Tim Longhurst's Blog

Teenage Affluenza – World Vision video

July 2nd, 2007 · 2 Comments

Poor Erin, stuck with a 1GB ipod. Poor Red, he only has a PlayStation 2. A new video examines some of the real challenges middle class Aussie kids face. Congratulations to World Vision for their great work on this video. It’s worth the full five minutes.

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Category: Peace between people

Kiva – back an entrepreneur of the South

July 1st, 2007 · 2 Comments

My cousin Mark sent me the link to Kiva.org and has decided that if he could work for any organisation in the world, it would be them, or google.org.

Here’s Kiva’s positive self-talk…

“Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses
in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can
“sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great
strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the
loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from
the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan
money back.”

Ready to back an entrepreneur?

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Category: Peace between people

Anti-Poverty Week

October 16th, 2005 · No Comments

This week is Anti-Poverty week…

Anti-Poverty Week was established several years ago in Australia as an expansion of the UN’s annual International Anti-Poverty Day on October 17.
The main aims of Anti-Poverty Week are to strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and in Australia and encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.

The Aussie Anti-Poverty Week website has a selection of PDF resources. I am going to read at least one of these resources by the end of the week. They just want to inform you… they’re not asking for money, so relax and go and check out the link.

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Category: Peace between people

Susan George on the Worldwide Citizens’ Movement

May 27th, 2005 · No Comments

0412_susan_george_1.jpgSUSAN GEORGE is Associate Director of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, a decentralised fellowship of scholars living throughout the world whose work is intended to contribute to social justice.

Susan spoke at the Sydney Writer’s Festival on 26 May, 2005. These notes provide a general overview of Susan’s perspective on the “worldwide citizen’s movement” (sometimes referred to as the alter-globalisation movement).
Susan opened her presentation with a question:

Can this movement be something in the 21st Century that takes the role that Marx gave to the Proletariat?

…Although I’m not a Marxist, I do think that you ought to have read Marx and other philosophers to get a sense of themes and patterns in history…

Analysing the nuts and bolts of the movement:

  • We are internationalists
  • We recognise that we ‘can’t hold back the tide’ of globalisation. What we want is a different kind of globalisation.
  • We see ourselves as part of an historical movement toward human dignity and emancipation
  • Our structure is non-hierarchical, with moral leaders, not bosses. This has strengths and weaknesses.

Excerpt from 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Article 25:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Yes, it’s sexist, but the general principles remain worthwhile.

There are three kinds of people:

  1. Those who make things happen. Everyone ought to be part of this…
  2. Those who watch things happen. For example, so called “objective scholars”
  3. Those who never knew what hit them.

What we object to:

  • Continual tax-free currency trading
  • Commodification of all aspects of human existence in the marketplace
  • Neoliberalism

Continual tax-free currency trading

  • $US28,000,000,000,000 ($28 trillion) in liquid assets (i.e. money) is owned by 7.7 million people according to Merryl Lynch.
  • Our money is taxed. Thanks to tax havens (so called “Fiscal Paradises”) theirs isn’t.

Is democracy something to come to an end? It doesn’t exist at a supra-national level.

Commodification of all aspects of human existence in the marketplace
As aspects of human lives are moved from the public spere into the private sphere, with power held in the marketplace, the organizations that control so many aspects of our lives are undemocratic. One dollar equals one vote, and with most companies having a controlling minority interest from the US, an over-representation of American power.

Neoliberalism
The thinking that permeates the IMF and World Bank is a form of “Primitive Darwinism” – a survival of the fittest mentality that sees little role for cooperation.

We need a debate: What’s In the marketplace and what’s out?
Here’s what might be considered ‘too important for the market’
Public services provide a degree of equity and represent a social wage.
Health care if fully privatised represents an annual industry worth $3 trillion.
Education
if fully privatised represents an annual industry worth $2.5 trillion.
Water Indespensible to life. Scarce and becoming scarce
Life Genes, seeds, scientific research

We have a great many demands:

  • A state of the Common Good
  • We are not anarchists, we want rules, not these rules.
  • ‘Futures’ should be considered plural: decision making should involve the people concerned.
  • Keynesian state, worldwide
  • International taxation
  • Drop the debt on the least developed countries
  • No tax havens: fair share of the common burden

Where ought the movement head now?
Yes, the movement is most visible when it takes to the streets… because there’s no where else to go… No other forum.

…But: serious work needs to be done: lobbying inside and outside formal political organizations.

The movement is made up of world social forums. There is no one single campaign, but we are linked by binding principles.

Most importantly, a campaign demanding a moratorium to ask the big question: what should be in the market and what should not? (This case is made in Susan’s latest book, “Another World is Possible… If…”)

An example of one campaign for moratorium…

The campaign against the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) – French Example:

  • GATS ultimately moves education, health, culture and water into the market.
  • With little action against GATS at a federal level, campaigners contacted local governments and soon established “100 Local Governments Against GATS and For a Moratorium” (the number has since swelled to 700)… that’s the local government areas covering 75% of the French population.

Strong alliances are required betweent political parties, trade unions, the peace movement, community groups and others.

Finally, Susan commented on a journalist’s question about why the movement has begun to grow now… Her response? “Because the bastards have gone too far!”



Additionally
, Susan commented on why she was voting ‘NO’ to the EU Constitution:

  • 800+ pages: too complicated and lengthy for many citizens to comprehend
  • Becoming further and further removed from ordinary people
  • Enshrines Neoliberalism into a body of law that is incredibly difficult to repeal.
  • Susan reminded audience that to many politicians, ignorance is a great national resource.

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Category: Peace between people

Killing filters, saving children…

May 7th, 2005 · No Comments

runawaytrain.jpgAs Bob drives over a railway crossing, his BMW stalls and he can’t start it up again. He gets out of his car to work out what can be done. A curious child comes along to see what’s going on. Along comes a driverless, out-of-control train, speeding toward the crossing. Bob has time to push one out of harms way: the car or the child. Faced with this dillema, which will he choose?

Australian ethicist, Peter Singer, argues that this challenge is a metaphor for the challenge we in the West are all faced with every day. For around $US200, Singer reminds his readers, a child’s life can almost certainly be saved. So when we spend money on luxuries (ie. above and beyond necessities), we are choosing not to save the life of a child.

“I can see no escape from the conclusion that each one of us with wealth surplus to his or her essential
needs should be giving most of it to help people suffering from poverty so dire as to be life-threatening. That’s right: I’m saying that you shouldn’t buy that new car, take that cruise, redecorate the house or get that pricey new suit.
After all, a $1,000 suit could save five children’s lives.”

If a child falls in a forest from a disease that a rich Westerner could have easily paid to prevent, but didn’t, does the child still die?

For people in rich countries (aka the ‘North’), globalisation is often there to solve our problems for us. Want cheap clothes? Great. Want a cheap car? Sure. How about a cheap TV? That can be arranged. But globalisation is a system where problem solving can flow in more than one direction. Just as our problems can be solved quickly and easily
because of the globalisation of commerce, so can the problems of people who live in the ‘South’.

So if globalisation means poverty can be erradicated, what’s stopping us from rolling up our sleeves and engaging with this issue? There are a number of aspects to this. A major challenge is what has been described as the ‘filter’ of commercial media. Commercial media organisations exist to create an atmosphere that is conducive to selling products. That is, they don’t want to depress their audiences!

Also, note that the ‘basics’ of life are rarely advertised… Marketing is far more useful for promoting the luxuries – the ‘extras’. Advertisers talk about ‘creating need’ a perverse concept in the context of 800 million children in severe need of the basics of survival. Isn’t there enough need already?

Read more: The Singer Solution to World Poverty  [editor's note: unfortunately this resource is no longer available online and we have therefore removed the link]

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Category: Peace between people