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There is no norm to which we should all aspire, as multifarious thinking styles are invaluable to problem solving. By losing our focus on normality promotes the positives of thinking differently and the idea of neurodiversity, which is vital to the success of political and economic conundrums.
Psychology Professor, Phillip Tetlock, says: “…the aggregation of different perspectives is a potent way to improve judgment, but the keyword is different. Combining uniform perspectives only produces more of the same, while slight variation will produce slight improvement. It is the diversity of the perspectives that makes the magic work.” The title of Professor of Social Science, Scott Page’s paper, says it all “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.”
In his book, Luxury Fever, Robert Frank asks why, as societies get wealthier, their citizens are no happier? He asks why people are so keen to spend money on luxuries rather than on things that would make them lastingly happier. For example, folk would be happier if they reduced their commuting time, even if it meant living in smaller houses, yet U.S trends are toward ever larger houses and ever longer commutes. People would be happier and healthier if they took longer holidays, even if it meant earning less, yet holidays are shrinking. People would be happier, and wealthier if they bought basic, functional appliances, automobiles, and wristwatches, rather than paying a large premium for designer names and superfluous features.
Frank’s explanation is simple: “Conspicuous and inconspicuous consumption follow different psychological rules. Conspicuous consumption refers to things that are visible to others and that are taken as markers of a person’s relative success”. Their value comes not so much from their objective properties as from the statement they make about their owner. He says: “Conspicuous consumption is a zero-sum game: Each person’s move up devalues the possessions of others. Furthermore, it’s difficult to persuade an entire group or subculture to ratchet down, even though everyone would be better off, on average, if they all went back to simple watches. Inconspicuous consumption, on the other hand, refers to goods and activities that are valued for themselves, that are usually consumed more privately, and that are not bought for the purpose of achieving status.
The U.S psychologists, Ed Diener and Martin Seligman studied subjective wellbeing across a range of different societies. It compared the life-satisfaction scores of groups with radically different financial means and physical circumstances. The results showed three groups clustered at the top of the life-satisfaction scale. They were the Pennsylvania Amish (5.8 out of 7), the Inuit people in northern Greenland (5.9), and the Maasai (5.7), a traditional herding people in East Africa who have no electricity or running water and who live in huts made of dung. Even Calcutta slum dwellers, who live under the most appalling conditions of physical deprivation scored 4.6, which was above the mean of 4.0. This put the slum dwellers above most of the richer countries of the OECD.
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century told us two things about inequality:
1) Inequality is actually worse than we thought it is, and
2) It will continue to get worse because of structural reasons inherent in our form of capitalism itself, unless we do something.
The top 0.1 percent of families in America went from 7 percent of national wealth in the late 1970s, to 25 percent now. In that time the income share of the top 1 percent of families has gone from less than 10 percent to more than 20 percent. Moreover, the U.S is no longer the land of opportunity. There are a number of studies showing that the U.S ranks among the least economically mobile among developed nations.
Piketty shows that capitalism will increase inequality all the time that the rate of return on capital is greater than the rate of economic growth. Many well-respected economists have endorsed the central thesis of the book, including economics Nobel winners Robert Solow, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Krugman.
The reason we can’t make reliable predictions about plans for our future, is not so much that it’s unknowable, but that it’s implausible. Futurist, Stewart Brand explains: There’s the things that you deem probable and things that you would deem possible. Scenarios always have to stay within plausibility. Reality has no such restraint. In the reality spectrum, there’s no end of things that are clearly impossible. There are so many of them that, statistically, ones that we can’t even name are going to be part of what happens in this century
Half of all hospital patients in the world suffer from diseases borne by unclean drinking water and the prime cause is the lack of toilet facilities, general sanitation and clean water for washing and drinking. In her book, The Big Necessity, Rose George says: “Poor sanitation, bad hygiene and unsafe water – cause one in ten of the world’s illnesses. Children suffer most. Diarrhoea – nearly ninety per cent of which is caused by faecally contaminated food or water – kills a child every fifteen seconds. The 1.8 million child deaths each year relate to clean water and sanitation…” Yet at a cost of around $US27 per family, a biogas plant can be installed that would provide a hygienic toilet, it would compost the waste which after a few weeks becomes fertilizer and provide gas for cooking. In many areas its deployment would help greatly in cleaning up the water supply which is contaminated with sewage.
An Evolutionary scientist, David Sloan Wilson, explains the importance of trust by extolling the virtue of establishing “a moral community” and the interdependence between morals and morale. “The word moral refers to a sense of right and wrong. The word morale refers to motivation for action.” He says that for a community “…to have a strong morale, they must have a strong and unified sense of right and wrong.” For people at any level of society to get along, they need to share the same understanding of what is good about coexisting together; to be unified requires a fairly consistent sense of what is considered to be accountable and responsible behaviour, along with the means to enforce it. As Wilson says, “A strong value system is required for decisive action… morality is required for morale…”
This is a more complete account of EDO’s assessment on the good and bad features of the Qld Parliament Planning Bills:
- The general rule that each party pay their own costs in the Planning and Environment Court has been returned, removing one barrier to community participation;
- The power to approve code assessable development even where it does not comply with any assessment benchmarks has been removed from the Bill by an amendment;
- There have been some improvements to public notification, including providing that a regulation may specify a public notification period of greater than 15 business days. This suggests that we will see restoration of a regulation requiring at least 30 business days public notification for a list or more sensitive or high risk/complex development;
- There has been some strengthening of the role of the Queensland Heritage Council and heritage assessment.
- The required improvements to environmental protections have not been provided; there are no requirements for baseline assessments of environmental values, or performance indicators to demonstrate how well measures to protect our environmental values are operating. A recently released report from the University of Queenslandhas demonstrated that koala populations have declined by approximately 80% in the Koala Coast and 54% in Pine Rivers between 1996 and 2014 under our current planning framework. The Bills passed last night do nothing to improve the future of our koalas, or our other critters and ecosystems;
- Specialist agencies have not had their concurrence agency powers, taken away under the previous government, restored – so their views are not required to be followed by the Department of Planning. The relevant expertise of specialist agencies must be a required component of planning decision making that is not able to be ignored, to ensure that decisions are made on the best available expertise;
- Exemption certificates are introduced to allow a development to be certified as exempt from needing assessment and approval (and therefore also exempt from any notification to the community) where broad, vague criteria are met. The reasons for why an exemption certificate was provided are at least now required to be published and available to the public;
- Developers can still choose their own assessment managers. At very least, some measures have been implemented to address conflicts of interest that may arise around chosen assessment managers. However, the issue of assessment managers getting too close and familiar with developers is still real.
Some key points and useful phrases for inclusion in your letter
Please save the people of the Redlands from two huge developments proposed by our Mayor, Karen Williams. One is to be on 40 hectares of land reclaimed from the Moreton Bay Marine Park, the other is on 280 acres of farmland. Both will comprise new townships of around 10,000 people and both DA’s are a direct result of our Mayor and some of her Councillors being in the pocket of developers.
The most pressing issue in Australian politics today is how it’s funded. How bad do things have to get before government will act?
We ask that State Government reassert its commitment to ethical conduct in local government by preventing Council’s unhealthily cosy terms with developers .
In many parts of south-east Qld, builders that don’t make contributions to unprincipled councillors’ campaigns are missing out to those that do. And those that do get spectacular returns on their investment.
As with the US, professional lobbyists in Australia are now an accepted part of the political process, as is the idea that if you have enough money to throw at a political party, you can buy access to its key decision-makers.
Dear Ms Trad, you have said that you “… want to ensure the SEQ regional plan reflects the values, needs and great ideas of the community.” But presently this is not possible due to developer funded election campaigns in the Redland City Council. Hence the values and needs of developers are being put ahead of the community.
You have been contacted many times before out of concern for ethical governance of Redland City. I demand that you follow up as a matter of urgency the documents tabled on 17th March this year regarding several conflict of interest and corruption issues related to our Council. If this matter had been pursued with the urgency that it demanded, we would not be in the mess we are in now.
Documents were tabled before the Local Government elections in March and showed clear evidence of conflict of interest and developer influence in Mayor Williams and some of her Councillors.
The Shoreline consortium is dominated by two major Redlands developers: Fox and Bell and Fiteni Homes, both established builders and developers based in the Redlands and both financial supporters of Mayor Williams.
In regard to the Shoreline proposal, it’s important to note that no need whatsoever has been established, based on population growth, for turning rural land outside the city’s urban footprint into a residential estate for 10,000 people.
We ask you to investigate these issues with reference to the documents tabled in March 2016 to ascertain if Council guidelines or legal requirements have been breached. The community needs to see that the Government will act. Action is required to confirm that unethical or even illegal behaviour is not tolerated. The community needs to have confidence in our elected officials.
We ask that you take action under the Local Government Act (Section 121) to set aside an unsound decision by a Council, being the approval of the Toondah PDA and Shoreline MCU, until you have reviewed these allegations.
We demand that the Government commit to a review of election donations by developers in Queensland elections with a view to adopting laws like those that exist in New South Wales.
Year after year since 2004, we see the same culture of concealment, the same disregard for honest and open administration. Without the knowledge of most councillors, monthly meetings were being hosted at Council’s Bloomfield Street HQ, between senior Council planners and the development industry. The meetings were not publicly announced, their terms of reference and the names of those taking part were not for publication. The minutes of the meetings were likewise off limits, even to the elected councillors.
Minister, we and our community are very concerned about the implication of the issues we have raised. They demand your immediate attention.
There are grave concerns for the ethical governance of Redland City, Council under the direction of Mayor Williams. There are very justifiable reasons for public unease.
We ask that the Queensland Government hand documents tabled in March 2016 to the Triple C. The Queensland Local Government Act 2009, and Local Government Electoral Act 2011 are demonstrably inadequate, treated with contempt, and rarely enforced. It is over a decade since the CMC Inquiry into the 2004 Gold Coast City Council Election and twelve years later the situation has deteriorated further. The concept of public interest has been depreciated and corruption continues untrammelled.
Twelve years ago, Robert Needham, Chair of the CMC Inquiry into the 2004 Gold Coast City Council Election said:
‘The evidence given by some councillors at the inquiry, and their conduct outside the inquiry, has created an impression that they are entirely unwilling to accept responsibility for either their actions or their words. They have shown a worrying lack of insight into how their actions might be perceived by the general public’
In the Local Government Act, “misconduct” applies only to councillors, and is conduct, or a conspiracy or attempt to engage in conduct, of or by a councillor: that adversely affects, or could adversely affect (either directly or indirectly) the honest and impartial performance of the councillor’s responsibilities or the exercise of the councillor’s powers.