Well played sir!

32

Apologies for my recent absence from this blog. Just for fun I developed a case of Shingles. I suggest, if you can avoid it, you don’t; and if you have some odd symptoms, ask your doctor “Could this be Shingles?” just in case. Anyway, slowly recovering to the stage where I can write again.

One major political event during my absence has been the announcement by Bob Brown that he was resigning as leader of the Greens and would not contest the next election for the Senate. A great deal has been written about Bob in his role not only in Australia but worldwide in establishing both conservation movements and Greens political parties, but I thought I would add a couple of observations of my own.

I met Bob some years ago, and was immediately struck by the fact that his private persona was exactly like his public one. You will often hear it said about politicians, carefully guarding, on the advice of image makers, their public persona, that either they are much more unpleasant in real life than on tv, or they are much nicer in private than they appear to the public. Bob Brown was a classic case of what you saw was what there was – image and reality were the same.

The second unusual thing about him politically was that he answered questions honestly and thoughtfully and individually. He didn’t go out to the press pack with his prepared slogans and practiced one phrase answers. but dealt with each question on its merits. I was struck this week how rare this was, in listening to the Victorian Attorney General, quizzed on his setting up a parliamentary query on child abuse by the churches, answering every question with the same carefully memorised three sentence “reply”. This essentially said he was setting up a parliamentary enquiry because he was setting up a parliamentary enquiry because … well you get the idea. But they almost all do it these days, to the extent that it comes as a shock to hear a politician answering a question directly.

As I write this I am struck by a thought. Being the same person in public and private, and answering questions in a rational way, are both features of our everyday lives. Do any of you not behave like that to family, friends and colleagues? And yet we have come to accept, to our detriment, that politicians live in some other world in which that behaviour is not normal.

Bob Brown showed that it doesn’t have to be like that, and he will be missed.

Note – It is time to vote for your favourite blog (you will find this one alphabetically under THE Watermelon Blog) at the Sydney Writer’s Centre Awards. I will try to incorporate the voting button on this post so subscribers will get it in their feed, but if I fail, could you visit the blog please, admire the new design if you haven’t yet seen it, and click on the voting button on the right. You can vote for more than one blog (there are 900 nominated) but you can only vote in one session. It would be good to feel I was getting things right for you

Anyway, will try to get back into regular posting (and tweeting), health permitting. See you again soon.

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32 comments on “Well played sir!

  1. Colin Samundsett says:

    Very pleased that you are hanging up your shingles, and yes I did my duty as I felt proper – voting watermelon-like

    Like

  2. Rob Coughlan says:

    Nice to see you back on board David. I thoughtful, honest and straightforward piece on Bob Brown. Imagine what we could become as a nation or even a world if we all acted with Bob Brown’s integrity. I look back on Ben Chifley as a leader who was a man of the people. I think the same is also true of Bob. It is a shame that the media and other politicians disliked his not ‘playing the game’ so much that he was often denigrated. However history, I am sure, will show him in a more positive light than some of so-called politicians in our parliament today.

    Like

    • David Horton says:

      Thanks Rob and thanks for dropping by. It is indeed hard to imagine Chifley, for one, engaging in spin over substance, image over reality.

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      • Rob Coughlan says:

        No indeed. The sad part is that this part of our history is not taught in High School as compulsory. Knowledge of our history would perhaps allow perspective to Gen Y and X at this time when spin seems to reign supreme. btw your blog certainly deserves a vote for at least common sense, if not quality of argument.

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  3. f1retree says:

    Good to see you sparking away again David and btw I voted for your blog, best of luck!

    Like

  4. Eric Snyder says:

    Glad to see you’re back at the keyboard David; hope that eye heals quickly!

    We don’t get much news about Australian gov’t figures in our news reports here in the States. But, I do know what you call it when an individual is the same in private as they are in public; INTEGRITY! A rare trait in politicos these days!

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    • David Horton says:

      Thanks Eric, do try to avoid Shingles – not a ball of laughs.

      Like

      • Eric Snyder says:

        Will do my best! Having just turned 66 (and had chicken pox), I think there is a vaccine available that will prevent the shingles. Just have to find time to get it done!!

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        • David Horton says:

          Yes, had heard there was a vaccine in US. You are classic candidate (as I now know!), although it seems to be often the result of immune system damage (eg in my case as a result of the chemotherapy). The problem with it is that there are a number of different symptoms, each relatively minor on their own, and the combination and place on body varies a great deal between individuals. I went to the GP quite early, but she thought each symptom was a separate thing, and none were originally typical of Shingles. It was only as my eye got much worse and she sent me to an eye specialist that he took one look and made diagnosis. I think opthalmologists must see a lot more of it than GPs because the eye is so often a focus of attack. I had barely heard of the disease, and didn’t know what it was, but since having it people keep telling me they had it or had relatives who did. Anyway, odd pains in eyes or ears or face, and odd skin lesions (often on scalp), off to the doctor with you young Eric.

          Incidentally was going to say that the American equivalents of Bob Brown might include people like Roehmer, Kucinich, Paul – many people disagree with their ideas etc, but you have no doubt about the integrity with which they hold their beliefs.

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  5. Eric Snyder says:

    I really like the “young Eric” comment! I’ll certainly follow your advice but I’m off to get the vaccine this weekend.

    I have decidedly ambivalent feelings about Kucinich and other liberals/progressives who don’t appear to be totally evil people. On the one hand I think the national health care program is completely unconstitutional and so I vehemently disagree with him. On the other hand I think the Patriot Act is equally unconstitutional and so I agree with him. I share his criticisms of our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. But, can never share his support of infanticide.

    Paul is another matter. I’m pretty much in lock step with him. Of course, he has absolutely no possibility of being elected. But even if he were to be, there would be very little support from either our House or Senate and no change would occur. He is of greater value to our freedom and defense of our Constitution in his House position.

    Our President is not a “royal” although he has behaved as such. He takes an oath to defend our Constitution and then proceeds to shred it; disgusting.

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    • David Horton says:

      Having turned 67 this month, sadly you’ll always be Young Eric to me!

      We are on opposite sides of the world, and of political beliefs, so I’m glad you still enjoy the blog.

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  6. Eric Snyder says:

    Happy birthday!

    I always enjoy having my idealogical and political beliefs challenged because if I’m wrong I want to learn and make corrections as needed!

    Like

  7. Geoff Andrews says:

    Gidday David. Welcome back from your sabbatical (it HAS been seven weeks, hasn’t it?). Great new format – however haven’t got enough hours in the day to check out all the interesting links. Voted for THE Watermelon Blog, of course. (Wouldn’t you think that any design of a site accepting votes for a large number of candidates would, on typing, say, “waterm”, immediately offer “The Watermelon Blog” as an option? They had internal character string searching 30 years ago. Forty years ago, programmers could run a small university that had 20 terminals on a computer with 32k of storeage).
    Everything you said about Bob Brown was echoed last night on Q&A.
    And howdy young Eric! .
    I thought I’d test your assertion that you enjoyed “having (your) ideological & political beliefs challenged” by starting with:your belief that “the national health care program is completely unconstitutional”. I would be genuinely curious which part of your Constitution you believe would be violated by introducing a system similar to that which we have here in Australia (and in many other democracies); although I must admit that our system has taken away a freedom that USA has retained: the right to die prematurely and/or in penury.
    What are the main objections to a scheme that provides free health care for all (even the rich). I can understand the Republicans’ fear of both sliding down the slippery slope of liberalism through socialism into communism as has happened to Australia, Canada and England and the loss of their right to provide as little funds as possible to help the country operate but the Democrats?
    And don’t get me going on your gun laws!

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    • David Horton says:

      Thanks very much for the vote Geoff. And “sabbatical”? Perhaps one in North Korea!

      Like

    • Eric Snyder says:

      Hi Geoff, I do enjoy being challenged and I do enjoy learning. I like opposing points of view that are thoughtfully presented. I have been known to change my mind when a more reasoned argument is made that goes contrary to my ideology.

      But, specifically answering your “genuinely curious” question about the part of the Constitution that is being violated by federal health care; it is the 10th amendment. Therein it is stated that powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. The Constitution does not reference medical care as something the US should provide.

      Further, to call the health care provided by your gov’t (and many other democracies) “free” is a bit of a misnomer. It is anything but free. Of course, if Australia, Canada or any other democracies wish for their gov’t to provide health care, that is entirely their prerogative. But, the US is not a democracy, it is a Republic and therefore under the rule of law, our Constitution. It is clear, to me at least, that anything our gov’t gets involved in (with the exception of defense and a small number of other things) will cost more and deliver less to fewer people than that which is provided by the private sector: health care, education, energy, etc.

      The only thing wrong with our gun laws is NOT requiring the head of every household to be armed; had to touch a spark to that fuse! I would love to discuss the facts, instead of emotions, about gun ownership and how it prevents crime (at least in the US).

      Like

      • Team Oyeniyi says:

        Do please enlighten us poor little gun control supporters down under exactly how gun ownership prevents crime in the USA.

        Given you are commenting on David’s work, I’ll assume you are writing a brilliantly facetious piece! :D

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      • David Horton says:

        Hi Eric, you seem under some misapprehension about Australian (and most other western countries) hralth care. Most medical care is provided by private GPs. Hospitals are both public and private, but in both the medical specaliasts are private. In addition there are private health insurance companies, to which a big proprtion of population belongs. But underpinning all that is a scheme called Medicare here, which via taxation covers part of the cost of procedures. That is, if you visit doctor or hospital you pay part of the fee, another part is covered by your private health insurance (if you have it), and another part by medicare.

        The end result of all that is we have world class doctors and hospitals, becoming sick doesn’t send you bankrupt, the poor can still get health care, and we pay a great deal less in total per person than you do. I have never understood why Americans don’t look around the world and select the best features from other countries. You would rather point at an interpretation of part of the constitution than get decent health care for the citizens of the richest country in the world?

        Oh, and I can’t help myself. Guns? You might want to compare statistics of the number of gun deaths and injuries, the crime levels, and the proportion of Americans in jail, with figures from the rest of the world.

        Like

  8. Team Oyeniyi says:

    Welcome back and damn good observations.

    Now I just have to pop up to the comment above mine and make a note about GUNS!!!

    Like

    • David Horton says:

      Hi Robyn, thank you!

      Like

    • Eric Snyder says:

      Yes, TOTALLY serious!

      Probably the most exhaustive study with the best documentation of guns and crime is “More Guns Less Crime” by John Lott. As I stated in my earlier comment, Lott deals primarily with US crime and gun ownership but does make the occasional reference to other countries. But, his thorough studies cover more than 20 years of accurate statistics.

      Another very interesting study is (again US) a Kennesaw, Georgia law that requires the head of every household in the city to own a gun and ammunition; http://www.rense.com/general9/gunlaw.htm This law went into effect some 20 years ago and has had some interesting results.

      There are many other studies that support gun ownership being a crime deterrent but they’re hard to discover because of the emotional biases of the folks who control our media.

      As stated earlier, I am certainly not averse to learning where I am wrong and changing my mind (David successfully convinced me global warming is a scientific fact) when a well-reasoned argument is presented. But, from the evidence I’ve seen thus far, gun ownership in the US is not a bad thing!

      Like

      • Team Oyeniyi says:

        I am not going to take over David’s blog with a debate about these things. I will say this: anyone can “prove” anything with statistics and enough bias. You only have to watch the news to know that “more guns, less crime” is a fallacy. Of course sudies support gun ownership in the USA because you’d be horrified if the right to own a gun was ever sensibly removed from the constitution. The gun lobby in the USA is powerful and can fund as many studies as it wants or needs to try to convince the pollies and voting public that “guns are good”. They are not!

        I am not scared of guns per se. I am a farmer’s daughter and used to shoot competitively. I was damn good at it, too.

        As for your health care debate, you really need to check out the facts of your own country on that one.

        Like

        • Team Oyeniyi says:

          Sorry David – I was trying NOT to get involved in this, but damn!

          Like

        • Eric Snyder says:

          Honestly, I would seriously consider 20 years of scientifically gathered information (statistics) an infinitely more reliable source of facts than the news. Although, I completely agree that enough bias can distort just about any statistical evidence, absent any proof of such bias, why default to outright rejection?

          If you have any verifiable facts linking funding from the NRA, or any other gun lobby, to Dr. Lott’s studies I would love to see them. I am not saying there isn’t any information linking them, I am just not aware of any and would like to learn of them if they exist.

          Please advise me of any incorrect facts that I stated about our health care. If I posted any errors, I would like to correct them.

          Like

        • Team Oyeniyi says:

          Eric, I’d really prefer not to enter into such a debate on David’s site. I feel it inappropriate of me. Also, I can see you feel/believe strongly in your position and in my experience people who believe strongly are unlikely to be convinced, irrespective of what evidence may be provided. It is like trying to convince a theist there is no God. Rarely happens. :)

          I am acknowledging your response, as it would be, I believe, rude not to do so. However, our discussion ends here.

          Like

        • Eric Snyder says:

          OK, I understand.

          Like

  9. Eric Snyder says:

    I hope you didn’t take any of my comments about health care to be critical of what Australia provides for its citizens as that most certainly was not my intent. I was merely responding to Geoff’s question about which part of our Constitution was being violated; nothing to do with Australia or any other country for that matter, only the US.

    Additionally, I was rebutting Geoff’s “free” comment. As you state, David, your Medicare is paid for via taxation (as is ours), you pay for your part (as do we), and insurance (I’m assuming you have to purchase this insurance) pays for the rest (as does ours). It is far from “free.”

    The poor in the US are not deprived health care. Because of all the gov’t involvement in health care, I honestly don’t think our health care system is as good as it was prior to that involvement but I’m only speaking anecdotally here.

    Like

  10. Colin Samundsett says:

    No wonder Lott’s wife decided to stay behind

    Like

  11. adelady says:

    “The poor in the US are not deprived health care. Because of all the gov’t involvement in health care,…”

    Tell that to my endocrinologist! He worked in the USA for a couple of stints – many, many years ago (he’s even older than David and me). And hated it. He had a continual stream of diabetics coming in with serious complications that he rarely saw in Australia. Why? Because there was no way they could afford the insulin they needed. So they ‘eked out’ or skipped medication and only bought as much as they could afford when they could afford it. So they finished up with vision and foot and other horrible problems, all the way to turning up in emergency in diabetic coma.

    All for want of a sensible system of supplying affordable, life-saving, sight-saving medication to people who need it desperately.

    Like

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