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06 November 2016


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Is not education a word to denote a change state in a human brain from its acquisition and assessment of an experience? So too of many experiences and of multiples of humans? What then of one school or many as infrastructure to enable education? Or opportunity? Or (dare it become) opulent lifestyle?

Quite apart from hopes, active planning and building works, which collectively are enculturation of economic activity, efficacy of schools as stuff of a fulfilling life is experiment in expedience not only for PNG.

A public toilet is no guarantee that people will use it properly - potty trained or not - careless or not - well maintained rooms or not - proper sanitation or not.

It's an indication of the level of civility in Port Moresby that there are so few or to my recollection no proper functioning public toilets.

Stop sending your kids to Port Moresby to toilet!

Build proper toilets in the districts and provinces so you can stop the spread of disease and have facilities to train your kids good sanitation and how to 'sanit in the right place'.

Oh, sorry, we're we talking about schools, hospitals or toilets? Same shit.

We are trapped in the morass of useless conversations about buildings, infrastructure and 'development'.

A classroom does not make a school nor does placing human children inside a classroom quantify or qualify as providing an education.

And what point is an education if you can't or don't shit in the right place?

I think you are saying that some of the stuff they are building in Mosbi, like schools, is actually useful Lindsay.

The National newpaper reports “Moresby South MP Justin Tkatchenko says almost 120 classrooms and facilities were built in the past four years in the electorate.”

Setting seating deficits aside, achievement is to be celebrated, in part a validation of migration to places of more opportunity at least in respect of education within and beyond schools. And, well, if verified.

Mosbi may make more majestic manifestations modernity-wise, than thrown-thought thwarts.

In the past, religion was used to dupe the masses, followed by sport, which has lost much of its credibility and now it's shopping on credit.

If there were adequate services available in rural PNG I imagine that a lot more people would stay there and not migrate to the towns.

That might mitigate the squatter problems in Mosbi and the other big towns.

As I recall that was a strategy we were using prior to independence to tackle the squatter settlements that were beginning to become a problem even then.

I guess that would require a bit of lateral thinking on the government's part.

That is the reason why I left Sydney, Phil. And what really bugged me there was that to drive anywhere, I had to pay a toll. When I first went to Sydney after PNG I could drive across Sydney for free. Not any more. Beware PNG of toll roads.

Thankfully I now live at Warwick, the horse capital of Australia - open skies, open roads, no parking problems, magpies calling in the trees, kangaroos hopping around the paddocks, and some people here even have tame kangaroos who come and go freely into their backyards.

Anything I can't buy in the local shops, I can buy on-line. It is like living in outstation PNG but with all the mod-cons the digital world now supplies. Let us hope rural PNG develops this way.

Dear Phil,

I find the Gold Coast repulsive but not as bad as Singapore Both are built on credit and a quick glance at high rise naming rights is a reliable indicator of the underlying culture of capital.

Theodore Dalrymple reiterates much of what you say in his book "Our culture, what's left of it - The Mandarins and the masses"
It's available free as a PDF via:,%20Theodore/145103995-Our-Culture-What-s-Left-of-It-Theodore-Dalrymple.pdf

He is undoubtedly right wing but much of what he writes is thought provoking and his article about the Birmingham Bull Ring shopping centre from The Spectator back in 2003 is also worth reading:

In my school days, I dimly remember studying the poetry of Kenneth Slessor (1901 to 1971).

In one of his poems, I forget which, he referred to Australia's cities as six teeming sores. In this one phrase he expressed both his contempt and disgust at what he plainly saw as a cancerous urban blight.

Now, some 60 years or more after he wrote his poem, I think that Slessor would feel that his worst fears about the Australian urban landscape had been more than fully realised.

As Phil has so graphically explained, our major cities are remarkably unlovely places. Sure, Sydney has its harbour, Melbourne its gardens and Perth has the beautiful Swan River, but only a tiny handful of the residents of those cities can afford to live within sight of these features.

Thus, the view along Parramatta Road or Adelaide's South Road is one of unrelieved ugliness, featuring glass and concrete boxes, car yards, garish signage and the odd café.

People who lived in such an environment become accustomed to the ugliness, air and noise pollution, over crowding and traffic. They accept this with, at best, a shrug of indifference. Such is life.

Those of us who had the privilege and pleasure of growing up in the country or spending any time in rural PNG, know that there are much better places to live.

Certainly, such places lack many of the amenities and services found in a big city, but they are spectacularly lacking in most of its drawbacks too.

Port Moresby always was very atypical of PNG. Frankly, I thought it was not a good place to live. Even in the 1970's I found the contrasting juxtaposition of great wealth with grinding poverty very unsettling.

Rural PNG was not only infinitely more beautiful than Port Moresby but its comparative lack of ready access to goods and services made for a simpler, quieter and less stressful life.

I am not suggesting that poverty is a good thing, but I suspect that being forced to spend some time living a life stripped to its bare essentials is good for people. It helps restore a sense of perspective about what really matters.

My sense is that, these days, the very affluent mostly lack any true insight into what constitutes a good life. The modern obsession with fame, fashion and the acquisition of material things as symbols of success or achievement has, I think, literally buried our better human instincts in a deluge of trivia and junk.

In a way, it is a triumph of capitalism, but it is devoid of much meaning or worth.

It seems likely that even the poorest and humblest Papua New Guinean working hard to feed, clothe and educate his or her family has a richer family and community life than the hot shot stock broker or futures trader.

Modern capitalism, for all its great achievements in raising billions out of poverty, is fundamentally isolating, dispiriting, frequently wasteful and devoid of meaning.

The grandiosity and warped priorities reflected in the O'Neill government's vision for Port Moresby are an expression of ideas and qualities that fit the modern capitalist world view, but these are entirely alien concepts within the traditional communalist thinking that still dominates PNG cultures.

Phil is right: we have lost any proper sense of what is necessary for our communal well being, preferring instead to erect temples of capitalism wherein we can indulge in the frequently pointless consumption of things we don't really need.

Excellent commentary and deductions Phil.

This statement also applies to large parts of Australia as well:
"What you need are decent hospitals, good schools, clean water, reliable electricity and plenty to eat."

Beware PNG lest you follow Oz on its path of decline.

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