Monday, 14 May 2012

Cradle of Democracy

I dread to think what Plato would say about the current situation in Greece. Greece is supposed to be the cradle of civilisation, the starting point for all world democracies. Now the country seems on the verge of collapse, and all because the population have "had it too good for too long" and have no intention of tightening their belts sufficiently to start a movement back to solvency. One can easily understand why they are not pleased, as their situation is mirrored to a lesser extent by many other countries, including our own.
  This then is the logical end of our much vaunted democracy. Government by the selfishness of the people, whatever the consequences! As long as we stick to the principle of "one man one vote" there can never be any change, and the Greek situation will keep repeating itself in every democratic country round the world. So is the only answer dictatorship? Do we see in North Korea and many Middle Eastern Arab states the only answer, - where the rich and powerful tell everyone else what to do, and if you disobey you will suffer!
  There is perhaps another alternative, but I doubt if any country has the courage or the mechanism for trying it. It is not my idea, - I trace it back to the famous novelist Nevil Shute who wrote mainly in the 1940s and 1950s.  \he emigrated to Australia, partly because he was fed up with U.K. politics even then, I suspect. In his book "The Far Country" he visualises Australia in the future, with a "multiple voting" system. This works as follows.
   Every citizen above a certain age, say 16, has one vote. If you stay on in education to the age of 18, you qualify for a second vote. If you continue, and get a university degree, or train as an apprentice and get a qualification, you get a third vote. If you work or travel in at least three foreign countries you get a fourth vote, and if you are married and have a family, for at least 10 years, you get a fifth vote. The sixth vote is given for recognised community service, over a period of at least 10 years. The seventh vote is a direst gift of the Queen, given for exceptional service to the state.
  I'm not sure I have got the details exactly right, but you will get the idea. It would mean that someone who educates themselves, and then lives the life of a good citizen, making the maximum contribution to their nation and local community has a greater say in the running of their countries affairs compared to a person who drops out of school at 15 and lives on benefits with out attempting to get a job or make any contribution as a citizen whatever.
   Many would feel that this might be a system worth trying, as you would have a far higher proportion of votes being cast by those who take the trouble to try and understand what is going on in their country, and how the whole situation, say, in Britain in 2012, might be remedied and improved.
   But how would you ever introduce it, as if the principle was put forward by a party as an election manifesto it would automatically be voted down by the "non-thinking" majority?
   Yet many members of the population who do struggle to understand what is happening to us, and do hope that we can create a more stable future for our children and grandchildren, will recognise that some such system as the "Multiple Voting" system which rewarded education and endeavour might be a help.
  But would it still be "Democracy" and could we ever give up the principle of "one man, one vote" which we fought so hard in the past to attain?
   And next week I shall tell you all about  "The Great Scam."

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Warm friendship, cold weather!

Yesterday, the Saturday of Bank Holiday weekend was damp, cold and gloomy. Inside the house about 15 of us gathered, and all was warmth, cheerful sound, and much consumption of food and drink, - much of it brought to the feast by our guests. If you had calculated how long we had all known one another, it would have been between 52 and 64 years. Nine of those present had been to school with my wife, some from as young as five years old!
  If there is one thing which is far more valuable than the richest of treasures, it is the bond one has with long standing friends. True, when you meet up again you have a lot of news to catch up on. But the bond between you is so strong and long lasting, and you have so much in common, that you click back together as though you have seen one another only last week. I met up with a friend I last saw properly in about 1960, - though I had glimpsed her at a funeral a dozen years or so in the past. We pretty well picked up where we had left off.
   This privilege of keeping up with a circle of friends, near and far off, is going to be another priceless thing affected by the horrible hike in the cost of postage. This modest blog is one way of keeping in touch. I have resolved on another one. Each week I shall write a "newsy" email to a friend. When I mail it, I shall ask the recipient to print it out - preferably on re-cycled paper, put it in an old envelope, and then carry it to a favourite armchair, or even to bed, and read it imagining it is a real letter that has arrived through the post. This will be my small protest at the cost of stamps, and a lovely way of keeping in touch with long standing friends!
   We had visualised the "Vintage Chums" reunion being held in the garden, with some plopping into the swimming pool to cool off! The swimming pool still has it's cover over it. I haven't even bothered to see what the temperature of the water is. I know it was a lot warmer in March. Today we were supposed to take the old Sunbeam Talbot Tourer on a rally. We sadly cancelled as it was too cold and wet to contemplate it.
   Meanwhile, last week we had the usual annual dose of local elections. As always happens there were three results. First, the government took a drubbing, as always happens with mid-term elections. Second, the turn out was pitifully low, and so the result totally unrepresentative, - only the zealots bothered to vote. And third the media made a huge song and dance about it all, as though something of great significance had occurred which would affect the future of our country.
   What was of much more significance was that the shareholders of Aviva followed the example of those at Barclays, and voted in large numbers against the directors who are allowing the culture of naked greed to continue in our large financial institutions. I trust this will be a pointer to the future, and that thousands of other shareholders will join in, and eject whole boards of directors who don't change their present habits in double quick time.
   Our "Cancer Patient's Handbook" is spreading ever further afield, and cancer patients are apparently finding it helpful, and giving us most encouraging feedback. If you would like a copy, or copies, do please let us know. The whole venture is non-profit making, with any surplus money going to our Cancer Department here at Ipswich hospital.
  Well, I think that's enough to burden you with for one more week. We do hope you are all keeping well and happy, and will drop in to see us if you are ever up in Suffolk.  With all good wishes, T & T.