Write onGreens and birth rates

Wednesday, August 5, 1992

Greens and birth rates

Your correspondent Ed Lewis (Write on, July 22) equates Green enthusiasm for a falling birth rate with rejoicing over a higher death rate (reply to my earlier letter about Russia's "catastrophic" falling birth rate). This turns ideas on their head. Greens support a lower birth rate precisely because it is the only method of ultimately preventing a higher death rate. If birth rates continue above current replacement levels it is certain that death rates must eventually increase to match, for continual growth on a finite earth is an impossibility.

In all species, numbers increase until the environment automatically prevents further increase, generally by harsh methods such as starvation, disease and predation. For humans over the last two centuries, technology has made available resources faster than they could be consumed by the increase in human numbers, but limits must eventually be reached.

Historically it is clear that environmental limits on human numbers manifest themselves in the form of war (ultimately over scarce resources), famine and epidemics. Humans have the opportunity to escape such harsh limits by voluntarily restricting their numbers. Unwanted babies would not be abandoned to freeze in the streets of Moscow if they were not conceived in the first place.

Of course our profligate and inequitable social system could create misery even if human numbers were modest in comparison to the world's resources. However, our numbers are not modest. It seems likely that our population is already so large that even with the best intentions there are simply insufficient resources to provide a reasonable standard of living to everybody long term. Yet still our numbers grow.

Of course, we need social justice, but a vision of social equality and justice without regard for the biological limits imposed by the environment is a vision of shared misery and death on a bare brown earth.
David Kault
West End, Qld

Unemployment — 1

The Prime Minister Mr Keating's job training scheme for young people is not the solution for unemployment. There are 963,500 people out of work. Mr Keating is going to find jobs for 90,000. What about the other 873,000?

It is quite obvious there's not one politician in the Federal Parliament, Labor or Liberal, capable of solving unemployment. Why, because they are not going the right way about it. Unemployment is a disease of the capitalist profit making system, and nothing has changed. The powers that be have got no chance of overcoming the present economic crisis while they continue to use the same methods that brought it about.

The recession and unemployment are the end result of the n no longer compete against cheap labour countries. We have inflated ourselves out of the world market. While that situation remains, the recession will remain.

If the private enterprise system cannot fully employ our work force, then other methods must be found that can. The only other employer left to employ them is the government. A form of socialism needs to be introduced and new state owned industries and projects opened up to employ them to save hundreds of thousands of people from a life time of unemployment.

Waiting for a turn around in the economy is like waiting to reach a mirage that seems to get further and further away.

The tragic unemployment crisis cannot be sheeted home to the Hawke, Keating Government, the blame rests squarely with the capitalist private enterprise profit making system. If the Labor Government can be held responsible for the 963,000 out of work in this country then the Bush Government must be held responsible for the 10 million out of work in the United States.

Unemployment has been around for a long time. It seems the politicians have only recently become alarmed about the unemployed when it looked as though their political future was at stake. At no other time did they ever consider the unemployed, as a matter of fact, they even made it harder for them to get the dole, by forcing them to look for work that did not exist.

If we want to get out of the rut, we've got to start relying on our own resources. Almost every thing being used in this country can be manufactured in this country. We've got the material, the labour and know how. All that's needed is the will to proceed for the sake of Australia.

A little less capitalism and a little more socialism is all that's needed to put our workers back into jobs.
W.G. Fox
Brisbane
[Edited for length]

Unemployment — 2

At long last an Australian Prime Minister has admitted that a major part of unemployment is caused by improved technology, greater efficiency and higher productivity.

When will one admit that these factors will continue to increase the numbers of redundant workers and that no amount of bodgie job creation or training schemes will have any more than a transitory effect?

Instead of tuning education and training to producing people to "suit the needs of industry" — the latest catch-phrase of the intellectually bankrupt — let society face the fact that the old days of full employment are not likely to return and turn our educational endeavours to teaching people to have a full life without full-time work.
C.M. Friel
Alawa, NT

Paddy McGuinness

In his obnoxious column in the Weekend Australian Padraic P. McGuinness's latest whinge is that we're all living too long and overusing the health care system. Why don't you set us all an example, Paddy: drop dead!
Ed Lewis
Glebe, NSW

SBS on Cuba

The steady stream of distortion of current events in the mainstream media is an all too familiar occurrence.

SBS usually stands out from the pack. Its news coverage takes up many issues that other stations prefer to ignore.

But on July 25, SBS World News really blotted its copybook. News reader Le Lin Chin described Fidel Castro as "the Cuban dictator."

Given that President Castro is elected by the national assembly, this throwaway line is hardly an accurate description.

When I contacted SBS to try and correct their description, I was told this was probably because Cuba was a one-party state and that Cuba didn't have free elections.

Interesting word, free. After all could anyone claim the elections in the US are free — don't you have to be a millionaire to effectively participate? Could it be that only those who are backed by capitalists can afford to run?

When the Cuban constitution was adopted in 1976, codifying the role of the Cuban Communist Party as the guiding force in society, 98% of eligible voters participated in the voluntary vote. Of this vote, 97.7% were in favour with 1% against.

This participation contrasts with the less than 25% of eligible voters in the US who participate, where they have two candidates — but both support the system that has created the widespread poverty throughout the US and exploited the Third world! Hardly a superior form of democracy, is it?

Gail Reed in the book Island in the Storm cites an anonymous poll carried out prior to the last congress of the Communist Party which found that 84% answered yes to the question whether they thought that socialism could resolve Cuba's problems; one in 20,000 supported a return to a market economy and 1 in 10,000 advocated a multiparty political system.
Stephen Robson
Perth

Republicans

There are two types of republicans in Australia today, namely the very rich ultraconservative very well known Turnbull-Kenneally republicans or Australian Republican Movement (started in 1991) and very poor, very radical, very unknown Consandine Republicans or Australian Republican Party. Neither of these two groups like each other or tolerate each other, as they say they get in each other's epublican supporters are deeply divided unlike the Constitutional Monarchy group.

Hence the great delay we have had to get a new flag. With these vastly dissimilar groups both supporting a republic, one must ask if we will get an Australian Republic or a new flag at all, let alone by the January 1, 2001 deadline. Cannot Consandine Republicans (formed 1982) and the Turnbull-Kenneally Republicans merge together for the good of Australia before one of these groups merges with the enemy, the Constitutional Monarchists?
Gabriel Vaughan
Blakehurst, NSW

Show trial

So the President of Panama is condemned to 40 years in prison, after a trial which was held mostly in camera, hence there were no journalists to report on it; he was also denied access to much information for his defence on the grounds that it was "top secret".

Such treatment in the former USSR was always condemned as a "show trial" or "secret trial"; to kidnap a President, invade and bomb his country, killing thousands, and then to proceed with a secret and unfair trial is peculiarly American. Of course Noriega has been "demonised" beyond belief; he was however allowed to make a three hour speech at the end of his "trial", but of course we were told very little of what he actually said. Can we at least get a verbatim account of that speech, or is Noriega expected just to disappear and be forgotten? How convenient for USA to have installed a puppet government in the very decade that the Canal is meant to be returned to Panama!

Is Amnesty International doing anything about this matter? And can Noriega appeal against the 40 year sentence?
Rosemary Evans
St Kilda, Vic

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