Category Archives: Humanitarian

Taxes and Welfare are not the problem in Australia

Our public representatives need to learn a thing or two about building healthy societies.

Bring the faith to Australian schools and all hell will break loose.

Firstly, I would like to publicly apologize to my wife for my outburst when I heard the following. I was so appalled that this could even be taken seriously in 21st century Australia.

Straight from ABC news;

“Former teacher and ex-Liberal Party staffer Kevin Donnelly says Australian education has become too secular, and the federation’s Judeo-Christian heritage should be better reflected in the curriculum.”

Now, here’s why I have a problem with that. Take one example, say from the book of Judges, a story relevant to Judeo-Christians.

In short, a mob wanted to rape a male guest of a household, but were convinced in the end to brutalise his female slave instead, ultimately killing her. Her master then, for some reason, thought it was a good idea to cut her to pieces and leave those parts around the country (story below from the King James Version).

How the hell is that of any value to a child’s education?

Why not teach children about Zeus, Thor or  whoever some culture has ever imagined at some point in history?

The reason we don’t is because it is of very limited value apart from a minor historical perspective. Already children spend many hours outside of school completing homework that has real-world application, such as mathematics, science and English. Why would we want to add to this with mythology?

A child is at school to learn facts and practical skills, not dogmatic ideologies that often threaten death and eternal damnation to non-believers. A young mind is impressionable and unlikely to have the skills sets to take such fiction for what it is without fear of suffering if they do not accept it as true.

For this reason, religion must be kept away from a child until they are old enough to make an informed decision.

Furthermore, ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ does not reflect modern Australia. Looking at the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data from 2011, 22.3% of Australian’s stated themselves to be non-religious, just shy of the 25.3% who claimed to be Catholic. Another 24.9% stated that they were other, younger forms of Christian.

So around half of the Australian population consider themselves Christian in some form (remembering that Christians have a long history of fighting amount their various sects so one cannot even consider this group united) and the next biggest group are non-religious, accounting for almost another quarter of Australia, leaving one in four Australians making up the other faiths of the world.

We could add that the comment ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ is insulting. Not only to the half of the population that now do not consider themselves reflected by this, but the various cultures and religions that made up Australia prior to federation.

If anything of culture needs greater representation in schools, it should be the deep history that exists in our indigenous heritage. Not only the dream time stories and cultural significance of landscapes, flora and fauna, but also the modern history that covers the fight for recognition and equality.

This is to most children a complete unknown, which is shameful.

This is why comments made by people like Cory Bernardi about “traditional values” as well as Donnelly’s are increasingly out of date. Bernardi and Donnelly are clearly throw backs to an era that didn’t look like they think it did.

We live in an age that is increasingly humane and well-informed. This has been achieved because we’ve chosen to step away from dogmatic scripture that teaches racism (“god’s people” for instance) and sexism and debated these time-old traditions through humanistic, secular arguments.

It’s a step backwards for my daughter to have to carry a Bible alongside her Biology text book. Both men happily admit that it’s a step backwards, but they would fail to understand why this is a problem.

It’s a massive problem if anyone wants to subject my children to religious education where I send them for life training. If they came home fearful of hell, I would have no problem in confronting the school for child abuse.

Religions get tax breaks to build places to conduct their teachings. Keep it within those walls and by voluntary entry by the faithful and not where evidence and reasoning are suppose to take center-stage for each Australian child.


J’g:19:22: Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
J’g:19:23: And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
J’g:19:24: Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
J’g:19:25: But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
J’g:19:26: Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
J’g:19:27: And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
J’g:19:28: And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
J’g:19:29: And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
J’g:19:30: And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.

Australian government playing dirty behind the scene

The latest in the saga on the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government should have been seen as inevitable to anybody with half a brain or more (which, I can only assume, excludes anyone in the Coalition with a voice).

“Turning back the boats” was an election promise that the largest minority voted for. We voted for it… at least enough of us.

The Indonesian government told us that it was a no go – here’s a regional problem, NOT Australia’s problem. We ought to work it out as a collective of responsible nations and not just sweep it under the Indonesian rug.

Now the UN has cottoned-on to this policy and outlined that it’s very likely illegal to boot.

But the government is proving itself so gutless and unable to adjust its policies to fit in with the realities of foreign sovereignty and international law, that it is apparently carrying out this failed policy in secret, insulting us with claims that to inform the public (who in truth, they are responsible to and speaking on behalf of) will be a security issue.

I lost a friend over the 2013 election, and one of the promises I left her regarded this topic; Abbott may stop the boats (or may not), but the only thing that is certain is that he’ll make a mess along the way. All I can say is, “watch this space”.

Bernardi’s zombie values in modern Australia

We ought to thank Cory Bernardi for illustrating that the conservative right politician can swing so far to the right that they are utterly backwards.

Liberal senator Bernardi is making the news with the release of his new book, The Conservative Revolution, in which he makes a number of points that, from his interview this morning with ABC, are based on confirmation bias.

For example, to support the claim that “traditional families” – that is, one that includes a mother and father in wedlock – are better for children than other family models, he relies on self-rating from mothers, overlooking the fact that evidence shows that children of same-sex relationships fair as well in schools as traditional families and much better than other combinations.

And then there’s the point that he is against something which he could never possibility understand or face in his own life – having an abortion. It’s not an easy option, physically or emotionally, leaving his opinion of the matter the only one clearly detached from the serious nature of the choice.

Much of the defence he has made for his book has been in the name of “traditional values”.

In the ABC interview, he notes that these values have been “developed over successive generations”.

Hang on. Isn’t that to say that they have been modified, dare I say it, progressively, over time, to improve morality and the standard of living for our species? What’s wrong with continuing this development to further improve morality and the standard of living?

Cory thinks not – further development is, get this, erosion.

What traditional values are we talking about? In the interview, he goes on to say that these traditional values have made our country such a good one. So these traditional values include, say, white Australian policies? What about taking indigenous Australian children away from their families to raise in white foster homes and orphanages?

If he means to go deeper – to a supposed Christian foundation under modern Australia, well we then cannot rule out the ownership (and further abuse) of other people and the subordinate nature of women to men (after all, she is about as valuable as a single male rib); both of which are key to both the new and old books of that religion.

By comparison, that the Australian government has acknowledged the mistake they made to the stolen generation, that Abbott himself wants to acknowledge Australia’s first people in the constitution, that the majority of us stand for racial and gender equality, as well as an increasing number for marriage equality all suggest we are becoming more moral.

If anything, these so-called “traditional values” are outdated. Not all of them of course. Those that actually improve the lives of people persist. Those that don’t are being rejected.

Yes the dialogue must continue – and by all accounts, the fact that we monitor the gender divide in many professions, that we debate marriage equality, that we discuss and applaud moves to improve the standard of living for indigenous Australians are excellent examples that this dialogue is alive and well in Australia.

What Cory really means is that he thinks we overshot utopia some 60 years ago. He hates that many of the bad ideas of his parent’s childhood have been buried. Of course, he didn’t live it, but conditioned to think it was something that it wasn’t; something splendid, pure and wonderful before the beatniks and damned hippies screwed it all up. It is irrelevant to the moral debate today, as is his book.

Senator Bernardi needs to stop for a few moments and monitor a clock. They move in but one direction. If this values package his desperately grips onto was so great, we would have held onto it.

He won’t bring it back from the dead without, like some zombie, eating the brains and thus higher faculties of reasoning from the population at large.

Pink Cabs: A solution or giving up?

The latest talk is that Melbourne is to get pink “women only” cabs in response to behaviour that ranges from the demeaning to assault on female passengers. The response from the media, at least, has been positive.

This is not the answer.

When you receive a service from a provider in Australia, you should feel confident that your gender would not play a role in the quality and safety of that service. My wife shouldn’t feel concerned about catching a “yellow” cab. Regardless of the colour, she is only asking for a ride from A to B. That’s it.

What, next will we have pink registers with exclusively female operators servicing exclusively female customers, because male operators are notoriously pigs to female customers?

Of course not. That behaviour just doesn’t happen.

The problem is obviously the quality of the staff. Taxi companies ought to be held liable for the people they offer customers, just as is happening with the YMCA for not picking up the warning signs of  having a pedophile within their staff. Sure, the perpetrators are horrible people, but those who put them in a place of trust must be held to account for placing them they in the first place.

We shouldn’t need segregation of services based purely on gender because the industry is failing us. The industry is failing us!

Hypocritically, it was only a few years ago that cab drivers took the streets in response to assault on them.

Pink cabs are not the answer. This is gender discrimination fed by outdated behaviour also motivated by gender discrimination. We have a right to be appalled and a right to demand better. If we allowed such behaviour to continue, the current taxi drivers ought to be those in pink cabs… also sporting a snout.

Each one of us deserves to obtain a safe ride home when we ride in a taxi and gender has not role in that service.

Global Inequality; where does the cash flow?

My dad pointed me to this.

Abbott, have you forgotten about human rights?

Tony Abbott has released his proposed plan to tackle boats full of refugees – navy firepower, named Operation Sovereign Boarders (sounding straight out of some super-macho Matthew Reilly styled story).

Since when has this situation been a national emergency, when Australia takes on so few people in need? I suspect about as long as Australia collapsed into economic ruin with the intoduction of a carbon price – Tony’s falling sky that never happened. Maybe the slogans and demonisation of asylum seekers has gone on so long that Mr Abbott now believes his own spin.

Most troubling about this move is his references to asylum seeking as “illegal”? Since when is it illegal to be displaced and how can one be displaced if they cannot move from conflict without falling into a wall of guns? Where have basic human rights disappeared to?

The impact of vaccination

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From the Richard Dawkins Foundation. And the anti-vax movement remains fixed on anecdotal evidence.

Cheap Labour and Poor Working Conditions: Who really is to blame?

The working conditions and wages paid for cheap goods from developing countries have again been in the news recently. People are quick to vilify businesses that supply such goods in their stores while turning a blind eye to this problem.

Yet, the critics themselves are without a doubt more often wrapped in clothing from suppliers undertaking inhumane practices. The problem itself is nothing new. The critics therefore are just as guilty for the demand of these product and wilful ignorance of the conditions behind their production.

All we want is reliable goods at rock bottom prices.

Well there’s your problem. Thoughts of this nature are no better than Gina Rinehart’s lament over the cheap labour costs of African workers when compared to Aussie workers.

To remain viable, business activities need to undertake cut-throat behaviours. Now forty years into the neo-liberal market, the “consumer” is detached from the realities of production across the board. For instance, seasonality of fresh produce is something long forgotten. Mending, indeed the expectation of a household item simply lasting, are long gone; it’s easier and apparently cheaper to upgrade and replace household items.

This is only true because some poor sap has no other option but to scrape out an existence on a daily wage less than we would spend on a coffee on our way to work.

These practices are so often reported on that no-one can be excused for buying goods ignorant to the fact. K-mart or Apple or whoever the critic wants to pick on today is guilty, true, but so are each of us for the purchase of these goods. Equally, the “designed obsolescence” and the throw away culture make all parties, from production to user, guilty of ridiculously mounting levels of waste.

Personally, I doubt anyone should be so quick to vilify producers and sellers, due to the risk of hypocrisy. Instead, what we need is a movement aimed at overcoming this paradigm. Of course, the alternative could not be as cheap, but it could be more durable and sustainable. It would definitely be more humane and otherwise ethical. Surrounded by growth economy which has evolved little beyond the lessons learnt by an invasive weed, the community of this movement would need persistence too.

If we do not like implicit involvement and thus guilt, we would do better to set a new example rather than trumpet hypocrisy to our personal activities. If business cannot fulfil the needs of the consumer, then it does not deserve the consumer dollar.

Marriage Equality: Helping to demonstrate just how absurd religious thinking can be

Cory Bernardi’s recent repetition of repugnant comments on marriage equality of course deserve comment and ridicule. I’m often left wondering what goes through the minds of such people whom not only uncritically write-off marriage equality, but oddly take it deeper into bizarre realms, seemingly unassisted by outside influences…

Is it really a reflection supporters of marriage equality or the minds of accusers themselves?

Anyway, the truth of the matter is best summed up in the “slippery slope” comic by B. Deutsch.

Bernardi, however, reminded me of earlier comments by Bernard Gaynor, reporting on the concerns of Bernard Gaynor. This inspired the following comic.

bernard