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People & Ideas

Oct 6, 2009

You want dangerous ideas? These are dangerous ideas

The topics discussed at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas are either completely safe or totally ridiculous. Here are some thoughts that might really offend some Darlinghurst secular-liberals' sensibilities.


In the hours between filing a bodyslam on Christopher Hitchens in yesterday’s edition, and this note on the Festival of Dangerous Ideas of which his talk was the keynote, your correspondent has been assailed by more than a few people who had thought the whole occasion was a pretty good idea.

Fair enough. There were a range of topics you don’t usually see at this sort of thing. “Bring Back Conscription”, “Unfit for Life (pro human genetic modification)” as well as Germaine Greer on freedom, and a couple more luminaries.

Trouble was the adjective attached to your bog standard ideas festival, which gave the whole thing the appearance of a six year old in a tiger costume. Gwwwww. I’m dangewous.

For the Darlinghurst secular-liberals most of these ideas were either safe, or so ridiculous as to be of no interest. Really dangerous ideas — ones that people might act on — didn’t get a look in, even though a generation ago they were commonplace.

You can see the reasoning behind the dangewous tag. Ideas festivals are ten-a-cent these days. What an exciting new idea they were a decade or so ago, an evolution on from writers’ festivals, where the pre-text of a book wasn’t required for a good old fashioned stoush.

But what made Ideas Festivals so interesting was also what dooms them to mundanity — they’re about anything and everything, there’s no agenda, no attachment to practice.

The Ideas Festivals emerged at about the same time as other types of gatherings were falling into a degree of disrepair on the left — and that was conferences, of parties and movements, where future political directions were thrashed out, and the mesh of ideas and action had a feel of the real about it.

Ideas Festivals have flourished precisely because ideas have become undangerous and un-threatening that holders of radically different ones can be in the same room together. When things are at stake that isn’t really possible. When the sphere of daily life — the work-brunch cycle — has become so unquestionable as to look like part of the body’s natural metabolism, then the separation of idea and practice is total.

It’s precisely because this is one of those periods when ideas don’t change how people live that such festivals can run. And it also governs how certain ideas are excluded, or never suggested.

What’s interesting — especially in relation to l’affaire Polanski, a sort of lost memory of the 70s — is how ideas that were common currency a few decades ago can now not even be spoken of at a festival of dangerous ones.

Political violence would be one. In Barry Oakley’s published diaries Minitudes, he records a night in the 70s, arguing with other Pram Factory renegades about the Red Brigades in Italy — Oakley’s position (against) being the minority.

There is a case for political violence. There is a case for political terror. I suspect that any discussion of this sort would have had the Festival’s sponsors in a bit of a flurry.

Or take that other 70s staple, child sexuality. Thirty years ago, it was taken as de rigeur that the 16-18 age of consent was miles too high, and that younger people were quite capable of expressing themselves and enjoying the attentions of famous film directors, rock stars, writers and the like. Not an idea I hold to, but most definitely a dangerous one. Conference organiser could then recover their legal costs by publishing their prison writings.

Some others:

  • Abortion to term should be available on demand. Women’s sovereignty over their bodies should be total.
  • Live organ transplants should be either banned totally, or opened completely to the free market. People should be able to sell parts of their liver, their corneas, etc, even if it shortens or damages their life.
  • Australian aborigines have a right to resort to the aforementioned political violence, given the continued and embedded racism embedded in health-care, opportunity and policing.
  • The surrendered wife. The Amish have got it right. Women are happier if they just let men run things. Legal equality has been mistaken for identicality, and the pressure to be men just makes women unhappy.
  • Homosexuality and marginality. A culture that displaces the child-having couple from the centre of it, is in deep trouble. Homosexuality should be legal but permanently marginal.

Any others?

And so on. That would get some punch ups happening in the foyer. And if there aint no punchups there aint no danger, and best not use the adjective.


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65 thoughts on “You want dangerous ideas? These are dangerous ideas

  1. SBH

    How about:
    1 – Heffo’s ‘Water from the North’;
    2 – Using statute to govern polictial parties affairs and operations (preselections, rules of meetings, reporting, donations) with the limits prescribed in the consitution;
    3 – Nation-wide car registration and criminal codes (it’s an abolish the states by stealth one.

  2. Most Peculiar Mama

    Here’s one:

    Those that openly advocate for the introduction of an economy crippling CPRS/ETS should be willingly to commit to signing a legal charter outlining their clear and lucid support for the scheme.

    Then, following its implementation, years of declining global temperatures and with the (now ruined) global economy pushing the hemispheres toward civil war, we will have a complete dossier on those who actively promoted the irreversible destruction of a way of life.

    They (and their kin) can then be held to account…a sort of climate Kristallnacht.

  3. paddy

    [Women’s sovereignty over their bodies should be total.]
    That’s a very dangerous idea. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting the vote.

  4. mtats

    I would be interested in Guy providing, maybe a 2-week long agenda for his ideas festival.

    Perhaps he can post them here later this afternoon 🙂

  5. Victoria Collins

    * ‘The surrendered wife. The Amish have got it right. Women are happier if they just let men run things. Legal equality has been mistaken for identicality, and the pressure to be men just makes women unhappy.’
    What a load of paternalistic bullshit, Guy Rundle. I am a woman who has lived with a man, happily, for 30 years, and a man’s man, I might add, who was not averse to sharing the housework with his wife 50/50, which involved cooking, cleaning and mucking in with the babies; enjoyed long conversations about politics, science and current affairs; and allowed me to be the major breadwinner and business owner. It didn’t affect his sense of his own masculinity one bit, and I got to be the aggressive, ambitious one, because that’s what made me happy.
    So, for you to blithely state that ‘women are happier if they just let men run things’, is for you to expose your inbuilt prejudices that you obviously are unable to outgrow.
    Thank goodness for legal equality between the sexes. It has allowed us to be whatever we want to be, to the extent now that if women want to be stay-at-home mums, that’s fine; but, if they don’t, well, that’s fine, too. Ditto for the dads.
    Anyway, it’s not a desire for ‘identicality’, it’s a desire for individual expression. Now, we women can truly have it all, if that’s what we want.

  6. Altakoi

    I’m not sure lucidity is a term I’d equiate with MPM, but I like Monbiots idea of personal carbon credits. Leave the coal industry alone – give every man, woman and child (or guardian thereof) x tonnes of carbon to spend each year on produce which is priced in carbon as well as dollars.

  7. Rhino

    Victoria – your response shows that Guy’s idea is a good one – that topic IS a dangerous idea that would have been good in the festival. Note that he wasn’t stating a view on his siggested topics, just saying that they would generate good debates.

  8. Jenny Morris

    What about making meat eating illegal? Or at least, factory farming illegal? Then meat (or any animal-derived product) would come at the ‘real cost’, ie the cost of at least providing the animal with some quality of life before it is slaughtered.
    And any meat product may only be presented in the full form of the animal it comes from. I reckon many meat eaters would be vegetarian if they saw their fillet of steak or veal parma attached to the baby cow it came from. Nothing like seeing the whole duck or rabbit in the butcher’s window.

    Dangerous idea? Maybe for those who make money out of being cruel to animals for profit.


  9. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…Leave the coal industry alone – give every man, woman and child (or guardian thereof) x tonnes of carbon to spend each year on produce which is priced in carbon as well as dollars…”

    What a stupid, stupid idea. Even for you.

    Although the inner-city lentil jockeys within lycra-shod cycling distance of the local whole foods co-op would no doubt approve.


  10. Altakoi

    It not my idea and, actually, I referenced it in my post.

    I’m not an inner-city anything – I live far from the centre of town and still cycle fairly regularly.

    Lentils are a small leguminous product. You cannot ride them.

    As a dangerous idea – I propose public discourse without ad hominum references based on an analysis of ideas rather than foolish and rather ill-informed identity politics.

  11. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Here’s a dangerous idea. People have the inalienable right to trespass, seize, capture and put out of commission any environment villain that is operating in their vicinity. They could be urban greenies occupying the nearest coal powered station. Or they could be farmers occupying nearby mines that pollutes their water and soil with toxic tailings. It doesn’t matter. Occupation and destruction should be permissible in the circumstances.

    Yes, it sounds like I am advocating something like “mob” rule. To that I can only reply that sometimes the law and the government fails the common man, such as the Environmental Protection Agency of Queensland. (And you thought dangerous ideas were going to be safe?)

  12. Altakoi

    How about – women should take over the entire economy and be sole bread winners of their households. Men should stay home, work on their hobbies and look after children.

  13. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    And a quick note to Guy: reactionary ideas such as your “surrendered wife” brain fart are generally not dangerous ideas, because the risk of them coming to pass in Australia in the near future is nil. They are ideas that have been tried and failed, sometimes more than a century ago. They are irritating to hear, but the only danger associated with expressing them is social death.

  14. Kit

    Crikey! get over yourselves. The ‘dangerous’ in the Festival of Dangerous Ideas is a marketing tool – it’s that simple. I wouldn’t put too much effort in analysing the dangerousness or not of the things raised. Its marketing 101, and thank God they did it, because, at least this Darlinghurst secular-liberal is happy that we are talking about some interesting stuff – stuff that may not be car-burningly and throat cuttingly radical, but stuff that is at least worth our time interrogating.

    Guy, an argument for violent politics might seem at tad artificial when proposed as a dialogue in the quiet and gentlemanly surrounds of a ‘festival of ideas’. These festivals are by their nature secular, liberal and moderate (despite the hype). I know this is your point, but I wouldn’t put too much weight on the festivals’ unique selling point. We don’t really want dangerous, we want useful ideas which may be dangerous to espouse.

    While you may not see a hearty discussion of the real benefits of genocide, crocodile wrestling or female suppression, they are at least tinkering around the edge of that dreaded dominant paradigm. And, notwithstanding a few doses of false consciousness, there are many of us that believe the dominant paradigm needs some significant tinkering (as opposed to a wholesale shift).

    So, good on the festival! Keep doing whatever it takes to get some interesting discussions happening, that is, ‘anything’ except the violent and bloody overthrow of those evil purveyors of the dreaded and dangerous dominant paradigm.

  15. Bullmore's Ghost

    Altakoi, that’s a great idea … up to a point, and that point is “and look after children”

  16. Jack Robertson

    It’s just a subset of the more general ‘professionalisation’ of public language, particularly Op Ed. Sad to say, Guy, it’s blokes like you who make a living from talking about things that turn dangerous ideas into brunch fodder. Every day’s a fresh empty page. Every word you write is just a gig.

    The only way you can really get dangerous ideas onto the public arena is to shackle your authorial bod to them. Here’s some dangerous ideas, let’s see if you’re prepared to launch thgem:

    1. Full declaration for professional writers who contribute to public debate should include how much they are getting paid for their contribution, by whom, where they live (residential address), and who they voted for at the last Federal election.

    2. Full term abortion on demand should indeed be extended to women but only in strict conjunction with a national ban on genetic screening of foetuses.

    3. All extant political superannuation pensions at Federal and State level should be means tested from $1 annual (other) income, reducing to zero pension inversely to other money annually earned.

    4. All taxation information including the specific annual returns of every citizen should be public information, freely available from an online ATO website.

    5. All citizens should be required to to perform one day of (registered) unpaid charitable work a month, including those who work for charities.

    6. Tobacco should be criminalised, except where home-grown for personal use.

  17. Mark Duffett

    How about: Bring back eugenics. Sure the Nazis might have gone overboard in killing off undesirables, but we’re in danger of evolutionary stagnation and decline if we don’t pay more attention to the breeding side. It shouldn’t be possible to become a parent without a licence, obtained by a demonstration of reasonable intelligence and competence.

  18. lindsayb

    how about some mechanism to remove unrepresentative government before they make disastrous decisions on our behalf (like going to war with 75% of citizens opposed to it, for instance), rather than the pseudo-democratic lib/lab non-choice we get presented with every 3 years. Perhaps a “none of the above” on the ballot paper, so the major parties have to preselect someone the people might actually want to represent them.
    And while we are at it, how about real shareholders (as opposed to our superannuation fund managers) having some power to reject grossly inflated executive payments, or prevent criminal actions like the James Hardy fiasco. How about some mechanism for rate-payers to force council elections when councils have stop representing their interests.
    Citizens have become very passive because they have no real power, but when the rich and powerful elite get too greedy, people will say enough, and we will have another bloody and violent revolution. Legislating so that citizens at all levels of government have the power to end bad government can stop this from occurring.

  19. Altakoi

    Well, I thought to be fair I should offer to do something between breakfast and my tennis date.

  20. Heathdon McGregor

    A government bank, essential services run by government or nfp charities, fully close immigration/remove immigration restrictions entirely, global warming is the new millenium bug, global warming is core warming caused by taking insulating oil from around core.

    Tin hats ahoy!

  21. Venise Alstergren

    “The surrendered wife”. All religions cast women as being inferior to men, and women not only go along with this idea, they believe the religions which engender these infantile beliefs. Which makes my own Atheism bliss for me.

    “Abortion to term should be available on demand.” Ah the irony. At the rate Australia’s population explosion is happening, I predict, with confidence, that the State will, by 2050, have instigated a one child moratorium on the populace.

    And one for me. Each person should pay for the water they use, this includes the ancient and the poor because, in theory, they would be using less anyway.

    Victoria Collins: Either you didn’t bother to read Guy’s article properly, or you are totally deficient in humour.

  22. Venise Alstergren

    MARK DUFFETT: I thought you had gone to Bali for a writers conference.!?

  23. sean bedlam

    Dangerous ideas? Okay:
    1. After your heavily pregnant wife is slaughtered by the Manson Family you get to root one 13 year old.
    2. Australia is doomed to a culture of mediocrity for at least 3 more generations, and no amount of Festival-ing will change that.
    3. Contradicting my last point, it is now entirely impossible to predict the future, all that can be done is pick your favorite idea and try to make it happen. Except in Australia, where ideas will continue to be rejected for being to “thinky”.

  24. sean bedlam

    I’ve just realized that,
    4: there is no such thing as a Dangerous Idea. Except in Australia.

  25. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…I’m not sure lucidity is a term I’d equiate with MPM…”

    “…As a dangerous idea – I propose public discourse without ad hominum references…”

    It took just 17 minutes to make a complete fool of yourself…PB?

  26. Cavitation

    Pretty piss-weak poor dangerous ideas…

    (1) Why should the state get involved in marriage? Abolish it. That would solve the problem with legislating for gay marriage. Alternatively, why should marriage specify the genders and numbers of participants? Allow any number of parties to be married. Bring on ‘line’ and ‘group’ marriages! (cf Heinleins, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” – which it would be if you cheat on several co-husbands and co-wives, & his “Friday” where the heroine gets dudded by her evil New Zealand co-wives!).

    (2) Why should divorce only apply to husbands and wives. Allow children to get a divorce from their parents. With high quality government run orphanages for the children who do so. This would improve the quality of child care – rotten parents watch out , your kids will take off and you’d be stuck with paying their maintenance. (I’m on a roll – Heinlein again, with “The Star Beast”).

    (3) Whenever a child is born, he or she gets a life-time’s credit of government support – a standard quantity of dole payments, health care, pension, etc according to the ability of society to provide this at the time. That’s it, for the rest of your life. Allow this to be traded. If you get sick, and use up your quota for hospital care, buy someone else’s on the open market. If you die with some quotas unused – they go as part of your estate to your children.

    (4) License the right to have children. Parents must complete a procreation course and pass a test before having any babies. Second or later children licenses are only granted based on success with the first child. Only grant the number of licenses each year that the economy and environment will allow, and allow trading of the licenses on the open market. Actually, China’s one child policy is moving in this direction, and when they become the world’s superpower, what are the odds that the rest of the world will have to do something like this anyway?

    (5) Define quality standards for child rearing in the law. Fine parents, or otherwise penalise any, who do not meet these standards. What standards do we set? Diets that create healthy weight kids; basic reading and numeracy levels (why do teachers alone get that responsibility?); politeness and honesty minimum standards (why do police and courts primarily get that responsibility?); minimum sporting achievements; etc. At least the parents of troublesome or low achieving kids would fund the drain such kids have on the wider society.

  27. Chris Golis

    The best talk of the day was by Dambesi Moyo who argued (very well I thought) that the $1 trillion given in aid to so far to Africa was a waste of money and that Westerners who gave aid to associations who sent food to Africa were doing more harm than good, in particular those charities supported by celebrities. Far better is to give money to charities who then spend the money recieved buying food from African farmers so creating jobs and giving the people self-respect. Three points in particular were killing:
    1. Even though over $1 trillion in aid has been given to Africa the people below the poverty line has increased from 10% to 60%.
    2. Mandela’s greatest contribution to South Africa is that he did not allow the country to accept foreign aid. This made the politicians accountable and unemployment in South Africa since 1994 had declined from 40% to 25%. Still not a great figure but far better than any other country in Africa.
    3. The IMF rates only 2 of the 50 sub-Saharan countries as suitable for investment.

  28. Mark Duffett

    I’m there, Venise, in the same way Mungo should have been: virtually.

  29. Victoria Collins

    Venise Alstergren,
    I have a fantastic sense of humour; it’s Rundle’s sense of humour that I questioned, seriously, because it just wasn’t funny to me. It was the sort of thing that patronising and paternalistic types, cloaked in a seeming avant-garde nature, like to say to seem funny.

  30. Altakoi

    Oh really MPM, that post has moved from camp to just pissy.

  31. Venise Alstergren

    SEAN BEDLAM: Don’t you realize that all thought is warmly approved of in Oz as long as it has to do with sport? Shame, shame.

  32. Mister Ed

    hmm, dangerous ideas… how about letting the coalition govern again?

  33. jeebus

    1# Ban all political donations and soft money contributions by businesses or organisations and limit individual donations from citizens to $200 per candidate per year. Increase public funding for political parties.

    #2 Reign in negative gearing so that it can only be claimed on new houses and higher density redevelopments that increase supply. Don’t blink during the long overdue correction that follows.

    #3 Legalize possession and use of all narcotics under a certain amount, and set up government run drug centres that will provide safe narcotics to people who sign up to rehabilitation programs.

    #4 Create an ABC4 called the ‘public education channel’ to educate bogans in common sense topics they seem to have missed, like personal hygiene. Make sure all of the presenters are busty models.

    #5 Dig out a massive inland canal to bring the ocean to Alice Springs!

  34. Venise Alstergren

    JEEBUS: Bugger Alice Springs. What about Melbourne?

    Otherwise #3 is absolutely right. #4. Good, but ‘the bogans’ wouldn’t watch it. And, short of cutting off their eyelids, I don’t see how you could force them to watch it. Unless you put your ‘busty models’ into football gear and have that awful- whosiewhatsit? Got it. Eddie McGuire, shouting out the play.

  35. Altakoi

    Jeebus for president except #5, which will have to be a non core promise.

  36. jofknight

    What about the Festival of Stupid Ideas? Oh, wait… too late.

  37. Jillian Blackall

    Victoria Collins, I’m with you 100%. The idea about ‘the surrendered wife’ is appalling. The fact that Guy can suggest it as an idea worth discussing shows that women have not come as far as we might have hoped. Imagine if I suggested something equally offensive towards aborigines, asians, jews, catholics etc. I won’t try to think of an example.

    Mister Ed, I’m with you as well, but I will go one step further. My dangerous idea is that Guy Rundle should write an article of at least 1,000 words praising Malcolm Turnbull – this week. Guy, are you up for it?

  38. Jillian Blackall

    My attempted comment is awaiting moderation.

    I will try it again, with a shorter version:

    Mister Ed, I’m with you as well, but I will go one step further. My dangerous idea is that Guy Rundle should write an article of at least 1,000 words praising Malcolm Turnbull – this week. Guy, are you up for it?

  39. AR

    Between Vicky & MPM, plus others whom i only scanned, Guy’s point is that the current wank is what happens when erstwhile revolutionaries become hostages to fortune (aka mortgages & kids) is mordant.
    If I’ve learne danything in year on-line it is DON’T FEED TROLLS like MPM & Pedro. Let them go & infest Catalepsy, not that any one would notice.

  40. aroundtheclock

    My dangerous idea is that all tax payers are responsible for transferring their own PAYG taxation and employer contributed super.
    Rather than the government getting business book-keepers to do it.

    Saves business costs – particularly for those small businesses, who find government red tape most invasive and onerous – and creates a nation of avid political minds, in one fail swoop.

  41. Jillian Blackall

    AR, I’m guessing you were referring to Catallaxy?

    I am awaiting a response from Guy when he is next online. Come on Guy. Give those of us who are not left-wing revolutionaries a reason to continue to subscribe to Crikey.

  42. Victoria Collins

    Jillian Blackall, tues 7.35pm,
    Yes, it’s strange when men bring up the subjugation of women as a humorous aside.

  43. Bullmore's Ghost

    Here’s a very dangerous idea: Hold a referendum on Immigration Policy.

  44. Jillian Blackall

    Well Mr Packer, I definitely agree that would be a dangerous idea. I wouldn’t recommend it because if the result were no further immigration, it would damage our standing in the world.

  45. Bullmore's Ghost

    That assumes that the policy question is simply “Immigration: YES or NO?”. Not really helpful.

    And my primary concern is the welfare of this country. What other countries think of us is secondary to that.

    What I would really like is informed debate on policy settings and a thorough airing of the extent of backdoor immigration that is occurring via the student visa system. I recently heard an estimate of some 500,00o such visa holders in this country. How many of those will elect for permanent residency and what does that say about the “official” immigration numbers set each year — that is, the one that the electorate hears about.

    I’m not against immigration; sensible immigration is vital to Australia’s future. But I am against immigration by stealth.

  46. Sean

    •Australian aborigines have a right to resort to the aforementioned political violence, given the continued and embedded racism embedded in health-care, opportunity and policing.

    They already do — why do you think they end up being policed so much? Tensions in the regions are running high with towns in lockdown at night, places like Redfern are effectively no-go zones at night and adjacent areas suffer from a lot of muggings and property crime. The traditional rite of passage has actually become a first stint in jail, it proves you are a ‘man’ and just to prove it you meet up with others more experienced males on the inside after the rite is over. Notions of property ownership are completely different from industrialised Western societies, but I think a lot of the ‘crime’ taking place is really having a slap at the white man. Australia is kind of a South Africa writ small, in a constant state of tension and guerilla warfare.

  47. Sean

    Bullmore’s Ghost
    Posted Wednesday, 7 October 2009 at 12:31 am | Permalink
    Here’s a very dangerous idea: Hold a referendum on Immigration Policy.

    Not dangerous at all — it’s happening in the media already. Chris Evans is looking increasingly like the hollow man with rhetoric about the importance of immigration while unemployment is soarng, and continuing to boost immigration while saying he is cutting it. There’s a series of 3 articles on this in Crikey right now (3rd one tomorrow). Bob Birrell and Bob Kinnaird are whistle blowers in this area.

    But maybe democratic referenda are dangerous and deadly ideas — imagine asking the stupid, uninformed public what’s good for them, when most countries prefer to operate as fascist states — fascist meaning ‘bundle’ in the original sense — of big business in collusion with government calling all the shots. I don’t remember a public referendum on invading Iraq or Afghanistan either. Or a host of other important topics. Power in the wrong hands — i.e. the public’s — in a truly democratic society would be too dangerous a thing to countenance. Just ask Sir Humphrey.

  48. Venise Alstergren

    A dangerous idea. Educating people to think and by so doing avoid all the high-minded nitwitism involved by do-gooders who are against the idea of restricting our immigration program, because-wait for it……We will be seen in the eyes of the world to be discriminating on the basis of race.

    If all the religious clod-hoppers had done something sensible such as restraining the amount of children being born, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Secondly, WTF does the opinion of the rest of the world matter? Thirdly WTF has race got to do with chronic over-population?

    Finally: The rest of the world is desperate to get here and there is nothing we can do. The world has almost run out of space and we are the bunnies who are meant to allow it all to happen.

  49. frank

    Euthanasia should not be illegal based on religious rules and prohibitions despite the blurb spouted by some that it could not be controlled. We have laws for many things I find it hard to believe that rational guidelines could not be set up to monitor and control euthanasia. I find it offensive when I am told that palliative care has improved so much and the thought of offing myself is wrong.

  50. Heathdon McGregor

    Dear Bullymore’s ghost

    “And my primary concern is the welfare of this country. What other countries think of us is secondary to that.”

    I agree wholeheartedly, I am sick of policy appearing to be made on what others will think of us(or how bad the press will be)and not what is best for the citizens of this country. All citizens of this country no matter what race.

  51. Venise Alstergren

    BULLMORE’S GHOST: Am in total agreement with you, as I think my previous comment proves.

  52. Venise Alstergren

    FRANK: Last night on Chanel Two there was an excellent doco on Athens during the democratic years. They made the point that man is born with the seeds of his own destruction. Which, is so achingly true.

    Their demise was also due to too much involvement with religion, as will be our own civilization. For every forward and logical, progressive and advanced idea contributing to our civilization, there are a hundred thousand weak-minded clowns hiding in the shadows, relentlessly reproducing their own failure.

    It is enough to look at the mess which is America to see the fatality of religion.
    Of course euthanasia must become legal. To condemn countless people to live in pain, agony, terror and vegetable-like state, could only be the product of a man-made God. Not to mention the power which comes from having created Him.

  53. Venise Alstergren

    IDEA: One last stand will not gain us too much time, but my dangerous idea, is to

    Throughout Oz’s short history we have been dominated by little men with a huge belief in religion. Let us reverse the process.

  54. Jillian Blackall

    I note that there has been no reply from Guy Rundle to my suggestion that he should write a positive article about Malcolm Turnbull. It seems that that idea is too dangerous. It would be preferable to contemplate political violence than to write something good about Malcolm Turnbull. 🙂

  55. Jillian Blackall

    Venise: I think it was a good try – and it would have worked if Guy had not chosen to ignore me.

  56. Jillian Blackall

    “Ideas Festivals have flourished precisely because ideas have become (so) undangerous and un-threatening that holders of radically different ones can be in the same room together. When things are at stake that isn’t really possible.”

    This is an outrageous comment when you think about it. Worthy of the Taliban.

  57. Stefan Landherr

    How about:

    1. Requiring would-be voters to pass a quiz before being allowed to cast a vote.
    Sample questions:
    “Is this a Federal or State election ?” “Which electorate do you live in ?”
    plus 8 questions from the Citizenship booklet.
    Pass mark set at a generous 30%.

    2. Overturning the “one person, one vote rule”; with the value of your vote depending upon your net contribution to the public purse; e.g.
    (a) One-third of a vote if you obtain more than 80% of your income as a public pension or allowance;
    (b) Two-thirds of a vote if employed as a public servant or you obtain more than 20% of your income as a public pension or allowance etc
    (c) Full vote otherwise.
    For borderline cases, you could earn up to 20% “credit” by doing registered charity work.
    (PS. I don’t qualify for a full vote)

    3. Not allowed to comment on climate issues unless you can:
    (a) quote the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics;
    (b) write down the (simplified) chemical equations for photosynthesis and aerobic respiration (e.g. Carbon Dioxide + Water = …… )
    (c) quote the dates of the Viking settlements in Greenland (plus/minus 100 years)

  58. Evan Beaver

    I like this a lot Stefan, particularly the thermo laws. I worked in a BIG corporation running their energy efficiency program for a while. I would have loved a big red rubber stamp that said “Great idea! Pity it violates the ____ Law Of Thermodynamics”.

  59. Bullmore's Ghost

    Stefan has the germ of a good idea, however I’d simplify the voter eligibility test to just one question.

    Is the following sentence grammatically correct? If not, why?

    If you continue to ignore the speed limit, your likely to get more fine’s.

  60. Stefan Landherr

    Dear Bullymore’s Ghost,

    I think that the questions in an eligibility test should bear a strong relation to the privilege being sought (thus my civics test).
    Your grammar question, or similar, would be a good one to apply before allowing anyone to post anything online (imagine the bandwidth reduction — we’d hardly need the NBN)

    On the fractional vote issue, I have tried without success to devise a formula that would limit the political influence of notorious tax avoiders like your mortal predecessor 🙂

  61. Bullmore's Ghost

    Stafan said: “On the fractional vote issue, I have tried without success to devise a formula that would limit the political influence of notorious tax avoiders like your mortal predecessor.”

    I think the answer to that would be something like: Unless you are below the taxable income threshold, you are given one additional vote for every rounded-upwards percentage point in the result of the equation (tax actually paid / gross income earned).

  62. Venise Alstergren

    BULLMORE’S GHOST: Let’s face it, there are many people out there who don’t want to be educated. But I think my suggestion was apposite. Each voter to be asked ‘name three of the political hopefuls standing for election in this electorate’.

    I venture to suggest that it could be as much as two people in five who would flunk it. I’m not excluding recent arrivals because it seems to me they are frequently more involved with being Australian than the people who were bore here.

  63. Bullmore's Ghost

    VA: “Each voter to be asked ‘name three of the political hopefuls standing for election in this electorate'”

    That’s not a bad idea, especially if there are only two candidates, LOL!

    But to be fair, they should be allowed to consult their how to vote tickets.

    I was once handing out such things when a fellow asked me where to get one for “informal”. Seriously.

  64. Venise Alstergren

    BG: Ouch 🙁 The idiots saying they couldn’t read bugged me. Your exps is worse. 🙂

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