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The Forum > Article Comments > Eliminating choice impoverishes society > Comments

Eliminating choice impoverishes society : Comments

By Ross Farrelly, published 10/7/2006

Choice is a powerful engine for excellence and innovation.

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Ross Farrell argues that "choice is, in almost all cases, an absolute good and should be maximised in virtually every possible situation."

His argument is highly individualistic and a-historical. Individuals, he asserts, are the best judges of the direction of their lives and how they should exercise their talents. "With this responsibility", he says. "individuals flourish or flounder according to their own endeavours and learn from both successes and mistakes." All just a matter of personality and effort? Nothing to do with the structures of opportunity?

The only worked-through example Farrell chooses is the pursuit of the perfect lawn. We can do without a Department of Domestic Lawn Management, he tells us. Now let's get serious, Mr Farrell. Don't you understand that millions of Australians are denied freedom of choice every day and throughout their lives because, through no fault of their own, they have no choice. They cannot exercise a choice about which school their children should go to, or which medical service to use, or where they will live. They have to put up with what's available from the public purse. And in many instances, thought not all, what they get is a very poor service. And they must watch governments hand out subsidies so that those with a choice will be even better able to exercise choice at a reduced cost.

So what does Farrell offer to compensate these poor souls with no choice? He tells them they must exercise their "responsibility to have control over [their] desires and to resist the resentment or envy which can arise when confronted with choices beyond [their] means." They must have the self-discipline to live within their means and to increase their income through legitimate avenues. They must take "appropriate" risks rather than resort to crime or foolhardy gambling.

What a load of gratuitous twaddle.
Posted by FrankGol, Monday, 10 July 2006 12:48:36 PM
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Saying that "choice" is intrinsically good is a very dubious claim.

I am sure that when a peadophile chooses to attack his victim a totally evil choice has been made. No one could ever say that a choice to attack children is intrinsically good. There are unlimited areas where choice is totally and utterly bad.

The point is choice is simply the medium through which we can access a range of experiences, goods or products that can be good, bad, amazing, depressing etc -or a mix of these.

Choice in itself is totally amoral because it depends on what how you excercise that choice.

The fact is in todays society our elected oligarchs mask their domination of virtually all of our freedoms under the thin guise of 'choice'. We never debate weather we should have a liberal economy instead all we are given is a supposed choice of how to administrate that liberal economy.

The fundamental structure of our entire society is completely dictated by the few power brokers in Canberra and sold to us as a choice.

Its like a hit man justifying murder by offering the victim a 'choice' between being stabbed or shot.
Posted by Daniel06, Monday, 10 July 2006 2:31:35 PM
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Just a word about choice, and the words of Farrel.
I do not believe we always do have a choice.anymore.
I was a fortunate person to be brought up in an unfortunate situation, placed in orpahanages and so on till I made the choice to bolt, and take my little sister with me, I ,13 and she 11.
An illegal choice, but one I will never regret, we found our mum.
We made good choices and married, made good choices to have children, work hard buy a home etc.
medications choice of schools out the window, choice of foods out the window, choices of outings well not much left to chose from when no money, so different choices.
Then ill health again, no choice to try to go back to work, no choices left to make re going out at all, not even going to TAFE etc, cos its still not free, and unless it was I will never be able to continue my nursing career in mental health , I have a home, but choices even to sell are not really there cos cannot afford to sell, cos won,t get enough to buy a unit let alone a smaller accessible house.
Can chose to live in caravan, but pretty lousy choice when you cannot get around , up steps, confined spaces cos of chronic illnesses etc.
Sorry Mr Farrel, choices are now only for those who didn,t get a bad run.
We can get through 1 bad run, 2 bad runs etc, but circumstances, health alter as we go, age and all that goes with age and ill health and no money living from pension to pension, and not enough to get those much needed heart sprays, or ventolin, cos fuel went up.
Cannot run my group, I did run a support group for others to give them a choice to come out and meet, or suicide, those are the real choices so many australians young and old have to make.
Posted by grandkiddies, Monday, 10 July 2006 4:33:07 PM
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Part One

Just lately there appears on our Online, a preponderance of targeting on the premises of choice.

As an oldie who had to pass his leaving in literature before entering university, one topic had the interesting title of The Tyranny of Fashion, targetting the teenage students who would pretty well don any new clothing design that was new or news, not one design being classical as the old Greeks would say, but as long as it looked different, no matter how ugly or ill-fitting.

Of course the concept of tyranny comes in when it becomes trendy, older people wondering whether the youngsters have gone silly, oldies forgetting about themselves when younger, adopting the latest dress mode and virtually forcing oneself to like it, though not daring to look in the mirror.

But then of course we turn to the most important choice or choices as regards our Western society, which in older periods, according to history books. dealt not so much with apparel but with religion, especially in the Dark Age period from around 300 AD to around 1100 AD.

Turning to Christianity, it seemed Westerners had no choice but not to accept the more frivolous life of the Pagan, but to instil in their minds that life on earth was only the forerunner to the far better Christian Afterlife.

It is so historically interesting that at the turn of the first century AD, it was the Muslims who were enjoying a much better earthly life than the Christians, the more learned Muslims of those days being very interested in Greek philosophy, which also included the scientific, Muslims even improving on the Greek scientific formulas
Posted by bushbred, Monday, 10 July 2006 4:48:09 PM
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Then suddenly choice was taken away by bad health, no job, living on benefits, so yes choices had to alter, we still had choice, much lower life style, much less enjoyment in life, cos etc,, always a constant battle to stay on top of bills, and get necessary medications to keep alive.
Cannot afford to sell the house, cos the money we get once mortgage paid won,t be enough to buy a small unit.
climate here is what has kept me out of many months a year of being in hospital, & where we live housing is of the cheapest in Australia.
I ,m really fed up with hearing we have choices , all a lot of crock, many people who become disabled do go on & conquor, again I did, but then another pitfall, get unwell and out you go, back to the start.With this the things get tougher. you have to stop take stock and see what else you can do, do with out.
I went back to TAFE studied mental health and run a group, for people who because they have mental illnesses too complex to deal with will never work again, in a paid job, Can't go back to complets studies,thats CHOICE
So likely will have to give up my group too now cos haven,t the fuel to get there every 2nd day.
This group is not just people off the street, they are referred to us, because they are so fragile, referred by psychiatists, gp,s etc.
Their one hot meal a week, 3-4 veg and meat, will have to be lost .
We have to pay city council $6-50 per hr.
Often comes from my pocket, yes another thing I go without, but these people like me, deserve to live like everyone else.
We have allworked hard all our lives to get what, told we have choices.
Sorry Blah to Farrel, its not that way for far too many australians.
Sandy taylor
Posted by grandkiddies, Monday, 10 July 2006 5:02:02 PM
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Part Two

It is at this period we introduce Peter Abelard, a rather naughty French Monk who as well as being too friendly with the womenfolk, also had a yen for the philosophical, and also very importantly a great yen for the scientific reasoning that Moorish Muslim scholars were offering out in cities such as Toledo in occupied Spain.

Merging Christian faith into the scientific was something Abelard’s rebellious nature had dwelt on for a long time, and thus it was that this Christian monk besides his sermons, gave talks about a need to balance Christian faith with reason - his most famous work - Sic et Non - (Yes and No) including - ‘By doubting we are led to inquiry-and from inquiry we perceive the truth’.

Following Abelard in later years was Albert Magnus whose pupil was the younger St Thomas Aquinas, who in his maturity wrote the Summa Theologica to prove that God Himself is a rational being. Further, the fundamental more scientific aims of Aquinas were firstly, to demonstrate the rationality of the universe as taught by Aristotle, and secondly to establish the primacy of reason.

One wonders why the above is not taught in most high schools, especially as St Thomas Aquinas is regarded along with St Augustine as the two greats of AD Christianity?

Is it because faith has become so precious in the higher echelons of our churches, as well as possibly in some branches of our governments, that they forget that true dinkum faith might allow us also the liberty to reason, as Peter Abelard and St Thomas Aquinas gave intimation.

Indeed, we could well say that our faith is now being abused as always in wartime, feeling sure that the worrying mess in Iraq might have our government planning that finger pointing as of Kitchener in early WW1, 'Yours is not to reason why. Yours is but to do or die.'
Posted by bushbred, Monday, 10 July 2006 5:26:53 PM
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