Democracy if it’s broke fix it (ODT)
Democracy if it’s broke fix it (ODT)
Dolli Einstein Haus in Pinneberg is run on a democratic basis, with votes on everything from food to nappy changes
By Adil E. Shamoo and Bonnie Bricker | Foreign Policy in Focus | – – A fraudulent campaign has resulted …
Source: The Last Days of Democracy?
The internet is both wonderful and wicked. The world’s combined knowledge is at our fingertips, as is its debauchery. It is so much easier to find things out and so much harder to sort out the truth from the lies. We tend to live in echo chambers, seeking out the information that confirms our world…
Parliaments, democracy and hypocrisy
OPINION: Yesterday, Liam McLoughlin exposed the oligarchs. Today, he’s trying to get rid of them. They will endure poverty, servitude, barbarism – but they will not endure aristocracy. -French political theorist Alexis De Tocqueville writing about democratic communities. Australian politics is now a contest between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten over who does the bestMore
By Nomi Prins | (Tomdispatch.com) | – – Speaking of the need for citizen participation in our national politics in …
Our system of democracy relies on transparency. If vested interests can get closer to power by donating money, then the public has a right to know about it.
The refusal by federal Liberal MP Russell Broadbent to answer questions about his multiple attendances at political fundraisers hosted or organised by an alleged Mafia boss underlines why the system of political fundraising in Australia needs an overhaul.
If politicians will not answer these questions, and our system of disclosure shines no light on them, then the public must place its faith in the phrase: “Trust me, I’m a politician.”
Our system of democracy relies on transparency. If vested interests can get closer to power by donating money, the public has a right to know about it. But the current disclosure system only forces a donor to declare a donation over $12,800.
When pressed, many politicians are reluctant to shed light about fundraising events or the true motivations of donors.
According to barrister Geoffrey Watson SC, who is the counsel assisting the NSW corruption watchdog ICAC, many who donate want the ear of a politician and a chance to influence a political decision – access not open to non-donors. Watson says the checks and balances around this money-for-access system are abysmal.
For his part, Broadbent is unwilling to explain how much he or his party received in donations linked to Mafia. The public is also left guessing about the motivation of these donors.
As early as the 1990s, Broadbent was being cultivated as a political contact by certain Calabrian fruit wholesalers, including Tony Madafferi. Police have repeatedly alleged in open court that Madafferi is an organised crime figure. For Broadbent, there should have been obvious warning signs around Madafferi, the donor, including the fact that Madafferi or his associates were after something from their political contacts.
Broadbent started going to fundraisers with Tony Madafferi at the same time Madafferi and his associates were lobbying Broadbent and other politicians to help get a visa for Madafferi’s criminal brother, Frank, who police wanted to deport back to Italy because he was a violent Mafia thug. (Tony Madafferi was named in court proceedings by police throughout the 1990s as a suspected crime figure, but, unlike Frank, he has no criminal convictions and denies any wrongdoing.)
Because Broadbent will not answer questions, it is hard to know when the Liberal MP first learnt of the serious (and public) criminal allegations about Tony or Frank Madafferi.
Broadbent has also not explained why he attended a 2004 fundraiser hosted by Tony Madafferi and attended by other alleged crime figures, and which was held – at least in part – to thank the politicians who had taken an interest in the Frank Madafferi visa campaign. Also attending this fundraiser were other Liberal MPs (including Bruce Billson, who said last week he was deceived by a Liberal donor about Frank Madafferi’s past) who had lobbied to get Frank Madafferi a visa on the grounds that his deportation to Italy would affect his wife and children.
Further, Broadbent has not explained why he invited Tony Madafferi to his Parliament House office, or why he dined with him in the Parliament House dining suite.
All Broadbent has said, in seemingly selective comments given to the ABC, is that he did not lobby to get Frank Madafferi a visa. Perhaps “lobbying” is too strong a word.
But Broadbent did allow Tony Madafferi and his supporters, who also happened to be Liberal donors, to meet him and, on at least one occasion, to make their case. Broadbent also contacted the immigration minister’s office and inquired whether such a visa could be granted.
It is logical to believe the Madafferis and their associates believed Broadbent had taken an interest in the visa matter and could potentially use his power to assist, whether he was willing to or not.
Watson says the visa lobbying shows that “for no better reason than the making of donations to a political party, specific representations were able to be put to the most powerful politicians in the land”.
Broadbent has also offered no explanation as to why he attended a 2013 Liberal Party fundraiser hosted by Tony Madafferi and held in a reception centre part-owned by his drug-dealing brother, Frank.
By then, it was pretty hard not to know that Tony Madafferi was an alleged crime figure. It had been splashed all over the papers and aired in court. Much of the coverage was to do with the fact Frank Madafferi had won his visa battle. He was granted the right to stay in Australia in November 2005 on humanitarian grounds by the then immigration minister Amanda Vanstone, despite police warning he was a nasty gangster. Frank Madafferi was later arrested for drug trafficking and is now in jail.
Broadbent presumably knew some of this when he wandered into Tony Madafferi’s 2013 fundraising event. So how many donations did the Liberal Party receive at this event? And how many goods and services did Tony Madafferi also donate (remember, he and his brother Frank own the reception centre where the fundraiser was held)?
No one knows the answers to these questions, because the individual amounts donated fell below the disclosure threshold. It is also impossible to know what, if anything, donors asked of the politicians in the room (including the unwitting guest speaker, Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy).
If politicians will not answer these questions, and our system of disclosure shines no light on them, then the public must place its faith in the phrase: “Trust me, I’m a politician.”
But not even top Liberal Party fundraisers are buying this any more. After the recent revelations about the Mafia’s political donations, former chief Liberal fundraiser Michael Yabsley called for major reforms and warned the system is vulnerable to corruption. He says donations should be capped at a few hundred dollars and many organisations should be banned from giving them.
Federal Labor MP Gary Gray has also highlighted Labor’s voluntary declaration of any donation over $1000, while urging the Abbott government to back an overhaul. The minister responsible, Michael Ronaldson, has, so far at least, said this is not necessary.
So how did Broadbent respond to our latest effort, just this week, to get him to answer questions about the stench his own actions have created? Just silence. Which, to me at least, translates into: “Trust me, I’m a politician.”
Nick McKenzie is an Age staff reporter.
Rodney E. Lever has a dream that, before 2016, one of the main parties can offer a rational solution to deter any more megalomaniacs from wrecking all our freedoms, all our hopes and all our future.
“I have a dream, today.”
Some people will recall that Martin Luther King Jnr opened his most famous speech with those words in 1963. He was demanding fairness for the black people of America — the slaves who had provided much labor that was to make America the wealthiest nation on the planet.
In Australia, it was convicts that Britain sent who would help to build the beginnings of our nation in New South Wales. There were also islander people brought here – some voluntarily, but also also many through “blackbirding” – to help cut sugar cane in colonial Queensland.
There were the coal miners from England who came here after they had been permanently blackballed by their owners when they begged for better wages and safer working conditions. One of them was Andrew Fisher, who was three times prime minister of Australia.
Then there were the shearers, thrown out of work when they protested at the importation of cheap Chinese shearers.
These were issues that resulted in the formation of the Australian Labor Party in 1891 under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Barcaldine, Queensland. It was the era of Waltzing Matilda, Banjo Patterson and the Melbourne Cup, and the beginning of Australia as we know it today.
We have a proud freedom of the press, unwritten and unspoken. And we have a Murdoch press that exploits that freedom by telling lies, and in Britain engages in raw criminality and bribery and fear.
There are regulations which affect television and radio, but no regulation of our press. Rupert Murdoch began to abuse the freedom of the press as no one before him had ever done.
Fairness and freedom are words that often go together. It gets trickier once you talk about freedom of the press and that extends to other forms of communication never thought of when the United States ratified its Constitution in 1787.
Four years later, in 1891, the fathers of the Constitution added the First Amendment:
‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…’
That did it! The cat was out of the bag.
We don’t in Australia have any formal acknowledgement of press freedoms. We just take it for granted because it generally had worked well.
Rupert Murdoch treated us like suckers. He showed his view of freedoms as his right, not the right of his readers. In Australia, then in Britain and then in America, no one could touch him. The U.S. Constitution had opened the door to all media, even though the Constitution only says “the press” and the rest of the English speaking world seemed to accept it.
In Australia, Murdoch owns three quarters of all the major newspapers. No one has ever freely exerted that kind of power before — perhaps not even Hitler and Stalin.
Never before have we seen one magnate grow up so quickly and then turn the country’s media into a personal fiefdom, bullying and abusing politicians, and crashing electoral traditions. The politicians on both sides of the major media let him get away with it. The rest of us have had no say at all, except many choosing not to buy the rubbish and looking elsewhere for news..
In Britain, Murdoch has far more competition, but one of his papers, The Sun, has the largest readership and is powerful enough to change governments according to wherever he can get the best deal. It has nothing to do with press freedom and all to do with wealth and personal power over politicians and the lives of people.
He dumped Labor in Britain last year in the interest of accessing the full ownership of Britain’s largest commercial television service. TV has always been a licence to print money. After supporting the Blair and Brown Labor government for six years, Murdoch switched his support to David Cameron’s Conservatives only after Cameron was able to snare another party into coalition and to promise that Murdoch would get his wish for total ownership of BSkyB.
In Australia’s Constitution there is no mention of freedom of our press.
It does, however, state that
“… the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.”
Both Sir Frank Packer and Kerry Packer were called to a parliamentary inquiry at different times. Both fired back at the questions they were asked and gave as good an argument as the drubbing they received.
I remember another occasion when R. G. Menzies was prime minister. He had the Speaker, Archie Cameron, order the arrest of a publisher named Frank Browne and his partner. They were called before Parliament and charged with contempt because of something written in their modest weekly paper. They served a short prison sentence, as I recall, which is better than a flogging.
So much for freedom of the press in Australia.
If Australia does not formally offer total press freedom as a Constitutional given, then opportunities are there for the next Parliament and Senate to argue about it, but only as long as they keep Murdoch at bay.
Some form of legislation must surely be possible to protect the rights of readers, over any rights of publishers. Voters want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They don’t want funny headlines.
Relying on an Australian Press Council to constrain its own members is a little like playing with a piranha in your bathtub.
Our best hope for the 2016 election is that one or the other party can offer a rational political solution to deter any more megalomaniacs from wrecking all our freedoms, all our hopes and all our future. This could be the main issue next year. I hope so.
You can follow Rodney Lever on Twitter @RodneyELever.
In the recipe of what a democracy is there are many ingredients but simply explained it is a political system where like-minded people come together to form ideas that become a philosophy. They then become the foundation of political parties. These ideologies pull in different directions in a quest for majority approval by the people. It is a far from perfect system that has variations all around the world. It is elastically flexible, (we even have democratic dictatorships), unpredictable and at its worst, violent and extremely combative.
At its best it is noble, constructive and generally serves society well. It is very much better than the next best thing and accommodates diagonally opposed ideas, extreme or otherwise. All in all it’s an imperfect beast that has served us well. Yes it’s government for the people by the people.
Common to most Western Democracies (and in the absence of anything better) it has a capitalistic economic system.
In Australia the right to vote is the gift that democracy gives and people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual) they support but overriding this is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy, if at the same time they think their party is the only one that should ever win.
A clear indication of an Australian Democracy in decline is the fact that people are giving up this voting gift, literally saying:
“A pox on both your houses”.
Three million did so at the last election by not voting.
Our political system is in crisis because our solicitations fail to speak with any clarity on issues that concern people.
Moreover, an enlightened democracy should provide the people with a sense of purposeful participation. It should forever be open to regular improvement in its methodology and its implementation. Its constitutional framework should be exposed to periodical revision and renewal, compromise and bi-partisanship when the common good cries out for it.
But above all its function should be, that regardless of ideology the common good should be served first and foremost. A common good healthy democracy serves the collective from the ground up rather than a top down democracy that exists to serve secular interests. One that is enforced by an elite of business leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version. That is fundamentally anti-democratic.
Every facet of society including the democratic process needs constant and thoughtful renewal and change. Otherwise we become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see better ways of doing things.Unfortunately, Australia’s particular version of the democratic process has none of these things inherent in it and is currently sinking in a quagmire of American Tea Party Republicanism.
I am not a political scientist, historian or a trained journalist. I write this as a disgruntled and concerned citizen because it seems to me that the Australian democracy I grew up with no longer exists. The demise of Australian Democracy has its origins in a monumental shift by both major parties to the right with the result that neither seem to know exactly what it is they stand for. They are now tainted with sameness.
The Liberal Party has been replaced by neo Conservatism actively asserting individual identity against a collective one and old style Liberalism no longer has a voice. There is little or no difference between the Liberals and the National Party who seem irrelevant as a political force.
Conservatives have gone down the path of inequality with a born to rule mentality that favors the rich.
“The whole logic of the “lifters” and “leaners” rhetoric so favoured by the current Government is a distillation of the idea of that there is no such thing as society, that we and only we are responsible for our own circumstances”.
The Labor Party needs to rid itself of an out-dated socialist objective and invest in a social philosophical common good instead. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.
The major parties have become fragmented with Labor losing a large segment of its supporters to the Greens whilst the LNP is being undermined by rich populist Clive Palmer in the style of Berlusconi.
In terms of talent both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual talent without enough female representation and worldly work life experience. Both parties have pre-selection processes rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out. Both need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the Union Movement or in the case of the LNP, staffers who have come up through the party.
Our Parliament, its institutions and conventions have been so trashed by Tony Abbott in particular that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past.
Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds who are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills, to act deplorably toward each other. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Where light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. And in doing so they debase the parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals.
Question time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Our democracy suffers because no one has the guts to give away the slightest political advantage.
Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behavior. There is no reason to doubt that the stench of NSW doesn’t waffle its way through the corridors of the National Parliament and into the highest offices.
And our democracy lacks leadership because our current leaders and their followers have so debased the Parliament that there is no compelling reason to be a politician. Well at least for people with decency, integrity and compassion.
I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership. In recent times we have had potential but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest and narcissistic personality.
The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.
Our voting system is badly in need of an overhaul. When one party, The Greens attracts near enough to the same primary votes as The Nationals but can only win one seat in the House of Representatives, as opposed to eight there is something wrong with the system. Added to that is the ludicrous Senate situation where people are elected on virtually no primary votes, just preferences. It is also a system that allows the election of people with vested business interests with no public disclosure.
One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion. Murdoch and his majority owned newspapers with blatant support for right wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society. On the contrary it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably.
The advent of social media has sent the mainstream media into free fall. Declining newspaper sales have resulted in lost revenue and profits. It is losing its authority, real or imagined to bloggers who more reflect a grass roots society. Writers with who they can agree or differ but have the luxury of doing so. As a result newspapers in particular have degenerated into gutter political trash in the hope that they might survive. Shock jocks shout the most outrageous lies and vilify people’s character with impunity and in the process do nothing to promote decent democratic illumination. They even promote free speech as if they are the sole custodian of it.
There are three final things that have contributed to the decline in our democracy.
Firstly, the Abbott factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced Tony Abbott believes that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. So much so that his words and actions bring into question the very worthiness of the word truth. Or he has at least devalued it to the point of obsolesce.
The budget will be remembered for one thing. That it has given approval for and overwhelmingly legitimised lying as a political and election contrivance.
Mr Abbott has long set a high standard when it comes to keeping promises. On August 22, 2011 he said:
“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.”
On the eve of the last election, after crucifying Prime Minister Julia Gillard daily for three years, Abbott made this solemn promise:
“There will be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS”.
This is an unambiguous statement that cannot be interpreted any differently than what the words mean. To do so is telling one lie in defense of another.
In the budget he broke them all. As a result, a rising stench of hypocrisy and dishonesty has engulfed the Abbott prime minister-ship. When you throw mud in politics some of it inevitably sticks but there is a residue that adheres to the chucker. That is now Abbott’s dilemma but the real loser is our democracy. In Australian political history Abbott’s legacy will be that he empowered a period emblematic of a nasty and ugly period in our politics.
Our democracy is nothing more or nothing less than what the people make of it. The power is with the people and it is incumbent on the people to voice with unmistakable anger the decline in our democracy.
People need to wake up to the fact that government effects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more concerned. But there is a political malaise that is deep seated. Politicians of all persuasions must be made to pay for their willful destruction of our democracy.
Good democracies can deliver good governments and outcomes only if the electorate demands it.
You get what you vote for rings true.
Lastly but importantly we need to educate our final year school leavers (the voters of tomorrow) with an indebtedness and fundamental appreciation of democracy. A focus group I held recently at a nearby college revealed two things. One was that our young people are conversant with societal issues and have strong opinions grounded in clear observation. They cannot however place them into a logical political framework because (two) they are not adequately informed about political dogma and its place in the workings of a democracy.
We deserve better than what we have at the moment. However, if we are not prepared to raise our voices then our democracy will continue to decline and the nation and its people will suffer the consequences.
Part two. Opinions
Three books have recently been published that address the state of our democracy. The first ‘’Triumph and Demise’’ is by The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly. In the final chapter Kelly suggests that our political system is in trouble and that, if that is the case, then by definition so are we. The Prime Minister launched the book and in doing so fundamentally disagreed with the authors assertions.
“Paul suggests that the relentless negativity of our contemporary conversation, the culture of entitlement that he thinks has sprung up over the last decade or so, means that good government has become difficult, perhaps impossible’’
“It’s not the system which is the problem, it is the people who from time-to-time inhabit it. Our challenge at every level is to be our best selves.”
In the first quote two words, negativity and entitlement jump out at you. Not necessarily in the context of the difficulty of governance, he was alluding to, but rather as self-descriptive character analysis. He could not have chosen two better words to describe his own footprint on the path to our democratic demise.
The second is a disingenuous, even sarcastic swipe at his opponents that leaves no room for self-examination or blame for his own period as opposition leader and later as Prime Minister in particular. And in another indignant self-righteous swipe he said that Labor was “much better at politics than government.”
These are quotes by Kelly at the launch.
Kelly said he increasingly felt there were “real problems” with the mechanics of the political system as he worked on his book.
“I have always believed in the quality of leadership. I have always felt that leadership was fundamental … to the success of the country,” Kelly said.
“I do think the system today makes governing, and in particular serious reform, more difficult, and I think the record does show that.”
I have not read the book but I agree entirely with his diagnosis. In the first quote I believe he is referring to a breakdown in the conventions and institutional arrangements of our democracy.
The second is a general commentary on the dearth of leadership over the past decade or so. Although he was a Howard supporter and he has recently said this of Abbott.
“Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the prime minister can muster.”
The third quote is a direct reference to the 24/7 News cycle and negativity as a means of obtaining power.
The second book ‘’The Political Bubble’’ by Mark Latham also addresses the state of our democracy.
‘’Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart’’
He suggests that trust has collapsed. In this book, he freely explores and travels up and down every road of our democratic map. On the journey he talks about how democracy has lost touch with the people it’s supposed to represent. Like a fast talking cab driver he gives view on how politics has become more tribal with left and right wing politics being dominated by fanatical extremists.
An entire chapter is devoted to how Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in Australian politics and how he failed to keep his promises. Another chapter is devoted to what can be done about fixing the democratic deficit as he calls it.
‘’Can our parliamentary system realign itself with community expectations or has politics become one long race to the bottom?’’
The third, and more recent book, by Nick Bryant (BBC correspondent and author) aptly titled The Rise and Fall of Australia ‘’How a great Nation lost its way’ ’takes a forensic look at the lucky country from inside and out. The most impressive thing about this book, besides the directness of his observations and astuteness of his writing, is that what is being said is an outsider’s point of view. He is not constrained by the provincial restrictions of self-analysis. Instead he offers his take on what he calls
‘’the great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished.’’
Another important contribution to the democracy debate is this piece by Joseph Camilleri ‘’Democracy in crisis’’ I highly recommend this thoughtful article for a comprehensive outline of what ails our democracy.
I have alluded to these works, not as a review of each, but rather to highlight a growing concern over the state of our democracy.
There is no doubt in my mind if one looks at all the ingredients that go into forming a strong democracy, and you make a list of ingredients, the traditional recipe is no longer working. Or it has been corrupted by inferior ingredients.
At the risk of repeating myself, take for example the seemingly uncontrollable bias and market share of Murdoch. A desire for unaccountable free speech that is weighted toward, extremism. The attack on the conventions and institutions of parliament by the Prime Minister. The precedent of invoking Royal Commissions into anything as a means of retribution. The rise of fanatical right wing partisan politics and media. The decline in parliamentary respect and behavior. Add to that the right wings dismissive contempt for feminism.
Corporate sway and the pressure of the lobbyist can also be added to the mix, together with the voice of the rich that shouts the voice of inequality. The idea that with political servitude comes entitlement via financial benefit and privilege. And you can throw in the power of personalities over policy within the mainstream parties. Then there is the uninhibited corruption from both major parties. Then there is the acceptance by both sides that negativity is the only means of obtaining power.
But at the top of the list is the malaise of the population. Although we have compulsory voting 3million people at the last election felt so disgusted with our democracy that they felt more inclined to have a beer at the pub, or mow the lawn than cast a vote for Australian democracy.
If we are to save our democracy we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should tell the truth.
Others have also written on the subject. Democracy and diversity: media ownership in Australia
Budget Crisis or Crisis in Democracy
Another by me.
People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online last Wednesday.
“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”
Dubbed the “World’s Poorest President” in a widely circulated BBC piece from 2012, Mujica reportedly donates 90 percent of his salary to charity. Mujica’s example offers a strong contrast to the United States, where in politics the median member of Congress is worth more than $1 million and corporations have many of the same rights as individuals when it comes to donating to political campaigns.
“The red carpet, people who play — those things,” Mujica said, mimicking a person playing a cornet. “All those things are feudal leftovers. And the staff that surrounds the president are like the old court.”
Mujica explained that he didn’t have anything against rich people, per se, but he doesn’t think they do a good job representing the interests of the majority of people who aren’t rich.
“I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”
Asked why rich people make bad representatives of poor people, Mujica said: “They tend to view the world through their perspective, which is the perspective of money. Even when operating with good intentions, the perspective they have of the world, of life, of their decisions, is informed by wealth. If we live in a world where the majority is supposed to govern, we have to try to root our perspective in that of the majority, not the minority.”
Mujica has become well known for rejecting the symbols of wealth. In an interview in May, he lashed out against neckties in comments on Spanish television that went viral.
“The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck,” Mujica said during the interview. “I’m an enemy of consumerism. Because of this hyperconsumerism, we’re forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness.”
He lives on a small farm on the outskirts of the capital of Montevideo with his wife, Uruguayan Sen. Lucia Topolansky and their three-legged dog Manuela. He says he rejects materialism because it would rob him of the time he uses to enjoy his passions, like tending to his flower farm and working outside.
“I don’t have the hands of a president,” Mujica told CNN. “They’re kind of mangled.”
THE CABIN ANTHRAX, MURPHY, N.C. (CT&P) – After analyzing the results of a new Pew Research Center poll conducted just last week, experts have concluded that the United States is not yet ready for a democratic form of government. The finding is particularly troubling considering the midterms are less than one week away.
“It looks as if we are in real trouble,” said Dr. Frank Black, who headed the Pew Research team. “There are just too many people out there who don’t possess enough innate intelligence to function in everyday life, much less determine their own fate by voting for their own representatives.”
“We found that only 32% of Americans believe that evolution is ‘due to natural processes such as natural selection,’ and fully one-third of Americans are so stupid that they utterly reject the theory of evolution and believe instead that humans ‘have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.’”
“And that is only one example,” continued Black. “The American public’s lack of basic scientific knowledge is mind-boggling.”
“Only 20% of Americans believe in the ‘Big Bang,’ only 50% believe in climate change, and an overwhelming number of Americans want to ban incoming flights from Africa because of the Ebola crisis when most American citizens have no fucking clue what a virus even is.”
“Hell, do you realize that fully 40% of Americans think that they are going to be lifted up into heaven in some sort of Rapture event? It’s really depressing.”
“The state of affairs is equally miserable when it comes to progressive government policy. America has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century as regards gay marriage, equal pay for women, immigration, and sane firearms policies.”
“Given the recent track record, whole swathes of the United States should really not be allowed to vote,” said Black. “The rise of the Tea Party to prominence in recent years should make that obvious. Take Texas and Florida for example. When a one state elects a dolt like Rick Perry and the other an ancient Aztec snake god as governor, we have real problems.”
Dr. Black suggested that since America was not yet ready for any type of representative government that possibly the best alternative would be some form of benign dictatorship.
“If we could get someone in the White House who would dissolve Congress and ratchet up public education to at least Third World standards, then that would be a good start,” said Black. “The money is there if we could just redirect it. Instead of invading Muslim countries every other week, we could use some of those trillions to teach our offspring some basic science, civics, and history. It will be a long, hard slog, but I think the future of North America depends on it. After all, do we really want half of our kids believing that we are being observed by aliens in UFO’s? I don’t think so.”
(Reuters) – Tunisia’s Ennahda party, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolts, conceded defeat on Monday in elections that are set to make its main secular rival the strongest force in parliament.
Official results from Sunday’s elections – the second parliamentary vote since Tunisians set off uprisings across much of the Arab World by overthrowing autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali – were still to be announced.
Tunisian militant fighters have long been prominent among jihadis in foreign wars dating back to the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and more than 3,000 are estimated to be fighting for Islamic State now in Syria and Iraq.
While the role of Islam in politics overshadowed the first election in 2011, jobs, economic opportunities and Tunisia’s low-intensity conflict with Islamist militants were the main concerns of a country heavily reliant on foreign tourism.