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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Stop learning and save the species

Latest News

COVID update December 3: One new case and advice for international travellers

One new case of COVID-19 was reported for Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) in the 24 hours to...

Other News

Fatal crash – Alstonville

A man has died following a crash in Alsonville yesterday.

Lismore Councillor candidate bios – Group A: Labor

The Echo asked all the Lismore election Councillor candidates to send in a bio. First cab off the rank was current Councillor Darlene Cook and Group A.

Aussies got drunk more than any other country during the pandemic (are we surprised?)

The Global Drug Survey 2021 reveals that Australians got drunk the most during 2020 and that drug and alcohol habits changed during the pandemic.

Voting options on paid parking

Council paid parking in Byron Bay, and National Parks NSW paid parking, has ruined the amenity we once had,...

Experience counts

I have been advised by someone in the know that it is not wise to cast your vote for...

Wilsons River flood peak and flooding not expected for Tweed, Rouse, Brunswick River catchments

The prediction provided by the Bureau of Meteorology expects that locals around the Wilsons River at Lismore will see the river peak this afternoon at 4.20m. However, ‘Flooding is no longer expected in the Tweed, Rouse, Brunswick River catchments.

Educating yourself could be the downfall of civilisation – seriously. That’s the message from a US academic from the University of Connecticut who believes that over-educated ‘elites’ pose a threat to the stability of western societies. 

Professor Peter Turchin (peterturchin.com) heads research using a mathematical model called cliodynamic, which measures historical events as statistical data. While it is no crystal ball, he argues, ‘History needs to become an analytical, predictive science.’ 

His theory centres around social indicators, which he says are related, despite not appearing to be. They include ‘stagnating or declining real wages, a growing gap between rich and poor, overproduction of young graduates with advanced degrees and exploding public debt…’   

In a 2008 essay, Turchin explained how patterns cut across historical periods and regions. One pattern is the oscillation between population decline and instability, such as peasant uprisings and civil wars. 

He writes, ‘Applying the above approach to eight secular cycles in medieval and early modern England, France, the Roman Empire and Russia, we find that the number of instability events per decade is always several times higher when the population was declining than when it was increasing. 

‘The probability of this happening by chance is vanishingly small. The same pattern holds for the eight dynasties that unified China, from the Western Han to the Qing, and for Egypt from the Hellenistic to the Ottoman periods.’ 

Important factors in twentieth-century revolutions were the rapid demographic change and elite over-production (or over-education), he says. ‘When Tony Blair was Britain’s prime minister, he set out to increase the proportion of youth getting higher education to 50 per cent. He was presumably unaware that the overabundance of young people with advanced education preceded the political crises of the age of revolutions in western Europe, in late Tokugawa Japan and in modern Iran and the Soviet Union.’

But Turchin is optimistic – he says records show that societies can avert disaster. 

‘We need to find ways to ameliorate the negative effects of globalisation on people’s wellbeing. Economic inequality, accompanied by burgeoning public debt, can be addressed by making tax rates more progressive. Ours is the first society that can perceive how those forces operate, even if dimly.’ 

Seven years ago, he predicted on www.nature.com that ‘the next decade is likely to be a period of growing [political]instability in the US and western Europe.’ And three years ago he said the peak of political turmoil will occur in the 2020s.

While Australia is thankfully a more egalitarian society, we may be on a similar trajectory, thanks to a merchant banker PM in a shrinking top hat. At least Australia’s falling education standards align with Turchin’s theory that we need a dumbed-down population to avoid catastrophe.

– Hans Lovejoy

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Last mayoral candidates Q and A: are you a landlord?

Here at The Echo we have seen and heard the word ‘housing’ come up time and again throughout the local government election campaign period, whether it’s from candidates or other voters.

On the ground work assists evicted women 

We know the region has some of the highest rents, and highest housing costs in Australia. We all know that this has virtually eliminated affordable housing. We hear the stories of women and children being evicted, of couch surfing and living in cars.

What do the Tweed Council candidates stand for?

The final day of voting for your local Tweed Shire Councill candidates is Saturday 4 December at a venue near you.

Today is International Day of People with Disability

This language trend around People With a Disability has tended to emphasise the disability rather than the person, which can lead to derogatory labelling, depersonalisation or impersonal, collective references.