On Indigenous health

Geoff Edwards writes: Re. “How to improve Indigenous kids’ lives” (Monday). I agree, Stephen Bartos, that there is no coherent mainstream theory to explain persistent Aboriginal disadvantage. And no doubt many projects are inadequately evaluated. But let’s be spared renewed focus on project evaluation, which will hobble practitioners with paperwork and skew their practice towards the contemporary enthusiasms of the funding agency.

Tracking causation need not be opaque, if we apply some first principles. Humans are biologically mammals, with sociological and cultural domains superimposed. Human behaviour is enormously variable, but biological good health is pivotal to well-being and to individual life skills. In turn an adequate diet, from conception, is essential for adequate health. Most reports written from an economic, rights or sociological perspective don’t mention diet as a causative agent, or refer to diet as simply one of a range of predisposing factors. It is not just one of a range, it is first and foremost.

The principle of Ockham’s Razor would argue that policy should work towards guaranteeing fresh food and prohibiting sugary drinks for all people in remote communities especially pregnant women. Cost? The fiscal cost would be a fraction of the cost of propping up people programmed by a diet of soft drinks from childhood for under-achievement and chronic disease.

Boom? What boom?

Mike Westerman writes: Re. “How Abbott and Turnbull destroyed Labor’s wealth” (yesterday). The proof of the pudding of just how fucked up the Australian economy is can be gained by looking at the BRW Rich list: >50% are in property, 1% in technology. Property is a necessity, so if any market should deliver near perfect conditions (ie no super profits) it should be that. There should be no property tycoons. We should be wall to wall technology entrepreneurs evidencing our innovation skills. Nope. All we can do is sit manipulate land supply, drive booms and busts and use the public purse to drive asset inflation.

Peter Fray

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