Monday, May 16, 2011

Better the dole than a dud job?

The discussion below from Australia is an interesting example of selective attention to the evidence by Leftists. A conservative writer replies quite well but I think just one point is needed to reveal the Leftist obfuscation:

I don't think anyone likes working in a dumb or grim job and many people resign from such jobs -- often becoming welfare dependent as a result of that. It is that basic fact that Leftists have latched onto here and here and here. They conclude from that fact that unemployment can be desirable. They conclude that being in a dumb job can be worse for your sense of wellbeing than being unemployed. And that may well be true in some cases.

What the Leftists "overlook" is that dumb jobs are very commonly just a first step on the occupational ladder. You have to crawl before you can walk and in your first job you will almost certainly be assigned the most routine work available. If you use that time to familiarize yourself with the organization's activities and show a willingness to work, however, you have a good chance of being given more rewarding work later on.

So the Leftists see only a static picture where what they are looking at is really a dynamic, changing situation -- and they therefore draw totally wrong conclusions. They fail to see that even routine work can be better than the dole because it puts you on the employment ladder. Being on the dole will get you nowhere

Now I guess many of us think we could be Managing Director of BHP-Billiton, but most of us accept that we might have to start at the bottom and work our way up.

But according to Stephen Long, ABC’s Economics Correspondent, talking about the government’s ‘tough’ welfare to work measures:
But the other side is there is an assumption in all the discussion around this from the Government and just about everybody that somehow this is a universally good thing, that any job is better than no job and we will be giving these people the dignity of work, the dignity of labour.

Now there is a whole body of medical research and other research that actually says that pushing people into low wage, insecure jobs that can often be quite oppressive and give people little control can actually undermine their health and well being.

Now I’m not absolutely sure what body of medical and other research Long is referring to, but here’s a tip – the main findings of the research are as follows:

Unemployment has an unambiguously negative effect on health, particularly mental health;

The unemployed have lower levels of life satisfaction than those with a job (check out the HILDA results, Stephen);

A fair proportion (at least 50 per cent) who have a low paid job in period one have a better job in periods 2, 3, 4, etc. (again check out HILDA) – that is, low paid jobs are not necessarily ‘dead end’.

The research to which Long may be referring compares those in jobs with considerable control and autonomy with those in jobs without those characteristics and, not surprisingly, people feel better about the former.

Having said this, the HILDA survey suggests that long hours – which are a correlate of more senior jobs – does not lead to higher life satisfaction overall. So the jobs may provide personal control but come at the cost of long hours.

The government is on the right track in emphasising the dignity of work.


Why Britain's liberal elite get it so spectacularly wrong

The writer goes overboard in describing AV (preferential voting) as undemocratic. Australia has had that system for around a century now and is not only still democratic but also provides a markedly better life for its people than Britain does. Otherwise, however, his comments seem sound

As the campaign to wreck Britain's electoral system gathered pace in the days before our emphatic referendum result, I experienced an intense feeling of deja vu. Somewhere before, I had heard the cloying sanctimony with which Stephen Fry, Nick Clegg and Eddie Izzard recommended abandoning common sense.

Their certainty that every voter should understand the importance of sending more people like them to Parliament was familiar and disturbing, but why? Then I remembered.

The incident took place in a wine bar in Glasgow's affluent West End. I overheard a conversation between a clique of academics, actors and journalists. They were deploring a decision to refuse a grant application from a radical theatre company. 'Everyone,' they concluded 'is absolutely incensed.'

I barely resisted telling them that their reference to 'everyone' was absurd. They meant everyone they knew, a group so distinct from ordinary Britons that it meant hardly anyone.

Now I understand the connection. That conversation took place in Glasgow Kelvin, the beautiful, leafy part of town where family homes cost upwards of half-a-million pounds and typical occupants work as lawyers, at the university, or the BBC. Kelvin is a place where private schools abound and Toyota Piouses compete with Porsches to park on polished cobbles. And it was one of only ten constituencies in the whole of Britain that voted 'Yes' to AV.

I know and love Kelvin, as I do several areas among the very short list of communities that voted to give unpopular parties influence that democracy denies them. Others include Oxford, Islington, Cambridge, Southwark and Edinburgh Central, where supporters of Alistair Darling, once the local Labour MP, suggested printing posters reading 'Vote Labour, Darling' because that, after all, was what they were telling their friends.

Oxford and Cambridge are host to the world's most concentrated communities of cloistered academics. Islington is where New Labour's Praetorian Guard live and devour sun-dried tomatoes in memory of Tony Blair. Southwark, where the Electoral Reform Society is based, nestles adoringly against the South Bank Centre in anticipation of the next Arts Council extravaganza.

Am I being cruel to these lovely locations and to Camden, Haringey and Lambeth that also saw fit to imagine Britain should embrace an electoral system that is scorned by devout democrats everywhere?

Of course I am. I lived in Kelvin and went to university in Cambridge. I am an academic and I was a journalist. I respect Britain's intellectual and cultural elite. They are my friends and I share some of their values. But I resent profoundly their cast-iron, ocean-going certainty that they are right - about everything. And I deplore their complacent assumption that all the rest of the population need do to achieve virtue is follow their advice.

The AV referendum has given this country a forceful reminder of something many intelligent, hard-working adults in towns, villages and suburbs across the land have long known. Policies and proposals that are treated as pure wisdom inside soi-disant 'progressive' bastions such as university common rooms, small-circulation newspapers and the BBC are anathema to millions of Britons. And this silent majority is, very reasonably, fed up with being told that it is wrong.

It is not simply the progressive elite's patronising sense of entitlement that offends me. Their ignorance of popular opinion and resistance to reason are truly obnoxious. And these prejudices are damaging too.

Progressive insensitivity to good sense has burdened Britain with institutions and practices that offend a clear majority of their fellow citizens, increase the burden of taxation and make many of us feel unwelcome in our own country.

Examples of policies that might be reversed if the population at large were listened to include Britain's membership of the European Union, metrication of weights and measures and abolition of grammar schools.

Few, outside a privileged elite that calls itself liberal while rejecting much of what that great philosophy promotes, would have incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. Fewer still would have promoted unplanned mass immigration from Eastern Europe or turned London into a safe haven for terrorist sympathisers.

Safe inside their charming homes and protected by generous salaries and prestigious qualifications, my progressive friends delude themselves that such policies express universal values. They think nothing of paying a little more to purchase green power or cycling to work, because they have money and they are their own bosses.

They say self-interest is the lowest form of interest because, to them, the privilege that spawns such piety feels entirely natural.

They are not bad, but they are insulated from reality to an extent that can make them appear so. It is too easy for them to imagine that fringe politicians, who resemble them and share their easy access to the media, are in touch with popular opinion. They open their mouths to spout forth ideas that people without a media platform and contacts to politicians properly dismiss as bizarre, abstract delusions.

The extraordinary aspect of their arrogance is that many progressives are sufficiently well educated to know they are wrong.

They know that efforts by a self-selecting elite to tell the majority what was good for them failed, abjectly, from the moment that mass voting was first permitted.

Victorian Liberals assumed that middle-class people would vote Liberal simply because Liberal reformers had championed their right to vote. Instead, mass suffrage undermined the Liberal Party and created the Conservative/Labour divide with which we are still familiar today.

Offered the freedom to vote, the British people did not meekly do as they were told. They took freedom seriously and expressed their own opinions, not those towards which their self-proclaimed betters steered them. This left do-gooding reformers exiled from power for generations.

Great British leaders including Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher have recognised the innate good sense of this decent, modest majority. John Smith, Labour's great lost leader, recognised it too.

People who live unglamorous lives in unfashionable locations from Penzance to Wick - the type of towns Americans call 'places you fly over' - understand the reality of the human condition in ways many prosperous intellectuals never will.

We cannot afford to have referendums on all of the things this silent majority might choose to change. The core principle of our representative democracy is that we elect MPs to do that on our behalf.

But, in the aftermath of a referendum that asked a question to which the answer was starkly obvious from the beginning, we are entitled to say never again. Never again should a tiny, incestuous elite be allowed to impose its wild, unrepresentative delusions on middle Britain.

The big lesson of the second national referendum in the history of British democracy - after 1975's vote on whether to remain in the EEC - is that if our elite wishes to be taken seriously it must learn to listen and not to preach.

Intelligence is not the sole preserve of a tiny group that listens only to the views of its members. Rather than sinking too deep into its comfort zone, the progressive classes should remember that among the most depressing products of incest is madness.


Can Liberty Thrive in an Illiberal Culture?

The desire for freedom is something hardwired into the fabric of the human soul. Unfortunately, so is the desire for power and control. This tension is playing out today in cities across the Middle East, as protestors eager for reform find themselves targeted by brutal dictatorial regimes. As inspiring as these cries for liberty may be, it is questionable whether stable, authentic democracy will ever triumph in the Middle East. Why? Quite simply, because the region lacks some of the essential cultural foundations necessary for democracy to thrive.

As a recent article in the Washington Post explains, the power elites of the Arab world don't seem to have much genuine enthusiasm for democratic institutions, despite their western intellectual pedigrees:

"The idea that Arab dictators have democrats for sons is surely another myth that has been shattered by the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. Yes, they had traveled widely and attended European universities. And yes their speeches were peppered with words such as "consensus," "dialogue," and "process" – hardly the typical talk of their dictatorial dads. But, as the deans of the London School of Economics learned in February, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi is not a different man because of his tutorials on politics and globalization. When the Libyan people rose up, the young Gaddafi quickly took to the airwaves and promised that his father's regime would fight to the "last bullet."

These young autocrats-in-waiting may have a theoretical grasp of democratic political theory and free market ideas. They know how to talk the talk of liberalism when needed. Indeed, they have undoubtedly benefited from the blessings of liberty as privileged elites exempted from the harsh realities of Totalitarianism. This exposure to liberty cannot compete, however, with a cultural narrative that is fundamentally illiberal.

When one considers the cultural components that allowed for representative government and the rule of law to rise in certain regions of the world, the role of religion cannot be ignored. Take Christianity for example. Heeding Christ's command to "render to Caesar what it Caesar's," Christians value the separation of Church and State. They recognize that there are secular spheres in which the Church should have no power, and likewise jealously defend the Church's right to preside over spiritual affairs unencumbered by any secular political agenda.

Because they believe that all human beings are created in God's image, Christians value the rule of law and absolute civil equality. Male or female, black or white, young or old, able-bodied or infirm, all are worthy in the eyes of God, possessing innate human dignity.

Because the God whom Christians worship is a personal God who desires a voluntary relationship with each and every person, Christians recognize that religious faith is not something that can be externally enforced. They ardently defend the freedom of each individual to worship God – or not – according to the dictates of their conscience.

Finally, Christians don't have a Pollyanna view of human nature. They understand that human beings are flawed, sinful, and inclined to abuse power. This is why the Founders established a clear separation of powers between three coequal branches of government. They didn't want to concentrate too much power in the hands of sinful people, realizing the damage that could be perpetrated on our freedoms.

For all these reasons and more, Christianity has long been called the "seedbed of democracy." Does this mean that Christian peoples have never committed atrocities against their own? Absolutely not. The point is that the Christian faith offers a moral foundation that condemns such actions. There is no justification for the tyrannical subjugation of others in the Gospels, no matter how much sinful demagogues may try to spin things.

Contrast the Christian political tradition with that of the dominant religious influence in the Middle East: Islam. Setting aside whether or not Islam properly understood is a religion of peace, it is worth considering whether the values that flow out of Muslim culture are compatible with western style democracy.

In most, if not all, Muslim countries religious liberty (often described as the "First Right") is not highly prized. Women are often viewed as second class citizens, and treated as the property of their males relatives in the eyes of Sharia Law. Islam doesn't recognize the separation of church and state, but rather views the state as an extension of Islam and an instrument of coercion for carrying out the agenda of the mullahs.

Religious tolerance and civil liberty are taken for granted in the United States. It is therefore difficult for Americans to accept that the blessings of liberty are not universally available. We are reluctant to articulate the obvious relationship between our Judeo-Christian foundations and our political and civil culture for fear of being labeled imperialist xenophobes. Let's not kid ourselves. Ideas have consequences, and to this point the ideas that have predominated in the Middle East have not lent themselves to liberty and justice for all. It remains to be seen whether Islam is capable of bearing such fruit. Meanwhile, the world is watching and waiting, and people are dying.


Anti-Muslim rally in Australia

No need to guess where the violence came from

MUSLIM groups are worried by a new nationalist organisation that claims Australia is in danger of being Islamicised.

Australian Defence League supporters clashed with Left-wing protesters in the city yesterday as the group held its first local rally, sparking a warning from the Baillieu Government that bigotry would not be tolerated.

A small team of police initially kept the groups apart, but ADL supporters were forced to end their protest early when activists encircled them and tore up placards.

The ADL is an offshoot of the English Defence League, which has staged demonstrations in areas of high Muslim concentration in the UK. About 40 ADL members, including women dressed in mock hijabs, protested in Federation Square yesterday over issues such as the certification of halal meat and concern sharia law would be introduced.

Protest organiser Martin Brennan claimed the group had 1400 members but denied it was anti-Muslim. "We are not racist whatsoever, we are against radical Islam infiltrating Australia," he said.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel said the group was provocative and wrong to believe that most Australian Muslims wanted to bring in sharia law. "It's of great concern that anyone is out there trying to disrupt the peaceful social fabric of Australia," he said. Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Nazeem Hussein said the ADL's views were uninformed and saddening.

State Multicultural Affairs Minister Nick Kotsiras said the Government did not tolerate racism, bigotry or the incitement of hatred. "Activities which undermine the multicultural harmony of Victoria will be dealt with swiftly," he said.

The ADL protest was swamped by the much bigger group of activists and unionists who shouted anti-racism slogans.

Anti-racism protester Mick Armstrong, from Socialist Alternative, said the ADL was trying to copy the tactics of its British counterpart. "They have had their protest and we have ended it," he said.


Christian preachers at Australian homosexual rally

No need to guess where the violence came from

A GAY and lesbian rally against homophobia in Adelaide has ended in violence after it was crashed by Christian protesters, with two people being removed by police.

About 200 people had gathered in Adelaide, outside the South Australian Parliament, on Saturday to rally in support of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia when members of the Adelaide Street Church showed up.

Rally organiser Jason Virgo said one woman was pushed out of her wheelchair and police had to be called. "A small number of right-wing Christians came out and started waving their flags and getting in people's faces, yelling quite loudly, some of them got in a bit of a fight," Mr Virgo said. "(They had) signs saying `God hates sinners' ... no sign should say `God hates'.

"It's an International Day Against Homophobia and for them to come to us and come to our rally and say things which we find homophobic, it's disrespectful. "We would never go to their church and disrupt things the way they did today."

The Street Church's Damien Gloury said the preachers were mobbed and hit for proclaiming their Christian message. "We're just preaching the Bible, we're quoting the bible and it says that homosexuality is a sin," he said.

"We thought we would go out and not try to disrupt because we do love everybody, it might sound like we're condemning people but we're not we're just preaching the Bible.

"We've been mobbed, we've been hit, our banners have been thrown down and these people have been hating our guts just for proclaiming the Christian message in this nation and that's what it's about."

A spokeswoman for South Australia Police said two people had to be removed for breaches of the peace, but no arrests were made.
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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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