Social Question

DWW25921's avatar

Silly satire aside, why can't we figure out internal affairs like Canada, Australia, and so many other countries?

Asked by DWW25921 (6124 points ) September 20th, 2012

Here’s a silly satire with some valid points. Can the United States congress and senate cooperate long enough to actually accomplish something worthwhile? Or, do you think the constant partisan bickering will keep us behind the rest of the world?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19594334

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24 Answers

DWW25921's avatar

As a rather staunch registered independent, I can objectively look at both sides differently than most people. I see bitterness and polarization at every turn. Is there a way past this or are we destined to crumble from within. I think America is worth fixing but there needs to be a major overhaul. I’m just worried, I reckon. I would like some opinions, maybe to ease my troubled mind if nothing else.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Silly satire aside… um…

PhiNotPi's avatar

Canada and other countries don’t have everything figured out as much as we might hope. In Canada, there is a Quebecois independence movement. The Parti Quebecois (which has on multiple occasions tried to have Quebec secede from Canada), is a very powerful party that is back in power.

There is a lot of tension between the English and French speaking portions of Canada, which lead to a shooting this past September.

My point is that no country has a perfect government, since there will always be conflict between groups of people.

DWW25921's avatar

That’s true. I was just thinking that. Their separatist party was just elected in Quebec. Even with that they have been able to promote beneficial programs for their people. Nothing is perfect, I know, but the world is watching us fight bitterly against ourselves. It’s a bad example I think.

CWOTUS's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with America that less reliance on and kowtowing to government won’t cure.

To the extent that we look to politicians to “fix” problems (most of the worst being those of their own making) is the extent to which our conditions worsen. I wonder that it’s so hard for people to see this.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know about Canada but if you have ever seen the televised portions (question time in particular) of the Australian parliament, you probably wouldn’t be using them as a model for efficiency of government. It is a laugh, pure political BS. You have labor in bed with the greens which makes their decisions a bit suss, the libs fighting them tooth and nail on every step and a couple of crazy independents thrown in for good measure.

USA and any other country (other than dictatorship) is all about the politics. Don’t dis the USA until you have seen the others in action.

DWW25921's avatar

@rooeytoo That’s actually a very good point. Every country has their own problems. I just wish we could solve ours with a little more decorum. You know?

@CWOTUS Another good point. It does seem that the government tends to mess up everything it touches.

So what do we do about this?

rojo's avatar

Given my present choices, I would vote for Canada.

Nullo's avatar

“For Dad, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the Antichrist, Harry Truman the vice-Antichrist, and UMWA chief John L. Lewis was Lucifer himself. I’d heard Dad list all their deficiencies as human beings whenever my uncle Ken—Mom’s brother—came to visit. Uncle Ken was a big Democrat, like his father. Uncle Ken said his daddy would’ve voted for our dog Dandy before he’d have voted for a Republican. Dad said he’d do the same before casting a ballot for a Democrat. Dandy was a pretty popular politician at our house.”
October Sky, Homer Hadley Hickam, Jr.

Ladies and gentlemen, your non-partisan answer: Dandy for President.

cazzie's avatar

Eeek. I don’t know if I would hold up Australia as a great example of ‘sorting out internal affairs’ Their treatment of the Aborigine population makes the US treatment of Native Americans and African Americans look quite civil.

rooeytoo's avatar

Yeah, the aboriginal people in Australia have a terrible situation. Just awful!!!

cazzie's avatar

(meant in historical context.)

augustlan's avatar

I honestly don’t know if our problems are fixable, as things stand. If I had my way, there would be no parties at all, just candidates and their particular platforms. That might help. Maybe.

cazzie's avatar

@augustlan I would like to see more regulations with electoral reform and and end to the only two parties system. Other countries don’t have that system of lobbyists and there is something called ‘Conflict of Interest’ parlimentarians have to claim if they or their families have large holdings in industries where legislation is going to be voted on. Obstention from bills and votes that are a conflict of interest USED to be a sign of integrity.

DWW25921's avatar

@cazzie @rooeytoo

The aboriginal peoples of Australia have had a horrible time. However, so have the Natives in the United States. The difference is Australia had an “I’m sorry” campaign. When has the United States officially apologized for it’s treatment of it’s native population? It may seem a little sappy at first but it was a beautiful gesture.

There are very, very few instances where I think the United States needs to apologize. I know that it wouldn’t change the past but it would be a positive gesture. Say what you will about Australia, their past with their indigenous people isn’t any worse than ours. At least they tried to make some sort of amends. We have really done nothing.

@augustlan

That’s a valid point. It would be nice if Independents had a little more clout.

cazzie's avatar

@DWW25921 The autocracies in Australia are more recent. That was my only point. When African Americans were marching for civil rights it was still legal to kill an aborigine because they weren’t considered human. Australia apologised for the ‘Stolen Children’, not the fact they were shot on sight in the 1800’s.

wundayatta's avatar

Many policy wonks look at other countries when looking for ideas to solve problems here. So don’t think other countries have no influence in our political system. They do.

As to decorum: I guess you don’t know much about these other country’s parliaments. Sometimes they make us look damn staid! Of course, sometimes it works the other way, too.

DWW25921's avatar

@cazzie Yikes…

@wundayatta Actually, I don’t really know a lot. Questions are the easiest road to knowledge. Thanks for the input!

rooeytoo's avatar

@cazzie – you better check the timeline before you make sweeping statements. One must also acknowledge that aboriginal people were murdering settlers as well. It was war and you know what has ruled the world since the beginning of time, veni, vidi, vici. At this point in time, aboriginal people in Australia are greatly subsidized in many ways and have the same opportunities available to them as anyone else. Many, regardless of their age, collect more pension than retirees.

Bellatrix's avatar

You should check your history @Rooey. As an example of why I say this, the aboriginal population of Tasmania in 1803/04 at the time of invasion is estimated to have been 3000–4000 people. By 1833, after murders, illness brought in by settlers, the remaining 300 aborigines on the mainland of Tasmania were rounded up and taken to Flinders Island. By 1847 only 47 survived to be moved to another prison in Oyster Bay. Settlers killed between 1803/04 and 1832 estimated to be around 200 (Ryan 1996). This pattern can be repeated across Australia.

In response to your question @DWW25921, I can’t speak for Canada but I don’t think you can hold Australia or any other country’s political system up as being vastly superior to the system in the US. Many here (I am in Australia) would argue the US system is more democratic. For instance, our Prime Minister is not voted for by the people, they are appointed by their party which brings in many factional influences.

We are also experiencing the frustration of having a minority government. This means that to get any bill passed through the lower or upper house, the government has to work with the Greens and the Independents. Rather than being “in bed” with the Greens as @rooeytoo suggested, if the government want to get any legislation passed, they have no option but to negotiate with the Greens. The ALP has been openly hostile to the Greens in recent times but they are still dependent on maintaining some level of negotiation for our government to operate at all. The Opposition, is jokingly called the Noalition here because of their tendency to vote against any legislation the ALP government put up. Hence the government’s need for support from minor parties and independents. So, the problem you identify in the US democratic system is present in our system too. I agree, it would be great if our politicians could weigh up what is in the best interest of the country and vote accordingly, but that isn’t how contemporary politics works sadly.

As to Aboriginal people being advantaged in Australia. The traditional owners of this land make up just over 2% of our population, the median age is 21 as opposed to 37 for the general population. 38% of the Indigenous population is under 15. An Indigenous man’s life expectancy in 2003 was 59.4, women 64.8. There is a “life expectation inequality gap when compared to the general Australian population of 17 years”. The document I am quoting from suggests this is a similar life expectancy rate as for people in developing countries. Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world.

If we consider child health, an Indigenous baby is twice as likely to be born with a low birth rate. There are apparently no more recent reliable data for infant mortality but the figure cited here shows that between 2001–2005 two to three times the number of indigenous infants died before their first birthday, as non-indigenous infants. This document also details the stats that show poorer mental, physical and substance abuse situations for Aboriginal people when compared to the general population.

Income – Most Aboriginal people have an income that is around 69% of that of other Australians. This drops to 40% in remote areas. In 2006, the median weekly gross individual income for indigenous peoples was $278, this represented 59% of the median weekly gross individual income for non-indigenous peoples. In 2006, nearly half of all Indigenous people were not in the labour force in 2006. The non-participation figure for non-Indigenous people was 24%.

Schooling – only 43% of Indigenous school students were retained through to year 12 (our last year of school). In the 2006 Census, 23% of Indigenous people were shown to have finished year 12.

Housing. There is more over-crowding in Indigenous households than non-Indigenous (3.4 person Indigenous/2.6 non-Indigenous). In remote areas the size of the average household increases from 3.2 to 5.3. A 2002 survey found a third of all Indigenous households had problems such as damp, cracks in floors and walls, plumbing problems, roof defects.

I could go on and on but you make your own decision about whether Aboriginal people are “greatly subsidized in many ways and have the same opportunities available to them as anyone else” (roeeytoo).

Most of this data was drawn from a report produced by our Australian Human Rights Commission – a government body. This document from the Australian Bureau of Statistics also provides data about health, demographics, education etc. The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian health, education, housing outcomes etc. is very, very slowly improving but we have a long way to go before there is any level of equality. Perhaps this will never happen. I don’t know. It is a complicated issue and my feeling is we need to spend a lot more time working with communities at a local level and putting in place programs, developed with Indigenous people, that run for longer than government sessions. Any solutions will not be found at a national level. We have to work with the people on the ground.

Draw your own conclusions anyway. I would be interested to see the valid data @rooeytoo has to support her suggestion that Aboriginal people are unfairly subsidised. Many Aboriginal elders do not approve of the welfare framework and believe this is holding Aboriginal people back. Hence my argument, Indigenous people need to be involved in the development any government policy and its implementation at a local level.

rooeytoo's avatar

And of course, the government always has the true story. @Bellatrix I don’t know how much time you have spent in aboriginal communities and remote outstations and I mean on a daily basis, not just some political junket. Eye ball experience is what I use as my guideline not political writings. And I didn’t say aboriginal people were unfairly subsidized, I said they were at a greater rate than many pensioners. Whether that is fair or not depends on your perspective. The recent death in custody in the Alice is just another sad example of subsidized alcoholism. One thing that prevents this from happening more often is the introduction of the basic card during the intervention in the NT. And now that too is being called racist and those with a vested interest (aboriginal elders inlcuded) are trying to have it revoked. With regard to the health and life expectancy, you can take a horse to water, etc. the framework is there but it is not used. Ask any nurse who has worked in the NT. Housing is a constant because as quickly as new housing is built or old renovated, it is destroyed. Right now I am having a difficult time preventing the family that is staying with us from ripping up the carpet in the bedroom and burning it because it is a lot colder here than in the territory. And last if you don’t think labor is in bed or was til bob absconded then you must be in a haze. I thought minority governments are part of the system of checks and balances.

DWW25921's avatar

@Bellatrix First let me thank you kindly for your information! The dynamics between our two countries are of course different but you are right when you said progress has to start at the local levels. I’m afraid the US has that backward right now. Maybe it will change, who’s to say? The polarization among the parties here is growing more bitter by each passing day… I’m frankly a bit worried. I digress, I have questions…

Are aboriginals on self governed reservations? I’ve often wondered that. What’s up with Nauru? Anyway, thanks again for your time I will be referring to your post as a reference in the future in the event I need well documented first hand information on Australia!

@rooeytoo Thank you for your input. You seem to have a handle on political matters so I have a question for you. What is Prime Minister Gillard doing about the influx of asylum seekers into your country? I know the requirements of moving to Australia are very high. Unlike New Zealand which has the most liberal immigration policy on the planet. Does that cause friction between your 2 countries?

thanks again for your input. Have a wonderful day!

rooeytoo's avatar

@DWW25921This is a recent article on Australia’s asylum seekers situation and not too politically slanted in either direction. Aussies and Kiwis have a friendly animosity towards each other on almost all subjects, but NZlanders are coming to Australia at a great rate especially since the earthquakes there. Australia accepts asylum seekers at an admirable per capita rate (not including those from NZ). When I came to Australia, I came through the front door, with money in my pocket and proper identification and visas in place, it still took over 2 years (and a bunch of the money in my pocket) to become a permanent resident. An off shore processing center for those with no identification does not seem to be a hardship if you are coming from a country where your life is in danger and you are starving. Food, shelter, entertainment etc is provided. But it takes time to establish identity and true need, and some asylum seekers don’t like waiting. This results in hunger strikes, self mutilation and destruction of facilities. I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think destruction of property is the way to go, doesn’t make you look like a desirable citizen. All you have to do is wait.

Because this government has been soft on asylum seekers in the past, the people smugglers are bringing them in at an ever increasing rate. And in vessels not designed for the type of passage required, they sink and lives are lost, then Australia is blamed. Another conundrum.

DWW25921's avatar

@rooeytoo What is the difference between an asylum seeker and an immigrant? I know what it means for the US it just may have a different definition for you. Our policy on Cubans, for example, is if they can make it here, we make them citizens. Because of Cuba being a communist regime they are automatically considered to be asylum seekers. If an Australian wanted to live here they would be considered an immigrant because they aren’t in any danger from their government for leaving.

We’re having a bit of trouble with our Mexican border right now. It’s such a huge expanse of land, you know? It’s a double edged sword though because we need migrant workers to get big jobs done quickly. Conversely, I don’t think we’ve really had any problems with Canada.

Thanks for the wisdom I appreciate your input. Have a great day!

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