Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

The compulsion to vote or the freedom not to?

July 21, 2020

Civic Culture Coalition: Entertainment Industry-Backed ...

On my morning’s coffee, tête-à-têtes (some with masks) with friends at Bowral Cricket Stumps cafe I was surprised to hear that many thought the law on compulsory voting was normal and mainly world-wide. I pointed out that the list of countries with compulsory voting on punishment made Australia mixed with some strange company.

Here a list of countries with compulsory voting enforceable by punishment.

Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Nauru, NORTH KOREA, Samoa, Singapore, Uruguay.

The rest of he world is free to vote or not. Some have compulsory voting but not enforced s a Egypt, Albania, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico.

While one of the freedoms of democracy is that we can eat and drink what we like, including copious Cokes, and kilos of sugar, fat, apples and much more. We have total freedom to take or leave it. We also have freedom of speech, press and so much more again. We are loaded with freedoms. Yet it strikes me as odd that we do not have that freedom when it comes to voting. We are not free not to vote.  Most of the world’s democratic countries leave voting to, hopefully a well informed population. America does not have compulsory voting , they have a ‘right’ to vote but also the freedom not to vote. They also have a ‘right’ to bear arms but no one is forced to use those arms. ( sometimes it seem like it with 40 000 killed annually by this ‘right’.)

Disgruntled Voter (@jasondulak) | Twitter

An argument against voluntary voting is that it makes people politically lazy and uninterested. That does not bear out either.

Here copied from ‘The Advocate’. During the (second) last federal election.

“New polling by Essential absolutely belled the cat on this phenomenon.

It asked respondents if they knew who the federal treasurer was, without looking it up.

More than one third (36 per cent) did not know it was Scott Morrison.

Thirteen per cent thought it was ex-treasurer Joe Hockey, 3 per cent thought it was Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and 20 per cent said they did not know.

With no disrespect to the 36 per cent, why should they be forced to the polling booth if they don’t  take enough interest to know who holds the second most important role in the government?”

I was surprised that at my café group most thought that compulsory voting was normal and all over the world, and fiercely opposed the idea that it perhaps ought to be choice. Patriotic feathers were ruffled. When asked if I thought it essential to have compulsory voting I said I did not believe it. My backgrounds and that of my dearest late Helvi, ( The Netherlands and Finland) are from very staunch democratic and liberal countries. We grew up with the freedom to vote or not.

To punish people for not voting strikes me as odd.

Of course, a disclaimer; I vote with passion at every possible election. Gerard.


A house in Rio de Janeiro

December 14, 2013


In between getting older and being old, have I left living in Brazil a bit late? I have always felt that there must be places that offer more excitement than Australia. “Oh Gerard, have you not learnt enough yet. Excitement is what you make yourself?” This is what reasonable people have always told me. “You are out of your mind”, from the same reasonable people. Another favourite saying thrown as a morsel to keep me sated or even sedated. ” You will never find anything better than Australia”, “it is the best country.” Is this last bit an attempt to quell their own uncertainty?

Perhaps it is nothing more than my own wish to escape from getting old, pretending that moving about will stop ageing, I have a tendency to dream that a nirvana exists always somewhere else except at the present place. Another bout of useless dreaming of foreign countries. It could also be, that reasonable people are possessed with a lot of sangfroid but bereft of coping with anything much more exciting than a change of direction of stirring the tea and milk anti clockwise. Their major concession to adventure. I am surrounded by a sea of tea stirrers all in tandem. Round and round they stir.

I know, that Christmas always brings out in me a kind of melancholy. Contrary to what most people seem to want, my melancholy runs its course and doesn’t stop just because of a looming deadline. Perhaps unreal expectations are running rampant in others and I know and feel that too keenly. Does a certain date of 25th of December make necessary for a total mayhem of life? Is the 26th or 29th of Dec not very much like any other date? If the 25th is such a nice date, why is every day not like the 25th? Yes, I know it is Christmas and very special, but we still continue breathing, laughing, or not, like every other day. The sun comes up and goes down, just the same as any other day. It also often rains.

Today, it is still more than ten days till Christmas. Even so, in the shopping avenues there is a certain tension building up already. You can see an increase in tempo. Is time starting to run faster? Is the minute now getting shorter?

Brows are furrowed and people are nervously lugging huge trolleys laden with mountains of food. Today I saw a lady wearing a floral dress who would normally, (I assume somewhat brazenly) calmly go through the dairy division (small goods) of the super market to buy a small diet yoghurt. Today though, she threw all caution to the wind, loading 12 six packs of apricot smooth yoghurt with attached spoons in her groaning trolley.

Later on, while I was studying the different bags of garden potting mix outside, this same lady was ripping into one of the six packs apricot yoghurts with the spoon now unattached. After I bought and rolled my two bags of potting mix on my trolley to the footrest car and taking the trolley back, this same lady was on her third yoghurt. Is the Christmas spirit causing a hot fever resulting in an uncontrollable urge to slurp fruit laden yoghurt?

I remember last year finding a half eaten leg of ham in a bin just outside the Woolworth super market. It was in the full sun and would have gone off. In any case, flies were busy buzzing. It had teeth marks on it. Did some soul’s hunger get the better of him or her? Later on I speculated on who could possibly have partly eaten a leg of ham and then discard it in a bin. Did some people hold an impromptu ham eating party around the corner on the grass verge to celebrate the Christmas. Did they eat it late at night?

It is not unusual to see people buying food at the supermarket only to see them outside the door and start eating. They wrestle with the plastic wrapping. Their hands are shaking. This eating seems urgent and the need to satisfy hunger is immediate. Not a second to lose. One can assume that food had run out at home and that finally only hunger drove them to the shop…


It is therefore not surprising I started dreaming of how life would be in Brazil. An escape from the tedium. I can hardly believe that those sort of strange Woolworth eating cultural habits would exist there as well. I know that hunger thrives in Brazil. The slums of Rio have hordes of hungry kids going around for food. But they also laugh and play soccer. From my experience in Argentina, people do have different life habits. Hunger here seems lonely and suffered in isolation. In Brazil, I hope and speculate, hunger if it is still rampant there, is shared and communal. A shared hunger is preferred to an isolated one. Shared anything is better.

I found a house outside Rio de Janeiro with twenty five hectares and two waterfalls. Here it is.

The first morning Coffee.

December 12, 2013


The first thing on any morning is our Coffee. We normally buy coffee by the kilo. When the ‘special’ comes along, we buy 4 or more kilos. I know that coffee producing countries pay miserable wages and people often work under slave conditions but us not drinking coffee is not going to make it any better. I must say, I never drink coffee to save the world or help poor people. Far from it, it is one of the most luxurious habits we can engage in without having to worry about a world going to the dogs. (sorry Milo; good boy, good boy!)

In any case, Brazil is booming and likely to outrun the economy of Australia soon. They have enough money to give the world the Olympics. Perhaps, the coffee bean is now mechanically harvested because the price of the coffee seems to be as it was more than ten years ago or even cheaper. What has gone up is the price of a latte or cappuccino in a café. From $1.- to at least $3.50 within 15 years.

I read yesterday about the decision of US owned General Motors to pull the plug on our own Australian Holden car. It is estimated thousands will lose their jobs. The Government is in panic mode. Our national airline Qantas is going broke as well. Someone suggested there ought to be more to life than ‘market forces’ and ‘profits’ above all. We could subsidise Holden car and Qantas by everyone donating about $10.- a week which is the price of two and a half lattes. If it keeps thousands employed it seems a reasonable price to pay.

Yes, turbulent times ahead. I noticed Australia is heading towards having its own tea party but…
with the influx of so many continental Europeans into Australia, I am surprised we don’t have a ‘coffee party’. Surely a tea party is a bit Anglo? Haven’t we moved on since John Howard’s days who was forever seen sipping a cup-o-tea?

How often are people being denigrated as ‘ you are nothing but a latte sipper’, that’s apart from being ‘rusted on’ as well. Rusted on what? Only two years ago, those on the left of politics were accused of being ‘chardonnay drinkers’. It’s odd how a relaxing time with friends sitting around talking and drinking a beverage is still seen by some as, apart from being a communist, engage in ‘sinful, waste of time or very bad’ behaviour. The English House of Lords has a lot to answer for.

It is time for the latte imbibers to unite and start a political party based on the humble coffee bean. The choice of either ‘coffee party’ or indeed the ‘espresso party’ could be worked out at a Balmain Town hall meeting.

The revolution has just started. Carry your flag proudly, march forward!