Category: Philosophy & Ethics

The age of political hostility

It seems in recent times we have seen an unprecedented rise in hostility, not only here in ‘the lucky country’ but around the world. We have seen mass killings, heinous crimes, acts of terrorism, violent protests, ‘egging,’ and a general intolerance of people with different opinions to ours. At this time of writing, right before the 2019 election, the display of hate towards political parties has perhaps been the most exemplary of this intolerance.

There are several reasons for this rise, and I won’t cover all of them here, but will mention a few, as well as offer some solutions.

Social media, while not a cause, has been a platform and a catalyst for the hostility. Where people once had time to cool off before expressing their frustrations or rage at anyone who would listen, social media now provides them with an instant audience. The problem is however, that such … Read the rest

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Was Jesus Christ a communist?

This article is an adaption based on a talk given by James at LibertyFest Brisbane 2018. 

Definitions are important. A quick dictionary definition of communism tells us that it’s a theory or system of social organisation in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs. We’ve all heard that before.

It’s not a bad idea in theory, but of course, we know that in practice every manifestation of communism in the world has ended in a bloodbath. So I’m dubious that Jesus was a communist. He might have agreed in theory with the idea, but in practice we see that communism does not live up to its altruistic ideals.

The devil is always in the detail, and the words “system of social organisation,” are the danger. With any system of social organisation, the essential question is: can I Read the rest

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Overcoming the ‘red tape’ of character – identity politics

Despite the ascendance of free markets, capitalism and so-called ‘free trade’, economic libertarians are still not short of ammo when it comes to the role of government in economic affairs.

In the early 1900s, for example, over two years, it took just 358 pages of legislation to federate the country. Today, however, Canberra generates around 6,500 pages a year. In Victoria, Stonnington Council requires a 25-page long form to hold a street party. There are 24,000 different types of licenses administered by our three levels of government. And in Queensland, at a time when the State Labor Government claims to be for ‘open for business’, the Adani Carmichael coal mine project has spent seven years in the approvals process, fighting more than 10 legal challenges and sitting patiently with a 22,000-page environmental impact statement.

Aside from the lousy ‘soft power’ message this last example sends to our Asian neighbours, it’s … Read the rest

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Hey, Shorten! Leave those kids alone

Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party, has announced a plan to subsidise two years of pre-primary-school education for children. This means children as young as three years old will now be able to receive state-subsidised education.

Some may ask, “why is this bad?” After all, isn’t education the key to a successful future? Isn’t an educated workforce more productive? Doesn’t education pay for itself? Isn’t providing more education a way to ameliorate disparity and disadvantage?

The reality, however, is that not only are our lofty hopes for education unrealistic, but Shorten’s plan perpetuates a phenomenon I shall refer to as the Progressive Institutionalization of Childhood, and this phenomenon appears to be implicated in the erosion of our civic culture over the past several years. Only a few years ago, the young were resilient and rebellious and more inclined to free thinking and defiant of convention; today, our Read the rest

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Why staying safe isn’t victim blaming

Recently University of NSW emailed their staff and students reminding them about personal safety. To me that demonstrates a caring employer. But not everyone saw it that way. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald, stated that the “email has received backlash from students for placing the onus on victims of sexual assault and harassment to stay safe.” Perhaps they were expecting the staff to place posters around campus stating: “Please don’t sexually Assault anyone”? A casual staff member of the university was quoted as saying the email read like a “rape myth bingo card.” Of course, as does so often happen, there were accusations of ‘blaming the victim,’ an accusation which is meant to make some feel guilty.

Suggesting that there are reasonable measures one can take to safeguard against being the victim of someone else’s criminal, immoral, neglectful, or just plain nasty behaviour is not blaming the victim. … Read the rest

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How inclusive is your childcare?

Last week, while organising an event on Eventbrite, I stumbled across an event organised by Inclusion Support Queensland, a key architect of Australia’s childcare industry’s National Quality Framework and Standards. Targeted at early childhood teachers and titled ‘National Quality Standard: Inclusion in Practice’, the event promised to ‘explore how inclusion underpins the National Quality Standard.’

The term “inclusion” is problematic in the context of the childcare industry’s National Quality Standards, since it refers to both disability access and cultural inclusion. While there’s a general expectation that the industry complies with anti-discrimination law in ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness of all children regardless of their cultural background or disabilities, the “inclusion” imperative can become a multi-headed hydra, used to impose narrower and more ideologically driven cultural inclusion policies that many parents may find problematic.

Australia’s childcare system is regulated by National Quality Framework (NQF), introduced in 2010. The NQF comprises: Read the rest

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Alex Jones and the new social media censorship

In the wake of Alex Jones’ banning from Facebook, YouTube and Apple the outrage has been palpable. And that is understandable. There is no doubt that there is a bias on these social media platforms against what is often described as ‘far right’ viewpoints. Anything slightly right of centre is described as ‘far right’ these days, so it’s no wonder that people on the right are concerned when they see another instance of voices being silenced on three of the big social media platforms.

The problem with being outraged about these acts of private censorship is that the natural inclination is to look to government to do something about it. It’s all too tempting to look to any easy fix when an injustice is perceived and, in this case, the easy fix would be for government to step in and somehow insist that social media platforms quit censoring views that … Read the rest

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My Health Record: it’s worse than you think

There have been many critiques of the Federal government’s rollout of the My Health Record, based on many different grounds. There are the threats of hackers abusing the lax security of government databases, there are concerns over abusive spouses accessing details by logging into their spouses’ accounts, there are questions over the access private companies will have to sensitive records, and there are worries regarding access creep – more and more people getting access to this information.

The government has been on the back foot since the opt out period has started and has scrambled to assuage the fears of the public. No health minister would want a large program like this to fall flat and give the opposition a free kick going into the next federal election, which could be held as early as August 4th. All of these criticisms are valid and any one of them provides good Read the rest

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Eurydice Dixon: we’re trying to fix the wrong problem

The murder of Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne last week is a tragedy, as is every murder of an innocent person. The randomness of this attack makes it all the more haunting and my heart goes out to her family, friends, and fans.

We’ve seen this before. The murder of Jill Meagher bears gut wrenching similarity both in the crime, and in the reaction. The randomness of the attack, the rape and murder, the public outcry, the marches and vigils.

But we’re making the same mistake we did after the Jill Meagher murder, and every other random murder of an innocent woman: We’re ‘fixing’ the wrong problem, and that leaves the REAL problem un-fixed.

The mistakes are many, but let me articulate the ones that undermine our efforts to actually protect women:

A: We’ve made this a ‘group’ issue, but all violence is committed by an individual, against an individual. We … Read the rest

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