1. Suicide a scourge, especially amongst men and indigenous Australians
It’s a sorry story, long but rich in anecdotes, and salted with startling and disturbing facts.
Suicide in Australia is a dark plague, ravaging every age and occupation. Three-quarters of those deaths are men – more die by their own hand than from either skin cancer, liver disease, heart failure or car accidents. Continue reading Saturday salon 19/3→
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.
Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.
1. Hilary Clinton runs for president
As expected Hilary Clinton has thrown her hat into the ring to become the Democrat candidate for the US presidency. So far it looks like her against the Republicans, perhaps about 20 of them. Mashable Australiatakes a look at alternative Democrat candidates.
It seems that Senator Elizabeth Warren is the only one that would cause real fear to the Clinton campaign, and she has said about 4,398 times she’s not running.
A team of American and Croatian scientists have uncovered evidence that European Neanderthals were manipulating raptor talons to make jewelry at least 130,000 years ago, or about 80,000 years before the first Homo sapiens even stepped foot on the continent.
In the popular mind Neanderthals are thought of as bumbling simpletons, but we should remember that their brains were bigger than ours.
The article also points out that catching three of four eagles to make the jewellery was no mean feat.
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle, decided to pay everyone $US70,000 after reading wellbeing research. He did this by reducing his own salary from $1 million to $70,000 and redistributing some of the company’s profits. He gave two reasons.
Firstly the research shows that increased wellbeing tapers rapidly after reaching $75,000. Secondly, happy staff are more productive.
A very rational decision!
4. Not so good news
There’s been plenty to be sad and sorry about on the intertubes lately. The stories of bestial treatment coming out of the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton are beyond belief. It wasn’t just the priests and nuns who did the abusing. A Queensland Government official covered up the abuse. The former bishop allowed a priest to stay on at a parish even though he knew he was a paedophile, gave the priest a character reference and described reports of abuse at Neerkol as “scurrilous”.
On the box we were told that 31 women had died from domestic violence so far this year, shaping as worse than the 84 deaths recorded last year.
COAG laboured and came up with some measures which don’t cost money. It’s all well and good but probably won’t make much difference.
The National Mental Health Commission’s findings show more people die by their own hand than are killed in road accidents or by skin cancer. And it notes while Australia’s road toll has more than halved in 40 years, there has been little change in the suicide rate, which was double the road toll in 2012.
Truth be known we probably need additional funding to crank up community programs while then winding down hospital funding as the need diminishes.
5. Centre for Policy Development loses some sheen
The Centre for Policy Development is supposed to be a left wing think tank. Now it has supported a broadening of the GST base including a GST on fresh food. Mark Bahnisch, Eva Cox and John Quiggin have resigned as Fellows as a result. Here’s Quiggin’s statement.
Personally I think he has crossed a line. He helped Nigel Brayley, a troubled 45 year old who said he intended committing suicide Brayley implemented his plan by taking the euthanasia drug of choice, Nembutal, which he imported illegally. Brayley had an exchange of emails with Nitschke.
Exactly what Nitschke advised him is not clear, but he made no effort to suggest Brayley seek help for his suicide plans. Nitschke takes the view that Brayley had made a rational decision and to interfere would be curtailing his freedom. Nitschke saw his role as supporting Brayley in his decision.
if a 45-year-old comes to a rational decision to end his life, researches it in the way he does meticulously, and decides that now is the time of life, now is the time I wish to end my life, they should be supported, and we did support him in that.
This is wrong-headed on several counts. First, no decision is entirely rational. We never escape emotions and values.
Secondly, ‘rational’ is not always good. One could rationally come to the conclusion that humans are vermin in the planetary ecosystem and should be destroyed on sight.
It seems to me that being pro-life is a fundamental value position if we are to live as social beings. There are limits, though. I can’t, for example, wish the Ebola virus God’s speed in going about its business.
But assisting people in the dying process at the end of their natural lives is essentially pro-life. That’s my view.
My impression also is that Nitschke has become obsessive about helping people die and has lost his ethical bearings.