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Issue 

Venezuela

As an Australian person currently living and working in Venezuela, I feel there are many important aspects to the ExxonMobil issue that have been, perhaps deliberately, ignored by the mainstream media in Australia.

Legalities aside (although there are strong arguments as to why Exxon's claims are false) it boils down to the fact that the oil is Venezuelan and the Venezuelan people should have a right to sovereign control over it, and benefit directly from it. What will happen if Exxon wins its court case? A few shareholders will buy more mansions, suits, go on gambling sprees and whatever it is the ridiculously rich and greedy do.

But here in Venezuela, the profits of PDVSA are being used in a much more socially useful way. In 2006, US$13 billion was spent on social programs such as health, education, cooperatives, agricultural development, and infrastructure (like housing and roads, power plants, airlines, etc). As well, through the Petrocaribe program, PDVSA directly provides Caribbean nations, among the poorest in the world, with affordable oil by offering generous financing terms. The program helps these countries upgrade their energy supply and distribution infrastructure.

I personally have seen directly the impact of this social spending. I'm currently teaching English for the Mission Sucre, which provides completely free higher education. All of my students tell me they were previously excluded. They found it hard to get work, an education and to participate politically. Now, many of them in a few weeks will be fully qualified primary school teachers. They tell me they see Exxon's actions as a form of robbery, which is exactly what it is.

Tamara Pearson

Merida, Venezuela

Communist Manifesto

Green Left Weekly is to be congratulated for the review of the Communist Manifesto (GLW #742). Marxism has been under attack since its inception. This is understandable from the bosses' point of view, as they have everything to lose. But tragically it has also been attacked from the left, mainly by middle class radicals who don't really know which side they are on anyway.

We have been told that Marxism is obsolete because it was formulated in the 19th century and therefore not relevant to the computer age. But any serious study of Marxism reveals that it is the very existence of computers that makes it even more relevant today than at any time in the past.

Those of us who seriously work to change the world must defend Marxism and constantly reinforce our own knowledge of the subject.

Ronald Barrett

Mount Druitt, NSW

Kosova

When then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic withdrew Serbian troops from Kosova in 1999, Cuban President Fidel Castro urged him not to do so. But accepting the advice of the Russians, as soon as he withdrew, NATO annexed Kosova just as surely as it did Guantanamo Bay from Cuba — by building a huge military base, "Bondsteel".

How ironic then that the Democratic Socialist Perspective now abandons this proletarian unity for a NATO neo-colony, run by a war criminal in President Thaci along with a consortium of drug lords who have forced over 330,000 Jews, Roma and Serbs to flee their pogroms since 1999.

As NATO promised, "humanitarianism" so did the Israelis when they sent their tanks into Jordan's West Bank and Gaza in 1967 — and look what the conditions are like there today!

Who do the DSP really support? Maybe it's just a piece of opportunism divorced from Lenin's views on the national question, and in the narrative of Balkan history, those of pacific Castro?

Matthew Davis

Perth, WA

Cuba

May I humbly suggest you research Cuba a little before holding it up as a shining example of "the revolution". Of course Castro is a dictator. He runs the press. Dissidence is forbidden. Cubans are basically jailed in their own country. Did you learn nothing from East Berlin?

The health system, while free, may compare favourably to the US for those on the breadline, but it's not a patch on Spain, let alone Australia, and their equipment is old, very old.

Consider this index at . And this report on the Cuban Internet

Seriously, you need to find a new cause if you want a revolution. Marxism, and kneejerk anti-Americanism is tired, and in case you hadn't noticed, your allies are all creeps.

Alby Dangles

Via email

Population growth

One of the reasons for global warming is the increase in both population and per capita consumption. One of the reasons for the rental crisis is the increase in demand from an increased population. One of the reasons for the increase in Australia's population is the increased rate of immigration, now the highest in our history. Yet all we hear are calls for growth when even Professor Garnaut, appointed by the government to enquire into global warming, is calling for very much reduced levels of greenhouse gas emissions as an urgent requirement.

And what is PM Kevin Rudd's response? Call for Australia to host the World Cup in 2018! No worries, mate.

Col Friel

Alawa NT

Housing

PM Kevin Rudd's policies on housing affordability will only make matters worse in the long term. Instead of having a vision for the future, Rudd has been hoodwinked by the states and the megacentres of Sydney and Melbourne.

It is estimated that up to 90% of Australians will be living in large cities by 2050. Yet regional cities could provide the type of lifestyle that most Australians are seeking, with safe, affordable housing close to schools and recreation, thereby saving in transport costs.

Energy and water are running out in large cities, yet available in regional centres. Policies are urgently needed to promote regionalisation. These should be both positive and negative. Large taxation disincentives should be placed on urban development in large cities that reflect the real costs of providing infrastructure like schools, hospitals, transport and social services.

Rudd wants to subsidise local councils yet refuses to share federal taxes to provide the schools and hospitals that will be required at the fringes of our megacities. This levy should be diverted to regional cities and towns many of which already have underused facilities like schools and hospitals.

Other taxation incentives like the provision of first home owners' grants and abolition of stamp duty should only apply to regional cities and towns not major urban centres. Other taxation incentives can be provided to large corporations to relocate to regional cities, like the North Carolina experience in the US where executives could be persuaded to leave large cities if universities and cultural and sporting facilities were created in new satellite cities. With internet communication, there is no logical reason for large corporations to be located in major cities.

Regional growth would provide a work force for more rural growth. If it is good enough for overseas-trained doctors to go bush for five years, it is good enough for all new immigrants and refugees to do the same. Come on Mr Rudd, where is the vision?

Colin Hughes

Swan Hill, WA

Della Bosca

It appears that the NSW government needs to be replaced to denude itself of John Della Bosca. I left teaching two years after graduation due to the deteriorating infrastructure, lack of resources and simply the politically game that teachers were expected to play.

Della Bosca does not understand the stress, long hours and the fundamental corner stone that teachers provide as the foundation of learning which is teacher driven. Many students do not receive support from their family and the wider community.

If the minister does not review education as the single most important reform on his agenda he simply is out of step with conventional thinking and should be replaced. Education appears to be the same commodity as workers compensation, just another social issue Della Bosca cannot seem to cope with.

Ian Fulford

Via email
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