders made US students who identified as politically conservative more supportive of extreme military attacks on foreign nations that could kill thousands of civilians.  

From these findings, it is easy to see how nations under attack can quickly grow more divided and increasingly hostile towards those from outside cultures. In fact, studies have shown that mortality salience can amplify nationalism and intensify bias against other groups. Evidence suggests that reminders of death can even influence elections, pushing voters to favour candidates on the Right. Five weeks before the 2004 US presidential election, scientists conducted studies on New Jersey voters to see whether mortality reminders influenced voting directly. Participants were given the same questions about death as the Iranian students in the previously mentioned study, while those in the control condition received parallel questions about watching television. What they found was pretty astonishing. Those voters prompted to think of death said they intended to vote for George W Bush, the hawkish conservative president, by a three-to-one margin; those prompted to think about TV strongly favoured the Left wing challenger, John Kerry. Such results could help to explain why, after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, Bush went from having some of the lowest approval ratings ever to being extremely popular with both Republicans and Democrats. 

So what does this all mean for the world today? If massively destructive terror attacks continue, terror management theory predicts that societies will grow exponentially more chaotic and divided. Heightened aggression towards dissimilar others produces a tendency to favour war over peace. Right-wing nationalism will thrive along with prejudice and intolerance. Islamic fundamentalism will flourish while terror attacks grow more frequent. Raised tensions between nations, ethnicities and political groups will lead to further conflict, creating a devastating feedback loop of suspicion and violence.    

But it is critical that we not lose optimism in these challenging times. By becoming cognisant of the inflammatory and divisive effect that death reminders and perceived existential threat have on all of us, we can begin to take steps toward defending against it. After each terrorist attack we must actively work to unite groups with different nationalities, ethnicities and cultural worldviews. We must help build bridges between dissimilar communities, and discourage ideas such as immigration bans. And we must be conscious of the way some politicians use fear-mongering and propaganda to manipulate voters. Such efforts, combined with a calm and cool temperament, can help manage the terror of mortality in ways that preserve rationality, compassion and peace.

Originally published at Aeon under CC BY-SA 4.0 International
2016 November 17

The End of Days?

Posted on 13 June 2019 | Comments Off on The End of Days?

Grevillea from Katherine Phelps's backyard.

Kubler-Ross wrote in the 1960s about how we experience grief. It has been shown that we do not pass through stages of grief, but what was once described that way still illustrates the many ways we may grapple with it.

Here are five ways we may respond to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

Denial: This is not happening.
Anger: This should not be happening.
Bargaining: If I make this small change now, you must keep everything else the same.
Depression: It’s all too hard, so everyone should just give up.
Acceptance: Changes may be hard, we do them anyway. If we cannot make sufficient change at this stage, then we must still do what we can to bring comfort to the dying.

If a beloved family member was dying, would you look away because it would be too hard to deal with the emotions? Or would you do all you could to help save them, until it was obvious it was time to let them go?

If it was time to let go of a beloved family member, would you shun them because this felt especially hard to deal with? Or would you be by their side giving them all the love you can, and enjoying all the love you can from them, up until their last moments?

After they were gone would you try to forget them, because it hurts too much, or would you want to celebrate their life and cherish the memories?

By this logic I choose to do all I can for the Earth and its inhabitants, I make myself available for comfort, and I want to cherish all the people and living beings who have added to my life.

In peace and kindness,
Katherine

Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 20-25

Posted on 12 June 2019 | Comments Off on Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 20-25

by Steven Fruitsmaak CC BY-SA 3.0 unported

Our Governance
By The People & For The People

Article 20.

Democracy can only function when the citizens of a country have reason to trust their political institutions. Are those within these institutions seeking to represent their people and the well-being of their nation? When politicians are drawn from the corporate class and return to that class in order to further corporate agendas as lobbyists and the like, they are serving corporations and not the citizens who voted them into positions of responsibility. Just as we seek separation of church and state in order to protect religious freedoms, we must separate business and state to protect the powers of our citizenry.

Article 21.

It cannot be said we live in a democratic society when the political class is drawn largely from our wealthiest members, or those who are funded by our wealthiest members. Taking up the responsibilities of public office should be within the grasp of any adult citizen of sound mind. Therefore, all public elections will be socialised.

1) The government will provide equal access to media for campaigning.

2) The government will provide travel vouchers for all registered candidates to meet with their electorate.

3) Donations for campaigning in cash or in kind will be abolished and made illegal.

4) Limits will be placed on the use of personal funds.

Article 22.

Positions of power attract people whose sole interest are positions of power. Concentrating too much power into any one set of hands has a tendency to warp human personalities. Power must be diffused and have firm limitations placed upon it. Further to providing equal access to public office:

1) Above the line voting will be abolished.

2) Parties will be abolished. Those people who are put into power by their electorate are expected to serve their electorate and not the whims of a power making organisation.

3) The two houses of parliament henceforward will be divided into a senate and a house by sortition.

4) Truth in advertising laws will apply to political campaigning and government information campaigns.

5) Paid advertising campaigns, supporting or countering government policy or political candidates, gives the wealthy undue influence in public affairs. Six months prior to any election a moratorium will be placed on all paid political advertising. Only the socialised advertising available to all candidates will go out on the media.

6) No citizen, regardless of their social position, will be above the law. This includes people holding political positions in service to their country. An independent Federal anti-corruption and misconduct body will be established with real powers to prosecute wrong-doers.

Article 23.

A people can only vote intelligently concerning the welfare of their country when they are well informed. A thriving, objective, and truthful free press is critical to this endeavour. To ensure Australia has access to such resources the government will more than adequately fund our public media such as the ABC, SBS, and public access. The government will also fund all public universities and TAFEs to employ journalists, most especially investigative journalists, to inform citizens of Federal, State, and local news. This news will be broadly disseminated across government funded media and in the public domain.

Article 24.

A nation can only function when the citizens of a country have reason to trust their judicial institutions. When largely only those who are wealthiest and most privileged have access to positions of authority such as solicitor, barrister, and judge, then we do not have a fair legal system that is capable of taking into proper account the circumstances of those who are relying upon the decisions of the court. Equal employment opportunity quotas will be put into place for all roles of legal representation and judgement, including ensuring an aboriginal presence is available federally and in all states.

Article 25.

The citizens of a country are only equal when the laws of that country are equally applied to all regardless of differences. A divide created whereby the wealthy receive one type of contracts, legal protections, and justice, and the poor another, cannot be countenanced. The judicial system will be socialised and will provide free and equal access to more than adequate legal advice and representation for all.


Explication

Article 20.

No matter what is said in this constitution certain of the rich and powerful will seek to find ways to circumnavigate around the letter of the law in order to secure unfair advantage. This is why it is important to make statements of intent.

Separation of powers is critical to maintaining fair and balanced governance. We separate religion and state to protect religious diversity, but also to ensure our governance is transparent and answerable to the people, not to a multi-national organisation with its own state structure. Business is in exactly the same position when it comes to our citizens and their duly elected administration.

Article 22.

A House by Sortition is one where members of the public are randomly selected to sit in government and vote on the issues of the day. It is run much like jury duty, including similar selection criteria. The burden is no different than those countries who expect their citizens to spend a few years either in the military or in public service.

The random nature of this house ensures a truly representative government. You will note it is still one of two houses, since people still want to vote in some individuals with special knowledge to help guide and protect our country. However, some find it unnerving to have “just anyone” voting on Federal policy.

We must remember that “just anyone” was allowed to vote in the general elections. If we are nervous what “just anyone” might do, then we must ensure that all people have access to a proper education, that all people are secure enough that they aren’t inclined to a radical agenda, that all people have access to good quality information about the science and issues of the day and that we all have the time to inform ourselves.

In a healthy society we should be able to trust one another more.

Article 23.

Newspapers since their inception provided news as a means to direct people’s attention to advertising. Since their inception newspapers have had the power to influence public opinion. However, early on it was discovered that they also provided important social services: keeping the public informed and the activities of the government transparent.

We need an objective and free press, abiding by the rules of ethical journalism. This is critical to a successful democracy. Therefore, we need socialised news media that is neither beholding to monied nor political interests. This press must be available at Federal, State, and Local levels. It must also be available to a diversity of peoples, representing the diversity of their needs and interests.

Universities and TAFEs work better when they are embedded in the communities which they are ultimately serving. Research and the communication of that research is core to these institutions. These are good places to protect the existence of journalism and ensure the highest standards in providing the public with relevant information.

Other articles in this series:

Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 16-19

Posted on 4 June 2019 | Comments Off on Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 16-19

Invasion Day protest at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.
by Bidgee January 2010, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported (trimmed)

Our Humanitarian Responsibilities

Article 16.

The lands of the original peoples and nations of Australia were taken by European forces in order to enrich themselves at another country’s expense. This was an aggresive and illegal act.

1) Australia will recognise Aboriginal Sovereignty and enter into binding treaties with its original peoples.

2) Land ownership will be restored to Aboriginal peoples without encumbrances.

3) Australia will become a Federated Republic and include Aboriginal law as part of our new legal system.

4) We will provide secure Aboriginal representation in our governing bodies.

5) We will set up Truth and Reconciliation Tribunals.

6) All actions concerning the well-being of our original peoples will be done in genuine consultation with them. A Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and truth-telling about Aboriginal history, will be established.

7) Australia will become a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and incorporate it into national law.

Article 17.

No one should profit from war. War is a regrettable state of affairs which should be avoided and only entered upon under extreme circumstances.

1) Therefore, the government alone will be responsible for the manufacture and provision of weapons for our military. These weapons are not to be sold to other bodies or other countries.

2) Furthermore, the military should not require so much of our government’s budget that the social and physical well-being of Australian citizens is in any way compromised. Therefore, caps will be put on military spending.

3) Finally, in these environmentally precarious times, war is an existential threat to our entire planet. Australia will fully support international nuclear disarmament.

Article 18.

We will respect the rights of refugees as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (which Australia was one of the 26 nations present to write this document). In addition to these guarantees the government alone will be responsible for the humane and transparent housing and support of refugees when they enter Australia for processing, and not subject refugees to commercially contracted management.

Article 19.

We are all one humanity and are all part of this living world. As such we have a responsibility to reach out to other nations and help where we can to relieve suffering, especially that which is the result of environmental damage. In this manner we bring the world together in friendship and create a better future. Australia has a good record of contributing to UN Humanitarian Aid programmes and pledges to continue supporting this aid at impeccable standards. We also pledge a superior level of commitment to UN climate change aid.


Explication

Article 16.

The treatment of this country’s first peoples has been abysmal. If we wish to live in a world that is humane and just, then we must redress the wrongs that have been visited upon the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

This article cannot remain as it is without consultation with this country’s original peoples. However, it is based on their published hopes and wishes, and can perhaps be used as a starting point along with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Personally, I would like to see this country become a republic and rename itself using an aboriginal word acceptable to the many tribes. We can then change the flag as well.

Those who are not part of the peoples who populated this country for thousands of years must remember that we are the immigrants, every last one of us. We should treat the original peoples with respect and other immigrants with respect. It is our cruelty that gives us the most reason to fear the other.

Article 17.

War is not just about protecting ourselves from aggressors or helping in the protection of our friends and neighbours. It is also used to expand power, make money, and hold our own civilian population under control. If the goal is to create a peaceful world, then we must dismantle the miltary-industrial complex. If we seek to call a halt to self-extermination, then we must disarm.

Article 18.

Neither prisons nor detention centres should be corporately run businesses. People must never treat one another as waste products, nor turn human mistreatment into a service.

Article 19.

Australia has generally been in good standing with the United Nations. The areas where we have failed are our support for reversing climate change, our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and the treatment of our original peoples.

Other articles in this series:

Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 10-15

Posted on 29 May 2019 | Comments Off on Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 10-15

Our Social Contributions

Article 10.

All should have sufficient means to choose for themselves, as responsible adults, how they wish to live. The government will provide to all of its citizens and residents a basic income which is set well above poverty standards.

1) This income is meant to be a safety net, a way to provide freedom for our creative and journalistic classes, protection for those who need the ability to say “no” to inappropriate working conditions, security while studying at tertiary institutions, and a means by which families can care for children, sick and disabled family members, and the elderly.

2) It will never be set so low that a person cannot successfully survive on this income alone.

3) It will never replace social services for those who need additional help, such as those with physical or mental health issues, single parent families, the elderly, etc.

4) It can never be arbitrarily revoked by the government.

Article 11.

Work gives a person’s life meaning and dignity when it is performed out of a free choice to contribute to the well-being of one’s family, community, and the world. We live in a deeply interconnected world. We rely upon each other’s labour to survive and to live comfortable lives. All work that adds to our society needs to be recognised and rewarded, not just that work which has been commercialised. From managing a hospital to protecting us from conflagrations as part of the Country Fire Services, from sitting in parliament to motherhood–all of these contributions deserve our respect.

1) As such any free and volunteer labour of social or environmental value can be registered with the government and receive a regular wage at a commensurate rate and with similar benefits to comparable commercial work.

2) And furthermore, due to the necessity of everyone’s efforts, no job of any kind will accrue wages and benefits more than ten times those jobs which receive the least wages and benefits.

Article 12.

It cannot be said that we are living in a democratic society when commercial employment is made our primary means of survival, takes up most of our lives, and is in structure autocratic and oligarchic. Work is an essential part of our civil lives and therefore will be made democratic. Therefore, all medium to large businesses will become citizen and/or worker owned cooperatives.

1) To support democratic community based cooperatives the government will preference these when tendering for works.

2) To support the foundation and functioning of democratic community based credit cooperatives, the government will offer special services such as accounting to help these organisations maintain national standards.

Article 13.

Those with a surfeit of resources have a responsibility to contribute to their nation and share with its people. No business or person should have so much of any resource that its availability becomes scarce to other people and/or the environment is strained. Limits will be placed on how much any business can own or earn in profit. Limits will be placed on how much any individual can own and earn, including the institution of a maximum wage as well as a minimum wage.

Article 14.

Our Federal government will retain and apply the ability to revoke corporate charters when corporations have harmed and/or endangered lives, and broken laws, then oversee the receivership of those corporations.

Article 15.

Everyone will have equal access to training for jobs, hiring, commensurate pay, and respectful treatment on the job regardless of

  • age
  • breastfeeding
  • carer status
  • disability
  • employment activity
  • gender identity
  • industrial activity
  • lawful sexual activity
  • marital status
  • parental status
  • physical features
  • political belief or activity
  • pregnancy
  • race (including colour, nationality, ethnicity and ethnic origin)
  • religious belief or activity
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • expunged homosexual conviction

personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, any of these personal characteristics.


Explication

Article 10.

As a culture we have become increasingly uncomfortable with helping the poor. Most religions actually encourage respectful behaviour toward those who have fallen upon hard times. However, our current narrative has both villified and dehumanised impoverished people.

The excuses not to help include:
The poor will always be with us.
Certainly under our current system of Capitalism we will have poor people. However, other systems might make it possible to eliminate poverty. Why aren’t we trying them?
The poor deserve their poverty.
The corollary to this statement is: the rich deserve their wealth. This outlook simply holds the status quo in place. People will often point to the crimes impoverished people commit and their ignorance. Having no money for either education or food will tend to create these problems among any group of people. If you were starving to death, wouldn’t you be tempted to steal a loaf of bread? However, crimes are committed by people of all classes. Perhaps kindness to those who are struggling would reduce crime.
If we help the poor, we will all be equally poor.
This is a fear. This is not fact. People are terrified that their money will be taken away, and they will be unhappy, if they help poor people. Worse we have people scared they will never be able to attain a wealthy lifestyle if the rich are taxed. This is a noxious fantasy.
If the poor rise up, they will be too stupid to keep us all from disaster, or worse, seek vengeance.
If we treated our most vulnerable members of society well, we would not have to worry about this paranoid delusion. If everyone had access to a full education, if everyone felt safe and cared for, if everyone’s voice was heard and listened to, this would be a non-issue.

We have locked ourselves into a status system whereby we have learned to value ourselves by where we are in the cultural hierarchy. If we raise the status of others, we put our own status at risk. This becomes a serious fear when loss of status can mean homelessness, starvation, and catastrophic illness.

The whole purpose of these economic rights is to free us from this monstrous rat race, so we can more wholly be ourselves, living secure lives, and making a positive contribution to our family, society, and the whole world.

Providing a universal basic income is a solid start to these rights.

Article 11.

Our culture has come to equate “work” with a “job”. Since only jobs accrue money, any work that does not accrue money is seen as of less importance.

In Australia we rely upon the volunteers of the Country Fire Authority to protect the farms and fields of people living outside the city. We have no system in place to pay these people for risking their lives, and yet they are expected to follow through upon a long list of responsibilities. A sufficiently large wildfire could put our ability to feed ourselves at serious risk.

Why do we endanger ourselves in this way?

We still have only one way to produce new people: motherhood. And yet we provide little to no support to women bearing and rearing children. Their work is taken for granted. Yet, this is the most important and foundational work a person can possibly do.

Why do we abuse our own species in this way?

We have organised our society not to reward people for contributing, but to coerce people to do work they would rather not, while ensuring a few people hold the reins.

In order to achieve a proper democracy we must ensure everyone receives adequate wages for work not just jobs.

Article 12.

Worker and community owned co-operatives sprung up in the middle of the nineteenth century. Not all proved successful, but the need was so great for skilled workers who were being impoverished by industrialisation that many people kept experimenting with this form of business. Today many cooperative businesses can be found around the world.

Cooperatives would ensure a more democratic society without always having to rely upon the government to provide it.

Article 13.

This article challenges our willingness to live in a truly fair world where we agree to share power. We often feel we need more power than others in order to feel safe. However in giving ourselves this sort of power, we create the very circumstances whereby we can no longer trust those around us, because they too end up wanting that same kind of power.

Given we have been living with inequality all our lives, letting go of the power of status can feel like jumping off a cliff. It’s not. A world where we respect one another more would be much safer.

Article 14.

States have had and used the power to disband corporations in the past due to criminal behaviour. We have all forgotten this and corporations have made themselves more powerful than our country’s government. This is not acceptable in a democratic society. The citizens of a country and their democratically formed government should always be the last word, and no one: not a governor general, prime minister, nor a corporation, should ever be above the law.

Article 15.

This is a lengthy list of the many ways a person cannot be discriminated against in their efforts to gain and maintain a position of employment. Some legislators believe that “equal” should mean “equal” without having to go into detail. However without being explicit, many schools, organisations, and employers either consciously or unconsciously maintain discriminatory practices.

Naming types of discrimination educates people and opens their eyes to unfair treatment. It can also inspire people to make a greater effort to include people they suddenly realise are not represented in their organisations.

I would say that ignorance is not bliss for the people who must suffer under biased systems.

Other articles in this series:

Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 6-9

Posted on 7 May 2019 | Comments Off on Our Living World Constitution:
Charter for Economic Rights—Articles 6-9

2013 Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Article 6.

All companies will be wholly and completely responsible for for the damage their production methods cause the environment. They will also be wholly and completely responsible for the recycling and disposal of all waste they create from products to marketing materials.

Article 7.

All international trade will be moderated by considerations to do with human and environmental rights, ensuring our interactions with other countries is always fair and ethical. Australia will not offer in trade nor accept in trade goods and services that are created under conditions that induce hardship for those growing, manufacturing, or selling them, nor items that cause considerable distress to living beings and/or damage to the environment. We will seek to minimise international financial entanglement.

Article 8.

The economy is central to our ability to collectively survive and will also be democratic. Therefore, economic decisions to do with the management and distribution of goods and services will be made electorally available to the public at the Federal, State, and Local levels.

Article 9.

All services necessary to human life in our current world will have socialised versions which are more than adequate to meet people’s needs. These services will include:

  • education: from creche to tertiary and continuing studies
  • access to knowledge
  • medical
  • dental
  • development and manufacture of pharmaceuticals
  • scientific research
  • professional mental and emotional help
  • community animation and social work
  • public media
  • communications infrastructure
  • transport infrastructure
  • housing infrastructure
  • energy infrastructure
  • water and public sanitation infrastructure
  • banking and financial instruments
  • farming
  • fire fighting
  • natural wealth extraction

Further: to ensure a society founded on equal respect and care for all its citizens, private medical, education, and legal services will be abolished in favour of their socialised versions. Other services will be converted to full socialisation as deemed necessary for the maintenance of a fair and just society.


Explication

Article 6.

Companies have long made it the responsibility of individuals to recycle, and rely on the government to clean up their mess when they poison rivers, destroy forest lands, and more.

We frequently have no idea what the real cost is of the items we buy. The price of standard food products is kept artificially low via government subsidies, most especially in the cleaning up of farm effluents that make it into our rivers, or choose to simply ignore the damage and allow our waterways to become toxic.

When companies are made responsible for the waste they create and the damage they do, they start changing their behaviour in significant ways that are of benefit to the whole community. Germany has for some time been functioning under this sort of legislation with positive results.

Article 7.

Becoming self sufficient as a nation certainly has environmental value, because it reduces our carbon foot print. However, our planet’s diverse blessings are not evenly distributed throughout the globe.

Trade has always been an important part of our survival: not just through goods themselves, but also through the goodwill and friendship trade can generate. This is only possible when we are thoughtful trade partners, respected for our integrity. However, we cannot expect that sort of respect if we bully and plunder the wealth of militarily weaker states.

The current global crises we are facing calls us all to be better citizens of the world. We must learn how to get along with our neighbours, so that we can face our shared existential threats together.

Businesses have been trading out of personal self-interest and not the best interest of their countries or planet. They have been able to disguise the perpetuation of slavery and peonage, and all the cruel treatment attached to those practises. This will end.

Article 8.

At this point in time most extra-governmental power is non-democratic power. Power without secure oversight is dangerous to a country’s well-being and most especially its citizens. This is why we have separation of church and state, and military and state. This is why we divide our legislative bodies up, so that they can provide balance to one another. This is why we need separation of business and state.

However, for a government to take over greater economic power we must then institute greater civil checks and balances for this aspect of Federal care taking. If we are going to be rationing goods, we must ensure this is done in a way that different people’s needs in different areas are appropriately met while ensuring our collective well-being.

We seek equity rather than simple equality.

If you were to give the same amount of money to two people, but one of them had to use their money to pay for pharmaceuticals just to survive, the results may be that one could live in a comfortable house and the other experiences poverty. That is simple equality. Equity would ensure they both have access to adequate housing, food, water, etc. It would then ensure that anything extra that is needed to make enjoying those necessities possible is available. No more trading health for shelter or vice versa.

The above is when equality is interpretted to mean equal physical shares. Equity can be interpretted to mean everyone is given the shares they need to experience relatively equal well-being. Therefore, those who are very young, very old, infirm in some way, or have any other special needs may receive more physical help, but the outcome is that they are assisted such that they have greater access to enjoying their lives as close as possible to the same degree as most other people.

The best way to ensure equity is protected is for communities to be engaged in economic decision making. We need to know who is having troubles and why. We need people feeling secure that their problems will be heard and resolved. We need people engaged enough such that if someone is caught trying to rob from the biscuit jar for their own enrichment, they will be called out. People need to feel and understand that they are the government–a democratic government does not exist without them. If a people feel that they are largely subject to their government, then it is no longer democratic.

Article 9.

For a long time Australia functioned in a manner similar to the Nordic Model. We had a comprehensive welfare state, much of the country unionised, and free market capitalism. We believed strongly in social safety nets and risk sharing. We were concerned about the “little Aussie battler”.

Around the turn to the previous century we were described in Europe as “the great socialist experiment”. This was because between WW1 and WW2 we set in place widows pensions, help for the poor, help for veterans, free medical assistance, and free education.

Australia and the Nordic countries have had both public and private versions of many industries. This was because we felt that anything necessary for human survival should be readily available to everyone. However, the government in no way kept businesses from setting up their own alternatives. In countries such as Finland government services competing with public services was seen as healthy, because not only were everyone’s needs met, it set the bar on quality.

How much government intervention do you need to ensure adequate safety measures are in place, when people start choosing government services over public ones because they feel more secure? For a company to survive it must then provide goods and services superior to the government.

The argument corporate CEOs make against this system is that “it is wrong for a government to compete against it’s own country’s businesses.” This is the argument that was used to sell off Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank, and Qantas, and the argument for cutting funding for our public television providers.

We need to examine who decided it was “wrong” and why? Did selling our collective assets that belong to all of us, so that they now belong to a few, genuinely create new jobs? Or were jobs cut? Did workers continue to have the rights they had when they worked under the government? Or have their wages stagnated and their rights become eroded? Have their services maintained high quality, or have they slowly slipped below previous standards? Has the money originally invested into these services by the public remained in Australia, or have the new shareholders been transferring funds out of the country to benefit their personal wealth creation, while diminishing funds that could be circulating in the country to everyone’s benefit?

Handing sole control of critical goods and services to corporate interests gives the shareholders the power of life or death over Australian citizens. “Can’t afford what we have to sell? Too bad, you will have to suffer. Not happy with how we are treating you? Too bad, do as we say or you will live on the streets and suffer.” The more these shareholders own, the more power they even have over the government. Case in point is how the mining industry spent over $22 million in advertising in order to stop Prime Minister Kevin Rudd from pushing through a super profits tax. Later they donated millions to Coalition candidates to ensure they had the means to take over government.

According to Peter Hartcher of Sydney Morning Herald February 2011, “Massive advertising attacks by sectional interests have successfully frustrated two major reforms and helped dispatch the past two prime ministers. This week we learnt how cheaply it can be accomplished, with the disclosure that the mining industry spent just $22 million to get its way. Call it direct action. It has been so successful for its sponsors, at such a low price, that we can be sure it will be used to intimidate governments for years.”

This is exactly what is happening concerning the Adani Mining operations. Our major parties are nervous about standing up to a deeply unpopular move to mine parts of Queensland, because corporations have been handed the right to influence elections and buy politicians. Adani’s mines will damage the Great Barrier Reef, they will damage forests, they will endanger species, they will destroy stolen ancestral land, and they will produce a product that will exacerbate Climate Change. Coal resources need to stay in the ground. So long as there are mining companies, they will need to mine resources in order to make a profit. Since mining must be seriously curtailed, this industry in particular must be taken over by the government in order to preserve our future.

We live on this planet together. We rely on one another for our well-being. We cannot allow a few wealthy individuals to cut off everyone else’s means to survival. That is ultimately suicidal. Instead we must show greater commitment to helping one another.


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