Tag Archives: beer

AUSTRALIA – THE WONDERFUL LAND DOWN UNDER

    BREAKING NEWS:   THERESA MAY RESIGNS

For the fourth time in under 30 years, a conservative British prime minister has been brought down by Europe, with a possible fifth one to follow.

Mrs. Theresa May worked hard to deliver her dream of a “deal” with the EU, but failed miserably after three parliamentary votes.   The British people voted for Brexit three years ago and are still waiting.

Her successor as prime minister must still deliver Brexit, with a deadline of October 31st. Wrong moves and bad decisions could bring him or her down, too.

It was a Conservative prime minister who took Britain into Europe, perhaps the greatest mistake Britain has ever made.  It’s a form of justice that all four subsequent Conservative leaders have been brought down by Europe.

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AUSTRALIA – THE WONDERFUL LAND DOWN UNDER

I’ve been in Australia for three weeks.   A friend sent me a ticket.  It was a wonderful trip.   Not the first time I’ve been there (actually, the 5th), but the first time to visit without having to work.   It was total relaxation.

And the Australians know how to relax.   They are much more laid back, far less frenetic, and, I believe, enjoy life more because of it.

In explaining the difference between Australia and the United States, an Australian historian observed that while America was founded by pilgrims, Australia was founded by convicts.   The Americans, striving to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, had nowhere to go but down; whilst the Australians, who threw a wild party when they arrived on Australia’s shores, had nowhere to go but up!

So, I had a great time – exclusively in small town Australia (Westbury in Tasmania, Wangaratta in Victoria, Junee in NSW; and outside of Kiama in NSW).   This is the real Australia.   Too many visitors spend all their time on the beaches of the Gold Coast, with a quick visit to the Great Barrier Reef, great to visit but you won’t learn anything about Australia there.

The days I spent in Wangaratta were spent in Ned Kelly country. He was the Jesse James of Australia, a horse thief and bank robber whose gang killed some policemen. He got himself hanged in November 1880, at the age of 25.   As a criminal, he also got a considerable following, a Robin Hood figure who stood against authority.

Intermezzo Cafe, Wangaratta, NSW

Life in Wangaratta was beautiful.   A coffee in the morning at a coffee shop called “Intermezzo” (yes, I actually drank coffee), followed by a visit to the town library (one of the best I’ve ever been in), followed by a pub lunch.   There are only a few Starbucks in Australia – it wasn’t very successful.   And there are no big pub chains, each one has its own distinct personality. We drank one day at the pub frequented by Ned Kelly.   There, I had fish and chips (hake) and a dessert of sticky date pudding!   Even the beer was exceptionally good.   We also spent thirty minutes talking to the owner, who revealed that much of his business came from the local pig industry.   They kill 3,500 pigs a day, which makes it the world’s biggest producer of pork products, mostly for the Chinese market.   We had no idea it was there.

As a diabetic, I have to keep my blood sugar numbers within a range. I had no difficulty at all while in Australia, even with drinking a beer a day. It must be the fact that I was very relaxed!

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AUSTRALIAN ELECTION

While visiting Australia, the country was preparing for a general election.  Opinion polls throughout showed Labor (the socialists) were winning, but, as in the US, the conservative (Liberal) party won. Pollsters seem to always get it wrong, probably because they ask the wrong questions.   It may even be deliberate, an attempt to force people to vote Left.

Perhaps the people saw through all the promises being made by Labor (though the Liberals themselves made enough!).   Bill Shorten, Labor leader, was promising this, that and the other, in a country of only 25 million people.   Scott Morrison, leader of the Liberal Party, had a better grasp of what Australia’s economy needed.

I actually met One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson in the airport luggage area in Launceston, Tasmania.   One Nation is a small party that is very much against mass immigration, which is changing the fabric of Australian society.   34% of Australians were born overseas, which is more than double the American figure.   Most immigrants are settling in the big cities, which is adding to social problems.   On the internet, I saw a discussion between her and a Muslim man with three wives, new to Australia.   He explained how he had put all the welfare payments he received for the children into buying a house. When he had bought one, he wanted to start on a second one for his second wife.   And so on for the third.

In contrast to the US, one issue that dominated was climate change.   This is because television news is one sided (pro-Left) and they have made it the number one issue.   Morning news programs could spend up to thirty minutes on the one issue, warning of dire consequences if nothing is done immediately.    Australia already does more than most countries, at great cost and inconvenience to its people.   For example, the ubiquitous plastic bags, so common in the US, have been withdrawn, and people have been told to take their own bags to the grocery store in which to carry their own groceries.

A generational divide was also apparent during the election, with young people much more concerned about climate change than older voters.

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REMEMBERING THE PAST

Every year, on April 25th, Australia (and New Zealand) celebrate ANZAC Day.   This day honors the memory of those who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a vital contributory factor to the Allied victories in World Wars 1 & 2.

Although they contributed only 5% of the sum total of troops, the new nations were enthusiastic in their support of the British Empire.   An Australian General, Sir John Monash, distinguished himself at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, receiving a knighthood for his services from King George V.   As a Prussian Jew he faced a lot of opposition at home.

In both world wars, Australia fought from beginning to end, in contrast to the US, which only entered World War I near the end, and World War 2 after Pearl Harbor.   The British Commonwealth nations fought with Britain from the moment war was declared.   This “multitude of nations” comprised the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, at the time, South Africa and Rhodesia. Together with Britain’s many colonies, they were the global superpower before the United States.   “And he set Ephraim before Manasseh.” (Genesis 48:20)   Many men fighting in the trenches firmly believed that they were the modern descendants of Ephraim fighting together in a just war. Even if you do not believe there is any biblical significance to their historic role, history shows they had a very significant and meaningful role at the time.

Since World War 2, these allies have increasingly drifted apart.   Yet, there are no nations that are as similar, sharing a common cultural and political heritage.   Perhaps its time to think about reviving the organization, as a separate entity from the Commonwealth, which is the 53-nation multicultural organization that does not have a military component.

They could certainly cooperate in military matters, at a time when the US is reducing its international commitments.

They could also cooperate on other meaningful challenges at this time.   Australia, with its commitment in fighting global warming; New Zealand with their deep interest in the terrorist threats posed by social media; Canada, the country that coined the term multiculturalism could help solve the problems created by it; and Britain, whose two royal princes have done so much in the area of mental health.

They should not argue over who has the dominant role (this could rotate amongst the four), but they would collectively work together to address the most important issues of our time.

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THE AUSTRALIAN

The Australian is the nation’s best newspaper, the only one with real news.   It’s a Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper with a definite conservative slant.

I enjoyed reading it each day, even with coffee!

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BACK TO THE US

When I arrived back in the US, the first thing I heard at the airport was a woman complaining about her wheelchair, which was delayed by five minutes.   A couple of days later, at a doctor’s office, there was a similar incident, with a lady complaining that her subsidized public transport was late.   Are we becoming a nation of complainers?

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It was good to get back to America, but I sure do miss Australia. I think I need an annual Australian “fix.”

GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE

Margaret Thatcher defined socialism as “equal shares of misery for all,” the best definition I’ve ever read of the economic theory and subsequent reality.

The following is a more matter-of-fact explanation that I got when I googled “socialism,” looking for the exact definition.

“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole;……

  • (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism  and the realization of communism.”

Basically, what it’s saying is that government controls everything and it’s a stepping-stone to communism.  Keep in mind that Marxists believe that, when communism is achieved, everybody lives in paradise – although, of course, they don’t actually believe in paradise, heaven or any other nirvana.

The reality, of course, is that people actually live in hell.

The best example of communism today is North Korea, where everything is controlled by the government, even thoughts.

Another example is Cuba, where almost everything is controlled by the government.

China is not a very good example.  Not any more.  Whereas the government still controls every thought, the economy is more of a free for all.   So long as you keep your mouth shut, you can be a millionaire!

Until the latest British election, many people thought socialism was dead.   Mrs. Thatcher herself had rolled back socialism in the UK and helped the nations of Eastern Europe send the communists packing. But the latest election in the United Kingdom showed that socialism is alive and kicking – and may even be the next government.

Why the appeal?  Because when people feel the inequities of capitalism, they naturally favor the opposite, thinking everything will be put right by the firm hand of government.

Somebody once said that “conservatives believe in the exploitation of man by man; while socialists believe the exact opposite!” Think about it before moving on!

Venezuela has been in the news a great deal over the last few days. There, an incompetent socialist government has destroyed the nation’s economy.  An attempt was made by a member of the country’s military to overthrow the government.  The sight of the helicopter flying over the capital city of Caracas brought back memories of a similar situation in Ghana almost 40 years ago.

Ghana is a case study in the failings of socialism, well-meant but a disaster.

Ghana got its independence from Great Britain in 1957.  It was the first black African country to receive independence, first because it was the most promising, with the greatest number of highly educated citizens and the most money in the bank.   Within four years, it was bankrupt and a dictatorship.   Eventually, the military had to take over to save the country.

A second attempt was made at democracy, which also failed; the military then took over again.   Whereas the politicians were generally well educated, military men were not well-versed in running an economy.   Soon, there was a high rate of inflation and serious shortages.   These led to a coup on June 4th, 1979, a coup my wife and I experienced first-hand.

The helicopter flying overhead, filmed by somebody on a balcony, reminded me of how Diane watched a similar scene during Ghana’s coup.   In Ghana, the helicopter opened fire and she quickly went indoors.   At the time, I was trying to get back to the house using side roads to avoid the fighting.   At one point, I was held up at gunpoint by rebel soldiers who wanted to take my car.

The coup was successful.   A new government came to power led by Flight Lt. J.J. Rawlings, an avowed socialist who was enamored by the way things were done in Eastern Europe.   The people said the “J.J.” stood for “Junior Jesus.”

He immediately started setting things right, freezing the price of eggs at 8 cedis a dozen and controlling the price of beer, two priorities!   The problem was that farmers could not produce eggs to sell at that price as chicken feed was too expensive; with beer, there was a shortage of hops.   I thought that a national shortage of beer would lead to revolution fairly quickly, but I was wrong.   Ghana remains the only African nation I know of that did not experience civil unrest when the beer ran out!

Serious shortages became a major problem.   Supermarkets had next to nothing on their shelves.   Basic commodities could only be obtained through barter – I remember bartering shirts for gasoline and toilet paper for rice!

As the economy went into freefall, so the government was made more oppressive.   Foreigners were blamed for just about everything – in August, we were told to leave the country.

Elections had been scheduled before Rawlings took over.   Under pressure, he allowed them to go ahead and a new, still socialist, government came to power, led by a nice man who was also an alcoholic.   At least beer was now available!

Eventually, he was overthrown and J.J. was back, followed by even greater economic disaster.   It wasn’t until Rawlings started to reverse socialism and encourage free enterprise that things started to improve.

Government control of the economy = disaster.   Mrs. T got it right!

So why is socialism “in vogue” again?   The rising gap between rich and poor is one answer; another is the youth vote – most young people have no memory of when Europe was largely socialist.   As Winston Churchill once said:   “If you’re not a socialist at 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head”.

In I Samuel 8 we read an account of how Israel wanted a human leader like all the other nations around them.   God warned the people that it would mean greater financial hardship, as government would constantly expand and the people would have to pay for it.  The warning was of 10% taxation.  Today, taxes run much higher.

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men,[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

Don’t just assume that this only applies to kings and kingdoms.   In the last century, new nations have come into existence, most of them with a president rather than a king.   It turns out the kings were cheaper.   Note the following from Ecclesiastes 10:16-17:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time—
For strength and not for drunkenness!”

Elected politicians think they have an automatic right to take everybody else’s money and spend it how they want.   Again, Margaret Thatcher put it well when she observed:  “the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money!”

That’s exactly what Jeremy Corbyn of Britain’s Labour (socialist) party is promising the people – more taxes to help government expand.

That’s what Venezuela got with Hugo Chavez, the socialist president who presided over the collapse of the country’s economy.   His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has not been able to improve things.

The great lesson here is: there’s a lot of evils in capitalism, but don’t think government will make things better!

Just ask the Venezuelans….!