ECONOMY — ENVIRONMENT — RELIGION
2014 was not the greatest year in history.
Be this as it may, the one element of life that will never be lost is Hope. This means that we can plan for 2015 to be a better year, but, as in all things, success happens when we face and plan to overcome obstacles. So, as 2014 draws to an uninspiring close, we look at three significant roadblocks and talk about how to get around them.
Let’s start with the ECONOMY.
Despite the hysteria generated by politics and the media, the Australian economy is not in bad shape by current world standards.
What is needed is a change of the mindset that keeps politicians from pondering pointlessly at the impossibility of recreating a glorious past, when they should be pioneering a new brand of economics required to meet a changing world.
It was a failure to change this ancient rear-window mindset that caused Joe Hockey’s 2014 Budget to fail badly. Astonishingly, every element of it pointed us in the wrong direction, and sought to generate a childish version of fear. We can do better, but the ALP, Greens, PUP, and the Senate rabble offered no better solutions than the Coalition. They simply offered a better way to look backwards.
Our plan for a better future must not be mesmerised by the currently poor state of world economics, where the financial trouble centre is Europe. It will remain on a knife-edge for a long time, with many of its nations being in significant strife, particularly Italy, which, if it crashes, will cause a huge hit to every major bank in the world.
The best way for Australia to help in overcoming this likely disaster is to encourage the United Kingdom to leave Europe, thereby irrevocably forcing change to a monstrosity that is heavily overloaded with incompetent bureaucrats and has a fragile currency, the Euro, which does not have the asset backing of any nation, and is simply paper of convenience to be used by traders to make money through easy manipulation.
The crisis in Europe will hit harder as its population ages and the grossly overburdened European Commission (EC) welfare budget implodes spectacularly. Of particular concern is Germany, which faces a huge ageing problem and has made little provision for it. We must make sure that we provide for it.
In the meantime, what can Australia do to strengthen the structure of our own house so we can again withstand any world shocks as we did in 2008?
A first step will be to stop pushing for economic growth targets and get heavily involved in economic efficiency, ie, the better management of our existing human and natural resources and the creation of level playing fields, so people on lower incomes have a chance to become more productive for the sake of their own lives and the nation.
It is called Humanomics and is based around the development of many not-for-profit corporations that are led by the best brains in the nation.
To get our mind thinking in a new way, Peter Hartcher’s book “The Adolescent Country” is worth reading, as it highlights the ancient attitudes we carry around and strive to perpetuate. It opens our minds to a potential that can be unleashed that has nothing to do with growth for growth’s sake. Our thinking can also be moulded by a book on Indonesia called Demokrasi by Hamish McDonald that helps us to understand why this powerful neighbour must be the cornerstone of our regeneration, not our old ties with a faltering Europe.
Of course, with the current chaotic state of the undemocratic swill called the Senate in the Australian Parliament, it is difficult for any innovative changes to be made to the way the economy and society are managed.
To get a clearer understanding of this problem, you may care to read the current edition of Quarterly Essay written by Guy Rundle, from Crikey. It is irreverently called “Clivosaurus”. You guessed it — it’s about the unpredictable politics of Clive Palmer. Even if you intensely dislike him, it is worth reading, as we will very soon need a referendum to abolish the Senate as it is a blot on commonsense.
CLIMATE CHANGE is well and truly back on the political agenda and it is impossible to discuss it separately from economics.
Tony Abbott blundered badly in trying to keep it off the G20 agenda when it was blindingly obvious that he was never going to succeed. His attempt meant that Obama and Xi made their climate change announcement in Beijing, whereas it should have been made in Brisbane where we could have made it look as if we had brokered it.
Then, Obama embarrassed Abbott by making it the cornerstone of his speech at the University of Queensland. That speech was one of Obama’s best ever, and this is saying something as he is the greatest orator of my lifetime. Why Julie Bishop and Campbell Newman attacked him over his comments on the Barrier Reef is beyond my comprehension, as they have lost a lot of votes over their unnecessary comments. They forgot the great saying, “when in trouble, shut up.”
The battle around climate change has always been about magnifying the burden of its cost. That battle has now been lost. Action will happen and the cost must be paid.
In 2015, the world will have no option but to agree on a price for carbon, with no-one — corporate, personal, charity or government — gaining an exemption without paying the price. It is in our common interest to live, work and play in a clean environment. The sooner we create it, we will be relieved of a future negative.
Australia’s immediate challenge will be to join, seriously and significantly, in worldwide research that will create clean coal technology. It is a field in which we will obviously benefit.
Obama will be the key player in all of this, as he has nothing to lose in his last two years of office. I am currently reading the latest book on his political life called “The Stranger”, which has been written splendidly by Chuck Todd. The title derives from the fact that no black man has ever before been in the White House. His rise was so meteoric that no-one really knew who he was, and he found it very strange to be there.
Finally, let me say that RELIGION will dominate 2015.
Extreme elements of every religion will indulge in imposing their will on everyone else. Groups such as IS among Muslims, the Tea Party of USA as a fundamentalist misrepresentation of Christianity, ultra- orthodox Jews in Israel, militant Buddhists in Sri Lanka and the worst factions of the Hindu faith trying to control India.
There will be many other religious issues in play, a significant one being the rapid expansion of Christianity in China, which will cause the Communist Party to curb its activity because those Christians are passionate evangelicals who take their religion very seriously and are already being viewed by the establishment as an enormous threat.
Here in Australia, we take our religion very casually, and we may be forced to decide whether or not we can continue to remain nonchalant about it, especially as the rise of a religious faction in the Liberal Party could eventually break the Party in two. However, the history of the world has featured many leaders who sought to gain power in the name of God, and all failed.
I have just read a book called Redeemer, which is a history of former US President Jimmy Carter who, in 1976, became their first ever President to have ever openly campaigned on the basis that Washington needed a Christian in office. He won narrowly, then lost after one term because many Christians reckoned he was not Christian enough, especially on issues like abortion and homosexuality, about which he was a sensible moderate. They then voted him out in favour of the morals of Ronald Reagan, who turned out to be as shallow a Christian as you ever could find.
The important feature of Carter’s life is that his greatest years began when he left the White House. He has spent decades putting his life on the line ensuring that democratic elections were held fairly in many emerging nations, and that equality of women was recognised and adopted worldwide, while combating domestic violence. This is the work of a fine Christian.
In Australia, we must ensure that people are free to practice whatever religion they choose, so long as they do it peacefully and respect the right of others to do likewise. Above all, we must ensure that no religious party ever gains power in our nation.
With this in mind, may I wish you a happy and peaceful CHRISTMAS while we recognise that less than half the population of the world will celebrate it with us.
And may you experience a meaningful 2015, in which you have a job, home and family, and we work together to create a new Australia where we can all enjoy healthy competition in a fair marketplace where everyone has a chance to prosper and has quality of life.
We will talk again in February.
In the meantime, if you want to enjoy a good book over the holidays, try Thomas Keneally’s third volume of Australian history called “Australians, Flappers to Vietnam”. It covers the era from the end of World War 1 to Vietnam. It’s a great read that helps us to understand how we laid the foundations of modern Australia.
If you want to stir your soul, then read “The Good Man Jesus” and the “Scoundrel Christ”, by Australian author Philip Pullman. It is a novel based on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, in which the author maintains that early Christians got it all wrong, and spread a false story about a great man who is worth following for the right reasons.
Some devout Christians will need a couple of extra glasses of red if they are to stay calm.