First published 11 June 1997
completely revised 18 November 2000

The REALITY PAPERS

By Dick CLIFFORD

These papers are designed to consider the true facts and problems facing the world today, overpopulation, pollution, limits to resources such as oil and water. Our media, which concentrates on sport and sensationalism, glosses over most of the important issues and is careful not to print anything which might offend their advertisers.

You might not like what is printed here, particularly the remedies suggested, but at least it will make you think about where the planet is heading.

The remedies imply that global action is required, this is not so difficult as you may suppose. There is already on the Internet many organisations fighting for World Democracy, Financial Reform, Reform of the UN, of the World Bank and the WTO etc. We should be recommending to everybody that they should learn how to use the Internet, explore the alternative press, and join in the actions such as those at Seatle and Melbourne so maligned by the press.

Included in these papers are the following short pieces:

The OIL AGE

The world has used nearly half its oil, what's left will increase in price, increased transport costs will undermine globalisation, more local production will be required as well as development of alternative energy.

Submission to Defence Review 2000

This paper considers world wide problems, Overpopulation, Oil supply, Poverty, Resources and the Environment. All of which is likely to lead to Insurrection and disease. Nations will have to spend more money on relief services and on the military needed to protect medical teams and our politicians will have to talk less about reducing taxation. [The Report of the Community Consultation Team gave no conideration to relief services, possibly they thought it outside their terms of reference.]

BRUSHING up on EVOLUTION

Religious acquaintances often have ideas on life and evolution which totally lack reality but can be quite confusing. This item may revise your knowledge and help you reverse the confusion.

POVERTY REDUCTION

The Worlds leaders at the Millennium Summit agreed to reduce world poverty by 50% in 15 years. We will need to keep them up to the mark and bring pressure on our bankers and financiers to provide suitable reforms.

Other papers by the author include:"200 Years from Poverty to Decency". (March 1998) and in June 1999 "The Global Sustainable Development Resolution".

Retained on this page is my Submission against the MAI. You will recall that this proposal was thoroughly defeated thanks to the work put in on the Internet by non-government organisations - However be warned the global company virtualy still has all those powers we objected to and it may be some years before these powers are reduced by the scarcity of oil.

Humanist Society of South Australia  (Main index to this Web)

Links to other Humanist Societies in Australia


BRUSHING UP ON EVOLUTION

In recent years I have collected books on evolution including Darwin's "The Origin of Species (from Prometheus Books) as well as books by Richard Dawkins, Matt Ridley, Richard Leakey, Paul Davies, Alan Walker and Stephen J Gould. So I have a fair knowledge of the subject. When a 12-year student wrote in to the S.A. Humanist Society asking for the Humanist viewpoint on the topic “creation/evolution science”.  I wrote the following reply, which I hope, might be useful to all readers.

            The topic “creation/evolution science” in my view is about two different things; creation science is really about a religious view of the world, which is not really scientific. Of course they will say otherwise and quote all the scientists, which they claim speak on their side (but these are usually scientists in another field of study).  They also attack evolution scientists on the grounds that evolution "is only a theory" ignoring the facts on which it is based.  The topic has been and still is an argument of religion against science but I will try to put the scientific arguments for evolution and it is up to you to find out about the religious viewpoint, but don't only look at Creationists, there are many religious people including some bishops who accept the scientific view and want to revise bible teaching or interpretation.

           Firstly, consider the animal kingdom, if you compare animals what should strike you is their similarities. If you take all the skeletons of mammals from man down to the smallest mammal you can find, and line them up in order of size (as was once done in Hornimans Museum in SE London) and you examine any two adjacent skeletons then only an expert will be able to tell the difference. More recent research shows that all of life right down to microbes is based on DNA. The more alike organism are the more they share common sequences of DNA. For example chimpanzees and humans have 98% of their DNA in common.. - Respectable religious people wont object to this - If God found a good life plan why shouldn't he stick to it?

            Next consider the evidence of the rocks, geologists tell us that tectonic plates build up mountains which are weathered by rain and winds to form layers that got compressed to form rock. Various methods have been used to date the layers and a very solid agreement has been reached about these ages right back to the beginning of the world some 3600 million years ago. Most animals that die become unidentifiable in a few years but in rare circumstances a fossil is formed. Examination of fossils shows that the simpler forms are found at the lowest levels and this is graded up to the most advanced animals at the highest or most recent levels.  This is just what you would expect from Darwin’s theory but Darwin did not know this at the time, he based his theory on the changes that took place to species when they became isolated by geographic causes. (amongst many other reasons.) Some years ago a scientist who had made researches into a particular kind of shell addressed the Humanist Society of S.A. He found that the simplest kind of shell occurred at the lowest level and at more recent levels the shells became progressively more complex and convoluted. He was certain that this was proof of evolution.

Reasonable religious people accept the dating, pointing out that a day in the life of God would be like a million years to us. Those who insist on biblical truth try to compress history into 5000 years and have man coexistent with the dinosaurs. In fact the dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago whereas the hominids have only occupied the last 4 million years or less.

            I shall close with a reference to Man, it used to be said that there was a "missing link" between man and ape but today there are many known hominids. The following is condensed from  http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part2a.html                                                            

            Australopithecus ramidus (4.4 Myrs) A very early hominid (or early chimp?) not well known, teeth both apelike and human like.

            Australopithecus afarensis (3.9 Myrs) some excellent fossils ("Lucy" etc) fully bipedal, definitely a hominid but a very apelike hominid. Brain 375-500cc apelike teeth.

            Australopithecus africanus (3.0 Myrs) A more slender lineage. Up to five feet tall with slightly larger brain up to 550 cc and smaller teeth. These hominids are almost perfect ape-human intermediates, and it is now pretty clear that the slender austral-opithecines led to the first Homo species.

            Homo habilis (2.5 Myrs) Straddles the boundary between australopithecines and humans, about five feet tall, face still primitive, smaller molars Brain 500-800 cc. First clumsy stone tools.

            Homo erectus (1.8 Myrs) includes "Java Man", "Peking Man", "Heidelberg Man" looking more human. Brain 775-1225 cc but still has thick brow ridges and no chin, spread out of Africa to Europe and Asia. Made good tools,  first user of fire.

            Archaic Homo sapiens (500,000 yrs ago) first primitive humans perfectly inter-mediate between H Erectus and modern humans, brain 1200cc and over the next 300,000 years teeth got smaller, skeleton less muscular.

            The Neandertals developed in Europe 125,000 years ago, same species, different subspecies with a larger brain 1450 cc. Known to have buried their dead.

            H sapiens sapiens (inc "Cro-magnons", 40,000 years ago) All modern humans. Average brain size 1350 cc. In Europe, gradually supplanted the Neanderthals.

 I don't know what religious people think about the evidence of these skeletons; they do seem to justify the Darwin theory. One would have to ask them, was their God using the method of "survival of the fittest" in His creation, or (particularly in the sad case of the Neandertals) - just experimenting ?

 I also sent a copy of Evolution is a Fact and a Theory as well as the usual humanist literature. The reader could try “Evoluton Links” - but be warned the amount of material is huge and it wont be easy to sort out the essentials.

The student sent a thank-you letter – it was just what was wanted.

 In conclusion a recent Robyn Williams programme, “Ockham’s Razor” on the 18th June celebrated the life of William Hamilton, the New Zealand scientist who in 1964 pointed out that individuals do not consistently do things for the good of themselves, they consistently do things that benefit their genes – not their personal genes but the genes of their group and it is this which makes altruism possible and allows animals to co-operate.  Evolution is not just a system of kill or be killed.

 Dick Clifford

As published in the Australian Humanist Spring 2000    

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POVERTY  REDUCTION

“The greatest of our evils, and the worst of our crimes is poverty… our first duty, to which every other consideration should be sacrificed, is not to be poor.”

George Bernard Shaw

World Poverty is increasing, there is a greater amount of poverty even within the richest countries than there was a few decades ago. United Nations statistics show that there are one billion people living on less than a dollar a day. In 1997 unemployment in Indonesia, Korea and Thailand rose from 5 million to 18 million at the end of 1998. In Indonesia 17 million more fell below the $1 a day poverty line.

            In Africa, South and Central America, Russia, the Middle East, India and in all places subject to insurrection, poverty is obvious. In all Western developed countries there is no city without unemployment, homelessness and an increasing number of its citizens held in a prison.

            People in developed countries too often have an inadequate knowledge of these facts. They point out the technical advances that allow them to enjoy a good lifestyle. Their media, which concentrates on sport and scandal, rarely discuses in sufficient depth problems such as why there are unemployed when they are being asked to work longer hours and be more efficient, nor do they consider in any meaningful way if this lifestyle is sustainable and not causing fatal pollution to all.

            World leaders taking part in the Millennium Summit last September endorsed the targets set by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the year 2015 to halve the 22% of the worlds population living on less than $1 a day, halt and reverse the spread of AIDS, strengthen respect for human rights. They pledged a renewed drive for peace, security and disarmament. Security Council reform was a major theme at the summit but no breakthrough was achieved.

            Observers have noticed that the endorsement is not legally binding and what is required is an agreed understanding of how the worlds financial system can be reformed to ensure a reasonable distribution of wealth.  Many people believe the poor will always be with us, that reform is futile.

From Laissez faire and back again

Let’s consider the lesson of history. 200 years ago, (1800), Britain was leading the industrial revolution. Adults worked 12 to 14 hours a day, children started work as young as 5 years old. Wages were bare minimum, quite inadequate to buy good housing so there was much overcrowding and insanitary conditions. Thus even those in employment were poverty stricken. This brought disease including tuberculosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever and smallpox. Employers said nothing could be done, they could not afford change, that the economic system called “Laissez faire” was a natural system not to be interfered with. It must be said that this picture is not very different to some third world countries today.

             Fortunately many reformers saw the need for new laws to control the Laissez faire system, first they had to reform parliament, then the world problem of Slavery. Then came campaigns for the 8-hour day and the 40-hour week, for education, factory conditions  and so on. The reformers had a long and hard road to travel, many times they would have thought their campaigns were hopeless, but they stuck to their principles and fought on. Slowly conditions improved, some of the improvement was due to the application of science and technology but the reform laws were needed to spread the wealth.

            The first 50 years of the 20th century was not a good time for reformers. There were 2 world wars and a world depression, but arising from the depression came John Maynard Keynes the great economist who advocated governments run a deficit so as to employ people and for 20 – 30 years after WW2 this policy worked. Governments also introduced the Welfare State and unemployment in most countries during this period came down to under 2% demonstrating what can be achieved by the application of controls and laws.

            However in the 70s inflation became serious, enabling right wing forces to take over. Freidmanites replaced the Keynesian economists. “Downsizing” in both government and private industry became the rule. Deregulation of the banks and reduced controls on overseas transactions enabled Mr Soros and the banks to gamble with exchange rates using ten times the money required for trade. Inflation was contained but currencies could not be defended against attack. Mr Soros attacked the Bank of England, in 1998 the Asian currencies were attacked, this year the Australian dollar, no currency is safe. It all leads to poverty and it is a matter of concern that in the last 30 years the national debt of all countries has grown enormously – the USA has debt in the trillions of dollars.

            This short history shows that we are back to the system of Laissez faire and the power of “the market” has forced our government (or was it willing?) in every Act it has passed, to benefit the rich and impoverish the poor.  New methods are needed to correct this reversion. We need global financial controls and a system of credit which can be repaid.  It is not up to me to say what controls and systems should be adopted. (but I will give a couple of suggestions) If I were to make definite proposals the banks and financiers would scorn them. They would scorn any proposal so we should attack the banks and financiers pointing out that the present system has done nothing to improve the lot of the poor, there is an enormous amount of poverty in the world at large, what reforms or remedies do they propose?

            When attacking the banks it should be born in mind that the present global system, which has not reduced poverty and allows the global company to set up its factory where labour is cheapest, is doomed to collapse. Not only would it force down the price of labour, world wide, to the point that none of us could buy the product, but also the rising price of oil will increase the cost of transport to the extent that it will become cheaper and essential to have local production.

 Two Suggestions

(1)  Adopt a Tobin Tax.  This is a tax of a fraction of 1% on all overseas transactions designed to benefit the U.N. In 1999 the Canadian government passed a resolution approving the adoption of the Tobin tax globally. It only requires the Australian government and a few large countries to adopt a similar resolution for others to see the advantages and the whole world will fall into line.

(2)  Authorise all governments to print 40% (say) of their own currency and regulating the banks so they can create only 60%. Governments to spend their 40% on infrastructure, schools, water and sewers, etc. but not more than 20% of the money created could pay off existing loans (At present only a small percentage of a bank loan is covered by deposits or bank assets, over 90% is created by a computer key. A loan increases the cost of your home by 2 to 3 times, why should your government be forced to charge you 2 to 3 times the cost of your schools etc?)

            Remember these are suggestions only, you may have much better ideas. You can use suggestion (2) as a threat to the banks – “either you come up with some practicable reforms or we will inflict this on you!”

            For this attack on poverty to become a reality it will be necessary to get the cooperation of many people and groups, as was done by the reform pioneers who came from many groups including churches, rationalist, ethical and political societies. The fact that a global campaign is required makes final agreement more difficult, but we do have that global tool, the Internet, which already has many organizations fighting against poverty and debt. They have helped to conduct campaigns in Seattle and Melbourne demonstrating public revulsion at the IMF, WTO and the World Bank, whose policies are so very different from the original intention.

 In conclusion, poverty breeds disease, insurrection, crime and suicide but the way to reduce poverty is not to give a hand out which only lasts a short while, but to organise credit to build or renew the infrastructure that society needs, without crippling society with a mountain of debt. Its been done years ago without inflation*.

Dick Clifford.

*The Guernsey Experiment  Olive and Jan Grubiak

Omni Publications, PO Box 900566 Palmdale, California 93590

 

This document may be reproduced by any
means
in its entirety, with attribution.  

   Oct. 2000

First Published in the Australian Humanist Nov. 2000

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August 2000

Submission to Defence Review 2000

While the Discussion Paper mentions “What is happening Globally” it seems to me that global changes are given little importance. I therefore submit the following.

Over Population:  The world population reached a total last year of 6000 million people and it is predicted that the 7000 million point will be reached in 14 or 15 years. The last few decades have shown an increase in wars within countries particularly those that are poverty-stricken. Ethnic conflicts and the refugee problems have worsened.

           The extra 1000 million in 14 years will increase wars and refugee problems and will require Australia to have larger defence forces and spend more on relief.

Oil Supply:  C.J.Campbell (1) and others say the world has used half of its oil supply, that there could be a plateau of supply for the next 9 years after which the supply will go down, in spite of increasing demand, and the price will go up.  Our defence forces use large quantities of oil and while the supply may last 40 or 50 years, most of it is situated in Middle East countries and this alone may lead to war. The price of oil has already risen and must be expected to rise further, up to the price of alternative fuels

         The design of new ships, aircraft and tanks must take into account the need to use alternative energy.  Since industry is still able to make profits on oil they will be in no hurry to develop alternative systems.  The government should therefore institute a full research and development programme into alternative energy systems realising that such systems are required not only by our defence forces but also by the commercial sections particularly by agriculture and tourism.

Poverty:  U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a report outlining the challenges facing the world, which are to be discussed by world leaders next September.  He points out that not everyone is profiting from the globalisation of the world economy, over a billion people survive on less than a dollar a day and half of all humanity lacks basic sanitary conditions.  This poverty has been increasing since the banking system was deregulated worldwide.  Loan Authorities place conditions on third world countries that mean less expenditure on education and health. Even in Australia there have been cuts in education and health due to reduced revenue.  Poverty leads to insurrection, disease, and the violation of human rights.

  The discussion paper makes it clear that our first line of defence is our foreign policy. While our foreign policy has on the whole been good it could be improved. We should be much stronger than we are in our support of the United Nations and the Non-Government Organisations. We should be giving greater encouragement to other nations to take a responsible attitude, pay the dues, demand reforms of the World Bank and the WTO and insist that expenditure on education be increased everywhere.

  Resources and the Environment:  Due to overpopulation and greed the world’s resources are being used at a non-sustainable rate.  Water is becoming scarce, the water table is becoming dangerously low in India, Israel will purchase water from Turkey but Turkey’s new dam will reduce supply to the Tigris and Euphrates.  The Murray will become undrinkable due to excessive irrigation upstream. Land is being cleared of valuable trees but does not have the nutrients to support crops.  Our topsoil is being blown away and while the government has spent money on these problems, obtained by selling part of Telstra, much more money will be required on a regular basis.

              The loss of resources and the pollution of the environment which all follow from overpopulation will cause increasing insurrection. There will be an increasing demand for relief services but governments should be careful not to send in medical teams and other relief services without strong military protection.  In short the world is in for a bad time and we will need strong forces.  The Government must also increase provision for relief services and be prepared to use it especially in our area.  It is essential to do this in order to reduce any arms race caused by our increase in defence spending.  Politicians will have to stop offering reduced taxes.  Our country is fortunate in having good cultural, sporting, educational, travel and health services infrastructure etc. – but we must expect to pay for the maintenance of these facilities

  Debt and Money:  There are over 30 countries who’s debt expressed as a percentage of GNP is over 100%. (i.e. It is not possible to repay the debt, though they may have paid the original loan several times over)  Australia’s debt is over $20,000 per person. USA’s debt runs into trillions.  True the government has reduced its debt but the debt owed o/seas by companies is just as dangerous. If a few went bankrupt everybody would feel it.  Debt is the Achilles heel of the financial system. At present we are in a “growth” situation but when oil production starts to fall this will reduce the worlds wealth and we could suffer a financial crash worse than the 1930s causing real poverty in first world countries

  The Government should institute an inquiry with Bankers and Financiers to ascertain what reforms can be made to the Banking system in order to reduce debt, poverty, and provide government with money at low cost.

  It is important to consider the question of maintaining our environment and persuading the rest of the world to do likewise because if we fail to maintain the environment there will be little point in defending it.  If the bankers and financiers wont or cant suggest reforms then the government should re-regulate the Banks by requiring them to limit their loans to say 60% of last years, the government would then issue money up to a value of 40% and would spend it on essential capital works and development. (The percentages would be varied according to circumstances) This would ensure there would be no inflation and the taxpayer would not pay interest on government money.

  SUMMARY

We need to spend a higher portion of GDP on the armed forces and on relief services in order to cope with our share of the worsening world poverty situation, but we do not want to reduce spending on education, health and social services, therefore we must expect to pay higher taxation and this should be a graduated tax.

In addition, we should give more support to all United Nations policies designed to reduce poverty, create a sustainable environment, advance education including family planning, all on a world wide basis.  Finally our finance and banking systems need a thorough examination from the perspective of introducing reforms to reduce debt and ensure a fairer distribution of wealth.

R. M. Clifford
120 Goodman Rd.
Elizabeth South
South Australia, 5112

(1)   C. J. Campbell’s presentation to the House of Commons All-Party Committee

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25th April 1998

The Secretary, Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

Submission to the 1998 Inquiry into the MAI Parliament House, Canberra.

Dear Sir,

This submission is mainly concerned with part (d) of the terms of reference but has implications on the whole intent of the MAI

During the last 3 decades Australia and most other countries has been deregulating their economies. This has been of great advantage to the company both small and large. They can now move off shore to where ever labor is cheaper, they can register in far off places with negligible taxes and guaranteed secrecy as advertised on the Internet. States in Australia offer competing inducements. Union power has been reduced and individual contracts may look o.k. today but may not be so good tomorrow. The companies aim is to produce a good product at the cheapest possible price, to this end they automate processes, downsize, and sometimes sack their Chief Executive Officer but mostly they pay them obscene wages and find ways of paying far less taxes than any responsible body should.

The alleged advantages of this deregulation have not materialised, on the contrary, unemployment has increased world wide, debt has increased per head, governments have been forced to sell of assets to balance their budgets but this can only give temporary relief, thereafter there is no further income from the asset, revenue from taxation goes down, more interest is paid overseas, and the government is forced to cut expenditure which increases unemployment and these effects bring us all closer to poverty.

If we sign the MAI agreement this will lock us into a deregulated economy with all its consequences for 20 years. This means that future governments have less power to make corrections and therefore our democratic system is brought into disrepute which will worsen as the rollback provisions become effective. Whereas it should be clear that corrections are needed to re-regulate the economy.

Such re-regulation should be designed to improve government services and to spend more money on our deteriorating infrastructure and environment on a continuing basis which a sale of assets cannot adequately finance. It is essential for government to take a larger share of responsibility and for companies to give fair financial support to the community.

The government should raise money from the Reserve bank at 1% interest for major works (as was done to build the Transcontinental Railway years ago). At present the government is featherbedding the private banks, there being negligible risk in a government loan. There should also be a "Tobin Tax" of about 1% on all international transfers of money.

I therefore suggest that the Committee should recommend to government that the MAI should be actively opposed and that Australia should lobby all governments to introduce a "Tobin Tax" half of which should go to the United nations. This would go a long way to reduce third world poverty.

I am also enclosing a copy of my pamphlet "200 Years from Poverty to Decency" but must point out that this was published last March, has been widely distributed and also published on the Internet. I trust this does not represent a contempt of Parliament but it does deal in more detail with some of the points raised above and with the serious problems we will face in the future.

Finally I would like to point out to all politicians that there are more and more people who are dissatisfied with the present economic system. They find the present unemployment levels a disgrace, they are concerned with increasing poverty and debt levels, with the long hours and high stress levels of those in work and note that job creation never exceeds job losses, they are realising that the power of our democracy is being eroded by the power of the company and that the two major political parties are supporting the current financial system and are not proposing reforms designed to strengthen our democracy.

In these circumstances it must be expected that the electors will turn to any minor party who promises any change, with insufficient thought as to whether such change will be effective.

The remedy is for members of all parties to carefully examine what changes are needed to the economic system to recover from the position outlined above and to co-operate with other countries to the same end so as to reduce the tendency of "the market" to retaliate. However to support the MAI is to ensure the continued deterioration of our welfare and our democracy.

Yours faithfully,

R.M. Clifford.

NOTES
(1)  There were 792 submission made to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and the overwhelming majority if them were against Australia signing the MAI.

(2)  My remarks above warning politicians about the possibility of voters turning to any minor party who promises change was written well before the Queensland Election.

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