Letters to the Editor

Issue 

Population growth

In his letter in GLW #690, Colin Hughes blames global warming on population growth, and calls for the end to the "baby bonus" so as to reduce incentives for population increase. He makes this claim based on the assumption that any new members of Australian society would inevitably live in "poorly designed [homes] with no room for trees to shade the western side, no verandahs and no passive solar heating; requiring expensive energy guzzling airconditioners in summer and heaters in winter. There is no provision for rainwater tanks which could have been put under the two-car driveway to collect grey water to nurture their water guzzling lawns."

He also assumes that they will ride petrol guzzling 4WDs, waste hot water and the energy used to heat it, etc.

But while Hughes tries to argue that population growth is the cause of global warming, the content of his letter actually demonstrates that it's the irrational, short-sightedness of a society based on the anarchic drive to maximise corporate profits that's to blame.

The reason we don't have solar power water heaters in every home, good free public transport, universal application of environmental building design, publicly provided domestic rainwater tanks, etc is not because of our population. It's because massive government spending on such projects contradicts the "priorities" of running big budget surpluses, massively funding the military as an imperial interventionist force, and handing out billions of dollars a year in tax breaks and subsidies to big corporations (including oil and coal companies).

The danger of arguing that population is the source of environmental destruction is that it opens the door for racists to cloak their anti-immigrant positions in "green" rhetoric. Cuba is the only country in the world to be declared "sustainable" by the World Wildlife Foundation. They achieved this by changing their system, not their population.

Shua Garfield

Sydney

Congratulations

Congratulations on the GLW website. I was looking for the "devil" speech of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, on September 20 at the UN General Assembly. I found it at one of your links, Venezuelanalysis.com. There is so much more to the speech than the mainstream media let on… inspiring stuff.

Congratulations too, to Alex Bainbridge, who has done so much for all of us who were arrested outside the Opera House, in a peaceful, witty protest against the honouring of the late Kerry Packer in a publicly funded party.

In the last few days, the worthless values of the
Packer clan have been on display. Kerry, the King of Greed, is dead. God save James, prince of casino capitalism. Since when have our police been political police? Since when have our civil and political rights been for sale?

President Chavez said, from the UN General Assembly podium, that he thinks there's a reason to be optimistic, and I agree: "Hopelessly optimistic, as a poet would say, because beyond the threats, bombs, wars of aggression, preventative wars, and destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning. Like Silvio Rodriguez sings, 'the new era is giving birth to a heart'."

Stephen Langford

Paddington, NSW

Muslim bashing

Richard Miller (Write On, GLW #690) cheerily joins the Pope, George Pell and PM John Howard in a bit of gratuitous Muslim bashing.

Yet, if he stopped and thought for a moment, perhaps he might come to a different conclusion. Was it after all, Muslims, who invaded Iraq, an invasion whose violence has led to the death of over 650,000 Iraqis? Is it a Muslim government who imprisons people in Guantanamo in isolation for years on end without trial? Or is it indeed, a Muslim government that sends Afghan Hazara refugees back to persecution at the hands of the Taliban or the warlords? No.

Yet what concerns Miller most is that when Muslims are attacked and persecuted, they resist, in any way they can. Does he not think they have the same rights and feelings as other people? Perhaps he might prefer the words of some dead white man instead of mine:

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison

us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not

revenge?

(Shylock, in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.)

Muslims have certainly been wronged. We should defend their right to protest.

Graham Matthews

Auburn, NSW

'Job snobs'

Human services minister Joe Hockey's arbitrary assertions that "most unemployed people are lazy, job snobs, refusing job offers and avoiding work" are not supported by research, surveys or any form of evidence.

On the contrary, a 2005 survey by the Reserve Bank reported that "few people refused job offers and concluded that the lack of job offers was the main reason people were still unemployed". Various Howard government ministers have acknowledged that the vast majority of unemployed people do want to work and are making genuine efforts to secure a job.

The low unemployment rate is no consolation for the five out of 10 who have been jobless for more than two years or the one in four denied a job for five years or more.

The "official" unemployment figure is 518,000 and there are around 70,000 jobs available on the Job Network website at any particular time. A June report by the National Audit Office confirmed that 47% of vacancies were duplications and 20% had been filled during the previous eight weeks. A more accurate figure is 23,000 vacancies, or 22 candidates for every job.

The government is responsible for this situation and there is no justification for the introduction of a parole-like surveillance and reporting scheme to punish the victims of the failed Job Network experiment.

Ron Baker

executive director

Australian National Organisation of the Unemployed

South Brisbane

Saddam Hussein

Of course, the media are damning Saddam Hussein left, right and centre; but here is what John Pilger wrote about him in 1986 in New Rulers of the World (and Pilger is a very responsible journalist who always quotes dependable sources): "Saddam nationalised oil; he used the profits for building first-rate hospitals, schools and universities. Iraqis got over 3880 calories per day, 92% had clean water, 93% enjoyed free health care; 95% were literate. The Economist states: 'The welfare state in Iraq is of the most comprehensive and generous in the Arab world.'"

"Dramatic changes took place all over the Arab world after 1986. But why can't Saddam be tried fairly before an international court as the Nazis were after World War II, and as Bush should be for the many deaths the US has caused in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

How did Pinochet get away with it in Chile in 1973, and for 15 years led a state full of torture and butchery? Yet that monster is still free, despite innumerable threats to take him to court. Why? You can work that one out for yourself.

Rosemary Evans

St Kilda, Vic