Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Political Correctness Has Skewed Our Understanding Of Racism
By Hsin-Yi Lo, Melbourne-based writer and freelance journalist
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has caused a storm when she posted an edited photo of Usain Bolt carrying her on his back with the tweet saying, "this is how I'm running errands from now on." But critics have taken the post amiss and blitzed the comedienne on social media demanding her to take off the post. Political correctness is once again the culprit that's killed our joy to make witty jokes, and the parameters of what actually constitutes racism.
PC started in the 1970s which was the era that spawned a generation of activists crusading against institutionalised thoughts that discriminate ethnic minorities, and people from different sexual orientations, religion and physical abilities. Credit should be given to the movement since it has corrected derogatory words like the N-word, and replacing it with 'Afro-American'. PC has also encouraged us to use gender indeterminate descriptions for jobs i.e. chairperson and businessperson so we don't subconsciously think that only males dominate particular roles.
As we live in a more pluralistic world, we should try to eliminate prejudice for the sake of social harmony. But PC has inadvertently bred a "I'm so easily offended" culture where we blow things out of proportion. This year Red Cross' pool safety poster for children came under fire because there were more 'coloured children' portrayed as the naughty kids. If we must be PC about this, could this poster be racist when there are 'white children' also illustrated as disobedient and there is a 'coloured' safety instructor?
Like DeGeneres' post, humour, wit or good intentions are mistaken for spite and racism. In Australia we're encouraged to be more culturally aware in our day-to-day interactions. This also extends to avoiding the greeting 'Merry Christmas' because it could potentially offend non-Christians and give out the idea that only Christmas is celebrated across the country. Instead, we should use religiously-neutral salutes like 'Seasons Greetings'.
I don't have a religion myself, but I don't mind when friends and associates say Merry Christmas to me because I know they wish me well. I also remember when I was studying in the UK, one of my flatmates kindly put a small Christmas tree in the kitchen so those who were alone wouldn't feel desolate and bleak.
In the immortal words of George W Bush: "The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land. And although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expression off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits".
PC has barred us from openly discussing race, religion, sexuality, etc. If freedom of expression is limited, we lose opportunities to explore more about ourselves, society and the world. Examples include criticism over Hollywood's decision to cast Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko in 'Ghost in the Shell'. According to political correctness, Major Motoko is exclusively Asian even though the character sports a set of blue eyes. I'm also denied the freedom to have open discussions about mixed marriages.
We're also obsessed with finding the perfect description to identify non-white Australians. The word 'ethnic' is considered racist because it implies non-white Australians are 'backwards' and separate from the 'default' Australian race – the white Australians. There are multiple interpretations of the word ethnic, but essentially it describes groups of people who share a common religion, race, cultural heritage and language. To replace it, we used NESB (non-English speaking background) to define non-white Australians.
Unfortunately, NESB didn't fit the shoe because the term hints that second generation migrant Australians could be included. And now, we've got CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse background) – a seemingly immaculate description for non-whites. But with PC's high alert on race and ethnicity – it's hard to address the implications this phrase brings.
I remember I had a debate with a member of the PC brigade who didn't accept that 'CALD' also suggests that Irish-Australians or even Anglo-Australians could be included. And if non-whites have exclusive membership to the CALD club, then we've contradicted ourselves because we're maintaining that there is a divide between whites and non-whites. Since the word ethnic and CALD serves the same purpose, 'ethnic' should be a foul word. As humans we tend to categorise people, who are dissimilar to us, according to their different traits. Through this, this is how we can openly learn about others who are different from us.
Unfortunately, black slavery is part of our world history and it's understandable we're more vigilant when it comes to race relations between black and white people. But now we don't have a proper sense of what bigotry really means, and we've become so preoccupied with taking the self-righteous moral high ground we're carelessly labelling people someone as racist without understanding the full consequences.
Rising sea levels caused by global warming could be GOOD news for coral reefs
It all depends on your modelling
Global warming could do at least as much to protect the world’s coral reefs as it will to damage them, new research from Australia suggests.
Climate change has long been believed to be disastrous for the fragile marine environments, but fresh modelling has predicted that oceanic changes caused by the phenomenon will also work to the reefs’ advantage.
Rising sea levels, caused by melting polar ice caps, could help moderate the extreme and often damaging conditions found in many reef habitats, according to scientists at the University of Western Australia.
By studying reef systems off the coast of north-western Australia, they showed how rapid sea level rise could substantially reduce the volatile daily extremes of water temperatures in the shallow reef habitats over the next century.
The resulting changes, they say, may potentially ameliorate the other effects of global ocean warming.
Mounting levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are predicted to cause substantial changes to ocean temperature over the next 100 years, increasing the frequency and severity of mass bleaching, where corals expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, turning them completely white.
In April scientists announced that 93 per cent of the famous 1,500 mile Great Barrier Reef, on Australia’s East Coast, had now been bleached as a result of an underwater heatwave caused by global warming.
The situation caused some scientists to urge the Australian government to decide which parts of the reef it wanted to save.
Reefs in the Caribbean and in other regions such as the Maldives have also been badly affected by bleaching.
Warming seas are part of a “triple punch” said to be hitting coral reefs as a result of global warming, along with ocean acidification, which makes it more difficult for corals to build and maintain their skeletons, and more frequent and powerful reef-wrecking storms.
The new research by Professor Ryan Lowe and his team is the first to attempt to predict in detail the positive effects rising surface levels on reef environments.
Temperatures within shallow reefs often differ substantially from the surrounding ocean, so predicting future patterns of bleaching and other stresses is difficult.
However, recent science has focused on trying to improve predictions of regional ocean warming patterns driven by long-term climate change, as well as by the intensification of short-term climate patterns such as El Nino.
Using a collection of detailed field measurements, Prof Lowe and his team developed a modelling framework for predicting how local temperature extremes in shallow reefs will change in the future as a result of rising sea levels.
They found that even a modest sea level rise could substantially reduce local reef water temperatures in the future, meaning the change may partially contribute to limiting reef heat extremes in an overall warming ocean.
Despite the international carbon emissions caps agreed at the Paris climate talks last year, atmospheric warming is still expected to rise to between 2.7 and 3C above pre-industrial levels, breaching the 2C threshold beyond which many scientists say heatwaves and significant sea level rises are inevitable.
In 2015 the United Nations World Heritage Committee agreed not to list the Great Barrier Reef as an “in danger” site, providing Australia reports back to the committee in December this year with an adequate account of what is being done to preserve the reef.
Dumped files show influence of George Soros on Western politics
In perhaps the biggest political scandal since WikiLeaks, a group of hackers has dumped hundreds of files exposing the influence of socialist billionaire George Soros on Western politics.
The files show Soros has established a transnational network that pressures governments to adopt high immigration targets and porous border policies that could pose a challenge to legitimate state sovereignty. His Open Society Foundations target individuals who criticise Islamism and seek to influence the outcome of national elections by undermining Right-leaning politicians. The Australian arm of the Soros network is GetUp!.
GetUp! was established by activists Jeremy Heimans and David Madden with funding from Soros. The Labor-affiliated Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union donated $1.1 million to the group. Bill Shorten and John Hewson are former board members. A major funder listed on its 2014-15 Australian Electoral Commission expenditure return is Avaaz, the US GetUp! affiliate that has received copious amounts of funding from Soros networks.
Like most NGOs, GetUp! claims to be independent from political parties. Like many NGOs, however, it has close ties to the Left. As Sharri Markson revealed in this paper, GetUp! chairwoman Sarah Maddison urged people to vote for the Greens in the past federal election.
In the wake of the election, GetUp!’s Paul Oosting revealed its campaign strategy was to target conservative MPs to reduce their influence. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was a primary GetUp! target. In Tasmania, the organisation spent up to $500,000 to unseat Andrew Nikolic and forked out $140,000 on campaign advertising alone.
GetUp! has engaged in an effective reframing of politics by rebranding conservatives as the hard Right while recasting the Left as moderate or progressive. Many sections of the media have uncritically adopted GetUp!’s rhetoric, which effectively divides the Coalition by aligning conservatives falsely with a range of hard-Right views that they abhor.
Soros-affiliated organisations follow a well-worn political and rhetorical strategy updated for the digital age. Like the socialists and communists of old, they attack liberal democracy by delegitimising the classically liberal values of individualism, free speech, logical argument and public reason. They attack democratic states by advocating a porous border policy, reframing illegal immigrants as refugees and degrading critics of totalitarian tendencies such as Islamism in orchestrated campaigns of PC censorship. Documents uncovered by Soros leaks reveal a pattern of funding for programs that prosecute porous borders, mass immigration into the West nations from Islamist regions, and overt campaigns against dissenters. OSF has provided several million to the Centre for American Progress, whose programs include the explicit targeting of freethinkers critical of Islamism. A recent program grant described a strategy to target six critics of Islamism and the “right-wing media” in an “audit of Islamophobic activities”.
OSF has extended its reach in the European Union through NGO and human rights networks. It sought to influence EU elections by thwarting the success of candidates it deemed xenophobic or racist. The term xenophobic is commonly applied by the Left to politicians who seek rational immigration with a focus on resettlement rather than the disastrous porous border policy championed by the EU’s Green-socialist bloc. The OSF also funded a range of media projects focused on changing how journalists report on politicians and policies cast as xenophobic, intolerant or far Right. Leaked documents reveal OSF’s endorsement of questionable tactics to achieve its aims. A document reviewed by news source Breitbart states: “Naming and shaming from us is problematic: we are also in the business of channelling money into other countries for political purposes.”
It is neither uncommon nor illegal for philanthropists to fund political advocacy groups and lobby politicians. However, there is an ethical line between evidence-based advocacy by NGOs and disproportionate influence on the democratic process.
Following the Soros leaks, concerns have been raised about the influence of groups claiming to be disinterested third parties and NGOs on core Western values such as free speech and government by the people. In one of the leaked documents, there appears to be a problematic connection between Soros funding and campaigning against politically incorrect media. OSF took credit for funding an advocacy campaign in which a group worked to “take away” news anchor Lou Dobbs’s platform on CNN. Dobbs resigned from CNN amid controversy over his critical views on immigration. I would criticise some of Dobbs’s statements but conform to the view that free speech is protected unless an individual or group incites violence or engages in terrorist or treasonous activities.
Another leaked report suggests Soros and OSF played a direct role in Barack Obama’s decision to increase the US immigration target. Soros wrote to Obama to request the increase while OSF advocates organised a group to act. In its 2015 report, the OSF board stated it took “very active efforts … to provide a special allocation of an additional 100,000 refugee slots for Syrians … In the face of this pressure, the Obama administration announced … that by 2017 it would raise to 100,000 the total number of refugees the US takes worldwide each year.”
While NGOs and human rights groups routinely demand greater governmental transparency and accountability, they are rarely required to live up to their own standards. A new global transparency group, Transparify, rated Soros’s foundations zero for transparency among 200 organisations. Ironically, Transparify receives funding from OSF.
The belief the NGO sector has been hijacked by interests intent on challenging sovereignty to destabilise legitimate states is driving governments to introduce legislation to neutralise the perceived threat. A NGO transparency bill introduced by Israel was condemned by the EU, the UN, US Democrats and many human rights organisations. The law demands that NGOs whose primary support comes from foreign political entities publicly disclose the fact. Unsurprisingly, many of the NGOs exposed by the law were left-wing and human rights organisations that challenge Israel’s right to sovereign power by attacking its border security policy.
Expect NGOs to continue attacking conservative MPs who champion liberal democracy by defending Australia’s sovereign border and national security policy. It is perhaps time to rewrite the NGO sector’s demand for government transparency and accountability as a mutual obligation.
Employment surge is mainly in the form of more government employees
Rampant growth in public-sector jobs and wages is exacerbating the nation’s debt and deficit woes and stoking concern among business leaders about continued government borrowing to pay wages bills.
An analysis of jobs data by The Weekend Australian shows that the rapid expansion in public-sector employment and wages comes as workers in the private sector face increased job insecurity and record-low salary rises.
Tony Shepherd, the chairman of the National Commission of Audit for the Abbott government, said this growth was a “serious concern” because it was underpinned by rising debt levels.
“We have to be very careful as to what is the underlying cause of increased employment and where it is taking place,” Mr Shepherd told The Weekend Australian.
“A lot of that growth is in healthcare, the aged-care sector, and a lot of that is taxpayer funded. It’s recycling taxes. We are borrowing money to fund this. To cover increased and increasing expenditure, we are going further into debt.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics wages data for the June quarter show the public sector is out-competing the private sector for jobs. While the overall wages growth was the lowest on record, at just 2.1 per cent for the year, public-sector wages grew by 2.4 per cent.
Wages in the retail sector, Australia’s biggest employer, rose by just 0.1 per cent in the quarter compared with 0.6 per cent in the public sector. As secure work in the public sector expands, workers in retail and hospitality face demands by employers to cut penalty rates and hire more casual and junior workers.
Private-sector wage growth has stalled amid warnings that Australia’s debt could blow out by more than $100 billion if the budget is wrong in its prediction that the economy will return to pre-crisis growth and if the Turnbull government is unable to win Senate support for all of its outstanding savings measures.
Deloitte Access Economics director Chris Richardson said part of the windfall gains from the China boom had been spent on more public-sector employees last decade, but these elevated numbers had been maintained after the boom ended.
Prior to 2002, the share of the labour force attributable to core public-administration jobs was about 5.8 per cent. After 2002, when revenue from the China boom began to feed into the budget, it moved to more than 6 per cent of the economy, “and has been on a mild up trend for the last decade and a half’’.
Mr Shepherd, a former Business Council of Australia president, said there was a “risk of squeezing out” the private sector because the public sector could offer well-paid and more secure employment. “This does not add much to our national prosperity,” he said.
ABS figures show that hours worked in the non-market economy have grown 1.9 per cent in the year to June, outstripping those in the market economy, which grew by 0.1 per cent. Since March 2008, before the global financial crisis, hours worked in non-market industries have grown by 24 per cent, compared with 4 per cent for the market sector. Excluding education and training, non-market hours worked grew by 29 per cent over the same period.
The ABS defines the non-market economy as comprising education and training, public administration and safety, and healthcare and social assistance.
The growth in non-market hours worked comes as public-sector salary costs for health and education are rising sharply. Salaries paid to public-sector workers in education and training rose 43 per cent to $38bn over the same period, while salaries for health workers rose at the same rate to $35bn.
Wages paid to public-sector employees working in public administration and safety rose by 30 per cent to $45bn in the seven years to June 2015, even though the number of workers in this category was unchanged at 580,000.
The strongest growth in job numbers and wage bills has been in state government jobs. The number of state government employees grew by 10 per cent to 1.476 million in the seven years to June 2015, while federal public servant numbers were virtually unchanged.
Queensland’s Labor government came into office with a promise to increase public-service job numbers, which have grown by 4000 in the year to March. In Victoria, the Labor government has budgeted for a $3.5bn increase in public-sector wage costs over the next four years. The Coalition government in NSW has also expanded its numbers, by 15,000, to 464,000 in the four years to June 2015. ABS data shows that almost one in three Australian workers is now employed part-time or as a casual, up from 21 per cent in the late 1980s.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said increasingly insecure work in the private sector was becoming common, and this was reflected in the modest increase in wages. He said the slow rate of wages growth was a drag on consumer spending. “Wage stagnation is a reminder that pressure on business isn’t coming from wages, it’s coming from a lack of confidence and not enough demand in the economy,” Mr Oliver said.
The peak union body has made a submission to the Fair Work Commission to address growing insecurity in the workforce.
The ACTU has called for a minimum four-hour shift and a right of conversion to permanent work for casual workers in a variety of awards. It has also called for a requirement that employers offer any additional hours to existing casual and part-time employees before increasing the number of casual or part-time employees.
Mr Oliver said he could not understand why businesses and ministers were calling for penalty rates to be abolished when these benefits were a major source of income for many thousands of low-paid workers. “Why would someone suggest a wage cut?” he asked.
Grattan Institute chief executive John Daly said much of the increased public-sector employment cost was people working in the health system. He said every major health indicator was improving and life expectancy was increasing.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here