Australia’s International Aid

Recently the Australian Coalition Government announced a 10% cut in International Aid. This may not seem like much however Australia’s aid budget is only 0.22% of its Gross National Income which equates to $3.8 billion. The economical amount may seem like a lot however it is only 22 cents per $100 in gross national income. That leads me to the UN foreign aid target.

The UN foreign aid target is at least 0.7% of a Country’s Gross National Income. This amount is so small in comparison to the National budgets and the amount of income a country is earning; however nearly all countries fail to meet this target. As of 2015 only seven countries met or exceeded this goal. Only seven countries seem to believe that foreign aid is important to them, that foreign aid is important to fund.

However, the countries that have spent the most amount of money on foreign aid is slightly different, as countries with larger economies (such as the US) have higher gross incomes and therefore can donate less when scaled to their incomes but more in numerical values. As seen below

Australia’s contribution to international aid does not make the top ten countries for contributions with either percentage or numerical amounts. Does this mean that Australia doesn’t see the importance of international aid?

International aid funds so many causes from food, medical care, drinking water to education and supporting economies. This may seem like it’s not our problem right? However, education has been proven to move people away from extremism, violence and crime, and also leads to people being more likely employed. This keeps Australia safe and can lead to better trade.

Two prime examples of where foreign aid has lead to better trade are China and South Korea. They were some of the largest receivers of foreign aid in the world; now they are some of the largest players in the international market, as well as being the top trading partners with Australia (1st and 3rd in 2017 respectively). If humanitarian, and safety reasons are not enough to demonstrate the importance of foreign aid, then economic value must be a sure fire way to. Foreign aid is like an investment and can lead to more trading partners, and economy boosts for not only the country receiving the aid, as well as the home country.

So with all this in mind foreign aid achieves a lot and would seem important. But here’s the kicker; Australia receives its own foreign aid through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

For me it’s a no brainer. Foreign aid is important; it improves the life of human beings all over the world, it boosts economies and is along term investment for the global community. It seems simple to me, but why is this not the case? Why is Australia contributing so little to foreign aid? Why is most of the International Community failing to reach the goal of 0.7% of Gross National Income to foreign aid? Again I am left with questions that I can’t answer. Again, I am left with questions that I hope I can one day answer and fix.

The United Nations Security Council

This year I came into studying political science believing that the UN was this magical organisation that saved the world. I was incredibly idealistic; but I’ve come to understand that the UN and all of its other substitutes are still human organisations, and therefore they still have flaws, some of these critical flaws.

The biggest thing that I have learnt so far is about the UN Security Council, the P-5 and the Veto power. The UN Security Council is a council consisting of 15 members from 15 states. 10 of these members are from various countries that are on two year terms, ultimately they are rotating members and change every two years. The other 5 members are the P5 or Permanent 5 members which consist of Russia, The United States, The United Kingdom, France and China. The P5 members do not rotate and are awarded an extra level of power called “veto.” This power allows the P5 member to deny any resolution put through to the UNSC, even if there is a majority that want said resolution to occur.

In most recent times Russia has used their veto power twelve times to deny any action from the UNSC to act or intervene in the Syrian Conflict. (BBC) This has led to 7 years of conflict. SEVEN ENTIRE YEARS. Not only this, but it has also led to 11 million people being displaced. (Syrian Refugees) So instead of the UNSC being able to act or create change, Russia has prevented any action from occurring.

This leads to the realisation that these P5 have this extra power, but they still have their ulterior motives, they still have their Home Country’s interests as a primary motive, they do not act for what is the best action for the world or other states. So it leads to the thought, why do these P5 members have this power? Should the veto power be rotated? Should all members of the Security Council be on two year terms? Why is it fair that these five states have more power than the others? I am left with all of these questions that can’t be answered simply, all I know is people are dying, people are losing their homes, children are losing their childhoods and their education, and that Syria was once a beautiful country is losing everything – if this conflict does not come to an end soon, there will be nothing left.

Analysis of the article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ By Barbra Low Fisher

 

This is an analysis of a speech/article presented by Barbara Low Fisher, this is an essay I have written for assessment and it touches on the topics of freedom and vaccines both topics which I believe relate to my blog. The original article can be accessed here.

The article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ by Barbara Low Fisher discusses mandatory vaccinations and how they impose on the freedoms of parents. By starting with an overview of Fisher’s article, analysing her concepts, and exploring an alternative argument it is clear that Fisher has a strong opinion about forced vaccinations backed by harsh language and personal anecdotes, however, she fails to consider both positive and negative freedoms, and doesn’t list any actual facts or statistics. Therefore due to this analysis, it is clear that forced vaccinations do impose on the negative freedom of parents but in contrast, allow for the positive freedom of their children.

Vaccine Freedom of Choice is an article that uses strong first-person language, personal anecdotes, invokes emotion and paints health professionals in a negative light. Fisher relates to audience by using first person language such as “among US parents,” “If WE cannot be free,” and “WE believe in liberty” as a few examples to connect with the reader on a personal level; she is drawing the connection with parents and people that can relate to this topic. She uses a personal anecdote about her own son Chris to further this connection with the reader and as a form of evidence as to why she has her opinions against mandatory vaccinations beyond its impact on freedom. Conversely, this can be noted as bias as it is emotional. This leads to the next use of language and topic of discussion – emotion. Fisher quotes an inscription at the Holocaust Museum in Washington that says “The first to perish were the children” this quote draws emotion and it represents a very dark time in history. Furthermore, she makes statements like “vaccine roulette with a child’s life” which would invoke emotion from any parent. In addition, she paints health professionals in a negative light by telling the reader that babies are dying due to health officials calling for more mandatory vaccinations, and that any deaths that are caused by vaccinations are simply “acceptable loses” to health professionals.  Regardless, all of these techniques convey Fisher’s concept of why mandatory vaccinations are bad and how they impose on negative freedom and more specifically the “free(dom) to make informed, voluntary decisions.”

Fisher is successful in explaining why she believes vaccines impose on negative freedom. It is stated throughout this article that mandatory vaccinations impose on freedom, more specifically they impose on negative freedom. Therefore, it is important to understand what negative freedom means. By definition negative freedom as the absence of external constraints or restrictions on an individual which allows them freedom of choice. (Heywood, 2017: 30) Fisher uses the phrases ‘legal right’ and ‘legally forced’ when describing vaccination decisions and mandatory vaccinations respectfully; this has direct links to the basic level of negative freedom as it demonstrates restrictions put on individuals and their freedom of choice being taken away. Furthermore, Fisher extends on this idea when she says “If we cannot be free to make informed, voluntary decisions… then we are not free in any sense of the word,” discussing the direct link between decisions about vaccines and the freedom of individuals. She also continues to extend on this when she declares “There will be no limit on which individual freedoms the state can take away” ultimately insisting that she believes that if mandatory vaccinations are enforced, then all individual rights could be taken away as well. Fisher clearly has an in-depth understanding of negative freedom, or at least the freedom of choice and strongly believes that mandatory vaccinations impose on an individual’s freedom to choose. However with all of this in mind, she does fail to acknowledge the child’s right to health, and their positive freedom to be their best selves.

Due to Fisher failing to acknowledge a child’s positive freedom it is important to understand what positive freedom is. Positive freedom is the development of human capacities, self-realisation or self-mastery. (Heywood, 2017: 30) Ultimately in its simplest form, it is the freedom to do things and be the best person an individual can be. So with this in mind, when children are prevented from getting vaccinated due to parents personal beliefs their positive freedoms are imposed upon. This is because they will be prevented from attending schools and day care facilities as mentioned by Fisher. Furthermore, these children could become dangerously ill from preventable deadly diseases such as whooping cough, measles, and polio; and ultimately they could die from something that is preventable. This is a huge disadvantage to any child and it is quite easy to see that children cannot be their best selves if they are permanently disabled, uneducated or dead. It is also important to consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which demonstrates that people need to satisfy their lower order biogenic needs like hunger and health before their higher order psychogenic needs like creative arts and self-actualisation. (Elliott, et al., 2012) Fisher doesn’t consider that children will not have access opportunities if they aren’t vaccinated and fails to ultimately see the bigger picture of positive AND negative freedom.

It is clear that mandatory vaccinations do affect the negative freedom of parents but subsequently protect the positive freedom of their children. Through the article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ it is evident that Fisher believes mandatory vaccinations impose on freedom, and it can be proven that they do impose on a parent’s negative freedom, as it does not allow them to make the decision. However, she fails to see how vaccines protect children’s positive freedom and help them to become their best selves. She doesn’t acknowledge that if parents are allowed to prevent their children from getting vaccinations it imposes on the child’s positive freedom. Fisher is entitled to her opinion, and so is everyone that may have an alternative view, but the concept of freedom is so broad and ultimately it comes down to a decision of what is more important; whether it be the negative freedom of parents and their decisions over their children, or the positive freedom of the children and their opportunity to live their best lives

References

Elliott, G., Rundle-Thiele, S. & Waller, D., 2012. Marketing. 2nd ed. Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Heywood, A., 2017. Political Ideologies. 6th ed. London: Palgrave.

 

Seeing Through the Agenda

So today I was driving in my car and Nowhere Fast by Eminem came on the radio. It got me thinking about the situation that the world is currently in. Nowhere fast talks about the NRA in the US and the gun violence that is running wild right now. He even goes on to say:

They love their guns more than our children

This lead my mind to something I’ve been seeing a lot about lately; The Parkland School shooting. If we reflect back to earlier this year you may remember that there was a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. 17 people died that day and it sparked walk outs across the nation and outrage across the world.

Heart breakingly this wasn’t the first or the last school shooting of 2018, as of March 23rd 28 shootings had occurred on school campuses across the US (Source). Congress has not implemented stricter gun laws of any kind, but rather Stoneman Douglas High School, the school in-which 17 people died has implemented a new bag policy; Clear back packs. Students individual privacy has become a matter of scrutiny. The students? They are upset and finding their own way to protest, they are standing tall and saying this is not enough. See below

This is their solution? Blood continues to be shed, and individual privacy is being attacked, where is the liberty for these students? Where is the uproar all over the world about the lack of action in Congress? Eminem seems like the only artist that is standing up and calling out the NRA and making a mark on popular culture. Where are the other stars, the other role models?

In Australia instead of the media following this story or talking about anything with real meaning, our media was plastered with a ball tampering scandal which featured this image and video all over every screen in the Country.

This scandal was the leading story all over the country for almost a week. The question is why? There are so many other issues all over the world except this was deemed most important? In my opinion this demonstrates what is classified as important by society, and can show how easily an entire nation can be distracted by a simple sticky situation.

There are children all over the world being murdered, and throughout history the media has been an effective tool to limit suffering and end conflict. However this doesn’t seem to interest modern day society anymore, we need a call to action. We need people to tell their leaders that violence and blood shed is not okay. We need to show the media that there are so many more important issues right now than ball tampering and tabloids. We need to show children that we love them more than we love our guns and that their lives mean more than our egos.

For the people in the US: see through the NRAs agenda of funding politicians, and realise that your children’s lives are worth more than the guns in your hands. Realise that although it is your 3rd amendment right allows you to own guns without infringement – their already are infringements. Realise that if you’re a law abiding gun owner, you have nothing to worry about.

For the people of Australia and the rest of the world: see through the media’s distracting and pointless reporting. Look past the surface stories of ball tampering and famous stars activities. We are better than that. Look for the real news and the issues that really matter.

Syria’s use of Chemical Warfare

Yet again we find ourselves witnessing another chemical attack against innocent civilians in Syria. This Chemical attack in Douma although it is not entirely clear it is believed that at least 40 people have been killed and hundreds affected. (NY Times and Al Jazeera) It is also believed that a large number of these casualties are children.

The US has threatened retaliation again, but does this just mean more air strikes? Are more civilians going to be killed by outside nations dropping bombs?

The worst part of all of this in my opinion is that this isn’t the first time that chemical weapons have been used against the Syrian people. Since 2013 we have seen countless chemical attacks with thousands of people affected and so many dead.

The Syrian Government has again been accused for this attack and is said to be responsible. Will the Al-Assad regime ever be held responsible? With the Syrian Government again claiming that the use of chemical warfare was fabricated; What does this mean for the justice of the Victims? Is the rest of the world just going to sit by and watch these human beings suffer? Is it not time to take R2P action? The Government is clearly failing it’s responsibility to protect its citizens, does this not mean anything anymore? Does the slaughter of children not invoke action? This civil war has gone on for far too long and seen far too much bloodshed.

The rest of the world should put aside its differences and save the citizens that are left in Syria. I know that this is incredibly idealistic but it’s beyond the point of return. Al-Assad continues to use chemical weapons on his citizens, and the outside world continues to just bomb strong holds of various groups – which seems to cause more civilian deaths rather than anything else. I don’t know how we can fix this, or how to stop the pointless loss of life, but something needs to change. Maybe every other state that is interfering should withdraw? Maybe the US and Russia should stop with its airstrikes? Maybe the different states should stop funding the various groups? Maybe the rest of the world should take more responsibility and evacuate as many refugees as possible? Maybe countries like Australia should accept more refugees and guarantee safety for these people? I don’t know what the solution is, but there must be something more we can do.

Political Freedoms and Protesting

I’ve been learning a lot lately. I’ve learnt a lot about the UN, Syria, WWII, The Cold War, Freedom, Equality, Democracy and so many other different things in this world that I feel like it has truly opened my eyes.

One thing I’ve learnt that has really hit home is in countries with totalitarian regimes and violent and oppressive leaders citizens; are not afforded the same luxuries as someone from a country with a peaceful democracy. I know this sounds straight forward and may seem quite obvious but have you ever thought about the fact that in Australia you can protest and no real harm will come to you? In Australia you can take to the streets, voice your concerns in a peaceful manner and the worst that could happen is being arrest and taken to the watch house. You won’t be shot on site or killed for standing up for your beliefs; not everyone gets this luxury, not everyone can take to the streets to peacefully protest without risking their lives. With this realisation, I thought it was important to voice it and show whoever will listen how fortunate we are, and how far the world still has to come

George Orwell wrote an entire piece on the effect of peaceful protest called Reflections on Gandhi which in short says that for peaceful/non-violent action to be effective one must presume compassion from the perpetrator, simply put there must be a certain level of freedom and a level of compassion. This is something that I have never considered.

All we have to do is reflect back to China in 1989 where thousands of people (mostly students) took to the streets in protest for the end of corruption, peaceful reform, economic reform and political reform. These protests saw thousands of people detained, imprisoned, tortured and executed. This peaceful protest turned violent and it is known as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. These citizens expected their Government to listen to them, to do right by them and to change, however instead they were murdered, tortured, and imprisoned.

In more recent times we have the case of Syria. In 2011 many people took to the streets to Protest Bashar al-Assad’s presidency, the rate of unemployment and the high level of poverty. They were basically asking for more freedom and a higher level of dignity for themselves and all citizens of Syria. They wrote songs, danced in public squares, gave roses to soldiers, and peacefully protested for their beliefs. The Government and it’s forces retaliated by murdering activists, shooting protesters in the streets and ultimately starting this civil war. The protesters then took up arms and began defending themselves. This was roughly 7 years ago and this civil war has grown and become a conflict that is so complicated that I won’t go in to it any further (in this post at least). For more information about the Syrian conflict, here is an article by the BBC.

In both of these examples of China and Syria you have a leadership that lacks compassion. The al-Asad regime has been accused of using chemical weapons on their on citizens and China in 1989 was a heavily communist society with high levels of poverty and corruption. You can see how these societies lacked compassion and it is just shown further in their reactions to civilian protest. These citizens lacked the freedom to be able to use non- violent means, and their Governments failed them in not showing them the compassion to do so.

How is it that in the 21st century civilians cannot take to the streets to make themselves heard?

In Australia, people are awarded the luxury to protest for their beliefs. Marriage equality, refugees, pro-choice/pro-life, Adani are all topics in which people have tried to have their voices heard. People have taken to the streets in protest, they have had banners and marches – people didn’t die, no one was shot, people were able to go home and hold their families. These Australian’s had the privilege to speak up against their Government with no (or little) consequences, if nothing else I want everyone to realise how privileged they are, and how lucky they are to be even given the option for that.

For We are Young and Free

Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free; We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil; Our home is girt by sea; Our land abounds in nature’s gifts Of beauty rich and rare; In history’s page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair. In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair”

For anyone that has been to Australia, watched a sporting event involving Australia, or simply heard our national anthem; this first verse is powerful and says a lot. We are a young nation that was only classified as a country in 1901. We are free, we have the freedoms of the modern world. We are the number one exporter of iron ore, coal, unwrought lead and aluminium ores. We are the 2nd wealthiest nation in the world when referring to wealth per adult. (More information about how great we are here) We are rich in heart, in mind and in culture. We are a Strong and Fair Nation.

However, we are ultimately a big (huge) island that is geographically isolated from a lot of the world. We are a continent and a country. It is a 22-hour flight from the UK and similar flight time the most of Europe. It is a 15-hour flight from the USA. It is a 12-hour flight from China. So every other leading nation in the modern world is at least 10 hours away by plane (with the exception of New Zealand). We are alone and a lot of Australians do not venture very far to experience the world. In my personal opinion, this leads to some issues.

Australia is going through a human rights crisis. We have locked up hundreds of innocent people in offshore detention, and a lot of Australians support it. There are a lot of Australians that are afraid of people that are different, they are afraid of people that come from lands that are far away and they are afraid of people who have different beliefs. These Australian’s are not entirely at fault – for years the Australian Media has been promoting this fear. This isn’t helped by the Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson who has been an incredibly loud voice against immigration and her most recent attacks have been directed towards Muslims in Australia. She has said things such as “Islam is a disease; we need to vaccinate ourselves against that” and trying to start the hashtag #Pray4MuslimBan in the aftermath of the London Terror Attack. (See more details here) She promotes hatred and is telling Australian’s that a large group of people that share a common faith are all bad because of a select few. If we strip all of this darkness and name calling back; we can see that Muslims aren’t the issue here. According to George W Bush in 2001  he said “Islam is Peace,” this is the man that declared war on terror and even he could see that Islam is not the problem, people are.

pauline-hanson

This fear is preventing Australia from being the best it can be. This fear is obstructing Australian’s positive freedoms and is preventing the Australian society from being the land of a fair go that it has been known for throughout history. This hatred is preventing egalitarianism in our society and allowing for separation and conflict between citizens. This hatred goes against our traditions of Mateship, this hatred will grow to see our society fail and fall behind if we do not act. This hatred will increase if good people do nothing. This fear will continue to grow unless Australian’s are educated and begin to understand what is presently unknown.

Monga+Khan+Poster.jpg

Australian’s are free, Australian’s are young in Nationality and in mind. We are supposed to be the Citizens of mateship and egalitarianism (of fairness). So, treat everyone fairly, don’t be afraid of someone because they are different; Love wholeheartedly, treat them with kindness, and be the best person you can be.