Eat Your GreensWe speak truth to power and we eat our greens
Even more than that, if we want a kinder, gentler, more compassionate society, one which, presumably, we would all benefit from, it's also incumbent upon us to refrain from taking a position on any subject by basing that position on an ideology, merely because we are not prepared to apply the intellectual rigour required to properly understand it.
With that as a foundation, it's reasonable therefore to conclude that in today's world, with its surfeit of news coverage, and with it no shortage of opinion, on topics various - drought, bushfires, water management, the environment, climate change, economics, human rights, the welfare of others, political machinations, the list goes on, we need to, dare I say, be attentive and with it develop the skills to separate well constructed reportage from mere opinion, masquearading as analysis.
It's against this background of news saturation that a library of 3,000+ (and counting) pieces of credible journalism from reliable sources was established. It morphed into 'Eat Your Greens', in an attempt to present information, easily accessible, that contributes to making us a better informed, gentler and kinder society. It's also incumbent upon us, if we are to have this kinder, gentler, more compassionate society, that we hold the political class to account.
There are no answers here, only questions, that is what good journalism does, it shines a light into dark corners that the powers that be are happy to have remain in darkness. 'Eat Your Greens' attempts to expose this and hold accountable those who weild power, by shining a light into those dark corners and turning over some rocks - and - who wouldn't want that. Read on.
Ideology is not grounded in kindness or knowledge, it's usually grounded in the preservation of power, in privilege, prejudice, in any or all its manifest forms, or in fear, or a combination of all of those things. Ideology preserves injustice, destruction of environment, marginalisation of minorities, racism, institutionalised discrimination, species extinction, preservation of privilege, and high-office graft. And for the ideologue, the truth of a matter, or the facts that may prove or undermine their ideology more often than not are less important than the number of people prepared to believe in it.
Ideology encourages hyper-partisan reasoning due to what psychologists call "motivated cognition," which is the act of deciding what you want to believe and using your reasoning power, with all its might, to get you there. Just as it's true for individuals, it's also true for organisations and nation states. The manifestation of this is essentially that, for example, a racist will always be a racist, a bigot will always be a bigot, a fundamentalist will always be so, vociferous in their denials. What it takes to shift these views is usually a life-changing event and life changing events generally can not be planned or orchestrated.
Economic Ideology, for example, as it's extant is underlined by the following patently contradictory statement by Australia's Prime Minister, who evidently does not recognise irony when he sees it, in response to the government's reducing the Jobseeker payment - "the government can’t allow the lifeline [to] hold Australia back as we move into the next phases of recovery." (Nov '20). Whilst this statement (article here) demands closer examination it's perhaps best left to let it speak for itself, or, in the spirit of Hamlet, allow it to be "hoist with its own petard."
'Eat Your Greens' looks at the juxtaposition between economy and society, a distinction that political ideology fails to make. Making political decisions based solely on an Ideology starts wars, divides communities, discourages innovation, promotes secrecy and advances prejudices. And yet ideology is often based on minimal examination or appreciation of the things that make a society work. It's good then to ask oursleves how we might go about defining one.
Neo-liberalism's underlying principle is one of the State having a passive, rather than an active, role in society and economy, although the theory never holds because governments intervene in the economy when it suits their ideology, which, with that one single stroke, has their theory disproven. It's proponents claim that the market is better positioned to deliver prosperity, health outcomes and many services hitherto the preserve of governments, adopting a “if it's not working, and particularly if it is working, let the market take it over” philosophy. If there was a single event to punch a crater size hole in that theory it is Covid-19, although it's not as if we weren't warned, with the failure of the privatised aged care system being its poster child.
A neo-liberal would advocate government staying out of the way and allowing individuals decide, individualism being the bastard child of neo-liberalism. This meme falls at the first and most fundamental hurdle, that being a mis-interpration of what economics actually is. Economics has very little to do with maths, or statistics, it’s not logical, it never has been.
Economics is a study in sociology, it’s irrational, mad as a cat and prone to outbursts that defy the logic purported to it. A neo-liberal, even a rabid one, would surely not attempt to make the claim that their theory is a panacea but nonetheless, they will almost always look to the market as the default setting for addressing what they adjudicate to be a hitherto faulty or implacable situation.
Let’s step back a bit - the natural enemy of the neo-liberal would be the socialist, another term most people would struggle to muster up a definition of. Broadly speaking, socialism is the democratic (or in some cases, the revolutionary) socialisation of the means of industry, production, distribution and exchange. In its diluted form then, socialism exists in some form or another, in every developed country in the world. Each time a government interferes in the market, it is, by its actions, setting aside any ideological adherence to neo-liberalism while at the same time trumpeting its virtues.
Publicly funded health care is a form of socialism yet very few of us would demand that the government placed the responsibility for health care wholly and solely into the hands of the market, particularly given that private health care costs two to three times the cost of operating the public system. It would represent something more than an act of political folly.
Neo-liberalism, econonically speaking, advocates a takeover, while politically it abdicates responsibility, arguing that it has handed over control and therefore oversight, to the market. It will argue that is therefore not at fault if the whole thing implodes. And here is the rub, neo-liberals find it almost impossible to seperate a society from an economy, they view the economy as holding primacy and believe that all good things emanate from it. Time and time again they are proved wrong and time and time again, they look for new strategies to implement and promote their logic. We only have to look at how neo-liberalism increased inequality in the aftermath of the GFC to prove the point.
There is no doubt that the market has given us great innovation, it can and does drive progress but it is, at its core, an amoral system, it makes no attempts at being moral, nor should it - such that any contingency related to catering to the needs of people, be it fairness kindness, or compassion will have a price, or cost, assigned to it, set against the end result, which is not fairness, kindness or compassion but profit.
Neo-liberalism doesn’t fix things - it doesn’t, for example, provide for an equitable health care system or solve the problem of homelessness or domestic violence. It’s not designed for equity, rather the opposite, it’s designed for inequity, there is always winners and losers, it’s the core of its model.
It’s important to note that Socialism on it’s own does not work any more than neo-liberalism on its own does, however, neo-liberalism as it’s advocated by our current government, does not deliver a strong or fair civil society any more than putting a saddle on a horse guarantees that you will be able to ride it. Neo-liberalism makes no effort to account for suffering, citing disadvantage as a natural by-product of a healthy economy and therefore, according to the neo-liberal model, a healthy society. I enjoy the dynamics of the market and the benefits it can provide but at the same time I bristle when caring for people is reduced to an auction, it begets the things that diminishes us as a society and reflects back to us our core values.
The idea that an individual might have to reject, or at least sideline, the ideal of collectivism in order to make personal progress in the world might have come about as a result of a certain hostility towards the original idea of Collectivism, with its shadowy association with the evils, perceived or otherwise, of Socialism. The “if we go down the path of this collectivism idea then we’ll all become Socialists” theory is daily debunked because governments intervene constantly on behalf of the collective, or so it is assumed, or promoted.
The results of individualism are supposed to be, firstly, Freedom, followed close behind by Prosperity - however, ask the parent of a child diagnosed with a life changing illness or living with a disability for their definition of freedom and prosperity and you’ll likely get a very different answer to the same question asked of the couple around the corner renovating their house. Individualism lurks within that rich tapestry of aspirational cornucopia we are reminded we’re all entitled to - take away our individualism and, we are told, you take away our aspiration.
Individualism will always rise in good times and in bad, it promotes innovative thinking, it enhances lifestyles but making our way knowing, or at least feeling, that we make true progress as a Society, having our individualism flourish as part of a collective shifts the ideas of freedom, prosperity and aspiration to another level of our being. We become a great society when the attention Individualism demands in order to succeed is set aside. It won’t prevent the individual prospering and it might just save one somewhere else.
Which is why we decided to break things up a little, by corralling everything prior to June 1, 2021 and kick starting another chapter from that date on, which will then take the form of quarterly chapters. The bedrock will remain the main library, it has a heft that demands it.
The more than 4,000 articles you’ll find in the main library may appear intimidating, I’m sure you’re capable of filtering what you’re interested in, nevertheless, there is a lot to take in. You’ll no doubt find some of this journalism not to your liking but relax, the fact that you’re prepared to wade in at all means you’re an intelligent person and intelligent people want to apply intellectual rigour to any conversation - which, after all, is what we want, an intelligent conversation that doesn’t continually fall back on simplistic tropes or degenerate into, as is often the case, rants or passive aggressive attempts to persuade, based on little more than long held ideologies. And, if you're a student of psychology, you'll be aware that these views will not be shifted by merely presenting facts or nuanced argument, these people have already made up their mind, so it's best to leave these people to their own devices and bid them fair winds.
You will also find articles prior to 2019 and they've been included because they either add context to the other articles or simply because they were stumbled upon and deemed too important to leave out. Simple. Having said all that, there are a lot of topics that may not necessarilry be current but stand the test of time all the same - Women; Environment; Corruption; Racism; Homelessness; Inequality; Energy Policy and on and on and on we go. Take your pick as to what interests you but always keep an open mind and always, always carry a big stick and watch out for bears.
Good leadership is honest, visionary, free of ideaology, compassionate. How are our leaders doing then?
Under the Hood
Topics that may not currently be in the news but are well worth a closer look (under the hood)
Under the Hood
- Coalition ignored warnings it needed vaccination tracking system for aged care staff | The Guardian (Jun '21)
- Australian democracy is fading fast - Pearls and Irritations (Bruce Haigh) | John Menadue (Jun '21)
- If you think Australia making an example of a sick three-year-old is an exception, think again. This is what we do | The Guardian (Jun '21)
- Matt Canavan suggested the cold snap means global warming isn't real. We bust this and 2 other climate myths | The Conversation (Jun '21)
- It’s textbook ‘how not to run a war’ | 7am Podcast (Jun '21)
- Stalinist-style prosecutions of Witness K and Bernard Collaery - Pearls & Irritations | John Menadue (Jun '21)
- The Low and Middle Income Tax Offset has been extended yet again. It delivers help neither when nor where it’s needed (inequality) | The Conversation (May '21)
- Morrison locked Australia's border gate and now he's hiding the key | The Conversation (May '21)
- A Dossier of Lies and Falsehoods • | Crikey (May '21)
- It’s now criminal to be the wrong sort of (brown) Australian | The New Daily (May '21)
- Government rorting is now the Australian way of doing business - Pearls & Irritations | John Menadue (Jun ’21)
- Gender equality in Australia deteriorates again, rapidly, yet the rage for change remains undaunted | Michael West (Apr ’21)
- Counter-terrorism gets a bigger political focus than domestic violence – with far fewer victims | The New Daily (Apr ’21)
- Backflips on China no problem for Morrison's inconsistent government | Crikey (Apr ’21)
- Climate change is a security threat the government keeps ignoring. We'll show up empty handed to yet another global summit | The Conversation (Apr ’21)
- ‘Lives being wasted’: how Australia’s mental health system lets young people down | The Guardian (Apr ’21)
- Look at Morrison and see for yourself - Pearls & Irritations (Bruce Haigh) | John Menadue (Apr '21)
- Australia’s plans for a $2 billion airstrip in the Antarctic is environmental vandalism - Pearls & Irritations | John Menadue (Feb '21)
- Why won’t house prices go down? | 7am Podcast (Feb '21)
- Australia's housing market is boosted by policies designed to ensure prices keep rising | The Guardian (Feb '21)
- Over 1,000 Australians with cognitive disability are detained indefinitely each year. This shameful practice needs to stop | The Conversation (Feb '21)
- The Morrison Government has the commentary. But what about the answers? | ABC News (Feb '21)
- Women & sexual assault: Dhanya Mani reached out to the Prime Minister's office for help over an alleged indecent assault. She says she did not get it | ABC News (Feb '21)
- Robo-debt public servants now shaping the NDIS | The Saturday Paper (Apr ’21)
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison: a "tin ear" or a contempt for women? | Michael West Media (Mar '21)
- Scott Morrison’s rule of law - Pearls and Irritations | John Menadue (Mar '21)
- Why we need Aboriginal voices to tell the history of Australia’s convict past | The Guardian (Feb '20)
- Inequality and the housing bubble | The Saturday Paper (Feb '21)
- Climate Change Performance Index Report - 2021 | CCPI (Jan '21)
- We analysed almost 500,000 police reports of domestic violence. Mental health was an issue | ABC News (Jan '21)
- Six key things we don't know about Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout despite promises of ‘transparency’ | The Guardian (Apr '21)
- The reason the Morrison government struggles with the idea of targets | ABC News (Apr '21)
- Does Australia really have to be so strident when it comes to China? | The Guardian (Dec '20)
- Coalition Spin Kings: real reform in aged care trumped by re-announcements and a deluge of cash (Dr Sarah Russell) | Michael West (Dec '20)
- Women with disability are being turned away by family violence services in Australia | SBS (Nov '20)
- Rising levels of carbon dioxide increasing extreme weather events in Australia, report finds | The Guardian (Nov '20)
- Robo-debt: a government-sanctioned debt sentence | The Saturday Paper (Nov '20)
- One-fifth of ecosystems in danger of collapse – here’s what that might look like | The Conversation (Nov '20)
- If Australia's resources were taxed the way Norway's are, we could secure the future of our schools | The Guardian (Feb '20)
- We’re innovative when housing bushfire victims. Why not all the homeless? | The Conversation (Mar '20)
- It's high time to question Australia's culture of military hero-worship | The Guardian (Nov '20)
- East Timor bugging scandal: Attorney General’s push for secret trial diminishes us as a nation | Michael West (Aug '20)
- IPCC Sixth Assessment Report | IPCC (Aug '20) | IPCC (Aug '20)
- Coalition trying to stop auditor general giving evidence on report critical of arms deal | The Guardian (Jul '20)
- Revealed: Australia defies UN pleas over atrocities in Yemen, escalates weapons exports to Saudis | Michael West (May '21)
- Intensive farming is eating up the Australian continent – but there’s another way | The Conversation (Jul '20)
- Morrison broadens membership of Covid-19 commission but says advice to remain off-limits to public | The Guardian (Jul '20)
- The announcement artist: Scott Morrison is good at promising but not at delivering | The Monthly (Sep '20)
- Australia has sleepwalked into a society where profit trumps quality care | The Guardian (Sep '20)
- Saudi Arabia is confident it can buy out the West, and Australia is happy to oblige | The Monthly (Mar '19)
- Is social housing essential infrastructure? How we think about it does matter | The Conversation (Feb '19)
- Morrison fixed on tax cuts as US and Britain embrace big government | The Saturday Paper (Apr '21)
- Australian government tells ICC it should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine | The Guardian (May '20)
- The COVID-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to transform the way we live - David Suzuki | Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (May '20)
- Morrison's lies cover a lack of substance — and a lack of interest in leading | Crikey (May ’21)
- NDIA hired research company to sell controversial changes to staff and public, leaks reveal | The Guardian (Apr '21)
- The Australian-born children the government wants to deport because they have a disability | ABC News (Mar '21)
- Auditor general to investigate jobkeeper after it was used to pay dividends and bonuses | The Guardian (Mar '21)
- There are lots of poverty lines, and JobSeeker isn't above any of them | The Conversation (Mar '21)
- Why is it so offensive to say 'all lives matter'? | The Conversation (Jan '21)
- The seven-year plot to undermine the NDIS | The Saturday Paper (Dec '20)
- Domestic violence soars after natural disasters. Preventing it needs to be part of the emergency response | The Conversation (Jan '21)
- Scott Morrison, aerodynamic populism and the art of never choosing a side | The Guardian (Jan '21)
- $1 billion per year (or less) could halve rental housing stress | The Conversation (Oct '20)
- Stop believing in fairy tales: Australia’s coal industry doesn’t employ many people or pay its fair share of tax | The Guardian (Dec '20)
- Alan Kohler: The News Bargaining Code is officially dead | New Daily (Mar '21)
- The scandals he walks past: In Morrison’s government, a lack of accountability has become systemic | The Monthly (Jan '21)
- How destructive can Scott Morrison be? We only need ask our kiwi cousins | Crikey (Apr '21)
- Forget about the trade spat – coal is passé in much of China, and that’s a bigger problem for Australia | The Conversation (Jan '21)
- My friend Rita was starving to death. How is this even possible in Australia today? | The Guardian (Mar '21)
- Calls for legislated human right to housing as rental market fails low-income Australians | The New Daily (Mar '21)
- Coalition leaves largest underperforming funds out of super reform laws | The Guardian (Dec '20)
- English test for Australian partner visas reveals Coalition's true nationalist colours | The Guardian (Oct '20)
- Coalition's $100m scheme to fund recycled products has spent no money | The Guardian (Oct '20)
- Australian federal budget found to be the most secretive ever produced | The Guardian (Oct '20)
- Germany is shutting down its coal industry for good, so far without sacking a single worker | ABC (Feb '20)
- Australians support universal health care, so why not a universal basic income? | The Conversation (Mar '21)
- Why mental health treatment can be too expensive for those who need it most | ABC (Mar '20)
- Morrison ruling by ‘Henry VIII’ clauses | The Saturday Paper (Jul '20)
- Affluence is killing the planet, warn scientists | The Conversation (Jun '20)
- Australia May Well Be the Worldʼs Most Secretive Democracy | New York Times (Jun '19)
- Why Is Australia Trying to Shut Down Climate Activism? | New York Times (Nov '19)
- Australia’s prime minister pledges to outlaw climate boycotts, arguing they threaten the economy | Washington Post (Nov '19)
- 'Are we now a totalitarian state?': case of Canberra's mystery prisoner alarms judge | The Guardian (Nov '19)
- What's driving poor mental health among young Australians? We asked them | ABC (Nov '19)
- Another nail in the coffin for democracy | New Politics (Oct '19)
- The speech 12 year old Aboriginal child, Dujuan, delivered at the UN Human Rights Council | Human Rights Law Centre (Sep '19)
- Morrison deflected parliamentary questions to other ministers almost 200 times since becoming PM | The Guardian (Feb '21)
- Ignored and given scraps: Office for Women demeaned by Coalition | Crikey (Feb '21)
- You can’t talk about disaster risk reduction without talking about inequality | The Conversation (Feb '21)
- Electric vehicles will tow us forward, despite Scott Morrison | New Daily (Feb '21)
- Jim Chalmers says two-thirds of the debt in the budget was borrowed before the start of the pandemic. Is he correct? | ABC (Aug '20)
- 400,000 women over 45 are at risk of homelessness in Australia | The Conversation (Aug '20)
- Some Facts About Debt | Per Capita (Apr '20)
- Coronavirus highlights the painful political truth about health inequality. Is social democracy the answer? | The Conversation (Apr '20)
- The need to house everyone has never been clearer. Here’s a 2-step strategy to get it done | The Conversation (Apr '20)
- Snowy 2.0 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – it will push carbon emissions up, not down | The Conversation (Mar '20)
- Disabled young people living on poverty-level benefits rises 300% in Australia | The Guardian (Feb '21)
- No, this is not an episode of Yes Minister, it's the Morrison government's response to the mental health crisis | The Age (Dec '20)
- New CSIRO, AEMO study confirms wind, solar and storage beat coal, gas and nuclear | Renew Economy (Feb '20)
- Explainer: Nine ‘tipping points’ that could be triggered by climate | Carbon Brief (Feb '20)
- More than half of government environmental scientists say their work has been suppressed: report | ABC (Dec '20)
- No point complaining about it, Australia will face carbon levies unless it changes course | The Conversation (Feb '21)
- The ripple effect: How supporting Indigenous home ownership drives a strong economic future for Australia | The Guardian (Feb '20)
- CapTel text-captioned telephones will not work as of February in blow for Australia's deaf community | ABC (Jan '20)
- 3 in 4 people with a mental illness develop symptoms before age 25. We need a stronger focus on prevention | The Conversation (Oct '19)
- Scott Morrison’s ‘work harder to earn more’ nonsense shows how out of touch with workers he is | Per Capita (Oct '19)
- We are talking about 'drought-proofing' again – they are simplistic solutions that will destroy Australia | The Guardian (Jul '19)
- Are there really 54,000 people employed in thermal coal mining? | ABC News (Jul '19)
- Whichever way you spin it, Australia’s greenhouse emissions have been climbing since 2015 | The Conversation (Jun '19)
- Great Barrier Reef scientists told to focus on projects to make government look good | The Guardian (Sep ‘18)
- The latest ideas to use super to buy homes are still bad ideas | The Conversation (Mar ’17)
- Foot off the gas: increased reliance on natural gas in the power sector risks an emissions lock-in: analysis | Climate Action Tracker (Jun '17)
- Scott Morrison: Nasty saga you nearly missed | SMH (Oct '09)
The Score Card
Cover up – covering up government and ministerial incompetence, concealing government decisions, denying or hiding conflict of interest, government graft
Corruption – public money used to fund Liberal Party research, ignoring warnings on sports rorts, fossil fuel interests given grant money, defying Treasury advice in favour of Party donors, government largesse in favour of Party donors, appointment of ideologically aligned people to government bodies
Ministerial & government accountability – workplace bullying, aged care, Ruby Princess, Robodebt, Great Barrier Reef, sports rorts, military war crimes, NBN, abuse of women
Government Incompetence – Ruby Princess, myGov website crash, Aged Care oversight, visa applications, NBN, CovidSafe app, Covid vaccine rollout
Conflict of interest – grants to associates, Covid Commission members, Ministers accepting lobbying, Ministerial responsibility and business interests colliding
Suppression of dissent – legislation, police action, control of narrative, threats to job or career, individuals being silenced
Secrecy/Refusal to release information – refusal to make documents available, PM rejecting the premise of questions, refusing to answer questions, claiming the issue is someone else’s responsibility, secrecy of legal proceedings, secrecy of Covid Commission, PM ditching plans for transparency, refusal to release COVID SafeApp data, refusal to release documents under FOI, refusal to release reports on public entities, refusal to release information on government advertising, refusal to release notes of national cabinet meetings, refusal to release Covid vaccination information
Ignoring experts on Covid recovery & other programmes – advice from Climate Change Authority, Reserve Bank, major consulting firms, CSIRO, AEMO, business groups, responsible lending obligations, technology community, NDIS, Medical procedures, mental health recommendations
Disenfranchisement of women – ignored in budget, women at risk of homelessness, dismantling of childcare support, workplace bullying, refusing to listen to domestic violence experts, sexual assault, refusing to conduct an inquiry into sexual assault allegations
Announcements that lead to nothing – drought relief, CovidSafe App, Job-Maker, HomeBuilder, Arts rescue package, bush-fire relief, climate change forum, Great Barrier Reef, Covid vaccine rollout, discount air travel schemes
Government & PM self-promotion – bush-fire advertisements, Covid advertisements, empathy consultants, employing a personal photographer
Backing or subsidising fossil fuel – Adani, Narrabri Gas, Covid Recovery, Acland coal, BHP, Shine Energy, Whitehaven Coal, Vickery mine, threatening banks who do not fund projects, funding new gas exploration, another coal mine, PM backing coal for decades to come
Markets ditching fossil fuels – Insurers refusing to insure fossil fuel projects, Australian and world banks opting out of financing fossil fuel projects, coal mines closing down, fund managers dumping fossil fuel stocks.
Climate change denial/inaction/misinformation – claim that climate change doesn’t cause bushfires, no vehicle emissions standards or EV targets, claim that Australia can do little, refusal to set an electric vehicle target, PM claiming coal is will serve Australia for decades to come, Minerals Council propaganda
Legislated environmental destruction – species extinction, land clearing, refusal to act, complicity with vested interests, dilution of environmental protections, government appointments, cuts to funding, abolishing government bodies, suppressing dissent
Asylum seekers denied justice – justice postponed, applications deferred, bureaucratic obfuscation, abuse, denied care, deported because of a medical condition, Biloela family
Perpetuating inequality – gig economy worker protections, rental market for older Australians
Every now and then you'll hear someone begin a sentence with "I'm no expert but …" which will invariably, though not always, precede a monologue resembling little more than a passing acquaintance to the subject at hand, revealing the speaker's pre-conceived version of the truth. This is not knowledge, it's an opinion, which is, as Plato put it, the bridge between ignorance and knowledge, and which outs itself as nothing more than ideology.
Ideology is not grounded in kindness, intellectual rigour or knowledge, it's usually grounded in the preservation of power, in privilege, prejudice, in any or all its manifest forms, or in fear, or a combination of all of those things. Ideology preserves injustice, destruction of environment, marginalisation of minorities, racism, institutionalised discrimination, species extinction, preservation of privilege, and high-office graft. The Flip-Side attempts to expose this and presents us with more to think about, by shining a light into some dark corners and turning over some rocks - and - who wouldn't want that. Hover to read the “flip-side.” Read on.