Society and The Need For Political Change

Sunday, August 12, 2012
With the current economic climate and the 'election worries' in the air, it is clear that what our political leaders are worried about is a lot more than an impending election but what is it going to take to make it for the long haul.

You see, with the whole world now changed from a structure that 'used to work' now into a social, economic, demographic, gender and race stratus that now screams for equilibrium we're need to all take careful and wise action for the change we need, which will only really take place once our leaders step in line with what is necessary to lead us all, world wide, through the new political world climate we're facing.

Economic upheaval is peaking as tensions rise all over the world in this current writing. And their doesn't seem to be an end to it all or least the light at the end of the tunnel is a long way off, but not necessarily the 'oncoming train'. We all hope that the train would go by, however, and we could get on with a more normal life.

None of the 'good stuff of life' is going to happen, however, unless we show some fortitude and find a way to start doing something intelligent about our situation.

The key: with a very low popularity and approval rate, it is unlikely that our governmental leaders (here in the U.S.A.) have, nor are they doing something about the issues. So as things go, the next thing we all need to be aware of what is between us and the chair we're sitting on. We have to act if things are going to change.

Let me explain. One 'set of actions' led the voters in one state to give a felon (still incarcerated) about 40% favorable votes versus the current sitting President. A number of incidences I have run into would prove Americans to be lazy, unhelpful or otherwise self-involved. This all is so much that it is surprising that things are not worse in the U.S.A.

We need to get involved with grass roots politics. We need to vote before the election 'due date' comes upon us. This means commenting on blogs, tweeting that tweet, clicking on a social link, writing that email or letter, and frankly anything else on an issue of concern that will get your representative(s) to pay attention. We all did this with SOPA and yes; they threw more on to the fire of Internet freedoms shortly thereafter. We were then called 'Cyber Bullies'. Well? What is it going to take to get the government and our leaders to listen? Some have resorted to greater extremes (NOT CONDONED) in the occupy movements.

When things are heading toward 'serious' then serious things need to be done. A call to action, indolent in a political movement, an active place in government, getting involved in political action committees, communicate but what ever you do get educated, understand the issues affecting your world and life today, develop a plan then implement it. Before it is too late.

By Joshua A Sinclair

Politics in India - What Is There for Common Men?

Saturday, August 11, 2012
India is the World's largest democracy with the largest number of political parties. Here every Indian has a right to vote but does everyone get a fair chance to stand for Parliament? Moreover how many young men and women want to make a career in politics? The current situation of politics in India is beyond understanding. Every political party anyhow wants to come to power.

If we look at the current scenario of politics we will realize that Indian politics is facing a lot of burning issues. Whether it is the popular Jan Lokpal Bill or the 2G scam, helplessness of Government on inflation or to cope with Naxalism, the list is endless. Politics and politicians have lost all respect to the common man. Slapping and hitting the shoe has become a common practice which clearly shows the disrespect for politicians today. Now politics is full of scams, controversy and allegations.

Recently, agriculture minister of India and President of International Cricket Council Sharad Pawar was slapped by one Harvinder Singh, and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan was not only slapped but kicked also in his chest and dragged by his feet in his own chamber near the Supreme Court. You can buy latest images and videos of these powerful slaps from big media houses. The popular Jan Lokpal Bill is making headlines even today and Anna Hazare is still in the battle against corruption, an important question which needs immediate solution.

When we talk about politics how we could forget Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, daughter of former Chief Minister Karunanidhi, who was arrested on charges of involvement in 2G spectrum scam. However, she was finally bailed out on 28 November 2011. To deal with inflation is another challenging task for the Government but the government seems to find no way to solve the problem. You too can buy content for these political movements. The possible Russian ban on Bhagawad Gita, the holy book of Hindus rocked the political aisle recently. Whether it is Telangana movement to create a new state of Telangana; the various militant communist groups known as Naxalite; extremists terrifying the common man or the corruption spreading all over India, these are just some of the issues that Indian Government is finding the solutions for.

The current political scenario of India clearly shows a worse picture that nobody wants to see. But this is the truth. You can also witness these incidents as you can buy latest news images about these from reputed media houses.

Every political party is trying its best to come to power by degrading one another irrespective of the fact that they too are the part of same dirt. Do they have some better plans for the growth and prosperity of the nation? Finally it is the poor common man who suffers the most without harming anyone.

Although the movements such as Jan Lokpal Bill against corruption are quite relieving still it is not enough. We need some young, educated but responsible leaders who can give a new direction to the nation and can do something good for the betterment of our motherland.

By Joanne Elizabeth

US Federal Government - It's Not Perfect, But Should We Expect More?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
There sure are a lot of people criticizing the United State's Federal Government. They say things such as; the Federal Government is wasteful, corrupt, incompetent, and inefficient. And whereas, one could say with such a huge blob of bureaucracy one is bound to find some inefficiencies, waste, corruption, and incompetence right? Sure that makes sense, nothing is perfect, not you, your family, not your company, and not your closest friends either.

Not long ago, I was debating this with an acquaintance who stated; "There are holes in the system." Well, indeed, there always will be, it is the nature of complex systems and Murphy will always exploit the weaknesses. My acquaintance also noted; "There are both right and wrong policies. Good and bad policies." Yes, and it would be hard to argue with that either. And when it comes to incompetence, yes, there are "Competent officials and incompetent officials."

Surely, I think we all accept that, or should at least be honest with ourselves on those points. Likewise there are corrupted and less-than-corrupt officials, at all levels of the bureaucracy. Now, my acquaintance asks a most dubious question, one not often asked; "The question is; are the scales tipped in the wrong direction?"

Okay so, that is one way consider it, however, I'd like to form a different question, as I am not so comfortable with where the answers to this question takes us. You see, since historically political decisions lead to unintended consequences, shouldn't government be smaller, making fewer decisions, therefore they'd have fewer messes to clean-up. Further, if government makes a mess, why would we put our faith in their ability to fix it?

Let's discuss one more inquiry in this thought of the day, shall we? "Is there more wrong, bad and incompetence than right, good and competence?"

Once again, I'd like to state that maybe that is the wrong question to ask as well, because, maybe the system is not working because it's gotten off track;

1.) Revolving Door of Politicians, Bureaucrats, regulators, government lawyers going to work for those who work to abuse the system, using those insider connections.

2.) Abuses of privileges of all three branches of government, over stepping their checks and balances. Legislating from the bench, obscure executive orders, DOJ witch hunts of other branches, legislators interfering in regulatory investigations, etc. etc.

3.) A pay-to-play government, for lobbyists, corporations, unions - without the ability for a citizen or small businesses to express their concerns.

If the system of checks-and-balances has been corrupted, then in reality it does not exist, without it, the natural human tendencies will rear their ugly heads early and often. Some might say that it's because "democracy is messy" as Obama said in his State of the Union Address. No, I'd say that Chicago Mafia style dirty politics is messy, and it's no way to run the greatest nation in the history of mankind.

"This is not a perfect world we live in!"

No, it's not, but that doesn't mean it can't be, or that we can't do better with our Federal Government than we have in past periods. Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this.

By Lance Winslow

Government, Politics and Spirituality

Monday, August 6, 2012
Origins of Nationhood and Government

All life emanates from the single source (God, Spirit...). On taking physical form we become distant from that unity and adopt a distinct individuality. The purpose of physical incarnation is to experience that disconnection from source and those things that can only be experienced through interaction with other incarnate entities. As such the knowledge of our origin is hidden.

In the beginning, incarnate entities existed independently. However, the mechanics of evolution demonstrated the benefits of co-operation. Working together each member achieves more than it could in isolation. Thus groups, tribes, nations, societies... were formed. To be effective each group needs rules, and a means of enforcing those rules (laws). Hence the need for leadership (government). At essence laws encourage selflessness by curtailing selfish behavior.

Governments have enabled enormous human progress on the material plane by providing the infrastructures that promote enterprise and creativity, eg who would bother to make an effort if his neighbor could simply come along and snatch the fruits of his labor? Government-provided health, education and welfare services underline the sanctity of life, a very Spiritual ideal. Without the benefits of formal government humanity probably couldn't have reached its current heights.

But there is a negative side to government. Most notably the wars perpetrated in "national" interest. Such behavior indicates Spiritual immaturity. Unfortunately the technological progress that created a whole a host of weapons of mass destruction outstrips our Spiritual growth, hence the tragic devastation caused by warfare. More subtly, all governments curtail individual liberty and freedom of expression to some degree.

Many forms of government have existed and continue to exist, ranging from the jungle-like dictatorship where the strongest holds dominion over all else, through to democracy in which everyone has a say on who leads, can lobby the leadership, and even run for the job themselves. Though democracy appears, and probably is, the most agreeable form of government, consider that most democratic governments enjoy (sometimes substantially) less than 50% of the possible votes, and are not the choice of the majority. Furthermore, even their supporters probably don't support every single policy and detail.

Politics and Spirituality

Politics is the process of proposing governmental policies and arguing the merits of those policies over others. That wild differences of political opinion have always existed and continue to do so proves only that there is no single best way. Indeed there is not even common agreement as to the role of government, never mind how it should be achieved.

Elections are a barometer of the current state of society's Spiritual progress. If one happens to live in a democracy should one participate, and if so, how? While on earth our Spiritual duty is to engage with earthly affairs (else we wouldn't be here). As election time approaches we ought to familiarize ourselves with the available options. You might find one choice better for you personally, while another favors society as a whole. If so, it becomes a question of degree, eg can you sacrifice a little extra tax in return for vastly improved public health services? Remember, abstention is also a valid option, though ideally it should come from a considered decision rather than apathy. In the final reckoning, be guided by your inner instinct.

By J Finnis

Karnataka Government

Saturday, August 4, 2012
Karnataka political system characterizes several regional parties like any other south Indian state. The political scenario of Karnataka is always full of gossips and the state has to handle creed, language and case issues frequently. In totality there are 7 regional parties apart from the Congress and BJP who form the main competitors. Karnataka is the IT hub of the nation and thus forms a major part of the economic scenario. With so much importance, Karnataka is a major topic of discussion among the masses and the media.

There are 225 major constituencies in the state, major among them being Bhatkal, Jagalur, Aurad, Hanur, Channagiri, Kushtagi, Puttur, Karwar, Malur, Mandya, and Vemgal. Koppal, Shimoga, Kolar, Chikmagalur, and Udupi form the Lok Sabha constituencies. While the bills need to passed and discussed by the two major political parties, it is the regional ones that play a greater role in the move.

The regional parties in Karnataka that determine the elections in a big way are Coorg National Council (Mr. N. U. Nachappa as the general secy), Kannad Chalavali Vatal Paksha (Mr. Vatal Nagaraj), Karnataka Congress Party, Karnataka Kranti Ranga, Karnataka Vikas Party, Maharastra Ekikaran Samithi, and URS Samyuktha Paksha. These form a major role in the coalition.

What has haunted the Karnataka political scenario since long has been the inter caste rivalries. Anti - Hindu and anti - Tamil rivalries have been issues since the '60 and still not solved. Vokkaligas and Lingayats are primary case divisions. For long in the 2000, the Kaveri water dispute was a major agenda and the parties made it their triumph card in the elections.

By Madhumay Mallik

India: Bizarre Happenings and Politics of Turmoil!

Thursday, August 2, 2012
From ancient times it has been a proven war strategy to try to strike the enemy at it weakest point. At the moment the ruling coalition of India seems to be the common enemy thanks to all sorts of campaigns and bizarre happenings. And of course, the coalition has been at its weakest due to the number game and a series of unending scams.

If a few crucial allies withdraw support the ruling coalition of India will be reduced to minority and these allies got emboldened by the recent election results in five states of the country where Congress-the main part of the coalition-did poorly including at the most politically strategic state of Uttar Pradesh.

Opposition political parties saw another opportunity to corner the government and joined hands with the allies directly or indirectly. The state election results also indicated a possible reemergence of regional forces at the cost of the national opposition parties. The debate on centre-state power equation in the federal structure of the country heated up questioning the Govt. of India on its proposals to enact central laws regarding the anti-corruption ombudsman and a national counter-terrorism centre. And, bizarre happenings have become the order of the day.

Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party came back to power in Uttar Pradesh with thundering majority and dad Mulayam ruled for his son Akhilesh to become the new Chief Minister. A major constituent of the central coalition Samajwadi Party's continued support was reiterated by Mulayam. But suddenly he began to dream about becoming the next Prime Minister of India! Why now...obviously!

The regional party in the southern state of Tamil Nadu-another strong constituent of the coalition-forced the government to vote against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. A decision which the government of India would have examined intensively otherwise. Why now....obviously!

The regional party in the eastern state of West Bengal-another troublesome ally of the coalition-sacked its own railway minister at the centre for presenting a healthy railway budget for 2012-13. The party feigned ignorance about the proposal to hike railway fares after almost a decade and created havoc just after the budget was presented. A new leader from the party was appointed as the railway minister and he immediately announced a rollback. While common people never objected to this most-urgent fare hike the party stuck to its populist propaganda or blackmail. Why now...obviously!

In a sinister move the newly elected regional government in the northern state of Punjab decided to ask clemency for an assassin on death row who killed a former chief minister of the same state and who had been prosecuted by the same state government since 1995. Why and why now? For regional or religious support? It is hazardous and extremely harmful to try guess any further. But obvious from our line of argument.

The Chief of Indian Army General V K Singh chose his time to deliver a bombshell. He alleged that a huge bribe was offered to him by a retired General in 2010 to get a deal for sub-standard equipments passed. He refused of course, but waited for nearly two years to disclose the facts. General Singh had already been engaged in a bitter row with the government of India concerning his age and date of birth. Two sets of documents reveal two separate dates of births and years. He fought against the government in the Supreme Court, but lost the legal battle. So, as per his official date of birth he was to retire in May, 2012 and if the other date was proved he would have retired after nine months from this. General Singh also alleged of rampant corruption in army making it obsolete and thus compromising the security of the country in a letter written to the Prime Minister. Why this particular timing...well not that obvious, but giving ample opportunities for the interested parties to intensify attack on the 'common enemy'.

The largest democracy of the world looks set on a course of bitter 'democratic' fights and politics of turmoil. Things are set at the moment to get murkier and more bizarre as time progresses.

For the citizens of the country identifying the 'common enemy' seems to be the most urgent task of the hour. Goddamned difficult it is going to be indeed!

By Chinmay Chakravarty

The Big Government Virus

Monday, July 30, 2012
A biological virus is defined, according to as: "an ultramicroscopic metabolically inert, infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts, mainly bacterial, plants, and animals composed of an RNA or DNA core, a protein coat, and, in more complex types, a surrounding envelope." A computer virus is defined as "a segment of self-replicating code planted illegally in a computer program, often to damage or shut down a system or network."

There is a new type of virus known as BGV (The Big Government Virus). This is a virus that combines the maliciousness of a computer virus with the heartbreaking reality of a biological virus. BGV is similar to a computer virus in that it is caused by people and planted in hosts with purposeful intent. It is similar to a biological virus in the way it replicates itself in the body politic.

There is no cure for BGV. There is no treatment, antibiotic, or anti-virus software that will remove it once it takes hold. The virus reproduces itself on a geometric scale. The best way of dealing with this treacherous disease is to prevent it from infecting the host in the first place. Like all viruses, BGV is a parasite that needs to feed off of a living host in order to survive and spread.

The good news is that BGV is completely preventable. It requires education from a young age and continuing vigilance throughout a person's life but as long as people are aware of the warning signs, they can prevent the infection from contaminating them and their neighbors.

Schools have started many education programs for the prevention of viruses such as AIDS. They have handed out condoms to young children and explained to these young kids how to have sex so that it is less risky. Now with this new wicked virus, young children will need to be educated to how BGV works, how it spreads and how it can be prevented.

Like many viruses, at first BGV seems harmless. Its danger is in its deceptive nature. It often fools people into thinking that it is beneficial. This is why education of BGV is so important. People first need to identify carriers of the virus. There are people who knowingly carry this virus and purposely spread it to others. Most of these people are democrat politicians. The virus works thusly:

A democrat politician such as Barack Obama will say something such as "The rich need to pay their fair share". This is the entry point of BGV. Taxes then get raised. At this point the BGV bug takes hold. People will naturally try to prevent giving their hard earned money to the government. They may try to put it in tax shelters. So, a new government agency needs to be created in order to monitor the economic activity of citizens. A certain amount of freedom is lost as this new agency tells people how and where they can invest their money.

This new agency costs money as well. Hundreds of new IRS agents need to be hired. Therefore, the raising of taxes has an expense associated with it as a portion of the new taxes has to go into paying for the new agency.

Then the people who have to pay the extra taxes have to change their plans. Not having the money to invest the way they want, they have to cancel certain expenditures. A person planning to buy a BMW puts those plans off until the economic situation is better. Other people do the same. Soon there is extra inventory at BMW. Sales people are let go as cars are not selling.

The sales people who are let go from BMW file for unemployment. Now, instead of the government receiving taxes from all those BMW sales people, the government has to pay them unemployment checks. So the extra revenue from raising taxes now has another bill associated with it. There are less people paying taxes because less people are working and not only are there less tax payers, but the government goes from receiving money from those people to PAYING money to those people.

The trucking companies that deliver BMW cars, the mechanics that repair them, the suppliers who supply the steel, computer components, electrical equipment, and leather for the seats all let people go because demand is so low. Now the unemployment rate is really starting to rise and in an act of compassion, the unemployment insurance period is increased by six months which causes government to pay out even more money.

Now the BGV illness has completely infected the body politic. People have less money because the government is confiscating more and more. In addition, the government is telling them how and where they can invest the money they are allowed to keep. This loss of freedom and individual wealth is not offset by any gains in government revenue because whatever new money the government hoped to obtain is paid out in new expenses that didn't exist before the tax increase.

This is only the beginning of the damage caused by the BGV virus. Not only is there a bunch of new expenses, but there isn't any new economic growth. A person who was planning to create an extra room in his home puts those plans off because after paying the extra taxes, he doesn't have enough money left. The construction firm that would have gotten the job and would have paid taxes on it now pays no taxes and goes out of business because no one else is adding rooms to their homes either.

The insidious virus is now in full replication mode. Politicians see the infection spreading but instead of trying to treat it, they perpetuate it with more of the same. With unemployment levels skyrocketing and debt growing, the politicians decide to create new government jobs. The people who do these jobs go off of unemployment but their very salary is still paid by other tax payers! These jobs cost money and produce little. In addition, the people who do these jobs become dependent on the very system that gave them the jobs in the first place. A vicious cycle begins as the people who work for the government become permanent perpetuators of the BGV disease!

With all the new government jobs, there is no innovation by individuals. People who may have come up with inventions and ideas that could improve the lives of others don't have the money to invest. There is no entrepreneurialism because not only do people lack the money to invest but they also know that even if they manage to scrape up the money, come up with a great idea, work hard and have success, they still won't get to keep the fruits of their hard work! Soon people become dependent on other countries for products because the cost of producing them here and taking risks versus the potential rewards becomes prohibitive.

At this point the BGV germs are circulating all through the body politic. The infection is severe. Debt and unemployment are high. Individual freedom is in danger. There is no growth in the economy. Opportunities are few and innovation is null. So what do the politicians do? They ask to raise taxes again! This is similar to an endless loop in the worst computer virus. A loop is a piece of computer code that repeats itself over and over until some condition is finally met to stop it. But with another rise in taxes, there is no exit to the loop as it repeats again and again while doing more damage each time it runs through. The patient, already infected with a severe case of BGV, will not survive if the loop continues to run.

Awareness of diseases is important. People have cancer walks and AIDS walks in order to prevent the spread of diseases and raise consciousness. They remind people to see doctors and get checked for breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. The time has come for a BGV walk to create awareness and to put a definitive end to this horrific epidemic. It is now time to educate the public to the scourge known as the BGV (Big Government) virus. This self perpetuating disease has always been around in one form or another. It can be reasonably argued that this disease has caused more death and destruction than any other. The infection rate has, hitherto, been kept in check in the United States. Now the country is in danger of a BGV epidemic. It must be stopped.

By Howard Jacobs

Education Taxes and Government Schools

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
School levies will once again be on the ballot in various districts around my home state of Washington on February 14 (Valentine's Day). The education establishment learned some time ago not to put bonds and levies on the regular November ballot as they often fail at elections where larger numbers of voters turn out. In recent years, such levies are nearly always voted on in a so-called "special election" at an off season when nothing else is on the ballot and few voters participate. If the education establishment can get its base of support to turn out, and if few voters participate overall, then an ever-increasing flow of revenue for the bloated education bureaucracy will much more likely result. Never mind the waste of taxpayer dollars spent on a special election - "it's for the kids!"

I'm sorry to have to say it, but those of us who identify ourselves as Christian, conservative or Constitutional, tend to spend more time complaining than taking action. We've become too preoccupied with talking about how big the education establishment is, how much money they have and how much power they have. We've convinced ourselves that there's nothing we can do to stop the Godless, humanistic, socialistic brainwashing of a generation by the all-powerful government education establishment. But I beg to differ. In fact, I dare say that there are few if any problems facing America today that we couldn't lick if we had the courage of our professed convictions and were willing to endure a little hardship and make some sacrifice.

For example, I'm persuaded that if Christians, conservatives and Constitutionists were to act on their professed values, we could demonstrate for all to see that there isn't even a need for a government-run education system. If the large percentage of the population that identifies as Christian were to place their children into Christian private schools, or homeschool (an equal or in some cases even better alternative), the government-run schools would become virtual ghost towns. The injustice of taxing all the citizens in order to prop up the establishment bureaucracy that serves only a few, would become evident for all to see. The people would soon demand their tax dollars be returned to them to be used on the education option of their choice. The government education bureaucracy just might be put out of business altogether.

Now some will say "oh, but we can't afford a private school tuition." This is where putting our money where our mouth is comes in. If everyone who rails against the deplorable and depraved state of the government schools were to donate $5, $10, $25, or $50 per month to a private school (or a neighborhood homeschool family), that school could then reduce it's tuition rate so that most any family could afford a private education. Those with successful businesses, or those who have finished raising a family and whose household expenses are now reduced, have no excuse.

If every Christian-conservative-Constitutionist were to act on their professed convictions, private Christian schools would become the new booming industry in America. They would be springing up in every neighborhood. They would be hiring teachers who would be set free from the bureaucracy of the government education establishment and turned loose to teach with all of their God-given natural talent - free to honor their Creator as they educate children with all of the gifting that He has given them. And thanks to people like you giving to help support those private schools, they could offer assistance to families who truly cannot afford the tuition. The devotion of parents to their children in homeschooling or sacrificing to pay a tuition, and the sincere charity of others in assisting those who need it, would soon replace the bloated, bureaucracy ridden, government education establishment.

Gee, I'm getting myself all worked up here. Maybe I'll just have to practice what I preach. Okay, I just stopped and wrote a check to the K-8 school at my church. Take that government schools!

This might sound like the lofty, idealistic vision of a dreamer, but the fulfilling of the dream is really only as far away as each of us giving up going to a movie once a month, or giving up a latte a couple times a week - a sacrifice alright, but much less sacrifice than those who laid down their lives and fortunes to give us this country. My point is that it is doable if we are willing to do what it takes. Therefore, whiling away my days complaining about the current state of affairs just isn't an option for me, not while action can still be taken.

While the current government-run education system remains, please don't talk to me about the need for a levy or bond until the entire education system, from Washington DC, to Olympia, to the local school district, has undergone and implemented all of the recommendations of an independent performance audit and is running at the efficiency levels that would be expected and required in the private sector. You see, I'm persuaded that the problem isn't that taxpayers aren't taxed enough. I'm persuaded that the problem lies in a bureaucracy that consumes most of the funds before they ever make it to the classroom.

If it were up to me, I'd start by firing everyone in DC, Olympia and the local district except the teachers, the building maintenance staff, one principal and secretary per school and one administrator and secretary per district. I believe our teachers are smart enough to figure out how to properly educate children without an army of bureaucrats in far away places telling them how to do it. And if the district administrator isn't capable of ordering the books requested by the teachers and assigning maintenance staff and funding in a manner that properly maintains the facilities, then we need to add hiring a new administrator to our to do list.

Perhaps this sounds excessively harsh, like I'm being too severe, I mean really, expecting a government bureaucracy to tighten its belt and live like those of us in the private sector, yea, that's just plain unreasonable.

On this Valentine's Day, or whatever day levies might be on your local ballot, let's have a heart, show some love for the kids and vote "No" to heaping more debt, taxes and government bureaucracy on the backs of future generations.

By Robert W Peck

The Present Political System of Australia

Friday, July 20, 2012
Together with New Zealand, Canada, and other former British colonies around the world, Australia is considered a constitutional monarchy under the throne of Queen Elizabeth II. The present Governor General, Quentin Bryce, is the Queen's representative.

Australia's government today follows the tradition of liberal democracy, which allows religious freedom, and is committed to uphold the freedom of speech and association. The country today has about 20 million people. Australia's territory is made up of six states and seven other external territories and islands in Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans. The present political structure is a combination of American and British governments. The country's constitution shares different powers to Federal- and State-level governments.

The Federal Government of Australia
The Federal Government is made up of two Houses--Upper and Lower. The Senate, which is composed of 12 elected representatives from each state is the Upper House; while the House of Representatives composed of 147 members is called the Lower House. A dominant party in the House of Representatives will become the government. A ministry from its members will be distributed in both Houses. The Prime Minister, the country's political leader, will come from the Lower House.

Local or State Government of Australia
Every state in Australia, except Queensland, has 2 Parliament houses patterned after the Federal government. There are 850 local governments from each state and each of these local governments is regulated by State Acts of Parliament.

The Judiciary
The Federal Government is vested with judicial power in the High Court. Part of Federal Government's responsibility is to create other courts like Family Court and Federal Court whenever necessary. The High Court is the highest court of the land. It interprets the constitution and helps settle disputes between the State and Federal Governments.

Political Parties
Political parties are the lifeblood of a democracy. In Australia, a "party system" is the norm, which means that the party or coalition of parties that garnered the highest number of votes forms the government. A good example is the present government under the Labor Party. A party with the second highest number of votes will officially become the Opposition.

Australia has been dominated by two major parties for over 50 years now--the Labor Party and the coalition of the Liberal and National Parties. At present, the Labor Party is the Government and the Coalition is the Opposition. There are however, several minor parties that hold the balance of power for almost 20 years now. The country is also one of the few nations in the world that make voting compulsory in both state and federal levels.

By Harvey Russell

A Government Shutdown Is a Political Shutdown

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Republicans and Democrats are engaging in a war of words right now, blaming each other for failing to stop an impending government shutdown. The only problem is that this blame is simply rhetoric to disguise their own lack of a better plan. A government shutdown would indeed be a failure: not of a single party but both parties. The parties lack the courage to propose a budget plan that will lose them political support, by imposing widespread government cuts, raising taxes, or engulfing us with even more debt. The options are not going to be easy, but we didn't send our representatives to Washington to make only easy choices for us.

The only way a government shutdown will occur is if talks between the parties break down to a lower level than they are right now. Obstinate representatives, unwilling to budge on their pet projects and extreme partisan ideologies, would rather shut down the government then enact a real budget plan. To the American public, that shouldn't seem very "representative." A government shutdown would be little more than a complete shutdown of our political system. Unwilling to make tough decisions, unwilling to compromise for the common good, and unwilling to take a vote that will hinder the reelection efforts.

A plan to ensure the normal functioning of society, providing services that the public needs and the leadership we deserve, should not be subject to political whims and childish grudges. Ultimately, we need leaders who are going to make the difficult decisions that will bring us out of our budget disaster. And most of all, we need leadership that will prove to us that the public good is not a means to a desired political "good." We need leaders who don't just shut down when times get tough. If no elected official will provide this type of leadership, then perhaps the next thing we need to shut down are incumbent reelection bids.

By Andre Audette

American Politics - Balance Between Freedom and Order

Monday, July 16, 2012
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001 were the force that initiated restrictions on civil liberties both on American soil and abroad. President George Bush used these attacks as his reasoning for signing the Patriot Act into existence. This Act allows federal investigators to seize individual personal records in addition to using electronic auditory surveillance to monitor the activities of suspected terrorists. The allowances provided to investigators via the Patriot Act are, what most Americans would consider, a violation of their civil liberties. Still, this is not the first time that the U.S. government has placed restrictions on the rights of its citizens. However, it may well be the most arguably contested instance of patriotic-inspired law.

Some experts argue that the liberties that the governments of the United States, Canada, and the nations of the European Union are taking with liberties will lead to a general apathy by the citizenry in regard to the acceptance of such practices. It has been noted that, as citizens become used to such restrictions, they will find them commonplace and will grow to accept them as reasonable practice, leaving the government to play with civil rights as they see fit. Indeed, the fact that most people do eventually become accustomed to practices that they may have once considered restrictive, or even wrong, is almost similar to a forced inoculation of civil policy. For the most part, these experts assert that those individuals who are ultimately having their civil liberties violates are those who are not guilty of any crime, and that this sort of hunt-and-peck mission by the government to uncover terrorists will do little more to produce guilty parties than the policies that were available before the Patriot Act and the September 11th attacks. There are even those conspiracy theorists who believe that the American government is using terrorism as an excuse to institute a government-centered manner of performing investigations and that the governments involved ultimately intend to use these new policies as a tacit permission to invade the privacy of its citizens.

Certainly, the citizens of any democracy would be willing to sacrifice some civil liberty in exchange for democratic freedom. The question is, how far should these policies go, what liberties are citizens expected to sacrifice, and what is the guarantee that these sacrifices will indeed lead to protection from terrorism and other crimes. One of the major arguments against the liberties that governments have taken with citizen rights surrounds the example of publicly placed surveillance cameras. Some European nations installed such cameras before September 11, 2001 in order to combat terrorism which has been rampant in Europe for decades. However, some citizens complain that these cameras are now being used to issue traffic tickets. Is this an example of using the cameras to their full capacity or is it merely a violation of civil liberties? In the United States, many municipalities are installing such cameras with the stated intention of filming traffic violations, yet most citizens still rebel against them as a rights violation.

As stated earlier, the restrictions put in force after September 11, 2001 are not the first time that the American government has attempted to balance civil liberty with law enforcement and public safety. During World War II, more than one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans were forcibly detained in detention areas across the United States. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese sentiment was probably as intense as anti-Middle Eastern sentiment was following the terrorist attacks on the world trade center. And, along the same lines as the Japanese internment camps, the United States government required a slew of men of Middle Eastern descent to register their whereabouts and went on a hunt for foreign nationals that had overstayed their visas. These policies were certainly not as restrictive as the corralling of thousands of Japanese who were also U.S. citizens, but they are certainly walking a fine line between safety and liberty in a democratic society.

Yet, if a certain population has been identified as a particular threat, what is the government supposed to do to maintain order and guarantee safety. As many will agree, citizenship is no guarantee of patriotism. Some experts agree with the policies that required Middle Eastern individuals to register their whereabouts, indicating that had less restrictive policies been used in regard to the Japanese "problem" there would likely have been far less of a condemnation of the situation. Still, such suggestions are not the focus of the current national civil safety policies; the focus is a sort of spy campaign upon suspected terrorists, or so one hopes.

The balances between national security and civil rights are generally seen to be maintained by the way a democratic government is set up and in the way that it functions. Sometimes, however, one must wonder at the actual power the rest of the government may have to restrain the Executive Branch. Some individuals assert that it is public opinion that governs the government. This may be somewhat true in that politics has become a permanent campaign and the nation's leaders rely very heavily on public opinion polls to guide policy. Indeed, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, public opinion, no matter what the guilt that accompanied the agreement, would have ultimately concurred with just about any restriction the government chose to place on individuals who even slightly resembled the terrorists in likeness or religious beliefs. As a matter of fact, many individuals did not think that the government worked fast enough or hard enough to issue such restrictions.

The primary question remains that the restrictions placed on civil liberties must be proportionate to the crimes they are attempting to prevent. Using the mid-twentieth century internment of Japanese-Americans as an example, this largely loyal population would have best been served with curfews and geographic restrictions rather than what amounted to outright imprisonment. In the same vein, is national security best served by electronically violating the lives of the nation's citizens? Certainly, rash public opinion, or even rash Executive Branch opinion, may not be able to make the best determination of what would constitute effective security policies.

By Rebecca Stigall

Time to Take Inventory - How Many High Ranking Government People Went to Ivy Leagues?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Indeed, no American likes to see discrimination, and I certainly don't. However I have noticed a bias towards Ivy leaguers in our government at the highest levels. Most of our presidents have been Ivy league schooled, and far too many folks who are in the cabinet, advisers to presidents, and running the top bureaucratic agencies have also gone to these institutions. It seems there is a disconnect between those folks, and the rest of the population. It's as if there is a discrimination against anyone in government or politics who did not attend. I'd like to talk about this for a moment if I might.

You see, in business as a franchisor I noticed that folks that went to these business schools and were able to get loans from their friends, and grow their businesses in competition against me at a rapid pace. However they were easy to beat in the marketplace because they didn't know what they were doing, they didn't understand the consumer, and they simply cruised by. They had the right connections, but they didn't have the right mindset, or the hard work ethic. Perhaps they worked so hard getting their degrees in school and doing all that studying, that they felt that they were owed a free ride after that.

Unfortunately, that's not how the real world is supposed work, and if we reward people who are just cruising by their credentials, or due to the fact that they have friends in high places, we are going to get more of the same. Specifically we are going to get more of what Adam Smith warned us about in his treaties on the wealth of nations. Perhaps it's time to take inventory and asked ourselves; just how many high-ranking government politicians and officials went to Ivy League schools. Then this information needs to be posted on the Internet in full transparency for everyone to see.

I think what we will find will be so alarming, that we will want to remove every individual in that category from every position in government. There are of course some positives to having this sort of education history from folks in our government, because many other government leaders in other nations have also come to the United States and gone to the same schools. And that's all well and good except that this is our country, it is supposed to be for the people and by the people and not for a few chosen individuals who were born with silver spoons in their mouth.

Everyone who is in a leadership position in our government should have earned that right, and they should be in it for America, not for themselves, their friends, and their extended family. Until we change that, all we will have is more of the same, and as far as I'm concerned this is unacceptable during my life experience, and things need to change, otherwise we will lose our nation to mediocrity, and we may as well piss on our Constitution. In fact, it seems to me that that is going on right now. Please consider all this and think on it.

By Lance Winslow

Politics And Politicians

Thursday, July 5, 2012
I hate politics and politicians! What have they done for you lately?

We need balance - not extremes. Our government is supposed to represent its citizens and "provide for the common good" - not focus on special interest groups that try to influence legislation and regulations that support their unique agenda. Libertarians have a lot of good points - such as smaller government - but not their extreme view of gun and drug "freedoms". Progressives also have some good points - such as social "protections" - but not the extreme views on abortion and gay "rights." Politicians often pay attention to irrelevant issues. Like when we are at war (2 or 3!) and have debt that our kids and grandkids will never be able to pay off, and 10% unemployment, etc., etc. What do they focus on? Trivial stuff - like when Congress considered banning shopping bags that are purchased to save plastic and paper bags - that were found to have some lead in them. Did anyone ever ask Congress to do something about the lead in the solder in your copper water pipes?

But we have a kind of system of government that, in the long term, seems to work. Some things are bad and some are good - about the "greatest democracy in the world." Winston Churchill once said "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." The U.S. is considered by many to have an ideal model of democracy, but it is imperfect and democracy itself has its own inherent problems and limitations. Some things are necessary - like Defense, Environment, Health and Safety, Civil Rights, etc. - which we need to do right at the national level because they can't be done effectively at the individual or state level. The U.S. federal government's organization and processes are archaic and inefficient - but sometimes it seems to work - for example, the "Stimulus Package/Bill" in 2009 actually did help the country recover from a serious recession (despite some its shortcomings and problems). Others don't seem to work well or belong at the national level - like the unbelievably complex, convoluted and inequitable tax code (more on that separately).

There are lots of examples of stupid, unproductive, and irrelevant political actions. Here are just a few of my favorites:

• Earmarks - those projects for specific congressional districts or states that are funded by tacking them onto unrelated congressional bills in exchange for votes - so called "pork barrel." So, if you look at a major funding bill - that may be essential, such as the Defense Department budget - you will find hundreds of earmarks attached to it to fund a lot of strange, arcane, and sometimes useless projects (like the famous "bridge to nowhere" or local airports with almost no passengers, etc.). These projects may bring some federal money back to their districts, but they are in many, if not most cases, funding pet projects of political contributors. The individual requests in many cases are relatively small (at least by Washington standards) - perhaps a few $ million - but there are thousands of them every year. Collectively they can amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. And without a line item veto by Congress or the President, these projects get funded automatically when the major bill passes. How's that for representative government spending your money?

• Political Priorities - The Congress and the President are often involved in the absurdities and travesties of what they view as political priorities - at our expense. For example, pursuing a constitutional amendment against gay marriage while passing a law exempting gun manufacturers and dealers from all potential liabilities - including illegal sales to criminals! That's just screwed up!! Who thinks up this stuff - and who do they think they are representing?

• Gerrymandering - Our elected Congress works very hard to get re-elected - on our dime. From Wikipedia: "Gerrymandering is a practice of political corruption that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts." With the manipulation of election districts, it is possible for minority parties to win a majority of districts in an election - or neutralize a strong district of a majority party. This is a process that is facilitated by the mandated re-assessment of congressional representation after every 10 year census - and it can neutralize your vote! There are no uniform electoral districts. Your representatives design the election districts to protect incumbents. For example:

o "In 2004, not one of California's 173 state legislative and federal congressional seats changed party-hands."
o "No House member from Tennessee ever lost a bid for re-election during 1980-2005."

Other developed countries have established processes for "defining constituency boundaries" by objective third-party organizations. But politics in the U.S. is not that progressive - so much for "one person, one vote."

• Subsidies - Our government, which we pay for, thanks to our politicians, provides substantial subsidies to some very profitable industries - at our expense. Here are a couple of examples:

Agriculture - Agriculture is obviously very important to an economy, so what is wrong with federal programs to support it? First, a few facts (from The Cato Institute): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributes between $10 billion and $30 billion in cash subsidies to farmers and owners of farmland each year... More than 800,000 farmers and landowners receive subsidies, but the payments are heavily tilted toward the largest producers... Although policymakers love to discuss the plight of the small farmer, the bulk of federal farm subsidies goes to the largest farms. For example, the largest 10 percent of recipients have received 72 percent of all subsidy payments in recent years. Numerous large corporations and even some wealthy celebrities receive farm subsidies because they are the owners of farmland... In 2008, Congress overrode a presidential veto to enact farm legislation that extended existing supports and created new subsidy programs... The 2008 farm bill added a new sugar-to-ethanol program under which the government buys excess imported sugar that might put downward pressure on inflated domestic sugar prices. The program defends domestic sugar growers' 85 percent of the U.S. sugar market, and it provides for the government to sell excess sugar, at a loss if need be, to ethanol producers... Since 2000 the USDA has paid $1.3 billion in farm subsidies to people who own land that is no longer used for farming." Agricultural subsidies in the U.S. comprise 11% of farm production.

So, why are subsidies to farmers bad? Simply, because they don't achieve the intended results. Most of the money goes to large, profitable farms and corporations. They can upset the natural balance between supply and demand - by facilitating over-production - which can unrealistically affect the prices of food commodities and farm land. "Perhaps the biggest scandal with regard to farm subsidies is that congressional agriculture committees are loaded with members who are active farmers and farmland owners. Those members have a direct financial stake whenever Congress votes to increase subsidies, which is an obvious conflict of interest."

Other countries have experimented with eliminating agricultural subsidies - with some success. New Zealand is one example. "New Zealand's farmers have cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed niche markets such as kiwifruit... New Zealand farm productivity, profitability, and output have soared since the reforms."

Oil - The largest, most profitable industry in the U.S. - and worldwide - receives federal subsidies! Why?? Technically they are tax breaks, but only because of the way our Congress writes the rules and defines the terms. The subsidies/tax breaks to the U.S. oil industry amounts to about $4 billion each year. This includes a "depletion allowance" that treats oil reserves as capital equipment - in addition to very favorable terms for writing off exploration costs. But the major oil companies have been making more than 10 times that in profits each year. Do they really need incentives to explore for oil - when the world market price for oil has been in the neighborhood of 3-5 times the cost of production for decades? And what is the attitude of our politicians? - "we're only talking about four billion dollars."!!

• Social Security - One of my pet peeves has been the most sacred of all federal government programs. For over 70 years, Social Security has been "an insurance program for everyone". But up until 1984, government employees, including Members of Congress, did not pay into the Social Security program - when all of us "citizens" were required to by law. The Social Security program, which has been going broke for decades, was good enough for "the people", but not for the government employees and politicians who are supposed to be serving them. So now it is an example of how a political abuse can be fixed. However, the benefits for federal employees are still very attractive - and not typical of industry jobs. In addition to now participating in Social Security, federal employees have a defined benefit pension plan (which no longer exists in most of industry today) as well as a "Thrift Savings Plan" - the equivalent of a 401K plan - with up to a 5% match. Members of Congress are eligible for full pension at age 62 after only five years of service - and they are eligible at age 50 if they've served 20 years. So our "public servants" have more rewarding benefits than most taxpayers receive.

And there is more - much more!!

So, how can the "greatest country in the world" be so screwed up (at least at times)? I blame it on the politicians and the uninformed/uninterested electorate. Other countries must just be worse. Part of the problem is that the public is often not well informed - or just doesn't care. How do you communicate important political issues so that the general public really understands - the complete facts and truth? Most news and views are at too high a level (e.g., small "sound bites" - or talk show opinions) so that they leave either a limited or wrong impression. For example, issues like abortion and stem cell research are highly controversial and emotional and don't really get covered objectively.

Is there a solution? It would be nice if we could focus on real/important issues and attract intelligent, sincere people into politics. What kinds of people want to run for political office? - ego-centrics, power hungry, self promotional - are these the type of people we want to represent us?? Why would you trust a politician with your life and welfare? But that is what we have - at least in many cases. And what are the financial implications? How can really good political leaders afford to be politicians? Even with the elevated salaries and benefits for politicians (at least at the Congressional level), the cost of the life style in Washington, DC is far too expensive to be covered by federal payments. So, they must either be independently wealthy - or seek an opportunity to capitalize on their political position - either during or after their term in office. What would make a constituent think that their representative is working in their best interest?
I don't have a solution. That's why I hate politics and politicians.

By Henry P Mitchell

Ten Things the Federal Government Does Well

Monday, July 2, 2012
Quick, name ten things the federal government does well. Let me be clear, not the state or local governments, only our federal government. And I'm not concerned if it is right or wrong, but how proficiently they are able to perform a given task. Go ahead, try it. I'll wait.

It's not too easy, is it? I was recently asked this by an old friend from up north and I have to admit it stopped me in my tracks. I had to do some real soul searching to dream up a list, and frankly, it took me some time to do. Nonetheless, here is what I came up with (in no particular order):

1. Pay entitlements - we do not seem to have a problem paying out unemployment, food stamps, or whatever. I suspect we're probably too efficient in this regard.

2. Collect taxes - beyond income taxes, it's amazing how the federal government picks our pocket, be it at the gas pump, tobacco, etc. Even business taxes are ultimately passed on to consumers through increased prices.

3. Enforce taxes - The IRS is certainly a force to be reckoned with. I'm told even the smallest IRS agent can rip a telephone book in two with his bare hands.

4. Operate our park system - I don't think I have been in a federal park that wasn't well maintained with courteous rangers.

5. Strong military - the smartest, best trained, and best equipped in the world.

6. Strong intelligence services - the NSA, FBI, CIA, et al. may not get it right all of the time, but thank God we've got them.

7. Print money - they may not know how to earn it or budget it, but they do a superlative job of printing it.

8. Pay foreign aid - I tend to believe we're charitable to a fault, including those countries who undermine us.

9. Assemble statistics - just about every department knows how to crunch numbers to justify their existence.

10. Take care of themselves - the salaries and benefits for government workers is probably the best in the world.

The fact we cannot enumerate this list off the top of our heads is indicative of the problem we have with our government; that we perceive it as a bloated inefficient albatross hanging around our necks. In contrast, I'm sure we could quickly name ten things the government does poorly, such as policing themselves over spending, preparing and adhering to budgets, protecting our borders, delivering the mail, utilizing our natural resources, combating drugs, maintaining our infrastructure, performing medical research, etc. There is probably dozens of inefficiencies we could name with ease.

If we honestly believe the federal government is the poster child for inefficiency, no wonder taxpayers think they are being fleeced. It's one thing to give money to support your government, quite another if it is a system desperately in need of repair. One last question for you; as a taxpayer, do you truly believe you're getting your money's worth out of the federal government? I thought so.

Keep the Faith!

By Tim Bryce

The Government's New Agenda - Robbing Citizens of Their Way of Life

Saturday, June 30, 2012
Politicians have struck again - this time attacking your retirement savings, healthcare, and impacting your life in even more dastardly ways that you ever thought possible - and you may have even asked them to do it. Yes, it's a sad but true tale of trusting and letting the government, a.k.a. politicians, run our lives.

Politicians have put new laws into the books that will allow the government to take (confiscate) almost $4 out of every $100 of investment income you make - these investment include your interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, capital gains, and rental income. This tax is on top of what you already pay in the form of other taxes on income.

Eighteen months from now you will also pay an extra tax for services if you undergo diabetes testing, joint replacement surgery, MRI and CAT scans, pacemakers, and stents, you may be subject to a new tax, taxes snuck into the healthcare bill as part of Obama's plan to rescue America. B.S.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi summed it all up when she stated, "We have to pass this bill so you can find out what's in it." Her statement was a great indication that the American public was about to be bamboozled. Such idiotic thinking is similar to signing a legal document without reading it only to find out you just signed your entire bank account over to some slick Willy shyster.

Some provisions of these laws are already in the books. Their appearance started in January 2011, and others go into effect in 2013 and 2014. What can you do? Write your Senators and Congressman TODAY. Demand explanations of their stance and if they voted for a bill they never read ask them WHY they were that stupid, then vote them out of office. They aren't in it to serve your best interests.

The BIGGEST threat to your money and the American way of life is our governments willingness to print its way out of trouble. That's idiotic, too. Printing money is not the way you corral a debt structure problem. That is similar to you writing bad checks, while stating you have the money to cover your debts. It didn't work for Great Britain following WWI and WWII and it still doesn't work that way in 2011. Printing money to cover debt leads to uncontrollable inflation, as eventually the value of the dollar coupon will become worth less - a.k.a. worthless.

Want proof? Turn on your TV and look at what's happening in Europe. Greece is about to default on its debt obligations. Italy is in much deeper dire straights and will default, too. The default of these two countries alone will plunge Europe into a sovereign debt and banking crisis that will lead to massive inflation. The debt carried by France, Germany, and the USA places us at the risk of financial collapse. As a result the US will increase deficit spending, print more money and exacerbate the situation. Foreign creditors have already started leaving the US Treasury market in front of the global financial collapse because sources that carry Europe's debt, some 33% of it, comes from American money-market funds.

All of this was brought on by shear stupidity on varying levels. How? Remember when banking institutions were lending jumbo mortgages, I'm talking about sub-prime loans of $250,000 - $400,000, to people earning little more than $40,000/yearly. Insanity. The US government owing more than it takes in, then printing more money to cover the debt. Huge companies, organizations with debt loads two times higher than their revenue streams getting bailouts from the US government to keep them afloat.

Want to stop the insanity? No more bailouts. Stop printing money. No more quantitative easing by the Feds. Restructure the IRS tax laws. Institute a federal sales tax; YES, I KNOW IT WOULD BE PAINFUL, but consider the consequences, inflation that could very well push a loaf of bread to $6 or $7, $28 a gallon gas, and other staple products beyond the purchasing power of more than 70% of all Americans. America cannot save its way out of the debt crisis, regardless of what politicians tell you. The committee commissioned by Obama to save money won't work. The US needs revenue, not fancy tax code and financial manipulation. Call your representatives and demand a resolution this month.

By Rich Albright

Australia's Carbon Tax and the Role of Government

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Amidst a sea of debate surrounding the Australian government's proposed Carbon Tax, it seems that a central key issue is being overlooked. The issue is not one that has ever been a focal point of public discourse in Australia since at least the post-war period, and arguably as far back as the early days of Federation. Namely, what ought to be the defined role of government in Australia, and to what extent should its reach be limited?

The Gillard Labor government is the first minority government in Australia since the second World War. It holds power in the lower house only with the backing of two independent MP's. At time of writing, this government is now looking to introduce a major new tax with far-reaching implications.

The significance of this move and the root of subsequent controversy, public rallies and demonstrations can be surmised in four historically anomalous points:

1) The proposed Carbon Tax is an initiative of a small country with relatively minimal contributions to global carbon emissions, which is not being followed by any major developed nation or any of Australia's neighbours in the Pacific region.

2) The tax does not have popular public support behind it.

3) The governing party promised during the previous election, prior to forming a minority government, that it would not introduce this tax.

4) The proposed tax has a very clear prescriptive or 'paternalistic' nature, designed to disincentivise certain economic activities that run contrary to ideological aims.

The last major tax imposed on Australia, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), was preceded by a similar assurance that it would "never ever" be introduced. However, when the Prime Minister of the day made an about-face on that position, he did subsequently take it to the following election as part of his platform and was narrowly re-elected, providing a mandate of sorts. The significant difference this time around is that Australia has a minority coalition government attempting to introduce major legislation in its first term of office, which it was elected under the assurance that it would not do.

The public demonstrations that have followed included a massive truck convoy that descended upon the nation's capital, Canberra, calling for a new election. Legal experts soon responded that such a move would not be possible under the country's constitution. It would seem that there is in fact little recourse that the Australian public can take, politically, under such circumstances.

In Australia, the people hold absolute power over their government for one day approximately once every four years, and extremely little during the interim. Could the Carbon Tax draw the public's attention to this matter, and finally call into question the size and scope of government in Australia?

Unlike in the United States and certain other democracies, where the Constitution clearly delineates the rights of the people from the encroachment of their government, Australia, from the time that it emerged from a collection of British colonies to become a Federated nation in its own right, has never had a thorough public discussion as to where the rights and opinions of the people end and the legislative power of government begins. Unless it should require more drastic political circumstances before confronting this question, perhaps now is the time.

By James T. Hannagan

Role of Opposition in Democratic Government

Monday, June 25, 2012
Democracy is a system of forming government that allows public expression of opinion and accommodation of divergent views. Since democracy is based on number game with eventual majority rule, the minority, as opposition, should act to check and highlight the excesses of the majority. In this sense opposition parties are the pillars of any democracy and are the voice of the people, especially the marginalized. Opposition must see to it that a sense of direction which has been lost sight of by the people at large should be restored to them by the work and creative role that the opposition play and must play to take Pakistan to further vistas of glory and achievement.The opposition should be the people's watchdog keeping the government on its toes and forcing it to follow the right democratic path. Opposition parties also play the oversight role by ensuring that the actions of government are in the best interest of the people. Role of opposition in a democracy is much more creative and crucial rather than opposition for the sake of opposition. Its main role is to expose weakness in government policies and remain a vigilant watchdog over the action and inaction of the government. The right of opposition to oppose the wrong policies of the Government is an inalienable and essential part of the democratic process. What we observe in Pakistan is that freedom, rights, liberty, equality, justice and fair play are not only abused but also misused by the coalition Government in the center but the opposition is all along silent.

In Pakistan fact is that genuine leadership has never been allowed to flourish and if there had been a few of this caliber to lead our nation, they had been very mercilessly made controversial or even removed from the scene. PML (N) leadership being opposition could not properly act as watchdog over the activities of government till now for unknown reasons and has merely played the role of "Friendly Opposition". The present government has pushed the people too much in the corner. Right from the day PPP came into power, miseries of people have been added manifold. People do not have money to purchase expensive petrol, diesel and oil. People do not have enough money to pay the exorbitant rents to landlords. People do not have food. Business community of the country is raising hue and cry to the government to take notice of the depressing situation arising from increasing mark-up rates and ever rising electricity tariff being harmful for both the trade and industry and urged the government to withdraw the same immediately as export oriented industries are already suffering badly due to unbearable costs of inputs and utilities and survival of industries is already at stake due to continuous increase in power tariff by the government on one pretext or the other. The opposition remained constantly silent within the Parliament as well as outside the Parliament. The entire nation is suffering due to the skyrocketing prices of food and utilities whereas job opportunities and sources of income have squeezed massively, and more and more burdens of taxes and price hikes has resulted to an almost total collapse of the system but opposition is nowhere to agitate for the people to minimize these destitutions. Price hike in items of basic living necessities and essential services have triggered a chain reaction of increases in prices of everything and rubbished the essence of house-hold budget planning. As if rationing of wheat flour, sugar, power, gas, cooking oil was not enough, now petrol, diesel and kerosene prices have been further increased out of every conceivable proportions.

It is unbelievable that the Government elected by the People is working only to crush people by burdening them with unbearable hardships. Till now, It has been able to produce only sugar mafia, power mafia, cement mafia, land mafia, LPG quota mafia and now, and the foremost fuel mafia. It is surprising that, price of fuel which is one of the basic essentials of life today, is being made more and more out of reach of a common man. This clearly is not a Government for the people. Corruption rating recently announced by the Transparency International is a symptom of deep institutional weaknesses which has led to inefficient economic, social, and political outcomes resulting to reduced economic growth, retarded long-term foreign and domestic investments, enhanced inflation, depreciated national currency, reduced expenditures for education and health, misallocated talent to rent-seeking activities, pushed firms underground, distorted markets and the allocation of resources, increased income inequality and poverty, reduces tax revenue, and distorted the fundamental role of the government.

So, what would ultimately happen? Poverty will further rise; there will be more crimes, injustice and social inequality. The theory of the present Government "democracy is the best revenge" has been fully enforced upon the poor people of Pakistan by taking revenge from them and the only intention of the Government is to strip all the clothes of poor masses. The agony of the people has gone too far. In modern societies where the existence of opposition political parties has been institutionalized, they serve the purpose of being an alternative to the ruling parties by offering alternative policies. The Opposition in Pakistan has not been able to perform its main role of questioning the government of the day and holding it accountable to the public whereas the Opposition is equally responsible in upholding the best interests of the people of the country. Contrarily the opposition is in deep slumber has not brought a single motion that is relevant to the poor people, nor has it contributed immensely in public policy formulation and implementation as well as being the voice of the people. If a party is an alternative government, its leader is the Prime Minister-in waiting should have sufficient charisma to strongly agitate the public demands before the Government.

Besides, it is important for an opposition party to demonstrate its democratic credentials. Party conferences should be run democratically, and members should debate issues freely and be able to call on the party leadership to account. Opposition parties across the world, under very difficult conditions, do a lot of research and come up with alternative policies. The opposition parties on the one hand fight for the rights of the people and on the other hand offer civic education to voters on the importance of politics and voting, especially in the run-up to elections. This not only encourages the voters to vote in large numbers but to make more informed decisions. Mere "Friendly Opposition" is no opposition. The present situation gives an impression that the elite in this country whether belonging to Government or the opposition have no connection or feelings for either the poor people or their sufferings.

By Awais Abraham

Obama Administration to Cut Government Waste?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
It is not government's job, at least not here in the US, to employ everyone, and it is not the state's mission to grow the size of government, as per our constitution. The Federal Government's job is to protect the American People, not domesticate them into some sort of a nanny state, making them weak, inferior, and eventually unable to care for themselves. It seems rather un-American, at least to me anyway, to grow a bureaucracy which invades every aspect of our lives.

The was an interesting blog post not long ago titled; "Can Obama's war on waste make a difference?" posted on November 23, 2011 by Joseph Marks; on the Government Executive website. The article quoted President Obama who made a statement during his taxpayer funded campaign visit to a labor union in Ohio:

"There are 12 different agencies that deal with exports," the president complained. "There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in salt water. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

Okay so, let's discuss this for a moment shall we? First off, this title; "Can Obama's war on waste make a difference?" assumes that the Obama Administration is going to try to tame waste, which is ridiculous, and will amount to nothing more than his directive to reduce burdensome and unneeded regulations, remember that? It's all show and no go, dog and pony baloney if you ask me, all made for media. The reality is that this Administration is the problem, they are growing wasteful government, so it's hypocritical for them to even suggest otherwise, or claim to be on a mission to cut out waste.

You see, a socialist leaning government can never reduce waste, for it is wasteful by definition. The only way to decrease the waste is to drastically limit the size of government, which can only be done through a Six Sigma approach using common sense and efficiency metrics. The Obama Administration has done nothing to bring efficiency or reduction to the size of the Federal Government, so it is fairly premature to give them credit for their future efforts on cutting waste, especially when listening to such promises from a campaign podium, read from one of the Obama's 56 teleprompters that the administration and his campaign committee now owns.

Maybe we need to start cutting government waste by cutting out some of the minutia coming from all the political rhetoric; you think?

By Lance Winslow

Generation Entitlement

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." - JFK (1961)

Times have changed since the darling of the Democrat Party uttered those words during his inaugural address in 1961. Could you imagine a politician from either party making a statement like that today? Americans wouldn't understand what he was talking about. Today, American political discourse is couched in terms of what the government will do for you. A comment like Kennedy's just doesn't compute with the generations of Americans who have grown accustomed to government entitlements and handouts. JFK might have well have been speaking another language. And now, on the heels of the Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's healthcare reform, it has become strikingly apparent that the loss of this way of thinking is fundamentally reshaping American society and government.

Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you are on over the issues of entitlements and government intervention in our lives, you have to be honest in acknowledging that there are negative side effects to this change of mindset. The problem is not just political, it is cultural. We have to ask ourselves what will become of a society that believes they are owed everything and responsible for nothing? This is the dilemma at the core of America's cultural decay and political gridlock. Unfortunately, it often seems that what is best for society has been lost in a sea of narcissism.

There are many examples in our culture that show how the flipping of JFK's quote is symptomatic of a "culture of me." However, for the sake of brevity, this article will focus on the one area that is fueling this epidemic, education.

Once I entered the classroom as a teacher in 2008, it did not take me long to figure out that the kids I was teaching had a much different set of expectations than I did as a high school student in the late 1980s. They possess a much greater sense of themselves and an underlying belief that the world owes them something. This is in large part because their mindset was formed in a culture that taught them these three critical tenants: that everyone gets a trophy; education and entertainment are one in the same; and to not worry about student loans and college debt because a degree will ensure that all your dreams will come true. None of these dogmas of education prepares them for the real world. However, what may be worse is that these fallacies fuel the entitlement mindset. Once these kids become young adults and realize that the education institution did not prepare them to succeed in the real world, they easily fall prey to politicians who promise that the government will help them. Ultimately, they turn to the same bureaucracy that let them down because its promises sound so sweet. This is a downward spiral that is threatening liberty and polarizing our society. Out of desperation and confusion because what they have been taught does not compute with the real world, today's generations seems to be more willing to sacrifice freedom for government care and entitlements.

This dilemma affects all socio-economic classes. Teaching people to succeed in the real world helps all facets of our society. However, doing so will challenge the guiding dogmas of education and ask people to take more responsibility for themselves. This is a request that requires a return to a mindset that asks "what you can do," not "what everyone can do for you."

Imagine how much more cooperative and harmonious our society would be if we adopted this framework that JFK suggests. If we prepare our kids for the real world and teach them that their belly buttons are not the center of the universe, cooperation will flourish and the entitlement mentality would fade. However, we are failing them. We teach them that "safety nets" are fundamental rights and that Uncle Sam is the one to turn to with their problems. We have to be honest in recognizing that the costs of this change in mindset are increased narcissism and the loss of liberty, (two things that should seem to be at odds with one another). As a culture, it is time for us to recognize the consequences of entitlement policies and the education dogmas that fuel them. If we do not, politicians will continue to prey on our desperations and confuse us with hypocrisy.

By Rodney L. Pearson

High Speed Rail and Big Government Projects - Where There's Smoke You'll Find Fire, Follow Money

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Why is it that we keep finding more and more fraud in government projects and big government purchases? How come it's always some ridiculous crisis and our government with our taxpayer's money throws 100s of billions of dollars at a problem, then later we find out there were less than ethical players on all side of the game with their hands out? Even Congressmen purchasing stock in those companies just before they themselves signed off on allowing those funds to be spent and those contracts awarded?

Luckily, the insider trading issues are a thing of the past, but what about all the bribes, lobbyists, kick-backs, and political assistance to keep these folks in power to give even more money to their new wealthy friends? Okay so, let's talk because this is not just something that happens in the US, in fact here it's actually mild, compared to the abundance of corruption elsewhere in the world.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article not long ago having to do with China's high speed rail system, it turns out they found corruption involved, even more than once thought after the huge train crash, apparently they entire rail line has challenges due to corrupt dealings. The article by Norihiko Shirouzu titled; "More Rail Misdeeds Come To Light in Chinese Audit," was quite telling and yet, I ask should we even be surprised?

Headline: Government Throws Big Money at a Big Project

A Year Later: Fraud Discovered in Big Project

I mean how many times does this have to play out in nations around the world for us to realize that anytime, perhaps, almost every time the government spends big dollars on anything that there are back-door deals, corruption, and fraud somewhere in the mix? And if you think our country is different, I'd say hardly, it may not be as corrupt but we've seen all sorts of corrupt deals in alternative energy projects here at home, and it's not even the Obama Administration, even though he came from Chicago School of Politics and everyone expected it - really, this crap has been going on for decades, just as Adam Smith warned us.

Further, there is always plausible deniability, no culpability, and all these leaders and players, just look dumbfounded about the whole thing - amazing, I say, simply amazing. It hardly matters if it is here at home, in Europe, the Middle East, China, Philippines, African, South America, Russia, or where ever, it's all the same. Shouldn't we stop this nonsense? Please consider all this and think on it.

By Lance Winslow

The American Political Class - Small Time Thinking Yielding Small Time Results

Friday, June 8, 2012
- Annual amount of taxpayer money lost to fraud and criminal activity in the Social Security Program - $70 billion a year

- Annual amount of taxpayer money lost to fraud and criminal activity in the Medicare Program - $60 to $90 billion a year

- Annual amount of taxpayer money lost to fraud and criminal activity in the Medicaid Program - $30 to $40 billion a year

- Annual amount of taxpayer money lost to unnecessary and obsolete deployment of about 140,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, Japan, and Europe - $35 billion a year

- Annual amount of Congressional member earmarks that politicians wastefully dole out in exchange for re-election financial support - $16 billion a year

- Annual amount of savings by eliminating the dysfunctional, ill performing, and unneeded Federal government's Department of Education - $107 billion a year (Source: Cato Institute - Downsizing Government Project)

- Annual amount of savings by reducing the Federal government's civilian headcount by 200,000 people, back to the historical civilian employee level prior to Obama's inauguration - $20 billion a year

- President Obama's latest effort to trim excessive government expenses via reduction in government coffee cup purchases - Priceless

As always, you cannot make this stuff up. The above list of REAL expenses cuts via fraud and criminal activity reduction and unnecessary military and government bureaucracy spending comes out to at least $338 billion a year.

In the face of these pre-identified savings and our $15 TRILLION national debt level, the President signed an executive order on November 9, 2011 that instructed the government bureaucracy to take the following steps:

Reduced the amount of money Federal agencies can spend on promotional (T-shirts,coffee cups, pens, etc.) items to promote the work of their agencies.
Reduced the amount of government cell phones and computers to be purchased and issued to employees.
Encouraged Federal agencies and employees to use video conferencing as a replacement for traveling.
Reduced the size of the government executive vehicle fleet.

The President's objective is to eventually reduce government spending by $4 billion in these areas of government expense. $4 billion, pathetic. While a reduction in any unnecessary government spending is always a worthy goal, consider the $4 billion in light of the big picture:

$4 billion is only 1.2% of the amount we identified above in potential savings.
$4 billion is only.002% of October, 2011's monthly Federal government deficit.
$4 billion is only.0003% of the expected 2011 Federal budget deficit.
$4 billion is only.0001% of the expected 2011 Federal budget.
$4 billion is only.0003% of the soon to be $15 TRILLION national debt.

As you can see, this executive order from the President can only be categorized as feeble. Again, we should applaud all government spending savings but these meager levels should be attained by middle level management government employees. One would certainly hope the most powerful man in the world would be involved in more global areas of government efficiency, well beyond cutting back on coffee cup purchases.

How meager are these potential expense savings? Consider the impact if we scaled the above math calculations to an average American household's budget (about $50,000 a year):

If the Federal government's 2011 budget deficit was equivalent to the average income of a typical American household, then Obama's $4 billion expense reduction would be equivalent to $1.54.

If the Federal government's 2011 total budget was equivalent to the average income of a typical American household, then Obama's $4 billion in expense reduction would be equivalent to $.55.

If the Federal government's national debt was equivalent to the average income of a typical American household, then Obama's $4 billion in expense reduction would be equivalent to $.13.

In other words, these proposed savings by the most powerful person in the world is equivalent, at most, to the cost of one Sunday newspaper per year.

Unbelievable insanity. And this passes for leadership in Washington. Two steps from come to mind that would help us start taking real steps to fix this problem,not the trivial actions from the Obama administration:

Step 1 would reduce Federal government spending by 10% a year for five years. This is the only way we can make any kind of substantial dent into Federal government spending and our national debt. This is the kind of bold leadership and initiative the President would be taking if he was a real leader. Worrying about coffee cups is neither leadership or effective.

Step 2 would impose term limits on all Federal politicians. It is becoming pretty obvious that the current set of Washington politicians do not know how or are unwilling to make the deep and necessary cuts to spending that are needed to save the country. The saddest part of this observation is that many of these expense reductions can be done without alienating voters, only the criminals that defraud government programs and expense contractors that would see their business decrease as we reduce unnecessary military spending.

Unfortunately, although we have big financial issues threatening our country, our political class continues to think in very small ways as far as finding solutions. We need broad imaginative minds working on large, strategic, and imaginative solutions, not coffee cup and tee shirt approaches.

By Bruno Korschek

New Republican Political Branding For 2012 - We Built That!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
As business owners we sure take a huge hit when it comes to the political rhetoric of class-warfare. It seems to me that the population has become so ungrateful for our sacrifices and hard work. We are used, underappreciated, and disrespected. Yes, I know, "if you want a good friend in Washington DC, buy a dog!" Still, to be disrespected by your President, the President of the greatest nation in the world, built through free-market capitalism, well at that point, enough is enough, I'd say. Yes, let's talk America, because there is something you should know.

When President Obama was asked to explain what he meant by his "You Didn't Build That Speech" he seemed to double-down and try to re-explain what he already said and what we all knew we heard the first time. He says that Mr. Romney doesn't get it, and that the small businesses of America ought to pay higher taxes for all the things that helped them succeed and that they couldn't have succeeded without the help of the government - to this I say; BS.

While in business myself, all I can remember is that the government at all levels attempted to curtail, tax, and over regulate my business doing everything possible to steal my hard work ethics and success along the way. I never once saw the government "Helping me succeed" and I would have been able to succeed in any nation with my level of hard work, any country on this planet. So, for him to take credit for my success and 27 years of 17-hours per day hard work is again; BS.

The President after hearing the push back from small businesses and large ones too stated that the government built the space program, medical devices, etc, etc. But on further review, just as we looked at his comments that the government built the roads, bridges, and dams, well, they couldn't have done that without Carnegie Steel, Bechtel, and all the entrepreneurs making the bricks, concrete, materials, and shipping and delivering it. Okay so, let's take up this latest comment about medical devices and the space program shall we?

Well, where do you think all the parts came to make all the hardware, equipment, and fuel to launch that space program? We Built That - Entrepreneurial Spirit. And what is he talking about when it comes to medical devices? Is he talking about DARPA which puts out endless solicitations to businesses to build stuff - we built that too, everywhere you go, everything you see was made, brought, or built by American businesses of all sizes - we built that.

The New Republican 2012 Campaign should be built around the new slogan; We Built That!

By Lance Winslow

Awareness Is Important to Vote for the Right Government

Sunday, June 3, 2012
A government is responsible for the well being of its people. Voting is an important right and people should exercise it wisely. Ensuring that they pick the right candidate is the wisest decision that they can make. The roles and the responsibilities on which they base this decision should include providing the three basic needs that is proper food, adequate living space and clothes at no cost. The fulfillment of these basic responsibilities helps to build a trust between the government and its people. It's also helps people decide if the government has fulfilled its responsibility and if they should receive the vote during the next elections.

A government should be open and transparent in their functioning. In a democracy, the government is responsible for the tax payer's money and should be held accountable at all times. Ensuring that the money is wisely spent is important. Transparency will also help to build trust between the government and the people. When a government plans and lets the people know about all the different challenges that they will be facing together it establishes a proper communication with its electorate. It's imperative that people are aware of these decisions and vote for a government that can hold up to this level of expectation.

One of the most important qualities that's required for good governance is experience and honesty. Most governments fall because they lose the trust of their people and are only hungry for power. There are political forums that exist online today that are capable of providing all the right information about the election and detailed candidate information. This kind of information can help to generate the necessary awareness. It ultimately helps people decide the right candidate who deserves their vote. These websites also provide details about the past records and performance of the candidates and measures their contribution to public development and welfare.

Based on such information, voters can vote for the right candidate. Some politicians tend to manipulate people into believing that they are the suitable candidates to win the elections. But it's important to be aware of such people. Instead of listening to election speeches and coming to a conclusion, people should refer to political forums and get their facts about election candidate's right. One of the things that these political forums do is ensure that they spread political awareness and keep people updated about current elections. You can also discuss about candidates and election trends on such forums.

Governments turn corrupt because there is always a lack of information amongst people. People, who are the main victims of corruption, need to share the injustice that they have faced through the right channels. One of the most important channels that are capable of bringing change today is the media. The media has the most wide spread network and it includes radio, television, news papers and the internet. With the help of all these modes of communications, taking a decision on choosing the right candidate will never be a problem. It's all about being aware and ensuring a safer future.

By J Viller