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May 03rd 2018 print

Walter Starck

Why, Twenty-One Times Why?

Is there no limit to the demands of political correctness, the burden of hypothetical solutions to imaginary problems, and the detachment from empirical reality that can be imposed on a society? Here, a list of questions whose answers would be obvious were they not being obscured

gay question markAlthough the basic principles of logic are fundamental to the form of symbolic communication and reasoning we know as language, these are all too readily ignored where personal gain or emotional satisfaction are involved. Such disregard for truth not only varies between individuals, but also between cultures and within cultures over time. Currently Western Culture seems to be in a period of decline in this regard with the rise of post-modern political correctness playing a major role and with social media aiding and abetting the malaise through easy propagation and ready access to social affirmation for almost anything one might choose to believe.

Every day the news media spew an irrational swill of dubious opinion parading as fact. Even when directly conflicted by sound readily available evidence, it is simply ignored. Remarkably, and no matter how ill-founded it may be, much of this effluvium is swallowed by a  large audience already primed for unquestioning acceptance.

That we should prefer to believe what we find satisfying and seek comfort and support in others of similar belief is understandable.  What is difficult to comprehend, however, is our willingness to lie to ourselves with irrational conviction simply because we find the indications of reason and evidence discomforting in some way. This is especially remarkable in view of the repeated and disastrous consequences of beliefs clearly not in accord with the actual world in which we exist and/or contrary to the observable nature of our own being.

The following is an arbitrary selection of a score of examples from recent news.  They range in import from the trivial to the critical, but all beg for an answer as to why:

  1. Why do we facilitate the largescale ongoing immigration of refugees from failed states with no assessment of the outcomes? In particular, it would seem worth trying to better understand the effect of a common factor for almost all of the failed states, which is the nature of the culture they share and how this may be affecting the successful assimilation of these immigrants.
  2. Why is there such a political obsession in Australia with climate change and carbon emissions when no recent extremes of climate are outside the bounds of earlier natural variability, when the claimed warming trend is less than the margin of error in measurement and when this is the only developed economy in which the level of natural uptake exceeds the emissions. As Australia is a net carbon sink, why are we not then receiving credits from other nations who are large net emitters?
  3. Why is there a massive drive for wind and solar power when they require three to four times more installed generating capacity than they deliver and, at current levels, are providing only about 10% of baseload demand at already exorbitant cost with increasingly difficult load management problems? Especially, when the full baseload capacity of conventional power is still required to provide backup for the highly erratic alternative power and it must then be running inefficiently in standby mode much of the time.
  4. Why are we seeking to re-equip the RAN with a handful of extravagantly expensive and vulnerable frigates and submarines which have a very limited capacity to defend the nation when, for far less cost, we could have hundreds of versatile long-range drone ships and aircraft which would provide a truly formidable defence capability?
  5. Why does it require 100 hours driving time to get a provisional drivers licence in Queensland but less than half that time to get a private pilot’s licence, especially when our road accident and fatality rates indicate no benefit over jurisdictions with far less onerous requirements? (see Figure 3.1 to see how the state’s road toll had already decreased to a fraction of its 1970 high when the new measures were introduced)
  6. Why is the commercial fishing catch limit on the Great Barrier Reef limited to 3041 tonnes (e.g. 9 Kg per square Km of reef and lagoon area) when the global status report on coral reefs cites 15,000 Kg per square Km as being sustainable for well managed reef fisheries?
  7. Why is it that with the largest per capita fishing zone in the world we must import between 66% and 75% of the seafood we eat and thus add to the pressure on marine resources with orders of magnitude greater demand on them?
  8. Why do we heavily restrict our tuna fishermen, then import $165 million a year in canned tuna largely from the same stocks we won’t allow our fishermen to catch?
  9. Why do GBRMPA, academics and environmentalists repeatedly and blatantly exaggerate the economic value for GBR tourism by claiming the gross value for tourism in the region when only half of visitors visit the reef at all and for almost all of those who do their reef experience is a single day trip which is an activity that comprises only a few percent of the gross value of tourism? Why, too, is this never challenged, as it surely would be if any other tourism sector claimed credit for the entire value for tourism?
  10. Why do we repeatedly see Aboriginal culture described as being 50,000 years old and “the oldest on Earth” when, all cultures are the same age but some have changed more than others, nothing is known about the culture 50,000 years ago and even the most recent pre-European culture is no longer practiced?  Wouldn’t it be a lot more honest to just say that Aboriginal culture is rich and unique with ancient roots.  By emphasising the age are we not in effect implying something primitive and backward.
  11. Why do we use the term “Aboriginal civilisation” when the culture was that of hunter-gathering with none of the key characteristics by which the term “civilization” is defined?  These include such things as agriculture, social stratification, buildings, civil works, urbanisation, specialisations of labour and some form of symbolic record keeping.
  12. With a national petrol and diesel reserve only sufficient for a couple of weeks and it being at the end of a long vulnerable supply chain while draining billions of dollars from the economy, why do we not have our own synfuel industry using our abundant coal or natural gas?  Especially, when the cost per litre would be no greater.
  13. Why the phobia about nuclear power when we have the largest reserves in the world, ideal conditions for it and, with current technology, can enjoy the cheapest, most reliable, safest and cleanest power of all?  Better still, we also have vast areas of the most remote, geologically stable and driest places to store any waste.
  14. Why do we ban the clearing of native vegetation and increasingly hamstring our farmers and graziers with myriad environmental costs, restrictions and demands? We used to have an abundance of some of the least expensive high-quality food in the world.  Now we have some of the most expensive with increasing dependence on imports.
  15. Do our eco-saviours have no awareness that ecology is above all holistic and that what we do not get in one place only shifts the effect to somewhere else?
  16. Why is it that Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea et al. are always having to impose gross violations of human rights and subject their populations to severe deprivations for some higher purpose which remains permanently in the future? Might there not in fact be some fundamental fallacy in collectivist philosophy that renders freedom, prosperity and equality permanently unattainable?
  17. Why do eyeglasses and dental implants, bridges and caps cost vastly more in Australia than they do in the now-advanced economies in Asia, where training, equipment and overhead costs are otherwise similar?  Is there some government-enabled monopoly that permits this?
  18. Why all the celebration of having the most expensive housing in the world when houses are simply a cost of living that is turning Australia into a land of indentured servants owned by the banks?  Is it not like celebrating increases in food prices because they make the food in our pantry more valuable?
  19. Why is it that the prevailing demographic of the Green vote is inner-urban non-producers whose own chosen habitat where nature has been virtually annihilated, is the fraction of 1% of the continent?
  20. Why is it that so many of those who profess such great concern over threats to the environment greet any evidence that something may not be as bad as they fear with anger and rejection, never with hopeful interest? Might it be that their real commitment is not to nature but, to displaying their virtue and pleasuring themselves with a delicious sense of self-righteousness?
  21. Why are we continuing to indenture a whole generation with exorbitant HECS debt when most of the education they are receiving could be better delivered at higher quality and only modest cost through online courses?

In short, is there no limit to the demands of political correctness, the burden of hypothetical solutions to imaginary problems and the detachment from empirical reality that can be imposed on a society?

That, at least, would seem to be one question for which we seem well on the way to a decisive answer.

A marine biologist, Walter Starck has spent much of his career studying coral reef and marine fishery ecosystems

Comments [6]

  1. oldsailor says:

    Great stuff, thanks very much.

  2. Anthony H says:

    Brilliant. I’m printing it for all my family to read!

  3. Jacob Jonker says:

    Twenty questions begging for an answer. oldsailor got in first, but shirked his/her obligation. So it’s up to me, and I can see, the Editor will not be so happee, with me, but…
    Q 20 was answered, but for the observation that politics is at basis and in practice a perversion. It’s the perversion we have to have lest we get worse perversios.

    1. Immigration from failed states: simply part of the hdden agenda to destroy the democratic nation-states’ sovereignty and create such a crisis that martial law is instituted on a permanent basis. The globalising corporates have, I hope, a plan to deal with the ensuing chaos. A world government is the vision practically all those playing politics in the West are working on. TINA.

    2. Climate change: power politics, taxpayer- and hapless consumer-funded gravy train, easy money, oligarchic manoeuvring, profitable collusion, more opportunity for corruption; pure politics.

    3. Wind-, Solar- and related scams: see answer to Q 2.

    4. RAN: see answer to Q 1.

    5. 100 hrs driving to get your provisional licence in Queensland: that’s easy. Queensland is, more still than other states in Australia (leaving the territories out of it), like a Southern state in the United States. They do it their way.

    6. Fishing the Barrier Reef; quotas: ostensibly, it’s international virtue signalling from the Australian Greens and their hidden persuaders, but really international horse-trading under the table.

    7. Imports; see food: see answer to Q 6.

    8. Tuna fishermen (and women): see answer to Q 6.

    9. Reef tourism; making false claims about numbers actually visiting: politics.

    10. Aboriginal culture; exaggerated claims about: politics. It’s an industry all its own, remember.

    11. Aboriginal civilisation: see answer to Q 10.

    12. Synfuel etc.: vested interests running the country.

    13. Nuclear power: something to do with radioactive radiation and half lives of decaying atoms, as far as it is otherwise economically competitive.

    14. Land clearing: Starck should not ask questions beyond his ken. The Cattle King, Sir Sidney Kidman, had the perspicuity to have his observations, in that regard, recorded for posterity( and noted by,one Ion Idriess, for one) more than a hundred years ago. Somewhere in the Quadrant magazine archives is a story about the clearing and developing of the marginal lands in the south of the continent. I forgot the title and author, but a good place to start is the history of the mallee country.

    15. Eco-saviours politicking: see answer to Q 2. Also as a secondary, see answer to Q 1.

    16. Cuba(Cuba?), Venezuela, North Korea et al: some countries in the world are running decades behind the western erstwhile democracies in terms of sociopolitical development. Yet some others are centuries behind in that regard. The higher purpose is flim-flam, like telling people to be good, peaceful and law-abiding so they can go to heaven after they die while in this world they are.., ah, plainly speaking, screwed to a greater and ever greater extent, until they expire or revolt.

    17. Optometrists and dental technicians claiming windfall profits and being paid better wages here than in Asia: the immigration department is run by optometrists and dental technicians-just guessing.

    18. Housing: it’s a racket! A special family of honour has long been ensconced in government in all the western erstwhile democracies and took over the running of government at all levels many decades ago.

    19. Faux Greens in the inner cities: artificial lawn in high political places. You have to be near the seats of power to infiltrate and pervert them. Also, see answers to Q 1 and Q 2.

    20. Answered already.

    21. HECS debt: see answers to Q 1 and Q 2.

  4. gardner.peter.d says:

    I can’t answer every question but there is a common theme which applies to some of the additional issues in UK, namely Brexit. the common theme is that people don’t do the basic research to inform themselves. instead they prefer to follow the opinions of others according to their choices of PC badges. The example in UK is illustrated by case of the Five Presidents’ Report (The EU has five presidents!!!) on completing economic and monetary union. It was published in June 2015 a year before the UK’s referendum on membership of the EU. It is written in plain easily understood English. It explains how the last stages of integration will take place, first without treaty change, then with treaty changes so that by about 2025 the stage will be set for the last scene: the foundation of a Federal State of Europe. Yet 48% of voters a year later believed politicians and others who told them that if UK remains in the EU, it would never join the euro, it would never be subordinate to an EU treasury, it would retain its rebate and opt-outs on Schengen and other areas, all of which were specifically excluded by the Five Presidents’ Report. Yet as can be seen from the EU’s proposals for its budget from 2021 and from numerous speeches and a white paper, the plan outlined in the Five P’s report is proceeding.
    Another example: The intention to form the EU’s own armed forces was specifically and repeatedly denied during the referendum campaign by politicians such as Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, even though preparations were well advanced. 48% believed him instead of the evidence before their eyes. The latest budget provides 13.5 billion euros for it in addition to national budgets.
    The notorious Article 50 in the Lisbon Treaty is written in plain clear English. it is unambiguous. There is no uncertainty as to its meaning. Yet its meaning was disputed vociferously.
    The current dispute over the Irish border post Brexit is entirely fabricated from specious claims made to further the EU’s negotiations to extract further concessions from Mrs May’s government – claims made by Irish and British politicians more than the EU. But most of the public believe these claims.. the UK Government has no intention of erecting a hard border. Yet the EU and Ireland claim that it must even though they themselves don’t want one.. And Mrs May, whom you would think would have access to and take note of objective grounded advice, agrees it is UK’s responsibility to erect a border no party wants and to make it invisible. Why? Why cant she just say, no, if you in the EU and Ireland think you need a border you erect it. We don’t and we won’t. Reality is entirely absent.

    • Jacob Jonker says:

      Why, indeed. In the Country Life magazine of February 28 this year, Athena, the cultural crusader, explains why a Rubicon has been crossed with the occasion of the closure of the National Potrait Gallery for an entire day to enable a private function on public venue. The trustees of the museum agreed the closure, a neutral statement was issued by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport. The amount paid, if any, for the private function in the museum is, as usual these days, commercial-in-confidence, or weasely words to that extent.

      Although the Rubicon is said to have been crossed, it is in fact becoming run-of-the-mill that well-connected operators have the public exluded from public places such as parks for the purpose of private enjoyment, profit, building up a company’s rating to be sliced and diced for further gain enjoyed by selected shareholders, or a combination of these. When private persons or commercial enterprises sponsor the maintenance of public parks, there is the advantage of a tax write-off and publicity, but when the details of such deals as the slow, almost surreptitious privatisation of public assets is kept secret, by way of the commercial-in-confidence clause, another dimension opens up-Corruption of purpose in government.

      Despite the theatrics of Royal Commissions into this, that and the other, and similar whitewashes, the capture of public assets and monopoly income-streams by legal persons in the shape of corporate entities, for the proceeds to be siphoned off in a myriad of ways to the eventual benefit of human legal persons by dubious, means hidden from the stakeholders in question, is a loathsome fraud, perpetrated by those in some public office or other. The power vested in government, derived the people organised as a nation-state, has been, it is obvious by now, conclusively hijacked for the purpose of exploitation, obfuscation, intimidation, defilement of the common good in law and order, making peaceful and law-abiding citizens certain prey to extortion without limit through the agency of a government of the, nominally, democratic, nation-state. Why is this happening? Who would deny it when it is so obvious?
      The perpetrators get away with it. That’s why. Within the bounds of the lawful organisation of society, there is no lawful answer to the hijack and abuse of the power to make law. Simple.

  5. DMRyan says:

    I cannot pretend to have intimate knowledge of all the very complex topics of which you ask questions. But with some knowledge of defence matters, my take is that your questions display a rather meagre understanding of Australia’s strategic position and an even less understanding of the means to achieve.

    Let me reverse your questions: Long range drones (subject to jamming and not as versatile as manned aircraft) and said aircraft, would predominately protect the ISLAND of Australia and its immediate approaches. Aircraft were the basis of the discredited and budget-driven strategy of continental defence. It was officially buried in the rescue of East Timor, but was only kept alive at all times by ‘White’ knights who ignored that we were actually …… an island. That is we are a maritime nation, as all our trade comes over or on the oceans. To protect these routes we have to be able to project power beyond our shores, with or without allies. To project power you need maritime vessels (including submarines which are as much about area denial), that amongst other things carry/support other defence assets (i.e. land and air support).

    The frigates we will get will be well equipped and when operated as they are designed to be, largely as part of an all-round task force, they will not be so vulnerable. Similarly the French submarines are the best we can get (foregoing a nuclear industry). Building them here is ‘arguable’ if we want certainty of supply and availability of major defence assets; the major disgrace being the political decision to build the first number here instead of France. This which would have made their introduction timely enough and the passing of the technology to Australia more seamless and efficient.