Friday, June 26, 2009

Steve Fielding

I have no earthly idea who Steve Fielding is. All I know is he was added to the list when we were in Australia.

This is exciting.

Who can he be? I'm going to guess he's a political person. I sometimes enjoyed watching Parliament stuff on TV. I might have found Fielding on there.

Let's go see.

Ah! He IS political.

He's the leader of Family First which leads me to think I probably won't love the guy. Isn't it sad that when a political party has the word family in it, I know it's going to be contrary to my own values?

I think someone should start a party with the word family in it that doesn't push Christianity; is pro-gay marriage; and is pro-choice. That would be cool. Maybe one already exists? Do any of you know of one?

Fielding was born on 17 October 1960. He's either a Libra or Scorpio; probably a Libra.

I'll go to the birthday website.

He's a 7 like me, and he's a Libra like my sister.

I think I'd love a 7 Libra. They'd be very educated and full of passion.

Does Fielding with this description? Who knows? What if he did? Could I like him despite the fact that our politics may be so far apart?

Onto the guy's childhood.....

He was born in Melbourne. His parents had fifteen children. Wow. I'm guessing they have a lot of grandchildren running around Australia.

Lord Wiki doesn't say much about Fielding's early education. He says for uni, Fielding went to RMIT university. He got a degree in engineering. Next he went to Monash University and got a MBA.

Fielding worked as an engineer and something called a superannuation. I have no idea what that is.

Okay. Lord Wiki says it's a pension theme. That's all I want to know about that. Sorry.

Fielding is married. He doesn't have fifteen kids...just three.

He belongs to a Pentecostal church in Melbourne called CityLife church.

I'm going to explore their website a bit. I like learning about religions.

Here are their values. There's nothing there that horribly offends or shocks me. I'm not a big fan of evangelism, personally. I don't like people pressuring me to believe what they believe. But if done politely....well, it's not as bad as other things people do to each other.

Well, I can't find anything too exciting on their website.

Let's move on to politics.

Lord Wiki says Fielding is the first Family First representative to be elected to Federal Parliament.

Fielding said that although his party is conservative, he will not automatically take the side of the opposition party in Parliament. Well, that's good. It's nice to know he tries to be a free-thinker.

Fielding has said that he believes divorce effects global warming. It causes people to live "resource-inefficient lifestyles". I can't disagree with him. But in that case, we should probably be squishing as many people into one house as possible. Not only should husbands and wives stay together in one house; but all their in-laws should be there as well.

There's political stuff here that goes over my head. I THINK Lord Wiki is saying that Fielding voted against Howard in certain things. But I'm not entirely sure. The wording confuses me a bit. It's probably more about my own ignorance and less about the way Lord Wiki explains it.

Okay, here is one thing I am beginning to understand. Although in this, I think he was on the same side as Howard. He voted in support of voluntary student unionism. What this means is students can CHOOSE whether or not they want to join a student union while at uni. Prior to 2006, membership was required. And membership included fees. That sounds unfair to me. I'm glad they changed the law. And here I have at least one thing that Fielding and I agree on.

I'm trying to read the arguments against the law. I guess basically it's like taxes. And now I'm starting to see the opposite point. What if taxes in a country were voluntary? What would that do? What problems would that cause?

Probably a lot.

Maybe I'm no longer on Fielding's team regarding this.

At one point, Fielding wanted to break away from the ultra-conservative reputation of Family First. He considered forming his own party. It didn't work out. Lord Wiki says this idea came when Fielding changed his opinion on abortion. Ah, that sounds interesting. I hope to read more about it later.

He does support internet censorship. He wants X-rated content banned for everyone, including adults. And how do you determine what is X-rated? If I was in charge of Internet censorship, I'd want child pornography and vile hate speech banned. Someone else might want to ban all images of homosexual affection, and/or images of mothers breastfeeding. Who gets to draw the line?

I don't believe in government censorship. I think it's scary. I DO believe in private censorship. I believe websites should exercise their right to say We will not tolerate this on our site. And the definition of "this" is for them to determine. If I disagree with their "this", I can go to another website.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. Now I'm moving onto his official site.

Fielding has four issues featured on the front page of his site. They are: alcohol abuse, jobs, recycling, and helping parents of children who have gone missing overseas.

I'll read a little bit about each issue.

He makes Australia seem quite awful in terms of drinking. If I read this description before we went to Australia, I might have canceled our flights. Haven’t we all had enough of drunken yobbos taunting people walking by, of young women lying sprawled on the street with vomit down their party dresses and groups of grog-fuelled men wandering our streets looking for a fight?

I'm sure that IS a realistic painting of some areas and events in Australia. And I know binge-drinking is a problem. I personally think it's pretty damn disgusting. I just think his description might be a little dramatic. It gives me this idea that you walk through Australia and see everyone falling down drunk.

There's a video of Fielding on the site. He's cute. He kind of reminds me of Rick Moranis.

I miss Moranis. Whatever happened to him?

As for jobs, Fielding believes in keeping Australians working. He talks about some program where you can propose new projects (that would give people jobs); and then you can get government grants to help pay for it. There's a link to the program, but it's not working.  It sounds like a good idea though.

For recycling, he has a program called Cash for Trash. I guess it's basically paying people for recycling. I wish people would do it for free. But if paying people increases recycling, I think it should be done. And these days, people need the money; so it's kind of killing two birds with one stone.

For missing children overseas, Fielding wants people to sign a petition to help families. See, this is a FAMILY thing I can stand behind.

This is what they want to change.

A) If a child is reported missing in a foreign country, the family in Australia needs to be notified right away. A family who has lost their child (the Lapthornes) weren't informed until six days after the child had been reported missing to Australian authorities. That's insane!

B) The Australian government should help families; give them what they need to find their child.

C) He wants Australia to have established agreements with countries so plans and regulations are set in place.

I can't disagree with any of that. I'm going to sign the petition.

Never mind. You have to be Australian.

I guess that's fair.

Here's Steve's biography information.

Lord Wiki made a mistake. There were sixteen kids in the family, not fifteen. I have to give them an even bigger WOW.

Fielding has been married for twenty-four years. His children range from age thirteen to twenty.

He lives in a suburb of Melbourne called Wantirna South. It's south east of the CBD. Lord Wiki says there's a popular shopping center there. Knox City Shopping Center. I wonder if Fielding and his family hang out there sometimes.

Speaking of shopping, Tim and I debated the other day whether or not Australia has Costco. He thinks they don't. I think they do.

Now I shall see who is right.

Ah, we both kind of are.

There is no Costco store...yet. So, Tim is right.

But one is coming soon. It might open in July.

I'm not a big fan of American businesses invading Australia. I do love Costco though. They actually have some fairly decent products.

Back to Fielding....

He was born in a northern suburb called Reservoir.

His parents were both only children. That's interesting. One of the things I've considered about having an only child is I might not have any grandchildren. But who knows. Jack might end up wanting the opposite of what I wanted. I might end up with TONS of grandkids. And according to Jack, they're going to be Australian. He's still intent on having an Australian wife.

Fielding has seven sisters and eight brothers.

Daddy Fielding worked in a Hardware store.

The Fielding kids went to Keon Park Primary School. I can't find a website for them; just a brief listing on another site.

Later they went to Merrilands High School.

Fielding's maternal grandma spent a lot of time with the family. She lived with the family during the week, and helped out. I love that. I'm reading Sally Morgan's My Place. The grandma lives with the family. I think sometimes it can be a huge help having grandma there. I guess though it depends on the personality of the grandmother; and whether or not her children and in-laws get along well with her.

I guess the important deciding question is: Is she there to criticize and control? Or is she there to help?

When I move in with Jack to help him take care of my Aussie grandchildren, I shall TRY to be nice.

After uni, Fielding worked for Hewlett Packard. His future wife worked there too. That's how they met. My cousin met her husband at work. Sometimes those things DO work out.

From 1992-1995, Fielding and his family lived in New Zealand. There he worked with for Telecon NZ. It looks like it's a phone company.

When the family returned to Australia, Fielding worked for United Energy and Yellow Pages.

It was a passion for local issues that pushed Fielding into politics. It seems family economics is one of his main passions. He says:

It is well known that parents would like to have more children than they do and an Australian Institute of Family Studies report has found one-third of men and women will have fewer children than they would like. However, it seems that nothing can be done to change this situation. Many single incomes are no longer sufficient to support a family, but nobody asks why. Our tax-free threshold is below the subsistence level, but bringing the tax-free threshold up to this level is not the top priority for political parties. All the political parties talk about ‘family-friendly’ policies, but it seems they are really market-friendly.

You know maybe I somewhat misjudged this guy. Maybe the term family first is truly about family and not code for we want to impose our Christian values on everyone else. It still could be the latter. But I'm glad to see aspects of the party that I do agree with.

I'm not against mothers working....if this is what they want. But I wish we lived in a world where it truly was a CHOICE. I wish parents could choose to stay home if they wanted to without making huge sacrifices. And by sacrifices, I don't mean a week at a four star hotel, three cars, and designer clothing. I'm talking about affording the schools that parents feel are best for their kids; food that is healthy; internet connection; books on the bookshelf; moderate holidays, etc.

Parents should not have to choose between having a comfortable lifestyle and being a one income family.

Fielding has a blog. I'll read some of the entries.

From this entry, I'm getting the idea that he's skeptical about global warming. But wait. I decided that without reading beyond the first paragraph. Let me read more.

He met with Penny Wong.

He says he went to the meeting with an open-mind because he's not a skeptic. I do think that skeptics are closed-minded sometimes. I guess it can go either way. You can be an open-minded skeptic, or a closed-minded one. I'm fine with open-minded ones. The closed-minded ones to me are as annoying as doubtless believers.

He questions whether man-made carbon emissions are responsible for global warming.

I'm pretty sure they are. But even if they're not, I still think it would be wise to cut down on them. We're way too wasteful in this society. There's too much pollution. So.....

I just don't really understand the global warming skeptics. I DO understand questioning things, and not taking dogma and/or information at face value. But I think there's usually a reason behind the questioning. It seems to me to question the existence of a global warming problem, you have to WANT it not to exist. I mean we ALL want it not to exist; minus perhaps some crazy evil people. But my feeling is these global warming skeptics want it not to exist so they don't have to make lifestyle and/or corporate changes.

On this entry, Fielding tries to explain his position. I am not a climate skeptic and I am not a climate change extremist. What I am, however, is someone that actually wants to take a balanced view, look at the facts and then respond appropriately.

I think that's a fair statement.

I'm that way on a lot of issues.  In the middle.

I'm that way with vaccines. I'm not against vaccines. I'm grateful for them. I think they've saved millions of lives. But I'm also not a pro-vaccine extremist. I think people have the right to ask questions, and want research to be done...without being told they're personally responsible for a baby recently dying of the measles.

The recent extremists I've encountered are the eating disorder ones. From what I've seen, they seem to believe there is one and only one cause of eating disorders-genes. I've been reading their posts and comments, and they're incredibly narrow-minded.

It's like PETA with Obama's fly swatter. When you get THAT fanatical about something, you really don't help anyone. You just taint your message. And then people will ignore you when you talk about much more extreme atrocities against animal...such as veal and chicken cage issues.

Back to Fielding, he talks about balancing carbon issues with family economic needs. I guess that answers my question.

I guess there's two possibilities here.

1. We DO need to reduce emissions. If we don't, horrible things will happen to the earth. Cities will go underwater. It will be too hot. Life will suck. But people think we, in the present, need to just ignore the future because then current families won't have to make huge sacrifices.

2. There is no true threat and people want to force families to make huge sacrifices anyway.

If it's #2, my question is WHY?

My feeling is when people are extreme about issues there are usually three possible reasons behind it.

1) an economic benefit if people follow them
2) They truly believe their way is the right way, and if more people follow them the world will be improved
c) Validation for their own choices: If you do what I do then it makes me feel I'm doing the right thing.

I do feel for the most part, environmentalists fall into the second category. And I do think they're fears and concerns are valid. Who knows though. Maybe I've been brainwashed by Al Gore. My recent experiences with eating disorder and vaccine fanatics has made me try to be more open to the other side.

I feel I should let people question the whole carbon emissions thing without screaming at them. You don't care about the earth! You're wasteful and greedy! They probably ARE that, but I'm going to try and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Yeah. See that's my new game plan in life. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Make less assumptions. And remember what Wicked taught me. There's always two sides to every story.

Here Fielding criticizes Rudd's budget. He says, This is a Budget that punishes Australians who want to improve their lot in life. It punishes incentive. It tells pensioners that if you want to get a better pension, don’t stay married. Get divorced and you’ll get more help.

One of my friends in Australia has talked to me about this. She says that it's better for families to separate; that there are more tax benefits. She's very unhappy with that.

I went in the archives. Fielding's first blog post was about the Victorian fires. He talks about the fires that were set deliberately, and asks how people can do that. I asked the same question when we were in Australia. Now I understand. Some people truly are evil.  Or I guess we could use the term psychopathic.

At any moment, any one of us can have our lives destroyed simply because some heartless person decided to do something bad.

Now there's a lovely thought.

Steve Fielding here announces that he is not a friend of Danny Nalliah. It seems Nalliah was part of Family First, but was then asked to leave because he said negative remarks against a minority. What did he say? I need to find out.

Lord Wiki says he said was involved with anti-Islam stuff. Then later he declared that the bushfires came about because abortion was legalized.

Oh my.

I'm glad Steve Fielding publicly distanced himself from him. It's what Howard needed to do with Pauline Hanson. And Mel Gibson needed to do it regarding his father not believing in the Holocaust. Now I don't think they necessarily need to be hateful towards their family/friends. I think they can still even remain friends with them. But they need to be firm in saying they disagree with what this person has said and done. I also think it's a good idea to kick them out of your political party. Hey. I like you. We'll always be friends. I'm sorry though. Our party doesn't stand for that. You'll have to go elsewhere.

I think Fielding's words towards Nalliah are strong and effective. He says, Mr Nalliah’s recent comments about the victims and survivors of Victoria’s devastating bushfires are insulting and beneath contempt. They in no way represent the decent people who support Family First.

I think I'm going to stop reading the blog and look at Google News. That will help me get a better perspective on Fielding. I want to see what is said about him rather than just what he says about himself.

Here's an interview with him on ABC regarding climate change. Look, what was happening was that my major concern was if carbon emissions aren't driving up global temperature, what else could be? So I was then looking at other alternatives but my fundamental question remains - is carbon emissions driving up global temperatures.

That's an interesting twist. Is he saying that global warming IS a problem, but we're barking up the wrong tree? Or is it just a way to distract people from the issue?

Fielding says, As I said, I am not a skeptic. I am hoping the Minister can actually prove to my satisfaction that actually carbon emissions are driving up global temperatures. At the moment there is a big question mark and we need to resolve that before I move on.

That statement makes me rethink my paragraph above about open-minded and closed-minded skeptics. Maybe to me a skeptic is someone who asks questions in the hope they won't find evidence that proves the other person wrong. They're not truly trying to gain information or insight. The purpose of their question is to simply poke holes in someone's arguments or beliefs.

But then what would you call someone who asks questions because they truly want to understand? What if someone is simply trying to gather information so they can make an informed decision? And is Fielding truly this person?

Maybe a good name for these people are seekers. Ah! Like The Seekers!

Is Fielding a seeker or a skeptic? If he's truly a seeker, I admire him.

If he's a skeptic, I don't like him. Because then not only is he a skeptic (which I find to sometimes be annoying), but he's a skeptic trying to pose as a seeker. It would be dishonest.

Here's an insightful editorial. It says Fielding recently visited the United States to attend a conference on climate change. Now I saw this mentioned on his site. I didn't read much about it, but I assumed for some reason it was a government sponsored conference. I assumed incorrectly.

This editorial says: The conference was organised by the Heartland Institute, one of those corporate-funded think tanks whose mission in life is to promote free enterprise, no matter what the cost to society or the environment.

Now since there are two sides of the story, I need to find out what the Heartland Institute says for themselves.

Here's their website.

They say, Heartland's mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.

So I guess they want a free-for-all kind of society. Every man for himself and let's hope sometimes he cares enough to do something for his fellow man.

I looked to see who funds the organization and the website refuses to reveal that. They say, People who disagree with our views have taken to selectively disclosing names of donors who they think are unpopular in order to avoid addressing the merits of our positions. Listing our donors makes this unfair and misleading tactic possible. By not disclosing our donors, we keep the focus on the issue.

Yeah, well sometimes these donors are unpopular for a REASON. Thank you very much.

I DO like to know who is funding a study before I take it seriously.

If an organization is pro-vaccine, I would not like it kept secret that they're funded by a big pharmaceutical company.

If an organization is anti-vaccine, I would not like it kept secret that they have stock in some alternative medicine tea that parents can give their children in lieu of shots.

Heartland says We do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors. We have, in fact, a long record of standing behind our research even when it means losing the support of major donors.

I admire that. If it is true, I think they could list their donors without shame.

It surprises me that it's actually legal to hide big sponsors like that. I thought that was a requirement.

Oh well.

I just glanced around their website. They have a whole section defending smokers and smoking. Lovely. I can't be on their side there. I don't like smoking. I hate the smell, and it makes my eyes burn. If people want to smoke in their own homes, that's their business. But I love that laws have been enforced in many places to exclude smoking.

Remember when people could smoke on airplanes? We've really come along way. And I'm grateful for that.

Back to the editorial.

They say that Heartland is sponsored by companies like Phillip Morris and Exxon Mobile. I'm going to assume they got that information before Heartland became so secretive.

The author of the editorial says, Senator Fielding’s claim to have “kept an open mind on the road to Washington” seems a little disingenuous given he traveled to the US to attend a conference that was so obviously intended to discredit predictions of climate change.

I'm starting to get a whole different viewpoint here.

Back to my vaccine analogy. It's like me going up to some pro-vaccine people and asking questions. I just went to a conference. It made me think of stuff. I'm not a skeptic. I just want to learn more before deciding if Jack should get his next set of shots.

Now if that conference was an objective meeting of minds, not sponsored or dominated by any dogma, I think my statement is fair.

But what if the conference I went to was part of Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue? If I spent a weekend with these people, it's likely I'm going to have come out of it a little brainwashed.

I'm probably going to be approaching the subject of vaccines...not as a seeker, but as a skeptic.

This Heartland Institute Conference definitely had a slant to it. I'm thinking Fielding might have been a little brainwashed. But also the fact that he even attended such a conference makes me think he was already leaning to one side of the issue.

And I'm not saying all conferences that push a certain viewpoint are bad. I agree with what a lot of Generation Rescue says. I actually agreed with them on issues before I even knew they believed the same thing. I thought my ideas were unique and original. I was wrong there.

I think it's fine that Heartland Institute Exists. People have the right to believe what they believe. They have every right to start organizations based on those beliefs. They have every right to hold conferences. But when people are discussing, questioning, and debating.....I think they need to admit where they're coming from.

If I want to go to a Generation Rescue conference, that's my right. But if I'm going to meet with my pro-vaccine nurse-practitioner sister later and question her on things; she has a right to know what conference I just attended. And if she starts pushing some extra vaccine on me, she needs to tell me that she just attended a conference sponsored by the drug company that's making money off the vaccine.

Now I want to go back to the blog and read what Fielding himself has to say about the conference. Is he upfront about it, or not?

The blog entry is called Fact Finding Tour. He doesn't mention who's holding this conference he's attending. To his credit though he does say he's also talking to people in the Obama administration. So I think he might be at least attempting to get two sides of the story. I'm not sure if it's even though. How much time did he spend at the conference? How much time did he spend with the Obama people?

I can go to a conference full of Jenny McCarthy propaganda. I can spend all this time with fabulous speakers and meet parents who have cured their autistic children with gluten free diets. Then I go talk to my sister the nurse practitioner for an hour. She gives me her viewpoint. Is that enough to counteract what I learned at the Jenny McCarthy conference? I think what would be more fair is to next attend a pro-vaccine conference.

Now in all honesty, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to read a book or attend a conference to give a counter viewpoint to everything I've learned or believe in.

After we attend the very radical unschooling conference in DFW, we don't later attend a very pro-traditional schooling conference.

I don't have the time or energy to do all that....nor do I have the stomach for it.

But if I told someone I just went to a conference to learn about education, I think it would be wrong of me not to reveal the conference pushed alternative education. It would be wrong to tell people I'm on a fact-finding mission if most of my facts are coming from one side of the issue.

I have to say the website where I got the editorial looks interesting to me. It's called Online Opinion-Australia's e-Journal of social and political debate. I wonder if they're fairly balanced, or if they're more to the left. I guess they could also be more to the right, and I just happened to read the one editorial that was a leftie one.

I know this is already getting very long because I ramble too much.

But before I go, I want to look at the Family First website. I want to know where they stand on things.

Here's all their policies. I'll see if there are any that particularly annoy or offend me.

I'm already annoyed. All their policies are in PDF files. My computer automatically saves PDF files so I end up with SO many files on my computer. Months later I'm sorting through stuff and find menus from restaurants we ate at months ago.

Anyway, I've already found something that has offended me as well. Family First says We believe Australia should be the best country in the world to raise a family.

That's just so ethnocentric and narrow minded. How about wishing ALL countries were good places to raise a family? You know there ARE people living outside of Australia. I mean maybe Family First would like to invite us all to live there. I'm all for that! But it might get a big overcrowded, and I'm sure that won't promote a healthy family atmosphere. We'll all be sleeping on top of each other.

In the same PDF file they say The best environment to raise children is for them to have both a mother and a father.

Yes, of course. It is better for a child to live with a mom and dad who hate each other than it is for a child to live with two men who are happily in love with each other.

On another PDF file they say • FAMILY FIRST believes that protecting our environment starts at home. FAMILY FIRST wants to help families live the environmentally responsible life because the best way to improve our environment is for everyone to take responsibility and do their bit to reduce their energy and water use. Andrew had a good blog post about this recently.

Family First believes in shared parenting in the case of divorce. On the surface, I can agree with this. If a child has two loving parents, I think he/she should spend equal time with both of them. But life doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes parents are abusive, neglectful, and selfish. I'm tired of hearing children need their father! or children need their mother! Children need GOOD mothers and fathers...or relatively good ones. I'm not saying parents need to be perfect or anything. But children shouldn't be forced to share their time between two parents when one parent is SO much better than the other parent.

They oppose abortion. That doesn't offend me or annoy me. I just disagree with them. I probably strongly disagree with them because they want to make abortion illegal. I don't see how that helps. I'd be more supportive of their position if they took the stance of reducing abortion rather than criminalizing it.

They're against Euthanasia. I disagree with them there.

They're pro-suicide prevention. I'm not against it. But I think it should be low priority and last resort. I think instead we should treat people nicely, and maybe less people will get to that point.

Here's a scenario. A guy is dumped by his girlfriend. He was madly in love with her. Now he's heartbroken. I don't blame the girlfriend. She has every right to want out of the relationship. We can't be asked to stay in relationships out of fear someone might get too depressed if we leave. I say the girlfriend has little responsibility here. She shouldn't be cruel. That would be very wrong. But she doesn't need to provide him comfort. That's not her job now. Whose job is it? His friends and family. They should be there for him. But let's say they're not. His dad just says Hey! Stop looking so down. It's annoying. There are other fish in the sea. His sister laughs at him. His brother pats him on the back and offers him twenty seconds worth of comfort.

His friends take him drinking one night to forget his trouble. Then they stop calling him because he's like such a downer!

The guy has lost his love of his life. He feels abandoned by friends and family. He feels worthless. He decides to commit suicide. People find out and try to stop him. Okay, that's nice. But where were they a few weeks ago? Why do people have to do something desperate to get help?

Life is incredibly shitty for some people. And I do believe in some cases, suicide is the only answer.

 I think we should make the world a better place. Then maybe less people will be driven to suicide.

All right. This post is reaching epic length. There's so much more I could talk about. But I'll shut up now.