15 August 1997. Thought for the Week: "A problem correctly stated is already half solved."
ANOTHER FUTILE CONFERENCE ON UNEMPLOYMENT
by Eric D. Butler
While the "experts" all offer a variety of suggestions, all couched in different forms of gobbledegook, they are all agreed that any solution to unemployment requires "bitter medicine". But, of course, after having been forced to take the medicine, people will feel much better. Which reminds one of the Irish joke (no racial slur intended!) concerning the owner of a racehorse worried about high feeding costs who decided that the best way to deal with the problem was to condition the horse to living on a little less food each day. But later the horse owner complained that his horse was just getting used to the treatment when he died!
Measured in conventional terms, the economic gurus are boasting about how their policies have reduced inflation to a new record low. Little or no reference is made to the soaring bankruptcy and suicide rate. Generally overlooked is that inflation statistics do not measure the decline in quality and quantity of many products. Those who use matches have noticed that under economic rationalism the quality of matches has declined as imported matches have replaced those which used to be produced by the Australian Bryant and May. Recently offered a "Mintie" sweet, the first time in many years, I could not help noticing that the size had been greatly reduced. These examples could be multiplied a hundred times. And official inflation figures do not measure a reduction in quality.
True science depends upon precise definition. Any alleged economic problems cannot be solved in the absence of a correct definition of the true purpose of a production system. If, as the economic "experts" say, the purpose of the production system is to create employment, preferably "full employment" then the solution is simple: scrap all labour-saving equipment. But if the true purpose of production is consumption, to meet the genuine requirements of the individual consumer, there will be a dramatically changed approach to the subject of employment, which is seen as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
If the genuine requirements of the consumer can be provided with progressively less human labour, as a result of technology, then it is elementary that some other way will have to be devised to provide the individual with monetary incomes, than through what is termed "work". This observation creates problems for those whose approach to work is moral, not scientific.
Over the centuries a number of distinguished Christian leaders have attempted to point out that work for work's sake is not a true Christian objective. It is unrealistic to misinterpret St Paul's statement that unless a man does not work, he shall not eat. St Paul's statement had relevance at the time it was made. But St Paul had never seen an automated factory with robots turning out production with practically no human labour. And it was Christ who made the more profound statement concerning the lilies of the field. The lilies grow with relatively little human intervention.
St. Thomas Aquinas, along with others, grasped the truth that if work is correctly defined as the expenditure of energy, then an enormous amount of work takes place in the world without the expenditure of human labour. There is no realistic answer to what is termed the unemployment problem, which does not clearly define the difference between ends and means. If work is defined as the expenditure of energy, then every footballer works much harder in a two-hour game than his fellows engaged in a factory. There is a vast difference between the two forms of work; it is basically psychological. This matter is not merely an academic question; the future of what is left of civilisation depends upon how it is approached.
There is an enormous amount of production, which could, with considerable real profit to the Australian nation, be undertaken. There is no doubt that some of the projects suggested, such as the building of a completely new national railway system, would in the short term have some effect on the present high level of official unemployment. But those advocating such projects do not appear to realise that with today's technology, large numbers of men are not required to build a nationwide railway system.
The adoption of Keynesian-type economics, as currently advocated by Mr. B.A. Santamaria and others, would certainly ease some of the current social pain. But while this is being done it is essential that steps be taken to ensure that a volume of new financial credits reach the people outside the production system. Credits for consumption are required along with credits for production. A number of steps readily come to mind.
The following programme is suggested
as a practical limited objective to shift Australia off the
present disaster course.
The suggested programme will not solve immediately all of Australia's problems. But it would start to shift Australia off the present disaster course. And it would provide hope for the futures.
STATES BOUND TO CANBERRA'S CHARIOT-WHEELS
by David Thompson
However, the longer-term implications for the States are much more significant. The High Court decision again confirms the general drift of powers from the States to the Commonwealth. Federal politicians are saying that the Court's decision was not something that they welcome, because they are faced with sorting out the mess. We can be assured that they will "sort it out" in a way that continues to centralise power in Canberra.
It is almost certain that the Howard
administration, searching for any excuse to introduce G.S.T.
as soon as possible, despite pre-election promises not to
do so in the first term, will seize upon the High Court's
decision. Only the G.S.T. can solve the problem, they will
argue. The decision is out of our hands, they will plead.
It's the High Court's fault, they will say.
If this question of the balance of Commonwealth-State powers could be properly resolved, then the States would be able to solve their own financial problems, and accept responsibility for whatever measures they take. The power imbalance emerged almost immediately after Federation. One of the "founding fathers", Sir Alfred Deakin, issued a prophetic warning in 1901, saying that the Constitution left the States "legally free, but financially bound to the chariot wheels of the Central government... Our Constitution may remain unaltered, but a vital change will have taken place in the relations between the States and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth will have acquired a general control over the States, while every extension of political power will be made by its means, and go to increase its relative superiority".
This is exactly what will result from this High Court decision, because the States have no mechanism with which to protect themselves. The G.S.T. is no solution at all, because even if it merely replaces existing State excise duties, the financial dominance of the Commonwealth is further confirmed.
NO INDUSTRY POLICY - CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE
A number of private surveys have emphasised
what is already known by those who work at the grassroots
of Australian politics. But the intellectual and political
"elites" have been shocked to learn that Australians, in general,
have little confidence in economic and industry policy. The
A.N.O.P. polling company has found that there is a strong
conviction that Australian manufacturing is in its death throes,
and that parents fear for their children's futures. The report
of this study says "the community knee jerk reaction to the
issue of tariffs is to freeze or increase them as it believes
that there is no international playing field".
Yet another study, commissioned by advertising agency Clemenger, identifies increasing resentment about political changes, a deep concern about the inequalities, unfairness, and betrayal of trust in society. Both reports echo the points made repeatedly by people like Australia First leader Graeme Campbell, who claims that the party which has the best industry policy, will become the "natural government" of Australia.
The A.N.O.P. report, commissioned for the Metal Trades Industry Association, reveals that Australians are fully aware that manufacturing is moving offshore and raw material and ideas are leaving the country for little return. "Despite these negative perceptions, manufacturing is regarded as being vital to Australia's economic growth and health. The community is calling for a revitalised manufacturing industry, particularly in provincial Australia. However, the community judges that the reverse is happening and sense that manufacturing industry is at 'make or break' point."
All these reports do is tell us what we already know. Graeme Campbell and Pauline Hanson have been talking about it for more than a year. The real question is, what is to be done about it? Why have such sentiments eluded press and politicians for so long? Is Mr. Howard listening? Are his trade and industry ministers (Fischer and Moore) interested? Or will they blindly hold to suicidal policies until the electorate revolts? We might not have to wait long to find out.
FRENCH FIREARMS LAWS
One point of serious concern that emerged from the W.A. State Seminar was that of the right to self-defence with a firearm. The new national firearms policy leaves no room for this, regarding the ownership of firearms for self-defence as unnecessary, and even dangerous. French gun laws, however, are vastly different.
The Australian Shooters Journal (August 1997) published the following: "In France, on a firearm certificate renewable each five years, the private citizen is allowed to have one fourth category handgun with fifty cartridges for home defence, pursuant to a police background check. This can be in any non-military calibre from 22 to .44 Magnum. The handgun cannot be moved outside the house. Sometimes a second handgun is allowed for a secondary house."
Last month State police ministers rejected any changes to the draconian new Australian gun laws. In fact, they also agreed to support new laws under which health workers other than doctors could inform police when there was doubt about a person's fitness to own or use firearms. There was no report of any discussion about what might be done to protect people from incompetent or poorly qualified health workers.
THAI KING TAKES A HAND
The recent financial uncertainty in Thailand again illustrates the influential role of monarchy. As the Thai financial system began to unravel, with a "run" on Thai banking institutions, and International Monetary Fund intervention, King Rhumibol Adulyadej called in the Prime Minister to account for the chaos. The King's intervention in political matters is rare, but when he does intervene, as he did in the 1992 riots, in which the army was brutally putting down student protests, such intervention is decisive. In that case, the King forced General Suchinda to resign, and hold an election.
The fact that the King is prepared to call upon his prime ministers to account for their actions makes him one of the most effective monarchs in any functioning "democracy". It also makes him one of the most popular monarchs in the world, since his subjects are aware that their sovereign represents their sovereignty, and regards it as important.
ASIAN GAMBLING PROBLEMS
Last week's reports in On Target concerning the strong influence of Asian gamblers on various casinos is confirmed by subsequent reports. According to press reports (The Weekend Australian, 9/8/97), Angela Chan from the Ethnic Communities Council of N.S.W., heavy gambling among Asians was largely anecdotal. However, research for the Sydney Harbour Casino shows that 60 percent of its clientele is Asian. It is estimated that people of Asian origin contribute at least half of Sydney Casino's annual revenue of $400 million. A Sydney Harbour Casino spokesman said that there were "clearly more patrons of Asian origin than there were people of Asian origin in the community".
As yet, no answers have been put forward to the problem of Asian gangs predominating in increasing crime in the vicinity of casinos. Perhaps this is another of the unforeseen "benefits" of multiculturalism.
ONE NATION AND PAULINE HANSON'S THE TRUTH
An extraordinary report from The Courier Mail (7/8/97) in Brisbane by chief reporter Tony Koch indicates that Pauline Hanson's One Nation party proposes to issue an injunction against the League of Rights to prevent us distributing the book "Pauline Hanson The Truth". The press report states, "Ms Hanson's senior adviser, David Ettridge, said yesterday that legal action was being taken against Mr. Merritt and the League of Rights to stop further distribution of 'The Truth'. He said it was a 'pirate copy being made without authorisation"'.
David Ettridge is quoted in this report as saying, 'We will be taking out an injunction or whatever is necessary to stop this. We know the League of Rights is distributing it and that's one of the annoying aspects... The Courier Mail report offers no indication of why One Nation does not want this book distributed. The League of Rights has no first-hand information of why One Nation wants the book suppressed. Is One Nation embarrassed about allegations concerning Aboriginal cannibalism? Or are they embarrassed about that brilliant chapter on the new firearms controls? Perhaps they do not wish to defend the references to rejecting the Asianisation of Australia? We don't know.
The second edition of the book "The Truth", which the League makes available, is slightly different to the original edition. Edition 2 names the author as George J. Merritt. It has replaced the chapter by Hanson Support Movement leader Bruce Whiteside (sacked by One Nation organisers) with the text of Miss Hanson's address to launch One Nation. And it deletes one of the more revealing references to Aboriginal cannibalism, leaving the relevant pages (136, 137) blank except for the word "CENSORED".
Is this second edition a "pirate copy"? Publishers tell us that a "pirated" edition is one, which has been reprinted without the authorisation of the publisher, and without paying royalties, etc., to the publisher of the authorised edition. The League obtained the first edition of the book from the Hanson Support Movement in South Australia. We also obtained stocks of the second edition from the same source. Did they "pirate" their own book?
As we go to press, the League has received no injunction to prevent distribution of this book, and nor do we expect to receive it. What we have received is a rash of orders for the book at our Queensland office, and renewed interest in our Sydney office, where radio announcer John Laws apparently gloated that the book would now be unavailable.
What we would like to receive is an explanation of why the book should not be distributed from the One Nation administrators. But we aren't holding our breath. This is an excellent book. It is feared by the opponents of Pauline Hanson. It is well researched and written, heavily documented, with many footnotes. There is clear intellectual strength in its preparation, and it makes many very telling points concerning our political and cultural condition that the press has routinely suppressed. In short, it is a potent tool in a new political environment opened up by people like Pauline Hanson.
One Nation's reservations about the book are a mystery. Obviously the book has been savagely attacked by the press. Perhaps One Nation is embarrassed by this? Perhaps they find it difficult to defend the contents of the book. But if One Nation is compromising on the hard issues raised by their own leader, they must say so, and explain why. In the meantime, the League continues to distribute "Pauline Hanson The Truth" until the law prevents us from doing so.
FROM THE PRESS
Trade relations will not suffer from
The Australian, 8/8/97
Reserve must play bigger role from The
From The West Australian, 9/8/97
Muddled gun ownership law from Farm
Chance to sack High Court from Farm
"On Target" is published by the Australian League of Rights, Box 1052. G.P.O. Melbourne 3001.