Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No longer active...

Hey everyone...

To begin with, thanks for following me here but I have now set up my new blog - better linked with my website...

You can find all my latest stuff at www.jamesarvanitakis.net - including my latest articles and the many responses of the people I seem to rub the wrong way!

Please join me there

Cheers, james

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The mining tax... why it remains a good idea

Like most of you this week, I have been reflecting on the state of Australia politics and am thinking that a good shake up is exactly what we need...

For too long the two main parties have resembled each other on key policy issues - with the mining tax being one key exception.

With the independents acting as 'King (or Queen) Makers' (as the case may be), I thought I would again raise the important issue of rent resource tax...

I had this article published by The Punch... check it out here...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Economics - a discussion of housing and stimulous

Hi everyone

Many of us have been frustrated with the simple positions taken in the 2010 federal election especially around economics. As a result, I have decided to write a couple of pieces as follows...

1. The stimulous package
No matter how you feel about the ALP, the stimulous package saved Australia from deep recession. While I was critical of some aspects of the package in the past, I think Rudd/Swan should be commended for it. I explain why here... for the Centre for Policy Development

2. Housing and economic policy beyond interest rates
In a globalised economy, the direction that interest rates take has as much to do with international factors as domestic management - and as a result, this proxy can be misdirected. A better way to judge economic credentials and leadership is by looking at the issue of housing: who can afford what; what are the inflationary implications; where is it located; and is it both economically and environmentally sustainable? These questions should not be limited to home ownership, but also need to be applied to the rental market. Read more here... in an article I wrote with Lee Rhiannon - Green's candidate for the Senate...

Hope you enjoy the read

Cheers, james

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Population... size does not matter

For those of us who feel that Australia is at a crossroad on issues around sustainability the debates related to this topic have been more than a little disappointing – and I am not just talking about the election cycle. The issue of sustainability, carrying capacity and population numbers have all been meshed together to give us a linear equation: less people = more sustainability.

I believe that this is a myth that needs to be confront... and so I have grown increasingly frustrated about this debate and have started writing a response to the simplified approach.

You can read the article that I wrote for The Punch here...

In addition, British scientist Fred Pearce, has also challenged some of the numbers people are throwing around in a recent book - read an article by him here...

Hope you enjoy

Cheers, james

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This election is driving me nuts

Hey everyone

I have been away for a while and have not posted much... my bad.

Despite this, much has been happening and I need to catch up on documenting it. My gig on FBI Radio is still going and I now have a new column writing for The Punch (following the sad demise of the wonderful New Matilda).

Most recently I have made my feelings known about the inadequate way the two major parties have been dealing with some major issues.

In this article I talk about why I would rather watch Masterchef (not that I ever really watched it) than deal with this election - which, as I argue, is enough to even turn political junkies off.

The article is available here...

As always, your thoughts are appreciated

Cheers, james

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FBI Radio 28 April 2010

Hey everyone...

This week on sociologic FBI Radio I looked at a couple of issues that will be affecting our lives... here they are:

1. Time for lazy kids to get off the dole

Last week, Tony Abbott announced that if his government was elected, they would make unemployment benefits subject to age requirements. This is one of the silliest policy suggestions for a long time and I explained why. The discussion on FBI Radio was based on an article I wrote for Newmatilda.com which is available here...

2. Climate change back flip

This week, the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the government would be shelving any plans for a carbon trading scheme! This is one of the great political back flips and highlights three key things:

  • The first is a lack of political courage on behalf of the Rudd Government. They claimed this to be a key moral challenge of our time and pushed it as a way to split the Opposition. When the Opposition stood up to them, they backed down. This is a shame;
  • Secondly, it highlights that there are a number of dinosaurs in the Opposition. Tony Abbott is more interested in scaring the public than discussing the issue. I have written extensively about the overwhelming evidence for human-induced climate change but the same dinosaurs that believed passive smoking was not a problem have now turned their attention to climate change; and
  • That climate change may well be too complex an issue for our political system to deal with. If everyone waits for someone else to act, then we are in serious trouble...

For a great read about this political back flip check out Ben Eltham’s awesome piece.

If you want to let Kevin Rudd know this is political cowardice, then I suggest you sign up to the Get Up petition.

Thank, james

Monday, April 19, 2010

Racsim sucks: and so do policies aimed at discriminate against refugees

Hey everyone

I given some thought at all the things that have been happening around refugees. Given the new position (outrageous) by the Rudd Government, I thought it would be time for a bit of a discussion about the way we see the world and our response to refugees.

Why this blog now? Because I am looking into the issue of racism as I prepare for a trip to Stockholm that a very unfriendly volcano seems to have thwarted. What I am researching is the way that the issue of ‘race’ and ‘racism’ is treated in our popular culture. The outcomes of that research are still coming and I am in the midst of writing a paper which I will hopefully publish in the not too distant future.

The motivations for this research have two distinct directions: the first was the underlying themes that emerged in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (that is, The girl with the dragon tattoo series, or in its original translation Men who hate women). One of these themes is the way that migrants are the target of violence and derision: ignored, violated, cheap labour and so on.

The second motivation for my research is the fact that Australian pop culture remains, essentially, colour blind. There are few positions for the non-white protagonist in Australian movies and television. Yes, there are exceptions but there is no way that the monochrome world of television reflects our multicultural society. Pop culture is such an important part of our society that we need to use it both as a mirror and as well as a significant guide towards attitudes: what does the lack of diversity tell us about Australian society.

Like I said, I will delve deeper into this at some future point - both with another blog and more formal publishing because now I want to highlight some aspects of refugees and amazing anti-racist activists that are responding to Australia’s stance on refugees – which I believe is deeply problematic and essentially racist.

To begin with, we should note that a refugee, according to the 1951 UN Convention, is:

Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.

It is surprisingly easy to identify who is a genuine refugee: it is hard for someone to pretend to speak another language or fake a religion. If someone claims that they are from somewhere, then it is quite easy to ask them some questions to confirm this.

A few facts from the Edmund Rice Centre that confirm that Australia does not have a refugee problem. Australia remains down the bottom of countries that see both refugee arrivals and those seeking asylum. Let's look at some of the statistics:

  • Tanzania hosts one refugee for every 76 Tanzanian people (1:76)
  • Britain hosts one refugee for every 530 British people. (1:530)
  • Australia hosts one refugee for every 1583 Australian people. (1:1583)

There are many myths about refugees which there is no reason to list here but I recommend you check out the Refugee Council of Australia
website where some are listed and responded to.

I can only think what I would do if that was me and my family and we were forced to leave a country or persecuted: I would do anything to protect them. What drives refugees are push factors (that is, things happening back in the home country) not pull factors, such as Australia’s policies on refugees (see http://www.smh.com.au/national/oceans-apart-over-brutal-reality-20100402-rjy2.html).

I fear that the Australian Government’s position, along with the Opposition and the trashy newspapers, radio stations and tv stations is aggravating a sense of concern and unease that Australians are feeling. This sense of unease is being used for political purposes and real leadership should be shown by the Federal Government rather than pandering to the racist posturing by the federal opposition. Both parties need to come together and take a humanitarian stance: we should not be playing with people’s lives.

This is made clear in a recent campaign undertaken by Amnesty International titled Don’t use asylum seekers as political footballs. There is a petition there that over 110,000 people had signed (including me). If you are passionate about this issue or simply want people’s rights and dignity to be respected, I encourage you to sign it.

In addition, there is a very cool group that has been set up celebrating Australia’s diversity: The anti-bogan website which states that ‘True Blue is not Skin Deep. I like these guys – and they have an awesome facebook page! Join up and support their work through their petitions and also spreading the word.

If you want to see the human story about refugees, here is a story featuring a friend of mine. He is interviewed by the voice of America about Afghan refugee and recent Australian government policy to suspend cases of asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. You can follow watch it here.

I think this remains a key issue for Australia and we need to show everyone that tolerance, peace and humanity over rules hate and ignorance: don’t hate my friends, marinate! This week in Queensland the Hammered music festival was held and it is co-sponsored by the Southern Cross Hammer Skinheads. This is an international race-hate group banned in Germany for spreading Nazi messages! A group of activists stood up to them by holding their own peace festival.

By standing up and refusing to accept racism, we can help blunt those who use it for their own ends. We can also change the political culture of this country!

Cheers, james