Letters to
the editor

Bank idea brings a purpose

Nicholas Gruen’s proposal for the Reserve Bank of Australia to act as a people’s bank (“Reserve’s a civil answer”, April 15-21) is a welcome “disruption” to the way that term is presently conceived. Rather than uncritically hailing the next Uber in whichever industry it emerges, governments should be emboldened by Gruen’s idea for banking to consider the many ways they can exercise a meaningful role in the new economy. A direct employment program – “the Airtasker of government” – might restore a semblance of public purpose to the public sector, reminding future governments of the responsibility still spelled out in gold letters at the RBA’s Sydney headquarters: “the maintenance of full employment in Australia”.

– Daniel De Voss, Nundah, Qld

No chance for Gruen

Last week, leaving the local library, it dawned on me that I had just utilised what must be the last free amenity in the country. Why had it not been privatised? Surely here was a small goldmine in waiting: another opportunity to collect smallish amounts of money from large numbers of the relatively poor and transfer them to the Cayman Island accounts of the obscenely rich. Then I read in The Saturday Paper the article by Nicholas Gruen on fractional reserve banking that seemed modern, innovative and cheap. The heart rises – then falls. What he was proposing was too like the library service, it would pay no dividends to those who must be paid. It was in fact a proposal to reverse privatisation in one of the greediest businesses imaginable. It sounds eminently sensible; I don’t like its chances. 

– Georgina Batterham, Richmond, Vic

Must be in the Downer DNA

Richard Ackland’s critique of Georgina Downer (“Hand-me-Downer”, Gadfly, April 15-21) following a profile piece on her (and other brilliant young women of the right) by Fairfax journalist Jane Cadzow omits my personal favourite of Georgina’s pronouncements, namely that Brexit represents “the most important victory for freedom and democracy since World War II”. Perhaps Georgina might like to muse on whether the collapse of the Soviet Union, which brought democracy to tens of millions of eastern Europeans, is a more worthy candidate? Presumably her third-class degree did not include studies in modern history. 

– Geoff Skillen, Cook, ACT

Adani mine a dangerous move

I have just read the article on the Adani coalmines (Vaishali Patil, “Carmichael brunt”, April 8-14), and greatly disturbed I am. My query is this: do you think that the politicians, especially the prime minister, are as aware of these dangers as are articulated in the article? I am terribly afraid that after his trip to India Malcolm Turnbull will agree to the, may I say, stupid requests that Adani’s people are making. We, in Australia, are expected to be shelling out a billion dollars to pay for Adani’s coalmine, and on top of that, seeing our water wasted and putting paid to the dam the farmers down south want us to build, as well. I can’t think of anyone being so stupid as to consider such a proposal. 

– Lorna Menzies-Wall, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Speaking out against project

I am now doing something completely new and adding my voice to the hopefully growing opposition to the Adani coalmine project. How can we stop this absolutely disastrous project going ahead? How do we get through to a prime minister who has turned his back on everything he formerly espoused? I am feeling very depressed with what is happening to our country and then the rest of the world. Do we have no voice? This is certainly not the man who won the election by one seat. Let’s not even mention the United States. Daily I recall and find myself endorsing my late father’s comment that he had enjoyed the best of this world and things seemed to be going very badly awry for the future. Help.

– Leigh Murray, Canberra, ACT

Hope after suffering

The author George Saunders (Simon Webster, “Ghost in the shelves”, April 15-21) underestimates and misrepresents the part that suffering can play in our lives. True, we can attempt to deny the inevitability of suffering. The alternative of changing our thinking can do a lot more than theoretically “make us happy”. The psychology of post-traumatic growth has found that suffering can lead us to change our view of ourselves, each other and the world such that we find new meaning and become better people. All of that may or may not be associated with happiness. The philosopher Eleonore Stump has analysed suffering using biblical examples. Her work Wandering in Darkness takes its name from the fragment of a poem found on a wall in Auschwitz:

There is grace, though,

and wonder, on the way.

Only they are hard to see,

hard to embrace, for

those compelled to

wander in darkness. 

– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW

Not amused

Regarding The Saturday Paper, April 15-21, and the following trivialising headlines” “Life and debt” (on Centrelink’s robo-debt collection), “A massage to India” (on Adani), “Downer and out in Dublin and London”, “Onward Kristen soldiers” et cetera, et cetera. Could the employee trivialising this paper’s often authoritative articles not find something less repetitive and silly to do? 

– Helen Kaminski, Dangar Island, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 22, 2017.

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