On rights and obligations
Voluntary assisted dying is strongly opposed by Right To Life Australia through its tried and tested tactics of political intimidation and by framing compassion as “killing” (John Power, “Unwritten endings”, August 5-11). Its website cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and states, “The Right to Life is the most fundamental right of all human rights. Without it, all other rights are meaningless.” The argument that voluntary assisted dying contravenes this internationally recognised inalienable right to life is devoid of substance. If I have a right to life that I can neither be deprived of, nor transfer to anyone else, it follows that my life can be no one’s property but my own. I am therefore entitled to make decisions about it, even to end it, and ask for compassionate assistance to that end provided that I do not harm others. The sanctity of human life, which Right To Life endorses, regards human life as a gift from God, who alone may decide when it shall end. It follows that it may not be given up, or taken by another. Personal autonomy in this respect is overridden by “God’s purpose” for believers and nonbelievers alike: albeit not if life is prolonged medically. Right To Life societies do not uphold life as a right to be exercised, but as an obligation to be complied with and endured, no matter how bitter or meaningless it may become. The title “Right To Life” societies presents an unfortunate and cruel paradox. They may be more fittingly named Obligation To Life societies, and organisations such as Dying With Dignity and voluntary euthanasia advocacy societies be named Right To Life societies.
– Dr Julia Anaf, Norwood, SA
Economics brought to a head
Thomas Piketty’s acclaimed research links high inequality with low growth, but I continue to be surprised at the absence of discussion of its obvious corollary: that a free capitalist economy, almost by definition, tends to increase inequality, and therefore ultimately slow growth (Mike Seccombe, “Family trusts and tax dodges”, August 5-11). In every advanced capitalist economy, the restraint of its excesses by government intervention, though anathema to neoliberals, is commonly aimed at reducing inequality, and ultimately should increase economic growth – while the conservatively favoured removal of those constraints has the opposite effect. The French Revolution was a pointed example, as government intervention then took the somewhat extreme form of removing the heads of many of the top 10 per cent. Since the better-fed aristocracy of the day were no doubt somewhat taller in stature than their subsistence-level peasants, this intervention had the twofold effect of improving both material and physical equality.
– Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg, Vic
Waterloo tenants not forced out
I write to counter the recent article by Drew Rooke, “Battle for Waterloo”, July 29-August 4. The insinuation that tenants will be forced out of Waterloo due to the redevelopment is wrong. Any tenant who is relocated while work takes place will be able to return to Waterloo. The article states there is “no evidence ... to support government claims that the ‘social mix’ model remedies problems caused by concentrated disadvantage”. Research by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute shows that “a greater diversification of social mix can strengthen community cohesion or social wellbeing, and can assist in developing more resilient communities”. The study lists the benefits, including increased job opportunities, overcoming stigma, attracting additional services to neighbourhoods and increasing equality of opportunity. The article also claims that the New South Wales government is motivated by profit – this is false. The replacement of aged social housing with new fit-for-purpose dwellings is only achieved by reinvesting the proceeds of sales of private and affordable homes. This will be the case at Waterloo. Finally, regarding the claim that the development will be “the final nail in the coffin” for the Aboriginal community in inner Sydney. No one is excluded from social housing on the basis of race. There are more than 180 Indigenous tenants who will be able to remain at Waterloo.
– John Hubby, acting secretary, NSW Family and Community Services
Election promises locked in
It is indeed a rare and wonderful sight: politicians falling over themselves to keep an election promise (Karen Middleton, “A marriage of inconvenience”, August 5-11). How reassuring to know we can trust Tony and co to keep to every pre-election commitment in the future.
– Margaret Hurle, Manilla, NSW
Gadfly names and shames
Unlike Des Files (Letters, July 29-August 4), I consider Gadfly’s regular reference to the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief as nothing less than a fully deserved epithet for the law-flouting, convention-breaking buffoon Trump. Indeed, Gadfly’s fabulous nicknames are the stuff of legend – Bookshelves, Fishnets, Otto, Benito, Lord Moloch and his Daily Smellograph or The Catholic Boys Daily et cetera. No wonder Gadfly is the first thing I read each week after I have browsed Pryor’s invariably brilliant cartoon.
– John Walsh, Watsonia, Vic
Cock of the walk
Thank you Gadfly for your hilarious note on the unlikeliness of Steve Bannon self-fellating (“Trumpette #33”, August 5-11). But can you tell me what’s meant by the Mooch’s other genital epithet “cock-blocking”? I thought some kind of political chastity belt? But, nah, that didn’t seem to suit the context. Still puzzled.
– Jeffrey Mellefont, Coogee, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 12, 2017. Subscribe here.