Readers are invited to submit letters to The Guardian.
Letters may be e-mailed to email@example.com.
Letters of 300-400 words are preferred.
Letters to the Editor:
Who owns the sod?
The article "Who Owns the Sod?" (Guardian 14-07-04) shows clearly that it is very difficult, but not impossible, to find out who owned and owns land in Britain. It would be useful to do the same research in relation to Australia. That should not be difficult. Maybe someone has already done it? In a footnote to Capital, Marx referred to pioneer work done on the subject in Britain: Our Old Nobility by "Noblesse Oblige" — who turned out to be one of those conscientious members of the protestant lower clergy such as feature in the novels of Trollope — also in TV versions. And a rather unsavory business it was; theft and brute force are recorded. Riches garnered in the countryside could provide a basis for moving into trade and manufacture and becoming "legit", just as the Russian mafia-capitalists of the '90s are trying to become the "legit" capitalists of this decade, with mixed fortunes. Conservative economists such as Malthus (a parson to the employees of the drug-pushing East India Company) and Nassau Senior advised their young charges that they "should never enquire into the origins" of capital. As well they might. S Cooper
Tim Wilson, of the APEC Study Centre whose chair is all the way with the FTA afficionado Alan Oxley, accuses left-wing doctors of ignoring positive effects of the Australia-US free trade agreement on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). (Australian, letters, 28-07-04) There are several points he fails to mention. This is the first international trade agreement in which a nation's pharmaceutical scheme is specifically included. Any changes or policy decisions to the PBS have in the past been determined under Australian guidelines with the welfare of the people at heart. Now if the FTA with the US is ratified, the PBS will be in a trade agreement with the nation with the most inefficient and inequitable pharmaceutical system of wealthy nations. This is where 40 per cent of people can't afford access to medicines and many have to go to Canada or Mexico to get them. The principles in the FTA are vastly different from those of the PBS. The emphasis is on rewarding innovation with no mention of universal access to medicines. These are the principles under which any dispute would be determined. If the US is not happy with the way things are going — that the independent review process is not keeping to the obligations of the agreement — the dispute may end up before a trade settlement panel of three international trade experts. The panel can order that a law be changed or compensation paid. The panel's ruling is binding. Wilson also ignores the affects on the PBS of changes to patent regulations within the agreement. This has been estimated to be of considerable cost to the PBS and state public hospitals. The US believes this is the first step in opening up the PBS. Another condition of the FTA is the setting up of a Medicines Working Group with the US to discuss policy and progress of the agreement. What does Australia have to gain from the US in these policy areas? Surely, Australians should be able to determine how to improve transparency and the workings of the PBS without the influence of a trade agreement with the US. Tracy Schrader
Doctors Reform Society
I am deeply indebted to The Guardian (14-07-04) for the article The Terrible Price and to Tom Gill for translating it from French to English and express thanks to the author. It affirms the opinions I have had on the matter — that it was the loss of the most experienced, dedicated members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that led to it being weakened. There may have been millions more joining the party but they lacked in experience and knowledge, and had nobody from whom to learn. And among those millions there would have been innumerable opportunists and self-servers whose only interest was for themselves. Open slaughter for the pro capitalists with a gift of the gab — and Gorbachev certainly fit that — note his payoff with a position on the lucrative speaking circuit in America. This article should supply answers to Bob Saltis in his letter in the same edition. There is one point in his letter with which I would take issue — the pessimism over the value of the struggle because of human weakness. Bob! Bob! That's what the struggle is all about. You are never going to create the perfect human being. But because you lose a skirmish or even a battle does not mean you have lost the war. Fight on! B AppletonBack to index page
Woy Woy, NSW