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When Bullshit Baffles Brains

Those of us who regard truth as a fundamental democratic value and who have now realised that truth no longer plays a part in our parliament, or our media, know that our democracy has been usurped by plutocracy.

The rest of the population has, through blind ignorance, been reduced to a second-tier living standard and they don’t even know it.

The ways in which information that is freely available to all, is being ignored both by politicians and media outlets, demonstrates that no matter how well educated we are, we will continue to play right into the hands of those who are really running the country, unless we take a greater interest in what our government and their media allies are doing.

The release of an utterly useless Fairfax-Ipsos poll asking if we thought Treasurer Scott Morrison was doing a better job than his boss, Malcolm Turnbull, is a case in point.

It’s like asking if I am better at writing than my wife is at cooking. It’s confusing to say the least. It gives the wrong impression about both people and worst of all, encourages less intelligent voters to think more highly of one, over the other, using a false measuring device.

Asking if someone did better at one job than another person doing a different job is irrelevant and Mark Kenny’s interpretation of the results is equally confusing.

On the broader issue of the economy, it reported that the Coalition led Labor on the management of the economy at 39% to Labor’s 28%. But Labor is not in government and therefore, not managing the economy.

Voters were being asked to compare the Coalition’s performance today, with Labor’s performance of 4 to 10 years ago. How do you compare two completely different time frames, two different sets of circumstances?

The conditions faced by Labor from 2007 bear no similarities with the issues the present government are trying to manage. Clearly such a comparison must produce a distorted and necessarily flawed point of view from the voter’s perspective.

But at election time, people factor in such flawed information when deciding who they want to represent them in government. It would serve the country better were they not to vote at all.

It’s not accidental. There is a plethora of irrelevant questions being asked of people week in, week out. It gives newspapers a headline as they exploit a variety of opinions, few of which have any electoral relevance.

Invariably they are painted as being relevant, all of which gives the average voter a distorted view of his ever diminishing role in how the country is being run and how little power he/she has to effect change.

A classic example is the view Scott Morrison gave on Insiders last Sunday.

Interviewed by Andrew Probyn, Morrison waffled away, as only he can, talking a lot, but saying nothing, before making this stunning comment, “As the labour market tightens, that’s obviously going to lead over time to a boost in wages,” he said.

Morrison claimed that the creation of 240,000 jobs in the last fiscal year was an indication that the labour market was getting tighter, which would lead to increased demand for higher wages.

“That’s why I talk about the better days ahead because we can see all these things lining up – more jobs, more investment, profit performance improving,” he concluded.

To the brain dead, that might sound like he knew what he was talking about. But there is nothing by way of evidence to indicate any of that is true. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite is true.

The June Quarter 2017 National Accounts data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), on September 6th shows quarterly growth at 0.8% and year to June 2017 growth of just 1.8%. You can read Bill Mitchell’s assessment of it here.

In the June quarter, government spending contributed all of that growth. Growth in the private sector was zero. Private investment was negative and household savings fell again. This means that stagnant wage growth is forcing households to take on more credit to maintain living standards.

The unemployment rate has barely moved over the last 12 months. The 244,000 jobs created has not even kept pace with the population growth.

Little wonder Scott Morrison says better days are ahead, because the average man and woman in the street is certainly not experiencing better days now. After four years at the helm, the government has shown no improvement in the economy whatsoever.

They continue to fail on every indicator used to judge economic performance at the same time as company profits are running at an all-time high. We have one economy for the wealthy and one for the average man and woman in the street. And it’s all happening right under our noses.

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “Democracy is the worst form of government … except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

One suspects some of China’s leaders might observe such a statement and have a quiet chuckle. But we, in the west, must wonder when bullshit baffles brains so easily, if democracy really does deserve its ranking as better than the rest.


20 comments

  1. pierre wilkinson

    Regrettably, this government has a compliant media and a thick hide, plus no compassion, empathy or humility.
    They personify hubris, in an arrogant, sanctimonious manner and believe empirically that to repeat a lie, deny the lie then carry on as if the lie is proven, is to be an honest, open government.
    There should be a simple test to determine who should exercise their franchise: name your current member, state and federal, their political affiliation and their achievements for their electorates since they were elected. Too many people fail the first two questions!

  2. Jagger

    Yes John, it’s easy to see the politicians and media believe that truth is precious, they rarely use it.

  3. Andrew J. Smith

    Australian politics and media have been colonised by US techniques of media manipulating information, communication and analysis, anyway they can promote and reinforce messages. This includes academics and/or think tanks producing ‘research’ with right outcomes for transmission through compliant media, then comments, social media and word of mouth, in addition to direct lobbying of MPs and parliamentary committees developing legislation.

    Apart from Media Watch on the ABC there is zero public analysis of our media; discounting attacks on the ABC or SBS?

    This whole media construct in a small nation like Australia, with hollowed out ownership, resonates with Jane Mayer’s (New York magazine) investigation of the Koch, Rockefeller etc. inspired FreedomWorks audit of media to create a ‘media assembly line’ and Adam Curtis’s BBC documentary ‘Century of the Self’ about how corporates using focus groups (based upon psycho-analysis) for PR and advertising moved same techniques to politics and promoting hot button issues.

    Mayer disturbingly explains that ‘news’ and information presentation is selective, but also changing how society thinks e.g. us vs them, self vs. society, and other binaries that do not represent the grey realities of life, nations and society.

  4. diannaart

    us vs them, self vs. society, and other binaries that do not represent the grey realities of life, nations and society

    Andrew

    Belief in binaries sits at the heart of most human interaction; from GW Bush’s “you’re either with me or against me” through to the adversarial justice system.

    This fixed belief is why many people cannot accept the idea of the bell curve of male/female attributes, strengths and weaknesses, why marriage equality is such an affront, or the truth of people living in Australia long before it was called New Holland.

    The Scott Morrison’s of politics have to invoke a rose coloured view of the future rather than the steps needed to ensure a future. Allowing for change is very tricky, it means more thinking than many people are prepared for. Scary.

    Which is a shame, new ideas are as fecund as ever, sustainable technology is improving in both practicality and cost exponentially. Perhaps Morrison is right, the future is looking good – but only if we change, adapt and accept.

  5. Rossleigh

    Yes, John, one has to wonder whether it’s appropriate to paraprase Churchill and say that Scott Morrison is the worst Liberal Treasurer apart from all those that have been tried before. Although it’s a rather ridiculous comparison, given that they all make a virtue of taxing us more than they return in services…

  6. Wayne Turner

    Spot on and brilliant article.The Australia Main Stream Media is owned by too few,and the likes of the ABC general go along with them anyway.Sadly,too many of the ignorant and gullible public fall for it.Time and time again.It was enough to get his lying hopeless nasty mob back in again.Don’t be surprised if it works again at the next election,when more of the ignorant pay attention,and the MSM ramp up their pro-COALition BS and anti-Labor crap.

    Talking of stupid “public poll questions” – The BIASED and LOADED question of; “Preferred Prime Minister?” That the MSM use to bash Shorten,and to talk down Labor’s long continued lead in the ” two party preferred?” question.THE question and answer that really matters.Along with who wins the most seats. Who cares about preferred PM,it does NOT matter.

  7. Zoltan Balint

    Dear Mr. Kelly it is wrong to use the analogy of your writing and your wife’s cooking with Morrison and Turnbull. Morrison and Turnbull are equal in their lack of understanding or having the qualifications in the field of economics or knowing what to do. It’s like asking a white man to understand discrimination of being black. Both Turbull and Morrison boast about having a solution to ‘the’ problems and blame Labor because they think that it was Labor that did ‘something’ to destroy what Costello made … high commodity prices. It’s like asking Pauline and Malcolm R. to be responsible and find out what they are talking about before they form an opinion.

  8. Kaye Lee

    I recently spoke to an award-winning ABC producer who has to deal with politician’s advisers/spokespeople all the time. She said, off the record, they are dumb as shit – people ingrained with party mantra, usually young, who see the whole thing as some sort of fight club of the advertising world and who spend their time thinking up things like “Blackout Bill” and “No Coal Joel” instead of researching policy.

  9. ANDREW SMITH

    diannaart I agree, my concern is that binaries are used as ‘us vs them’ tactic in the short term (divide the electorate multiply the vote and avoid related issues). However, the hidden phenomenon is the conditioning of society (plus media and politicians) to expect e.g. ‘us vs them’ like a sporting event; similarly multiple choice questions (over used in US and elsewhere) in education maybe efficient but support a ‘hidden curriculum’. It all leads to a dumbing down of society, politics, media and the electorate where grounded or bottom up grass roots policy by politicians and parties becomes impossible (vs policy of staying in (coal) power, pardon the pun)

    The sympton of the ‘hidden curriculum’ or agenda or outcome, is that people do not expect or even view any given field, policy, argument etc. as multifaceted or complicated. Hence we saw simplistic slogans or solutions (instead of policy) for the right wing coups that Brexit and Trump were, but then this leads to chaos as the multiple aspects or other dimensions of any issue have been ignored or submerged, till the simplistic solution is applied…

    Immigration and population growth have been presented similarly, as problems presented simplistically e.g. a binary, leading to a (final) ‘sustainable’ solution i.e. restrict or stop immigration; ignoring the fact that word ‘immigration’ has become meaningless through definition conflation, headline data inflation and constant negative reinforcement in media and social narratives; but nobody understands it.

    Just a small tweak or restriction on temporary student visas 10 years ago led to the direct and indirect loss of 30K jobs or personal income whether administrative, teaching personnel or homestay families paying off a mortgage. Worse, was how international students and/or agent partners and/or private colleges etc. were blamed while Australian elites in state and private education, plus education and immigration bureaucracy, remained silent and invisible avoiding accusations of incompetence, compromise and unethical behaviour.

  10. Harquebus

    A fairly good summary.
    The circumstance that the previous Labor government faced is the same as the Coalition faces now and that the next Labor government will face again and as before, will fail to address.
    Circumstance: Diminishing returns on energy and other resources. We can’t change it, we just have to accept it and deal with it.

  11. David Bruce

    I don’t know why we don’t acknowledge the fact that we are in the exact predicament planned and documented in the protocols of the learned elders of zion? Who owns the banks, the media, the intelligence agencies, think tanks, petrogas and the money system? Who also controls the world gold supply? When you know the answers to these questions, what we are witnessing today in Australia, and the rest of the world, is the logical outcome. The committee of 300 is still alive and well!

  12. diannaart

    @ Kaye Lee

    We know the IPA supplies their enthusiastic gormless youth as part of their infiltration plan of the LNP, the ABC and anything else they can infect. The question for me is, who supplies Bill Shorten’s zingers?

    We know we’re in trouble if IPA “advisors” appear in any Leftie party.

    @ Andrew Smith

    On binary thinking dominating free range thought; people who prefer simple solutions shout down those who prefer to understand an issue. And that’s my binary thought on the subject.

  13. diannaart

    I have been thinking about brains – something I like to do from time to time. I consider how brains evolve and adapt according to environment and how humans developed tools to manipulate their environment, followed by how our technology led us towards a materialistic point of view of the world, not to mention our belief that technology equals intelligence.

    We admire ravens tossing nuts onto pedestrian walkways on roads to use cars to crush the outer shells and to provide safe time to retrieve the kernels. Or the use of sticks to winkle out tasty grubs from underneath bark. Our admiration is paternalistic – we believe we are the supreme beings on this planet.

    How, then, would humans have developed if we did not need technology, our environment was very extensive and sourcing food did not require external technology such as nets – we could develop sonar and hunt in cooperative packs. We could also develop very big brains, bigger than that of all primates.

    I’m talking cetaceans, the more we learn about them more we really need to check our rape of the oceans.

    The whale has evolved in a different manner, its natural physical abilities giving it little cause to desire material baggage. The spear was not needed to get food — the whale is one of the most efficient hunters in natural history. The whale’s ability to travel, to communicate, to care for its young, and its complex social systems are all separate from external material acquisition. Whales have biologically evolved what we utilize technology to achieve. Technology is something that the whales have never needed. They contain all the assets needed for survival and development within their massive bodies and formidable brains.

    Humans may be the paramount tool-makers of the Earth, but the whale may be our paramount thinker. We can only imagine how a dolphin perceives the stars, but they may well do so better than we. Indeed, if the power of such an awesome brain could be utilized, travel to the stars might have already been achieved. The mind can travel to realms that rockets can never reach. Or perhaps they have already discovered that the ultimate destination of a voyager is to arrive back where it belongs — in its own place within the universe. The desire to travel to the stars could very well be an aberration, a need within a species that has been ecologically deprived. Intelligent species here or else where in the universe may have determined that space travel is not the ultimate expression of intelligence. It may only be the ultimate expression of technology: technology and wisdom may be widely diverse expressions of different forms of intelligence.

    https://knowledgeutopia.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/the-cetacean-brain-and-hominid-perceptions-of-cetacean-intelligence/

    I urge others to read this article – it is clear and easy to read and will take us on a journey outside of our self-obsession with ourselves. Of course I am biased, I favour wisdom over technology – because we need wisdom to use our technology wisely.

  14. Harquebus

    diannaart
    Thank you for that link.
    How would we feel if the whales slaughtered us and poisoned the land? I think that perhaps our Aboriginal Australians can relate to this.

    The increased harvesting of krill for, get this, fish farms is something else that concerns me.

    Thanks again.

  15. diannaart

    H

    We have been harvesting krill for sale as omega 3 oil supplements as well, another great chunk taken from the food chain.

    Have to admit I am at a low point today, the LNP subsidising coal and reneging on renewables, the likelihood of Adani going ahead, rejection of Finkel’s watered-down recommendations,

  16. Zoltan Balint

    Every creature on earth has one basic issue and that is – what is the least energy I need to spend to get the most energy back to servive and grow. To do this every creature has developed the ability to interpet their environment and this is called intelligence. Humans and a lot of other creatures (cats, dogs, birds … ) exibit intelligence beyond the need to survive and it is seen as ‘play’. If you look hard enough you will see this in all creatures. Forming groups and sharing the job of finding food is not just a human characteristic. It is in a group that information and knowlage is exchanged and to do this there is a requirement for enough intelligence to recieve the information and use it. How the creature communicates the information depends on the creature. It can be by noise of different frequency, chemical or some other that we as humans do not understand or even perceive. Humans are one of the few creatures that destroy things.

  17. Harquebus

    Something I remembered sometime after my last post and supports Zoltan Balint’s.
    My apologies for being off topic.

    “Gangs of aggressive killer whales are shaking down Alaska fishing boats for their fish”
    “A report this week in the Alaska Dispatch News outlined instances of aggressive orcas harassing boats relentlessly — even refusing to leave after a desperate skipper cut the engine and drifted silently for 18 hours.”
    http://nationalpost.com/news/world/gangs-of-aggressive-killer-whales-are-shaking-down-alaska-fishing-boats-for-their-fish-report/wcm/4da9c8fa-1884-428d-84bd-03f972e34a0f

  18. diannaart

    H

    Not really off topic. Bullshit not baffling cetacean brains…

    Although, I believe line from News should read:

    “Gangs of highly intelligent killer whales are shaking down Alaska fishing boats for their fish”

    I would consider killer whales aggressive if they were targeting humans – not that they don’t have cause for revenge. In fact applying the descriptive “aggressive” to a being which has killer in its (human applied) name as somewhat redundant.

  19. Pingback: When Bullshit Baffles Brains | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  20. economicreform

    All governments habitually lie to their own citizens, with varying degrees of success. Those governments that are proficient at creating and disseminating untruthful stories in a believable manner tend to stay in office longer than those governments that are not.

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