We Get the Governments we Deserve

The foundations for a democracy to function are: a “Rule of Law’,  protection of “Individual Property Rights” and a system of “Commerce”.  This year we passed the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta but today is the anniversary of the Ballot Act which was passed in England on the 18th July in 1872.  This is a crucial condition for enterprise to flourish in any economy.

Hand of a person casting a ballot at a polling station during voting.

Introducing secret ballots to prevent undue influence by landlords and employers it’s a shame that it does not apply universally in elections of officials who have influence in the economy.  Electing particularly union officials that members want, not simply the ones who are able to bring undue influence or pressure to get elected is a step in the right direction to getting informed and progressive conditions being implemented rather than self interest and political futures.

Adding to the Rule of Law, the Ballot Act 1872 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced the requirement that parliamentary and local government elections in the United Kingdom be held by secret ballot.

The Representation of the People Act 1867 (the Second Reform Act) enfranchised the skilled working class in borough constituencies, and it was felt that, due to their economic circumstances, these voters would be particularly susceptible to bribery, intimidation, or blackmail.   The radical John Bright expressed concerns that tenants would face the threat of eviction were they to vote against the wishes of their landlord. It fell to Edward Aldam Leatham, husband of John Bright’s sister, to introduce the Ballot Act.

Many within the establishment had opposed the introduction of a secret ballot. They felt that pressure from patrons on tenants was legitimate and that a secret ballot was simply unmanly and cowardly. Lord Russell voiced his opposition to the creation of a culture of secrecy in elections which he believed should be public affairs. He saw it as ‘an obvious prelude from household to universal suffrage’.

Election spending was, at the time, unlimited and many voters would take bribes from both sides. While the secret ballot might have had some effect in reducing corruption in British politics, the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1883 formalised the position and is seen by many to have been the key legislation in the attempts to end electoral corruption. (1)

These electoral practices in not only the Westminster but western democracies in general ensure that we have free elections where politicians advocate popular policies to get a majority vote and are in office for the electoral cycle.  While we often hear discourse lamenting the lack of political leadership and an unwillingness to take “brave” decisions which may not be popular.  Is lack of leadership really the problem though or should we be thinking more about our responsibility in being part of the solution…

To my mind we get the governments we deserve, Greece is a perfect example of that.  Perhaps we should be more focused on having informed conversations that ensure we attract intelligent people to politics because the electorate demands policies that are popular because they are the right policies to create prosperity and a future for us all, not a short term gravy train that has to crash in the future but the majority is too blind to see it.

On top of that the unrealistic expectation that politicians have no baggage, have no skeletons in the closet and the inordinate scrutiny in the media 24/7 also ensures that many good people with incredible minds and ideas shy away from public service. If we want to start creating the conditions for enterprise to flourish we really need to be thinking more about our individual responsibilities than being critical of our political parties and leaders.

 

Trevor Dixon

Chairman Small Business Foundation

For more on “Enterprise” – The Art of Freedom, visit:

www.smallbusinessfoundation.org

 

References

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballot_Act_1872

 

The Emotive Discourse of Envy

I often get into trouble for stating that most peoples opinions are based on emotion and hold little context when scrutinised against the yardstick of facts. I don’t make this observation lightly simply to proves a position of superior intellect… Quite the opposite, most people who know me understand that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed; I do however like to think I am not the dumbest either! The reason for being deliberately confrontational is to get us thinking about what is really going on and getting to the root cause of our problems rather than a superficially shallow discussion around the obvious symptoms that manifest themselves.

The issue of Greece is not just a Greek issue. Their ruling class and international capital created their situation. Why should the Greek people pay for their ruling class greed? We are doing the same. The sooner we all recognise that and change society the better the world will be

Capitalism or Socialism concept. Street sign pointing to opposite direction. Choose between.

Capitalism or Socialism  Choose between.

Quite simply, because they have a democracy which indeed is the very basis that all democracies are based on! If what you say is true, and I’m not saying it is, then the people elected their “ruling class” and mandated the policies that they are now suffering as a consequence of and are expected to contribute to solving….

What are the alternatives that you want to change to if not a democracy that elects governments to implement lawful expenditure and taxation policies?

Are you really suggesting, that we have a genuine democracy? “lawful expenditure” we spent more on Gallipoli than the British whose war it was, cuts have taken place in almost every area of public need, not even going near taxation, and who doesn’t pay it. Having the right to vote does not a democracy make. Go on google and type in steps to fascism and examine where we in relation to democracy, tell me what you think after reading the steps

I have never advocated that our system is perfect but have consistently stated that it has achieved more for mankind than any other since our existence on this planet. The real conversation here is if you can demonstrate anything different to what has been tried before and can explain how it will achieve better results then lets discuss it.

My entire argument is that emotive discourse on a basis of envy does not inform any discussion about a better system than the one we have… and yes when our elected government has to pass through parliament its budget every year, we have lawful expenditure based on democracy.

So, what do you suggest is the alternative to the system we have where the citizens of this great country elect their representatives, who then pass legislation and every three years under our constitution we decide if they are doing what we want them to do?

It sounds OK, but when you have two major parties dominated by capital, both national and international, and when the trade unions are muzzled, and the media is a joke, what changes when we vote. “lawful expenditure based on democracy” I don’t think so, and I don’t think the one million living below the poverty line or 350,000 without secure housing or the sick an disabled or the six people fighting for every individual job, nor families not able to afford education for their kids and on and on and on. Sure they can vote, big deal

We can discuss an alternative when we agree that the current system has failed. Failed nationally and happy to debate how it has failed internationally.

Show me how the current system has failed… very interested to understand that? I agreed with you that it wasn’t a perfect system already, no argument on it being perfect so not sure why you’ve asked me that question. So, what is the alternative? How do we create a better system for people to prosper that can achieve better results than you have pointed out as the failings in a market based democratic economy?

As a student of politics I do have an alternative, is socialism. Now you will say, like many, that it didn’t work, my response to that is, we have to make it work, because capitalism certainly doesn’t and can’t because it is based entirely on profit not need, and we are in a new paradigm where international capital controls the world and they certainly are not going to share the wealth, what is your alternative or do you think we can make capitalism work for the majority and if so, how?

Now, I push hard truisms in debates because I know we can create a more prosperous society. Yes, you are right in what I would say about socialism but that’s not the point of the conversations I get involved in.

I’m not about inane attempts to “disprove” someone else’s opinions, that’s egocentric and self serving; my interest is in starting discussions and dialogue about misconceptions and misunderstandings about why things are not working as well as they could and how we can do them better…

I admire Thomas Picketty’s work very much; he has conducted an incredibly deep body of research and draws powerful conclusions from it. He is in the game, but I believe that his starting premises are wrong and that rather than proving socialism is an alternative that must be explored because capitalism has failed, we should be looking at his overarching premise to begin with.

I believe he actually demonstrates why an understanding of how setting the conditions for an equal opportunity for everyone to prosper is critical to lift people out of poverty. This is not a “rule of the jungle”, it is a level paying field for return on effort. My objective is to start a conversation in society on how we can elect great politicians to implement a system that works for all of us, we can use our democracy to deliver a strong social compact protecting those who cannot look after themselves while at the same time continue the meteoric rise in wellbeing for all mankind that prosperity brings.

I agree completely with your observation about both major political parties; many people make a natural assumption that I am a right wing thinker but that is a two dimensional concept I do not ascribe to, fascists and socialists will not solve the problems of the world despite the best of intentions either may start out with. We need to be creating an understanding of the social fabric on a multi-dimensional basis and electing like-minded politicians.

I can go into quite a detailed explanation of that but on Facebook it is a bit difficult to write up a thesis. You can however as a starting point check out the manifesto of my not-for-profit foundation here:

http://smallbusinessfoundation.org.au/#manifesto

British Officer awarded VC for Shooting Deserters

A young 18-year-old Lieutenant, said to have shot four of his own men who had bolted was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross.

George Moor

I have a friend who consistently tells me he is not anti-military he just has an issue with them getting awarded medals for what seems like nothing more than polishing their boots everyday.  Chatting recently he pointed out this case as an example, it was of a young man at Gallipoli who in the Battle of Krithia was indeed awarded the VC.

 

We have to be very careful stating “fact” to validate our perspective; often we confirm our bias with information we would like to be true that may only be urban myth. Sometimes, the way we would like things to be isn’t always the case, due to our conviction and self-belief in our own judgement we convince ourselves that we “know” the truth.

 

To be fair, his perspective is the abject futility of war is pointless and he argues the case that we shouldn’t be sending our young men and women to be killed and broken under the command of Generals & Politicians who may be either incompetent, uncaring, fostering their own agendas or perhaps a combination of these.

 

It happens all the time

 

Another mate has different political views from his children and at a recent function his wife did the bolt when the topic switched to current events and the positions of government and the opposition. That conversation ended up with a memorable statement; “Don’t confuse me with all your facts; my mind is already made up.”

 

War correspondent Charles Bean is the individual who made the statement in the opening paragraph of this article, and it creates the perception of impropriety. It is in the book “Gallipoli – untold stories from Charles Bean” and we have to be very careful latching onto something in isolation that validates our perspective. Bean never interviewed or spoke to anyone actually involved in the incident, it is purely third party conjecture on his part, something which soldiers, bored for 99% of the time in their service life are very much prone to promulgating!

Another similar incident is the bayoneting of surrendered soldiers in WWI by Australian troops. There are quite a few accounts but no evidence that after the Battle of Bita Paka in New Guinea before the 1st AIF had even departed Australia that Melanesian troops serving under German Command were executed. There is also in all probability the likelihood that we whipped their German officers.

 

Emotion, justification, mitigations what’s real…

 

It may actually be true that George Moor did summarily execute four soldiers; we will never know the truth, however no first hand accounts suggest this. Also, unless you have been trained for war and then placed in his unenviable position, you cannot judge whether these actions were warranted the situation he encountered. It is the dilemma of every commander to decide which men he will have to order into a situation where he knows they will probably not survive for the greater need of his remaining forces to survive and fulfil the objective set by their political masters.

 

The appalling causalities and the criticism of General Haig for failing to call off the Somme offensives in 1916 may be warranted, 60,000 troops were lost in one day alone. The only slack I will cut him in his defence is the complete lack of understanding of what industrialised warfare meant for anyone at that time.

 

In 1917 however he continued to conduct futile assaults due to the mutiny of French troops, if he had failed to commit German forces to that sector of the front they would have very quickly identified and exploited their opportunity to capture Paris and win the war.

 

So what actually happened in the case of Lt G.R.D. Moor VC, MC & Bar

 

This brave young man’s story, decorated three times for bravery, deserves to be told. George Raymond Dallas Moor VC, MC & Bar was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

 

Born 22 October 1896, in his mother’s sister’s home in Pollington Street, St. Kilda, Australia. Son of William Henry Moor (Auditor-General, Transvaal, retired) and Mrs. Moor, and nephew of the late Sir Ralph Moor, formerly High Commissioner for Southern Nigeria. He was educated at Cheltenham College, commissioned into the 3rd Battalion the Hampshire Regiment in October 1914, and was granted a Regular Commission on 1 August 1915.

 

After six months’ training in England and Egypt, he went with the 2nd Battalion to the Dardanelles, and was at the landing at V Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. His V.C. decoration was gazetted on 24 July 1915, when he was only 18 years of age.

 

“For most conspicuous bravery and resource on the 5th June, 1915, during operations South of Krithia, Dardanelles. When a detachment of a battalion on his left, which had lost all its officers, was rapidly retiring before a heavy Turkish attack, 2nd Lieutenant Moor immediately grasping the danger to the remainder of the line, dashed back some two hundred yards, stemmed the retirement, led back the men, and recaptured the lost trench. This young officer who only joined the Army in October, 1914, by his personal bravery and presence of mind saved a dangerous situation.”

 

He was invalided home soon afterwards suffering from dysentery. After recovering he joined the 1st Battalion in France and was badly wounded in the arm. He returned to England, and before regaining the use of his arm-was appointed Aide-de-Camp (A.D.C.) to Major General W. de L. ‘Williams, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., in France, where he gained the M.C. and Bar. Moor was promoted Lieutenant on 30 October 1916.

 

Military Cross citation: (gazetted 2 December 1918)

 

“Lieutenant George Raymond Dallas Moor, V.C., Hampshire Regiment. For conspicuous gallantry and skill. He carried out a daylight reconnaissance all along the divisional front in face of heavy machine-gun fire at close range, in many places well in front of our foremost posts.”

 

Bar to Military Cross (gazetted 29 July 1919)

 

“On October 20th, 1918, near to Pijpestraat, the vanguard commander was wounded and unable to carry on. Owing to heavy shelling and machine-gun fire, the vanguard came to a standstill. Lieut. Moor, Acting General Staff Officer, who was reconnoitring the front, noticed this; he immediately took charge, and by his fearless example and skilful leading continued the advance until the objective was reached. He has a positive contempt for danger, and distinguishes himself on every occasion.”

 

Lieutenant-General Sir Beauvoir de Lisle, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., in a narrative of the V.C. action, said, “I have often quoted this young Officer as being one of the bravest men I have met in this War.”

 

This poor young man was one of 15 million servicemen and women who did not survive WWI, he succumbed to Spanish Influenza during the pandemic which swept the world, and died at Mouvaux, France, on 3 November 1918.  He is buried in the Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, which is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

 

Have an opinion and argue it

 

In small business having an opinion and backing your judgement is essential for success. The really important thing though is to be fully informed and base your judgement on fact not hearsay.

 

If you find yourself being swayed by hearsay, stop and check what the consequences may be if you are wrong… If warranted, take the time to check out for yourself and find out the truth, you owe it to yourself when you are in a position so vital to the economy of this great nation that you don’t find yourself being challenged and losing credibility because you can’t validate your opinion.

 

Be informed, consider the wellbeing of all in our community and continue to work hard are the cornerstones of a great businessman.

 

 

Yours in Successful Small Businesses…