Friday, November 29, 2002


NOTE: For some unknown reason, the permalinks on this site seldom seem to work. So you will need to scroll down to get to the postings on Anglospheric diversity, Australia's "One Nation" political party and the Japanese economy



REFUGEE DETERMINATION (Dept of Immigration in-house summary)

The process by which an asylum seeker applies for refugee status varies from country to country. In many developing countries, it is the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that makes the determination. In most western countries, governments have set up structures, either administrative or judicial, for examining claims.

Since 1993 Australia has had a two stage administrative determination procedure:

Primary Stage:

An asylum seeker lodges an application for refugee status with DIMIA.

The written application is then assessed by an officer of the Department to establish whether the person's claims are such as to fit the criteria for the grant of refugee status. Until recently it was the practice that applicants would be interviewed as a matter of routine. In recent months both positive and negative decisions have been made without interview. Aslyum seekers who arrived in Australia in an unauthorised manner after 20 October 1999 are only eligible to apply for Temporary Protection Visas. To be granted this visa, applicants must still be determined to be refugees.

Applications can be received from individuals or from family groups. In the case of the latter, the claims of each member of the family should be examined. It is quite possible that the male head of household may not be a refugee but the wife or any of the children may be. If one member of the family is determined to be a refugee, the whole family is granted refugee status.

There are only two possible outcomes from the primary stage:

the application is accepted and the asylum seeker is granted refugee status or a temporary protection visa; or
the application is rejected.

Review Stage:

If a claim is rejected at the primary stage, the asylum seeker then has the option to lodge an application for a review of this decision. Approximately 75% of rejected applicants take advantage of this option.

The body responsible for reviewing applications is the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT). The RRT is an independent Commonwealth statutory body whose Members are appointed by the Governor General. It is their task to review the DIMIA primary decisions, applying exactly the same criteria: ie is the person a refugee according to the United Nations definition?

Unless a Member is minded to accept an application on the papers alone, all applicants to the RRT receive an oral hearing. The hearing is formal but non-adversarial, with every effort being made to ensure that the applicant is comfortable to present all aspects of their claims.

It is considered vital that Australia retains an independent merits review in refugee status determination. Such a system guarantees equality and fairness before the law and allows asylum seekers to present their full stories confident that government policy towards their country of origin will not influence the decision makers.

There are two possible outcomes from the review stage:

* the RRT overturns the original decision and grants refugee status. This happens on average in approximately 10% of cases (though is much higher for some nationalities); or
the RRT upholds the original decision.

In the event of the claim being rejected by the RRT, it is expected that the applicant will leave the country. There are, however, two other avenues that could be explored:

Humanitarian Status:

Claims that are rejected by the RRT are sent back to the Department of Immigration where they are reviewed by the original case manager. If it is considered that there may be compelling humanitarian reasons why an applicant should not be returned to their country of origin, the case is referred to the Minister for Immigration who has non-compellable discretionary powers to grant residency on humanitarian grounds. Failed refugee status applicants can also make a direct approach to the Minister seeking his consideration of their case.

Judicial Review:

Applicants who have been rejected by the RRT can, in certain circumstances, lodge an appeal to the Federal Court. The Court is not empowered to look at the merits of the claim (ie whether or not they are refugees). It is the role of the Court to consider whether the determination was conducted in accordance with the law. If the Court finds in favour of the applicant, the case is referred back to the RRT for reconsideration. Reconsideration does not automatically mean that the applicant is granted refugee status.


Posted by John Ray



Below I reproduce part of an email discussion with Jim Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Primer:

Jim Bennet:
Fischer, Phillips, and others have clearly demonstrated the long-term continuity of regionally-based cultural patterns from the British Isles to the North America -- what I call "cultural nations" in my book. It's clear that the dynamics of the Anglosphere civil wars (military and otherwise) from Cromwell's time to today are mostly based on these differences. It's also clear that these differences were not created by the rise of theological differences, but rather, they pre-existed the
Reformation, and influenced the success or failure of Catholic, Anglican, Calvinist, and Quaker causes in the various parts of the Isles and their overseas offspring.

At the same time it's obvious that the Anglosphere as a whole has a significant set of unifying characteristics that are shared internally and not shared outside of the Anglosphere to any great degree. So we have diversity within commonalty, which is quite distinct from the "diversity" that multiculturalists advocate. Our diversity works precisely becuase it is constrained within a larger shared commonality. The differences and similarities among Anglosphere nations are not much greater than the differences and similarities among regions in any individual Anglosphere nation.

What squares the circle on the issue of unity and diversity in the Anglosphere is the fact that because of the peculiar nature of the state structures we have created, we have never fit the Continental European definition of the nation-state very well, and there is no reason we ever should. We don't want a unified, homogonized nation that decides what project we all shall follow, and coordinates all national effort to
those ends -- Oakeshott's "enterprise state". (Which is, more or less, what continental nation-state theorists like Herder or Mazzini thought the defining characteristic of a nation-state was.) It's true that Germans, Italians, etc. have particularist tendencies, but they also have a Gleichschaltung fetish that drowns any real policy autonomy out in a heavy miasma of harmonization. Now they seek to extend this fetish to the EU at large, which is the root of so many of their
problems, and why I think the UK and Ireland will ultimately have to come out.

As for the Puritans, their heirs are influential in a large section (and one of the more prosperous and better-educated sections, at that) of the US, and we shall have to deal with them indefinitely. The Anglosphere concept and narrative has to be able to encompass them as well.

I disagree that Jamestown was the source of Middle American culture, although it certainly was one of the sources of it. Philadephia and the English Midlands/Quaker tradition and New York were important sources as well. When we discuss the English radical Protestant movement and its influence on the modern world, we have to remember that the Puritans were only one part of it. Scottish Calvinists, who particularly influenced the fourth settlement stream from Ulster to the Appalachians, and Quakers were quite different parts that were also influential in making America.

I disagree with John Ray that the Puritans are not still a major influence in America. Much of the radical political-correctness crowd and extreme environmentalists are little more than secularized Puritans, complete with drab clothing, hatred of conspicuous luxuries (furs, SUVs), days of fasting and humiliation (Earth Day), dietary strictness (moral vegetarianism), and the telltale self-assumed moral superiority over their opponents, who are not merely wrong, but evil. We do owe the
current Republican administration to the neo-Puritans, however. Ralph Nader's support in the polls mostly collapsed in the last two weeks before the 2002 election, except in New England and the New Engalnd-settled states, where they continued to support him over Gore into the voting booths. Fanaticism regardless of practical consequences has always beena Puritan hallmark.

John Ray:
When you say: “The differences and similarities among Anglosphere nations are not much greater than the differences and similarities among regions in any
individual Anglosphere nation”
, you understate your case.

In fact, a Southerner in England finds an Australian accent easier to understand than a Geordie accent! And yet Australians live half a world away and the Geordies are only a few hours away by train.

And I think you would find that the Australian monoculture has values that fit in better in some parts of the USA than in others. I personally seem to get on better with Midwesterners than with people in LA or NYC. And I certainly know some Midwesterners who get on better with Australians than they do with the dreaded LA.

Jim Bennett:
My impression is that Australian immigration had a higher percentage of Londoners and Irish than North America in their respective founding periods. The broad Aussie accent always sounds a lot like an East End accent. Probably some good reason for that!

The North-North and South-South correspondences between the US and the UK are
well-known. I grew up in western Pennsylvania, and my wife's from Yorkshire, and we have found that I have a number of local dialect words and pronunciations (which I use mostly when I'm being whimsical and imitating my grandfather) that she always thought were pure North of England. There are other ones -- the Ocracoke Island-Devon match is very close; Michigan's Upper Peninsula has a big Cornish population from the Cousin Jacks who came over to work the mines. You can get great Cornish pasties at roadside stands there.

As the Anglosphere grows closer together again thanks to free communications
and cheap fast travel, I think we will see more and more discovery of these
intra-Anglosphere ties.

John Ray:
Your comparison of the Red/Green brigade to the Puritans is a tempting one and one often made but I thing you are wrong to infer causation from correlation. Australia has virtually NO Puritan history and yet we have the same very painful Red/Green brigade infesting the airwaves and getting governments do do crazy things. Note however, that Australia has not signed the Kyoto treaty either.

Jim Bennett:
I think the causation is actually fairly clear. The original centers of P.C. and ecofascism in the US were universities in Greater New England; and those areas are still the strongholds. There has always been this difference between the Left in the Anglosphere and the Left in most of the rest of the world. The Continental leftists have always been pure ideologues, and often openly amoralistic. Moral arguments were derided as "bourgeoise sentiment". Anglosphere leftism has always had a strong moral content and correlates with dissenting and Calvinist religions, both in the US and UK. Think back to the Chartists. There's a straight line from the Protestant radicals of the English Civil War, through the Chartists and the early labor movement, which was moralist, not Marxist, through much of the Labour Party. Even when they were atheists, they were evangelical atheists (in the sense of the Belfast joke about "are you a protestant atheist or a catholic atheist?") True Marxists in the Anglosphere were mostly confined to a small gang of intellectuals (Orwell's "pansy mob") and foreign immigrants. After Clause Four was abandoned, the Anglosphere Left has been going straight back to its moralist and religious-radical roots. (That's why Tony and Hillary got along so well; They're both from the same religious background.) Incidentally, there is a paranoid streak in UK politics, that is the exact parallel of the paranoid streak in US politics, and it is embedded in the "loony left" of the Labour Party, which has believed one or another set of absurd conspiracy theories for almost all of its life, like the idea that the US is in Afghanistan because it needs it for a pipeline. Remember Orwell's remark that "to believe such a stupid thing you would have to be an intellectual?" The "stupid thing" was the paranoid theory that US troops had been sent to England during WWII to prevent an English worker's revolution.

Australia was settled late enough that the religious-radical strain had already mutated into political labor radicalism before it was transplanted. So you guys got it without all the religious trappings we still have here.


Posted by John Ray


Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Below is the text of an email just received from one of my academic correspondents.
It refers to Australia's now virtually defunct "One Nation Party" founded by Pauline Hanson.
The party opposed special benefits to blacks and wanted more restrictions on immigration.


I think the rise and fall of Hanson's movement (and the mass base was more interesting sociologically and more noteworthy than the actual One Nation leadership) is probably one of the most interesting political events in any English speaking country since the Vietnam days, and it is one conservative-inclined thinkers have tended to shy away from, perhaps for fear of being tarred with the same brush. At the time ONP was on the rise I was dead against them but now they are gone I am not so sure my initial feelings were right. I suspect the forces that created them are as yet unresolved.

Hanson went from zero to ten per cent of the vote in a couple of years and her party could barely organise itself quickly enough to cope with the flood of popular interest. This is the reverse of the situation of virtually every political party in Australia if not the West. They did this in the face of total media opposition and violent threat from leftish goon squads in our major cities. This was an honest to God grassroots people's revolt (not all the people of course) and it was squarely aimed at our political, intellectual and media elite. It was ultimately destroyed by it's party leadership incompetence (not that different from the Democrats really) and a de facto alliance of the major parties to minimise their impact on parliamentary seating arrangements. There may even have been dirty tricks used to kill them off.

If this had been a leftist populist movement and it had been treated similarly we would hear non-stop moaning from Donald Horne, Phillip Adams, and the rest about the quashing of the peoples' will etc.

The left not only missed the bus on this but tried to burn the bus and most of it's passengers too. The usual label of racist was thrown at the movement. That was supposed to be the beginning and end of the debate. But isn't this a bit like the Maree Antoinette explaining the French revolution by the bad manners of the lower classes? The participants may be bad mannered and sometimes racist but there is more to it than that.

It is interesting that the One Nationers mainly targeted state subsidisation of multiculturalism and the massive subsidisation of Aboriginal welfare, rather than ethnic minorities per se. One Nation was itself a polyglot group about as ethnically diverse as any party in Australia. They were also instinctively anti-elitist. The few ONP MPs actually elected have had unspectacular parliamentary performances but not all that different from the average National Party rep. in voting patterns etc. In fact on the issues of the MNP treaty and Olympic security legislation they probably were closer to the greens than anyone else.

It would seem to me the reaction of the left to this was like the classic ruling class under threat in marxist folklore. It called out the goons, the intellectual and verbal abuse was deafening, debate was silenced by ruling class homilies, political opponents were portrayed as devils, scare tactics, and they were prepared to make alliances with old foes (even Kennett!) to eliminate the populist rising. It may be that the old conservative jibe that the left are "The New Class" is no longer a bit of 'up yours' rhetoric but a valid description of what has been built by the welfare state.

A friend told me that F.A. Hayek once wrote to the Times and said that mass immigration and the welfare state can never co-exist. Presumably not forever anyway. The Australian experience would seem to bear this out. Back in 1948 when people were apparently much more hung up about race, xenophobia etc than today, we took thousands of refugees, DPs etc and the government didn't ask too many questions about their paperwork or bona fides or even war record in some cases!

They stayed in tin camps that wouldn't be allowed to house chooks today, ...and worked on pick and shovel projects before being released into the great unwashed with a bare minimum of govt social services, and none of those that were provided was multi-lingual. Our school books taught the saga of the British Empire. All in those long ago pre-Whitlam days. A big proportion of them even sent their kids to the then unsubsidised church schools. Also the general mood was expansionist, "Australia unlimited" supplements in the Herald, jobs were more common, and 'populate or perish' was the conventional wisdom. Assimilation was not then a dirty word.

Now all those factors have been reversed. Environmentalists tell is we are overpopulated. Camps have as many staff as inmates. Despite a few holes in the net, we pretty well have cradle to grave welfare today. Muticulturalism days are held in school and Australia Day, never a fair dinkum holiday is now essentially immigrants day and is broadcast live on SBS.

But Howard can exploit kids overboard to help win elections and the chatterers, mutter darkly how "Anglo-Celts" (whatever that means) are all racists deep down, despite a generation or so of post White Australia reconstruction. The same chatterers when they are winning ...wax eloquent about how broad minded and tolerant the Australian masses are, at least when provided with "leadership", ...whenever the public doesn't see their wisdom.. 'leadership' must be called for. Maybe we are seeing, to use another Marxist phrase, an "internal contradiction" being worked out here.??

This is all of course a bit of a rant but do you think we are really developing a New Class today? Could the perils of Pauline be the result of an "internal contradictions within multi-cultural social democracy"? Is this the first shot in a new form of class warfare?


Posted by John Ray


Sunday, November 24, 2002


The email below is from “Trader” and refers to This.

"12% of the Japanese economy is the construction industry. Over 80% of the firms involved are either broke or flat lining profitability.

The estimate for the bad debt situation in the banking system is that there is about US$ 1 trillion of bad debt -- which every cabinet since the early 90's has been reluctant to take on because when they see the numbers they are like deer caught in traffic lights.

Moreover, if the Japanese government did not lie, its true fiscal position would be showing a debt to GDP ratio of something closer to 250%.

Most new lending is mandated by the government to the banking system to try and keep the rotten firms from falling over because it would increase unemployment.
The Bank of Japan through the ministry of finance is desperately trying to increase the money supply through the printing press so as to avert deflation.

Since 1989 the Japanese economy has lost about US$ 15 trillion in wealth as a result of the real estate market falling 70% and the equity market losing about 80% of its value.

There is no clear end in sight for the Japanese economy and the end result will be a repudiation of debt through a massive inflation probably starting next year.

The guy mentioned that the Japanese don't bother to look at the equity market because it is not that important to them. This is total crap. Most of the bad debt was anchored to equity values.

The guy was tyring have us believe that the whole idea of the Japanese economy being in a total mess is a convenient way for the Japanese Government to fool the US and get closer with the Chinese.

Hold on a minute I see black helicopters out of my window! I had better run!

Japanese living standards during the last 10 years have not risen. They have remained exactly what they were 10 years ago -- totally static, while the US has sailed past. The guy is simply either lying or is ignorant.

Another thing. A trained economist should know this: The Japanese current account surplus is a sign of weakness in the economy.... NOT STRENGTH. The reason that Japan has a current account surplus is because the marginal return on investment in Japan is far less than the potential return in the US -- or Australia for that matter.

Lastly, I would like to explain the printing press at work: Over the last 2 years the Japanese Finance Ministry has been buying Japanese government bonds through a monthly program at a massive scale. This is pure monetization -- where the government prints money in the most blatant form in its attempt to reflate a deflating economic system"


Posted by John Ray


Monday, November 18, 2002


The following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald at:
but such links do not usually last long.

Electronic era makes bright sparks
By Eddie Fitzmaurice
November 17 2002

Computer games, the internet and television are making today's children more intelligent than any previous generation, researchers have found.

Contrary to popular belief, children's IQ levels are being raised to record highs because of stimulation from electronic entertainment.

Psychologists from Cornell University in New York found that IQ levels among young people were now about 25 points higher than their grandparents' generation. The gap between children and their parents' generation is about 15 points.

Ulric Nesser, who led the study, attributed the change to the increasing complexity of modern life and the fact that children interact with electronic gadgets and entertainment from an early age.

Activities most likely to boost the IQ included computer gaming, which tended to involve complex and highly structured thought processes, and use of the internet for research.

Improved nutrition in developed countries, such as the US, Britain and Australia, also played a part in helping the brain adapt to these external stimulants, Professor Nesser said.

However, the research found, however, that the advance in juvenile intellect was not evenly spread.

While scores in the abstract reasoning and thinking portions of IQ tests had improved by about seven points in each of the past two decades, verbal and mathematical skills were virtually unchanged.

Other experts welcomed the findings, but warned that the advances might not last unless
there was constant stimulation.

George Erdos, a senior lecturer in psychology at Newcastle-upon-Tyne University in England, said he had no doubt modern computer gaming was positive for youngsters.

"Computer games require perseverance, fast thinking and rapid learning," Dr Erdos said.

But Bill Dickens, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, said other research had indicated that a person's IQ tended to slip back when computers and other gadgets were withdrawn.

He warned: "IQ is very plastic. The brain seems to be like a muscle and needs regular and vigorous exercise. If our theory is right, when it comes to IQ it's a case of use it or lose it."

Neil Turok, a professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge University in England , said computers were a powerful resource, but

he warned they could stifle independent thought.

Professor Turok stressed: "A lot of kids are on the computer too much.

"The danger with a computer is you become rather dumb from doing repetitive tasks.

"In the end, computers are no substitute for imagination."


Posted by John Ray


Sunday, November 10, 2002

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail".


Jiang continues push for economic overhaul


CHINA'S President Jiang Zemin has renewed his calls for radical economic reforms at the key 16th Communist Party Congress, telling delegates they must "adopt new ways of thinking" to make the country richer.
His comments, to a closed-door meeting of delegates from Shanghai, his traditional power base, emphasised the need to drop old communist ways to enable "building a well-off society".
"To achieve these objectives, we need to work hard. We should adopt new thinking on ways of development, make new breakthroughs in reforms and bring about a new situation in open policy implementation," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr Jiang as saying.
He praised Shanghai's modernisation, pressing the city to "develop itself into one of the world's economic, financial, trade and shipping centres".

Mr Jiang told delegates during an opening speech at the congress on Friday to "free our minds from the shackles of outdated notions, practices and systems, from the erroneous and dogmatic interpretations of Marxism".
The congress is expected to spark a major change in the country's leadership, including the likely retirement of Mr Jiang and other top bosses from their party posts.
Vice-President Hu Jintao is tipped to take the party leadership from Mr Jiang before becoming state president next year.
A key theme of the gathering has been calls to ditch many of the last vestiges of China's socialist economy.
Mr Jiang has repeatedly talked up his personal crusade to officially permit capitalist businesspeople to join Communist Party ranks.
"We should make a point of recruiting party members from among those in the forefront of work and production," he said.
Virtually every speech at the congress has started with lengthy praise for Mr Jiang.
Mr Jiang urged the expansion of the party's base to include the economic elite.
All the adulation for Mr Jiang and his ideas has increased speculation that he plans to exert considerable behind-the-scenes influence after retiring, possibly remaining more powerful than his official successor, Mr Hu.

Original link:,5936,5460321%255E954,00.html


New Chinese leaders call to dump Marxism

BEIJING: The politburo of China's Communist Party called on leading cadres to dump dogmatic interpretations of Marxism yesterday during its first meeting chaired by new leader Hu Jintao.

A politburo statement said senior comrades must "conscientiously free their minds from the shackles of the outdated notions, practices and systems, from the erroneous and dogmatic interpretations of Marxism and from the fetters of subjectivism and metaphysics".

The new Chinese leadership considered the report of President Jiang Zemin to last week's 16th Communist Party Congress to be the guiding political philosophy for "all the nationalities of China in the new era and the new century, under the united direction of the party".

The politburo heaped lavish praise on Mr Jiang's "Three Represents", describing the President's pet theory as the "soul of the 16th Congress".

The politburo made reference to the theory on several occasions throughout the statement.

Mr Jiang's theory, which advocates allowing capitalists into the party ranks, was enshrined in the constitution during the congress.

Mr Hu, 59, was formally unveiled as party chief yesterday, replacing Mr Jiang. He is expected to succeed Mr Jiang as president next year.

However, Mr Jiang, 76, is likely to continue to wield enormous influence behind the scenes. Seven of the nine-member politburo standing committee are firm Jiang allies and Mr Jiang has retained his position as head of the Central Military Commission.

His retention of the post has evoked comparisons with his mentor Deng Xiaoping, who for a decade until 1990 ruled China by staying on as CMC chief. He ousted two party heads during that period.


Original link to "Courier Mail":,5936,5506651%255E954,00.html


Saturday, November 09, 2002

Below is part of an email from Jim Bennett, one of my correspondents about matters to do with the Protestant and Germanic influences in British history. He goes into more detail about the origins of religious tolerance and the origins of individualism than I do.



Both Catholics and confessional (or episcopal, if you will) Protestants tended toward intolerance for principled reasons. If belonging to a Church with the proper doctrine was essential to salvation, then you tended to believe that a uniform state Church was a good thing, and that toleration was a bad thing.

Even Calvinists rejecting episcopal authority believed in enforcing their rules for salvation by state power, as they did in Scotland, Geneva, Massachusetts, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

Most of the religious ultra-radicals of the English Civil War (more extreme than the Calvinists -- Muggletonians, Fifth Monarchy Men, etc. etc.) would have liked to have established their views and imposed them by state authority, but they were too small and weak to hope to have done so. Some of them came to advocate tolerance as their only practical option. Some, like the Quakers did come to adopt tolerance on principle. The Quakers were not marginal, in fact, but quite influential both in England (where they were often the prosperous industrialists in the Midlands and North) but especially in America (where they founded and controlled the largest, most prosperous city) -- see Fischer, Albion's Seed, and Phillips, Cousins' Wars.

However, it was the *combination* of the proliferation of nonconforming Protestant sects with the survival of the anti-centralist sentiments you identify as Germanic that led to toleration as a pragmatic policy. Without the proliferation of sects in important areas of England there would have been no pressure to force the basically pro-conformity Tories to consider toleration.

However, proliferating Protestant sects on the Continent were put down by state authority, whether Lutheran, Calvinist, or Catholic, at considerable cost in terms of loss of liberty and centralization of power. The English, uniquely in Europe, looked at this experience and decided they'd rather have tolerance and less centralization than conformity and oppression.

So, why did the English uniquely make this choice? Probably the inherited anti-centralizing tendencies you discuss.


Now, is "Germanic" the appropriate label for this tendency?

You have good authority for that opinion. Montesquieu and Tocqueville both go back to Tacitus, and find a continuity between the English liberty they strain to understand and the customs of the Germans that the Roman observes rather carefully and clearly. Montesquieu is where Jefferson gets his stuff about the "forest German assemblies" he loves to talk about. Macfarlane looks back at Montesquieu and Tocqueville in Origins of English Individualism and his new Riddle of the Modern World and finds that their discussion of Tacitus, Germanic influence of feudal Europe, and its continuity to England actually stands up to modern historical scholarship fairly well. So clearly the link is there.

However, if you go back beyond First Century Europe you see that the other Indo-European tribes that preceded the Germans, particularly the Italic and Greek tribes, also displayed similar characteristics, and that the decentralizing and self-governing characteristics of the Greek polis and early Roman Republic probably have something to do with this heritage.

Karl Wittfogel, of course, is the big proponent of this view, which he works into a grand view of "hydraulic" civilizations of Eurasia developing centralizing bureaucratic states driven by the need to administer irrigation projects than are periodically disrupted by invading tribes characterized by small family-worked freeholders organized into loose federal structures. As these tribes conquer and settle hydraulic civilizations, however, they gradually adopt bureaucratic characteristics, as did the Greeks and Romans, or imported them second hand as the Germans did when they borrowed hydraulic-influenced Roman law. (The British are now in danger of the same fate via the EU.)

OK, a very sweeping viewpoint, out of favour in academia these days, and maybe too technologically deterministic for my current taste. But a lot of truth in it regardless. Probably this is why precedents and legends from iron-age Greek cities and early Rome were not totally irrelevant to the American Founding Fathers, British parliamentarians, or us today.


Posted by John Ray


Monday, November 04, 2002


I reproduce below another article on the recent crazy ban on hunting to hounds in Britain. It was written by “N. Onymous” of Florida, in the USA and was written while the British legislation was still going through Parliament. It was originally written for a primarily American audience.


Take note across the pond.

If you pay any attention to such matters, you may have come across a little storm raging over in Britain. The quite charming Brits are all of a tither over foxes -- no silly, not the drop dead, gorgeous ones, the cute furry ones.

As of a couple of days ago, a bill approved by the House of Commons, proposes legislation, making it against the “Law of the land” to hunt with hounds, or in plainer language, fox hunting is to be banned.

Now, before you sneer and launch into your best British upper crust impersonation, poking fun at all and sundry: consider this. While being no great fan of blood sports myself, I am drawn to the cause of those country folk, who will now see a way of life turned into a criminal act by parliamentary fiat brought about by means of militant agitation and a misplaced sentimentality of the majority of the population. In short, Tony Blair’s “New Labour” party, with an election looming, saw a target of opportunity and went hunting for votes (pun intended).

Anyone who fails to see the blatant cynicism in this maneuver, has obviously been watching too much of the sports channel on TV. What’s that, I hear you say? Who cares about foxes? Who cares about Brits in the country? Well, you should. I don’t know about you, but I get a tiny bit nervous when I see one of the cornerstones of liberty, of a great, free nation, dug out of its very foundations: - and to serve such venal ambition no less.

What a fuss, it’s only fox hunting, after all... or is it? Anyone who does not realize that man’s treatment of the lesser animals within his domain is as cruel and savage as anything in the animal kingdom is naive in the extreme. It is the way of nature. If you object to it you can opt out and become a vegetarian. That’s your choice. But do not seek to impose your views upon others, either by force of argument or militant agitation.

Did we not learn that lesson with religion and look where that fight has left us. As always, the truth suffers mightily at the hands of intolerance. I do not mean to sound cold, but a fundamental truth is at stake here and we would do well to consider more carefully, before bowing to the actions of extremists and cynical manipulative politicians.

Nature of course is very cruel -- as any one who has seen any number of nature programs on television can attest. Given the singular facet of their content, it is fairly plain to see that the vast majority of people get a deal of satisfaction out of watching the “horror of the kill”. So it would appear that something of a double standard is at play here.

It is the height of foolishness to allow those elected to office to manipulate your good intentions for the purpose of gaining your vote. Any one who thinks that the Labour party or any other party for that matter is driven by compassion for foxes is wrong. It is not in the nature of the political animal to effect great exertions on anything other than the garnering of votes and/or toeing the party line. One or two individual’s maybe.

The propensity of governments to make criminals out of its citizenry is actually no more than the unintentional by product of collectivist actions. When we trample the rights of individuals, we place the chains of servitude around our own shoulders, for what is someone else’s misdeeds today can all too easily become yours tomorrow.

I am not making light of the tiny fox; indeed he has his place in the scheme of things. He is a beautiful creature to behold in his natural environment. However, to cast aside the freedom of those with whom we do not agree seems to me to be short sighted and dangerous.

A new influence appears on the political landscape, a self-righteous mobocracy has won a large victory (I refuse to say great) over freedom and common sense. By sheer imposition of force and intimidation, one section of the community will impose its will upon another section of lesser strength. The sentiments of the mob are very fickle and inclined to be swayed by passions driven by ungovernable and unpredictable forces. We are very ill served, when we allow the rights of others to be trampled upon, no matter what the motivation of our intentions.

If any of the noble sentiments, expressed so eloquently by our ancestors and so admired by many of us today, are not to become suitable wall paper for the guest bathroom, we had better get up off our own self righteous backsides. The likes of Voltaire and Burke, of Jefferson and Paine, must be groaning in their graves at our slothful indifference to these assaults on liberty.


Posted by John Ray


You may have to click the "Archive" link at the top above to get the earlier article about foxhunting on this site.
Then click on the earliest archive and "Voila!"


Sunday, November 03, 2002


I thought I had better put up here a copy of Bettina Arndt's summary of an interesting debate before The Sydney Morning Herald takes it down from their site. It shows that both the Left and the Right take an interest in welfare but the Right approach it less simplistically:

The original link was:


Same name but vastly different thinking in the great welfare debate
October 25 2002

Two professors are slugging it out in print on the issue of self-reliance v dependency, writes Bettina Arndt.

Saunders v Saunders. No, it's not a messy divorce case. This is a far more cerebral battle where the skirmishes are taking place not over the kitchen sink but in rarified academic journals. Surprisingly, the two protagonists have the same name - Peter Saunders.

The original Professor Peter Saunders is director of the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales where he has been for more than 20 years.

The new Peter Saunders is also a professor, fomerly of the University of Sussex, who last year was appointed director of social policy research programs at the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), a Sydney-based think tank.

Same name, similar titles, but diametrically opposed views.

Saunders the New is challenging what he regards as the "old-style socialist thinking", long favoured by Saunders the Old and most of our academic policy analysts - particularly on poverty and welfare issues. Next week Saunders the New will publish a harsh review of Saunders the Old's just published book, The Ends and Means of Welfare, claiming he used biased evidence to promote unashamedly one-eyed ideological analysis in a manner which is "quite ill-tempered and prejudicial".

The review, to be published in the CIS journal Policy, concludes: "What the book is really about is how awful social welfare policies have been since the 1980s, how unfair it is that some people earn a lot more than others, and how we need the government to put all this right by spending lots more of our money than it currently spends."

In The Ends and Means of Welfare, Saunders the Old argues the end goal of welfare is to provide everyone with a decent income.

Employment is presented as one means to this end, and doling out welfare benefits as another, and it doesn't seem to matter much which route we encourage people to take.

He suggests "there may be advantages in allowing those with the weakest attachment to the world of work to 'opt out"' and live on an "unconditional basic income" financed by the rest of us.

Saunders the New argues that social policy should be about encouraging self-reliance, not fostering dependency on welfare payments. His "classical liberal" position regards it as "immoral for the government to take money away from people who are maintaining themselves and their families through their own efforts and to redistribute it to people who have no intention of even trying to achieve self-reliance".

So there it is - the gloves are off!

How fascinating to have the two Saunders openly debating the assumptions underpinning our treatment of welfare and poverty issues.

The issues they raise are particularly relevant in the light of the announcement this week of an inquiry by a Senate committee into poverty and Amanda Vanstone's discussion paper on welfare reform, due to be released in the next few weeks.

For instance, Saunders the Old pushes the line that poverty is mainly a "structural" problem and that poor people are rarely, if ever, responsible for their own plight. Any attempt to push them towards self-reliance is seen as "blaming the victim".

Advocates of this position - including many in the media - pour scorn on anyone who tries to draw a distinction between those who genuinely want to help themselves and those who don't.

Saunders the New believes this is confusing the question of responsibility with the issue of blame. "Even if all those who suffer disadvantage were to turn out to be victims of circumstances beyond their control, it still would not follow that the best strategy for them would be to absolve them of all responsibility for getting their lives back on track," he writes in Poverty in Australia: Beyond the Rhetoric, due to be published next month. He quotes Jesse Jackson, who once told his black followers in America: "If a white man knocks you down, it's his fault: if you don't get up, it's yours."

Add to these skirmishes the huge gulf between the two men on the extent of poverty in Australia - Saunders the Old claims disadvantage is increasing, while the New cites evidence to show it remains constant - and the scene is set for challenging new input into the poverty and welfare debates.


Posted by John Ray


Saturday, November 02, 2002


There are five stories here at the moment. On Burglary, head size, "Dezis", foxhunting and the late Pim Fortuyn.

I put up here articles by other people that might not otherwise be available online.


The Story below is from the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of November 3rd, 2002
The original link is:,5936,5413461%255E421,00.html
but newspaper links tend not to last.

Burglary capital of western world

By Chris Taylor

AUSTRALIA has become the burglary capital of the Western world - and robbers are snubbing their noses at the justice system.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures obtained by The Sunday Mail reveal 269 criminals were jailed when charged with burglary as their main offence in Queensland's higher criminal courts during 2000-01.

In the same period, more than 77,000 break-ins were reported on Queensland homes and businesses.

The ABS figures showed another 190 burglars were given community service, probation or a fine after appearing before the state's District Courts.

Shadow attorney-general Lawrence Springborg said many burglars, especially juvenile offenders, were laughing at the justice system.

Criminologists estimate at least 5000 burglars are operating across the state.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, they are getting away with an average $1000 booty from each raid. Overwhelmed police solve little more than one in 10 break-ins.

Queensland Police Union president Gary Wilkinson said the court system was a constant source of frustration to officers whose hours of investigation more often than not resulted in "slap on the wrist punishments".

A Federal Parliamentary inquiry into crime in the community has been told that one in 20 Australian households was robbed each year.

The inquiry was told Australia had the worst break-in rate of 17 Western nations, including Britain, France, Spain, Canada and the United States.

Last year, 435,524 break-ins were reported to Australian police, up 13 per cent since 1995.

Griffith University criminologist Tim Prenzler said today's breed of young burglars did not see prison as a reality if they were caught. Four in five burglars were young males, aged 15-25, with a record of school failure, family conflict and substance abuse, he said.

"These are young men, in their late teens, with delusions of immortality," said Mr Prenzler.

Mr Springborg said logic needed to prevail because juvenile offenders did not expect to be greeted by the full force of the law.

"The courts need to get tougher because a small minority of offenders are responsible for a large percentage of property crime," he said.

The officer in charge of Brisbane Central CIB, Inspector Ben Hanbidge, said police did the best they could.

"In many cases in the absence of physical evidence, it's sometimes difficult to substantiate more than one charge against a person, even though a particular offender may be responsible for countless break and enters," Insp Hanbidge said.

"His arrest won't reflect in any way on clear-up rates but it will affect future crime levels."


Posted by John Ray