Monday, March 27, 2017

Non-mothers: Why you should pay for my daughter’s future

Because she will pay for your old age.  News item:

"Don’t be surprised if the government’s childcare package provides a boost for the Turnbull government — and unlike the artificial boost of last week’s Snowy Hydro silliness, this one is fairly earnt. The government has implemented, in broad, the recommendations of the Productivity Commission in the critical area of childcare and early childhood learning, and in doing so will make the childcare subsidy system more effectively targeted and more progressive, while also supporting female workforce participation. And it’s fully funded by savings elsewhere."

It was after a dinner with some very close, old friends of mine that I understood the gap that can exist between those who have children, and those who don’t.   

Shevonne Hunt with her future taxpayers. (Pic: Toby Zerna/News Corp)
Somehow we ended up on the topic of paid parental leave, and my friend (who doesn’t have children) said, with a distinct tone of disgust in her voice, that a colleague at work was “rorting” the system. She was, my friend said, “double dipping”.

This is a friend of mine who I consider to be well-educated and informed. Not a person who would swallow political rhetoric without question.

As I felt the blood boiling in my veins, taking deep breaths, she followed this up with, “if you can’t afford to have children, you shouldn’t have them.”

The Government has been trying to get its Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill and its Jobs for Families Childcare Package through parliament for some time now. It’s being debated right now. But it’s when this kind of debate is back in the headlines that people without children either get angry, or they tune out.

They get angry, because they don’t see why their taxes should go to supporting adults who have children (why should they be penalised for not having children?) or they turn off because it has nothing to do with them.

While I am not Peter Costello, who back in 2006 said: “I encourage people who can, if you have the opportunity, if you’re young enough, to have one for mum, one for dad and one for the country,” I do believe that supporting families is fundamental to the wellbeing of our whole community.

Firstly, let’s look at Paid Parental Leave.

Without going in to too much detail about so-called “double dipping” — the reason it was first designed by the Labor Government (yes, designed — you were meant to have two bites at the pie if you could get it) was the overwhelming evidence that supporting mothers in the first six months of a child’s life contributes to society by having healthy mums and thriving babies (and reducing the burden on welfare and the medical system if they are not healthy and thriving).

It was also economically driven, by ensuring that mothers return to the workforce. A 2014 review of Paid Parental Leave found that more women returned to work one year after having their child because of the scheme.

Once you get mothers back to work, someone needs to look after the children. And given that the first five years of a child’s life is when most of their brain development takes place, you want that childcare to be quality, and accessible for all parents.

It’s also a very effective way of reducing disadvantage.

But, non-parentals could argue, Paid Parental Leave and Child Care are only needed if you have kids. So if you can’t afford them, don’t have them.

Peter Costello, regardless of what you think of his politics, was no dummy. He knew the value in having children. Children, if you raise them well (i.e. from birth by supporting parents, and in early life, through quality early learning) will become the future tax payers of Australia.

Yes, non parentals, our children will be contributing to your pension, your retirement home. A PWC report released in 2015 found that the benefits to GDP from children participating in quality early learning stood at more than $10 billion cumulative to 2050.

They will also be the future problem solvers. The ones that will have to clean up the climate mess we are currently leaving. The ones who will be untangling the political decisions our leaders are making now. They will be the ones supporting our ageing population.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, by 2050 around one quarter of all Australians will be aged 65 years and over. And in the next ten years it is estimated that people over 65 will overtake the number of children up to 14 years age.

My children are going to be shouldering a big load. And if you pay a little now, they’ll be better equipped at helping us all later.

And that’s why you should be paying for my daughter’s future — because it’s your future as well.


Cancer of political correctness corrodes society’s very fabric

By PETER BALDWIN (Baldwin was an active member of the Labor Party's Left in the '70s and is most famous for having been bashed up by what was probably someone acting on behalf of the Right faction. Like many before him, however, he seems to have drifted Rightwards over the years. He speaks good sense below)

Peter after the bashing

I consider the mindset we have come to refer to as political correctness to be a cancer, an ideological malignancy afflicting the Western world that chills speech, wantonly and unjustly destroys the lives and reputations of decent people, and seriously compromises our ability to hold open and honest debates about some of the most important issues that face our societies.

Defenders of PC see it as essentially benign, except in maybe a few extreme cases. All it does, they say, is urge us to avoid racist, sexist and homophobic abuse, just institutionalized politeness really.

The great tragedy is that modern PC ideology is a ghastly mutation of earlier movements that embodied these very sentiments: the civil rights movement to end racial discrimination, earlier waves of feminism that demanded equality of opportunity for women, the campaigns to end legal discrimination against homosexuals.

The defining feature of these earlier campaigns was a vision of a common humanity, not a world where people are seen, first and foremost, as members of one or other identity group category.

On the former view human beings, irrespective of such distinctions, were united by their possession of rationality, agency, and the right to exercise them irrespective of the cultural milieu into which they were born. They were held to have the right to critically evaluate, and indeed reject, aspects of their native culture, including religion.

Racial distinctions were viewed as trivial surface manifestations of minor genetic differences, something we should aim to transcend, a view encapsulated beautifully by Martin Luther King in his great 1963 civil rights speech.

Nowadays the Left is obsessed about race and determined to perpetuate racial distinctions. To say “there is only one race, the human race” or to say “all lives matter” are now serious affronts. Statements of viewpoint have to be prefaced by phrases like “as a woman” or “as a trans person” or “as a Muslim”.

Instead of the words of the old civil rights song “black and white together” there is the systematic demonization of something they call “whiteness”, invariably associated with privilege irrespective of individual circumstances.

We are seeing new segregationist movements, Black Lives Matter rallies where white supporters are told in no uncertain terms to hold their tongues and get to the back. There are calls for segregated college dormitories, separate spaces for minority races. In Britain there are gender-segregated Labour Party meetings in the Midlands — with women at the back. Modern progressives seem comfortable with all this.

In former times leftists, with the admittedly important exception of apologists for communist totalitarianism, used to champion free speech and campaign against censorship. The seminal moment in the emergence of the American New Left was the free speech movement at the University of California, Berkeley in the early sixties.

What an awful contrast to the events at this same institution a few weeks ago where masked, black-clad thugs attacked a scheduled event with Molotov cocktails, fireworks and metal poles, bashing attendees in some cases to the point of unconsciousness as police stood by passively.

These thugs style themselves as anti-fascists while employing classic fascist tactics from 1930s Europe. Scenes like this: peaceful, lawful assemblies being violently attacked, are an increasingly frequent occurrence all over the Western world, including here in Melbourne, and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly from the Left.

So if political correctness is not just about being nice and polite, what is it?

I think it is best described as an attempt to impose a comprehensive set of constraints on what can be said or debated, publicly or even privately, whenever such speech conflicts with the current version of the ever-changing identity politics ideology. It is the compliance and enforcement arm of this ideology.

John Stuart Mill’s dictum that “he who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that” is out the window. Instead of responding to disagreeable views with counter-arguments, the characteristic PC response is to say “I am offended by what you said, and you should not be allowed to say it and furthermore the fact you even say such things marks you as a bad person”.

It deploys a growing array of curse words — racist, sexist, fascist, far-right, homophobe, transphobe, Islamophobe, genocide-apologist — to delegitimise speech and to peremptorily declare certain viewpoints beyond the pale, not to be even heard or debated.

These curse-words are deployed with great abandon, irrespective whether they are even remotely justified. I experienced this personally in early 2015 when a public meeting held at Sydney University that was to hear a speaker known to be defensive of Israel was wrecked by thugs who forced their way in and shouted down the speaker with chants of “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you defend genocide”.

The speaker, Richard Kemp, a former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan who was in Israel during the Gaza conflict, was accused of defending genocide, a completely absurd allegation.

The only entities in the region that would commit genocide given the chance are the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, which openly look forward to the day when the world’s Jews can be exterminated — Hamas has it in Article 7 of their founding charter.

But in the minds of the disrupters Kemp is a genocide defender, his views beyond the pale and forceful action to stop him speaking is justified. Senior academics, including the head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Centre, endorsed this nonsense.

When it looked like the university administrators might act against the perpetrators, arts faculty staff went into a defensive frenzy. An international petition was raised, and in a truly Orwellian touch the disruption was presented as a legitimate exercise of free speech and academic freedom rather than its suppression.

I have described political correctness as the compliance and enforcement arm of identity politics, policing the boundaries of what can be said and debated when questions of identity are involved.

So how does these strictures enforced? I have mentioned some of the weapons in the PC arsenal — violence, no platforming, disruption of events.

All very unpleasant — and becoming more so. There are even reports that in America some groups are forming “fight clubs” to better prepare themselves for violent action. These are the brown-shirts of political correctness, though sartorially they seem to prefer black.

This is the overtly violent end of the spectrum. But ostensibly softer measures like ostracism and vilification through social media can be stunningly effective, and far more damaging to the target.

Take the case of a 72 year-old British biochemist by the name of Tim Hunt, or Sir Tim Hunt to give him his full title. He sat at the pinnacle of the British scientific establishment. A professor at University College London, Fellow of the Royal Society and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize for medicine, awards and honours galore. Absolutely secure in his position, you might think.

Well think again. In June 2015 he spoke at the opening of a conference of women science journalists in Seoul, South Korea and in the course of his remarks he made what was clearly a self-deprecatory joke about attitudes to women scientists of old codgers like him.

He immediately followed this by saying:

“Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt, an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.”

Almost immediately a huge global twitterstorm, the modern equivalent of a medieval witch hunt, erupted based on a version of Hunt’s comments that omitted the paragraph I just read. Literally as Hunt was flying back to London, his career was destroyed.

His wife was summoned to University College before his plane landed and told Hunt must resign immediately or be sacked. The Royal Society disowned him. He was forced to step down from the European Research Council, which he was instrumental in founding.

His reputation and career, a lifetime’s contribution to science and medicine, trashed over a misreport of a triviality. Only later was an accurate transcript released, but it was too late. UCL refused to reappoint him and he now works in Japan. This despite a string of young women scientists coming forward to vouch for his mentorship and support from eight other Nobel laureates, and despite his abject apologies.

The furies of political correctness had been aroused. Hunt had been designated a sexist, one of the most lethal curses, and there was no way back. The sheer malignant cruelty of this is astounding, the obscene denunciations he was subjected to in both social and traditional media truly appalling.

But how about this for a contrast. A couple of weeks ago Professor Jonathan C. Brown, Chair of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington gave a lecture on slavery and Islam in which he said “it’s not immoral for one human to own another human” and that “consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex”, especially in the case of sex slaves since they do not possess agency. He dismissed consent as a modern Western obsession.

Surely the furies of political correctness would have erupted at this, Twitter should have gone into meltdown, you would think? Well, no — the furies were silent. You see Brown, a convert to Islam, had the ultimate protective blanket of identity politics — culture, and the demand it be respected. Can you imagine if a Catholic priest said anything like that?

In any “clash of correctness” cultural respect, it seems, is trumps. In the face of it older concerns, like women’s rights and basic humanitarianism just fall away. Recall how Germaine Greer denounced efforts to stamp out female genital mutilation as “culturally arrogant”.

I have mentioned violence, no platforming and campaigns of social ostracism. I will now briefly touch on what happens when these are bolstered by legal constraints like those imposed by our Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

There is not time for me to say much about this, but I would ask you to consider the fate of the student respondents in the recent QUT case, young people on the cusp of their working lives.

Take the case of Alex Wood, at the time an engineering student, who after being evicted from an indigenous-only computer room, posted these words on Facebook:

“QUT stopping segregation with segregation”

A quite reasonable observation, I would say and as a federal judge confirmed, but in any case surely a legitimate expression of opinion. For this high crime he has had to endure years of stress, a farcical conciliation conference of which he had three days’ notice, followed by a court case.

Defenders of 18C say ultimately the system worked, since the Federal Circuit Court threw it out as being of no merit. Woods “won”, though what a pyrrhic victory it was.

He now faces reportedly $100,000 in litigation costs, as well as the damage of having an accusation of racism splattered all over the web. He would have been far better off to have just forked out the $5000 go-away money initially demanded and preserved his anonymity.

Another of the students, Calum Thwaites, dragged into protracted proceedings over a Facebook post he demonstrably did not make, has had to abandon his aspiration to teach in remote Australia. Who would employ a “racist” in that capacity?

All this because whoever handled the matter in the Commission failed to exercise the common-sense option of terminating the case as lacking in substance. I submit that any legislative scheme that can produce this sort of outcome is severely deficient.

My conclusion then is that political correctness is a major detriment to our society. It makes frank and honest debate about any issue where the prerogatives of culture come into play extremely difficult. The Bill Leak cartoon controversy highlighted one such, the debate over the role of traditional culture in perpetuating indigenous disadvantage.

Another matter where some hard questions need to be asked concerns the increasing salience of Islam in our society. How to avoid the disastrous situation that we see in some European countries with the emergence of enclaves like the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek that incubated the Paris and Brussels terrorist atrocities?

How to preserve our Enlightenment heritage, which includes the right to freely critique religion? I find it incredibly disturbing that high profile critics of Islam are routinely subjected to death threats. This applies especially to those who defect from the creed, labelled apostates, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maryam Namazie of the Council of British Ex-Muslims.

As well as death threats, they are vilified by the PC brigade and subjected to no-platforming and sometimes violent disruptions of events where they speak. Incredibly, these disruptions almost invariably have the support of progressives, including feminist and LGBT groups crying about “Islamophobia”, an ill-defined term now routinely and absurdly conflated with racism.

How striking, this new found deference to religion — or one religion in particular — from a movement that used to champion secularism.

Tough questions, these, but if our society is to have a decent future they must be addressed.


Australia is world’s most successful immigrant nation

I think I can build a case to say that Australia is the most successful immigrant nation on Earth. The global community comprises 195 sovereign nations, 90 of which have what I would call a critical mass of 10 million or more residents. The UN tracks the propor­tion of each nation’s resident population born abroad.

In Australia’s case, that propor­tion is 28 per cent: almost seven million out of 24 million Australians were born overseas. Add in Aussies born here but who had one parent born overseas and that proportion tops 40 per cent.

These figures speak to a fundamental truth about the Australian people and nation. There is no other equivalent nation (meaning with a critical mass of population) that has been as generous in ­absorbing migrants.

The only nation with a higher proportion is Saudi Arabia, where 10 million residents out of 32 million, or 32 per cent, were born abroad. But Saudi Arabia’s foreign-born residents are guest workers who do not have the same sovereign rights as migrants.

Australia’s migrant proportion stands clear of peer nations: in Canada, it is 22 per cent; in Kazakhstan, 20 per cent; in Germany, 15 per cent; in the US, 14 per cent; in Britain, 13 per cent.

Our immigration story isn’t our generation’s success: it has been built up, layer upon layer, over 200 years, often spurred by calamity abroad such as the Irish Potato Famine and the desire to escape post-war Europe. There have also been lures such as the gold rush and various economic booms.

Typically, migrants enter Australia via the capital cities of Sydney­ and Melbourne, and cluster­ within enclaves formed by tribal and familial bonds. But there is also a practicality to clustering in the cities of the New World, such as Melbourne and New York: it supports an ethnicity’s schools, churches, shops and language.

The Italians commandeered Melbourne’s Carlton in the 1960s as the Greeks gravitated to Sydney­’s Marrickville. A century earlier, the poor Irish huddled in Melbourne’s North Melbourne or in the mean streets of Collingwood. The Vietnamese now “own’’ Sydney’s Cabramatta and the ­Arabic-speaking community clusters in Sydney’s Lakemba.

By the second generation, the Australian experience is that the migrant community bleeds and blends into the greater urban mass. Carlton’s Italians were building trophy properties in places­ such as aspirational Keilor and Fawkner by the 1980s and their Aussie-born children were part of the regeneration of the inner city. The Greeks and Italians had been absorbed into, but were also profoundly changing, Australian culture, which morphed into a Mediterranean-Anglo fusion.

We shifted our palate from tea to coffee and started kissing each other on the cheek in an oh-so-sophisticated continental way. But then you’d expect that from the most successful, most accommodating migrant nation on Earth. It’s not about “us’’ converting “them’’ to our culture; it’s about both cultures growing together over time, fusing in a very Australian way, where we take bits of each culture and create something that suits our values.

Horsham, in western Victoria’s Wimmera, is home to 20,000 people­. As whitebread a community as you could get, some would say. And yet 10 per cent of Horsham’s population was born overseas. Go to Pittsbugh (population 2.4 million) in the US and it is 4 per cent. Horsham by comparison is positively cosmopolitan.

At the last census, 42 per cent of urban Sydney’s population was born overseas. This proportion for New York, the great melting pot, is 29 per cent; for Paris, is 22 per cent; for Berlin, 13 per cent; for Tokyo, 2 per cent, for Shanghai, 1 per cent. Australia stands apart. Sydney stands apart. We are different.

This does not mean there are no ethnicity-based tensions in Australia, or that there won’t be tensions in the future or abhorrent acts of racism. What it does mean is that this nation should be proud of the fact that we have achieved something that no other nation has achieved or attempted. And that is the delivery of sustained economic prosperity combined with a generous immigration program­ over generations.


Australia's population soars past 24 MILLION as net immigration hits 200,000 a year - putting huge pressure on schools, hospitals and housing

Australia's population has soared past 24million as hundreds of thousands of immigrants flocked to the country.

New official figures show that population increased by nearly 350,000 in the year up to September 2016, hitting 24.2million.

Net immigration - the number of people entering Australia minus the number of people leaving - hit 200,000, the highest in four years.

The huge surge in population will put further pressure on already-stretched public services such as schools, hospitals and housing, economists warned.

The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the population rose 348,700 from September 2015 to September 2016.

Rob Tyson, an economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), told The Australian: 'Such growth means we need five new hospitals, 31 new schools and 35 new childcare centres every three months.'

The biggest increases were in Victoria and New South Wales, with respective population rises of 127,500 (2.1 per cent) and 109,600 (1.4 per cent).

Mr Tyson said that was the equivalent of adding a city larger than Ballarat or Bendigo to Victoria every year.

He added that cities such as Melbourne and Sydney were already facing 'strongly and persistently rising house prices, more congestion and strained infrastructure' before the population boom.

A total of 7.75million people now live in New South Wales, whereas 6.1million live in Victoria.

There was a 1.4 per cent rise in population in Queensland as the total number of people rose 67,700 to 4.8million.

A similar rise of 1.5 per cent in Australian Capital Territory left the area's population just shy of 400,000.

Population growth was far slower across the rest of Australia, with a one per cent increase in Western Australia.

An extra 9,400 (0.6 per cent) people now live in South Australia, while population increased by just 2,600 (0.5 per cent) in Tasmania.

Just 800 more people lived in the Northern Territory in September 2016 than a year earlier.

The new figures come just days after it was revealed that Sydney house prices have skyrocketed by 70 per cent over five years, while wages rose just 13 per cent - making it even harder for first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder.

The official numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show house prices rose 6.1 per cent in Sydney in the three months to the end of December 2016. 

The high price growth in Sydney and Melbourne (six per cent) dragged property prices around the country higher. Property prices nationally went up 4.1 per cent in the December quarter - the strongest growth since June 2015.

The residential property price index in Sydney rose 5.2 per cent in the same quarter, and 5.3 per cent in Melbourne.

Melbourne had the largest annual growth of all capital cities at 10.8 per cent, followed by Sydney at 10.3 per cent.

The mean property price nationally is now $656,800. New South Wales has by far the highest mean property price at $864,900, followed by Victoria at $690,100. In the ACT that figure is $642,900.

Meanwhile, wages growth remains at record lows, making it even harder for first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.


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

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