democracy(?)

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Ok, so this post is probably going to get more political than I’m used to but I feel like this is something worth writing about. (At the very least this would be my best attempt at being vaguely critical in thinking lol)

The massive influx of debating over the last three months has opened my eyes to a few things – some things probably better than others. But one of the stock standard arguments I’ve come across it that which supports democracy.

Most high school level debaters have probably come across it – I think I’ve probably had to mention it at least once in any vaguely political/relating to govt. debate that I’ve experienced over the last three years. The line of argument is usually the same – the system lies on the principle of having one vote per person because of the need for equal representation in governing bodies. The basic reasoning is that each person gets one vote. So, based on the assumption that each person votes in their best interests (another argument below questioning that), we should get representation in Parliament (in NZ anyway) that reflects the needs of the population. i.e. NZ Asians would be more likely to vote for NZ Asian politicians or politicians with policies that support immigration. So if 1/8 of the population is Asian or in support of those policies, then 1/8 of parliamentary seats would be taken by politicians who support those same things. Therefore, this would be reflected in the kinds of policies produced and so forth.

But that’s a massive oversimplification in itself and I guess here are the two main assumptions:

1) Everyone would vote

2) Everyone who does vote does so in their best interests

I guess we have to then think about what really happens when people vote. The first massively huge issue (particularly in this country) is that not everybody votes. About 76% of the entire population registered for voting in the 2014 elections. Then about 76% of those registered actually voted. Straight off that bat that’s a pretty substantial amount of the country that’s being ‘unrepresented’. But then we have to take a look at what kinds of people aren’t voting. The 2014 General Election showed that in nearly every age band, for every percentage of non-maori registered voters who actually voted, the same statistic for those of maori descent was about 8% less than that of non-maori descent.

That’s probably one of the most clichéd observations to make in New Zealand society but it’s undeniable that disenfranchisement is more likely to occur in ethnic and indigenous cultural groups than in those of European and/or Anglo-Saxon descent. Same goes for the youth. When a large portion of the population feel very little obligation to partake in activities with the state it means that they become massively under-represented in political activities but it’s also really dangerous when they all come from one area of society – because those policies are then completely overlooked.

Furthermore, the system basically assumes that everyone who does vote does so based on their own personal interests. The argument for that is basically that you as an individual are likely to vote for politicians that are a) similar to you (i.e. in race, background etc) or b) support policies that benefit you. ‘a)’ is probably a fair assumption to make because you’d vote for someone who’s like you because you’d feel that their experiences would mean that they would probably advocate for changes that you need in your life. ‘b)’ is where it gets problematic. ‘b)’ resides on the presumption of previous political understanding and knowledge. ‘b)’ assumes that we all have equal engagement.

It’s true that ‘a)’ probably relies on those assumptions to some extent as well. But the problem is simply we’re just not educated enough to make those decisions – or we’re not educated enough to realise that these are decisions worth making. There are going to be freshly-turned-18-year-olds who vote for Internet Mana as a joke. There are going to be people who don’t vote because they can’t be bothered driving 10minutes out of their way to the booth. There are going to be people who won’t do it because their parents didn’t.

Personally I think it probably arises from a lack of education and awareness – particularly in NZ where we kind of treat politics as a joke because we don’t think it has a real effect. In all fairness, when the media tends to focus on hair pulling incidents rather than immigration policies that’s probably a likely outcome.

But the problem is – the system that we use to determine our governments, our policies, our lives assumes that the system is perfect. We assume democracy, assuming that the voting system works fine. We assume perfect outcomes based on an imperfect reality.

There are obviously harms to this – I mean, firstly, it just means that we have shit representation in government. But moreover, it means that we continue to believe that there is no incentive to change our system. This is a particularly dangerous mentality and one that’s particularly popular in NZ society – we believe that we are so progressive and liberal that there is very little needed to be done. We ignore the fact that lower socio-economic groups are ignored because political parties treat them as non-voters. National wins by campaigning to upper-middle class voters because they don’t see the need to include disenfranchised groups to win the elections.

Most of these problems arise from something that could probably be quite easily fixed. Civic education. New Zealand frankly has an appalling civic education system and by that I mean we have none. Never in my 12 years of schooling have I experienced some form of civic education  – my very limited political knowledge comes from debating and maybe sometimes the news.

It’s something that’s necessary in schooling and here’s why: for all the problems mentioned above. Civic education is meant to let people know about the rights and obligations they have as a citizen but moreover is meant to allow its students to each have equal education and awareness and therefore, power in the decisions that they make – politically, economically, socially. The disparity that exists in our society is one that stems from concentrated lack of education in certain areas of our population.

P.S.

woah ok so I never meant for this post to get this long – it got a bit ranty and at times I started regurgitating some debating analysis. I thought this would be something interesting to write on given the upcoming 2016 US Presidential Elections (this problem is far worse in the states than it is here). It’s a poor first attempt given my very shallow understanding of politics but here goes :)

last year’s me+the terrifying concept of the future

Personal Posts

And so, the prodigal [daughter] returns in shame to her blog. I’ll admit, I’ve opened this page up a fair few times in the last six months and tried to pump out a post about something arbitrary but nothing seemed to stick. But it seems that today, I finally found something that I was angry and confused about enough to want to rant.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future – finishing the final year of high school, considering what I want to get out of my life in the years to come. And it was surprisingly depressing. I’ve spent so long just thinking about what I want to get out of high school that I don’t think I’ve actually devoted much thought to what I’m going to do after that.

A lot of this conclusion stemmed from me thinking a lot about what I was like last year. 2014 was a fairly good year for me academically, but it was also one of the most personally unfulfilling years of my entire school life. I felt constantly drained, I was putting my all into school and not getting any emotional reimbursement. I just never felt satisfied. As a result of that I think I began to push myself harder but that just made me overly competitive – I’d compare myself to everyone else, I’d see them as some kind of opposition to beat. But I still wasn’t satisfied.

I know there are plenty of people that I did not work nearly as hard as, and I’m not sure if I had the right to feel entitled to something more, some kind of emotional content and self-security. But I do know that looking back on it now, I really disliked 2014-me. All I thought was that I wanted to be better and that I was better than a lot of the people around me.

It’s a bit late for New Years’ resolutions, but I’ve finally figured out mine: to be more than I was. That might sound extremely vague to you but it means something very important to me. One of my biggest fears in life is being two-dimensional – being someone easily categorised, a stereotype, predictable, uninteresting. I came quite close to that 2014 – obsessive, competitive, a little bit too pretentious. Obviously I can’t completely change myself, I will never be able to be the person that I want to be. But I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish it was possible.

So, back to the what I started this post with: thinking about the future. What do I want to get out of the future? Up til now it’s always been about doing what was safe and what felt right. But now that it’s approaching and the risks are getting larger, nothing feels right and I’m not really sure what I want to be doing in ten, twenty, thirty year’s time. Fuck, I can’t even comprehend what I’ll be like in two months’ time let alone ten years’.

Sometimes (most of the time), I feel like the future is this massive void – a vacuum of blackness that I can neither visualise nor comprehend. It’s pretty terrifying (a normal reaction from what I’ve heard). But what scares me more than not knowing what I will be doing is the fact that I don’t know what I want to be doing. Not knowing what I want is proving to be a difficult stage to overcome, especially more so because I pride myself on being quite self-aware.

So yeah that’s my rant – I’m impressed if you even read this far. I guess I just felt a bit more lost than I usually do and wanted to get it out.

I’ll catch you later (maybe).

mid-life crisis (at the ripe old age of 16)

Personal Posts, Writing 101 2014

So, the titular problem here: I’m in a bit of a crisis. Although I’m only 16 and nowhere near middle-aged, this dilemma seems to, in all aspects, have all the characteristics of a ‘mid-life crisis’. The issue is – I’m not quite sure if I want do what I want to do. Sounds weird, right? The problem is that I’ve had my ‘heart’ set on studying mechanical engineering at university, but lately I’ve begun to doubt my decision.

Before I continue with this story, small disclaimer: do not start characterising me as the classic nerdy teen who wants to become one of the following: doctor, lawyer, engineer. I genuinely think made this decision because of my interest in physics, which is what makes this crisis all the more ‘crisis-y’.

So, I had an appointment with the school careers counsellor the other day and it went something along the lines of this. I walked in, we said hi, I sat down, she asked me what I wanted to do and I answered ‘mechanical engineering at one of these three universities’. Pretty much as soon as those words left my mouth and became the public knowledge of god knows who was in the area, the regret sank in. I have no idea why I would regret saying that – my career choice had never really been a secret, I like physics, I’d spent a very long time coming to this decision – so what the hell was wrong? *breathes after very long sentence*

After a slightly panicked careers appointment (myself being the panicked component whilst the counsellor very calmly told me about the undergraduate programmes at Sydney University) and a very long conversation in physics class – I came to a conclusion. I regret not having explored any other options. I regret that I never considered getting an English degree, even though that may be a one way road to unemployment. I regret that I never considered something that made me really passionate and angry rather than just ‘happy’.

You, reading this, will be saying to yourself ‘What’s the big deal? You’re still in high school, there’s plenty of time to make changes’. It’s not that I have made up my made and I’ve got another plan – I’ve just ended at this place of indecisive frustration and anxiety. I have these overwhelming regrets of not having made other inquiries but I don’t have the urge to jump at the chance of studying journalism. The only thing I know for sure is that engineering is something that seems like a relatively happy prospect for myself and I’m a hell of a lot more sure about this than anything else.

Well, if you’ve made it to this point, I commend your tenacity – making it through the angsty musings of a teenage girl is no small feat. Seeing as you made it this far, feel free to impart any words of wisdom in the comments.

Soo.

Turnovers

About, Personal Posts

Basic Info
Name: Soo
Age: 16

I guess the reason that I’m here is because I’ve always been one for fresh starts – but I’ve never been great at finishing what I’ve started. Being a veteran of many-an-abandoned-blog, I figured it was about time that I started anew. At this point in my routine, I usually begin to speculate how long it will take for the deadening drought of updates to arrive – but I’d like this to be different.

But this isn’t going to be me trying to start over, just to do exactly what I did before. I’m picking up where I left off. Hence, the title (no, I was not talking about the pastries – although I can predict that food discussion will be a major part of this blog).

In the past, I’ve always started any type of personal blog for the same reason – to document my experiences. This can probably be related back to some kind of deeply embedded need to romanticise the past – I expect that my subconscious has noted the future benefits of this blog to that end. And although it might not be entirely exciting, witty or intelligent for the lonely and rare internet wanderers who come across this – I’m hoping for some personal satisfaction. Not to mention, I’m getting some writing practice out of this (added bonus!).

So, here’s to this: to the last few steps of high school, to “maturing and becoming an adult” (whatever the hell that means), to (hopefully) not saying anything rash/stupid/offensive/overly personal on the internet and to whatever else that can come out of this.

Soo.