Whose responsibility?


Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.

That was said almost 2,500 years ago by Aristotle. Religion continued the emphasis on social responsibility over the following millennia. Christianity has the parable of the good Samaritan and the Golden Rule, from Jesus saying ‘So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets’ (that is the wording in the modern English Standard Bible). Islam also emphasises community and, in fact, the foundations of Islam were based on reforming society; it also emphasises public, or communal, worship; and it has a strong emphasis on the social responsibility to stop your ‘brothers’ from doing wrong.

In the Western tradition, that began changing in the 1700s with the philosophy of Hobbes and Locke placing more emphasis on the self-interested individual, although Locke, unlike Hobbes, still believed humans were social animals but drew a clear line between civil society and the state — society creates order and grants the state legitimacy, and the state provides impartial justice and the impartial protection of property. Locke is considered the father of ‘liberalism’.

While Hobbes argued that humans in a ‘state of nature’ were constantly at war and life was ‘nasty, brutish and short’, Locke saw that ‘state of nature’ as peaceful because individuals had a duty to respect the rights of others. This was a ‘natural’ moral duty.

More recent writers, like Hayek and particularly Ayn Rand, took individual self-interest further. Ayn Rand went so far as to suggest that the individual has no ‘natural’ duties to society, summarised as follows:

We only have one life and the good is to live it. Learn to pursue your own happiness by discovering the life-promoting values it requires. Think rationally and don’t bow to authority. Join with other people when you have real values in common and go your separate way when you don’t. Don’t try to be your brother’s keeper or to force him to be yours. Live independently.

To me, it seems that these more recent approaches have come to dominate our social and economic thinking, with greater emphasis on individual rights and less on the social ‘duty’ to respect the rights of others.

The modern neo-liberal economists certainly see little or no role for government. In their perfect world the individual is free to pursue their own ends in accord with the John Stuart Mill maxim that ‘The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way’. But they tend to ignore the proviso in Mill’s statement: ‘so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to attain it.’

In reality, Mill’s maxim balances individual and social responsibility by stating that an individual’s freedom cannot come at the expense of others’ freedom (Locke’s natural moral duty to respect the rights of others). When we start taking account of ‘others’ in exercising our freedom and making our personal decisions and choices, we are exercising social responsibility. But there are also social responsibilities that are, or should be, communal. In our modern societies those responsibilities are often taken by government in the interests of the community as a whole.

In rejecting a social element in economics, economists refer to the ‘tragedy of the commons’ to justify that individual ownership, that is private property, is superior to common, or social, ownership. Although the idea has a longer history, the phrase came from a paper by Garrett Hardin in 1968. It was suggested that, when people grazed their herds on a ‘common’, a self-interested individual could improve his situation by adding one animal to his herd. The individual would gain the benefit. But if each individual adds one animal, or two, the common is quickly degraded. While the individuals retain the benefit of having an extra animal, the ‘cost’ (the degradation) is shared, leaving them with a self-interested benefit — before the failure of the system. Following this argument, and its corollary that Adam Smith’s benevolent ‘invisible hand’ of individual self-interest does not work for the commons, economists suggest that private property and the individual’s responsibility for that property remedies the situation.

That approach is based, however, on a misunderstanding of how commons worked. They were not ‘open access’ as the theory implies. Throughout the world where people shared resources, there were usually social and cultural rules that controlled that sharing. In Iceland, for example, the common resource of the fisheries was traditionally controlled by kinship rules that allocated spaces on the beach that were necessary for launching fishing boats. In some communities in India, the allocation of the common resource of water for farming was determined by community meetings. People accepted these approaches as essential for the well-being of their communities, or, in other words, were accepting social responsibility.

Hardin put the ‘tragedy of the commons’ in the context of population pressure and I accept that population pressure is a factor but not necessarily in the way Hardin interprets it. It is sometimes population pressure that will force people to leave a community, and enter the market economy, because the social rules prevent them having full access to the ‘common’. It is often on their return (even merely for a visit), with new ideas of individual responsibility, self-interest, and private property, that the decline of social obligations for the maintenance of the common accelerate.

It was the breakdown of social responsibility, of local rules and obligations that changed the use of the commons, and that itself arose from the introduction and growth of the market with its emphasis on individual self-interest. That can be seen in recent history in developing countries. As some people abandon the local rules to participate in the market, the ‘cost’ (in economic terms) of maintaining social obligations rises and no longer provides the greatest benefit, hastening the break-down of social responsibility. Rules of reciprocity, which were common in many societies and reinforced social obligations, also came under pressure from the influence of the market and the concept of private property.

In our own society, the health system provides an example of the roles of individual and social responsibility. A healthy population is, among other things, in the economic interests of a community or society, providing a healthy labour force and reduced costs in caring for the sick — ‘cost’ in this context includes time spent caring for the ill, which may mean two people withdraw from the labour force, the carer and the cared for. While an individual’s choices can affect their health (smoking, over-eating, not exercising) and, therefore, there is a case for individual responsibility, there are many other environmental and genetic factors that contribute to disease over which the self-interested individual has no control. Social responsibility is taken on by government to the extent that it attempts to control those external factors by, for example, pollution controls, food and drug safety, disease surveillance, occupational health and safety and even urban planning that allows for healthy environments, including access to exercise amenities (parks, walking tracks and so on). The neo-liberals would not agree with some of these. They are more likely to stress that the value an individual puts on their health is reflected in the price they are willing to pay — hence the growth of private fee-paying gymnasiums, let alone private health care.

Stressing the rights of the individual over the health of the community can have serious implications. In the case of major illness, we generally accept that individuals, even neighbourhoods or whole communities, may need to be quarantined — as in the current Ebola outbreak in Africa, or an outbreak of bubonic plague in Sydney in 1900 when many blocks in and surrounding the current CBD were quarantined, then cleaned, and people moved into camps. This is a clear case of social responsibility over-riding individual rights but I’m not sure how the neo-liberals would deal with it philosophically. There is also a tension between individual and social responsibility even with minor illness. If I have a cold or influenza, should I exercise my right to earn a living and go to work, or should I stay at home and not spread the illness to others? If I spread my illness, am I impacting the right of others to earn their living? It can be argued that paid ‘sick days’ for employees is a socially responsible way of dealing with this.

You would think that providing health care would be a ‘public good’ to be provided by government as a social responsibility but that is not necessarily so when one reads the economic definition of a ‘public good’. The economists usually consider that the market has responsibility for the efficient allocation of resources and governments the responsibility for public goods — this is the economic separation of responsibilities.

Economists define ‘public goods’ negatively, in the sense that they are basically goods the market cannot provide at a profit — no concept at all that there may be a social responsibility or a social benefit in government providing certain goods and services irrespective of the market.

For an economist, a public good must be ‘non-excludable’ and ‘non-rivalrous’. The first means that it is not possible, or not cost efficient, to exclude people from benefitting by the provision of the good. Fireworks displays are a simple example: I could set up a fire works display and attempt to charge people to attend but people could easily watch from a short distance away (possibly even from their own nearby homes) unless I set up a large exclusion area, and that may not be feasible or may be too costly.

The second, ‘non rivalrous’, means that the consumption of the good by one person does not preclude it also being used by another. If I watch the fireworks that does not stop other people from watching, or my use of a park does not stop others from using it.

I have seen sewerage systems listed as ‘public goods’ but it would theoretically be possible to have a system where people could be excluded by disconnecting them, as can happen with electricity, but that could have wider health implications that could not be restricted to the individual concerned (the very reason sewers were first constructed). So there is a socially responsible health aspect, not ‘non-excludability’, in ensuring that all people remain connected to the sewerage system but that social responsibility is missing from the economists’ definition.

The market is not in interested in ‘public goods’, as defined above, because ‘non excludability’ creates the ‘free rider’ effect: that is someone can benefit without paying — the person watching the fireworks from their own window. The market places more emphasis on ‘non-excludable’ than ‘non rivalrous’, so suppliers in the market will happily create a price for non-rivalrous goods but won’t become involved in non-excludable goods: in this context, sporting events and cinemas can be considered non-rivalrous (many people can use the product at the same time) but they are excludable (one person or 80,000 can be allowed into a sporting event — it just depends on making a profit).

Despite that, the neo-liberal approach has seen more and more goods and services moved from the public to the private domain blurring the separation of economic responsibilities. That also moves decision-making rights regarding the good or service from one agent to another and involves, or should, a shift of the associated responsibility. So if former public services are now provided by the market, should the firms in the market also bear the social responsibility that goes with them? The neo-liberal economists claim that minimal social responsibilities should be borne by the market, using Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ to justify that self-interest has social benefits.

Corporate social responsibility is a significant issue. It rose to prominence in the 1960s and ‘70s but had almost disappeared by the late 1990s. It is making a comeback but the predominant economic philosophy remains that the duty of a CEO and a board is to maximise returns to the owners of a firm (the shareholders). It is argued that ‘social responsibility’ conflicts with the ‘duty’ to maximise returns, and also cannot readily be measured so there is little point in insisting that it should be part of a firm’s obligations. There is, however, an alternative argument that being a ‘good corporate citizen’ is in the long term interest of a company and the value it is able to return to its shareholders. Unless a company is intent on maximising earnings and profit in the short term and then folding (as some obviously do), a company able to sustain its earnings into the future does require some acceptance of social responsibility and good corporate citizenship. It is when they realise that their ‘image’ is important for sales, that these issues may rise to the fore.

For current ‘commons’ like the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, economists argue that a degree of ownership is required to stop degradation, such as trading systems for reducing CO2 emissions, or tradeable quotas for fishermen, not that the problem can or should be remedied by government regulation. But if government in a democracy is representing the ‘will of the people’, then it may have a social responsibility to maintain the ‘commons’ for the people irrespective of the market. The UN is close to that view in relation to CO2 and climate change — but not the current Australian government.

What have companies been doing for over two centuries but ‘free riding’ on the rest of us by pouring their waste into the commons of the atmosphere, oceans and rivers. It is because the market has robbed the people of their control of the commons that private agents can exploit it; and also because many firms, following the neo-liberal economic agenda, don’t accept they have a social responsibility, neither generally nor in relation to the commons.

The neo-liberals ignore that people do not always act in their own self-interest. Social relationships and cultural values (social inclusivity) can mould decisions — these also shape our social responsibility. We support our neighbours in times of trouble, during floods and fires; ordinary people will run into a burning building to save someone they don’t know; people stop at road accidents to help if they can; people will care for a lost child until a parent turns up; and so on and so on. Despite what the neo-liberals think, social responsibility still exists in the hearts of the people and we are still a social animal — as infants we learn to be human in a social context, through the ‘others’ that surround us.

We should be demanding greater social responsibility, not just the promotion of individual self-interest, from companies and from government. Will we ever get social responsibility from our current government? Of course not, as it is too easy to see on which side of the fence it falls in this debate.

What do you think?



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TPS Team

2/11/2014This week, Ken Wolff challenges us to get the synapses firing and the neurons connecting with a very interesting piece - Individual or social responsibility? Some combination thereof? Whose responsibility? Have a read or two, and let us know what you think in comments below.

Ad astra

2/11/2014Ken Once again you have gifted us with a very thoughtful and erudite piece that puts under the microscope the tension between self-interest on the one hand, and social responsibility and the common good on the other. [b]To me, this is the most significant issue in public life. It pervades politics, business, community life, environmental issues, and religion. Sadly, what we see so often is that self-interest trumps the common good.[/b] Stripped of its crudest partisan political elements, this tension separates progressive thinking and action from that of neoliberal thinking and action. The emphasis of the former is tilted toward fairness, equality, and the common good; whereas the latter is tilted toward self-interest and limited responsibility for the common good. I use ‘tilted’ because the range of views in the community is distributed along the ubiquitous bell-shaped curve, with its extremes where the radicals live, but with its large centre where the majority live either side of the mid point. Economic theorists seem to stretch their theories uncomfortably to match their ideological position. They seem to start with their ideology, for example that free markets are the best regulators of economies, and manipulate economic data to fit that proposition. By postulating that economies must be strong and forever growing, free marketeers reinforce their case. But if this premise is faulty, their case is weakened. You give many pertinent examples of where attention to the common good is essential for the type of community in which all except the hermit would want to live. It is germane that you illustrate your argument with the range of issues surrounding health: the provision of a variety of levels of personal health care for a wide spectrum of emergency, acute, and chronic physical and mental conditions, even for those unable to pay for them; the management of epidemics and substance abuse; the response to natural disasters; road safety; occupational health and safety and environmental hygiene are but some of the common goods that no individual, or for that matter individual corporations, can provide. What is required is whole of community support, and for some, such as epidemic management and environmental issues, global support. Free markets will not, indeed cannot provide this support. In my view, simple logic puts the free-marketeers who live at the extreme end of the spectrum in an untenable position when they argue that such matters can be left to the markets. It seems so obvious that they cannot. History has shown that they cannot and have not. It’s trite but true that balance in public as well as personal life is crucial. We enter indefensible territory when we attempt to argue from extreme positions. There is a ‘common good’. Its extent might be a matter of debate, but its existence is not. The focus of political debate therefore should be about how much common good is right and proper for the society in which we wish to live, and how it ought to be provided. Neoliberals believe there is minimal need for common goods; progressives are much more generous. We see this seemingly irreconcilable tension every day in political life. How sad is that. Thank you for stimulating thought on this very important matter.

Catching up

2/11/2014We see two women this weed persecuted in the media, labelled as bad, even evil. I am talking about Gillard and Perris. If one tunes in to the likes of Bolt, and some dubious blogs, the hatred pours out of, what seems to be always 2white elderly poor cuts the air. Listening to Piers was unbelievable. Even if these two women were guilty as alleged, their crimes buy any definition are minor. I really am fast coming to the belief the words goad and bad mean little today.

Ken

3/11/2014Ad I agree entirely that self-interest versus the common good is a major issue across our society but I am somewhat biased in my approach, being a social anthropologist by training. You talk about ‘bell curves’. I agree that attitudes to individual and social responsibility, or self-interest and the common good, would plot to a standard ‘bell curve’ but I think if we were able to compare two bell curves, one from say 50-60 years ago and one from now, there would be a shift of the mid-point towards self-interest and individual responsibility. That was demonstrated recently with a nurse in Maine who was in home quarantine because she had been working with Ebola patients in west Africa. She went out bike riding and then, in her defence, said she would not have her ‘civil rights’ curtailed. Yes, so far she has tested negative but people are supposed to remain in quarantine for the full 21 day incubation period of the virus. I could barely believe that, with such an illness, she would still demand her individual ‘civil rights’ over the potential threat to the community. But that is where the current approach is leading us. The demands of self-interest and individual responsibility are actually creating problems. Previously many societies, including our own, had informal social rules that helped govern our activities in the interest of the community. As more and more individual rights have been demanded and protected by the law, the informal rules have been diminished, resulting in the need for government to legislate the limits of ‘individual freedom’. All the extreme right-wingers who demand no government interference in their rights are actually creating the need for government intervention to maintain the social order that was previously maintained by informal rules that people accepted as being for the common good. There is a need for balance in the two approaches. Recognition of individual rights does help protect us from totalitarianism. But a lack of social responsibility can lead to anarchy. As I point out at the end of the piece, people still display social responsibility in many small ways, but as you point out, we (and government) need to recognise that it is also required in relation to major issues that affect us as a society. It is ironic that while espousing individual rights and freedoms, right wing governments (like Abbott’s) are more inclined to go to war. Our soldiers are, in a sense, exercising the ultimate social responsibility — they are prepared to lay down their lives in defense of their community. If governments like Abbott’s actually realised that, they may become more aware of the role of social responsibility and the common good.

Ad astra

3/11/2014Ken I enjoyed reading your comment. You are right. The bell curve is still a bell curve, but in much of Western society the whole curve has moved towards the individual rights end. Your example of the Ebola-exposed nurse is a classic show of individual rights overriding the common good. And it seems that the authorities in Maine were powerless to counter her insistence that she could do as she wished. If she had ridden her bicycle down the wrong side of the road, she would have been prosecuted because she had broken the law that prohibits such behaviour. Because there is apparently no law that prohibits her moving around in public places while still in the twenty-one day incubation period, the authorities could not act. A natural reaction to this dilemma would be to legislate an order that in the incubation period Ebola-exposed people must be restricted to isolation environments. This is how legislators rightly place the common good ahead of individual freedoms. We are continually faced with the social dilemma of deciding where the balance lies. With his ‘Everyone has the right to be a bigot’, George Brandis tested the public resolve to keep this country free of bigotry, and found himself a long way out of kilter with public opinion, forcing him to a spluttering retreat. No matter what the issue, much of the legislative process involves getting an acceptable balance between the exercise of individual rights on the one hand and social responsibility and the common good on the other. Your piece has heightened our awareness of this challenge; I wonder how conscious legislators are of this dilemma as they debate the whys and the wherefores of the bills that come before them. I wonder how often their own and their party’s self-interest, and their intention to pursue their own ideological goals, overwhelms their social responsibility to protect the common good. I wonder do they even think this way!

Ken

3/11/2014One interesting slice of history I found when researching this piece (but did not include) was that the early market operated on 'social responsibility'. In medieval Europe a merchant from town A may leave town B, after trading, but leave debts behind. Town B didn't pursue that particular merchant but the next merchant from town A who arrived in town B would be 'arrested' and held responsible for the first merchant's debts (or would be held until such time as someone from town A paid the debt). That led to the rise of merchant guilds which allowed debts to be settled through the guilds. Ultimately, of course, it led to individual responsibility for the merchants and traders. It does show, however, that the market preceded the emphasis on individual self-interest, but it was in the interests of the traders and merchants to move towards self-interest, and individual responsibility, to protect their own position.

Patriciawa

3/11/2014Does anyone have news of Julia Gillard as we come up to the anniversary of all those dark doings in the ALP? I don't much care about KRudd and his fate, but I wonder how Julia is faring.

Bacchus

3/11/2014As we would expect, she seems to be doing well Patricia :) "[quote]The woman that sold out the Town Hall months ago was finally here - and she didn't disappoint.[/quote]" http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2670595/julia-gillard-in-newcastle/?cs=4173

TalkTurkey

4/11/2014Greetings Comrades Ken, Ad astra used the same word as was in my mind for your lucid essay on social responsibility v private interest, [i]erudite[/i], yes indeed. In these days of (literally) wholesale asset- stripping by Neoliberal -? Neo[i]Nazi![/i] - Governments, it is timely to remind us of what we are letting slip from our grasp, in every aspect of life, from free public education & medical treatments through civil rights to the protection of the Barrier Reef and the ecosystems of the Murray-Darling and, Oh, [i]everything![/i] From Aristotle to JS Mill and Ayn Rand you roll a lot into this! Your quote about the way modern neo-liberal economists use the former half of JS Mill's maxim re the right to pursue one's own good, while ignoring the limiting rider about not transgressing others' rights, is hauntingly reminiscent of the way Abborrrtt & the MSM used the first half of *J*U*L*I*A*s "No Carbon Tax" statement whilst excising "but we will put a price on Carbon" and turned it into a 'lie' - which was itself a mighty lie. Brand new skin, same old Snake. Always. Except now the Snakes are gargantuan Pythons like Forrest and Palmer, and Murdoch, and Gina, Queen Boa Constrictor herself. In Australia workers have practically lost the legal right to strike, Tx Meg Lees et al; actually, of course, in a sufficiently staunch society the "right" wouldn't be needed, workers would simply strike and in the end get their way. But in Abborrrtttionland where dogs and military and scabs are used as if legitimate, and where most people have home entertainment systems and fairly safe jobs, staunchness is in short supply - self-interest wins again. Australians have no idea of really fighting for rights nowadays. Makes me so sad. We're like Yanks now, braying about our own courage & charity, scared of a Moslem reading a book. Protest marches do NOTHING to change the minds of Howard/Abborrrtt Governments. And organizers just talktalktalk and the energy just dissipates. We're pathetic. We should be picketing individual creeps' offices & workplaces (I went to a little one at Poodle Pyne's office), we should have collected hundreds of thousand of names and contacts, and DOLLARS for a Fighting Fund! Not a sausage! - And the Labor Party as such is never even represented officially; a couple of unions maybe, but mostly they're ordinary decent suburbanites - who have no idea of organised staunch concerted long-and-hard-fought action, and who will be home with the footy by 3PM ... And don't forget, these protest marchers are the relatively ACTIVE Aussies ... hen there's all the rest ! You can't help thinking [i]Arrrggh What's the use?[/i] Our nation comprises a majority who are gutless, dim, bigoted, self-interested, unaware boiling frogs, fascinated by trivia, uncaring of world affairs. Yobs. Oh my country. There's no more getting public ownership or civil rights back, you know, than there is of recreating a pristine landscape, or an extinct species. Pretty hard to be upbeat for the moment eh Comrades, even if we look like taking Victoria and the Polls have Federal Labor TPP around 55% ... Can't bear to watch "Question Time", what a misnomer, it's 98% RANT Time and the rest taken up by the Wicked Witch Wooky on her Throne of Power invoking the magic incantation TWENTY-FOUR A! because ftm there's nothing to be done. ABC today is all RWNJ spin. But we must hope that ALP "Leadership" will soon start fighting in a way that will remove the need for my cynical "..."s from that word above, because we dare not lose another term to these thugs. And Comrades, stand by your Sword, even if you're down the Pub with all the other folk down there: we are going to need us all for the coming fight. Only 22 months now! And closing! Yell it in your hearts every day Comrades: The war-cry of the freedom-fighting Sandinistas! - [b][i]VENCEREMOS![/i][/b]

Ken

4/11/2014Thank you TT Yes, the workers have all but lost the right to strike. Workers now need to get ‘permission’ to undertake ‘protected action’, otherwise they can be subject to civil claims for ‘losses’ by the company during the strike. It reminds of the last line from the song ‘1891’ (posted in the previous thread): “When you gaol a man for striking, it’s a rich man’s country yet”. But while workers can be penalised, I don’t recall companies being penalised for ‘lock outs’ — the bosses equivalent of a strike. What happened to Patrick’s during the wharf dispute in 1998 when they locked out the workers. Or more recently the QANTAS lock out. Nothing!! When there are lock outs, why can’t the workers sue for loss of wages? Because it’s not the workers who tell the government what to do. Talk of strikes, of course, fits the issue of self-interest and common good. Workers band together for a common good, or a social action, not for individual self-interest. The bosses like individual self interest, and so individual contracts, because it leaves them in control. In politics, individual self-interest is good for government because it means people are less inclined to join together in protest action. In my anthropology tutorials, we used to discuss the proposition that “there is no such thing as an individual”, primarily to emphasise how far we are a product of the society we live in. Why do I speak English and not Swahili? Why do I wear jeans and a tee-shirt, and not go about naked (apart from it being very cold in a Canberra winter)? Why do I live in a house in the suburbs and not a cave or on a beach? We naturally accept our society but the bosses and the government don’t want us to remember that. By stressing individual self-interest, it is [u]they[/u] who gain the benefit, not the people who supposedly have the individual rights it gives rise to. There is a desperate need for a better balance between individual and social responsibility, between self-interest and the common good. I think climate change may be forcing us to reassess the relative balance of the two as it becomes obvious that individual self-interest will ultimately be self-destructive and that we must take global action for the social benefit of all humanity. Of course, there are those in powerful positions still clinging to self-interest but, I am optimistic, that soon that will change and they will be in the minority.

Casablanca

5/11/2014 [b]Thousands expected to farewell Gough Whitlam[/b] Damien Murphy. November 4, 2014 - 11:33PM A stellar roll call of dignitaries heads the list of official mourners and invited guests in the Sydney Town Hall for the service, which starts at 11am on Wednesday. The building resonated throughout Mr Whitlam's life. Not only did he attend scores of Australian Labor Party conferences in Centennial Hall but his supporters like to call the place, with a hint of satirical affection, "The Temple of Democracy". About 900 other members of the public have been allocated seats inside the hall. Authorities had tried to control the stampede for places but they were so massively oversubscribed – more than 4000 people applied for seats in the first two days – that thousands were turned away. They, and many more, are expected to turn the intersection of George and Park streets into a parking lot when people flood onto the road after the service conclusion at lunchtime on Wednesday. A video screen has been put up in Sydney Square to cater for mourners outside. Another has been erected in Freedom Plaza, Cabramatta, in Mr Whitlam's electorate of Werriwa. And in a nod to the city of his birth, another screen is in Federation Square, Melbourne. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/thousands-expected-to-farewell-gough-whitlam-20141104-11gser.html

Casablanca

5/11/2014[b]Melbourne Candle light Vigil for Gough Whitlam[/b] March Australia Melbourne Gough Whitlam Memorial 7pm Melbourne City Square. Wednesday 5th November cnr Collins and Swanston streets Melbourne. Musicians: Marlee Gorman and Elena Gabrielle Baum Speakers: Annette Xiberras - Urban Colours Karen Pickering - Writer, Activist, feminist. https://www.facebook.com/MarchInMarchMelbourne2014

Casablanca

5/11/2014 [b]GOUGH WHITLAM Memorial Cairns. [/b] 5th November, commencing at 6.30pm NOTICE OF FUNCTION: There is a Remembrance Function being held in memory of the late (and great) Gough Whitlam being held this coming Wednesday evening 5th November, commencing at 6.30pm, at the "Dreams Bar" (upstairs) at Brothers Leagues Club in Cairns. Entry is $5.00 to cover cost of savouries. https://www.facebook.com/marchaustraliacairns/photos/pb.121690161355212.-2207520000.1415107069./220965721427655/?type=1&theater

Casablanca

5/11/2014 "Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony And through Vincent's fingers poured a handful of sand"

Casablanca

5/11/2014[b]Canberra tribute to Gough Whitlam[/b] The official memorial service for Gough Whitlam is being held at Sydney Town Hall at 11am. Old Parliament House is commemorating the occasion by broadcasting the memorial live and you’re invited to join other Canberrans to watch this special event. Labor has lost a legend in the last fortnight and this is a chance to join together to mark the life and achievements of an extraordinary man in Australia’s history. Location: Old Parliament House Time: 11am (Please arrive on time) RSVP: Go here to RSVP: http://www.moadoph.gov.au/events/state-memorial-service-for-gough-whitlam/ A condolence book will be available for visitors. Wednesday 5 November, 11am Free entry Bookings essential Seating is limited I hope you can make it and celebrate the life of this giant in Australian politics. George Wright National Secretary

Ad astra

5/11/2014Casablanca Thank you for updating us about the tributes that will be made today as Gough Whitlam's life and work and his massive contribution to the Australia we enjoy and cherish is acknowledged.

2353`

5/11/2014The Whitlam Memorial Service is also being telecast on ABC24, 7Two and NITV. Check local guides for times. RIP Gough

Ad astra

5/11/2014Folks What a superb, magnificent, sublime and fitting memorial service for the Great Man that was. We shall always remember him for all he was and all he did, for us all.

Ken

5/11/2014Didn't watch but listened to the memorial service. Very moving and some great speeches. If only we can capture that spirit moving ahead. As Noel Pearson said, reform over management.

Casablanca

5/11/2014 Ad Astra Agree. It was heartening, albeit too late, that Julia Gillard received a loud cheer from the crowd outside and then a standing ovation, cheers, and flowers from the people inside the Town Hall. See also, [b]The Liberal’s attack on Whitlam and Gillard 38 years apart.[/b]… Trish Corry In ways that Gough Whitlam shaped Australia, Julia Gillard was also attempting to do so. http://theaimn.com/liberals-attack-whitlam-gillard-38-yrs-apart-attack-progressive-ideas-return-mediocrity/ 1. [b]Gough Whitlam's memorial left lingering sadness, despite the cheers and soaring oratory[/b] David Marr. 5 November 2014 16.49 Even at a national event, crowds can be brutal: Gillard was cheered, Rudd received in silence. But the question that remained was: what more could Whitlam have done, had he only had the time? http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/05/gough-whitlams-memorial-left-lingering-sadness-despite-the-cheers-and-soaring-oratory 2. [b]Indigenous people pay respects to Whitlam, the prime minister who cared about them[/b] Dan Harrison. November 5, 2014 - 12:15AM Nearly 40 years ago, a tall stranger travelled across the land, from Canberra to the edge of the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory, to meet a group of Gurindji stockman who had waged a nine-year battle for the return of their traditional lands. This week, some of the Gurindji men and women involved in that fight and their families travelled across the country to Sydney to pay their respects to that jangkarni marlaka ("big important man"), former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/indigenous-people-pay-respects-to-whitlam-the-prime-minister-who-cared-about-them-20141104-11guaz.html 3. [b]Noel Pearson's eulogy for Gough Whitlam praised as one for the ages[/b] November 5, 2014 - 4:54PM Indigenous leader Noel Pearson's powerful eulogy for Gough Whitlam at his state memorial service is being hailed on social media as one of the best political speeches of our time. The chairman of the Cape York Group paid tribute to "this old man" Whitlam, praising his foresight and moral vision in striving for universal opportunity in Australia. He even channelled Monty Python as he listed Whitlam's achievements, saying: "And what did the Romans ever do for us anyway?", to laughter and clapping from the audience. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/noel-pearsons-eulogy-for-gough-whitlam-praised-as-one-for-the-ages-20141105-11h7vm.html 4. [b]Noel Pearson's eulogy for Gough Whitlam in full (Transcript and Video 18.34m)[/b] Noel Pearson. November 5, 2014 - 4:55PM Gough Whitlam 'Australia's greatest white elder'. For one born estranged from the nation's citizenship, into a humble family of a marginal people striving in the teeth of poverty and discrimination, today it is assuredly no longer the case. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/noel-pearsons-eulogy-for-gough-whitlam-in-full-20141105-11haeu.html#ixzz3IAgF0iEk [b]5. Gough Whitlam memorial: Tony Abbott, former PMs and dignitaries farewell titan of Australian politics[/b] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-05/gough-whitlam-to-be-farewelled-in-state-memorial-service/5866874 [b]6. Gallery: Gough Whitlam state memorial[/b] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-05/gallery3a-gough-whitlam-state-memorial/5867528

Ken

5/11/2014I wonder how Abbott coped at the Memorial Service, sitting there through all that praise of an approach diametrically opposed to his own. While I enjoyed Noel Pearson's speech, it is ironic that Pearson rose to influence under the Howard government largely because of his approach to welfare (which matched, to some extent, Howard's -- and Abbott's -- approach). But as in my 'The government doesn't understand' piece, the Howard government didn't understand when Pearson still spoke about Aboriginal communities (the Howard government believed only in the individual and the family, not even understanding that an Aboriginal family was an extended family)and the importance of land rights. Yes, in those years Pearson was associated with the Liberals, but today he showed that his first allegiance is, was, and always will be to his own people and, in that regard, he recognises what Whitlam achieved for his people.

TalkTurkey

6/11/2014O'Brien, Freudenberg, Blanchett, Pearson, Faulkner, and finally Tony Whitlam - what wonderful eulogies from them all! We are all ennobled by the life and works of "this old man". Amazing social dynamics. Labor Heroes like Hawke, & popular present MPs such as Wong, received enthusiastic welcomes: Keating especially was given a [i]huge[/i] hand. Fraser was treated more as a sad curiosity - despised to this day, but with Labor people thinking, well it's all in the past now, he's Kerr's cur all right but there's no point ... So he was pretty-well ignored. But I wonder how he felt, everybody thinking, [i]If only Gough hadn't been thrown out, what might he not have achieved[/i]?!- Lying Rodent Howard was booed loudly as he entered the venue, and Hyacinth looked good and shaken by the time they reached their seats. Labor's worst traitor, Rudd, was received in almost complete silence - most Laborites, it is plain, now hold an opinion of him similar to my own, and blame him majorly for Abborrrtt's win. He has been sent to Coventry by all True Believers. (I'd send him to Tristan da Cunya if I had my way.) But the most gleeful moment was when Abborrrtt himself appeared. As he mounted the steps into the building, the whole crowd outside erupted into a universal [i]BOOOOOOO ![/i] and Abborrrtt, with shiteating grin but without Margie, went inside fast, where he sat down, reviled and looking very much as though he'd rather be in Tristan himself. Even in death Gough has given us one huge last gift: he has reminded us of how decent Australia has been in the past, and of how it might again be, if only we have the determination.

Ad astra

6/11/2014Casablanca Thank you for adding details of the memorial service for Gough Whitlam. Will you add it to 'Vale Gough Whitlam'? in the left panel to leave it as a permanent record on [i]TPS[/i]?

Ad astra

6/11/2014direct current You are right - we must make little things grow. The only image of Abbott that was pleasant was when he smiled when thanked by Tony Whitlam for approving a state funeral for his dad.

Ad astra

6/11/2014TT How right you are: Gough [i]has reminded us of how decent Australia has been in the past, and of how it might again be, if only we have the determination.[/i]

Casablanca

6/11/2014Currently on Classic FM Mairi Nicolson is presenting the music from Gough's Memorial Service. She reminded listeners that it was Gough who dispensed with God Save the Queen and replaced it with Advance Australia Fair. Something mentioned in one of the articles in the 'Vale, Gough' Collection: The forgotten story of Advance Australia Fair and the Socceroos. Australia's football team worked with Gough Whitlam in the campaign to recognise the country's national anthem. www.theguardian.com/.../forgotten-story-advance-australia-fair-socceroos. I have never heard the National Anthem sung as beautifully as it was by the Sydney Philharmonia Choir - two verses thus including the lines: For those who’ve come across the seas We’ve boundless plains to share; William Barton improvised on the Didgeridoo following the Welcome to Country by Aunty Millie Ingram. The next two pieces as noted by David Marr brought together two themes of Gough's political life, Crucification (Bach's St Matthew Passion) and Liberation of the people [of Italy] (Verdi's Va pensiero). Mairi wondered about the choice of Un Bal by Berlioz as Gough & Margaret were not known as ballroom dancers. Perhaps, she mused, it was because of the 'sheer audacity of Berlioz's revolutionary musical vision'! The final piece was Jerusalem. Joyful, enthusiastic, resolute.

Casablanca

7/11/2014[b]'No eulogy is equal to such a name’[/b] John Menadue. 11/05/2014 In a celebratory Mass for Gough Whitlam, Fr Ed Campion* recalled the brief inscription to Machiavelli in the Franciscan Church of Santa Croce in Florence. ‘Tanto nomini nullum par elogium, 1527′. ("so great a name (has) no adequate praise") http://johnmenadue.com/blog/?p=2643 * Edmund Campion is a Sydney priest, writer, editor, literary judge and academic. He has been described as “possessor of one of the truly elegant minds of the nation”.

TalkTurkey

7/11/2014I said if I had my way I would send Abborrrtt to Tristan da Cunya, but I knew I had the spelling wrong, not Cunya, not Cunja, it's [i]Cunha[/i]. When I looked it up, (thinking, How could I do it, i.e. send Abborrrtt to the poor Tristanians?)I found that one of the islands in the archipelago is GOUGH Island! Geez that'd serve Abborrrrtt right- every day on every side, GOUGH! GOUGH! GOUGH!

BSA Bob

7/11/2014I see a reference from Talk Turkey about Margie Abbott's non appearance at Gough's do. That she didn't turn up is now, I believe, established. Says a lot about the Abbott family's attitude to public appearances & invites speculation as to some of the dynamics. Margie's trotted out whenever he needs a Tony Gets Sheilas moment of for similar feelgood stuff, gives every indication of resenting it & obviously can't be bothered turning up for anything else. Perhaps if it'd been held in Melbourne...expenses, a night in a swish hotel "at taxpayers expense"...

Ken

7/11/2014Welcome back BSA Bob Haven't seen you comment for a little while (or did I miss something -- wouldn't be the first time). You're right about Margie. Tony doesn't seem to want to know her since the election was over or perhaps she got a bit tired of seeing him every day during the election. Just musing! But certainly interesting how low profile she appears to have been since the election. Even though the Lodge is being refurbushed, there was a $3000 a week place rented for them. Apparently cost $65,000 to get out of the contract when Abbott decided he would rather sleep on his own at police headquarters when in Canberra. All a bit strange!!

Casablanca

7/11/2014Yes it is a bit strange. Again, the obsessive focus on Julia Gillard's private life is in huge contrast to the respectful disinterest in the Abbott arrangements. In her book Julia questions the judgment of the ABC in producing that comedy about she and Tim. No other PM has been subjected to such salacious claptrap. Also, from Julia's book we know that she too stayed at the Police Academy from time to time. Meanwhile there is more focus on Kim Jong Un's absences from the world stage than on where our elusive First Lady is hiding out. Margie did put in a cameo appearance at the celebratons in Albany last week-end and she turned up at the Mid-Winter Ball at Parliament House. The only other mention in th MSM was when she turned up at an Op Shop in their electorate and lauded the practice of buying clothes there, even taking a sly dig at hubby for his shabby shirts. No mention of his blue ties. On Twitter last week there was coupling (no pun intended) of photos of John Gorton and Ainslie Gotto and Tones and Peta. Who knows? I understand that Margie is still employed in her Early Education sector job so I guess Tones can't afford to have her not earning and contributing to the family coffers.

Ken

8/11/2014Casablanca Thank you for keeping track of Margie. I had missed a couple of those outings. But it's not much of a total in way of appearances.

Casablanca

8/11/2014Wonder what happened to Ingrid in my post at 9.23pm last night?

Ken

8/11/2014Casablanca Yes, I wondered as well. At first I thought we may have a troll using your name but, when I read the details in your comment, I knew it had to be our Casablanca.:-)

Bacchus

8/11/2014You became just a cog in the corporate wheel Casablanca :D I think it's to do with a different email address ;-) .net rather than .com...

Casablanca

8/11/2014And speaking of Mrs Abbott... [b]Why Men Can Be Feminists But Bishops Can’t![/b] Rossleigh. November 4, 2014 Hey remember this from 2012? [i]In an unprecedented intervention by a political spouse, the normally private Mrs Abbott used a newspaper interview, breakfast television and radio interviews, and a speech in western Sydney yesterday in which she said the experience of having three daughters had made Mr Abbott a feminist.[/i] Now, I remember commenting at the time that if having three daughters made a man a feminist, did having slaves turn slave owners into communists? http://theaimn.com/men-can-feminists-bishops-cant/

Casablanca

8/11/2014Bacchus & Ken, Thanks, I hadn't noticed that .com had been changed to .net. A gremlin rather than a troll. All fixed now.

Casablanca

8/11/2014[b]To attack rather than build is now the norm, but the Coalition's negative campaigning is backfiring[/b] Warwick Smith. 7 November 2014 Attacking a policy simply because it is open to attack can result in painting yourself into an awkward policy corner. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/07/to-attack-rather-than-build-is-now-the-norm-but-he-coalitions-negative-campaigning-is-backfiring?CMP=share_btn_tw

Jason

9/11/2014Happy Birthday Talk Turkey have a great day!

Ad astra

9/11/2014TT And so say all of us.

Ken

9/11/2014Sorry, no politics here but just for those interested in words. Ever since I was a child, I have wondered why we have the word 'fortnight', for something 14 days away (past or future), and words for one day away ('yesterday' and 'tomorrow') and not much else, other than phrases with numbers for periods in between. We obviously have 'week' but it belongs more in the category of names of periods of time, like day, month and year, not a word specifically for a period past or future. In reading old newspapers (1820-30s) I have discovered there was a matching word for fortnight that referred to a week: 'sennight'. It becomes obvious how these words developed: fourteen-night became fort'night, then just fortnight. similarly, seven-night became se'nnight (and I have seen it that way) and then just sennight. We have kept fortnight but sennight has disappeared although I think it a useful match to fortnight. I may try to use it in something I write.:-)
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?