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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

While I am struggling to get back to regular contributions ...

Read some Wendell Berry and be disturbed and refreshed ... by one of my favourite poems ...

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer. 

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
 So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed. 

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years. 

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men. 

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth? 

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts. 

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection. 

"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The poor will suffer - again

One element of the latest version of the Australian Governments' commitment to policy by opinion poll, the proposal to establish off shore processing of refugees in East Timor is particularly despicable.

 East Timor faces huge problems is getting its development process under way and delivering basic health and educational services. Its capacity in terms of the human skills and administrative capacity to drive development at the pace needed to support the poorest people in its community is still severely limited.

So what does the Australian Government do?  It attempts to find a way out of a political issue at home that is rooted in its lack of willingness to show leadership and engage the community on the issue of asylum seekers by loading its problem on a near by neighbour, one of the poorest communities in the region that is still struggling to overcome the trauma of 25 years of conflict and violence.

The potential of this proposal by the Australian Government to distort and derail the fragile political leadership and the administrative infrastructure of East Timor from its primary responsibility to support the poorest members of its community is unconscionable and displays a selfishness and short sightedness that must not go unchallenged.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What I've learned about Australian politics in the past week

Some random observations arising from the Australian politics and policy scene over the past couple of weeks in no particular order of importance:

  • Factions are still fighting hard to retain their control in the ALP so they can maintain power - so they can maintain power and help their mates to retain power. You don't need to actually stand for anything anymore.
  • It doesn't matter what you have actually done as a Government - if the media keep telling the a story that you haven't done anything then obviously you haven't
  • If you are a member of the media don't need to bother getting involved in actually trying to understand the policy or analysis of the issues. Report it in the context framed by the opposition or some other interested party. You don't need to do any independent thinking.
  • Beware of faction leaders bearing polls
  • Rumours of internal party polling even if the figures are never produced in public and tested for their statistical validity trump real publically available polls every time
  • Public policy decisions are now not going to be made by the Government, informed by the public service and debated in Parliament if the interest group concerned has millions of dollars for an advertising campaign. They will be invited to discussions behind closed doors.
  • "Let's do a deal" is the new government motto for policy making - this offers opportunities to contact the process out to car salesman and white good and furniture retailers - that's always been their slogan.