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real issues. this week: No. Fifty-Seven

Maxim Institute

real issues. this week: No. Fifty-Seven

Contents: * Youth statistics revealing - what's happening to our young people and how to respond * PC and a cup of tea - a job advertisement might seem trivial but it exposes more serious issues * Why Marxism isn't 'Marx-wasm' - how a discredited economic and political philosophy has been able to reinvent itself

Youth statistics revealing

Youth Affairs Minister John Tamihere has released statistics on New Zealand youth. He makes three preliminary observations: 1. today's adults tend to ignore their own past when they look at youth (he calls this 'selective amnesia'); 2. the youth sector is huge and dynamic; 3. young people are responsible for changing behaviours of society as a whole, e.g. language will be revolutionised by text messaging. Young people (12 to 24 years inclusive) make up 18 percent (675,087) of the total population (3,727,280).* Of this number: 16 percent are of New Zealand European descent, 24 percent are of Maori descent, 24 percent are of Pacific descent, and 26 percent are of Asian descent. Other statistics include:

Alcohol and drugs: approximately 79 percent of 14-17 year olds drink alcohol; around 23 percent of deaths in the 15-24 year age group were attributable to alcohol, and around 10 percent of young people are estimated to be dependent on cannabis by the age of 21.

Sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies: 6 out of 10 pregnancies among women under 25 years are reportedly 'unwanted'; between 1988 and 2000, the abortion rate increased by 62 percent among females aged 15-19 years and by 66 percent among those aged 20-24 years.

In response the Government has introduced a number of strategies: a 'Youth Development Strategy', the 'Youth Offending Strategy', and 'Youth Health: A Guide to Action'. Government policy tends to identify groups and specify how problems can be solved however identified groups do not exist independently of others. Mr Tamihere adds that, "the wellbeing of young people is dependent on healthy connections with whanau, schools, peers, and work and training," which is a helpful shift towards understanding the importance of interrelationships.

This approach was advocated by Professor Richard Whitfield who has advised the Government on the Youth Development Strategy. He said, "We have to be absolutely clear that no country can have a serious youth policy without serious family policies." Children and young people do not exist in a relational vacuum, they are all members of families, no matter how dysfunctional those structures may be. Their behaviour is connected to what is occurring at this most basic level of social organisation. This recognition of 'healthy connections' is a good start, if the Government is serious about youth policy then the foundations of Civil Society - the primacy of the natural family and intergenerational connectedness must be taken seriously.

*Mr Tamihere's figures vary slightly from Statistics NZ counts. To view Mr Tamihere's full statistics click on http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=16300

PC and a cup of tea --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Department for Courts in Christchurch is looking for someone special: The successful applicant will be 'able to effectively manage relationships' and have 'planning and organisation ability' and 'effective time-management skills' says an advertisement. In addition he or she will need a strong commitment to customer service, a positive attitude, and be physically fit. Attentiveness to hygiene and self-motivation are also key prerequisites. 'This permanent position will...assist the department to deliver services to the judiciary, stakeholders, and users of the court services.' All this to make cups of tea.

It's easy to dismiss this as Politically Correct (PC) nonsense. But there's something much deeper going on: common sense in the real world is being continuously undermined by an imagined world, and it's being manipulated by the control of language. PC is a state-determined ethic telling us how to think and express ourselves. By controlling language, it attempts to provide the lens through which we interpret reality. Government and government agencies are masters at it. The deep irony is that in the process it distorts and destroys simple categories of meaning by substituting bureaucratic gobbledegook.

Why Marxism isn't 'Marx-wasm'

Few politicians will today openly proclaim support for any form of Marxism. But we don't have to look far in policy statements to discern how pervasive Marxist thought remains - 120 years after the founder's death and almost 80 years after Lenin's death.

An article by Paul Henderson in the Autumn 2003 Evidence journal just published explores Marxism's enduring popularity, but here are a few basic points:

* Classical Marxism as a political and economic ideal (the revolution of the proletariat or workers) is largely discredited, at least in the West.

* Neo-Marxism is more current and has been since the mid-20th century. For Neo-Marxists, the control of ideas and institutions which form ideas is primary (rather than control of the means of production), e.g. schools, universities, colleges of education, and other public sector agencies, churches, etc.

* Neo-Marxism enjoyed a 'high noon' in the 1970s but has proved adaptable and subtle in more recent decades. For example, many left-leaning parties now embrace market economics while retaining a social reconstructionist agenda.

* Neo-Marxism has successfully accommodated a number of other 'causes', e.g. feminism and anti-globalisation.

* Neo-Marxism readily adapts new names and titles, e.g. 'Third Way', Social Democratic Government', while retaining a commitment to ideological dominance.

* Neo-Marxism aims to replace the institutions of Civil Society with a state-determined ethic, e.g. political correctness.

To view the full Evidence article click on: www.maxim.org.nz/ri/marxism.html The suggested donation for an annual subscription to the quarterly Evidence journal is $30.00, please contact Leizel on 09 627 326 or email mailto:leizl@maxim.org.nz if you would like to receive it.

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - David Hume - Scottish Philosopher

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.

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