Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Libertarianism

Posted: 13/08/2014 by Toby in Informative
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For a short while, I thought that Libertarians sounded pretty good, but then again, I’m not political so I didn’t chase down the idea of Libertarianism very much. However, after reading this, I have decided I’m not much of a Libertarian at all.

Libertarianism is different – it is a philosophy based on the individual (not the state) owning him or herself.  The central tenet is that each of us has a fundamental right to liberty – the right to do whatever we want with the things we own, provided we respect other people’s right to do the same (acknowledgement to Michael Sandel “Justice”).  This implies the concept of a minimalist state which interferes as little as possible with the individual.

There is no reason to believe that the state knows better than the individual what he or she wants or needs yet governments progressively (pun intended) encroach on our ability to achieve personal ambitions.  It would be hard to argue that a completely libertarian society was workable or fair, but the concept is sound and governments need to make a strong case to remove freedom form the individual.

From: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/mumble/index.php/theaustralian/comments/the_australian_way/ see comment by ‘Proud Libertarian’ in the comments section.

I think after my studies into the environment and waste management I’m turning into a bit of a socialist. People generally don’t know what’s good for the human race, or for the planet, and must be forced to act responsibly, particularly when personal ambitions clash with responsible behaviour.

A short story about a shooting

Posted: 30/12/2012 by Toby in Other
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When I first heard about the shootings in Connecticut, I wondered to myself, when will enough be enough? When will politicians become lawmakers and recognise that something needs to be done? I thought of an alternative ending to that shooting incident, and it goes something like this.

A short story

My name is Scott I live in a town called Newtown in Connecticut. I’m a local hero now, and I even got a call from WXCI, a local radio station, since one of my good friends is dating a girl at WCSU. I sortof realised something -on air- while I was being asked questions about the incident.

I got the call on my cell phone, since I’m usually out on a job.

“Hello, is that Scott?” the DJ asked. “You’re on air.”

“Hello everyone, good morning,” I said. Thankfully they had told me they might call, and I had been thinking about how to start my story. I’d already told it over a dozen times, sometimes with more detail and sometimes the quick version, depending on who was asking.

“We understand you’re something of a hero around Sandy Hook, is that right?”

“Some people say that, yes, I suppose, but I’m really just a regular guy,” I said, and I have been a regular guy my whole life. I never took much interest in celebrities or being on the news. I’d rather be out the back with my buddies and sipping on a beer.

“So tell us what happened, ” the DJ said.

“Well, that Friday I had a job in the afternoon to finish up, but not much doing in the morning. I went to the baseball diamond near the elementary school in Sandy Hook to hit some balls, since I was going to be playing with some friends the next day. After school had already started, I saw a car drive up. I thought maybe it was a parent bringing their kids a birthday cake. I watched the guy get out of the car, he was young, and he had what looked like an assault rifle and some other guns on him. He was moving slow, and looking around, but I guess he didn’t see me. Right away I started walking through the cars, trying to stay low and keeping quiet. I felt stupid after all the action movies I had seen, I was no movie star. I knew something was wrong. I guess it could have been a demonstration for the kids, but that did not cross my mind. This guy did not look official and did not look friendly.”

“It could have been anything,” the DJ said.

“That’s true.. Anyway my timing was good, I ran just as he was going through the doors. I tackled him and put him face down and held his arms. I started yelling as loud as I could, ‘HEY, HEY, ANYONE SOMEBODY HELP’. He struggled but I held him. It seemed like forever, and finally a few people came running. I said, ‘Does anyone know this guy?’ and nobody did. They saw the guns. I said, ‘Call the police!’ I thought about trying to get his guns away, but I didn’t want to lose my grip, so I just stayed and waited. Finally we heard sirens. The police came in, and the guy still tried to get away as soon as I let go. They tackled him and put the cuffs on.

“There was still a bit of confusion with the school, they of course wanted to know what had happened, and the police wanted to get my statement. The police came first and then I stayed on to talk to the teachers and the principal. They were all pretty shaken and so was I. I didn’t even try to head out to the job I had wanted to finish up. I called and cancelled and went home.”

The DJ piped in, “That’s just one amazing story! How does it feel to be a hero?”

“It feels good, in a way, but there’s something that bothers me about the whole thing, even before we found out that the guy had shot his mother to death. I got the call later that night from the police telling me that his mother had been shot to death just before he drove over to the school. Clearly a disturbed individual, but then I guess all shootings are committed by disturbed individuals.

“In a way, I want to know how many he would have killed. How many kids would have died, how many teachers, how many cops when they got to the scene. I sorta want to know if he would be stopped before he could kill himself. Would we capture him alive and find out what he was after, or why he snapped? No offense, but this is just a local radio station. Most people probably won’t even know a tragedy almost happened here.”

“None taken, and I think I see your point, but surely you wouldn’t want to take back what you did? Saving those kids?” the DJ suddenly sounded cautious, and he was ready to wrap up. I got a little nervous but excited because an idea that had been just out of reach was starting to take shape while I was talking. I tried to remind myself to talk slow or else no one would have any idea what I was saying.

“Of course not, that’s not what I meant, but I have been thinking about all the tragedies that almost happen, but they don’t. Does that make national news, or even world news? Nope it sure doesn’t. It takes a tragedy before people start talking about the problem. If there’s a tragedy, maybe the President gets on TV and speaks in woeful tones, pauses dramatically, or even sheds a tear – and this country continues on. How many shootings will it take before something is done to stop the flow of guns everywhere?”

“Well, we certainly don’t want any more shootings than what we have got, but what can we do? Take guns away from law-abiding citizens and let them get slaughted by the other folks who still have theirs? That won’t work! But anyway, you saved that school. You risked your life for those kids and they will always be thankful to you. You are one of the few, true heroes.” The DJ was ready to move on, but I really wished I could make my point.

“And every one of those kids is worth it, I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time, it was like something just came over me and I acted.

“But like I said, I’m no action hero, I’m just a regular human being, and people shouldn’t have to expect to go head to head with guns every day of their life. I’m glad to save those kids.. but, who’s gonna save the next school?”

Carbon price

Posted: 04/08/2011 by Toby in Informative
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Can I just cop a whinge for a second, about the carbon price? It’s a big deal at the moment in Australia, now that it is starting to look like a reality.

We just got a full A4 brochure in the mail entitled ”What a carbon price means for you.” I have to wonder how much they spent just on mailing everyone a brochure like this.

The first benefit on the front page is that ”9 out of 10 families will get some kind of benefit or break to offset the cost of living impact of the carbon price.” Much of the brochure is dedicated to how it is imperative to think earth friendly and cut carbon pollution, but then the only point about how a carbon price will bring down pollution is that companies will be encouraged to avoid the penalty and invest in clean energy and effiiencies. So why are we worried about a cost of living increase if the tax is only against big polluters?? Oh that’s right, the pollulters will simply pass along the cost of the tax to everyone else by selling products and services at higher prices.

I’m failing to see how, if these businesses are simply passing along the cost of the tax, how does this make them want to change the way they do business, their customers are bearing the cost, not them.

It’s just another way of infusing more cash into the government, and entity designed and run with one purpose in mind: to spend more money. Seems like a good time to become a civil servant, don’t you think?

Carbon Pricing

Posted: 02/12/2010 by Toby in Informative
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What do you think of this quote from the PM of Australia?

PM: We’re going to work through the question of carbon pricing and I know
power prices, electricity bills, are putting pressure on people, but the
issue is this and it takes a little bit of explanation. But we are seeing
underinvestment in electricity generation because there’s uncertainty in the
market about what’s happening with carbon pricing, and if we under invest in
making electricity, prices go up and you risk blackouts at peak periods, and
there are times of the year we use a lot of power. So we can have all of that
continue to happen, uncertainty, underinvestment, rising prices, risks of
blackouts, or we can get on with the job we need to do which is pricing
carbon. I’m for getting on with the job.

Still Spilling

Posted: 17/06/2010 by Toby in Informative
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I’m sure you all share my amazement that we’re months along from the time the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and the situation is still not contained.

As an employee of one of BP’s companies (namely BP Solar, where solar energy spills are actually eagerly anticipated), I find myself in a defensive stance and I find myself looking for ways that BP is doing the right thing to respond to the tragedy. It highlights to me that it’s so easy to be on one side of the equation or the other (rabidly angry and resorting to words like terrorism, or desperately hoping and praying for those who have to fix this problem that they will hit upon the right solution), depending on one’s stage in life, one’s friends, one’s employer, and so forth.

Anyway, since I’m on this side of the equation, here’s some reading that’s more source and less spin, from Tony Hayward’s (a household name by now) statement to Congress.

Strangely, it’s a Facebook link.

States Rights

Posted: 16/05/2010 by Toby in Informative
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Following hard on my previous post about a God without a right-wing Christian agenda, Senator McCain re-tweeted something about a kafuffle over border security.

So I bit. It turns out to be a re-tweet from Sarah Palin’s twitter feed and it leads to a website specifically set up to spew angry on Obama and his ilk. While I am in favor of doing this, i am also in favor of finding out what the issue is.

It turns out that Arizona is passing a law about immigration applicable to its own state. What? Are we back in 1776?!? How dare they! Don’t they know that individual states of the U.S. can only make laws about little stuff? If they’re facing an immigration problem, the federal government will get to it eventually, just be patient! There’s only so many people in the federal government, and their complaints have been noted and routed to the relevant subcommittee for summarising and review, but there are of course priorities. Don’t they know that they’re not the only state in the union with problems?

Snark aside, I find myself supporting this move to flank social problems by addressing the issue of immigration.  I read the governor’s statement (pdf) on the legislation, and while there’s a risk that Mexicans will be targeted, the governor made it clear that she and the state legislature were very careful about the issue of race, and that the law itself in two places explicitly forbids law enforcement from carrying out any penalties based on race, appearance, or culture.

I’m not sure what the argument against this legislation would be, but I don’t have time to look it up now. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Your Tax Dollars (USA)

Posted: 16/02/2010 by Toby in Informative
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Not to get too political (or Republican, which I am not), this was in Senator McCain’s twitter feed, just another example of how your tax dollars are spent.

Can you imagine if there were a website that actually tracks how much cash (a mind boggling amount I’m sure) goes in, and from where, as well as where the money is then spent? The Federal budget is a matter of law and public record, granted, but to actually see all in one place (preferably with pretty pictures and pie charts) the trickle down effect not in billions but in millions or even thousands would be awesome and eye opening.

Anyway, the link: http://bit.ly/9QmGra

It also reminds me of the website where you could see lobbyist contributions to various senators. I wonder if I still have that bookmark.

And for all the rest of you, what websites have you found that are eye opening? Put a link in the comments!