Candobetter Editors do not know who created this cartoon. We will attribute them if we find out.
"Official Western institutions have never recognised Assange as a prisoner of conscience,why do you think that is?" Oksana asks Greg Barnes. After almost a decade in confinement, Julian Assange is still fighting against extradition requests to the United States, at cost to his physical and mental health, while also compromising WikiLeaks’ ability to continue its operations.
“Merely adding more people isn’t a sustainable economic strategy. We can’t pretend that high immigration comes without a cost and growth should not impose an unfair burden on those who are already here. Excessively rapid growth puts downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on housing prices, both of which have sorely stung workers and aspiring home-owners in Sydney and other parts of NSW for a decade. When you look at the numbers, it’s no surprise communities in Sydney are feeling the pressure. In 2006, annual net overseas migration to Australia increased to roughly double its pace across the preceding 25 years.” (Dominique Perrottet as Treasurer in 2018)
To the horror of many Australians, Perrottet has recently called for 'explosive immigration' to Australia, purportedly as an economic fix. In this interview we see how shockingly cynical this call really is, in the light of Perrottet's own history.
Dominic Perrottet’s ‘explosive immigration surge’ will be a disaster
Kelvin Thomson, after quoting Dominique Perrottet above, added, “He told your colleague Michael Mclaren, in an interview in 2018, that simply because the treasury bureaucrats might tell you that putting in more people drives economic growth, that is lazy economics. That’s what he should have told your bureaucrats now, instead of apparently falling hook line and sinker for what he was able to recognize as rubbish three years ago.”
Candobetter Editorial comment: It is obvious that immigration adds pressure on politicians too. Was giving the growth lobby 'explosive immigration' the price Perrottet paid to be NSW Premier, causing him to eat his 2018 words? NSW people and the rest of Australia will also pay for this if it goes ahead.
In the podcast we link to above, Luke Grant is joined by The Hon. Kelvin Thomson, Former Federal Member for Wills & spokesman for the Sustainable Australia Party, who advises that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet rule out proposals for an “explosive” immigration surge which would bring in 2 million extra migrants over the next five years.
Mr Thomson says, “Not only will 2 million extra people be an environmental disaster, it will be a disaster for young Sydney-siders.”
“For the first time in years the Reserve Bank and leading economists have seen signs of wages growth and increasing job opportunities for young people.”
“The “explosive” two million extra people would detonate those opportunities, blowing the chances of young people to have secure full time jobs right out of the water.”
“The “explosive” surge would also be bad for Sydney’s housing affordability, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, open space and tree canopy cover.”
In this video, BBC journalist Orla Guerin interviews Azerbaijan President Aliyev, assuming that Azerbaijan press and politics are heavily censored, and presses him on that. He denies the accusation, then asks her why Julian Assange has been held inhumanely for years, if the British and western press are so free. The BBC journalist simply won't acknowledge the situation for journalists and the media in her own country, kind of proving the president's point.
Scott Morrison appeared on ABC Lateline denouncing the government’s plan to tag and release migrants to the bush as a policy brain fart:
TONY JONES: Can you have a debate on population without a debate on immigration numbers?
SCOTT MORRISON: Well of course you can’t… Two thirds of the increase in population is coming through immigration and so if that’s not part of the debate then I don’t know what these guys are going on about. You’ve gotta focus on the things that you can address. Now they can talk about all these other issues, they’re all really important, but those things are not going to solve themselves in the next term of government.
What you can do in the next term of government is ease the pressure on those problems by throttling back, and if this Government’s not prepared to throttle back then they are trying to put one over the Australian people…
We’ve also made it clear that we’re not comfortable with the 36 million [population] projection…
The Government says it is not about immigration and they want to put out this false hope that they can move all these people around the country differently. Well those who are coming into the country, less than 10 per cent of them currently go out and settle in regional areas and rural areas.
So to hold out some false hope that this problem’s going to be solved because a Population Minister is going to fantastically move people around like has never been done before in our history, is I think unfair to the Australian people to suggest that that is realistic option, certainly in the short or medium term. Long term I think there are still real doubts.
The history of settlement over centuries means that people will come and gravitate to areas where there is population…
Scott Morrison also appeared on ABC’s PM program, where he once again rubbished the ‘migrants to the bush’ policy:
It holds out unrealistic promises that all of this can be turned around by everybody moving to regional areas.
We simply know, through centuries of migration experience, that that simply isn’t how it happens.
Are you confused? Well you should be, because these interviews were done in 2010/2011 when the former Gillard Labor Government was also spruiking a ‘migrants to the bush’ policy to relieve population pressures in the major cities.
Fast forward to 2018 and Australia’s permanent migrant program is just as big as then, but even more concentrated than ever into Sydney and Melbourne, which received 86% of migrants last financial year.
History doesn’t repeat but it sure does rhyme. Don’t fall for the Coalition’s latest immigration smokescreen, especially when it has been cutting regional visas while in office:
Department of Home Affairs figures… show non-regional skilled migration visas have risen every year under the Coalition, while those dedicated to the regions dropped from a high of 20,510 in 2012-13 to 10,198 under the Turnbull government in 2016-17.
The five consecutive years of cuts to permanent regional migrant visas coincided with a rise in the total immigration level to record highs of 180,000 a year, meaning proportionally more migrants were arriving on non-regional skilled visas under the Coalition.
[Article first published on Macrobusiness, October 10, 2018 at https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/10/scott-morrison-slams-scott-morrisons-migrants-to-the-bush-policy/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20MacroBusiness&utm_content=Daily%20MacroBusiness+CID_a2e8fef423e19939f632e11a3fdeb4df&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Scott%20Morrison%20slams%20Scott%20Morrisons%20migrants%20to%20the%20bush%20policy]
GetUp is seeking donations to fund its unscientific campaign to magically transform one of the world's most rapidly expanding and extreme carbon based economies by adopting Renewable Energy Targets and other forms of financial incentives to encourage use of alternative energy while fully supporting the extreme population growth that is the driving force behind the rapid expansion of Australia's carbon emissions.
“GetUp sees population stabilisation as being somewhat conflicting with GetUp’s desire to see increased refugee intakes in Australia, and therefore its messaging may become blurred.”
GetUp therefore thinks it is OK to misrepresent the facts about emissions growth in Australia. GetUp seems intent on a Monty Pythonesque "Ridding the world of all known diseases" strategy in dealing with climate change.
GetUp knows Australia has roughly the highest emissions per capita of any country and also knows Australia has had a population growth rate of roughly 4 times the OECD country average. GetUp also knows the rate of population growth in places like Melbourne and Queensland has been around 2.5% per annum in recent years. GetUp wants to save the Barrier Reef but also wants Queensland population and coal exports to double every 20-30 years? Government profit seeking drives extreme coal exports. That is arguably driven, in part, by the immediate negative financial impacts of extreme population growth.
GetUp knows that Australia's population growth is only exceeded by some of the most underdeveloped regions of Africa; which are subject to chaotically extreme birth rates.
GetUp is seeking donations to fund its unscientific campaign to magically transform one of the world's most rapidly expanding and extreme carbon based economies by adopting Renewable Energy Targets and other forms of financial incentives to encourage use of alternative energy, while fully supporting the extreme population growth that is the driving force behind the rapid expansion of Australia's carbon emissions.
GetUp understands that without addressing population growth stabilising emissions in the short to medium term in Australia and globally will be virtually impossible.
GetUp is seeking to collect money for its "population disabled" climate action campaign despite being fully aware of the facts, by deliberately omitting reference to the primary driving force behind Australian emissions growth. This is arguably fraud. Is there any justifiable excuse for seeking these donations under false, albeit ideologically driven, pretences?
You can't effectively address the emissions issue without addressing one of the primary causes of emissions growth.
Because there is also overwhelming evidence that extreme population growth in Australia is damaging the economy (ref. Joe Hockey's recent reduction of $7.5 billion from foreign aid), is GetUp directly supporting crimes against humanity in the developing world?
It seems to me that all the evidence supports the conclusion that GetUp is guilty of seeking money under false pretences and crimes against humanity and the environment.
(Article includes 2 versions of the Youtube video of different lengths.)
Recommend watching the video footage linked to below. Apologies if you have already seen it.
It shows our eminent treasurer leading student protests in 1987 against the imposition of an annual fee upon tertiary students that was quite small relative to the burden being proposed in the current budget.
It shows our eminent treasurer leading student protests in 1987 against the imposition of an annual fee upon tertiary students that was quite small relative to the burden being proposed in the current budget.
Joe is proud of his 'up from the bootstraps' personal success, rising to where he has from very modest socio-ecomomic beginnings. Very evidently this success was built on the foundation of a free public education system.
Now wealthy and powerful, Joe is smoking cigars and dancing in celebration as he acts purposefully and directly within his budget to destroy all remnant of the affordable tertiary system that enabled him to rise and flourish. His efforts to end the so-called 'age of entitlement' are a cruel and savage ambition in the context of this background. Words simply cannot capture the essence of such profound and enormous selfishness at work. As many people as possible should see this blatant hypocrisy to be made fully aware of the nature of the fraud that is being perpetrated.
You really would not want to be caught adrift in a lifeboat with this bloke and his running mates. They'd eat your liver while you slept, and then probably whinge that they had no fine wine to wash it down with.
Editor's comment: If the link doesn't work, look for another. It seems that this video is a moving target for being taken off you-tube, but people keep putting it back up. :-)
Here is another version, with more footage of multiple students:
Hypocrite or opportunist? Politician, at any rate.
#fnHockey1" id="fnHockey1">1. #txtHockey1">↑ I originally posted then Senator Susan Ryan's photo into this story, mistakenly believing that she had introduced HECS. The Wikipedia article about Susan Ryan explains:
When the Hawke Labor Government was elected in March 1983, Ryan was appointed Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. She was Minister for Education in the second Hawke Ministry and opposed the re-introduction of fees for tertiary education despite strong support in Cabinet for the user-pays principle. She lost the education portfolio in the third Hawke Ministry and was instead given a much reduced role as Special Minister of State. Subsequently the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was introduced to partially fund higher education. Ryan resigned from the Senate on 16 December 1987.
My apologies for that mistake. - Ed
It is said that Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI, when confronted with the fact that people had no bread, said, "Let them eat cake, then." This story is supposed to illustrate how out of touch Marie-Antoinette was - so much so that she could not see the absurdity of her pronouncement - which was that she was rich but the people were starving. Australia has a whole slew of Marie-Antoinettesque politicians who peddle fundamentalist global economic policies, apparently with no idea at all of how angry people are becoming about being treated like children with no rights to self-government at all.
The Australian Financial Review sums up Hockey's thinking as, "The entrenched entitlements of the welfare state, corporate handouts and the 'fair wage' are now exhausted," (Australian Financial Review, 5 Feb 2014, p.38.) It's an odd mix of subject matter and I for one do not believe that 'corporate handouts' belongs in there; it's just there for camouflage. The corporates are running Australia; they aren't going to deprive themselves of handouts. Like the Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, Hockey is a Roman Catholic, and extremely wealthy, married to an investment banker. One cannot help but think of the role of the Catholic church in places like the Phillipines and Haiti, where it fosters overpopulation and disempowerment, and worry about its ascendency in Australia.
Politics of South Africa
It is kind of interesting to realise that this 'age of entitlement' stuff probably comes from misquoting Nelson Mandela, who talked of ordinary people demanding economic justice as succumbing to the 'culture of entitlement'.
"Mandela warned ordinary South Africans against any expectation that the new government would alleviate the country’s mass poverty. “We must rid ourselves of the culture of entitlement that leads to the expectation that the government must promptly deliver whatever it is that we demand,” he declared. The New York Times noted on Thursday that Mandela also told workers to “tighten your belts” and “accept low wages so that investment would flow.”
At the same time, Mandela courted the South African ultra-wealthy. The Guardian’s obituary noted his “attachment to the glamour of the very rich.” The newspaper explained: “[M]oney was dazzling. Hence, once freed, he holidayed at the Irish businessman Sir Tony O’Reilly’s Caribbean island and gave the go-ahead for his takeover of South Africa’s biggest newspaper group, in anticipation of his ‘magic money’ providing black empowerment in the media. He allowed the casino king, Sol Kerzner, to host the wedding of his daughter Zinzi. He borrowed rich men’s houses and flew around South Africa in their aircraft.”
The social and economic disaster now evident in South Africa stands as an indictment of Mandela’s role in preserving capitalist rule and of his perspective of promoting a “non-European bourgeoisie.”" [https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/06/mand-d06.html]
But Mandela spent many years in prison as punishment for fighting against apartheid. This gave him some status and credentials among the poor of South Africa. In Australia we have leaders who have never suffered from any kind of poverty using Mandela's approach, without even bothering with a figurehead.
The bullies are ganging up
Another user of the 'culture of entitlement' term is Bernard Salt, advocate of widows downsizing to give worthier young people more room to live, whilst at the same time a huge pusher of high immigration. Salt and his allies have managed to penetrate the public and commercial media and have often been presented as apparently disinterested experts in fields where they have massive commercial interests. Their methods are questionable. The failure of even the ABC to protect Australians is largely responsible for the fact that political bullies are now openly ganging up on the Australian public. See: http://candobetter.net/?q=node/1711 and http://candobetter.net/?q=node/3613, for instance.
And don't count on 'union leaders' to get you out of this nightmare. 'Union leader Paul Howes, made a feature article and also got to write the Opinion in the Financial Review on 4 Feb 2014, by urging both Libs and Labor to include family homes in aged pensions asset tests. Is he aiming to do a Bernard Salt?
Howes started his political career among the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance, and has gone on to abandon even their empty left-styled human rights rhetoric. Recently he angered the Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, who called him a "Sydney blow-in" 'peddling lies about the Tarkine wilderness in his claim that a heritage listing for the Tarkine will shut down mines in the area'. (Herald Sun Nov 4, 2012).
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt, has accused Howes of "giving ammunition to Tony Abbott's attack on Australian wages" and has suggested that he should resign his post. (James Massola, Judith Ireland, "Paul Howes: Excessive wages growth is 'pricing some sectors out of the market', "The Age February 05, 2014.)
Note that Mr Bandt is not saying anything about how excessive immigration is driving Australians into the depths of unemployment, housing stress, debt and homelessness. Almost no-one in the press is saying anything about that except candobetter.net. It's as if there's a civil war on in Australia but our politicians think they can paralyse resistance by flooding the media with pro-growth propaganda.
Whilst economic policies look bad, what is worse and what makes it possible for the rich to ride roughshod over the rest of us, is that Australians have almost no civil rights. Unlike the continental Europeans, we never had a code of rights, but we did have public institutions that had obligations towards us, including public banks, schools, universities, power and resources departments, public lands, public housing, baby health centers, employment services and a relatively democratic industrial relations system etc. (See more on this here: "Tingle shoots blanks despite Great Expectations - review of Quarterly Essay".)These public institutions are all being privatised and destroyed in a process that began post 1970s oil shock in all or most anglophone countries. With the disappearance of public-serving institutions disappearance from the public domain, little traction on government remains for citizens and residents. Australians also have diminishing private resources. These are being transferred to the corporate sector - notably banks. Our governments have become dominated by property developers and mining interests, corporate farming and media and big finance. Australians need to fight for their civil rights.
A 'rich nation' - that's rich!
Added to this mix of contradictions is the frequent and infuriating reiteration that "Australia is a rich nation".
"The second force driving the end of the entitlement age is the reshaping of the Australian economy from a protected domestically focused manufacturing base into a supplier of minerals, energy, services, food, and niche manufacturing to Asia. Among rich nations, this makes Australia is [sic] uniquely placed to prosper from the rise of China and the rest of Asia. [...]"(AFR, Editorial, 5 Feb 2014, p. 38, referring to Hocking's speech.
If we were rich then we could be able to preserve the institutions that once served us, we would be able to afford homes and education. It's ridiculous to tell Australians that they are rich, but rich Australians among a jumped up elite keep doing so. Do they mean to insult our intelligence? Or are they just completely deluded? You get the impression that these economic fundamentalists have no concept of the laws of thermodynamics; that they think like children or cargo-culters. Australia as a supplier of energy is a joke; we are now a net importer of oil and we are desperately digging up our best farmland for coal!
In her marvellously lucid book, Wilful Blindness, Margaret Heffernan, writes about the institutionalisation of denial in the service of profit, the acquisition of wealth, and the defence of personally comforting ideologies. "Bandura has spent a lifetime dissecting the moral disengagement required for the perpetration of criminal and inhuman acts, a journey that has taken him from the tobacco industry, the gun lobby, the television business to the multiple industries implicated in environmental degradation. He has a deep understanding of the forces at work which encourage employees to be blind to their collusion in these processes. But nothing enrages him more than the economic justifications used to defend continued population growth."
'Wilful blindness' is an English legal concept that arose in a 19th century case where a person could not be convicted of stealing government property unless they either knew where the property came from or they had 'wilfully shut their eyes' to its origin. Modern travellers are asked to sign declarations that they are aware of the contents of their suitcases, which may then be used against them if illegal drugs come to light during customs searches. Not knowing was also no defence for the guilty in the Enron trials. Legally it doesn't matter whether or not your knowledge was unconscious, but outside the courts you can still get away with manslaughter and dispossession for commercial purposes by kidding yourself and you will find that most people in the community will back you right up.
An amazing list of almost unbelievable (but well-documented) wilful blindnesses
Heffernan examines a remarkable list of wilful blindnesses that have caused innumerable deaths and other highly adverse circumstances. Most of her cases are huge and massively documented, yet a number were quite unknown to me. Her book is a remarkable document for that reason, of enormous use for the political and social researcher, as well as a jolly good read. Among the cases she examines in detail are:
- childhood cancer and foetal X-rays. The very strong link and occurrence was proven for decades yet doctors continued to X-ray pregnant women until the mid-1980s.
- Enron and how everyone there looked the other way
- asbestosis and how an entire town was moribund but refusing to face the cause in the local mine, instead ill-treating the only woman in the town who tried to fight the mine
- Greenspan before Congress, finally admitting his market-ideology was flawed
- Avoidable collisions of battleships where officers followed a captain's orders even though they knew these would cause two ships to collide
- Hospitals that protected an incompetent surgeon and ostracised the doctor who tried to stop him
- BP's remarkable record of ignoring safety regulations and orders and causing death among workers before it even came to Deepwater Horizon.
Margaret Heffernan asks why whistleblowers and Cassandras are so rare, when they save lives and communities often simply by stating the obvious over and over again. She writes on the several ways individuals become deliberately blind by denial of painful truths, interspersing her political and social case studies with records of psychological experiments and theory.
Wilful Blindness and the Population Growth Lobby
Hearing of this wilful blindness legal concept, before I read the book, I wondered how it might apply to those who maintain the growth lobby for their own and corporate profit against democratic wishes of the majority and in the face of costs it imposes on individuals and communities. On reading the book I was very interested to read the following about overpopulation, in which she quotes another clear thinker, Professor Bandura, of Stanford University.
“No one visiting Stanford University could fail to be impressed by its sheer scale or its wealth. Over twelve square miles, it's ten times larger than Vatican City and the vast avenues of palms leading to fountains and Spanish courtyards are reminiscent more of Renaissance papal power play than 21st-century cutting-edge research. Such lavish public buildings feel brash in their confidence, but their rooms harbour perpetrators of doubt and scepticism. At the heart of the campus, ensconced in an unremarkable lino-floored, booklined room, sits Albert ‘Al’ Bandura. In many respects, Bandura is the grand old man of psychology: its most cited living author, the father of social-learning theory and one of the first people to argue that children's behavior derived not just from reward and punishment but horn what they observed around them. That this seems such an obvious thought to us nowadays is testimony to how profound Bandura's impact has been on our thinking. The very phrase 'role model' would scarcely exist without him.
Much of Bandura's work has so seeped into public consciousness that we are barely aware that it is there, and his work has attracted scores of awards, honours and distinctions. But today, at the age of eighty-five, this hasn't stopped him working, nor has it rendered him complacent. For all his eminence, he's an engaging and accessible man whose mild manner belies a tenacious mind. And one of the issues he has wrestled with for years is the process by which individuals lose sight of morality in their need to preserve their sense of self-worth.
‘People are highly driven to do things that build self-worth; you can't transgress and think of yourself as bad. You need to protect your sense of yourself as good. And so people transform harmful practices into worthy ones, by coming up with social justification, by distancing themselves with euphemisms, by ignoring the long-term consequences of their actions.’
One of the most prominent ways in which people justify their harmful practices is by using arguments about money to obscure moral and social issues. Because we can't and won't acknowledge that some of our choices are socially and morally harmful, we distance ourselves from them by claiming they're necessary for wealth creation. Nowhere is this more dangerous, he argues, than in our attitudes to the environment and population growth. The easiest way for those who resist calls to curb population growth, and who oppose environmental controls, is to represent themselves as the good guys because they just want to make everyone better-off.
'To defend their positions, they can't say "Sure, we're the bad guys and we want to rape and pillage the planet",’ Bandura told me. 'They have to vindicate harmful practices that take such a heavy toll on the environment and the quality of human life-they have to make out that what's harmful is, in fact, good. And one way they do that is to use the notion of nature as, in fact, an economic commodity. So they see nature in terms of its market value rather than its inherent value.'
That's why, Bandura argues, those who claim to love nature can also support, for example, drilling for oil in Alaska. They can't see themselves as destroyers, so they position themselves as the rational liberators of natural wealth. In this vein, Bandura quotes Newt Gingrich: 'To get the best ecosystem for our buck, we should use decentralised and entrepreneurial strategies.' Similarly, when China signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with the Indonesian Government to clearcut four million acres of forest, in order to replace it with palm-oil plantations, a clan elder could not conceive of himself as doing the wrong thing. As he put it succinctly, 'Wood is gold.' It is, says Bandura, the economic justification that makes the environmentally damaging decision possible. Seeing nature as just a source of money blinds such decision makers to the moral consequences of their decisions.
Bandura has spent a lifetime dissecting the moral disengagement required for e perpetration of criminal and inhuman acts, a journey that has taken him from the tobacco industry, the gun lobby, the television business to the multiple industries implicated in environmental degradation. He has a deep understanding of the forces at work which encourage employees to be blind to their collusion in these processes. But nothing enrages him more than the economic justifications used to defend continued population growth.
'I went to a conference in Germany,' Bandura recalled, 'where a young African woman spoke about the tremendous difference that birth control and health education had had on her community. The fact that she and her peers now had control over the number of children that they conceived and raised had transformed their lives. And she spoke of this very eloquently. And there, in that audience of well-heeled Europeans, rich Westerners, she was booed!'
When he recovered from his shock, Bandura analysed what was going on in the minds of the audience. What drove them, he reasoned, was their recognition that Western birth rates won't pay for the pension requirements of the elderly; if the West doesn't produce more children, it can't produce the wealth needed to look after parents when they retire. Therefore, even though consumption and environmental degradation are clearly linked, the needs of the market trump the needs of the planet.
Nor was this a purely Western phenomenon. The need for money effectively positions infants as money-making machines.
In some countries (Bandura writes], the pressure on women to boost their childbearing includes punitive, threats as well. The former prime minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, suggested that women who bore no children should be barred from receiving pensions, saying 'It is truly strange to say we have to use tax money to take care of women who don't even give birth once, who grow old living their lives selfishly and singing the praises of freedom.' In this campaign for more babies, childbearing is reduced to a means for economic growth.
In this mindset, children are nothing more than money-makers in the eyes of politicians merely crunching the numbers, blind to the moral, environmental or humanitarian consequences of their policies. Market thinking has obliterated moral thinking on a grand scale.
So persuasive (and pervasive) has the economic argument in favour of population growth become, says Bandura, that all of the major NGOs have had to stand aside from it. Fear of alienating donors, criticism from the progressive left and disparagement by conservative vested interests claiming that overpopulation is a 'myth' served as further incentives to cast off the rising global population as a factor in environmental degradation. Population growth vanished from the agendas of mainstream environmental organisations that previously regarded escalating numbers as a major environmental threat. Greenpeace announced that population ‘is not an issue for us’. Friends of the Earth declared that 'it is unhelpful to enter into a debate about numbers'. The fear of losing money disabled those very organisations best placed to understand the ultimate consequences of thinking only about money.
What money does, Bandura argues, is allow us to disengage from the moral and social effects of our decisions. As long as we can frame everything as an economic argument, we don't have to confront the social or moral consequences of our decisions. That economics has become such a dominant, if not the prevalent, mindset for evaluating social and political choices has been one of the defining characteristics of our age. As long as the numbers work, we feel absolved of the harder, more inchoate ethical choices that face us none the less. We appear to have gone from having a market economy to being a market society (if that isn't an oxymoron) and it's an interesting thought that our obsession with economics has just been one long sustained phase of displacement activity.
Money is just one of the forces that blind us to information and issues which we could pay attention to - but don't. It exacerbates and often rewards all the other drivers of wilful blindness: our preference for the familiar, our love for individuals and for big ideas, a love of busyness and our dislike of conflict and change, the human instinct to obey and conform and our skill at displacing and diffusing responsibility. All of these operate and collaborate with varying intensities at different moments in our lives. The common denominator is that they all make us protect our sense of self-worth, reducing dissonance and conferring a sense of security, however illusory. In some ways, they all act like money: making us feel good at first, with consequences we don't see. We wouldn't be so blind if our blindness didn't deliver rewards: the benefit of comfort and ease.
But in failing to confront the greatest challenge of our age - climate change - all the forces of wilful blindness come together, like synchronised swimmers in a spectacular water ballet. We live with people like ourselves, and sharing consumption habits blinds us to their cost. Like the unwitting spouse of an alcoholic, we know there's something amiss but we don't want to acknowledge that the lifestyles we love may be killing us. The dissonance produced by reading about our environmental impact on the one hand, and living as we do, is resolved by minor alterations in what we buy or eat, but very few significant social shifts. Sometimes we get so anxious we consume more. We keep too busy to confront our worries, a kind of wild displacement activity with schedules that don't allow us to be as green as we'd like. The gravitational pull of the status quo exerts its influence and global conferences end when no one has the stomach for the levels of conflict they engender. In our own countries, no politician shows the nerve for the political battles real change would require.
We're obedient consumers and we might change if we were told to, but we're not. We conform to the consumption patterns we see around us as we all become bystanders, hoping someone else somewhere will intervene. Our governments and corporations grow too complex to communicate or to change and we are left just where we do not want to be, where our only consolation is cash.
This is wilful blindness on a spectacular scale and it would leave us abject with despair, were it not that, all around us, are individuals who aren't blind. That they can and do see more, and act on what they see, offers a possibility that we can be wilfully sighted too.”
Most interesting and alarming of all, despite all of these cases and situations being well known and recognised at academic or legal level, the general public remains in the dark because somehow, these lessons learned are never institutionalised for our collective good. With rare exceptions politicians, governments and the mass media, continue to maintain fictions blown apart time and again, because they have a vested interest. Somehow, somewhere, this time, they maintain, it will be different.
I was particularly struck, as an Australian, by how the following statement sums up what is happening in Australia:
"In this mindset, children are nothing more than money-makers in the eyes of politicians merely crunching the numbers, blind to the moral, environmental or humanitarian consequences of their policies. Market thinking has obliterated moral thinking on a grand scale."
And it has obliterated democracy in Australia - aided and abetted by 'moral' books that seem wilfully blind to the focused benefits that population growth brings to the growth lobby, like Ian Angus and Simon Butler's, Too many people, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2011, published with the help of the US-based Lannan Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund. It seems true to say that, if you'll defend controlling population upwards, you can always find a wealthy sponsor.
October 31st, 2011, was a "teachable" moment, one of those moments that come so infrequently that they must therefore be seized and exploited to the fullest extent to increase public awareness. That was the day that, according to demographers, we reached an awful milestone, the day that our species became 7 billion in number. If you expected David Suzuki to use that event to highlight the problem of overpopulation, your expectations would have been cruelly dashed. Dr. Suzuki instead chose to spout the Monbiot line. Overpopulation is not the problem, you see. Its overconsumption by you know who.
Suzuki Repeats The Monbiot line
This article is for Suzuki-cultists who have been trying to tell me that finally The Great Man "gets it", that underneath it all, he really does understand that overpopulation is a key driver of our predicament. Wrong. He is a unreconstructed Monbiotist pure and simple. October 31, 2011 was arguably the most significant day in human history, the day we reached the 7 billion population mark. That was the day for Dr. Suzuki to step up to the plate and talk about overpopulation. Instead, he chose to repeat the tired old party line of soft green environmentalism and Hartmanite feminism. Next time greens want us to join their parade on climate change, keep that in mind. http://www.straight.com/article-519421/vancouver/david-suzuki-overconsumption-not-overpopulation-biggest-problem
Try this experiment. Phone his foundation and ask why they don't devote space to population issues. The answer I got was "We don't have the resources to deal with it." The David Suzuki Foundation is purported to have a $7 million annual budget. One would think that they could find a few bucks to bang the population drum, but then again, that would scare away a good part of their donor base, a base that includes the Royal Bank of Canada, Encana natural gas, and American corporations with commercial motives to shut down their Canadian competition.
As Steve Kurtz, a long-time population activist in Ottawa----now a resident of the United States---remarked: "He suckered me when I read some interviews or articles during the past year. But I won't be fooled again." Suzuki is good at customizing his interviews according to what he thinks that particular audience wants to hear. If an Australian audience wants to hear that Australia is overpopulated, he will tell them so---as he has. But we will not get on the CBC and tell Canadians that Canada is overpopulated, as he has done in more cloistered quarters or while overseas. Yet his fawning fan club in CBC-land lauds him as a man of integrity and courage, and the Great Canadian Myth persists, a myth swallowed whole by adoring fans in Australia, America and across the world.
Don' t Choose Fake Environmentalists For Heroes
Suzuki and the environmentalists are a waste of time. For them, the "P" in IPAT is a sop thrown out to appease our sensibilities, an inconsequential nuisance that they have to deal with but wished they didn't. Window-dressing. If you need to worship a Canadian environmental hero, try world-acclaimed wildlife artist Robert Bateman or Captain Paul Watson. Both of these men are aware of the 'raging monster' of human overpopulation and not afraid to say that it is running amok right here in Canada. To my knowledge, they are the only Canadian celebrities on the landscape who deserve to be called 'environmentalists'. As the term is presently used, an environmentalist is someone who attempts to manage the environment to accommodate relentless population growth, while a Malthusian would attempt to reverse population growth to accommodate the environment. Environmentalists---so-called---are essentially "growth-managers", not growth-stoppers.
By the way, if you want to understand the impact of overpopulation on biodiversity, take a look at Dave Foreman's latest book, "Man Swarm". This is what people like Suzuki, Monbiot and McKibben need to talk about----especially on days that have great demographic significance.
Measuring The Suzuki Legacy
If you want a measure of the Suzuki legacy, try to understand what impact he has had in shaping the mind-set of environmentally conscious people in his own community (mine). The Sierra Club here is a dominant force in this area, and conducts lectures and film nights through-out the year to "raise" our consciousness. They have a monopoly on the environmental conversation, and David Suzuki is a central figure in their pantheon. On one cold day in December of 2009, a cluster of local Sierra Club members stood in the parking lot of the village shopping centre with placards demanding meaningful action at the Copenhagen meeting on climate change. Their signs carried phrases like "Stop at 350" and "Stop Global Warming". Good on them to give up a weekend afternoon to make a statement about our environmental crisis. But on October 31st of this year, they were nowhere to be seen.
Instead, I met one of them in a local store dressed in a costume. When I asked her why she was dressed that way, I got the answer I expected, "It's a very important day, it's Halloween!" I replied that it was indeed, a very important day---- but not for that reason. She reacted with bewilderment. "Why?". I then began to tell her that it was the day that demographers estimated that we passed the 7 billionth mark, that our population number was now seven times what it was in 1800, that it had increased 250% in my lifetime, and that there are now more children born in one day that there are primates in the world. She cut me off to object that we need more children, and that if we lived more simply, there was more than enough to go around. "We need to grow our own food and get off the grid". In other words, hers was the programmed response that one gets from almost anyone now in her subculture. It is the typical catechism one hears from environmentally-conscious under-30s. Overpopulation? Maybe, but if we "empower women", dump capitalism, live like Ghandi, and share the wealth, overpopulation will take care of itself. Besides, birth rates are falling, aren't they?
Thanks For Nothing
So thank you Suzuki. Thank you Sierra Club. Thanks for nothing. Thanks for two decades of aggressive misinformation. Thanks for being the Pied Pipers who led an entire generation astray. Thanks for being Missing-in-Action on October 31st and blowing another "teachable moment". You are worse than useless, you are dangerous. Corporations have the environmental movement they paid for. One that manages dissent rather than directs it toward crucial targets. One that, to use Thoreau's words, "hacks at the branches of evil rather than striking at its roots."
November 5, 2011
Sierra Club motto: "Let's cut our per-capita consumption in half so we can allow the population to double."
The Canadian federal election cries out for an alternative to BAU growthism. It cries out for a party which would present a coherent and distinctive alternative to the system of economic growth. Canadians need a place on the ballot where they can mark an "X" beside "no more growth". In fact they need an opportunity for vote for "de-growth". But the Green Party of Canada is not providing them with that opportunity or alternative. Instead, what they are providing is meaningless rhetoric and platitudes. Shall we lend credence to their approach by voting for them? Shall we allow them to say that they have our support for their direction? Shall we allow them to say, after receiving our vote, that they have a mandate to push for hyper immigration and a foreign aid policy that would continue to promote global overpopulation? I say no. I say that casting a vote can sometimes be worse than spoiling a ballot. There are many things one can do to promote change that voting in a sham election. Writing, petitioning, demonstrating and educating the grassroots come to mind.
The Canadian federal election is upon us and the Green Party claims to offer a "significantly different approach to governance" (see below). Really? Let's take a look:
1. "Growth is fine--as long as it doesn't foreclose future options". What kind of growth doesn't? What kind of growth does not involve the consumption of non-renewable resources? Growth in knowledge? Human brains need energy and sustenance. More humans need more resources, no matter what they do. Doesn't knowledge involve capital investments? Computers? Printers? Books? Classrooms? Laboratories? Lab equipment? Or is this knowledge to be imparted by ESP? Can we have science without technology? And if not, what technology does not require material inputs? Are MRI machines, electric cars and solar panels to be made out of thin air? How can the metals and minerals required for such technology be extracted without "plundering the earth”?
2. "We can have nutritious food forever---so long as we look after the soil" Food for how many people? 7 billion? Without fossil fuel inputs? If soil requires 15 years to regenerate naturally, then how many people could be fed? Do the math. 1/16 of 7 billion is what? Does the Green Party have a plan to shrink the human population down to fit that soil capacity? Do they have any plan that involves the "P" in the IPAT equation? Do they even know what the IPAT equation is?
3. "We could have a well fed, comfortably housed, well educated, healthy and employed population, without plundering the earth" Again, the Green don't tell us how many people could be "well fed, comfortably housed, well educated, healthy and employed" using the resources that are affordably accessible---and for how long.
4."Political parties of every stripe are mesmerized by the mantra to grow, grow, grow---every party, that is, except the Green Party". The Green Party does not believe in growth? Hmm. How would Canada NOT grow when it adds 350,000 people to its number each year? How does the Green Party intend to put an end to growth by advocating an immigration level 25% higher than it is now (285,000 per year)? How does it propose to end growth in a world that sees 80 million additional humans each year? Are they telling us that we can have population growth without economic growth? Will those extra people not demand resources? Where will the material to build "comfortable" houses for those extra people come from? Will no energy will be expended in providing it? Where will the resources for education and health care for those extra people come from? Will people in Greendom be disembodied spirits without a footprint?
What the Green Party offers is shallow trendy rhetoric without substance. Long on kumbaya and short on logic and math.
Some lament the federal court decision upholding the media's right to exclude them from the televised national debate. I would too---if indeed they really did offer "a significantly different approach to governance". But the truth is, the only thing truly "Green" about this party is its name.
Nonetheless, I am told that I have no other choice--as if voting for one faction in a one-party state is morally mandatory. Wrong. I can register my disgust with this sham democracy by returning my ballot unmarked to the electoral officer. And you can do the same. Imagine a million spoiled ballots. Now that would send them a message.
April 5, 2011
Green "Vision" message:
Once again Canada is looking for direction and once again Greens
across the country are trying to explain that there is a real and
important change in our circumstances that requires a significantly
different approach to governance. I've tried to capture the key point
here. Of note is that by referring to the underlying issue of having
reached a physical maturity as societies (ie. our activities fill our
planet), our message of change needn't be blocked due the spin that
has brought so many to deny issues like climate change.
If this is of any use, feel free to use it in whole or in part, as is,
or edited in any way that suits your purposes. No attribution
Wishing you strength and inspiration for the weeks ahead.
Yours, Mike N.
(Mike Nickerson, http://www.SustainWellBeing.net)
Our changing times require a new approach.
Change is essential, not because food and fuel prices are rising
faster than we can afford, tho for many this is true. We need the new
approach because our governments are dedicated to an economic model
that seeks to expand regardless of the impacts that expansion has on
our planet and on the other peoples with whom we share it.
Food, fuel, forests, fish, fresh water, soil fertility - even the
ability of the environment to absorb our waste - are all being
stretched. Yet, political parties of all stripes are mesmerized with
the outdated mantra to grow, grow and grow.
Every party, that is, except the Green Party.
The Green Party was founded because the others wouldn't take planetary
limits seriously. Growth is fine, as long as it doesn't foreclose
future options. We can grow nutritious food forever - if we look
after the soil. Shelters can be developed to capture sunshine and
cool themselves without requiring large amounts of energy. Education
and preventative health care are essentially boundless because they
are composed mostly of the unlimited resources: knowledge and good
will. All these steps will require that people work at them.
We could have a well fed, comfortably housed, well educate, healthy
and employed population, without plundering the Earth, if that was the
goal of our society. It is the goal of the Green Party and we are
inviting Canadians to take the step with us toward a sustainable future.
The human family has been expanding the volume of our activities for
thousands of years. Now that we are stretching the Earth's limits,
rather than expanding consumption and waste, it's time to adopt a
mature approach and to focus more on creating a sustainable future.
Join with us to build a future that our children can look forward to.
I =P x A x T
( Environmental impact= Population level times Affluence or per capita consumption x Technology)
I came upon an orchestration, the environmental movement, and all the musicians were playing violins to the tune of “Overconsumption, overconsumption, overconsumption.” They refused to play any other tune or use any other instrument to compliment that narrow repertoire. Apparently some corporate donors were paying them to be a one-trick pony.
So I immediately resolved to sound out the missing tune that would make an effective chorus. It would be “overpopulation, overpopulation, overpopulation”, and I would use my voice to sing that message loudly because, frankly, I can’t afford or take the time to learn to play another instrument. As soon as the Environmental Establishment Orchestra includes my tune in their program, and gives it the prominence it deserves, I will stop singing solo and apply to join them. They after all have the resources to go on the road with their act, while I can only sing in the shower or yell out the lyrics on the Internet.
But until that day, I will specialize in the one half of the equation, population level, without which there can be no comprehensive understanding of our environmental predicament. I will play left wing on a hockey team overstocked with centre forwards and right wingers. Under new management and coaching, perhaps my team, the “IPATs, will demand all-around players—“two way” players who can play the complete game. Like golfers who don’t try to win the match with “hole-in-one” strokes.
It is people who consume, not ghosts. Reduce their numbers and each can consume more sustainably if they recognize their limits and are rewarded for obeying them
Population growth is the great multiplier of evils. Solve it and so many other problems of secondary concern become easier to solve. And it is much easier to solve alone than challenging popular consumptive habits. Many more people can be reconciled to lower fertility and lower immigration than are willing to see their standard of living drop to comply with lower consumption targets. The vast majority of Swedes, the world’s most affluent nation, are wanting to see immigration cut and a low birth rate persist, rather than sacrifice their standard of living. In 2006 the Dyskos poll revealed that 60% of them were not willing to make any material sacrifices to fight global warming. The working class majority there and here, are skeptical and intolerant of environmentalism that speaks with a middle class voice, and uses the same moralizing sermon that that voice gave them in the 1930s and other challenging times. The voice that cried “Hold the line on inflation” , or “suck it up for the boss”. Sermons given by preachers who preached chastity then drove off in a limousine to the whore house. Green yuppies won’t impress the working poor by putting solar panels on their 4000 square foot waterfront homes and taking their hybrid cars to the airport for their annual overseas trips to Mexico or Bali. If you never had to drive a “beater” to keep food on the table you have no moral authority to prescribe a carbon tax or a Prius. And no credibility if you have sired more than two children.
“Too many people consuming too much. consumption. Neglect one factor and you neglect both. You are in denial.” But “too many people” is the Achilles heel of growthism, and the one that deserves priority attention.