Bureaucratic humanity and pragmatism

Are  bureaucrats humane and pragmatic? One would hope so.

Assuming they are, it follows that they must have regard for the impact of their decisions. 

Last year a long term resident had his application for renewal of his residence visa refused, because his original visa granted in 2014 had expired when he submitted his renewal application.

He had applied in time in 2019, but that application was found to be invalid because the wrong fee had been paid.

The correct fee was paid in July 2019, but by the time the application was submitted in August, the fees had been increased. Government applications require proof of payment before submission of applications. 

In a matter of days, the application was declared invalid as there was a fee shortfall of $25. The applicant was advised by the department to re-apply with evidence of full payment, which was done, but by the time the new application was received, the original visa time period had elapsed by one or two days.

The applicant was also advised that he could no longer work as he had no valid visa and he had to resign.

After a week he was granted a bridging visa pending the consideration of his subsequent (late) visa application. Fortunately he was re-employed by his employer.

After 15 months, he was advised in 2021 that his application was refused as it had been made in Australia, when he had no valid visa.

He has lodged  an appeal against that decision and his bridging visa has been extended.

This appeal will be heard in anywhere between 15 and 30 months.

The applicant is a family man, who has held full employment as a manager since his arrival in 2014. 

The man loves Australia; he is a sportsman and lover of the outdoors; he wants to buy a house and raise his family here. He has no criminal record or history of bankruptcy; his partner is a top level educationist. His qualifications have already been scrutinised when he first applied in London in 2014.

The prolonged torture of having one’s career and family future hanging by a thread for 3 to 4 years is agonising for him and his family.

Why can’t bureaucrats look beyond such petty transgressions which can be so easily fixed? Presumably when appeals are lodged the relevant decisions are internally reviewed. 

Does this mean this type of petty bureaucracy is condoned and thus encouraged in government ministries?

Where is the benefit for Australia?

Politicians would not survive scrutiny of such petty acts.

 Just a thought – If these processes were digitised, turnaround would be almost instantaneous. 

Even systems can be taught compassion and common sense.

Call me cantankerous

The statue of Edward Colston was toppled in a Black Lives Matter protest and tossed into a river in Bristol. He had been a merchant who amongst many other activities was involved in the Royal African Company which traded in slaves. It had been founded at the instigation of King Charles II in the 1600’s.

The slave trade was outlawed in 1807 in Britain and slaves were emancipated by in 1833.

Colston also supported and endowed schools, houses for the poor, almshouses, hospitals and Anglican churches in Bristol, London and elsewhere. He died at age 84 in 1721. A statue was erected in his honour.

A jury recently found 4 people clearly identified as perpetrators to be not guilty – they argued that the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.

Perhaps statues of King Charles II should also be tossed? Perhaps it’s time to give the Queen and Royalty the heave-ho ? After all, their ancestor founded the Royal African Company.

If society does not allow the discussion of ideas and issues, people descend to shouting. Shouting is offensive and leads to confrontation. Those people who deny platforms to those who express opposing opinions and topple statues rely on the civilised reticence of the majority who will withdraw and avoid confrontation.

We have seen how demonstrators attack the police, deface buildings and defy regulations.

How far should they be allowed to go? What is peaceful demonstration?

Not so long ago – in my lifetime, unruly demonstrators were orderered to disperse. If they defied these orders, shots were fired over their heads, if they persisted, ringleaders were shot by marksmen. That always did the trick.

Can’t say I fault the process.

The mysteries of sex

Hopefully the title has lured your interest and you read on. This is about an older man’s resistance to change and opposition to the incursions of identity politics into history and life as we know it.

Back in the day, say 1960’s and 70’s when Germaine Greer was shaking the tree and ruffling the entrenched privileges of patriarchs, a “trannie” was a transistor radio.

Now  there are arguments between medical philosophers in “The Lancet” about politically correct gender terminology

The streaming company Twitch recently said it would use the term “womxn” in order to be more gender neutral in its language.

“But LGBT communities online called the change transphobic because it suggested trans women were not women.”

I think I grasp most of what the LGBTQ anagram stands for.

A 2011 survey in the US suggested LGBTQ’s make up about 10% of the population. Of course each group are all different with different demands and there are variations within each grouping e.g.: Transgender people may identify as heterosexual (straight), homosexual (gay or lesbian), bisexual, asexual, or otherwise, or may decline to label their sexual orientation. 

This has become quite confusing for some of us. What do we call these people, other than saying ” one of those LGBTQ types... “?

I have a few suggestions which might help:

  • The tensions over who can use which toilet could be eased by renaming public conveniences as urinals and non-urinals and by increasing the number and privacy of toilet cubicles which could be open to anyone.
  • Allow males into breast feeding/ baby care rooms only to change nappies (that will keep them out)
  • Instead of ‘people with vaginas‘,or ‘people who menstruate’ congenitally heterosexual women could be re-labelled as wombmen
  • Trans males who have had surgery to acquire female conformation could be called ginamen
  • Trans females who have had surgery to acquire male conformation could be called cockerelles
  • Female Bisexuals could be callen whimen, males could be bisons
  • Unaltered transgender people could be called cocktoos

I would like the word gay to be returned to its original usage, describing happy, merry and frolicsome behaviour. I get that queer and other labels may be unacceptable, so maybe they could be called otherlovers. In line with that, pansexuals could be called anylovers

No hurt is intended but if it is felt, it certainly couldn’t be more than the hurt felt by the the world of women who have been told they no longer can be called females or ladies and must change their nomenclature.

Of course sarcasm doesn’t help other than to perhaps signal discomfort at the disproportionate reactions in social media against those who question the rationale or proposals advanced by identity politicians or proposals that the whole be changed to accomodate tiny minorities.

Having an opinion in this politically correct world.

Title suggested by Michelle Craik Friday 26 March

My mother was very “proper” and her sternest reprimand was “that is not done (in good society)!”  My father was big on chivalry and respect.

Their ethos was maintaining the status quo. They would have been aghast by today’s cancel culture, the bastard child of political correctness.

Social media has weaponised the assault against anyone right of centre. Freedom of speech is drowned by the floods of woke activists; intolerant of differing opinions, they publicly shame and punish dissenters. 

Sadly  politicians have all submitted to the tyranny that political correctness now promotes.

When a faceless mob starts dictating what can be said and what cannot be said, then democracy is at death’s door.

Thus the woke mob has enabled conviction upon mere allegation, the disregard of due process and the immediate destruction of reputations without allowing defence. Debates are reduced to memes and emojis, dissent is dissed.

The fear of being pillored makes us inhibited and afraid to address even the most banal issues directly. We have taken a knee and will be obliged to do so until we get brave enough to challenge the mob.

We have ourselves to blame.  Our society has forgotten that freedom must be cherished and enjoyed responsibly. We have forgotten that freedom extends to everyone and we have become prisoners of populism.

The mob has grown and has immense power and influence. So much so that governments tailor their policies and actions to conform.

And in the naked light, I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sound of silence

Paul Simon, 1964

What is Treason?

I was saddened some time ago when I saw report  about the Saudi Shi’ite woman facing beheading for protesting against government  policies.

Horrified, yes; surprised, no.

Apostasy (forsaking, criticizing or attacking religion) was the original treason and the penalty was a horrible death. It was extended to monarchs, as they were considered to be ordained by God. Parliaments have now been similarly hallowed. In Dante’s Inferno, the ninth and lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors (i.e. those who commit treason).

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed 47 prisoners including … a revered Shiite cleric and government critic  who had been convicted of sedition and other charges.

The Muslim world still practices what we would regard as extreme sanctions against dissent.

In England, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered or burnt at the stake if you were a woman. (Tsk! tsk! Blatant discrimination even then!)

After the execution of Lord Haw Haw in 1946, the penalty was changed to life imprisonment. Even now in Australia, the only permissible penalty for treason is life imprisonment.

It is clear that a priority of those in power is self protection and extreme action is sanctified.

But mass protests are permitted in many countries – such defiant and disrespectful acts as burning the national flag or effigies of politicians, the burning of property and tossing of Molotov cocktails and other violent assaults on police forces are tolerated. Sedition and incitement to violence  are commonplace and tolerated.

Where is the line drawn and how do we see it? As always the choice remains with the government  and that will always be weighed in the scale of political popularity, not the interests of public morality or common decency or established principle.

Public morality and common decency are currently being dictated by social media mobs who lynch any defiance of the fashionable viewpoint. These mobs are currently moving to re-define history and compel obedience to their views.

Even parliaments have been seen to take a knee!

Treason is now any defiance of the twitterati.

I am going to cancel my account – is that treason or just defiance or maybe just a senile snit?

The drowning of rational debate

(This is a shortened version of an article by Chris Kenny which I endorse. I am somewhat guilty of irresponsible utterances and hereby undertake to try to be better)

Twitter digitises and broadcasts the public debate equivalent of a teenage graffiti and vandalism rampage. And yet it shapes debate; our mainstream media and politicians look to the digital world for instant opinion polling and guidance about where to take their narratives and policies …

It is amplifying and weaponising the crudest and most inane elements of society and inviting them to dumb down our public square.

Our battered and impoverished public debate will not improve unless we learn to talk to each other. For a civil society to exist and political debate to be useful, people need to be able to hear ­alternative arguments, avail themselves of all relevant facts, and learn to deal politely with people who do not agree with them.

Far too many people waste their time shouting digital abuse at each other, or regurgitating views they agree with from accounts chosen by the faceless match­makers of the Facebook algorithms, instead of reading, discussing or learning.

The digital revolution was going to democratise the media, personalise democracy and mobilise the truth, but instead it has polarised and emaciated the media, dragged politics into the mire of anonymous bullying, and fostered deceptive memes, fake news and pile-ons.

At its core is a lack of accountability. The enticement of being able to post widely and often about anything — without submitting to editors, curators, lawyers or peers — encourages bravado and aggression, and it fosters an impetuousness that ­values gut feelings over facts, and devalues the time and effort required to get across the facts.

This freedom could liberate debate; but instead of letting a thousand flowers bloom, it shares the scrawls of a thousand dunny doors. People are unthinking enough about what they post without the added shield of anonymity — requiring people to post under their real names, with proof of identity, would not eradicate the problems but it would improve the situation.

The headline or the topic is enough for these people to slur or condemn; often egged on by hysterical opinion leaders such as Kevin Rudd …

…. thanks to social media; more conservatives are forced underground. … social media has weaponised the assault against anyone right of centre.

The woke love the following and adulation of social media …. until they cross a line, make the mistake of speaking sense or asking a salient question, then they experience the rule of the leftist lynch mob.

Public debate becomes coarser, more out of touch from the mainstream, and less tolerant of differing points of view. Soon the stage is vacated by all but the screaming green left, and those who will appease them.

Chris Kenny Weekend Australian 13 March 2021 

Rational debate drowning in the social media swamp

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/rational-debate-killed-in-the-sewer-of-social-media/news-story/bd066d99571f6d35b67d95ae1c494b4a

Rant

Arrant twaddle and waffle.

She had suicidal thoughts but was told it wouldn’t look good for her to seek help .…. oh poor baba, the wannabe princess nor her gallant prince couldn’t arrange it themselves? Mind you they didn’t even teach her the national anthemn – she had to learn it herself! How absoloutely shocking and racist!

Innuendo and subjective hypotheses, allusions that raise the racist spectre: “concerns and conversations about how dark” the baby would be. Somebody probably wisecracked that a black prince would vary the royal family array on the balcony. Horrors ! That’s even worse than the rapist aspersion currently popular in Australia.

It seems to have been all about what people didn’t do for the TV starlet and what she couldn’t get her snappy, sharpwitted prince to do. He has had to jump through a lot of hoops for his woman. I mean, she has had to tolerate critique about her bridesmaids dresses, how incredibly tragic!

Most of it seems to be about who was going to pay for security. They needed security because of all the loony death threats and horrible letters they had been getting. Selflessly, Her Grace said, if not for me or my baby Archie, just for my Prince… ohh what a squeeze to my heart!

No wonder Oprah is so successful, she knows how to milk scandal and innuendo for headlines. She must be gutted that she didn’t get who said “how dark will the baby be?”. That would have have been the cherry on this sad wedding cake.

Mind you she managed to get in racism, Diana, Daddy didn’t want to take my calls and lots of pregnant (oops!) innuendo and a coy revelation of the sex of the next baby to be. She didn’t get much if anything on Duchess M’s Daddy or Mummy or her previous husband or her apparently estranged siblings. They would make interesting follow-ups I am sure! Oh how exciting! This could go on for years, like “Married at First Sight”.

Enough of that Bollywood B-grade soapie!

The silly cow saga in Canberra just defies belief; if it wasn’t so sad, it would be a comedy. There seem to be quite a few lying cows there! And some real dogs….

An eager, bright young thing, full of wine, is persuaded by a smooth talking serial shagger, to take a ride home with him but a they first go to the Minister’s office. Security is easily negotiated (Heads should deservingly roll there), she passes out and access is gained, if you get my drift. She protests and he eventually desists and abandons her. Security discover her in disarray.

She reports later that she has been raped, then dithers and withdraws her allegations, despite advice to tell the cops. The cad appears to have been fired.

No further action ensues until a serial scandal generating journalist (are there any other types any more?), gets wind of the story a couple of years later. She plans a Cardinal Pell like journalstic bombshell, knowing the cancel culture and a desperate opposition party is fertile ground for vivid reponse and sensational headlines to follow.

And do they jump in, boots and all! Then even better, a sad story of a woman with a history of mental illness, who claims she was sodomised by the Attorney General who promised to marry her when he was 17.

Mud sticks in this day and age of focus on salacious ‘love’ stories .

I am saddened that supposedly intelligent people like the Leader of the Opposition and his desperate crew, seize advantage for media prominence by using such flimsy and shoddy stories to attack the credibility and bona fides of the Prime Minister.

As for the former Prime Minister… how desperately nasty can you get?

We live in a sad and sick society: not even a plague or a possible global war with China can shake our fascination with the sludge of life!

life without the fruit of the vine

Story suggested by Christina Forsyth Thompson 6 Mar Sat

This is  a topic very close to my heart at the moment as I have given up alcohol for Lent.

Fortunately, by tradition, I follow the Lent rules applied by my father. As he was a Papal knight he  is unimpeachable as a guide.

The rules are no alcohol on every day of Lent which of course excludes Sundays and other Holy days, such as family birthdays. It being Sunday and my brother’s 80th birthday, I am drinking a beer as I write this, and I shall have another!

Giving up for Lent is not as hard as it sounds as it is a choice and a virtuous one too, so glory can be claimed.

Also, apparently there are a number of benefits attached to not drinking, according to some articles I read after Googling “life without wine”. 

A recent article by an Australian (she must be reliable) on stopping drinking  alcohol contained the following testimonies:

  • the depression and violent outbursts which had haunted me for decades gradually ebbed away
  • Pleased to discover it was easy, I felt a lot better, and I was more productive and positive.
  •  The first thing I noticed a few weeks in is how happy I felt all the time. Just content and relaxed.

and my favourite … I’m a rural Irish single person who hasn’t had a drink for about fifteen years, and I must admit that it’s led to me having a very solitary life, but I’m almost never in trouble, and I used to always be. 

and one with a ring of truth: I used to have a booze-free month every year. I stopped doing it because I had to accept that those months were invariably the most joyless, miserable, depressing, empty months of the year.

All I can say is beware of fake news.

Any student of history will tell you that Prohibition by law is just stoopid; people hate being told what they can’t do, especially if they have been doing it for a long time.

Surely the Prohibition era in the US,  less than 100 years ago,clearly  showed that such a move is very bad for a country. It lost the US federal government a total of $11 billion in tax revenue, while costing over $300 million to enforce. 

The law that was meant to stop people drinking instead turned  many of them into experts on how to make it.

The growth of the illegal liquor trade under Prohibition made criminals of millions and exponentially accelerated organised crime. 

So the folly of an outright ban on the sale of alcohol is monumental.

Maybe they did learn about the effect of prohibition…?

The crass stupidity of politicians who do this in the light of history is obvious. But you can’t tell pollies they are stoopid. They know that, but as we all know there is no cure for stoopidity.

I am sorry, I can’t go on with this and avoid allegations of being indelicate, unprogressive, intolerant and rednecked. They are all true.

But it irks not being able to say what I think … or drink if I want to.

Early thoughts in 2021

Library Blues

Let me get it off my chest so it doesn’t fester.

I went to the library last Monday, to find it was closed from 24 December until 4 January. I couldn’t even return books.

NO READING!!

It seems counter –intuitive for libraries to be closed when most of the populace are on holiday. Surely reading is a primary leisure activity on holidays? Why are libraries not open at night, on weekends and during holidays, times when most people are at leisure?

Methinks I shall direct my inquiry to the local council and the Editor of the local paper.

Family Christmas

I reflect on the joy and warmth that is possible in a family gathering, especially where a very young person is present. Our youngest granddaughter gave rise to frequent grins and warmth by responding with smiles and laughs, twinkling her eyes. Our oldest entertained us with her frequent questions and antics.

Ten of us and 3 dogs survived a week together in a house in the bush, without major disruption and with buckets of laughs and only mild excesses. It was happy time.

Fatalism

Soberingly, I also reflect on the fact that a large number of people continue to mingle apparently uncaring about the transmission of death that they are enabling. It’s all very well choosing to risk one’s own health, but the fact is that most people are not only risking their own health, they expose others in their families and communities as carriers.

Getting people to stop and think about their own societal ripples is not easy – we are too prone to self-indulgence and the looking away from horrors.

Gratitude

I am haunted by the feeling that life is too good, it can’t last, there has to be adjustment for without bad there can’t be good, nor hot without cold, happy without sad….

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Practising gratitude also strengthens one’s humility, protecting us from arrogance.

I am grateful and often try to be humble….

Do white lives matter?

Have you heard of Senekal in the Orange Free State?

A young farm manager in the district was beaten to death and his body was hoisted on a pole in his fields by his murderers, who were stock thieves.

“… he was tortured to death. All his bones were broken. He was cremated. He was not even buried”

Over a thousand local farmers, gathered outside the Magistrates Court where the alleged murderers were to appear after arrest. The intent was to register strong protest, but things got out of hand. A Police official was manhandled, shots were fired and a Police vehicle was toppled and torched. Ho hum …. just another of many similar incidents in the world today..?

One slightly different aspect was that the farmers were all white people and the alleged criminals, Police and other officials were nearly all black people.

Many white farmers have been murdered in South Africa leading to claims that it is a politically targeted genocide. This is a topic kept burning and aggravated by the white right wing.

For years white farmers have said that they are under siege, being killed on their properties – seemingly without much state intervention.

The government’s response has been that crime finds its way into everyone’s home (which is true). And that they are doing what they can to fight it ( but farmers keep getting murdered).

Statistics suggest that the majority of victims of crime are black. Black people are the majority and are disproportionately exposed to some of the factors that fuel crime – inequality, poverty and unemployment [1]. Unemployment is estimated to be over 42% (Bloomberg).

Most large farms in South Africa are owned by white farmers. They often have large homesteads and numerous employees. The homesteads are remote and the trappings of apparent wealth must be tempting to the destitute, desperate and criminal.

South Africa is a tale of two countries and it does not take much for problems to become tribalised. It is a sign of the tensions that are always simmering just beneath the surface.[2]

After all, apartheid was the crucible where identity politics activism gained legitimacy and momentum.

Is this gruesome murder not another George Floyd type moment? A minority group claiming prolonged targeting and victimisation by an oppressive majority.

Will we see the BLM and Antifa activists come out to join the next protest – maybe they will mimic Seattle and take over the city centre of Bloemfontein?

Somehow I doubt it – in the twisted rationale of the Identity politics creed, white is wrong and black is always the victim….

So real outrage notwithstanding, the fact that it is expressed solely by whites undermines the legitimacy of the protest and presents a threat to the delicate balance in race relations and government’s ability to balance conflicting demands.

Alarmingly, these protestors expressing their genuine outrage and fears are likely to be leveraged by those on both extremes of the political spectrum seeking confrontation, which will serve their political interests.

Sadly it is not the virtuous outrage and exercise of democratic protest that will be seen, but the similarities to white lynch mobs of the Deep South US in the last century and the armed anti BLM protestors more recently…

The South African Police have never been known for their skill and subtlety in controlling mass demonstrations as Sharpeville and Marikana amply demonstrate.

We must brace ourselves for tragedy.

If the next protest included black farmers and black employees it would not be discounted as a protest of a previously privileged class bewailing discomforts long suffered by most of the rest of the population.

It is past time that all South Africans realised that they are a community, not parts of a community, each with different views of history.

Instead of looking back in anger, look forward with resolve.

I’ll say it again! All lives matter!


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54441374

[2] Ibid