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On Australia Day 2011 again we hear the calls: Change the Flag; become a Republic; reparations for the White Invasion...

There are strong arguments for progress in each of these areas but as the following article discusses we first need to ensure that the changes that must be made are indeed progress; that we don't sacrifice that which has been achieved already.

One question that needs to be asked is how Australia has done so consistently well as compared to the bulk of the rest of the world; when measured by standard of material wealth; health; general literacy and education; contributions to world culture; and even contributions to science. 

 Is it just good luck - à la Donald Horn  - or good government, good management or good ideas?  

 It is obviously a good culture; but in what aspects (it can't all be good)? 

 Of course we have some near cultural competitors and some may be marginally ahead.  Arguably Norway, or New Zealand, does better - maybe because it's a bit colder and more miserable.

 Possible reasons include:

  • rule of law
  • our historical lack of a rural peasantry (Australia has always been amongst the most urban countries)
  • Federal, democratic government (federations and democracies usually do better)
  • 'New' countries generally do better
  • secular states do better
  • early discovery of gold - then other minerals agricultural wealth (not too flash compared to say Argentina or the US)
  • good, free education
  • egalitarianism
  • scepticism
  • a healthy lifestyle (but is this so and if so why... )
  • hard work (some historical accounts discount this)
  • smarter work (better directed effort)
  • better allocation of productive resources
  • reliance on unfettered markets
  • high home ownership (leading to community/personal responsibility)
  • universal suffrage
  • willingness to embrace change (as an outcome of...  all of the above?)
  • rapid acceptance and integration of new ideas and technology (as a result of... )
  • modesty in respect of our own achievements (lack of arrogance - 'wow, did we do that?')

 But none of these is entirely satisfying on its own.

 

Wealth generally maps closely to low levels of religious observance, and poverty to high, even within a religious country like the US;  but these also map to other factors such as health standards; and levels of educational achievement.  Certainly wealthy people generally demand more say in government; and better education; and better health services; and good law and order; and artistic distractions; and more freedoms; but in each case is this the chicken or the egg?

NSW has always enjoyed a better standard of living than most of the world:  before we joined the Federation; when almost all people went to church; before we discovered gold, then other minerals; when agriculture had to compete with producers with more water and that were much nearer to markets.

The Bigge Inquiry in Macquarie's time contained an element of outrage that emancipated convicts had attained a higher standard of living than middle class Englishmen at home.  But it also noted that NSW was a benign dictatorship - an autocracy under Macquarie - albeit based on the principles of the enlightenment (under the strong influence of the Scottish Enlightenment: - David Hume, Adam Smith et al - through Macquarie, Bigge and even Macarthur) and of course later; Darwin, after whom we even named a city.

Karl Marx used the number of pianos per capita as a proxy for standard of living and had to make an exception of NSW and Victoria (Australia) as what appeared to be rural societies, nevertheless leading the world in living standards.

Maybe we need an analysis on this level - perhaps we owe it all to a good foundation - from Hume and Smith to Macquarie?  What is it about our culture that works so well; what could we improve; and what must we never damage?

Nevertheless it is inconceivable that in another hundred years Australia will still defer to the British Monarch to provide an imprimatur to our Heads of State or that we will still have a flag that proclaims our subservient position in the British Commonwealth of Nations. 

Above all it is to our ongoing shame that a baby born into an Aboriginal family will, on average, have a much shorter life expectancy;  very much higher probability of suffering violence and abuse; lower educational and income prospects; and far higher likelihood of ending up in jail; than other Australians. 

All these things need fixing and the sooner the better.  The problem lies in our lack on consensus in the way forward.  As this article suggests, this stems from our different interpretations of the tales we call 'History'.  Elsewhere I have discussed some bad ideas that contribute to our inability to easily solve some of these problems. 

 

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Travel

South Korea & China

March 2016

 

 

South Korea

 

 

I hadn't written up our trip to South Korea (in March 2016) but Google Pictures gratuitously put an album together from my Cloud library so I was motivated to add a few words and put it up on my Website.  Normally I would use selected images to illustrate observations about a place visited.  This is the other way about, with a lot of images that I may not have otherwise chosen.  It requires you to go to the link below if you want to see pictures. You may find some of the images interesting and want to by-pass others quickly. Your choice. In addition to the album, Google generated a short movie in an 8mm style - complete with dust flecks. You can see this by clicking the last frame, at the bottom of the album.

A few days in Seoul were followed by travels around the country, helpfully illustrated in the album by Google generated maps: a picture is worth a thousand words; ending back in Seoul before spending a few days in China on the way home to OZ. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Stace and Hall family histories

 

The following family history relates to my daughter Emily and her mother Brenda.  It was compiled by my niece Sara Stace, Emily’s first cousin, from family records that were principally collected by Corinne Stace, their Grandmother, but with many contributions from family members.  I have posted it here to ensure that all this work is not lost in some bottom draw.  This has been vindicated by a large number of interested readers worldwide.

The copyright for this article, including images, resides with Sara Stace. 

Thus in respect of this article only, the copyright statement on this website should be read substituting the words 'Sarah Stace' for the words 'website owner'.

Sara made the original document as a PDF and due to the conversion process some formatting differs from the original.  Further, some of the originally posted content has been withdrawn,  modified or corrected following requests and comments by family members.  

 

Richard

 

 


 

Stace and Hall family histories

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Opinions and Philosophy

Electricity Pricing

 

 August 2012 (chapters added since)

 

 

Introduction

 

The present government interventions in electricity markets, intended to move the industry from coal to renewable energy sources, are responsible for most of the rapidly rising cost of electricity in Australia.  These interventions have introduced unanticipated distortions and inefficiencies in the way that electricity is delivered.

Industry experts point to looming problems in supply and even higher price increases.

A 'root and branch' review of these mechanisms is urgently required to prevent ever increasing prices and to prevent further potentially crippling distortions.

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