WELL, the Queen's Birthday Honours came and went with a few deserving souls and, for some unknown reason, more politicians. Perhaps they should be banned.

Meantime, I saw a woman on television stating: "We are now studying how to make a goat smile"!

Parliament beckons?

We seem to have billions for planting trees, culling cows and wage claims but an appallingly underfunded mental health system and the highest adolescent suicide rate in the world.

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The Prime Minister said the 2018 Mental Health Inquiry was "driven by the people", so where were the clinicians? The inquiry panel will be here on June 21. "Incarceration by medication" has been the past solution by the "experts". It is only a placebo. We demand a major change in thinking and service delivery.

Oh, I know: "They are a waste of taxpayers' money"?

KEN CRAFAR
Durie Hill


Yes to socialism

In his letter of May 24, Bob Harris says "No to socialism", yet it is socialism that gave us all the good things in life, until the 1980s when we returned to the unfettered capitalism dubbed Rogernomics.

Then, our newly elected left-wing politicians stormed the unguarded barricades with the selling of state assets that eventually we had to buy back (NZ Railways and Air New Zealand). Their user-pays mantra — as if our high taxes did not pay for things — went on to recreate the unequal society we now have.

Developed by the 1860s, "socialism" became the synonym for a group of words such as "co-operative", "mutualist" and "associationist" used to describe possible economic systems.

The term "communism" also fell out of use during this period, despite a distinction being made between communism and socialism in the 1840s. The former, it was said, aimed to socialise both production and consumption while the later aimed only to socialise production.

Karl Marx chose socialism as an answer to the inequality he discovered when analysing the development of capitalism.

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He saw an upcoming class struggle and speculated on this with what he experienced happening around him in industrial Britain.

His book, Das Kapital, was a wake-up call to the ruling classes of post-industrial Europe. He saw that the inequalities of society were leading to another revolution much bloodier than the French revolution.

Different interpretations of his theory were used to reconstruct societies. One form by Lenin saw socialism as the transitional phase to communism but instead led to state capitalism.

Panicked by the Russian revolution, the elites of many countries, including Britain, latched on to socialism as an acceptable default position to save them from what they saw as a catastrophe that had befallen Russia.

They agreed to set up the welfare state, which allowed them to retain most of their wealth and power by sharing it through a loaded-dice democratic process and the establishment of basic human rights such as free education and healthcare, affordable state housing and old age pensions.

People usually do not revolt if they are treated fairly and have a stake in their society, even if their elites live in gated million-dollar communities.

So be thankful for socialism, Mr Harris.

CHRISTODOULOS MOISA
Durie Hill


Walkers wait

Some time ago the traffic lights on Taupo Quay were altered and the pedestrians' right to cross diagonally was removed. I complained.

Now the same has happened in Ridgway St.

On behalf of everyone who has to wait twice to cross where they used to be able to do it in one, I'm complaining again. Other intelligent cities are making themselves more walker-friendly. What about us?

ANGELA STRATTON
Durie Hill


Fears unfounded

Mr Orr ("False claims", letters, May 24) states that 80 per cent of submissions received by the health select committee chaired by Simon O'Connor were opposed to assisted dying.

He's correct. The faithful were required by their religious leaders to make a protest against the Bill and so, unquestioningly obedient, they did as instructed.

The 80 per cent represents the vocal minority, though, not the silent majority — as a comparison with any reputable poll of randomly-selected opinions will show.

As Mr Orr says, assisted dying is not about religion, it's about human rights, including our human right to opt reliably out of unendurable suffering. Palliative care is wonderful, but we now know there are some types of suffering it simply cannot cope with.

We might remember that Lecretia Seales was in home-based palliative care at the time she died, trying up to the last moment to secure "permission" to escape her foreseeable end-state crescendo of suffering.

The Hospice Association in Oregon originally opposed the Dying in Dignity Bill enacted some 20 years ago, on precisely the same grounds that Mr Orr, Simon O'Connor and Maggie Barry are now opposing it. They have since withdrawn their objection, having found no link between requests for assisted dying and vulnerable patients.

ANN DAVID
Waikanae


Civilised souls

Russ Hay may not be aware that from the emergence of the first civilisations there have always been stories about life after death. Civilised humans were said to have immortal souls, distinguishing them from animals that did not have souls. Thus it was okay to kill an animal, but murder to kill a human.

So when, in our evolution from sub-human primates, did our ancestors first become truly human and gain this soul?

We are given a clue in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, which is a condensed version of the much older story about Ekindu and Shamat, found on clay slabs in several old Mesopotamian libraries.

Ekindu had no possessions or family history and lived in harmony with the wild plants and animals. He was tempted by Shamat to join the Mesopotamian civilisation, whose members herded animals and cultivated crops where wild things had once freely flourished. Gaining this unnatural new set of civilised values was what made Ekindu a true human.

Ekindu's counterpart, Adam, also adopted civilised values, or "ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," and was thus able to teach his sons to herd animals and plant crops.

So, underlying the Bible story that a newly civilised Adam was the first human, there is an implication that civilisation is what makes a person a real human. Indeed, this belief seems to be what has allowed Jews and Christians over the centuries to treat Philistines, Irish peasants, American Indians, aborigines and Palestinians like animals and kill them at random.

Incidentally, if it is necessary to be civilised, with the ability to distinguish between good and evil, in order to become truly human and gain possession of an immortal soul, what does that tell us about Donald Trump?

JOHN ARCHER
Ohakune


Condolences

Taranaki is in mourning as Yarrow Stadium turns into a cemetery. I have seen many games there, so my deepest sympathy goes to you all.

GARY STEWART
Foxton Beach