Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


8 Comments

So, New Zealand has a seat at the Security Council

Why aren’t I thrilled that our little country has been elected to a two year stint as a member of the highest chamber of the United Nations? Because our membership will have absolutely no effect on the outcome of the decisions made by that body.

I can give you five reasons why our membership will be ineffective.
* United States of America
* United Kingdom
* France
* Russia
* China

As long as the five permanent members of the Security Council have the power of veto, the security council will always be hamstrung by the self interests of the five. It is time that both the power of veto and permanent membership be reviewed.

Advertisements


1 Comment

What ever happened to my future?

I remember as a child being fascinated by predictions of what life would be like in decades to come. In the ninety fifties, predictions didn’t include the Internet or mobile communications. Nor were microwave ovens, responsive cruise control, or personal computers. Some ideas have not been realised. I can recall seeing illustrations of high tech cities with high speed personal transport such as flying cars or vehicles that could attach themselves to trains of similar vehicles to improve traffic density, efficiency and safety.

The sixties were similar except that large scale computers were predicted to be commonplace, along with supersonic air and rail transport. One concept that was being considered was the prospect of mankind having more leisure time than he knew what to do with and this is what I want to touch on in this post..

The thirty five hour week was predicted to be just years away and a four day week was thought to be only a decade or so away. We were being encouraged to find interests that would keep us occupied during the long weekends and at the end of a shortened working day. I can remember in the late sixties and early seventies there were concerns that unless we learnt how to occupy our leisure time,the boredom might lead to social unrest.

It was envisioned that full employment would continue as working hours would reduce as productivity increased. Flexible working hours and job sharing were expected to become the norm. The gap between rich and poor had been decreasing for decades and there was no reason to think it wouldn’t continue to do so.

So what happened to that future? Where did it go? I’m not sure entirely. Some of it disappeared in the oil crises in the last decades of the twentieth century and some went with the financial collapse that followed.

A lot more has gone into the pockets of the owners of capital. The wealth that we were told would trickle down to the masses is trickling up the the wealthy few. In fact it seems to be more of a torrent than a trickle. The forty hour working week, which was protected by legislation is now only a memory belonging to those of us over fifty. Poverty was the result of life-style choices, now twenty percent of school children come from households that are below the poverty line.

I grew up in a very egalitarian society, where professionals and unskilled labourers lived side by side. I played with children whose parents were lawyers, bankers, doctors, teachers, business owners, freezing workers, tradesmen and shop assistants. How many children have that opportunity today? Now we have whole suburbs where families are on or below the poverty line, and at the other end of the spectrum we see walled communities sprouting up where BMWs, Lexuses and Ferraris outnumber children.

Single income families were the norm. It was very unusual for both parents to work. Latchkey children were virtually unheard of. Today we see the rise of the working poor, where both parents hold down more than one job, and are still unable to send their children of to school on an adequate breakfast or with something to eat for lunch.

University was a place of higher learning where students were encouraged to discover for the sake of discovery. Today they are little more than factories churning out industry specific qualifications — something that was once the role of polytechnics. Any research still undertaken is for short term industry specific goals. What has happened to pure research and even long term research greater than two years?

Continuing adult education was available to all, either free or at nominal cost in every community. Everything from home economics to glass blowing to second language learning motor vehicle maintenance, and everything in between was available and we were encouraged to take advantage of them to ensure that we would be able make best of the free time we had then and the even greater free time we expected soon. All now gone because they were “not justifiable as they didn’t improve productivity”. How about being socially justifiable? Apparently social well being now takes second place to national wealth, which is being held by a decreasing percentage of the population.

Was the lifestyle we were heading towards in the mid twentieth century just an aberration on the road to pure capitalism or is it something that is still worth striving for?


2 Comments

Do Americans have freedom FROM religion? Actually, yes (two SCOTUS cases)

In my country conscientious objection to military service is based on ones conscience, not religion. Membership of a pacifist faith may make it easier to prove ones believe is genuine, but it’s not a requirement.

Back in the 1970s when union membership was compulsory here, members of some faiths were granted exemptions on religious grounds. I applied for, and was granted an exemption based solely on pacifist principles without the mention of religion or religious beliefs at all (although I was prepared to bring those up if absolutely necessary).

In this country, at least, I’ve found found more success in arguing for religious principles by not bringing religion into the discussion. If a religious principle can’t be supported by nonreligious argument, then one needs to rethink the principle.

The Atheist Papers

Americans indeed have a right to not be forced to practice a religion, any religion. We have rights to not be subjected to a state endorsement of one religion over another, or over irreligion. These are inalienable rights; however, some have resisted the implementation of these rights with a rather strange assertion: “It’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.” Well, yes, that’s how it’s traditionally worded, but I don’t think they understand what freedom of religion actually is.

Yesterday I examined how — in my opinion — religious exemptions to certain rules (in my example, beards) have the unfortunate effect of harming the rest of us. Today I’ll pore over two court cases that explicitly lay out how Americans indeed have freedom from religion. Yesterday’s post highlighted rather inconsequential issues, so I figured I should examine issues of literal life and death: War.

In these cases SCOTUS sidestepped defining religion…

View original post 579 more words