Should Democracy be Compulsory?
In response to a slow news week, certain highbrow newspapers have stirred up the debate over voluntary vs compulsory voting.
1. "Compulsory voting makes about as much as sense as having the death penalty for attempted suicide," says civil rights activist. "You can't force people to be free! You can only give them the choice. Besides, if all those derelicts who can't be bothered to get off their ass once every few years voted, who would they elect? I shudder to think."
2. "It's not contradictory at all," argues political commentator. "The fact is, if not everyone votes, the outcome isn't truly representative. Some groups--like elderly gun nuts--vote more often than others. That's why always we always end up with such terrible politicians."
3. "This raises an interesting issue," says your brother. "And that is: why do we need elections, anyway? Seems to me it would be much simpler if you just decided what was right, and did it. Wouldn't that save everyone a lot of time?"
Cancer Sufferer Demands Euthanasia Bill
Dorothy Terwilliger lies immobilized in a hospital bed, unable to move. She has end-stage cancer, and wishes to end her struggle against death. However, laws prevent her doctors from obeying her wishes.
1. Dorothy and her family are campaigning for a "Dying with Dignity" bill, to change this situation. She implores the government to legalize euthanasia.
2. "I understand this is a very difficult time for these people," says freelance medical writer. "But the solution is not to let our medical system slide down the slippery slope of killing people in pain. We must cure, not kill. This is not the right time for euthanasia."
3. "I agree, but go further: there is never a right time for euthanasia," says Bishop. "The lives we lead are given to us by the grace of God, and he decides when they end. It is not for us to question God's divine purpose, no matter how odd or screwed-up it may seem."
Compulsory Organ Harvesting Proposed
A group of emergency room doctors has petitioned the government to introduce mandatory organ donations.
1. "It's not as crazy as it sounds," says Dr. "Every day, people die because we don't have the organs to save them. Well, that and widespread under-funding of the health system. But the point is, if the government allowed us to take organs from dead people, we could save hundreds of lives a year. And come on, it's not like dead people need them."
2. "You keep your damn hands off my organs!" says alarmed hospital patient. "They are my organs, and I'll do with them what I like. The government has no right to my body."
Uranium Deposit Promises To Enrich Erisianna
Prospecting company Nukes4U has uncovered a large uranium deposit in Erisianna's south-west.
1. "This is terrific find!" claims Nukes4U CEO. "It will provide an enormous stimulus to our economy and create thousands of new jobs. It's win-win! All we need from the government is permission to bulldoze the rainforest that's on top of the deposit."
2. "You've got to be kidding," says Green politician. "This rainforest is thousands of years old! This country needs more environmental protection, not less. And to destroy the environment in order to mine uranium that then goes into nuclear bombs--well, that really sticks in my craw."
3. "There's no need for an either-or decision," says the government's Minister for Mining, Clear-Felling, and the Environment. "We can preserve most of the rainforest and allow mining of a small part. After all, think of all the good that the money from this uranium deposit can bring to Erisianna."
Military Demands Increased Spending
The Department of Defense has put its case for a substantial increase in funding for the coming financial year.
1. "These are turbulent times we live in," says Defense Chief. "Turbulent and dangerous. And the only sensible response to that, of course, is to build a lot more weapons. Unless we get the funding we need, I can't promise that we'll be able to defend Erisianna's sovereign borders from rogue nations and foreign powers. Or those leaky boatloads of refugees, for that matter."
2. "NO MORE BOMBS," chant the protestors outside Parliament House, in a repetitious and increasingly annoying appeal. Spokesperson, speaking through a feedback-afflicted microphone, says, "Erisianna needs fewer weapons, not more! Make the world a safer place! Disarm now!"
Budget Time: Accountants Excited
It's time for the government to allocate spending for the coming year, and as always, special interest groups are keen to have their say.
1. "The state of the education system is, in many areas, simply frightful," says Teachers Union leader Miranda Rifkin. "And even where we are doing well, we could do better. I appeal to the authorities for a substantial boost in funding. Remember, the children are our future."
2. "We won't have a future unless we improve police numbers and rebuild the military," says General Roxanne Johnson. "Oh, it's all well and good to have your fancy education and your nice cars, until some tinpot dictatorship decides to invade. And don't pretend like there aren't any of them in our region. Our number one priority has to be security."
3. "Education is nice, but Health and Social Welfare are more important," says celebrity social worker Bill Rifkin. "This is where the people who really need government help are: the marginalized of our society. If we don't help them, what kind of a nation are we?"
4. "Hey, I've got a crazy idea," says noted libertarian and bird-watcher Bill Love. "How about the government stops taking so much tax from people? Give us a tax cut and we'll buy the things we need ourselves. People need to be weaned off the government teat!"
The Queendom of Erisianna
UN Category: Left-Leaning College State
Civil Rights: World Benchmark Economy: Reasonable Political Freedoms: Very Good
The Queendom of Erisianna is a small, socially progressive nation, remarkable for its barren, inhospitable landscape. Its compassionate, intelligent population of 7 million enjoy extensive civil freedoms, particularly in social issues, while business tends to be more regulated.
The government -- a sprawling, bureaucracy-choked, liberal morass -- is mainly concerned with Social Welfare, although Education and Healthcare are on the agenda. The average income tax rate is 38%, but much higher for the wealthy. A small but healthy private sector is led by the Book Publishing industry, followed by Furniture Restoration and Arms Manufacturing.
Euthanasia is legal, organ donation rates are among the lowest in the region, the mining industry is making inroads into environmentally sensitive areas, and military spending is on the increase. Crime is relatively low. Erisianna's national animal is the fnord and its currency is the golden apple.
Erisianna is ranked 12th in the region and 77,067th in the world for Most Beautiful Environments.