Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Should Conservatives be Optimistic?

Should Conservatives be Optimistic? 

In the everyday life of a Conservative there is much to be angry, annoyed and even depressed about. It is right to feel angry when Muslim terrorists commit yet another atrocity and our national "leaders"talk about a "religion of peace". It is right to be annoyed when we are told our Traditions must be put be put aside so as not to offend others. It is depressing to hear people support some Liberal idea or talking point when it is obvious they know 9/10th's of nothing on the subject but still need to say something so they'll still be a member of the club. 

Non of these things are right but it's not enough to be angry, annoyed or depressed. It's normal human nature to feel these emotions, I know I do and so should you at times. But it's not enough for it to end there, it's not enough to let the idea that we are always losing take hold. The truth is we haven't begun to fight.

I have always been a Conservative but I left the fight to others and I supported from afar, sometimes thats all you can do. But I always wanted to do more but where should I go? How could I get involved? What could I do? But I encountered a problem, there wasn't any Conservative organisation to join. I could have joined a political party, I thought about it but I realised that just because something is called Conservative doesn't make it so. I could have joined other non-political organisations but they tend to focus on only one issue when in reality these things are all connected. I got no where but frustrated.

One day at work I was so annoyed at everything, so I seriously started looking for some Australian Conservatives on the web and I found Oz Conservative. Here was someone who wasn't a radical or a ratbag, who wasn't a Right Liberal calling themselves (and believing themselves) to be a Conservative. I got in contact with Mr. Mark Richardson and soon we met up, we had different ways of looking at things but we agreed to keep meeting and we have for two years now.

You might ask but what have you achieved? In short not much, we haven't changed the world, not even one policy. But whats different is now I am not passive, I am still a victim of Liberalism , as are you, but I am not simply a victim. I have moved on to trying to organise and think. That brings it's own problems as you see that the old ideas you had aren't as good as you thought but the new ideas haven't always turned up yet, not to worry (although I do) as chances are they'll be here after you've had a chance to really allow them to percolate for awhile. 

 Well that tells you about me, why should you be optimistic? 

For three reasons: 

1) Conservatives are starting to understand the difference between Right Liberalism and Conservatism, that we keep losing because we keep expecting the wrong people to fight for us. 

2) The Internet really allows us a means of communication that cuts out the media, we can speak directly to each other. It doesn't matter where you are you can find out what others think and gain comfort and ideas.

3) Liberalism is failing, society and the economy are both failing and people can see it if they wish to see it. Also Liberalism believes it can just keep pushing and pushing but we are becoming immune to their tactics, we no longer take seriously their insults of bigot or racist. Remember the sign that said " It doesn't matter what this sign says you'll call it racist anyway." We are finally learning.

But it isn't enough to simply complain, or be angry or be annoyed or to be depressed. So many times, too many times, Liberalism has stumbled and Conservatism should have given it a push. But instead there existed no real Conservative organisation or movement to do it. That needs to change.

The future will not always be bright, in fact many of the policies and ideas of Liberalism will hurt us personally. But instead of taking us out of the fight we need to use it to rejuvenate our commitment to fighting Liberalism. Because what happens to me will be visited upon you and vice versa. Thats how Liberalism works and we need to help end that. Not by looking for supermen or some ethnic minority leader to do our job for us but by doing the job ourselves. The fight is not hopeless, Liberalism is weak, it appeals to emotions not logic which means it is full of illogical ideas. Ideas full of holes that we can pull apart. Many people like emotions more than logic, but very few can live in a word without logic. We need to take advantage of that, not just to point out that the Emperor has no clothes but that we, Conservatives, know how to dress him. Something that Liberalism has failed at.

I will leave you with something I saw written down:


The pessimist complains about the wind

The optimist expects the wind to change

The leader adjusts the sails



I was inspired by this article "It won't do" at Oz Conservative and I really liked the first comment by Laura Elizabeth





Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future   


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The Concept of Mercy

The Concept of Mercy

The vast majority of people are capable of feeling compassion for others. To hear of people who's lives have been devastated by natural disasters can make people feel compassionate and even to donate, time, resources or money to help. We also often feel compassion when we hear of tragic accidents, misfortunes and for the victims of crime. Often there is nothing we can do to help or to alleviate their suffering. We are in many cases unable to restore their lost property, their sense of security nor can we restore people to life.

When we hear of these tragic events we often think how can the world be so cruel. If I had the power I wouldn't allow these things to happen. The truth is non of us will ever have the power to stop suffering so we can never know. But wait there is a way for us to stop suffering, we can show mercy. Mercy is a way for us to be not passive, but active in making the world a better place.

Unfortunately it is not possible for us to stop natural disasters or to prevent all accidents, misfortunes or crimes. It is only possible to show mercy when you have the power to change the outcome. So a criminal may show mercy to his victim, but a natural event cannot. Once a criminal has been arrested or imprisoned we have the power to show mercy. Mercy is a very important concept in Christian thought and it has been one way of showing God's mercy to all of us by giving mercy to one of us. So throughout history Rulers and Judges have used this concept of mercy to show that they are also Christian, that they live in Gods mercy and that now they are showing a small measure of that mercy by commuting the sentence or pardoning a convicted prisoner.

This concept was a major argument in the abolition of corporal and capital punishment. That while we had the power to punish severely it was merciful not too. It also demonstrated our power by showing that we were more evolved than others, particularly those of the past, and it showed that very Christian concept of redemption. That even though a person has committed a crime that ordinary people would think only a beast could commit, they are capable of being saved. Not by God but by us. The more merciful we are the less we need God as we are proving how much better we are.

The concept of mercy presupposes that mercy is to be given by the stronger to the weaker. Most people would agree that a prisoner is much weaker than his jailer. Who is himself employed by the Government. It is the Government that decides on mercy and it can either give it or withhold it from the prisoner. But this is a misunderstanding of the concept of mercy, because it is not just something that concerns the Government and the prisoner only. It concerns all those involved, no matter how distant from the prisoners crimes. Is it truly merciful to not punish a prisoner?

Is it merciful to his victim? Or to the victims family or friends? Is it merciful to future victims? And what of society, is it merciful for them?

If the concept of mercy does not extent to those affected by crime then can it really be termed mercy?

The courts have tried to accommodate the idea with victim impact statements and the like. But the truth is that for most people the mercy they want from the courts is for the court to hand out an appropriate punishment, something that is often lacking as the community standards of Judges and the community standards of the community are so often at odds.



Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Shopping and some Ramblings

Christmas Shopping and some Ramblings

I want to point out some observations I've had this year while Christmas shopping. Wednesday I caught the bus to Epping Plaza, a large mall in a nearby suburb. I wanted to do some Christmas shopping and get 1000 copies of my post printed:


Which I put into letter boxes when I go walking. In the past I've done it in batches of 100 and I did that 10 times, so I decided to pay $160 and get them all done at once. It took me about 5 months to hand out all of the last 1000. 

After organising for that to be done, I went and had lunch at Hungry Jacks, in America it's called Burger King. But when Burger King came to Australia there was already a small chain, I think 3 stores, with that name. The owner wasn't interested in selling the name so they were forced to get a new name, for some reason I do not know they chose Hungary Jacks. In time the Australian Burger King went out of business and they decided to get the name and rebrand their stores. But Australians accepted Hungry Jacks as an Australian company and it lead to a drop in sales as Burger King "took over". So now at Australian airports you will find Burger Kings, but everywhere else in Australia they are Hungry Jacks, even though they are owned and operated by the same company. I know what your thinking, what did I have for lunch? I had a tropical burger, I should have got a bacon burger.

At Epping Plaza at each door was a giant Father Christmas, about 7 feet tall. Father Christmas is the Australian name for Santa Claus, although we use both names interchangeably. The hall ways had Christmas decorations but not many shops. I took note of one store in particular not having any Christmas decorations as a few years ago I complained to the store Manager because they did have Christmas decorations.....in October!

I found where Father Christmas was having his photos taken with the children, right next to the toy store those clever marketers. But I was noticing a distinct lack of any religious theme in the decorations, with the exception of stars. But right behind Father Christmas was a Nativity scene. I had given up any hope so I was pleasantly surprised. 

Another interesting thing that happened was while the service was good and people were polite no one in any store I went to wished me a Merry Christmas. But every time I was served I wished them a Merry Christmas. What was interesting was that everyone of them reacted in the same way, they smiled and said "you too". Not a store smile but a real smile, the women in the Post Office looked like she was suffering depression until I wished her a Merry Christmas when her face lit up. To be fair I think the Post Office of a large shopping centre at Christmas would be hard work. 

I've noticed in everyday life a lack of pleasantry, please and thank you are things of the past. Thats not to say kindness or consideration are. I've seen both this year between strangers in the street and on public transport. Men still open doors for women, on crowded trains when a seat becomes available they will often give a women the option of a seat first. Women are also considerate, although I have never seen a man sit down and have a pregnant women stand in front of him and he tries to pretend she's not there, which I saw a women do. Some women are quite polite, others seem to have never learnt manners. I'm not sure whether to blame the parent or the child. In my recent experience men are still polite, not all men but still most.

One final notice, Wednesday was very hot and I had to walk quite a way in the sun with my box of 1000 printed copies. I sure hope they are worth it as that was damn hardwork.


Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future  

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Free Trade Versus Protectionism

Free Trade Versus Protectionism

I must confess that when I hear a Free Trade argument I tend to agree, but when I hear a Protectionist argument I also tend to agree. Which means that either

1) I'm a jellybrain

or

2) the arguments are presented as ideals.

Unfortunately for me the two are not mutually exclusive. But for my sake I'm going to go with 2) which means that we now need to have a look at both arguments.

Free Trade
The Free Trade argument goes like this, Protectionism protects bad industries, industries that are unprofitable unless given an unfair advantage such as tariff protection. This advantage hurts productive industries as well as everyday consumers and everyone is a consumer. The cost of goods are more expensive which hurts every productive business and every consumer, in short it costs more to live. It would be better if these artificial barriers were removed and everyone operated on a level playing field.

Protectionism
The Protectionist argument goes like this, every Country has an economy and every economy competes with other economies, therefor your Countries economy needs to be given every advantage you can give it. To protect industries, jobs and living standards, trade barriers need to be enforced so that cheap foreign goods cannot destroy the advantageous that have been built up over time.

Near where I live was once the clothing manufacturing capital of Australia. It produced most of the clothing and footwear worn in Australia, it also exported . But in the 1980's the Labor Government reduced tariffs and within 5 years nearly the entire industry was dead. You could argue that Free Trade was right as it proved that the industry was unprofitable without protection. You could argue that Protectionism was right as a viable industry was destroyed by taking Australian jobs and giving them to people in other countries. We gave away our advantage. The argument would be moot if those made unemployed by the factories closing down were employed and those who would now work in those factories had jobs, but sadly that is not the case. The area were these factories closed have high rates of unemployment no matter how the rest of the economy is going.

Earlier this year Ford announced it was ending the production of cars in Australia in a few years time. This week General Motors announced the same and it's expected that Toyota will do the same soon. All three companies have been given very generous subsidies by the Government, no matter which party was in office. Now the Government with a large budget debt has decided to say no and the car companies are leaving. The Free Traders will argue that it costs us alot more money to buy a car than the sticker price on the windowscreen, in fact even if you don't buy a car manufactured in Australia you still get to pay for one, in what way is that fair? Protectionist will counter with the argument that when production ceases all cars will be imported, Australia will get no benefit as all of the skills, jobs and money either come from overseas or are going overseas. There is also no guarantee that prices will go down, only a promise.

In both cases I think the withdrawal of the protection has been too quick. With time many of these companies may have been able to compete, but having the rug pulled from under them left them with too big an obstacle to overcome. A further worry is that foreign owned multi-nations have no incentive to keep facilities in countries that do not offer some kind of incentive. Low wages or Government subsidies. To be sure subsidies are welfare for big business, something I don't like at all as it hurts smaller companies. But the truth is that the idea of a level playing field is a lie, we are not talking about Australian companies competing against Canadian companies or Australian workers and conditions competing with Canadian workers and conditions. Two countries with similar living conditions. We are talking about Australia competing with Thailand and Samoa, amongst others. Many countries have lower levels of living, lower conditions and lower wages. Many countries have subsidies. That is not a level playing field. The policies of Free Trade have in all First World countries brought on permanent mass unemployment. Until the Free Traders find a way to end mass unemployment they have failed.

That doesn't mean that the Protectionist have won. Both have advantages, but from what I have observed, personally and historically is that neither work for long. Both are too rigid in their approach. The Protectionist economy did allow companies to exist that were terrible at what they did, they didn't innovate, they didn't try to be more efficient, they were complacent and the Government encouraged that attitude.  

Maybe it is time to abandon both positions and be more flexible. The "Austrian" economists argued that Communism and all command economies would fail because the economy is too complex to understand well enough to control. I think they are right on this point, but it is possible to encourage and nudge the economy. Just as most countries have floated their currency, why don't we float tariffs? No one would notice a tariff of 1 or 2 percent, but they would if it was 5 or 10 percent. The argument is that tariffs hurt consumers, why not give the money made from the tariff to the consumer in their tax return? The aim of the tariff would be to protect Australian jobs. Companies should also have a floating tax rate, there would be a minimum rate of tax, say 20 percent and then a floating amount up to a maximum of say 40 percent. The amounts can change it is the idea that is important here. The floating amount would reward companies for 3 things, long term employment, new employees and low unemployment. While it might not be possible for many companies to get down to 20 percent, it sure would give an incentive.

I hope I get some comments on this one, good or bad. I know there are both Free Trade supporters and Protectionists who look in here so please if you have something to say please do so.


Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Ninth Month

The Ninth Month

Here we are nearly at Christmas and another month to report on. I won't promise anything but I plan to try doing two posts a week instead of the current one. For the last few months I've been steady doing a post every 5 days with a few exceptions, now I'll try to post every 3 days. This month for the first time I included links to posts on other sites, I've been encouraged to continue this. At the same day and time I linked to these other sites, Mark Richardson of OzConservative linked to me, we were only 15 minutes apart with no prior conversation on what we were thinking. Which reminds me that this Monday I went along to an Eltham Traditionalist meeting in which coincidences were big. One new member said a friend who had known Mark Richardson in the past was talking about him and the next day Mark Richardson dropped a leaflet into the new members letterbox. It turned out they lived only streets away!

My best day this month was the 20th November when I had 103 visitors. That was after Mark Richardson linked to my article, The Bi-Polar Party - The Liberal Party of Australia. Which today entered the Top Ten posts on my site.

 http://uponhopeblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/the-bi-polar-party-liberal-party-of.html

My worst day was 4 days later on the 24th of November when I had 19 visitors. Unfortunately for me I was quite sick and unable to post anything during this period. The next day I had 58 visitors, sometimes it's just strange how the numbers go up and down. On a normal day I get somewhere in the 40's.

As always each month is from the 11th of one month to the 11th of the next month.

November - December
EntryPageviews
United States
652
Australia
188
China
91
United Kingdom
67
Canada
40
Russia
32
Germany
27
France
23
Romania
20
Japan
12



October - November
EntryPageviews
United States
577
Australia
154
China
67
United Kingdom
65
Indonesia
34
France
29
Romania
29
Ukraine
27
Japan
25
Canada
24

The United States is a powerhouse, it keeps getting bigger each month without fail.

Australia is also up from last month, although it was higher last week.

China is in third place and it's overall numbers are 1/3rd higher than last month.

Russia and Germany have jumped up into the top 10 again which is good to see.

The United Kingdom and France are basically the same as last month.

Romania has fallen and Canada and Japan have halved.

Indonesia and the Ukraine have left the top 10 but are still active.

Other countries I remember having stopped by are Poland, Azerbaijan, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Libya and New Zealand.

To all my readers have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Yours Sincerely
Mark Moncrieff


Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future


Friday, 6 December 2013

Living on Debt - AKA - Stealing from the Future

Living on Debt - AKA - Stealing from the Future

The World economy is living on borrowed time as it is built on a mountain of debt and no country will get to escape. Debt is an insidious thing, because it promises so much and delivers so little, let me explain by asking you a question. Is it better to owe $1000 or to have $1000? Most people would say it would be better to have $1000 and I would agree. But many people borrow money, many of those people have good reasons to borrow. Some don't and in a healthy banking system they would be denied credit, the ability to borrow money.

But thats not the world economy today, today nearly everyone who has access to credit can get credit. Do you have a credit card? Everyone who does has a direct line of borrowed money, no questions asked in most cases. You can get into debt without even trying and have alot of fun doing it and the banking system and the Government will support and help you into debt at every stage. Do you have an education? Did you have to borrow money for that? If you did you'll be paying that off longer than the education lasted, whether it helped you or not. In the United States you cannot get rid of a student loan even if you declare bankrupt, you can escape all other creditors but not that one. It makes you wonder.

But before I continue let me say that borrowing money can be necessary and indeed a good thing. It all depends on why the money is borrowed, a house can be a good reason or to buy a business. But most borrowing should for something that in the end will improve your economic situation, if it does not do that then it's probably not right to borrow the money.

Until now I have talked about personal debt and that is important, but the really scary debt is Government debt because it affects us all even though non of us have borrowed the money. Our Governments, and nearly every Government is in debt, borrows money for good and bad reasons. Firstly the good, the Government doesn't get it's revenue as regularly as it needs to spend money so to cover the lag it borrows money. That is a legitimate way of financing the Governments shortfall until the revenue arrives. Secondly the bad, much, maybe most of the money borrowed is in reality a bribe. A bribe to keep the population ignorant of how little the Government can in reality do.

Most Governments cannot provide for Defence, Welfare, Health, Education and the 101 other activities that Governments must provide for to the degree that most people want, so it borrows money and pretends that it can afford this lifestyle. The Government uses this debt to bribe the people, sometimes you receive it indirectly when the Government supports something you think more money should be spent on, health or education for example. The money doesn't arrive in your pocket but they have bribed you non the less by giving you what you want. Sometimes it a much more direct bribe, Welfare for the poor, subsidies for the middle class and economic subsidies for the wealthy. The Government gives you money directly, paying for working mothers to stay home with their new born baby, paying for education costs, something that people should be doing themselves.

It isn't a bribe just because the Government spends money, it's not a bribe just because you support it, it's not a bribe because you obtain a direct payment. It becomes a bribe when the Government borrows the money because it doesn't have it and pays for things you desire. Not things you need but things you desire. It may be that what you and the Government want to spend money on is a good thing but unless it provides an economic benefit in the future it's a bribe. If it provides an economic benefit right now, it's a bribe.

It's not my debt and it's not your personal debt so why should either of us be worried about Government debt?

Because the only people who can pay our Governments debt is us, the taxpayer. The Government does have other ways of making money, but the best way is through tax, either direct tax such as income tax or indirect tax such as sales or company tax. All of these things force up the price of living meaning they will have a direct affect on everyone who isn't very wealthy. If you happen to be poor and you rely on Welfare to survive, how well will you do when it's is cut or when they start missing payments?

Debt needs to be paid but instead we have an economic system built on more and more debt. How do you get out of debt when you continue to borrow money? The short answer is you don't. Unless our Governments start to rein in debt we will all suffer the consequences, whether you live in a nation that borrows money or a nation that lends money. The worst part about debt is that the money is borrowed from our children and grandchildren. It is they who will get to pay the price for this excessive lifestyle, both personal and public and just to rub salt into the wound they will get very little benefit from it.



Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future