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Disinformation destroys democracy

The internet is both wonderful and wicked.  The world’s combined knowledge is at our fingertips, as is its debauchery.  It is so much easier to find things out and so much harder to sort out the truth from the lies.

We tend to live in echo chambers, seeking out the information that confirms our world view – and there are some very strange views out there, but you can always find affirmation if you look for it.

But of far greater concern is the deliberate disinformation.

The term disinformation began as a term of Soviet tradecraft, first defined in the official Great Soviet Encyclopedia as “the dissemination (in the press, radio, etc.) of false information with the intention to deceive public opinion.”

Former Soviet bloc intelligence officer Ladislav Bittman, the first disinformation practitioner to defect to the West publicly, described the official definition as different from the practice: “The interpretation is slightly distorted because public opinion is only one of the potential targets. Many disinformation games are designed only to manipulate the decision-making elite, and receive no publicity.”

After the Soviet term became widely known in the 1980s, it broadened to “any government communication (either overt or covert) containing intentionally false and misleading material, often combined selectively with true information, which seeks to mislead and manipulate either elites or a mass audience.”

In June, a group of over 250 academics signed an open letter in the Telegraph to criticise the deliberate misinformation circulated by campaigners on both sides of the Brexit debate.

A referendum result is democratically legitimate only if voters can make an informed decision.  Yet, the level of misinformation in the current campaign is so great that democratic legitimacy is called into question. 

Both sides are making misleading claims. Their official communications have been dropping through letter boxes – at taxpayers’ expense – in recent days. Vote Leave’s leaflet purports to offer “The Facts”, yet leads with the claim that EU membership costs the UK £350 million a week – repeatedly exposed by independent authorities as a blatant falsehood.  The Remain leaflet begins by saying that “over 3 million UK jobs are linked to our exports to the EU”. Though this is in line with independent analyses, not all these jobs would go in the event of Brexit. 

Propagating falsehoods, with support from the public purse, distorts the public communication upon which democracy depends. When the dust from this referendum settles, we must review means of strengthening campaign truthfulness without curtailing legitimate free speech.  

In the short term, broadcasters and the media must focus more fearlessly on challenging deliberate misinformation from both sides. Impartial fact-checkers – at the BBC, Channel 4, Full Fact, the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, and elsewhere – are doing excellent work, but are receiving insufficient attention. As the campaign draws to a close, an informed public decision true to the values of British democracy depends on a change of tone.

The deliberate disinformation campaign against action on climate change has been exposed and widely reported yet many people still cling to the lies spread by vested interests and the politicians they support.

The “energy independence” section of Donald Trump’s transition website — there is no “environment” section — reads like an oil-and-gas-industry wish list.

“Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel producers, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters,” the site states. “We will streamline the permitting process for all energy projects, including the billions of dollars in projects held up by President Obama, and rescind the job-destroying executive actions under his Administration. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration.”

Labor’s Mediscare campaign was a recent domestic example of disinformation.  Having just sold Medibank Private, people were scared that the same was going to happen to Medicare – patently false as Medicare is not a profit-making organisation.  Obviously, what Labor was pointing at, and rightly, was the increasing outsourcing of bits of Medicare which costs us jobs, money and security.  But that wasn’t the headline.

I have used graphs put out by the Liberal Party to teach students about distortion – they employ classic techniques that a high school maths student could point out, just as the climate change deniers do.

We have also been subjected to a great deal of censorship from the Coalition government who purport to be the champions of freedom of speech.  They have undermined freedom of information and developed a whole vocabulary of phrases that all amount to “not telling and you can’t make me so ner ner”.

When channels of information cannot be completely closed or controlled, as with the internet, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with many easily disproved false claims.

Successful democracy depends on an informed electorate to choose the appropriate representatives and informed politicians to make the right choices.  When information is withheld, obfuscated, or corrupted with lies, democracy is up for sale to the bidder with the loudest voice and the money to buy the biggest megaphone.

50 comments

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  1. z

    may need to ban internet access by age restriction or to classify the contains of it same rule which has applied to TV

  2. Clean livin

    Very true! However it can work in reverse if one party will not comment, and the other party makes up an untruth, forcing the original party to respond.

    ALP Mediscare was an example.

  3. mark delmege

    I’m not sure where to post this at AIMN but I guess here is as good as any. We are fed bullshit by the Media on a minute to minute basis and the worst of it comes from our favoured outlets. Even their fact checkers can get it wrong because of their political or ethno cultural bias.
    Anyway one for you Clinton supporters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk8DDFE8v3I

  4. billshaw2013

    Even social media leaves one needing to sort the hay from the chaff. Look at the recent use of footage of Venezuela crowds used claiming Trump protests crowds in LA.

  5. Glenn K

    Mark, Love that utube clip. Nailed it.

  6. Kaye Lee

    “Facebook has responded to widespread criticism of how its Newsfeed algorithm disseminates and amplifies misinformation in the wake of the Trump victory in the US presidential election yesterday.

    Multiple commentators were quick to point a finger of blame at Facebook’s role in the election campaign, arguing the tech giant has been hugely irresponsible given the role its platform now plays as a major media source, and specifically by enabling bogus stories to proliferate — many examples of which were seen to circulated in the Facebook Newsfeed during the campaign.

    Last week Buzzfeed reported on an entire cottage industry of web users in Macedonia generating fake news stories related to Trump vs Clinton in order to inject them into Facebook’s Newsfeed as a way to drive viral views and generate ad revenue from lucrative US eyeballs.

    This enterprise has apparently been wildly successful for the teens involved, with some apparently managing to pull in up to $3,000 and $5,000 per month thanks to the power of Facebook’s amplification algorithm.

    That’s a pretty hefty economic incentive to game an algorithm.

    As TC’s Sarah Perez wrote yesterday, the social network has become “an outsize player in crafting our understanding of the events that take place around us”.

    Pew research earlier this year found that a majority of U.S. adults (62 per cent) now get news via social media. And while Facebook is not the only social media outfit in town, nor the only where fake news can spread (see also: Twitter), it is by far the dominant such platform player in the US and in many other markets.

    Beyond literal fake news spread via Facebook’s click-hungry platform, the wider issue is the filter bubble its preference-fed Newsfeed algorithms use to encircle individuals as they work to spoonfeed them more clicks — and thus keep users spinning inside concentric circles of opinion, unexposed to alternative points of view.”

    https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/10/facebook-admits-it-must-do-more-to-stop-the-spread-of-misinformation-on-its-platform/

  7. Klaus

    Misinformation in Australia has already done the damage. I am stunned, by how many people are still “surprised” when the government does not implement growth and jobs, because that is what they voted for. I can’t understand the gullibility of so many people. When it is on a Government leaflet, it must be true.

    Governments, specifically the LNP, knows it. And they use it liberally (no pun intended).

    I wish I could grab Australia (all combined) by the throat and rattle them until they wake up from their combined, ignorant slumber as to what they are being dished up as functioning, social, majority benefiting policy.

  8. Freethinker

    Misinformation worries me a bit because affect a large percentage of naive people and as a result affects me but what worries me more is that once people find out that have been affected by it they do not do anything about it.
    Looks that they are in the position that they cannot do nothing about it. Yes they can!

  9. Klaus

    Freethinker. That is exactly my experience with many people I know. The comments which I hear time and again (small sample of course) are “Well, they lied again. But they all are the same”.

    That is what I hear. And there is no convincing you can do. When you try, “Yes, by the Labor party is at least trying…”, they simply go back into their shell and say “Yes, but they all lie. See Sam Dastiari, See Rudd, Gillard with that bad Carbon tax…”.

    Heart wrenching.

  10. helvityni

    I’m still all teary after watching last night’s Four Corners, I didn’t know that our child protection systems were that bad…

    It’s all so bad and sad and depressing, homeless kids, asylum seekers, Trump….when will we hear something positive, something to be happy about…

    At least our PM is happy, or so he said last night…

  11. Kaye Lee

    President-elect Donald Trump called Alex Jones, the prominent conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist, to thank him and his followers for their support, Jones said in a video posted Friday.

    “Listen, Alex, I just talked to the kings and queens of the world, world leaders, you name it,” Jones recalled Trump saying. “But it doesn’t matter, I wanted to talk to you, to thank your audience, and I’ll be on the next few weeks to thank them.”

    Jones has long been on the fringes of the conservative movement, using his radio show and his website, InfoWars.com, to propagate widely debunked or baseless conspiracy theories ― such as the notion that the Clintons are murderers or that mass shootings in recent years were permitted by the government as excuses to strip away Americans’ rights.

    Trump has made no effort to downplay his ties with right-wing fringe media personalities. Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, served as CEO of his presidential bid. Trump announced Sunday that Bannon would be his chief West Wing strategist and counselor in his new administration. Bannon and Breitbart News have both been criticized for advancing sexist and anti-Semitic views.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/donald-trump-alex-jones_us_5829eb21e4b0c4b63b0d9249

  12. mark delmege

    Does anyone actually follow the news feeds in their FB? I very rarely do but I do follow my friends and selected individuals. What FB does in its news feeds is echo what you already like. If you are right they will give you right. if you are left they will give you left. If you are a nut they will give you nuttyness.

  13. Andreas Bimba

    Yes disinformation is a serious problem in an era where issues are usually complex and investigative or specialist journalism has largely disappeared. Things were better in the 70’s in so many ways.

    As an ex auto industry engineer I lobby for retaining the Australian automotive manufacturing industry as well as a few other causes because I think these issues are very important and are heading in the wrong direction. I know 90% of the arguments presented in the media against the Australian automotive industry are false or half truths and are really just neoliberal propaganda that suits powerful interests in the resources, financial services and rural industries.

    Capable, trusted and widely read specialist journalists could have counteracted such propaganda but we no longer have any. They could have fact checked and separated the lies and half truths from the facts and fairly appraised all the pros and cons associated with retaining the industry. The public have also largely become disengaged from any detailed thought on important issues with many more superficial distractions becoming available. This is the way the ruling elite like things, the freedom to exercise their will without restraint.

    Our political class now in general just blow with the prevailing wind like autumn leaves and are now simply too vulnerable to take on worthy positions that are counter to the narrative defined by the current neoliberal corporate elite. When you have the mass media at your disposal, hundreds of millions of dollars for propaganda purposes, extremely powerful lobbies, internal operatives like Hawke or Keating in the case of Labor, a gullible and wilfully ignorant electorate that is so easy to manipulate, our politicians don’t really have a fair chance IF they do try to act in the public interest. Are our politicians really to blame? Have we lost our democracy and did the gradual corporate political and economic coup d’etat really occur a few decades ago?

    The LNP is probably a lost cause and so is Labor to a lesser degree. The electorate currently largely rejects the Greens being stuck at about 10% of the vote. Other small parties and independents like Nick Xenophon, Bob Katter, Jacqui Lambie, Kathy McGowan and Pauline Hanson have gained support and many in the electorate can sense the political system is not working for them. It would be a terrible waste if the electorate turns to the incompetent right in the form of One Nation like just occurred in the U.S. with the Trump victory. Either the small parties of the progressive left and centre need to pick up their game or the ALP will need to split between its working class and ‘money men’ halves, otherwise welcome to brutal corporate feudalism.

    Russia’s disinformation campaign over the Ukraine invasion and insurrection is unprecedented with the equivalent of billions of dollars being spent at a time when most Russians have a very poor level of government provided services. This propaganda campaign continues with NATO’s response to Russia’s military buildup being grossly exaggerated and probably most of the progressive left in the ‘West’ believing the line that Putin is pushing. For example NATO is deploying about one thousand external troops in each of the three Baltic States and Poland. Similarly fighter aircraft deployments in the area are usually less than a dozen aircraft yet if you read John Pilger’s statements he says NATO has deployed hundreds of thousands of troops right up against the Russian border in violation of international agreements with Russia. There are no such written treaties about deploying external forces but verbal assurances were indeed made to Gorbachev but the will of the people of those small NATO members that border Russia must also be taken into account.

    Some of Putin’s disinformation effort is actually beneficial and I think Russia Today for example provides progressive Americans with a moderate and high quality news source which they currently desperately need.

    China’s disinformation campaign that serves the ‘national’ interest is also enormous with an example being the Chinese language press in Australia that is predominantly subsidised by China, editorial control is exercised and advertisers pressured to abandon newspapers that don’t tow the party line. Chinese state satellite TV also freely broadcasts into Australia.

  14. Keitha Granville

    We can do something, we should be doing somethig. Sadly some people thought that by voting for Hanson they were doing something, but she is one of the all time liars pre-election. Learned from the conservatives.
    The Labor party is not immune or innocent – BUT they have to be better than what we have ? How could they be worse ?
    And if we get them back we MUST hold them to account. We, the people, must demand more of our elected reps. Too many people vote for someone and then forget about it all till next time. Start using them, write to them, call them, ask questions, A LOT. They will reply, even if they are in a party you didn’t vote for. It puts them on notice, it makes them think.

  15. Athena

    Thank you for the video, Mark Delmege.

  16. Athena

    “The Labor party is not immune or innocent – BUT they have to be better than what we have ? How could they be worse ?
    And if we get them back we MUST hold them to account. We, the people, must demand more of our elected reps. Too many people vote for someone and then forget about it all till next time. ”

    @ Keitha
    How do you propose we hold them to account? We’ve already given them their biggest reward by voting them in when we know they are corrupt.

  17. Kaye Lee

    They talk about ISDS clauses that protect the profits of corporations from government decisions. I would like to see CDS – citizen dispute settlement – where the citizens can launch an action against their government if they endanger us by their decisions. The Netherlands did it successfully when they sued their government for their inadequate emissions reduction strategy. Citizen-led referenda are an integral part of the Swiss system of government. I doubt they would work as well here where the electorate is politically disengaged and misinformed though.

    I would like to see sanctions against politicians and media who deliberately misinform. They MUST be held accountable, not just by exposing the lies but by punishment to deter others from doing the same.

    Send the liars to Nauru (I hear the conditions are world-class) and keep them there indefinitely to send a message that they will not be successful and to break the lying trade.

  18. Harquebus

    We also have bots writing news stories and participating in social media platforms. They can do this much faster than we can.
    I sometimes wonder if online arguments are not by real people at all but, are actually bot versus bot.

    I get most of my information from the alternative media. If you have common sense and an open mind, you will be able to discern the wheat from the chaff.
    Do school leavers in general possess these attributes? I don’t know many and can’t say. Going by the number of ears plugged into smartphones that I see on public transport, I am guessing not.

    The internet has always been a wild west and similarly, governments are actively trying to tame it. I hope they fail. A bland corporate controlled internet will be a retrograde step.

    Cheers.

  19. Athena

    “When you have the mass media at your disposal, hundreds of millions of dollars for propaganda purposes, extremely powerful lobbies, internal operatives like Hawke or Keating in the case of Labor, a gullible and wilfully ignorant electorate that is so easy to manipulate, our politicians don’t really have a fair chance IF they do try to act in the public interest. Are our politicians really to blame?”

    @ Andreas Bimba
    Absolutely our politicians are to blame. If they were honorable they would not have allowed themselves to be bought in the first place.

    “The LNP is probably a lost cause and so is Labor to a lesser degree. The electorate currently largely rejects the Greens being stuck at about 10% of the vote. Other small parties and independents like Nick Xenophon, Bob Katter, Jacqui Lambie, Kathy McGowan and Pauline Hanson have gained support and many in the electorate can sense the political system is not working for them. It would be a terrible waste if the electorate turns to the incompetent right in the form of One Nation like just occurred in the U.S. with the Trump victory. Either the small parties of the progressive left and centre need to pick up their game or the ALP will need to split between its working class and ‘money men’ halves, otherwise welcome to brutal corporate feudalism.”

    I think the electorate needs to get real too and stop voting for what they don’t actually want. Look at the people at the last federal election who said they resonated most strongly with Greens’ policies, but they were voting ALP to keep the LNP out. If the ALP win we still get the same old crap, just at a slightly slower rate. They’re still setting the stage for right wing a-holes to waltz in and do what they want. Nothing is going to change until we totally reject what has already proven itself time and time again to be rotten to the core, and we start over with someone new. And then we send the biggest message of all by telling them that we are not scared to totally replace them if they don’t do right by us.

  20. Athena

    “They talk about ISDS clauses that protect the profits of corporations from government decisions. I would like to see CDS – citizen dispute settlement – where the citizens can launch an action against their government if they endanger us by their decisions.”

    @ Kaye Lee
    There have been several news stories recently about students in the USA winning the right to sue the government over climate change.

  21. Wayne Turner

    When the ignorant,gullible and non-thinkers out number the informed questioning thinkers.You end up like Australia,a undemocratic country,with the MSM owned by too few “brainwashing” the easily manipulated majority.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Trump and Hanson and scary people like Malcolm Roberts are not merely ignorant. They are also supremely confident.

    “For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. What’s curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”

    This leaves them very open to becoming victims of disinformation which they then doggedly regurgitate, unable to critically analyse new or dissenting information.

  23. king1394

    Reporting of simple facts would help. Constantly the newspapers and other media inform us of plans, proposals and ideas in a way that seems as though they have really occurred. I manage a Facebook page for a Climate Action group, and I constantly find that some wonderful advance that I would like to share is perhaps on the drawing board but certainly not in existence. A half-hour news bulletin will report polls, which are not ‘real events’ just a sample of what some people think they might do. There will be some scientific or medical advance that is experimental only. An expert will pontificate on what might eventuate if something else happens. And then we move to sport and celebrity – there has not been a single real fact reported.

    We readers must analyse everything we come across as fact or opinion. We need to engage intellectually to sift the information. It helps if we have some basic knowledge of how things work ( voting systems, the science behind the greenhouse effect, the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius, basic statistics, for example ). This can be learned by anyone who wants to engage their mind.

    We also need to be able to decide for ourselves what are reasonably reliable sources. There are plenty of weird sites out there, and you can usually assess their reliability with a moment’s attention. I tend to lose faith in a site’s message when the other stories on it include miracle cures, UFOs and semi-nude celebrities – and never simply pass on information on your own site / facebook page etc unless you have verified it to the best of your ability. Of course mistakes happen, and if they do, we also should retract them as best we can.

    Too many of us choose to spread the good story without checking whether it is true. While not necessarily totally reliable itself, this is a place to start developing your own scepticism : http://www.snopes.com/2016/01/14/fake-news-sites/

    It never hurts to provide a reference either

  24. Terry2

    Sussan Ley stunned us all when she told us that bulk billing numbers were increasing despite the coalition having extended the GP Medicare Rebate freeze to 2020 : it just didn’t make sense !

    But, the latest quarterly Medicare statistics show the proportion of GP visits bulk billed fell from 85.9 per cent in the three months to July to 85.4 per cent in the three months to September. Not a major drop off but certainly not an increase as Ley had been suggesting and likely this is a trend.

    From my own observations with my doctor’s practice, Bulk Billing is just about dead and buried and everybody is now paying a co-payment of some sort.

  25. Kaye Lee

    king1394,

    My local member, Lucy Wicks, has proudly announced the hundreds of jobs she brought to the Central Coast with the relocation of the ATO for three years now.

    The truth?

    JUNE 16, 2016
    The Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) deferred its decision on whether or not to approve the development of the Australian Taxation Office building on part of the former Gosford Public School site.

    http://coastcommunitynews.com.au/2016/06/development-approval-australian-taxation-office-building-deferred/

    They haven’t even got approval for a building – the only jobs she has created are for the person who keeps reannouncing the jobs she has created. Meanwhile, the school that was on the proposed site is closed and the previously planned cultural and performing arts precinct remains just a dream.

  26. randalstella

    I don’t have much time.
    People, please pay attention to the post just above by Andreas Bimba.
    I don’t mean computer-game attention. I mean real attention.
    Make the internet useful for something else than mischievous, conformist nihilism. Learn to learn. Learn to learn other than contrived equivalences and warped comparisons, that, for example, have Trump a justified victor.
    Overcome bestial programmed reaction, the response that assumes how cleverly liberating it is to support murder as the primary resort for political advantage. The ‘Destructo-3’ gaming mentality that treats Putin as a darling is just a consequence of the mass-industrialisation of minds.
    The old phrase ‘the military-industrial complex’ never had a truer ring than now. It is getting a little too close to home.

  27. Freethinker

    @ Kaye Lee
    There have been several news stories recently about students in the USA winning the right to sue the government over climate change.

    So what, if the information it is correct,, the (government) politicians did not paid one single cent, the money come from the tax that every person paid from their pockets.
    The same apply here and people think that the politician have been punished by their actions and those politicians are reelected again.
    I give up long time ego and stop blaming the politicians and blame the idiots that put them there.

  28. Jerry

    randalstella re comments by mark delmege:

    I am now getting emails yes Emails as to what Topics I have been searching for on Google. Full Blown Big Brother surveillance is just about here. So Beware.

  29. David

    Thank you Kaye Lee. I do enjoy reading your articles. Some years ago, I read The Last Albatross by Ian Irving, updated in 2008. In it he referred to online death lotteries, set in a future 2010. As you maybe aware, The Onion Router (TOR) is a huge part of the Internet, but rarely accessed by the Facebook community. Among the many other wretched human misery items, TOR hosts death lotteries. One of the reasons that Comey from the FBI is taking action against the former Secretary of State’s emails, is that TOR was used. When Christopher Stevens (US Ambassador) was tortured and murdered in Libya, the whole process was streamed live from Libya to TOR. As far as conspiracy theories are concerned, I was in Malaysia when the Indonesian Air Force tried to kidnap the Malaysian Royal family from their palace at Ipoh, during Konfrontasi. They were to be held hostage in exchange for East Malaysia being annexed by Indonesia. Fortunately, only one of the 3 planes landed in the palace grounds and the commandos were quickly over powered by the Palace Guards. The other aircraft were shot down or turned back by night fighter aircraft operating from Tengah and Butterworth. Try and find any record of that event anywhere now!

    Also you might find it useful to research the 5 eyes + 1 intelligence network. If it happens in politics, it was not an accident or coincidence, it was planned. We have had “events” here in Australia to influence public opinion, and Port Arthur immediately comes to mind.

  30. Kaye Lee

    The ABC and “elite media” are to blame for distracting people from the government’s focus on economic growth, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, at pains to emphasise that he is in touch with the concerns of real people.

    “Leigh, this is a question you should address to your editors at the ABC – very seriously. 18C is talked about constantly on the ABC, talked about constantly in what’s often the elite media. I have focused overwhelmingly on the economy,” he said.

    On his poor polling, currently a feature of his government and one of his stated reasons for ousting Tony Abbott: “I would have thought, after this last election in the United States, people might focus less on the polls and less on the opinions of commentators on the ABC, or other elite media outlets and focus more on what people are actually saying.”

    Mr Turnbull was joined in criticisms on Monday night by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who said “people do believe that Canberra and other areas, and to be honest the ABC at times, get fascinated in questions that are inside the beltway that have zero and nothing to do with our lives out there”.

    “We see it occupying more and more oxygen. It creates a frustration, not only towards the political class but towards the ABC as well,” the Nationals leader told the ABC’s Q&A.

    Targeting the “elite media” was a prominent feature of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign but marks a new tone for the Prime Minister, previously seen as a darling of the ABC.

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-turns-fire-onto-abc-and-the-elite-media-for-distracting-people-20161114-gspbem.html

    Move aside Labor…it’s all the fault of the ABC….apparently

    PS David, I cannot accept that Port Arthur was staged. That is a prime example of disinformation spread by the gun lobby.

    https://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/video/watch/31027398/martin-bryant-the-interview-part-1/#page1

  31. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Your comment at 11:58 am supports many of the things that I have been saying. Expect more of this.
    Cheers.

  32. Arthur Tarry

    We are saturated by misinformation through advertising, advertorials, and so-called ‘shock jocks’ and presenters spruiking often payed for promotions and news items, although they try to over this. It seems the only way to survive this daily onslaught of driffile and waffle is to try to ignore it, or to become immune to this background noise. The same applies to the world of politics with all its sound grabs, interviews that provide scant information and, especially, squabbling between juvenile politicians, both in parliament and community forums. And the main stream media, TV and print, are so preoccupied with commercial survival that it sensationalises to, hopefully, get people’s interest and money. If you have ever had the mis-fortune to be involved in something deemed news worthy by the media then you will know how the reality is distorted. Or they make things up. So where do we get meaningful information that isn’t affected by marketing bull shit, spin, and all the other manifestations of propaganda? Marketeers know their target audiences so perhaps we get what we ask for!

  33. crypt0

    Klaus…
    I couldn’t agree more … with both posts.
    At least the ALP may be expected to try to improve healths education etc, rather than attempt to destroy these sectors in favour of their wealthy mates, as per standard practice with the LieNP
    As for … “When it is on a Government leaflet, it must be true.”
    Ha! In circumstances like that, I expect bullshit, and that is invariably the case.
    But … so many of us seem to respond best to bullshit … that’s why they keep on feeding it to the little aussie voter.

  34. Terry2

    Stunning reversal by Turnbull to say that the ABC are fixated about the 18C issue.

    Surely he is aware of the Abbott faction who can’t leave the matter alone, the IPA who constantly rant about 18C, Andrew Bolt, Gerard Henderson, the Australian newspaper who devote multiple columns to the abolition of 18C.

    Oh and had he forgotten that he has just initiated an enquiry into 18C after saying that it was off the table ?

    Are these the signs of a man who is losing it ?

  35. jimhaz

    Perhaps we are suffering from an insufficient number of young “alpha” males being killed or humbled in wars – it would be the lowest percentage of all time I would imagine. So much disinformation is promoted by this sort – the sort of person that would go to war at the drop of a hat – and now they are warmongering against the left. Like Trump, facts are not important to them as it is the fight that really matters.

    Perhaps the increase in female income has increased the level of media decline – now they are targetted with with lots of shallow “female” stuff. With a limited and often declining budget – they pump up this area as advertisers want them to, but cut investigative reporting.

  36. Kaye Lee

    “lots of shallow “female” stuff.”?????

    Because all we women are the same – we all love beauty makeover and cooking shows – while all the “male” stuff is so full of gravitas (if you like sport, gambling, fast cars and naked women that is).

  37. Andreas Bimba

    Malcolm Turnbull plays the political game which is to pretend to be a Prime Minister and to pretend we have a functioning democracy while acting on behalf of Australia’s real ruling class – the capital controlling elite, the resources industry and a few other allied vested interests such as the rural and defence/state security sectors.

    The capital controlling elite took effective control in the 80’s using the ideology of neoliberalism, monetarism, global free trade and small government as their main weapon which was sold as a way of improving efficiency and generating wealth but in reality was just a wealth and power shift to the richest few percent.

    Malcolm’s real agenda can be seen in the IPA’s 75 point wish list and slogans like ‘jobs and growth’ are just for public relations purposes. Even the governments own employment projections show a continuing decline in jobs in the value adding or manufacturing and associated services sectors. Unfortunately the ALP has the same overwhelmingly powerful corporate masters and also chips away at delivering the IPA’s wish list.

    The duopoly must lose its grip on government as it is very unlikely that the two major political parties/coalitions will reform and be sufficiently independent of the capital controlling elite. On current voting trends Nick Xenophon’s NXT party and One Nation are making the most rapid inroads. Real political reform like proportional representation voting like in Tasmania or New Zealand or the even better Swiss model that Kaye mentioned are desperately needed and would greatly assist the task of repairing our very sick democracy and nation. If and when a small political party becomes ineffective or corrupt it can then be replaced by another in a true multi party system.

  38. Andreas Bimba

    We need to forget about the duopoly and focus on replacing it. The capital controlling elite and their associated vested interests are Australia’s current economic and political rulers and the duopoly have no real desire or even ability to break free. The duopoly must be punished by being denied political office.

    Malcolm just implements as much of the IPA’s agenda as he dares and Labor are much the same.

    Building of the smaller parties and implementing proportional representation voting must be prioritised. With a true multi party system as parties become corrupt it should be much easier to find better replacements. The duopoly party system that we share with the U.S. and to a lesser extent the UK is a very difficult creature to reform or remove but if we do nothing evil will prevail.

  39. jim

    I think an RC into banks will have repercussions around the world for the better. I strongly think the banks work in cohort with the MSM.
    Even I have been burnt of my life savings by the bank.

    Email from the ALP;.
    Today we saw another big bank report their billion-dollar earnings.

    At the same time, families are paying $12.5 billion a year in fees and charges and we have heard story after story about the big banks ripping off their customers.

    Whether it’s retirees losing their savings because of dodgy financial advice, families paying fees and charges the banks aren’t entitled to take, or small businesses losing everything, it’s clear the banks have a systemic culture of putting profits before people.

    Instead of stopping the scandals and cracking down on the big banks, Malcolm Turnbull wants to give them a $7.4 billion tax cut.

    We want to see the banks play by the rules, make sure middle and working class Australians get a fair go and restore confidence in our financial system.

    That’s why Labor is calling for a Royal Commission into banking and financial services.

    We need your help. Only the Government can call a Royal Commission, and so far they’re not budging.

    That’s why we need your help in letting Turnbull know that Australians want a Banking Royal Commission.

  40. Miriam English

    It’s getting more difficult to undo disinformation. Now the Turnbull government is trying to kill off the ABC’s Catalyst science program, which is one of the few programs that fearlessly reports on climate change, ecological damage to the Reef, and so on. Of course the government will say Catalyst isn’t being killed off; it will continue, but of course it will be neutered. They are firing all the staff and a tiny fraction of the programs (17 instead of 88) will be produced by “independent” people.

    We wouldn’t want the truth about climate change to embarrass the nice fossil fuel people who feed so many millions into LNP pockets now, would we. It’s much better if we get rid of actual reality so politicians and the voting public can live inside this nice comfortable confabulation. Yeah, that’s going to end well.

  41. Matters Not

    Turnbull government , … They are firing

    I suspect that Turnbull isn’t directly involved and the ‘they’ in question can be traced to the CEO Ms Guthrie – even the Board had doubts and the Chair tried to overturn – but the horse had bolted.

    Nevertheless. the ‘window of opportunity’ came via a series of ‘reports’ from DR MARYANNE DEMASI which were somewhat ‘speculative’.

    Also Foreign Correspondent is being emasculated. All down to the ‘elite’ nature of the reports, I should imagine the ‘rationale’ will be.

  42. Kronomex

    It’s like the old adage, “If it was on television it must be true.” Just replace television with “the internet” and nothing changes.

  43. Andreas Bimba

    Jim, to the $12.5 billion in fees and charges received by the banks that you mentioned one can add the $25 billion p.a. the superannuation fund managers charge in fees, most of which are owned by the banks and also about $50 billion p.a. in mortgage repayments that arise from the real estate speculation bubble that was built by the negative gearing and 50% CGT concessions and unrestrained foreign (or business migration) investment that the banks lobbied Howard to implement and both halves of the duopoly to retain.

    The $50 billion figure is guestimate and is based on the assumption that real estate prices would be about half what they are now without the real estate speculation bubble. Real estate prices could actually be considerably less than this which would make the windfall even larger.

    A banking Royal Commission will be good for exposing illegal or unethical behaviour and is definitely worth pursuing but unfortunately won’t have any impact on the gross crony capitalism and concentration of national wealth in their favour as such activities are not currently illegal. Properly functioning democracy where governments serve the best interests of citizens and are not just servants of the corporate elite is essential. The duopoly currently does not provide this even though Labor may be a little better.

    Miriam, I also am disgusted by the cuts to the ABC and to important programs like Catalyst especially as the importance of science increases. I think that right wing robot for the IPA Tony Abbott is primarily responsible with those massive cuts from a few years ago and those blatantly political appointees to the ABC board. Destruction of the ABC is one of the IPA’s agenda items and Rupert, Gina and like minded scum fund that organ of the corporate dictatorship.

  44. Kaye Lee

    COMMONWEALTH Bank boss has been crowned Australia’s highest paid big four banker, taking home $12.3 million in the last financial year.

    While defending the bank’s reputation amid the CommInsure scandal — which prompted a renewed campaign for a banking royal commission — Ian Narev secured a 50 per cent pay rise.

    The bank released the figures in its 2015-16 annual report released on Wednesday, within days of passing on just half of the Reserve Bank’s 25 basis point rate cut.

    The bumper salary works out to be $260,000 a week, meaning it takes Mr Narev less than three days to earn what a typical Australian takes home in a year.

    It includes an $8.77 million base salary, up 5.4 per cent from the previous year, topped up with performance-linked bonuses.

    The bank unveiled a seventh straight record profit of $9.45 billion.

    http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/banking/commonwealth-bank-chief-executive-ian-narev-takes-home-123-million/news-story/90bb4fd01d3812e6d27fe7398cf1dee8

    While we continue to base CEO’s obscene salaries on increased profit, they will continue to find every way they can to screw us.

  45. Andreas Bimba

    Thanks Kaye. That very capable economist Steve Keen has predicted our property bubble will soon burst as the price of dwellings in the major cities is becoming unaffordable and private debt levels are at record highs. The inflow of foreign money especially from China is further inflating the bubble and this will delay Steve’s prediction.

    I suppose it is theoretically possible for Chinese investors to keep trickling in money so that our real estate price bubble grows indefinitely which means a gradual transference of the ownership of our real estate to them and Australian residents becoming renters. This is a speculative ponzy scheme that is very vulnerable to local regulatory changes and economic turmoil in China so must burst eventually.

    The point I however wanted to make is if and when the Australian real estate price bubble bursts, a lot of people are going to be stuck with large mortgages well in excess of the underlying value of those properties. If these mortgage holders, or their partners, lose their jobs they will face bankruptcy as is what happened to tens of millions in the U.S. following the GFC. The banks will be left with loan defaults and a huge property portfolio that falls well short of the value of the loan defaults. In other words they will lose a lot of mortgage repayment revenue and sustain huge financial losses.

    This is the time to nationalise the major banks just after share holders have sustained all the loss in value because indeed the SHAREHOLDERS ARE RESPONSIBLE for the banks behaviour as they are the owners. Unfortunately neither half of the duopoly has the required good sense or courage to take this step and the MSM will squeal that communism has taken over but that would be the best path. The people should demand no bailouts without equity.

  46. Terry2

    I was amused by the enthusiasm Libby Lions (Workplace and Gender Equality Agency) was showing at the Press Club for the work life balance achieved by the CEO of HSBC.

    He turns off his phone on Mondays and goes surfing. Evidently he is an example to us all.

    Can you imagine what would happen to junior staff if they were to nick off for family reasons let alone to go surfing ?

  47. helvityni

    …yes Terry, it’s all so progressive; hubby goes surfing on Monday, when mum gets a day ‘off’ from the office she takes the sick kid to doctors and cooks a big pot of spaghetti to last two days…

  48. Pingback: Day to Day Politics: Destroying what we stand for. | WewUnik World

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