Monthly Archives: July 2016

Stephen Hawking scientist addresses the subject of money.

Our attitude towards wealth played a crucial role in Brexit. We need a rethink

Money was a key factor in the outcome of the EU referendum. We will now have to learn to collaborate and to share

Illustration: Ellie Foreman-Peck
Illustration: Ellie Foreman-Peck

Does money matter? Does wealth make us rich any more? These might seem like odd questions for a physicist to try to answer, but Britain’s referendum decision is a reminder that everything is connected and that if we wish to understand the fundamental nature of the universe, we’d be very foolish to ignore the role that wealth does and doesn’t play in our society.

I argued during the referendum campaign that it would be a mistake for Britain to leave the European Union. I’m sad about the result, but if I’ve learned one lesson in my life it is to make the best of the hand you are dealt. Now we must learn to live outside the EU, but in order to manage that successfully we need to understand why British people made the choice that they did. I believe that wealth, the way we understand it and the way we share it, played a crucial role in their decision. As the prime minister, Theresa May, said in her first week in office: “We need to reform the economy to allow more people to share in the country’s prosperity.”

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Stephen Hawking on EU referendum: ‘Britain risks being isolated’

We all know that money is important. One of the reasons I believed it would be wrong to leave the EU was related to grants. British science needs all the money it can get, and one important source of such funding has for many years been the European commission. Without these grants, much important work would not and could not have happened. There is already some evidence of British scientists being frozen out of European projects, and we need the government to tackle this issue as soon possible.

Money is also important because it is liberating for individuals. I have spoken in the past about my concern that government spending cuts in the UK will diminish support for disabled students, support that helped me during my career. In my case, of course, money has helped not only make my career possible but has also literally kept me alive.

On one occasion while in Switzerland early on in my career, I developed pneumonia, and my college at Cambridge, Gonville and Caius, arranged to have me flown back to the UK for treatment. Without their money I might not have survived to do all the thinking that I’ve managed since then. Cash can set individuals free, just as poverty can certainly trap them and limit their potential, to their own detriment and that of the human race.

So I would be the last person to decry the significance of money. However, although wealth has played an important practical role in my life, I have of course had a different relationship with it to most people. Paying for my care as a severely disabled man, and my work, is crucial; the acquisition of possessions is not. I don’t know what I would do with a racehorse, or indeed a Ferrari, even if I could afford one. So I have come to see money as a facilitator, as a means to an end – whether it is for ideas, or health, or security – but never as an end in itself.

Interestingly this attitude, for a long time seen as the predictable eccentricity of a Cambridge academic, is now more widely shared. People are starting to question the value of pure wealth. Is knowledge or experience more important than money? Can possessions stand in the way of fulfilment? Can we truly own anything, or are we just transient custodians?

These questions are leading to a shift in behaviour which, in turn, is inspiring some groundbreaking new enterprises and ideas. These are termed “cathedral projects”, the modern equivalent of the grand church buildings, constructed as part of humanity’s attempt to bridge heaven and Earth. These ideas are started by one generation with the hope a future generation will take up these challenges.

I hope and believe that people will embrace more of this cathedral thinking for the future, as they have done in the past, because we are in perilous times. Our planet and the human race face multiple challenges. These challenges are global and serious – climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Such pressing issues will require us to collaborate, all of us, with a shared vision and cooperative endeavour to ensure that humanity can survive. We will need to adapt, rethink, refocus and change some of our fundamental assumptions about what we mean by wealth, by possessions, by mine and yours. Just like children, we will have to learn to share.

If we fail then the forces that contributed to Brexit, the envy and isolationism not just in the UK but around the world that spring from not sharing, of cultures driven by a narrow definition of wealth and a failure to divide it more fairly, both within nations and across national borders, will strengthen. If that were to happen, I would not be optimistic about the long-term outlook for our species.

But we can and will succeed. Humans are endlessly resourceful, optimistic and adaptable. We must broaden our definition of wealth to include knowledge, natural resources, and human capacity, and at the same time learn to share each of those more fairly. If we do this, then there is no limit to what humans can achieve together.

Stephen Hawking recently launched

Due to the large number of comments, they are being shown 100 per page.
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The world wide problem with money is the distribution of same, we are now in a situation where 50% of the worlds economy is owned by just 1% which leaves everyday people with half of the economic benefits to share among the billions on Earth. Huge billion or multibillion dollar corporations pay in Australia for example from 5% to naught. In Australia we have at least 579 corporates who have not paid a cent in tax since at least 2013 and possibly further back in time. This limits the money going to our government Treasury’s which in turn limits the services can offer because the governments (see conservative ) refuse to apply a “fair share” of tax be paid by these huge rich companies. The 1% will not stop at 50% of the world’s ecomony they have a mental illness named insatiable greed, where enough is never enough, and the billions of “people” have to continue paying. It is a ridiculous situation, we should have democratic “people’s political parties to form and tackle this global scale inequality.



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    Large elements of what he is saying are correct. However, while I don’t think many of us envy Hawking for obvious reasons, he is nonetheless in the privileged position of having an excellent income absolutely guaranteed. Very few people are in this position globally in proportional terms.

    When you’re in this position, you can afford to make statements such as:

    We must broaden our definition of wealth to include knowledge, natural resources, and human capacity, and at the same time learn to share each of those more fairly.

    In a market system, knowledge is only a valuable resource insomuch as it enables one to make money. If you can’t make money with knowledge, it ceases to have any intrinsic value. You can derive pleasure from knowledge, but it doesn’t have inherent value. If you have a lot of knowledge, but no money, it is extremely unlikely that you will live a fulfilled existence, or what you perceive to be a fulfilled existence.It is correct that we should value these things more, but there is no mechanism to implement that in a society which is run with profit as its guiding principle, and pretty much its solitary principle. Some lip service is given to social structure and systems, but the bottom line in any decision-making process is always…how much does it cost? Does it make money?

    Such a society will never value knowledge. It is only a rather radical reordering of society that would ever allow this to happen, and which would enable resources and opportunity to be distributed more equitably. Emphatically, human beings are not ready for this radical change because, firstly, we still wrongly associate money with wealth; even the author of this article does so as he’s at the same time asking us to place more value in other things.

    And, secondly, we’re not ready for radical change because many people cannot even accept the incredibly minor decision of exiting the European Union, or imagine a world in which there isn’t some crony capitalist, multinational system, dominated by vast capitalistic interests and absolutely dominated by a market and profit-driven system, which scythes across the land demanding that everyone makes a profit, chucking everyone on the scrap heap who is surplus to the bottom line.

Reason (optional)

The 51st State

The 51st and best State of the United States in which to live until recent decades has in the recent past seen some very disturbing situations, while under conservative rule. We have seen the treatment of minorities come in to public scrutiny in many ways. We have seen the growth sector of poverty increase the number of Australians to in excess of 2.5 million Australians living below the poverty line, and many social problems related to poverty, crime food shortages etc. come to public notice.
The solutions that we trust governments to supply to these situations are not forthcoming from conservative governments. There is a transition underway but it is not so much a transitioning economy, as it is a transition of wealth away from the general public and towards those who are already wealthy, thanks to conservative government policies. These governments do not rate well on matters of “people” or of “poverty” or of “the ever widening gap between rich and poor” as government policy is facilitating the worsening in all three situations.
It appears to me that the conservatives primary job is to shovel “our” taxpayers money into multinational corporations, who themselves pay little to no tax for the betterment of Australian society, very much similar position to the other 50 States.
Shaun Newman

Pell: nothing to see here, look over there

Fascinating subject

No Place For Sheep

Pell on sexual abuse

Cardinal George Pell has, in the face of fresh allegations of sexual abuse of children aired by ABC TV’s 7.30 Report this week, demanded a “probe” into what he perceives to be a conspiracy between the Victoria Police and the ABC to “pervert the course of justice” using a “trial by media” to establish his guilt before the matters are afforded due process.

I’m calling bollocks. Everything aired thus far by ABC TV has come directly from the complainants, Pell’s alleged victims. We have watched them give excruciating accounts of their experiences, and the effects those experiences have had on their lives. There are no police “leaks” in these first-hand accounts.

Anyone is at liberty to speak about his or her experiences at the hands of another, and we have defamation laws that deal with false claims.

There is no indication that Victoria Police have provided the ABC with information other…

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Ever wondered why the Nationals have seven times as many seats as the Greens with less than half the votes? It’s all in the Gerrymander.

A very interesting subject.

Progressive Conversation

Earlier this week I wrote about inaccuracies in our voting system which are impacting  who wins government. I showed how the LNP have held government far more often than Australia’s voting preferences suggest they should – and how if we had used a more accurate model in the 2016 election, Bill Shorten might be PM now instead of Malcolm Turnbull.

The reason for these inaccuracies is that the model of voting we use for our House of Representatives is focused primarily on ensuring that every location in Australia is represented in parliament at the expense of ensuring that the mix of political parties in parliament reflects the wishes of the Australian people. The model basically assumes that it’s more important to you that you have someone from your local area representing you than that your representative is from the political party that you support.

Since I’ve had a few questions…

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Ever wondered why the Nationals have seven times as many seats as the Greens with less than half the votes? It’s all in the Gerrymander.

Earlier this week I wrote about inaccuracies in our voting system which are impacting  who wins government. I showed how the LNP have held government far more often than Australia’s voting pr…

Source: Ever wondered why the Nationals have seven times as many seats as the Greens with less than half the votes? It’s all in the Gerrymander.

Heinous crime petition

Some weeks ago this petition was circulated calling for justice in a paedophile case, where the son of car racing legend Jack Brabham, Gary Brabham was sentenced to 6 months in gaol for raping a 6 year old girl. The petition has raised in excess of 43,000 signatures of angry people and still the Queensland Attorney General will not comment or appeal this sentence, why?

The non-reply leaves us to our own imagination, is there a paedophile ring in the Queensland judiciary, does this man have political connections, something is very wrong here when an explanation from my local three State MPs either do not reply or put me off. I have emailed each MP, also the AG, and the Premier, all to no avail.

I am concerned about this subject and I understand the effect that an attack of this kind can have on a 6 year old girl. I have a dear friend who still lives with an attack of this kind when she was 6 years old; she is in her late 40s now, but still relives the ordeal every day. This is NOT good enough, a human being’s life hangs in the balance, and the least we the public can expect is this monster be separated from our community for 20 or so years. The public want to see criminals such as this pay, and pay big time for the sexual assault of minors.


Shaun Newman


Earth is currently in a terrible state, we have Christians fighting Muslims, black against white, police against society, and in general a state of turmoil. Despite losing my cherished rifle, I do see that our Australian society is by far the best in the world. In our society we all seem to get along, with the occasional skirmish however nothing compared with the rest of the world. We have seen France repeatedly punished for their part in the Middle-East war, so to the USA. However in Australia, apart from one or two instances we do not see the bloodletting that other countries do. I sincerely hope that tolerance continues and Australia continues to live in peace with all races, colours, and creeds into the future. Violence is never an answer to these situations, love is.

Below arte three references

Below are three references to why Australia is not balancing its budget, if we had this revenue we could allocate a portion to “our” health and education, Medicare and paying off our GFC dEBT:



Perhaps after reading these three references JP City will be satisfied that I actually do know what I am talking about, and it is he who needs more education on these matters.


Shaun Newman

Choosing aunty over mum and dad

This election could have changed up to 18 seats in the parliament, people have voted for change, perhaps we need another election?

Media Inequality

Xenophon stuntSo little Johnny, who is your favourite parent? Mummy or Daddy? Aunty Heather! I want Aunty Heather!

Yes, this is a simplistic metaphor, but you get my point. The electorate’s, and coincidentally media’s growing love for any candidate who doesn’t come from a major party is akin to children picking their cool Aunty Heather over their parents in a contest of who is the better caregiver. Sure, the whole idea of picking one parent over the other is unrealistic, but an election is basically a contest between who is going to care best for the country; a Labor government or a Liberal government, and in this election, it appears, in South Australia, at least 1 in 4 voters chose neither.

My favourite cognitive linguist, George Lakoff, who studies political metaphors, is responsible for the idea that left wing governments represent mothers – based on nurturing values, whereas right wing governments…

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The Perils of Pauline

Another great article from this author

No Place For Sheep

I'm not racist but

Pauline Hanson has re-emerged as mouthpiece for the nation’s racism, going where the dog whistlers dare not venture, vocalising “what ordinary people are really thinking and are too scared to say.” This time her bile is directed against Muslims as well as Asians and Indigenous peoples: anyone who isn’t white and Christian, perhaps?

In a rather surprising move, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Hanson is not welcome in the parliament, surprising because he has not said this about any of his right-wing colleagues, many of whom share Hanson’s views. Surprising as well because Hanson is an elected representative in a liberal democracy, and Turnbull has no choice but to accept her presence in the Senate because voters put her there.

In May 2016 journalist Malcolm Farr wrote that voters do not want Hanson in parliament, any parliament, but voters do, and Hanson is. Railing against Hanson is getting…

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