Who wins in class warfare?

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “The slippery and convenient concept of ‘class warfare’” (yesterday). Bernard Keane makes several good points about the current common political fashion for grossly hypocritical, dishonest and one-sided uses of the phrase “class warfare”. On the other hand, at least Warren Buffet tells it like it is: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Pat Kirkman writes: “Class warfare” as used currently is hardly that,  look at the French Revolution! Every statement in the media has to be “hyped up”, hence hyperbole.  Another word is “heroes”. Anyone who kicks a football and scores a goal is a “hero”. Time to tone down the language.  Check a dictionary.

Gavin Greenoak writes: As an ex-UK I am no fan of class. Raised in the East End of London the career choices came down to cops or crims. But there was a very real “community”. The three rules were: never whistle on your mate; never go to law; and reap what you sow. The last one is I think germane. Compared to my East End days I am now stinking rich, which isn’t very. And I’ve worked very, very hard.

So often I hear the term “rich” written or said, as if we are still under a feudal system where wealth is somehow dishonestly gained or inherited.  If I spend twice the time ploughing two fields rather than usual one because I want to do something other than the usual thing and choose the sacrifices, then somehow this deserves a penalty. All I’m saying is, that debate is great, and I welcome it, but it should include this principle among others, rather than reacting to the numbers as if the same (unfair) things are behind them.

Not seeing the forest for the trees

Dr Robert Musk writes: Re. “Don’t blame the greenies: the real reason for timber decline” (Monday). Yet more debate framing about the Australian forest industry! Andrew Macintosh conflates a number of markets for Australian wood products to support his claims about the profitability or otherwise of native forest timber production. Unfortunately doing so obscures a number of issues.

It is wrong to assume that woodchips from plantations and native forests have equivalent properties and that one is simply replacing the other. While native forest woodchip exports from Tasmania have plummeted, exports of the same product from Victoria and NSW have remained stable for many years. Why the difference? Mainland suppliers still have access to the ports required to export their products, and their major producer hasn’t collapsed chasing a dream to build a pulp mill.

Prices for sawn wood everywhere remain strong because it is a great product. There is a ceiling on price, though,  because unlike bananas, which exhibit characteristics that make them unique among competing foodstuffs (flavour and shape) and are illegal to import (restricting supply) , timber can be replaced in construction with concrete and steel and can also be imported. Substitution with concrete or steel leads to high carbon dioxide emissions and is totally non-renewable. While importation might support forest practices as sustainable as our own in another country without the economic benefits of production accruing in Australia, it might alternatively support the permanent demise of yet more forest. It is our poorer Pacific neighbours that usually suffer from this outcome.

Saying no to the Dalai Lama

Leigh Copeland writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Monday). Why would anyone want to listen to the fatuous words of the leader [the Dalai Lama] of a defunct theocratic state? Western knowledge of Tibet was, and apparently still is, a fantasy created by egotistic 19th and early 20th century explorers, some of whom believed that Tibet was the original home of the Aryans. Tibetan Buddhism is a particularly weird version of an often odd religion. Buddhist clergy have been responsible for racist politics in Sri Lanka and Burma. Might as well go and listen to the platitudes of the Pope.

The fashion of the male body

Margo Saunders writes: Re. “Slim chance of change in fashion modelling” (yesterday). You will not see wafer-thin males because this is about idealised images of gender and s-xuality, and idealised masculinity tends to be represented not by super-thinness but by a combination of muscularity and leanness. Although research has found that many men reject the idea that they are influenced by these types of idealised images, it has also been argued that men are now having to deal with the potentially adverse effects of this type of exploitation and objectification in the same way as women have had to for years.

Peter Fray

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