Why are we throwing money at people who choose not to use Public Education?

By | Education | 6 Comments

The Government has just decided to throw another 4.6 billion taxpayer dollars at a sector which already sucks up $12 billion a year of Australia’s education funding.  On equity grounds alone, the increase for ‘private’ and not public schools is outrageous.  But it highlights an even more egregious fact.  Almost 90% of Australian households are being asked to subsidise the private choices of the other 10%.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, of every 100 Australian households, 33 will have children under 15 or dependent students aged 15-24.  In 21 of those households the school age children will be attending public schools, 7 will be attending Catholic schools and 5 will be attending independent schools (such as Protestant and Islamic schools).

Together the 12 households that have chosen not to use the education system funded by all taxpayers are asking the other 88 households to pay for their choice.  They argue that in choosing not to use a public service they are saving the community money and so they should be compensated.  But that is the equivalent of an avid reader suggesting he is saving the local library by buying his own books and then expecting his collection to be paid for by the taxpayer.  Or the chap installing a pool in his backyard to be expecting it be paid for by the government because he is taking load off the public pool.

The reality is that our voracious reader or our keen swimmer may be choosing to spend money on books and pools for any number of reasons including convenience, variety and perhaps just because they don’t like sharing.  And they are perfectly free to make those choices for those reasons.  But they don’t get to ask the rest of us to subsidise those preferences.

Likewise those 12 families are choosing not to avail themselves of the public education system for a multitude of reasons.  Maybe they like religion mixed with their education.  Maybe they want a single sex education.  Or maybe its just that they think they can get a better education than the government is offering.  Whatever is driving their choice, they should be free to make that choice.  But they should not be given taxpayer funds for electing not to use a public service, any more than our book lover or water enthusiast should be given tax dollars to build and maintain their private library and private pool.

When the governments of Australia collectively decided that education was a public service that should be free, secular and accessible to all in the late 19th century, the Catholic church opted out and declared that it would fund an alternative.  It did this knowing that to do so would cut it off from taxpayer funds. But such was its religious conviction that children of Catholics should be educated by Catholics, that this was the price it was prepared to pay.

The Church stuck to this ideal for the better part of a century, but the decline in availability of low cost teaching labor provided by religious orders and the increasing cost of providing more complex education meant they were very much the paupers’ option by the mid-1960s.  Some strong-arm tactics by the Catholic church in Goulburn resulted in the first dribble of public money.  In the half century since, those drips have turned into a torrent and not just to Catholic schools.  In many cases, including in Goulburn, Catholic schools now receive as much or even more public money than their so called ‘public’ neighours.  And still they want more.  And they tell their customers how to vote to ensure they get more.

There is nothing wrong with parents choosing not to use a public service. But that doesn’t mean the taxpayer should pay for their choice any more than the government should pay for my subscription because I pay for Foxtel rather than watch the ABC.

Australians don’t want our governments throwing our money at people who opt-out of our public services.  We want every precious education tax dollar focused on improving the skills of every single child in this country. Yes, they can choose not to be educated by the State.  But if they do so, they also forgo access to the State’s money.  The sooner we shut down the notion of privatised delivery of government funded education the sooner we can begin to claw our way back to the top of the list of the world’s best education systems.

Schools taking taxpayer funds must not be used for political campaigning

By | Education | No Comments

On the eve of the by-election, the three Catholic schools in the Longman electorate wrote to 5,000 parents urging them to vote for the Labor Party.  Between them, these three schools received $31.6 million dollars in government funding in 2016. It is outrageous that they are using taxpayer funds to engage in blatant politicking.

The email from the schools explained that the parents should vote Labor because the Turnbull Government’s policies would “impede our ability to build new schools in the archdiocese and we will be challenged to keep pace with the real cost increases for Catholic schooling.”  It went on to explain that Labor had pledged to spend an extra $250 million on Catholic schools nationally.  It estimated that if the Government’s policy were pursued it would cost Brisbane Catholic Schools $40 million.

But these are not poverty-stricken schools running on the smell of an oily vestment.  They are extraordinarily well funded by the taxpayer.  For example, according to myschool, the Caboolture secondary school, St Columban’s College received 13,380 taxpayer dollars per student in 2016.  This was just a whisker under the $13,657 received by its next-door neighbor, Caboolture State High School.   St Columban’s also topped that up with an extra $5,678 per student from its fee-paying families.

In addition to that recurrent funding, both schools received taxpayer funds for capital works.  Caboolture SHS banked $516,595 from 2014-16.  But St Columban’s received more than three times as much taxpayer dosh, taking in $1,864,312.  That money is used to build assets owned by the Catholic Church, who in turn have the right to exclude the very people who paid to build them.

If the principal of Caboollture State High School had indulged in a little freelance political lobbying of his parent group, the screams of outrage would be heard from space, and rightly so.  The Principal is a government employee and has no place suggesting how parents should vote, much less actively cajoling them.  So why on earth do we tolerate it from Catholic Schools that are also funded by us?

When the governments of Australia collectively decided that education was a public service that should be free, secular and accessible to all in the late 19th century, the Catholic church opted out and declared that it would fund an alternative.  It did this knowing that to do so would cut it off from taxpayer funds. But such was its religious conviction that children of Catholics should be educated by Catholics, that this was the price it was prepared to pay.

The Church stuck to this ideal for the better part of a century, but the decline in availability of low cost teaching labor provided by religious orders and the increasing cost of providing more complex education meant they were very much the paupers’ option by the mid-1960s.  Some strong-arm tactics by the Catholic church in Goulburn resulted in the first dribble of public money.  In the half century since, those drips have turned into a torrent.  In many cases, including in Goulburn and Caboolture, Catholic schools now receive as much or even more public money than their so called ‘public’ neighours.  And still they want more.  And they tell their customers how to vote to ensure they get more.

There is nothing wrong with parents choosing not to use a public service.  But they don’t get to send the taxpayer a bill for their choice any more than I get to ask the government to send me a refund because I didn’t use the police this year.

Equally there is nothing wrong with private organisations lobbying for whatever political ideology they like.  But they don’t get to use taxpayer funds to do it.  If the Catholic Church wants to engage in political campaigning in the seat of Longman then it should hand back the $30 million plus a year it takes from the taxpayer in that seat.  If it would prefer to keep the money, then it should have to play by the same rules as a public school.  No lobbying.  No private school fees.  And the assets it builds with taxpayer funds remain the property of the taxpayer.  The days of having their wafer and eating it too need to stop. Now.

Creating The Perfect World for Psychopaths

By | Psychopaths | No Comments

We didn’t mean to do it, but we have created a perfect world for psychopaths. If I were to sit down with the express aim of designing a society where psychopaths could flourish, it would be almost identical to any modern capitalist society, or at least, where most are heading very quickly. There would be almost no communal property. Government would have been reduced to a tax collecting rump, tasked mostly with providing bare minimum services to the destitute. Almost all government assets would have been liquidated in search of the ‘efficiencies’, not to mention the money offered by business operators. The power system, the ports, the railways, the banks, the post office and even core services like health and unemployment would have all become partially or full privatised.

All communal services would be delivered on a largely user-pay basis, and the concept of community assets, like the public pool or public transport would cease to be fashionable. The interests and rights of the individual would trump any consideration of the collective good at every turn. Institutions that previously reinforced community values, such as businesses, religious groups and families would wilt under the sustained economic pressure to maximise individual gain. Increasingly business and government agencies would internally restructure in a way that rewarded individual and competitive economic performance rather than satisfying community expectations. Bullying and domestic violence would accelerate as the community standards which held them in check decayed. Honesty would become something to which we all paid lip-service whilst desperately trying to get away with as much as we could. We would come to expect the same levels of almost-honesty from our political representatives and become inured to their flexible relationship with the truth. It wouldn’t make us love them but we would know where they were coming from. We would no longer trust our leaders or public institutions. Indeed we would quickly learn the only people we could trust were ourselves and whoever Uber rated with 5 stars. In the race to compete with others narcissistic behaviour becomes so common that barely anyone notices it as being unusual. Everyone would be expected to self-promote at every possible opportunity.

The society I have described is highly individualistic. Every day in every way, the members of that society compete with each other for scarce resources. Co-operation and trust are almost non-existent and honesty is a vague and flexible concept. In that society humans have no need for empathy, trust, co-operation or a moral code which enables communal living. In that society all that matters is individual self-interest and getting the most for you without regard to anyone else. In that society, having a brain with a socialisation circuit upgrade is a significant impairment. You will have qualms about breaking the law. You will try not to exploit others as much as you can. You will try to avoid dishonesty unless it is really necessary. In that society, empaths are the sub-normals. And being a psychopath is a distinct advantage. Having a brain unfettered by moral constraints or empathy makes you a winner and probably even the President.

An Extract from Taming Toxic People

Don’t hand Sugar Tax money to the people who got us in this mess

By | Conflicts of Interest, Sugar | 3 Comments

It’s already been quite a year for the Australian Sugar Industry.  Just 6 sleeps into the New Year they were taking sustained incoming fire from the AMA (Australian Medical Association). Suddenly the doctors were demanding a soft drink tax.  It was something the AMA had sort-of mentioned before but now they were going postal on the issue.

Wiping the holiday sleep from their eyes, the pro-sugar lobby struggled to respond.  But eventually they managed to inspire a National Party Minister to regurgitate the soft drink industry response. Then they then lined up a climate change denial think tank to try and jazz it up with ‘science.’

And last but certainly least, yesterday they wheeled out an ever-reliable University of Sugar (sorry, Sydney) dietitian who sagely warned us that if soft drinks were taxed we’d all hit the booze instead.  Yes, lock up the vodka at Macca’s, Coke now cost 2c more.

It’s a familiar merry-go-round but in every other civilized place in the world it eventually ends with the introduction of a soft drink tax.  Since 2014, 28 countries and 7 US cities have implemented sugar taxes.  And there are very good reasons for that.  The science on the health destroying effects of sugar is unequivocal.  The costs of managing that harm are crippling. And unlike most tax increases, sugar taxes are popular.  A January 2018 poll tells us that 53 per cent of Australians want it.

The real question then is not whether we will have a soft drink tax but when.  Most importantly, when the inevitable happens, what will we do with the money it raises.

The AMA has clearly put its stake in the ground to be the first in the queue for handouts.  But their record on sugar has hardly been stellar.  No, they haven’t actively promoted sugar consumption like dietitians or the Heart Foundation, but they have sat on their hands for at least a decade and happily refused to use their considerable influence to advocate against sugar.

Even now, playing catchup, their support of the Health Star System (which labels sugar loaded Milo a health food and unflavoured Greek Yoghurt a health hazard), suggests they remain a little confused on potential solutions. The AMAs new found conscience should therefore be regarded with suspicion and their plans for the dough scrutinized carefully.

A soft drink tax is unlikely to have any measurable health effect on its own. Taxing one source of sugar will certainly reduce consumption from that source but people simply find a cheaper, or just different, supply (iced coffee anyone?).

But the siren call of cold hard cash will apparently do what I and many like me have failed to do for a decade.  It will remove the single greatest obstacle to real progress, the nutrition rent-seekers.

These organisations have been perfectly happy to ignore the science for decades.  They have been happy to dictate health policy that lets ever increasing numbers of us suffer.  And they have been happy to do it because of ego or profit or consensus or stubbornness or all of the above.

If, however the tax funds consistent government public health campaigns aimed at making sugar consumption slightly less desirable than persistent public flatulence, then it will have a measurable and significant effect.  The outcome can’t be to hand money to the organisations that got us in this mess in the first place and hope for the best.  Because if there is one thing we should know about sugar, our health comes a very long way second to the self-interest of the people with their hand in the cookie jar.

Surviving the Family Psychopath at Christmas

By | Psychopaths | 4 Comments

Christmas is a time for good will to all, for giving and receiving and, for getting uncomfortably close to people we’ve spent the rest of the year avoiding like the plague.

Toxic people. You might call them bullies, or micromanagers, or narcissists, or sociopaths.  I don’t feel particularly charitable towards them, so I go with psychopath.  But whatever you call them there common feature is a complete lack of empathy.

They see human feelings as an opportunity for manipulation.  They see our concern for our fellow travellers as a ‘weakness’ they neither suffer nor desire.  But they know they can use our feelings to torment us, sometime for gain but mostly for their pleasure.  So there is no better time of year than one when we have no choice but to be in their company.

Psychopaths want to be the centre of attention at all times.  Their birthday is a terrific celebration for exactly that reason, it’s all about them.  They are the focus and the receiver of all things.  They feel the world should be like this every day.

Psychopaths don’t experience human feelings.  They are not elevated by the company of others.  They have no idea why we are so obsessed by getting together and celebrating not-them.

Christmas, rather like other’s people’s birthdays, has the potential to be the opposite of a good time to a psychopath.  Luckily there are compensations.  People who go out of their way to avoid contact with the psychopath are suddenly forced to share a meal with them.  And they have to play nice.

In any room full of people making nice, there are loads of little surface tensions just waiting to be magnified with an appropriate bit of manipulation.  Oh the fun that can be had scratching everybody else’s little emotional itches until they openly bleed.  Puppet masters by nature, you will not know where the bullets will come from.  Psychopaths are experts at lighting a fire in others and sitting back to watch the show.  Pass the popcorn – the entertainment is endless.

Even better old and new targets will be much more open to the psychopathic charm.  The festive spirit dulls their victims’ memories of just what an utter prick they can be.  The opportunities for emotional torment of past victims and of the harvesting of new ones are endless.  Maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all.

Every family has at least one of these toxic people.  They are the ones you wouldn’t have in your home if you weren’t obliged to by a sense of family responsibility.  They are the guest that is guaranteed to sabotage the bonhomie and leave a trail of ignited emotions and crumpled self-worth in their wake as they trample through the goodwill of Christmas.

And yet, we will have them at our table every Christmas without fail.  Because we care about how other humans feel and it would be mean to leave them out at that one time of the year.  Leaving them off the guest list doesn’t really affect them.  They are not harmed by ‘missing out’ on Christmas. But ditching them will probably more trouble than its worth.  They will use their exclusion as a weapon to divide the family into for and against (you) camps and you will pay for it a thousand times over.

Short of ‘forgetting’ to invite them, there are other defences against the family psychopath.  You cant change them, but you can change how you and others react to them.

Be well mannered, light hearted and Teflon coated.  Feel the power of knowing your enemy.  Be ready to stand up to any attempts at manipulation.  Push back hard and publicly on any jibe, but stay unemotional and unmovable.  Do not respond to innuendo designed to get a rise out of you. The more you remain implacable in the face of provocation, the less you will have to do it.

But most importantly, do not believe or act on anything the psychopath says about anyone else.  It is probably a lie and at the very least exaggerated and out of context. The more people in the room who are signed on to your plan, the less likely any of you will be manipulated.  Solidarity beats a psychopath every day of the week and twice on Christmas.

If it’s not your party, you could just not go.  Yes that’s extreme, but if the alternative is guaranteed emotional turbulence it’s got to be an option.  Why not simply arrange to see the bits of the family you can stand at another time.  Pop over for Christmas Eve or catch up on Boxing Day perhaps?

If you do go, you could do a flyer.  Breeze in, drop off the presents, give dear old Aunt Flossy a kiss, have a slice of Pav and hit the road before anyone can land a punch.

None of this is easy, but if you can manage it, Christmas might actually be fun for a change.

Why the experts are wrong when they tell us cancer is our fault

By | Big Fat Lies, Vegetable Oils | 4 Comments

The statistics tell us that every year more and more of us suffer from cancer.  The experts continue to tell us it is our fault for failing to listen to their sage advice. But with smoking and drinking at all-time lows and sun protection at levels never before seen in the history of life on earth, it’s time for the experts to admit that maybe, just maybe they have been horribly wrong.

This week the team at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute pumped out another of their tax payer funded three yearly updates on ‘modifiable’ risk factors for cancer.  After doing some mathematical acrobatics they calculate that if we just stopped doing risky things 38% of cancer deaths would be prevented.

The ‘risky things’ they are worried about are smoking, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, eating too much red meat, consuming too much alcohol, not exercising enough and spending too much time in the sun.

The only problem is that we have been doing all of that since at least the early eighties.  And over the intervening decades cancer incidences have been accelerating at a terrifying rate.

Between 1980 and 2012 we cut back on the booze – dropping our consumption by 21%. We also ate 15.4% more vegetables and 7.5% more fruit between 1992 and 2011.  And our consumption of beef has plummeted by half since the early eighties.

For good measure, we also increased the amount of exercise we did, with the proportion of us doing high levels of exercise almost doubling.  And our sun protection behaviours have improved significantly. Most importantly, we dramatically reduced smoking.  Adults who smoked daily almost halved between 1995 and 2015.

And our reward for doing exactly as we were told? The incidence of all cancers has increased by 23% and some cancers have really exploded.  Australians are now three times as likely to have thyroid or liver cancer and between 2 and 3 times as likely to have melanoma or Kidney, Anal, or prostate cancer.

We have done exactly what we were told and the result is the opposite of what the experts predicted.  And yet the advice from those experts is to do it harder.  On the evidence to date you could reasonably conclude doing what the experts tell us will likely increase the suffering from cancer.

We need these experts to take a harder look at what we know about the underlying causes of cancer and break from the career-preserving eat-more-veg-and-exercise-more tosh they have so far been dispensing.

In an environment when the solution you preach is not producing the result in you predict, then it is highly probably you are missing something.  Yes, smoking reductions have put downward pressure on lung cancer rates but it is also clear that something else is putting even more upward pressure on lung cancer and a long list of other cancers.

We know that smoking causes cancer because it releases large amount of toxic aldehydes into our system.  These drive a state of oxidative stress which cascades through to the DNA disruption which lies at the heart of cancer.

But we have known for decades that seed oils, the fats which now totally dominate our food supply, produce exactly the same disease cascades as smoking – only worse.

The science on this is the gold standard in nutrition research – a double-blind, randomized, controlled lengthy human trial. No correlations. No guessing about explanations. Just one dietary change which lead to just one powerful conclusion.

The trial was conducted in the late 1960s. It involved randomly allocating men to diets that contained animal fat (let’s call them the butter eaters) or diets where that fat was replaced with seed oils (the margarine eaters).

After eight years, the butter eaters had half the rate of death from cancer when compared to the margarine eaters. And that’s even though the butter eaters had a much higher proportion of heavy smokers. It’s that simple, use seed oils for fat and humans die much more frequently from cancer.

In Australia today it is impossible to buy processed food which uses animal fat. There is one simple reason for this. It’s cheaper. All our packaged food is infused with cheap seed oils rather than expensive animal fats and our consumption of those cancer causing oils has inexorably risen as a result.

Knowing this, the rise in cancer diagnosis, despite the huge reduction in smoking, is not a surprise. Rather it is the inevitable result of the profiteering ways of the processed food industry. And it will continue to rise for as long as we continue to consume these oils.

We know that ingesting seed oils or inhaling their vapours causes cancer with at least the same level of certainty as we have about smoking. And yet these same experts telling us to eat less red meat and more vegies actively encourage us to consume these lethal oils.

The sanctimonious preaching must stop. We don’t need yet another round of experts using our money to tell us cancer is our fault.  Cancer is not our fault. The science has told us for decades that it is caused by the very same seed oils that these experts tell us we should eat.  We need the high priests of nutrition science to immediately stop singing from the food industry song-sheet and provide evidence based advice about what really causes cancer.  If nothing changes, nothing will change.

Forget bakers, why can private schools be bigots?

By | Education | No Comments

BEFORE we get in a tizz about whether bakers are allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, we should ask why taxpayer-funded schools can refuse to employ them or educate their kids.

The Bill likely to create the mechanics of implementing Australia’s decision to support same-sex marriage is the one proposed by Liberal senator, Dean Smith. The so-called Smith Bill allows churches to refuse to marry same-sex couples. And many in the Parliament appear to accept that this is a reasonable exemption to Australia’s anti-discrimination laws.

Those laws vary a little according to where you live but generally prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, marital status, pregnancy, religious belief, sexual orientation, nationality or ethnicity.

Marriage in a church is a religious service and the argument is that it is unreasonable to require the delivery of that service when it does not conform with the religious beliefs of the minister performing it.

But some law-makers want to significantly extend the reach of the exemption. Liberal senator James Paterson, for example wanted to see the exemption extended to anyone supplying goods and services to a same-sex wedding, such as florists, bakers and musicians.

Many legislators, including the Prime Minister, are not persuaded that extending that exemption to anyone involved in a same-sex wedding is reasonable. They argue it is a massive overreach which makes a mockery of laws against discrimination. And yet we have already gutted those laws when it comes to education.

Unlike Government-run schools, privately-run schools are largely exempt from the provisions of Australia’s discrimination laws. Under Federal law, a religious school can discriminate against employees, contractors and students on the basis of their “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy.”

Even harsher provisions are present in some state laws. In New South Wales, for example, all private schools (whether they claim to be religious or not) can refuse to teach or employ people on the basis of marital status, sex, disability, transgender or homosexuality.

In Australia ‘private’ schools are taxpayer funded, often to a level which equals or exceeds their public school neighbours. Those schools are in the business, and make no mistake it is a business, of delivering education services to a third of Australian children. They collectively employ around 146,000 people (almost 40 per cent of Australia’s education workforce) and yet are legally permitted to say and enforce things like: “staff, parents and students of Grace Christian School seek to honour God by … ensuring that sex occurs only within a monogamous marriage, and that we abstain from … homosexual activities.”

If you want a job in, or your child educated in, a very large chunk of the Australian education system your protections against discrimination are non-existent. Your tax dollars are funding institutions which can legally discriminate against you. And yet the debate of the day is whether a baker can refuse to supply a cake to a same-sex couple.

The nation’s attention is now firmly focused on the rights of same-sex couples, so let’s use that opportunity to remove the ridiculous protections afforded to the taxpayer funded businesses we call private schools. That is where ‘religious freedom’ can really bite, not at the local cake-shop or florist.

Also published at RendezView

How the Healthy Eating Guidelines have destroyed our health

By | Big Fat Lies, Conflicts of Interest, Sugar, Vegetable Oils | 5 Comments

The first Australian healthy eating guidelines were published in 1982.  Its now been 35 years since our government became worried enough about our health to start telling us what to eat.  There is now little doubt that it has been an unmitigated disaster.

The guidelines told us to eat more fruit and vegetables and less animal fat and salt, moderate our intake of sugar and alcohol and exercise more.

And we pretty much did as we were told.

We eat less fat and the fat we do eat is vegetable oil. Between 1982 and 2012 we dropped our total fat consumption by 25% but our animal fat consumption plummeted by an incredible 85%.

We now add salt to our food a third less frequently than we did in 1982. And Between 1992 and 2011, we increased our consumption of vegetables by 15.4%, and our fruit consumption by 7.5%.

We also exercise more.  In 1995, 30.2% of us performed moderate or high levels of exercise every week and in 2012 that had increased to 32.4% with the proportion doing high levels of exercise almost doubling.

Between 1980 and 2012 we also cut back on the booze, dropping our consumption by 21%.

The only guideline we appeared to ignore was the one about ‘moderating’ our sugar consumption.  Data on that is spongy due to the Australian Bureau of Statistics discontinuing its monitoring in 1995 but based on comparable data in the US, we are likely to have increased the amount of sugar we consume by about 20%

So how have the Guidelines gone?  Have they reduced chronic disease?  Have they improved health outcomes?  Are we all pictures of glowing good health after a third of a century of politician inspired, food industry sponsored, dietitian enforced eating advice?

Not so much.

Chronic disease is now killing us at rates which were unimaginable in the 1980s.  Here are some of the most egregious examples, but they are just the tip of the ice-berg.

Weight

In the early 1980s, Forty percent of us were overweight including 10% who were obese.

Thirty-five years later, we would kill to only have that kind of weight problem.  Now almost 70% of us are overweight and obesity has tripled.

The science tells us weight gain is caused by sugar’s unique ability to dysregulate our appetite control.

Type II Diabetes

In 1989, less than 1% of the Australian population had Type II Diabetes.  By 2015, that number had more than quadrupled (to 4.4%).  As a result, every day in Australia around 12 people will undergo a diabetes-related amputation.

Type II Diabetes is caused by consumption of sugar.

Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is now responsible for more than 1 in every 6 hospitalisations. And that rate has gotten very bad, very quickly. Between 2001 and 2015, hospital admissions for kidney dialysis alone more than doubled.

Chronic kidney disease is caused by consumption of sugar

Cancer

The incidence of all cancers has increased by 23% but some cancers have exploded.  Australians are now three times as likely to have Thyroid or liver cancer and between 2 and 3 times as likely to have Kidney, Anal or prostate cancer or melanoma.

Cancer is caused by consumption of vegetable oils and its growth is accelerated by sugar.

Allergies

Reported rates of Hay Fever, Asthma and Eczema have doubled in the last 15 years according to survey data. Hosptilisation rates for the most extreme form of allergic reaction, Anaphylaxis (life threatening acute inflammation usually in response to food) also doubled between 1994 and 2005. And the biggest overall change has been a five-fold increase in anaphylaxis admissions for children aged 0 to 4 years (as compared to just double for the rest of the population). Five times as many admissions in just ten years.

Impaired inflammation responses like these are caused by consumption of vegetable oil.

Fertility

Around one in six Australian couples now meet the World Health Organisation definition of infertility and this is due in no small part to the alarming drop in male fertility.  Since the 1980s, male sperm counts have dropped by at least 30% and if the trend continues, fertile men will be as rare as hen’s teeth within two decades.

Male fertility is destroyed by consumption of vegetable oils.

Those we trusted with health advice told us to eat vegetable oils, focus on the fat and calorie content of foods and exercise more.  They also had scant concern for sugar.  The food industry paid attention and pushed the ‘healthy eating’ barrow as hard and fast as it could.

Our food was filled with vegetable oil and sugar and that was ok as long as it was ‘low in saturated fat’.  The dietetics industry merrily accepted the sponsorship of the food producers and sung uncritically from the same hymn sheet.

But now we see the grisly consequences of that gormless obsession with saturated fat unfolding before our eyes (provided they haven’t been destroyed by vegetable oil induced macular degeneration).

The evidence that sugar and vegetable oil is crippling us is now abundant, but those in charge of health advice refuse to act.  These same experts who have presided over three decades of culpably negligent public health advice, now refuse to either acknowledge their error or change their foolhardy ways.

That advice must change immediately.  We cannot afford to throw millions more of us under the bus driven by the egos of academics and fueled by the blood money of the processed food industry.

The Media Must Be Our Watchdog Against The Weinsteins Of This World

By | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Powerful Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein has been accused of long-term, persistent sexual harassment. But this is not a story about gender or the evils of Hollywood. Sexual harassment isn’t about sex. It is about the public abuse of a power imbalance and we need to get a lot better at calling it out.

It is easy to suggest, as some commentators have, that women abused by Harvey Weinstein should have spoken up a long time before it was all over The New York Times. But those women were not on an even playing field with their abuser. They were working in, or wanted to work in, an industry in which his word could make or break them in an instant.

It’s also easy to clutch our pearls and pretend that Weinstein is some sort of aberrant monster. That he is an outlier. That such behavior is a rarity. But this is as old as Hollywood itself. Marilyn Munroe once said to a close friend, “I spent a great deal of time on my knees”. And the recent slew of examples from Jimmy Saville, to Rolf Harris to Donald Trump and the many in between suggests nothing has changed.

These are just the famous ones. Recent research suggests that psychopathic abuses of relative power happen in an alarming number of workplaces, alarmingly frequently.

Weinstein’s antics were an open secret. Many journalists knew his reputation. There would be very few journalists anywhere for whom anything in The New York Times came as news. But we are used to this. Every time a story like this breaks, many in the media make it clear they have known for ages.

So why does it take The New York Times to run a feature before anyone discovers they have a backbone? I’m sure Harvey is a terribly powerful bloke, but no editor’s job was in danger if they told what they knew. Heck, they might even get an award. Weinstein couldn’t end their career and their pay-packet didn’t depend on keeping him sweet.

Sure, he might rattle the sabre and, like Bill Cosby, attempt to sue, but if the evidence was there and reported without malice neither they nor their paper was in any real danger. Litigation against them or their publisher would instantly break Mark Twain’s golden rule for dealing with the press — “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel”.

Every time a workplace psychopath gets away with victimising others in front of witnesses they are more emboldened to do it again. They did their worst and the social enforcers looked the other way. There is nothing to stop them doing that, and worse, next time.

It’s easy to see why no editor feels they can act. They look around and they see all their colleagues also not acting. They fear that everyone else knows something they might be missing. And that something might get them sued. There are very few things more likely to sap your courage than peers you respect refusing to do a job that looks obvious.

The same thing happens every day in the workplace. The psychopathic boss uses their position of power to tear down a lower-level employee, often in front of a crowd of witnesses who do nothing. They don’t want to be on the receiving end of the next tirade. Valor drains away quickly when you’re not sure if you can make the rent this week.

Like the actors who didn’t directly experience Weinstein but knew what he was doing, those employees are complicit. But they are also powerless. To act is to risk their livelihood.

There are however, people who are paid to act. Indeed much of their reason for existing is for exactly that situation. The HR department are the corporate police. A well-structured enterprise will empower them to act against abuses of power with extreme prejudice.

Editors and other newsmakers are meant to perform exactly the same function for exactly the same reason in society. Calling out bullying and harassment actually enhances rather than diminishes their job prospects, or rather, it should.

But all too often, group think and anxiety about imaginary consequences shuts them down before they even begin to do their job. If we want to stop abusive behavior in Hollywood, and everywhere else, then we need to ensure our journalists, our HR departments and all our other whistleblowers are protected and emboldened. When abuse is occurring we need to protect those who speak out, not shame them into staying with the herd.

Our media can’t be an outsourced PR department spinning myths and legends, because, money. It must be a truth teller prepared to print what it knows, without fear or favour. Until that is standard operating procedure, Harvey and his ilk will continue to abuse us and we will keep enabling it.

 

Also published in The Huffington Post

North Korea: Why dealing with Kim Jong-un is like managing a psychopathic boss

By | Psychopaths | No Comments

It is possible to avoid war in Korea but only by doing the one thing Donald Trump will find near impossible: building trust.

According to classic deterrence theory, the only way to convince a nuclear-armed opponent that you will use your nukes is to have them believe you value the targets they can threaten.

If they can directly target your homeland then, the theory goes, you will retaliate if it is attacked. But it is significantly harder to be convincing when it comes to your allies.

Would Americans really risk San Francisco if Seoul — or Darwin — was threatened? This is exactly the strategic calculus going on in North Korea today.

The decades of peace created by the Cold War showed us the way to deter opportunistic aggression is to create a tight-knit community of your allies, such as the US did in Europe after World War II.

To accomplish this, the US should ensure complete unanimity of message and purpose.

There should be nothing unpredictable about their reactions for either their enemies or their allies. There should not even be the slightest hint the US can in any way be decoupled from them.

If the US believes this, and their allies believe this, then it is likely their enemies will not be prepared to risk attacking an ally for fear of retribution from the US.

Mixing paranoia with power

Clearly Donald Trump is marching to the beat of a different drum.


His Twitter tantrums accusing South Korea of “appeasement” combined with his demands that allies pay for their own defence are telling the North the US can be — and even wants to be — separated from its allies.

It is also telling the allies they cannot trust the US.

This is exactly what Kim Jong-un wants.

His end game, for now, is to force the US to trade South Korea for a threat against US soil.

At some point, he will force the South to surrender to him to avert nuclear disaster and the South will capitulate because they think the US will not risk its own cities to save theirs.

In short, Mr Kim is behaving exactly the way psychopathic dictators always do.

Psychopaths do not fear punishment. They cannot be threatened into submission. They can only be destroyed, held at bay or directed down a path of greater reward for them. They are motivated only by paranoia and reward.


Kim Jong-un is paranoid the US will do to him what it did to Saddam Hussein and Moamar Gaddafi.

The nukes are insurance against that and a threat that can get him the jewel he desperately seeks — a unified Korean peninsula under his control.

As with all psychopaths, bellicose threats are water off a duck’s back.

His strategy is to fan the flames of distrust between allies that should be standing shoulder to shoulder against him. And so far, Mr Trump has done nothing but help.

Like dealing with a psychopathic boss

There is absolutely no difference between this approach and the one employed by your psychopathic boss. And the solution is exactly the same: solidarity.

One of the proven strategies for immunising a workplace (or any group of humans) against a psychopathic boss is to ensure all members of the team trust each other.

When all communication is honest and open and the team cooperates to attain a shared goal, there are no levers and wedges for the workplace psychopath to use. Trust and cooperation will always defeat psychopathic manipulation.

Exactly the same is true at the national scale. Kim Jong-un must believe South Korea, Japan, Australia and the US will act as one if any of them is threatened. More importantly, we must believe it too.

Mr Trump must immediately stop destroying the trust allies have in the US. Every trust-draining tweet does nothing more than further embolden Mr Kim.

He must immediately commence a process of unification of purpose in that alliance. It will be hard for him. He attained power using exactly the strategy being deployed by Mr Kim — divide and conquer.

Trust, cooperation and unity are alien concepts to Mr Trump and the opposite of what has worked personally for him so far. His gut reaction to any threat is to blame others and his impulsivity means this is often communicated in the heat of the moment.

But if the world is to have any chance of avoiding nuclear war, he must build trust. And if he can’t, America must find a way to do it without him.

Not doing this guarantees war on the Korean peninsula. Doing it will guarantee peace. It won’t be a rainbows-and-lollipops kind of peace — it will be a teeth-grinding, edge-of-the-seat peace that is constantly tested.

But at least nobody dies.

Also published at ABC News.