Monday March 26 2018
To see the Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft looking as though he was fiddling with the crown jewels when he was actually tampering with the ball wasn’t just a bad look for Australian cricket, but also an inditement of just how much public and private morality has slipped in our country. Call it ethics if you want l, or boil it down to cheating or better still, call it plain old-fashioned lying. Like rust it has now permeated itself into all facets of society. Or maybe we have just inherited another of America’s worst traits.
We have had two examples this week in politics. Trust in politicians in recent surveys has them at a well deserved 13%. These are the people we trudge of to polling booths every three years to vote for and entrust to do their very best to govern for us until we form judgment on their efforts the next time around. Well, at least 10 to 20% do.
For the last 10 years or so deceit or lying in politics has reached outrageous proportions. The contempt with which politicians treat us is so perfunctory that they believe we actually believe them. Now we are not talking about little white lies … we are talking about whoppers. You know the ones that leave you breathtakingly open-mouthed for there unconscionable audacity.
“When you tell a lie you deny the other persons right to the truth.”
Writing for The New Daily on Sunday, Paula Mathewson identifies them (politician’s lies) as follows:
1 “The Labor opposition constantly peddled its claim that the proposed company tax cut for big business is $65 billion. It’s not. The whole company tax cut package costs $65 billion, but the cost of the cut for the big end of town is $36 billion.
The tax cuts that have already been implemented for smaller businesses account for $29 billion of the $65 billion.
Now $36 billion is still a truckload of money, with which Labor could just as easily make its point. But no, it continues to talk about the Turnbull government planning to give a $65 billion gift to big business – which is an outright lie.”
2 “The Coalition is no better, of course. It peddled its own porkies this week about the opposition’s new proposal to scrap cash refunds on dividends.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was one of the chief offenders, asserting his opponent, Bill Shorten, was “robbing pensioners and retirees of their tax refunds”, and that “these are not rich Australians”.
The PM then doubled down on the deception, claiming “Bill Shorten is targeting mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers on low incomes who rely on a tax refund to help pay the bills”.
This is a lie by omission – Mr Turnbull was referring to pensioners and retirees on low taxable incomes, which means they may also be (and most likely are) rich in assets and superannuation. That is why the Grattan Institute reported this week that the government’s conflation of low-income and low taxable income in this debate was “deeply misleading”.
What is it with politicians that they would believe that we are dumb enough to believe they are telling the truth when with every lie they tell they are simply reinforcing the fact that we know they are telling them, regardless of whether they are blatant or lies of omission?
All they do is increase our scepticism of everything they say.
When politicians lie over a long period of time, it only serves to denigrate the liar and show contempt for the voters intelligence. Especially if the lies are chronic and systemic. The current use of the term “no direct knowledge” is a lie within a lie pretending to absolve a person who is fully conversant with the facts.
There are many reasons why people think lying is wrong; which ones resonate best with you will depend on the way you think about ethics.
Lying is bad because a generally truthful world is a good thing: lying diminishes trust between human beings. If people generally didn’t tell the truth, life would become very difficult, as nobody could be trusted and nothing you heard or read could be trusted – you would have to find everything out for yourself and an untrusting world is also bad for liars – lying isn’t much use if everyone is doing it.
If we were truly enlightened we would treat our fellow human beings, with respect love and faithfulness. We would do unto them as we would expect them to do unto us and we would strive to do no harm. We would love life and live it with a sense of joy and wonderment.
We would form our own independent opinions on the basis of our own reason and experience; and not allow ourselves to be led blindly by others. And we would test all things; always checking our ideas against our facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it did not conform to them. We would readily admit it when we are wrong in the knowledge that humility is the basis of intellectual advancement and that it is truth that enables human progress.
And of course we would enjoy our own sex life (so long as it damages nobody) and leaves others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none or your business.
We would uphold the principle that no one individual or group has an ownership of righteousness. We would seek not to judge but to understand. We would seek dialogue ahead of confrontation.
“Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that enables human progress.”
We would place internationalism before nationalism acknowledging that the planet earth does not have infinite resources and needs care and attention if we are to survive on it. In doing so we would value the future on a timescale longer than our own. We would recognise that the individual has rights but no man is an island and can only exist, and have his rights fulfilled, only by the determination of a collective.
We would insist on equality of opportunity in education acknowledging that it is knowledge that gives an understanding. We would seek not to indoctrinate our children in any way but instead teach them how to think for themselves, evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with us. We would, in our schools open their minds equally to an understanding of ethics and the history and practice of religion.
“Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth, for example.”
We would never seek to cut ourselves off from dissent, and always respect the right of others to disagree with us. Importantly, we would not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
Lastly, we would question everything. What we see, what we feel, what we hear, what we read and what we are told until we understand the truth of it because thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a replacement for fact.
Politicians currently are playing a dangerous game in thinking that we are all dumb and without understanding. Look what happened to Abbott when he tested us.
Meanwhile, the latest bunch of cheating, lying Australians are protesting their innocence despite trying to lie their way out of a situation that is simply not cricket. Last night the Prime Minister, in yet another display of hypocrisy, gave Steve Smith and the team a full-on blast. It seem politicians can tell lies and cheat as much as they like but for the national cricket team it’s taboo.
My thought for the day
“Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there might often be pain in truth but there is no harm in it.”