We all have our beliefs, our vision of the sort of country in which we want to live, and of course our biases. So that you can see where our authors are coming from as they write, a short bio and a longer statement of beliefs will be sought from each of our authors and provided below.
Ad astra is a retired medical academic who, after a 14 year period in rural family practice, became intensely involved for the next 35 years in undergraduate, vocational and postgraduate medical education for family medicine. His last job was editor of a medical website. When he retired from that in 2007, Kevin Rudd was coming into prominence, and being a Labor supporter, Ad astra’s interest in politics intensified at the prospect of a Labor government. In September 2008 he decided to start his own blog site. As you can see from its title and by-line, its purpose is ‘to put politicians and commentators to the verbal sword
’. As you will have seen, articles have been particularly critical of our mainstream media and some of our politicians.
Since stepping back as publisher of TPS
in 2013, the site has been managed by a dedicated team, of which Ad astra remains a backroom member.
Statement of beliefs
I believe in:
- A fair, equitable and harmonious society where opportunities abound for all to learn and to have a rewarding job, a society where the talents of all its citizens are liberated.
- A society supported by an out-reaching, upward-looking, innovative, productive, prosperous, competitive economy that enjoys its proper place in the global economy, a society that is a good global citizen, caring for the environment and opposing oppressive behaviour where it occurs.
- A society that encourages free trade and free markets, but which uses carefully measured Keynesian remedies when markets fail.
- A society where all pay their fair share of tax, where those who have the most protect those who have less and provide a reliable safety net for them, where taxes, and support for the less well-off and the disadvantaged, are fair and just.
- A society where social status or disability is not a barrier to advancement, to education, to comprehensive and affordable health care, to justice, and to protection by the law.
- A tolerant, cohesive society where there is religious freedom and where ethnic diversity is valued and preserved.
- A society where both Indigenous and Western culture are valued, where the culture of our immigrant community is accepted, and where our diverse cultures are integrated.
- A society which is moral, ethical and generous, one that welcomes immigrants and those genuinely seeking protection from persecution.
- A society where the arts are treasured, nurtured, and made universally available to enrich our people.
- A society where science is respected, fostered, and applied rigorously to the environmental, technological, industrial and health problems of our society.
- A society where individual freedoms and the right to choose are preserved, where the people are involved in political decision-making, where politicians are sensitive to community needs and responsive to them, where leaders have a vision splendid of what this nation can become and articulate this clearly, where the common good is protected and enriched, and where self-interest and self-advancement are balanced against social responsibility.
Ken is a retired federal public servant who worked for 30 years in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, mainly in policy areas. That background gives him an understanding of socio-economic issues as well as the processes of government. An Honours degree in social anthropology also influences his thinking on our society. His political beliefs were moulded in the western suburbs of Sydney where he grew up (and where Jack Lang was a local hero) and at Sydney University during the Vietnam years.
Statement of beliefs
I began with a strong belief in revolutionary and liberation politics but age and experience (not so sure about wisdom) and living in peaceful Australia has tempered that to a more moderate left and progressive view.
I strongly believe in community and society, particularly in the informal rules and sanctions that hold communities together. It is when those informal mechanisms break down that problems arise, either within a community or by government decreeing what the rules will be (which generally satisfies no-one). I am not a libertarian. The difference is that the libertarian wants no government rules that interfere with individual self-interest: I believe we can have fewer government rules as long as communities have their own informal rules that maintain social responsibility
As a social anthropologist I take the anthropological view that economics is about how a society uses and distributes its resources — that is any society, whether hunter-gatherer or a modern technological society. In our system of democratic-capitalism, governments should play a role in determining the use of resources (through regulation) and should play the dominant role in determining how the resources are distributed (through taxation and government services). As Piketty has shown, the distribution aspect of the economy is becoming very skewed.
Australia has an ethos of the ‘fair go’ and that is central to maintaining our society. It can be argued that it first applied mainly to Anglo-Celtic males. Over time, the ethos became more inclusive and, I believe, is continuing to do so. That is an important part of the growth and maturity of our nation that the ‘fair go’ applies to an ever expanding group and eventually to every person in Australia, including refugees.
I believe in a fair and equal society drawing on the preceding approaches. While it is impossible to achieve a society where people are equal in every respect, I believe we have back-tracked too far from that ideal. ‘Equality of opportunity’ is now the main approach but that, too, is still only an ideal because we know that the child of a rich family has more opportunities than the child of a poor family. Much still needs to be done to make opportunity more truly equal.
I have no time for the current pervasive neo-liberal economic approach, although it claims to honour equality of opportunity, because it is a self-interested approach that undermines community and social cohesion.
I believe that:
- A fair society would do more to lift people to a level where they can avail themselves of opportunities and enhance their capacity to exercise their freedom of choice.
- A fair society would have socially responsible communities where people look after and support their neighbours, as well as family.
- A fair society would draw on that social responsibility, not over-emphasise competition as the driving economic force (competition, by definition, means there are ‘losers’ which economically is inherently unfair), and take actions in the best social interests.
- A fair society would have progressive taxation that provides government sufficient revenue to provide the services needed to achieve more realistic equality of opportunity.
- A fair society would measure its progress by the well-being of its people, not solely by economic growth.
- A fair society would also be aware of the consequences of its actions on the opportunities for future generations.
2353 is a mid 50s male who lives in Brisbane. He is one of the many bank staff who were culled in the mid 1990’s who has gone on to build a career in a completely unrelated field (in this case building and construction). He has a Bachelor of Business degree, a school age family, a mortgage and a fluffy dog.
2353 has served on a number of community and service organisation committees over the past 30 years — all of which have the basic objective of helping the community that 2353 is living in at the time. 2353 has never been a member of a political party, although his community service work has given him a good grounding in the politics of society.
Statement of beliefs
I was brought up with a belief that everyone is equal, regardless of social or economic standing. Pretensions of grandeur have always annoyed me as, in my experience, those that really do deserve my respect display their credentials by their actions rather than demand respect be given to them.
As a consequence, I abhor people that claim to follow moral and ethical behaviour and don’t practice what they preach. I also abhor people that claim to be what they are not.
As a person who has worked in a number of environments where analysis of a problem is paramount, I also reflect on why people act the way they do, and why their actions over time change from their original absolute position. My writing on The Political Sword
is frequently generated by the actions of our political and self-proclaimed moral leaders being in direct contrast to what they profess to believe in. Fortunately the Internet gives me an opportunity to ensure that my memory is in fact correct as well as asking the relevant question.
- in a fair and just society where those that make the laws consider and respect the needs of all members of the society.
- in a society where all members are valued.
- that all human lives are equal, valuable and worth protecting.
- that there is a ‘greater good’.
- that the ‘greater good’ is more important than individual good.
- that society should be moral and ethical in its dealings with individuals, itself and the environment.
- that individuals should be moral and ethical in their dealings with others.
- that colour, religion, ethnicity are not grounds for ‘special’ treatment; either advantage or disadvantage.
- that the labour, fears and hopes of all members of society have to be valued by the society.
- that individuals should be encouraged to find a better way.
- that our lawmakers need to engender the economic, moral and ethical codes that allow each individual to contribute to the community and society they live in.
- that climate change is real.
- that hatred and revenge are inimical to the future of our communities, society and humankind, and finally,
- that Jack is as good, if not better, as his master.
@j4gypsy (J Y Mahyuddin) was for quite a few years a gypsy in a 1987 Toyota Coaster wandering Oz, until she drove into Silver City (Broken Hill) in late 2013 and found herself a miner’s cottage to play with. It was while gypsying in a tiny NSW country town in 2009 that the shocking announcement of Tony Abbott as opposition leader challenged every fibre of her political being. In 2011 she accidentally wound up with work in higher education, again (she’d had lots of that in the past) while watching the shenanigans of Abbott as opposition leader in parliament and despairing more of the media reporting
of those antics than the antics themselves.
Disaffection with the fourth estate led to discovery of, and passionate interest in, the fifth, which in turn has led to the occasional authorial outing on TPS
and one or two other politically progressive blogs. @j4gypsy reveals that past intermittent political activity has included participation in a multinational women’s liberation group in Athens, Greece, in the early 80s, time in the Wollongong branch of the New Left Party (kicked off by Jack Mundy) in the late 80s, and becoming one of four founding members of the political protest movement, now March Australia, in early 2014.