NUMBER 22 SUMMER 2006/2007

EDITORIAL: In the interests of educational equality and excellence Whitlam’s idea of a Children’s Commission and a Schools Commission to examine needs and recommend funding on an objective basis should be resurrected. A recent OECD survey of early childhood education and care shows expenditure on early childhood services offers higher social and economic returns than equivalent spending on school and post-school education.

Geoffrey Barker states that the anti-terrorism laws introduced by the Howard government are a threat to democracy, while terrorists cannot threaten the existence of any modern state except in the unlikely event that they can acquire weapons of mass destruction.

John M. Legge says that one of the hard lessons to be learned from the unpopularity of the UK Blair government is that allocating government functions to the private sector will attract private partners who only see the public sector as a set of rents waiting to be harvested and will fail to deliver a politically acceptable level of service.

Ian McAuley analyses the new discipline of behavioural economics which brings other disciplines such as individual and social psychology, game theory and even neurology to bear on what we actually do in markets, rather than relying on the abstract notion of what economists believe we do.

Ernest Rodeck points out that while Australia’s assets might be growing faster than foreign debt, much of our wealth is based on high valuation of houses and these would be of little interest to foreign financiers in a crisis.

Clinton Fernandes discusses the history of fascism to show that the Howard government is simply trying to contain the power of trade unions and curtail civil liberties in order to strengthen capitalism rather than leading a counter-revolution against the Enlightenment.

Tony Lynch argues that the task of politics is to provide material security so citizens can develop their full potential and to ensure that when political power increases it is freedom-enhancing, not freedom-restricting.

Geoffrey Chia contends that the concept of Intelligent Design is incompatible with science based on rational enquiry and therefore has no place alongside the theory of evolution in the science classroom.

Geoff Russell points out that methane gas is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 but, unlike CO2 which hangs around in the atmosphere for 100 years, methane is removed from the atmosphere within 10 years. He concludes that cuts in red meat consumption which can cut methane emissions 40% would stabilise temperature for an extended period and enable CO2 emission reduction technologies to be developed.

David Risstrom concludes from studying societal responses to human-induced climate change that industrial societies may choose to respond by insulating its effects rather than responding to our role in creating it.

Denis Kenny says that if we are to build and preserve the creative universe of the 21st century we must replace various forms of moral obligation and obedience to the established religious, political and economic structures with a new moral responsibility capable of ensuring a sustainable future and fostering biological, social and cultural diversity within a democratic framework.

Roy Williams examines the technique of the Howard government’s ministers and its supporters of dismissing critics of the government by focusing on (or inventing) an exaggerated claim against the government, labelling it as a ‘crazy conspiracy theory’ and then ignoring valid criticism of the relevant issue.

Christine Awad and Liz Curran describe how the new sole parent pension requirements help stigmatise sole parents and increase the risk of poverty and social disadvantage by the threat to income security

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