We have painted ourselves into a corner
Klaas Woldring's complaint that the Constitution is obsolete but impossible to change ("Constitution is frozen in time", edition 484) is only one symptom of a worldwide problem that nobody wants to address.
After about 100,000 years of technological and social progress, we seem to have painted ourselves into a corner where we are the prisoners of our own institutions and processes and can't find our way out.
The paralysis that sets in whenever a radical change is needed in our systems extends from the international to the local level, despite the fact that we can all see the problems and know that something has to be done.
Yet, although we are good with specific engineering obstacles, we seem to be helpless in ordering our societal arrangements.
Obviously, our original Constitution was relatively easy to write, because the formulators were all of a mind, the needs seemed clear to them and worrying concepts never entered their heads.
That Constitution is now hopelessly obsolete, but we are so caught up in the mindset that wrote it that we can't imagine how to devise a document for our time, although we are still better off than the Americans who are yet struggling with the 19th century.
Even the most trivial correction of the Constitution is so mired in cumbersome procedures as to be almost impossible, but these procedures are sacrosanct.
Our High Court devotes learned hours to interpreting words written a century ago that had one meaning then but have no relevance to us today, and nobody thinks that this is in the least absurd.
Similarly, in any rational society, our state boundaries would long ago have been redrawn, but we are still squabbling over issues that wouldn't even arise (like the Murray-Darling basin), if we had a political system fit for 21st-century purpose.
The natural tendency of all incumbent politicians to be satisfied with the status quo makes it impossible for fundamental issues to be effectively addressed.
We see this, also, across the whole spectrum of international relationships.
Here, the most glaring contemporary example is in climate change, where successions of international conferences produce an excess of windy rhetoric, but no effective action ensues.
Instead of international society moving towards inclusion and consensus, the tendency is towards fragmentation and division.
Perhaps, this confirms the law of entropy, but, at one time, it appeared that there was the possibility of a process that could harmonize the global requirements of the human race.
Now, we are, more than likely, heading towards Darwinian extinction, because of our own stupidity, venality and lack of self-awareness.
Our great cities are a mess.
Instead of affording us comfort, commodity and delight, they are more akin to torture chambers where every action requires painful effort.
Despite all our technological powers, our cities are inefficient and ugly and instead of expecting, as a matter of course, that everything will work in the most convenient way, we are pathetically grateful when a piece of infrastructure meets the minimum level of function that it is designed to achieve.
This represents a total failure of the management process, but nobody has anything to offer but band-aid solutions, because bold vision is treated with suspicion and derision.
Politics is the art of the possible, we are told, so let us set our sights as low as possible, commensurate with the intellectual capacities of our political leaders.
Even at the level of the Central Coast, anybody can see that the present ward boundaries make no sense.
Whether we need no wards, 15 one-member wards or three five-member wards is, of course, not susceptible to rational argument, because the facts of this matter are inherently obscured by perceptions of political advantage.
However, if we are to have wards, we should be able to draw boundaries to reflect communities of interest, but can we expect sitting councillors to change something that has worked to their advantage.
Given that we still have the old Gosford-Wyong antagonism in place, my view is that we can soonest supersede this by creating small one-member wards and giving ourselves different issues to be resentful about.
These intimate community groupings might even lead to sensible long-term plans for their development, although I have little faith in the planning process as a vehicle for achieving any common purpose.
To Mr Woldring, you are a voice crying in the wilderness.
You are asking for common sense when common sense is a political liability.
You are relying on facts when facts are only wielded for advantage.
The time is out of joint and, cursed spite, nothing you say will put it right.
Email, 11 Dec 2019
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy