Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!

The Australian Federal Budget is out and several issues trouble this godless mind.
1.       Broken Promises or Lies?
The first is the question of deceit.  When in Opposition, the Australian government made much of the broken promises of the then Labor Government.  With a righteous and seemingly misogynist hatred of Prime Minister Gillard, they identified with the more awful and aggressive activists who demanded that the lying bitch be sacked.  Regardless of the constitutional ridiculousness of this attitude, it made for an acrimonious episode in Australia political history.
Now, with no surprise in this jaded writer’s mind, the new Abbott government has broken every major promise it made in relation to new taxes and the non interference with the medical payments system, education, health, the public broadcasters and etc.  The gall of this government and its unrepentant attitude is breathtaking. 
What is the godless view on this issue?  Should we care?  All incoming governments break promises and so with this expectation in mind, I am prepared to say that many broken promises are within the expectation of normal and are thus moral save when they are so grievous and so contrary to fundamental understanding about what a new government stands for.  It that occurs then maybe the broken promises tip into the immoral.  The morality of politics is a touchy issue.  This is an arena when morality is explicitly eschewed by political practitioners and commentators since the work of Machiavelli.  In this Budget however, there is something that is so directly opposed to the reasonable view of the electors that this budget tips into the territory of the immoral.    This budget does it for me.  The promises were so cynical and so obviously going to be broken they can be seen as lies. 
The government is now trying to justify itself by creating a second lie with the fabrication of the budget emergency.  We have a low debt in low growth environment.  There is no debt emergency.  To say so is being so reckless with the truth that it feels either dishonest or the delusion of the economically illiterate.  Either way it is of dubious ethical worth.
So I feel this government Budget is immoral and led to the taking of power by a group of people who were prepared to promise anything.  It is saddening. 
2.       Frittering Money on Faith
In a budget of losers, the winners include the faith communities who have $245 million for those dodgy school chaplains.  I tolerated this in the former government because with an atheist unmarried Prime Minister, we godless had to expect in a pluralistic society some gesture to those of faith.  But this government is so nauseatingly godly that this justification does not apply.  This is an immoral waste money and the precious time of kids.  God help us.
3.       Defunding Health and Education
This may shock you.  The Federal government is deserting the funding field in Education and Health and I reckon this may be moral.  The problem in a Federation is that it is impossible to know who to blame with things fail.  If the local hospital is crook or the local school is an enemy of good education, which government do you blame?  Both are involved now in these two systems.  So it is impossible to hold governments accountable.  The system is too byzantine and complicated.  By pissing off, the Federal government will make it easier.  And given the impossibility of changing our Constitution, this radical step needs to be taken.  Of course it will lead to more indirect taxation as that responsibility goes to the States.  That would be a duplicitious way of changing the GST when the government promised this tax would not be changed.  But the constitutional simplicity gained might be worth another broken promise.  So perhaps, bearing in mind the constitutional problems of duplication, blame shifting and cost complexity in the current system, this radical step may have merit. At least Christopher Pyne gets less power.   

Was the government so reckless with the truth when promises were made that it has been immoral during the electoral and Budget processes?
Is there any excusing those Chaplains and their $245 million?
What do you think of the Constitutional justification for rudely interrupting health and education funding?

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Latest Cab off the Rank

My latest book is being published by Australia's biggest publisher of Catholic bibles and materials - Garratt Publishing.  Garratt's people are clearly an ecumenical bunch.

They are producing a series of 13 novellas by different authors for upper primary, lower secondary school kids.  The series looks at faith and tolerance.  It started more as an interfaith exercise but the feedback from teachers was that tolerance issues were more interesting than interfaith ones. Mine is a secular and atheist approach to growing up in Jew Town, East St Kilda.

 The Third Space series is designed in response to the Australian Curriculum’s inclusion of the key elements of diversity competence: intercultural and ethical understanding, personal and social capability.   So it is a form of faith training that is far removed from the Divinity yawn fests of my day.  The kids in the stories are from wildly diverse backgrounds.  Most of the authors are young.  I look like I am the eldest by decades.  
My one involves a boy growing up in the Jewish quarter of East St Kilda - Melbourne’s Jew Town.  His dad is an annoying weirdo, his little sister Nell thinks she’s the Queen of the World and their two doggies are lovable but certifiably stupid. His Jewishness is ... well ... complicated. The streets are full of a kaleidoscope of hats which mean different things in Jew Town. And then a girl with a scarf on her head and a cute dog turns up and this brings frightening conflict out.  There are three battle grounds, the school yard, the street and the Town Hall.  Here is a link to me in my corporate tee shirt speaking on the issue. Interview
Part of the story is based upon the real life tale of the anti Islamic association, the Q Society trying to have prohibited a small Muslim Friday prayer meeting in East St Kilda. I was so enraged by this attack on freedom of association at the time that the yarn made its way into the book.  There is no paradox in an atheist defending the rights of religious minorities for atheists are a minorityand beliefs derived from atheism, such as Humanism, promote tolerance and diversity. 
Here is a link to some more propaganda about the book Propaganda
The book ends with three rhetorical questions.  Is a half Jew with a non Jewish mother a Jew given the matrilineal requirements of Judaism?  Is a person who celebrates their secular bar or bat mitzvah actually an adult?  And is a young boy of 14 capable of love?

Over to you...