ALP Platform Committee Report

In December 2016 the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party established a ALP Platform Committee and called for members to make a contribution. The Isocracy Network, although non-party political, has members who are also members of the ALP and thus presented the following submission on the first four topics chosen by the committee. A summary version of our contribution includes: (a) removal of taxes on productive activities and a shift to resource rents, (b) public expenditure and employment on new infrastructure, especially renewable energy and communications, (c) public expenditure on skills and training in such new infrastructure, especially renewable energy, and information and communications technology, and transport, (d) objective harm minimisation policies in substance abuse and decriminalisation of person drug offenses, (e) extending public transport infrastructure and resocialisation of the network.

Proportional Representation and Land Tax: Fairness and Justice

Vacant lot
There is a relationship, almost invariably overlooked, between the proposals of land-value tax as an economic policy, and proportional representation as a political policy. Both policies have, across the world, a diverse range of small and independent groups of advocates. These groups tend to be populated by didactic boffins, people with great expertise on matters of tax policy and electoral systems, two topics which traditionally bore normal people senseless. Yet the wisest among them understand their deep importance. For whilst the advocates of these policies have had difficulties in inspiring the public at large, they are founded in two-deeply seated principles that are widely shared; fairness and justice. These idea are worth exploring.

The Four Horsemen of the 21st Century Apocalypse

Over the past four decades the world has been plunged into an economic dark age. While the rich get richer and tighten their grip on power, the poor find it increasingly difficult to survive and more importantly find themselves excluded from the institutions that make the laws. It is no accident after forty years of this failed experiment the level of disillusionment with the political and economic process is rapidly increasing.

During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the Age of Revolution dramatically changed the role of the state. The state was primarily the mechanism by which those with power and wealth maintained that power and wealth in the most brutal fashion. The Age of Revolution loosened the grip the ruling class held on the state and forced the state to take an active interest in the welfare of its citizens. The state was transformed from an instrument whose primary purpose was to ensure those who exercised power continued to exercise power into an instrument by which the basic human needs of its citizens were met. The provision of public education, public health, the building of public infrastructure, the growth of a dual economy where the public sector competed with the private sector, the introduction of laws and regulations to protect working people and the introduction of social security benefits for the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed and single parents occurred as a direct result of mass upheavals. The deaths and imprisonment of millions of people around the globe was the price that was paid by those who demanded the inalienable rights and liberties they believed they were born with.

Argumentum ad temperantiam

Okay, so I have a bone to pick with this popular image.

I know everyone likes it, but it is deeply troubling. My main problem with this is that it presents us with a Balance Fallacy or an inverse false dilemma wherein the truth is only to be found between two extremes. From Rational wiki, which does a nice job explaining why this is a problem:

"While the rational position on a topic is often between two extremes, this cannot be assumed without actually considering the evidence. Sometimes the extreme position is actually the correct one, and sometimes the entire spectrum of belief is wrong, and truth exists in an orthogonal direction that hasn't yet been considered."

Philosophically speaking this is where the problem of finding a true source on political matters is problematic.

Towards a 2019 Labor-Green Alliance

Did the lack of even an alliance of convenience between Labor and the Greens result in the re-election of the Liberal-National Coalition in the last Federal election? If the result had been different, what would Australia look like now? How would Australia's political parties respond to such a change? Is there sufficient justification for such an alliance to exist in the future? These are questions that can only be answered with a very careful consideration of the facts at hand, and with equal diligence in the more predictive and prescriptive aspects.

The 2016 Federal Election

The last Australian Federal election was held in July 2016, after a lengthy eight-week campaign and a double-dissolution. All major newspapers, with the exception of the Sunday Age, recommended a return of the LNP government under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, who had taken the leadership from the deeply unpopular Abbott government from September the year prior, and was a first term government. The major issues of the campaign were Labor's policies on negative gearing, concerns over the privitisation of Medicare, and debates over the political and economic management of the last Labor government. The election resulted in a two-party preferred swing against the government of 3.13% and a marginal victory on TPP overall (50.36% vs 49.64%), with the loss of 14 seats (LNP 76 seats, ALP 69 seats, GRN 1, XEN 1, KAT 1, Ind 2). On primary vote, the LNP lost 3.51% (42.04%), the ALP gained 1.35% (34.73%), the GRN gained 1.58% (10.23%), and XEN (new party) gained 1.85%.

They Are Not Invincible

The entire beginning of the year has felt like mourning as we say goodbye to one of the most charismatic, intelligent and dignified standard-bearers of Violent American Imperialism in history, and hand the keys to the castle over to a tantrum-throwing man-child that no one took seriously until it was too, too late.

There are lessons to be learned in our complacency, and we should all be looking for ways to pry our brains open for them. We cannot go on the way we have up until now, thinking that justice and equality and good ideas are in any way inevitable. We made, collectively as a society, a very serious mistake that came in two parts. The first part was that we failed to field a meaningful alternative to the status quo at a time when the status quo was being openly questioned by the electorate on both sides. Donald Trump represents an ascendancy of hyperconservative radicalism, and the milquetoast liberal-centrism of Hillary Clinton was no antidote. Even Bernie Sanders’ modest reformism, backed with admittedly fiery language, was nothing more than advocating a shift toward something like what Europe has prospered under for decades. The Overton window in America simply isn’t open wide enough to see all the way to a radical-left alternative.

Australia's Invasion Day

Australia Day, the commemoration of the landing of the British First Fleet in Sydney Cove is a day of division. Whilst a large majority of Australians feel positive about the day, that number falls to less than a quarter of indigenous Australians and, currently, only 15% want the day changed, following the lead of the Fremantle City Council. Barnaby Joyce, parading his typical level of knowledge and sensitivity in public affairs indicated his opposition to changing the date.

The choice of date in itself is a rather strange beast. It does not, of course, represent first European contact with Australia. That was when the Dutchman navigator and colonialist Willem Jansz landed on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606 which resulted in violent conflicts. It certainly doesn't represent the founding of Australia as a country, that was, of course, Federation, on January 1st, 1901. It doesn't even represent the establishment of the colony of New South Wales - that occurred on February 7, 1776 with a formal proclamation, although that had already been down as a claim (rather than a reality) by James Cook on August 22, 1770 at Possession Island in Torres Strait.

Amina's Story: A Refugee from the Syrian Civil War

What caught my attention was her face with the classic lines full of the past burdens and memory pains, a woman in her forties with a slender face and agonies of a thousand years.

My first encounter with Amina during the English class has triggered my curiosity to know her story, and although I met a lot of persons and heard a lot of stories of refugees’ tragedies, Amina and her story were the most important to me.

Amina was a lady who volunteered at the camp and contributed in spreading happiness among the refugees. We always talked and I had a few questions that needed answers on how she came and the reasons why she had to take the risk to cross the sea and apply for asylum. I was hesitant in the beginning, but eventually I suggested to listen to her story as if we had interviews, she was pleased and perhaps she felt that someone was there to listen to her agonies and we had this interview:

Deliberative Isocracy : The Antidote to 'Fake News'

Fake News
Winston Churchill famously quipped: "democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" [1]. Which of course does raise the question are there other forms of government which could be better than democracy? Perhaps there be a particular implementation of democracy which works better? Contextually, what are the trends and technological influences and challenges? Careful consideration of these questions leads to a three-part evaluation; (a) the sense of res publica, (b) the relationship between democracy and informed decision-making, and (c) deliberative isocracy in the age of the Internet, which introduces the possibility of an informed and participatory public sphere.

Trump is the fulfillment of an ancient Chinese curse

"May you live in interesting times" was a curse the ancient Chinese hurled at their adversaries, wishing them strife, oppression, and struggle. It applies to us now because for all the uncertainties a Trump presidency holds, it will certainly be an interesting time, filled with opportunities for resistance and perhaps revolution.

Big T's pedal-to-the-metal exploitation of humanity and the planet will accelerate the vicious policies of his two predecessors, poisoning the environment, forcing our financial will around the world, killing thousands of people in imperialist wars, manipulating other nations, modernizing our nuclear weapons, and jailing dissenters at home. Fortress America will continue to expand globally as prison, sweatshop, and fire base.

After all our years trying to change this country, how could we end up with this?


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