"CHANGE coming to NZ waste land'' (Chronicle; August 21):

I am horrified at the Government's plan to up the levy on landfill from $10 to $140 — it will see fly-tipping increase to an industrial scale. Those struggling to make ends meet will be further encouraged to fly-tip.

Property owners and their tenants should all have access to free solid waste disposal — only then will we see fly-tipping decline.

From memory, there was pressure put on the council to sell Bonny Glen landfill to Waste Management some years ago.


Buy a farm with the geology and topography to be a landfill; now dig out a hole on it and bury rubbish. Every hectare is 10,000sq m — stack rubbish 10 metres deep and charge $100 per square metre, and a 100-hectare farm earns $1 billion.

Our Government should be buying farms and turning them into landfills. Foreign operators could be sent packing, and any profit could be used to offset the high cost of recycling.

Provided toxic heavy metals do not go into landfill, there is not much of a problem. Once covered in and topsoil replaced, they can be returned to farming.


Humanism not like religion

Humanism not only "can be" secular — in its own terms and premises it ever has been since the Stoics of Ancient Greece and Hellenic Rome, through the Renaissance via Cicero and later Erasmus, and through the development of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment with the achievements of science, technology, education, literacy and accountable systems of government to replace the tyrannies of church and absolute monarchies.

Today's secular humanism has grown out of that continuum, and has only a small set of premises. They are, first; that all humans constitute a brother/sisterhood with the right and duty to think for themselves about what the "good life" should be; second that there are no supernatural agencies in the universe and thus, third; that our ethics must be drawn from, and responsive to, the nature and circumstances of human experiences, not from the supposed demands of a supernatural authority.

Thus, without being a fully detailed philosophy, humanism is a philosophical framework. Unlike any religion, it has no doctrines and prescriptions, nor sanctions for non-belief or disobedience. It is thus very far from being even like a religion. And when John Haakma charges humanists with having "faith" in science or "faith" in reason, he neglects the fact that faith is at its distinctive worst when it is opposed to facts and reason.

The point is clearly established in Haakma's penultimate paragraph, where he expressly accepts "on faith" the biblical accounts of Christ's resurrection from death and supposed bodily ascension to heaven.

One is reminded of Kierkegaard's notion that faith requires an absurd "leap of will", and of Mark Twain's description of faith as "believing what you know ain't so".

Faith is not required to "believe in" science or the use of reason: just honesty in the processes of each, and clarity and integrity in their use.

Humanism has only one driving invocation to each of us: To think as clearly and honestly as we can. Mind you, in kindness it also pays to remember Bertrand Russell's "Most people would rather die than think — in fact most people do". That's at least a partial explanation why so many still accept the comfort and authority of religion and pay the dues of lost ability to think for themselves.

This letter owes much to Professor AC Grayling who, in personal correspondence some years ago, gave me permission to make free use of his books. Herein I especially use and recommend his 2013 The God Argument, with thanks.


Treaty document fudging

I invite David James who denigrates me (Chronicle, August 25) to identify any flaws in my work on the Treaty of Waitangi and related topics.

James is, or was, a principal of the Rowan Partnership which gives seminars explaining the Treaty — something which can actually be done in five minutes.

One of the handouts on such occasions has been a copy of the 1869 official translation of the Treaty by T E Young of the Native Department which in Article Second "agrees to give to the Chiefs, the Hapus and all the people of New Zealand the full chieftainship of their lands".

However, after the words "all the people of New Zealand" have been inserted the words "[ie Maori]". Can James explain this fudging of the wording to write everybody but Maori out of the rights guaranteed by Article Second?


Mental-health failings

"Best interest"? It seems the mental-health system has failed again.

The Human Rights Commission has just requested "a law change" to protect 5000 New Zealanders who live in secure dementia or psychogeriatric units? They are our parents, for goodness sake.

It appears many have been "locked up without their consent". How can that be in a public and private operation governed by the Ministry of Health and DHBs with supposed skilled and sophisticated systems? Incompetence, you say, or is it deeper? Has the health workforce been encased in the "protective halo" of ACC, which sees no accountability? When was there a prosecution?

This is scarcely another area for our overworked GPs. What is the role of the Health and Disability Commissioner and the so-called "Code of Patient Rights"?

In clinging to political allegiances, you deny justice for our most vulnerable. Obviously, we need a "court of protection" as in Britain?

Current architects need not apply.


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