Tag Archives: materialism

Numbers Count For Nothing

15 Apr

numbers

A little economic insight. Prompted by the funeral today of my childhood best mate’s brother.

It’s only numbers.

R.I.P. Jeff

 

“Stress less.”

– Jeff

 

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It’s Just Stuff

16 Apr

All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves.

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad axe, and in a day or two the flesh will unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the white man to his grave.

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His notebooks impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; whether we have lost by refinement some energy, by a Christianity entrenched in establishments and forms, some vigor of wild virtue. For every Stoic was a Stoic; but in Christendom where is the Christian? ….

The arts and inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate men. The harm of the improved machinery may compensate its good. Hudson and Behring accomplished so much in their fishing boats, as to astonish Parry and Franklin, whose equipment exhausted the resources of science and art. Galileo, with an opera glass, discovered a more splendid series of celestial phenomena than any one since. Columbus found the New World on an undecked boat. It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of means and machinery, which were introduced with loud laudation a few years or centuries before. The great genius returns to essential man. We reckoned the improvements of the art of war among the triumphs of science, and yet Napoleon conquered Europe by the bivouac, which consisted of falling back on naked valor, and disencumbering it of all aids. The Emperor held it impossible to make a perfect army, says Las Casas, “without abolishing our arms, magazines, commissaries, and carriages, until, in imitation of the Roman custom, the soldier should receive his supply of corn, grind it in his hand-mill, and bake his bread himself.”

Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a nation today, next year die, and their experience with them.

And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long, that they have come to esteem the religious, learned, and civil institutions as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property.

They measure their esteem for each other by what each has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, out of new respect for his nature. Especially he hates what he has, if he see that it is accidental, came to him by inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him, has no root in him, and merely lies there, because no revolution or no robber takes it away. But that which a man is does always by necessity acquire, and what a man acquires is living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers, or mobs, or revolutions, or fire, or storm, or bankruptcies, but perpetually renews itself wherever the man breathes. “Thy lot or portion of life,” said the Caliph Ali, “is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841)

Oh Dear, Barnaby

15 Apr


From the Daily Telegraph:

BARNABY Joyce is kidding himself – and all the Australians planning to vote for the federal Coalition at next year’s election – with his latest policy thought-bubble of $10,000 baby bonuses for stay-at-home mothers.

Nobody would deny it’s hard work being a mum, or that the financial pressure on families is increased with every new baby.

But the Nationals Senator’s idea of handing $10,000 to women who choose not to take paid employment is a social policy nightmare.

It would be a tacit encouragement to women to stay at home instead of maintaining their careers with part-time or full-time work, contributing to the taxation system and building up their own superannuation balances in preparation for retirement.

It would, without a shadow of doubt, create a generation of women who opt out of the workforce.

Australia can’t afford that luxury.

Indeed, it is a social policy nightmare in the view of your humble blogger also.

But for the polar opposite reason of that propounded by Neil Breen, editor of the Daily Telegraph, who clearly thinks the biggest problem with the Nationals’ policy is that it would encourage mothers not to go back to doing their “modern” “enlightened” “liberated” duty … their “equal right” to be binary-digit earning, tax-paying, interest-paying lifelong debt slaves of The Machinery of “modern” society.

Back to that in a moment.

First, some balance.

All the lamestream media commentary I have seen on this subject fails to consider context and nuance.

As usual.

First, they are automatically, in typical knee-jerk style, sheeting home all responsibility for this policy suggestion to Barnaby Joyce. Even though it is not necessarily his personal suggestion – it is a revived Nationals policy:

Fearing a backlash over the generosity of the Coalition’s proposed paid-parental-leave scheme, which would offer wealthy working women up to $75,000, the Nationals have proposed a better deal for stay-at-home mums.

“It’s an incredible sacrifice for women to stay at home. You can see it in their superannuation and everything else,” Senator Joyce said.

We want to make sure people don’t lose their house. Because everything is based on two incomes these days. All policies have a cost. But it’s a substantial sacrifice for people not to go to work.”

The Nationals first flagged the policy at the 2010 election …

Nationals leader Warren Truss stressed the plan to double the baby bonus was a policy of the Nationals rather than the Coalition and had not been endorsed by Mr Abbott.

It is clear to any thinking person that The Nationals revived policy suggestion is motivated primarily, if not entirely, by the gross inequality of Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, whereby working mums would receive 6 months paid leave at full pay for those earning up to $150K pa – meaning, up to $75K of taxpayers’ money for a high earner – while stay-at-home mums receive nothing.

Barnaby Joyce is nothing if not fair minded, and genuinely concerned for the many who get overlooked and left behind by the popular (social-engineering) politics of the day – witness his attempts to see justice done in the abhorrent Heiner Affair. So I applaud him for wanting to see a rebalance of the Abbott policy.

However. This is not the way to do it.

In my personal view, the baby bonus is bad policy. As with so many (all?) government “solutions” for society, it is classic good intention, bad outcomes. Indeed, the baby bonus is one of several major criticisms I have of the Howard government era.

Why?

For all the good intentions, it is my view that cash handouts for having a baby simply (1) encourages by reward the “handout” / welfare state dependency mentality, and (2) encourages the very young, the vulnerable, the desperate, and the foolish, to fall pregnant just to “get the cash”.

I have personally witnessed numerous examples of both those outcomes.

And so, for those reasons, I oppose the idea of a “baby bonus” as a matter of principle.

If Barnaby Joyce and/or the Nationals want to see government encouragement for, and a better and fairer deal for stay-at-home mums, that I strongly applaud.

Indeed, quite unlike Neil Breen of the Daily Telegraph, this blogger is all for a society where parents are actively encouraged to stay home and nurture and raise their children themselves – for the long haul, not just 6 months – rather than push their babies onto (government-regulated) “carers” a.s.a.p., so they can get back to “earning money” and “pursuing MY career” a.s.a.p.

Having witnessed many friends with young families who have followed the ever-growing trend in so-called “modern” “advanced” society to do exactly this, I see the results in the little individual horrors that others raise for them, and wonder at the collective horrors we may all face within a generation or two.

Back to Neil Breen, editor of the Daily Telegraph one last time:

It would, without a shadow of doubt, create a generation of women who opt out of the workforce.

Australia can’t afford that luxury.

Yes, we can.

The entire world can.

All it takes is a transformation of our “money” system.

From being our master … to being our servant.

Spirit Of Caring Has Lost Its Way

24 Dec

Senator Joyce writes for the Canberra Times … and succeeds marvellously in riling up all the usual humourless egocentric “pseudo-intellectual Gucci fleas”, as a quick search of the blogosphere will affirm:

Spirit of caring has lost its way

I like genuine agnostics. They don’t get bent out of shape by other religions; they are just thinking about it and them and how and whether they all stick together. Whatever blows your hair back is good to go for them. They may be ambivalent, but at least they live and let live.

My war is always against that religion called atheist extremism, that sneaky sect. Its advocates’ belief in nothing is more affirmed and uncompromising than just about anyone else’s belief in anything. Oh, they are all so proper and stuffy and impossible at drinks, which, at this time of year, revolve around an institution that apparently they are in mortal combat with. They say ”greetings for the season”, which has about the same warmth and credibility as ”greetings, earthling”.

They send Christmas cards but abhor the mentioning of Christmas in them. What is the point – as if there is any other time of the year that you arbitrarily send out dozens of cards. The purchase of their yuletide folded cardboard comes with the notation ”seasons greetings”, which is, as I have noted before in this column, the salutation to be given to stuffing inserted into the cloaca of the Christmas turkey. My office colleague now informs me of yet another cryptic politically correct annotation, ”happy holidays”. Surely they let something slip saying ”holidays”, which is derived, of course, from ”holy day”. Maybe ”happy days of pleasure” would be more politically correct and could come with a very interesting picture for the mantelpiece. They insist on changing BC and AD to BCE and CE, which is what? Banco Central del Ecuador and a Colonoscopy Endoscope?

Yes, this sect’s followers make their way on to your veranda then hold a righteous court of sneering indignation about the crib in the park. You can hear yourself muttering under your breath, ”I wish you would go drown yourself, you pseudo-intellectual Gucci flea.” They write letters to complain about the incorrectness of carols at the school and picket the Christmas tree. To not insult their religion, you must no longer follow yours. They yearn for the fallacy of a vacuum and they demand that you join them in that philosophical void.

The solution, of course, is that they should all just remain at work while the rest of us go on holidays, and we can double the pleasure by knowing that, when we return, they can go on theirs. This doubles the time away from each other.

I have recently returned from Taiwan, a trip paid for by the Taiwanese, and they appear, in a predominantly Buddhist country, to be more understanding and tolerant of Christmas than some sections of Australia. They also appeared to have no problems with Christ’s relevance to the notation BC or AD, Augustus Caesar’s relevance to August, Julius Caesar’s relevance to July or Thor’s relevance to Thursday, points which Christians have been dealing with for a millennia or so without too many revolutions.

The Taiwanese have probably come to the conclusion that a ceremony that celebrates a person who said such things as ”blessed are the peacemakers” and implored people to look after the poor and cured lepers is probably not too much of a threat to the corruption of children.

Anyway, Christmas is here and I hope we borrow a little from the person who kicked it off. The timing at the end of December has more to do with the celebration of the pagan festival of Saturnalia rather than when Christ was actually born. Those politically incorrect early Christians had the good sense to roll with the customs rather than to rage against them.

In borrowing from the ethos of the person from which the term Christmas was named, this time of year means more than drinking litres of Crownies with anyone you can tackle after 4pm every day for a week. Looking out for the lonely is always a good place to start, maybe even being brave enough to buy some newspapers, some glossy glamour magazines and stroll up to the hospital and see if you can find someone who is not surrounded by family and friends. That was the trick we used in Vinnies; if they wanted to talk, they did, if they didn’t they took the paper and said, ”Thanks, Merry Christmas.”

Yup.

“The timing … has more to do with the celebration of the pagan festival of Saturnalia rather than when Christ was actually born”

As your humble blogger pointed out to friends recently:

So you really think that shepherds were out in the fields at night … in the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere?

Happy Winter Solstice, dear reader 😉

Or in our case, Summer Solstice.

Don’t forget … our days just get darker from here.

But on the bright side … it’s always darkest before the dawn.

Mind your credit debt card now.

Bah, humbug.

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