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Exposing the lie of politics

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

It is no surprise that when it comes to trust, collectively politicians rate very lowly. And individually there are many politicians that we definitely do not trust. Yet they continue to win our votes, if not our trust. In this guest post, Sir Scotch looks at this baffling phenomenon.

The well-known and quite rightly often maligned Readers Digest, over several years, have surveyed Australians, for the 50 professions they trust most. The list goes like this from the 2013 survey:

1.   Firefighters 26. Builders
2.   Paramedics 27. Alternative health practitioners
3.   Rescue volunteers 28. Plumbers
4.   Nurses 29. Mechanics
5.   Pilots 30. Accountants
6.   Doctors 31. Shop assistants
7.   Pharmacists 32. Truck drivers
8.   Veterinarians 33. Charity collectors
9.   Air traffic controllers 34. Professional sportspeople
10. Farmers 35. Bankers
11. Scientists 36. Financial planners
12. Armed Forces personnel 37. Airport baggage handlers
13. Police 38. Clergy (all religions)
14. Dentists 39. Lawyers
15. Teachers 40. Tow-truck drivers
16. Childcare workers 41. CEOs
17. Flight attendants 42. Taxi drivers
18. Bus/Train/Tram drivers 43. Journalists
19. Locksmiths 44. Talkback radio hosts
20. Hairdressers 45. Real estate agents
21. Postal workers 46. Sex workers
22. Waiters 47. Call centre staff
23. Computer technicians 48. Insurance salespeople
24. Security guards 49. Politicians
25. Cleaners 50. Door-to-door salespeople

What does the list say about us as a country, as voters and as human beings? What are we able to learn from the way people vote, compared to the way people give credit, to people who would generally interact with them at some stage in their lives, though not necessarily, all that often, that politicians are only above door to door salesmen in those “trusted professions”?

Likewise, the most trusted people list, has several politicians in it, and that really is what we are about here. Why do Australians vote for folk they don’t trust, enough to admit to a survey taker, that they don’t trust them?

The first on the list is Malcolm Turnbull, at number 68, who is more trusted than Julian Assange. A funny outcome considering the normalcy of us, as voters expecting politicians to also be liars, since the two go hand in hand, and on any reading of the work of Julian Assange, who if one is to be completely fair, is the exact opposite, despite what is said by Rupert Murdoch and his tame typists, doing everything they are told.

It was Assange who brought to us the actual truth of the governments we elect in terms of their activities, after having spent years being told by politicians what they think we want to hear. Kevin Rudd appears just after Assange, again, a supreme obfuscator and liar, certainly in league with the Murdochracy, yet his trust rating is below that of Assange. Do punters actually know what Assange represents or are they dependant on the lies of the tame tabloid typists? The answer to that in simple terms appears to be a resounding “yes”. Without Murdoch and his co-conspirators, we are uninformed as a country. What a worrying situation!

Worrying, I’m thinking? Perhaps that’s why ethical politicians feel some control over media access makes sense.

Less ethical politicians of course, who tend to pop off to New York on the Murdoch cheque account, from both sides of the political divide it has to be said, don’t see it as an issue if the only paper/s in a whole state, come from one single self-absorbed egotistical octogenarian nabob, who isn’t even an Australian, (to avoid taxes not because of some high moral objection to Australian law or system), and the punters (you and me it could be said but I don’t buy his bullshit rags), is the framing device used to manage the entire Australia Conversation. And we accede to this? We are fools. Another correspondent a couple of weeks ago took me to task on the subject of the hyper generalisation inherent in “we get/have the government we deserve”. I have thought long and hard about how to assuage his disquiet at my generalisation, especially when I talked about the “water cooler conversation”, when we who see ourselves as “activist” in terms of our displeasure at the work of that failed priest currently occupying The Lodge, are given an opportunity to actually have a say to colleagues about the state of the nation.

My view is we don’t care to expose our distrust in case someone reports us to the boss, or holds us up as “agitators”, though in reality, that is what we need to be. We need to expose the negativity of a government for the corporations, such as we have had since Paul Keating first wound a French clock in an Armani double-breaster.

Lincoln, at Gettysburg opined, “. . . and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” But what are we, Australia, left with of that great hope?

Government by people we don’t trust, of people they don’t know, for people they don’t care enough about, to listen to, or ask what do we want from them. And we fail to call them to account!

Rather in secret little circles in darked back rooms in carefully managed blogs and fora, we cry out for “justice” but fail to act for those afflicted in PNG as a direct result or our inaction. We call for transparency, but ask little of the plans for the “TPP”, which stands ready to strip away more of our rights as members and citizens of a sovereign state. We ask for honesty, and then vote for Clive Palmer “because he offers some alternative to conservative politics”. I am yet to see an example of that.

We lie to ourselves as Australians. We lie to others, wearing the same cloak of humanity we had earned after Vietnam, failing to see the similarities between two wars fought for the US, with no other purpose, than to feed the industro-military swamp, which is the American economy.

Even our national anthem is a lie, but we still sing it at the football. We are afraid of change, a normal state for a conservative voter.

We are afraid of the pitfalls a new direction may bring. We are afraid of everything, but we still vote for people we don’t trust, who have proven themselves to be liars, time after time, we allow the same biumvirate of accession to the will of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to “guide” us on our way to hell.

Some vote Green, but the vote is meaningless we are told, even though almost 12% of the population vote for them. Why is the 12% so meaningless? Labor gets into bed with Bob Brown and
others with ethics and vision, and are immediately held up as some sort of traitors. But no one, even Antony Greene, of the ABC, can explain why that vote is wasted.

It appears to me that there is seems no offence that can be committed by our current government and opposition, which can be held up as an example of outrageous and egregious conduct. We are now seeing some of the minutiae of the goings-on in foreign affairs in the Carr/Gillard regime, where it was important enough to diarise that the carrier of choice had the effrontery to not provide pyjamas. We find the old Foreign Minister holds himself up as the success of the day when Australia got a spot on the Security Council of the United Nations. He fails to mention in his memoir that the process of getting that seat took longer than the time that the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd process was in play, but is happy to accept responsibility.

I am moved to remember, that Rudd himself also held up his hand as being responsible. All lies.

So we’re left with the question “what does the government have to do to get to a point where Australia realises that we’ve been had?” The short answer is exactly what they are doing now, without having to worry about the question being asked in the first place.

At what point will Australians realise that government is not being conducted for them, for their families, for their futures, for their country or for much else with anything approaching value. Government is in fact being conducted for the betterment of United States corporate interests and the re-election of the main offenders and little else.

 

46 comments

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  1. jasonblog

    Curious article. We ask for tolerance and fairness and indulge in ageism and jingoism in our insults towards Rupert Murdoch. Fair enough.
    I’d never considered Australian history in terms of Gettysburg address before. We probably all should. The conspiracy theorists may find the following links interesting

    http://erippy.home.mindspring.com/Guns,_Drugs,_and_Oil_9-11_and_US-Led_Global_Fascism.html

    http://www.buddhistpeacegroup.org/pnac/index.html

    http://www.buddhistpeacegroup.org/pnac/who.html

  2. Buff McMenis

    I do rather like your thinking. And I totally agree on disliking the old American who thinks he rules the world! But you forgot that one thing that he did do was to become an American because owning newspapers and/or other media outlets in America can only be done if you are an American citizen! So he sold his birthright for a newspaper and he then tries to continue in his father’s toxic footprints. Unfortunately, we let him, whether through apathy or ignorance I have yet to decide!

  3. john921fraser

    <

    I'm thinking Sir Scotch should change to Sir Gin and take a little tonic while he burns his subscription to the right wing Readers Digest.

    The level of lying has always been reasonably high but over the last 15 years it is reaching levels unacceptable to a very lot of Aussies.

    The easiest way to explain the Greens is that they are the party of youth and as such will never be defeated.

    Because so many of our youth ….. unaffected by $s ……. want to have a better country to live in.

  4. Sir ScotchMistery

    I don’t subscribe to readers digest but I accept the criticism. The magazine was in the dentist last week.

    Gettysburg was only about the points raised by Lincoln who sought the best for his country as I once hoped for mine.

  5. Matters Not

    Seems to me we equate ‘politicians’ with ‘government’. A big mistake. Yes, we have corrupt politicians here, there and perhaps everywhere but it seems to me that we should not lose faith in the concept of ‘government’.

    Yet we conflate the two (politicians and government) and it’s to our detriment.

    The average punter, like me, needs government because it provides a ‘freedom’; specifically a freedom to collectively achieve ‘outcomes’ that would otherwise be impossible. Can anyone seriously argue that ‘superannuation’, ‘workplace health and safety’, ‘sick leave’ and the like (the list is long and historical) would come about if it wasn’t for ‘government’?

    Government is a ‘means’ to many possible ‘ends’. Democratically elected governments are really the ‘hope of the side’.

    It is in the interests of the rich and powerful to have the poor and powerless lose faith in government. And the means they achieve that outcome includes corrupt politicians.

  6. rangermike1

    Most dumdum Australians believe the Murdoch view, either too lazy or too dumbed down to know the truth, they will continue to believe the rags from the MSM, and the rantings of Bolt, Jones etc. Karma has away of coming around though. It will bite hard on the bums of those devious creatures.

  7. john921fraser

    <

    @Sir Scotch

    I don't have any problems with Lincoln.

    In fact I am becoming more and more pleased with the extreme right wing evangelicals overcooking the egg.

    It can only have dangerous consequences for those doing the cooking.

  8. rangermike1

    @ john 921fraser. Is it any wonder John, that the Happy Clappers at the Church of St. Scott speaks in foreign tongues and wave their hands about in gay abandon ? Abbott seems to be doing his fair share of this lately. Just too much not to notice.

  9. jasonblog

    In addition to the excellent remarks of Sir Scotch I would add:

    The woeful state of mainstream Australian politics and media need to be placed into the context of post-World War 2 America and the emergence of the World Trade Organisation.

    In an article ‘The Failure of Neoliberal Globalization and the End of Empire: Neoliberalism, Imperialism, and the Rise of the Anti-Globalization Movement’ its author, Martin Orr, observes that “The institutions most closely associated with neoliberal globalization – the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank –have their origins in the negotiations between business elites in the US, the United Kingdom, and Germany in the 1930s. Having agreed not to let war interfere with business, it didn’t. US corporations, including Chase Manhattan Bank, Ford Motor Company, Standard Oil, and IBM continued to do business with Nazi Germany (Higham, 1983; Parenti, 1997) Writing during the war, George Seldes was blunt: ‘[The] great owners and rulers of America … planned world domination through political and military Fascism, just as surely as Hitler did in Germany, and like groups and like leaders did in other countries’ (Seldes, 1943: 69). Little changed over the second half of the century”

    Furthermore, Orr states, “The U.S. media had largely ignored the WTO prior to Seattle. Since then, the media have served to belittle and vilify those who oppose neoliberalism, and to cover up and facilitate state repression. Over the course of the last three decades, through mergers, acquisitions and the deregulation of ownership laws, media have become increasingly corporatized and otherwise beholden to private interests (Bagdikian, 1997; Compaine and Gomery, 2000; Herman and Chomsky, 1988; Parenti, 1986). Corporate monopolization of media entails a unity of interests between media and telecommunication owners like General Electric, Disney/ABC, AOL/Time Warner. And News Corporation, who directly benefit from neoliberalism. In addition, these media giants sell audiences to corporate advertisers, who also benefit from the efforts of the WTO”.

    While I can appreciate the growing sense of outrage emerging in Australia with regards to the Abbott government their agenda hasn’t just happened over night and is part of a much bigger and nastier picture – of which the ALP is very much a part of. Defeating Abbott means overcoming a vicious cycle that includes rampant consumerism. That’s going to be much easier said than done.

  10. john921fraser

    <

    Lets just add in lying/deceit by non reporting :

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/10/tamil-asylum-seeker-critical-after-setting-himself-on-fire ………….10/4/14

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-11/tamil-asylum-seeker-self-harms-in-sydney/5383318 ….. 11/4/14

    Secrecy by Abbotts gang most likely was learnt at the feet of Murdoch's "Limited News".

    An extremely distressing and significant event in Australia and just look at the non existent response.

  11. Denisio Fabuloso

    Self delusion is the New Black. I have lost faith in the Australian electorate… they have become as shallow, self interested and wedded to short term thinking as the politicians they criticize. Climate change is set to change everything… and way sooner than we think. We are going to get what we deserve. Shame about everything else.

  12. Sir ScotchMistery

    @Denisio my point at the end of the day I suspect.

  13. Denisio Fabuloso

    Mr Scotch… how is it that almost the majority of the Western World, with all the sources of science and information available to us, a majority of said citizens haven’t a clue? I can hardly get my head around it. I have for the most part abandoned all hope of Homo economicus ever waking up in time to avoid the utter catastrophe coming our way. Every single day I waver between acceptance of this fact… and being extremely pissed off by the sheer insanity of it.

  14. Sir ScotchMistery

    Three word slogans, reduction in education funding, acceptance without comment and accepting it.

    Wholesale lying, re-electing folks we don’t like or trust, then going out and buying the same rags we bitch about and keeping the bullshit flowing.

    That’s how. And that’s why so many of our countrymen are idiots.

  15. contriteshadow

    I don’t know much about Julian Assange. But one absolute, easily verifiable fact is that he encourages anyone and everyone to search for the truth and share it. It’s possible we have politicians in ALP or LNP that feel the same way. If so, they’re being bloody quiet about it.

    And that, right there, is the biggest problem, in my opinion. Australians are lied to on a daily basis and they accept it, even encourage it by loudly agreeing if the falsehood supports their personal bias, when they should be asking for validation of the claims. I’ll accept lies from colleagues, even occasionally from friends. But the man or woman (as if!) who represents my country must do so with integrity, or they do so without my vote.

  16. PeterF

    “two wars fought for the US, with no other purpose, than to feed the industro-military swamp, which is the American economy.”
    Dont forget the criminal conditions placed on Britain in the middle of WWII by America in seeking payment for ‘assistance’ against Germany. Huge profits were made by armament manufacturers , paid for by stripping Britain AND IT’S COMMONWEALTH COUNTRIES of most assets which could be grabbed.

  17. Michael Taylor

    Sir ScotchMistery,

    The last two paragraphs in your comment @ 10:40 last night were, in a nutshell, spot on.

  18. Sir ScotchMistery

    Thank you Michael. Praise indeed.

    It would be great to see Getup sponsoring a process of finding 100 independents throughout the country to stand on the basis of “A Voice for Indi”, and see how a Parliamentof with principles looks.

    I name Getup since there are already nearly a million Australians who are part of it without having to start something new.

    Getup had been seen as an arm of ALP but it isn’t. It has many ALP members who are fed up with people not thinking about their votes but many are not attached. Likewise Greens are widely represented but the focus is think before voting. Maybe putting an alternate face up for each electorate would give the current crop another reason to be more honest.

  19. abbienoiraude

    @ Denisio Fabuloso. I get where you are at.
    I despair.
    The lack of awareness, or laziness, or selfishness, or ignorance, or apathy, or ..whatever of the ‘average’ voter makes me want to give up.
    It is exhausting keeping up with not only to find the ‘truth’ but where to find the truth on a weekly matter.
    Those who are already welded to their belief systems don’t have the inclination to check what they are ‘following’ is right, truthful or even one of the values in their personal arsenal.

    I doubt if a new face came up on the billboards around voting time, Sir Scotch, (even with Getup at the helm) that anyone would care…Most ( in my area of National Party heartland anyway) would just arrogantly and smugly vote for Mr National Party knowing they are on the winning side. They just don’t bloody care and just don’t give a damn about the truth or the future. I have asked them and they are determined to remain bigoted, racist and to continue to damn the poor and victim for their plight.

  20. Stephen Tardrew

    I have a feeling that blaming ordinary Australians is somehow deflecting the argument from where it should be. People do not choose ignorance because often they only have limited choices and immediate survival imperatives to consider. Conditioning is the prime motivator and that is why evidence seems to indicate that most people, right and left, are conditioned by familial imperatives. We too often assume choice when often there is only limited room to move within their social context. In this respect left and right are fairly well entrenched by cultural indoctrination and familial prejudices. And here lies the rub. Progressivism by its nature is a cultural outlier that we struggle to move towards the mean of social awareness.

    We are like minded individuals who have a predilection for social justice, equity and utilitarian distribution sitting at the periphery of a large media complex which inevitably conditions public opinion. And those opinions have historical origins in magic and mythology which is turned unwittingly against peoples best interest. Knowing little else they follow the direction of their dominant ideology so the problem is not stupidity but ignorance of alternative ways of seeing the wold.

    Politicians by their general acceptance of the veracity of the current shape of democracy become entrenched within another set of conditioned imperatives that prevent open and rational evaluation of the facts. When people are not conversant with the facts how can it be expected that they will make rational decisions.

    Most of our politicians are failing to meet their moral obligations to the democratic principles of fairness and equitable distribution of goods. Handing lollies to the homeless, unemployed and impoverished is simply a feelgood exercise to assuage guilt for a while. Hard headed dogmatism turns a while into forever. Conservatives simply ignore guilt as a necessary strategy to meet their self-interest.

    Yes the last two paragraphs tell us much but solves little for those who are left in harms way.

    We just have to keep bashing on in the hope that things will eventually change.

  21. Kevin Arnold

    I once spoke at length with a German journalist and he confided that his relationship with his parents is still soured by their absolute belief in the leaders of their time. Will we have to apologise to our descendants for our actions of our time? Will our grandchildren shake their heads at our stupidity? I would like to think not. I fear that it is wishful thinking.

  22. Kerri

    A sadly true article. What can be done to hold this Government to account? I know of nothing I can do as a mere citizen other than march peacefully.I did not vote for this lot and never have. And never will!!! And yet I am impotent in my visceral hatred for the depths to which the LNP is dragging this nation. Why has the UN not charged us with war crimes? Crimes against humanity? Illegal detention? Why is Arthur Sinodinos allowed to say “I forgot” without being outed for perjury? Why are the various rorts and jobs for the boys moving ahead at a cracking pace with no legal intervention? The more they get away with the bolder thay become. We will surely wind up with less peaceful demonstrations. There will be blood on the street because no one is punishing the illegal behaviour? Even The Hague let Brandis get away with illegally confiscating papers that were the possessions of Timor. Enough with the politeness already? If other countries can see that Abbott is a fool and his policies are seriously screwing the environment, why can’t there be intervention? Why can’t there be sanctions? Abbott will be long dead when his actions will make life unbearable. (Physically not mentally or emotionally we are already at that point) Who can help us? Or how can we help ourselves? 3 years is way too long and way too much time for this Government to carry out irreparable harm.

  23. jasonblog

    I suspect the there is more to the Brandis debacle of so-called ‘Free Speech’. Next they’ll be trying lift the restrictions on political donations from plutocrats and corporations on the rational that such regulations are an impediment to ‘freedom’.

    Palmer has made Murdoch look like an absolute beginner in how to go about buying political influence. It’ll be interesting to see how the PUP go. Australia needs more political choice and the emergence of more political parties and political independents. It would be good to see PUP evolve beyond the ego of Clive, but realistically its survival is tied to his wealth and shamelessness and not any real grass roots movement.

    I stumbled across this article that had a relevant passage about money in politics: “Mark Hanna – the first modern political fundraiser, who helped the Republican Party to win a landslide victory over Democrats and Populists in the 1896 election – put it best: ‘There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.” (http://socialistworker.org/2014/04/09/of-by-and-for-the-rich-people)

  24. Conrad

    During WWII when Australia asked for assistance American business forced a reduction in tariffs because Britain had lower tariffs = business first always

  25. xiaoecho

    Matters Not……………”Can anyone seriously argue that ‘superannuation’, ‘workplace health and safety’, ‘sick leave’ and the like (the list is long and historical) would come about if it wasn’t for ‘government’?”

    These things can also be stripped from us by government as we are about to find out

  26. abbienoiraude

    @Stephen Tardrew – that is a neat and somewhat interesting perspective of how we are hell bent on following our ‘familial’ value and voting system.
    I must be a rare duck.
    I come from a long line of farmers. It is my ancestry, it is in my bones.
    I voted first at 18 the way my parents voted ( Country Party.) By the next election I had left home and was independent of family political thought.
    I turned away, not straight to the Labor Party ( too radical for a young callow youth as I) but to smaller independent ones . By this time it was the mid ’70’s.
    It was not till I was a ‘stay at home mother’ that I became politicised. I was angry that my ‘work’, my ‘job’ was demeaned and laughed at and not valued and not ‘paid’ in any way.

    Fast forward to the early ’90’s and I had a disabled husband.
    If anything will politicise you to progressive politics it is having to deal with the bureaucrats in the Public Service and in medicine. They had a wild cat to contend with…all niceness of the ‘family’ was gone.

    My parents are now dead and my brother has followed in their footsteps…however the ‘two mad sisters’ have chose the turn to the left….brought on by life’s circumstances and by an innate intelligence ( I hope) that there must be a ‘better way’ than the ‘individual is all that matters’ of the Right leaning crew.

    Just sayin’. It takes a curiosity, a life experienced, a sense of injustice and a huge amount of guts to stop and reconsider. I would do it again in a heart beat if I felt the left has let me down…and by gosh they have, moving to the right like they have…so I search in vain for that new group to feel ‘familial’ with.

  27. Carol Taylor

    Abbienoiraude…very well said. !!!!!!!!!!

  28. john921fraser

    <

    @abbienoiraude

    Your not so much a "rare duck" as an "honest duck", a duck who went looking for a "clean pond" but discovered it was fouled and decided to do something about it.

    Congratulations on that.

    Have a look at the Greens, you might find that some of there policies are a little too far out there and the way to change that is to have a dialogue with them.

    I guarantee it will get the attention of the ALP if you let them know what you are doing and then perhaps they will set about changing their ways.

    I hope everyone can see what I am doing here ?

    I've had a gutful of the ALP denying their natural progressive base and following the Abbott gang down the path of denigrating the Greens.

    I will happily vote (again and again) for the Greens if the ALP doesn't want to change their ways.

  29. abbienoiraude

    Thanks Carol Taylor and john921fraser. I have to say that I dally either side of that divide…Labor and Greens. Because of where i live it really doesn’t make much difference except to my little bit of revolutionary frisson I feel as I mark my ballot…so at times it is Labor for HOR and usually Green for Senate ( to keep the bastards honest – to take the slogan of that group I actually voted for during Chippies day)…but am tempted at times as I vote below the line to add the Socialist Left to my first 10.

    I wish I had known more as I grew up, so made sure my kids were aware of all colours of the political spectrum. Our son lives in South Korea so has not voted since the Howard years and the two daughters are Greenies….because they are educated and care about the environment and the future. Even they see me as a true radical.
    I shall never ever go back to the centre or right ever again.

  30. john921fraser

    <

    @abbienoiraude

    You've just shown why the Greens will never die.

    "and the two daughters are Greenies"

    Labor should look & learn.

  31. rangermike1

    It really surprised me that Pollies made it to # 49. I thought at best, they would come in at 201 or below. Goes to show what Liberal spin does to a consensus. Ruph, can You hear me Ruphy ?

  32. Stephen Tardrew

    abbienoiraude
    April 13, 2014 • 3:06 pm

    I completely agree that’s why I am here testing the waters of progressivism on a site that has much to be commended.

    True progressives are critical thinkers not captured by any particular ideology. Nevertheless they can decide to choose the better of several dystopian political styles in the face of excessive corruption and greed.

    Those who care about justice, equity and utilitarian distribution need to break away from conditioned habit and be willing to stand alone in the face of tradition.

    The March was, and is, an important forum for our grievances and maintaining connections with fellow progressives is vital. Getup and other groups are tying together progressives in a coherent network that has real potential to bring about change. We just have to hang on in there.

    Michael has offered us a great forum and as you have probably noticed there are real quality progressive ideas and attitudes coming together at AIMN. I am sure it will evolve as a useful forum for progressive ides and actions.

    I am with you all the way in heart and in mind.

  33. mikisdad

    Sir Scotch – thank you for a stimulating and well-balanced article that, in my view, goes to the heart of political sickness and voter apathy or disillusionment in this country. What is also so pleasing about this AIMN contribution is the level of commentary. Whilst I have learned much from AIMN contributors and commentators in the past and have been generally impressed by the rational nature of comments, I think that this is the first time that I have seen such a collective consensus of views, all well expressed, and all with a refreshing absence of sneering, sarcasm, or personal diatribe and attack. I don’t mean to act inappropriately and come across as a “moderator” but I would from a personal point of view, just like to thank everyone for their reason and moderation for it gives me – perhaps for the first time – hope that there are enough good people who are genuinely interested, not in “pushing” a particular platform – unless that platform is fairness, equity and tolerance – but instead wish to see an overall improvement in standards of political involvement, debate and activity. As an aside, I’d also like to support Stephen’s comments regarding blame for I feel that it is a very accurate and relevant assessment of the state of play at a time when our culture seems to have become one of “pointing the finger” rather than “assessing the cause”.

    I note with interest that the “league tables” do not appear to include librarians among the occupations. I’m not sure whether that is because they are trusted at an even lower level than used-car salesmen or because they haven’t been considered at all. Having worked in the field for over 35 years, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that the occupation is disregarded as librarians tend to be their own worst enemies in terms of being noticed – mostly being concerned with providing for their clients needs – without judgement or open comment about the content concerned – but simply going about their business quietly. In one sense that is admirable and serves equity and freedom of choice well. In another, however, I wonder at its appropriateness.

    There is no doubt (in my mind, at any rate) that a factor always accompanying pernicious single-sided and controlling politics, from benevolent dictatorships through military regimes to single party, “people’s democracies” is a limitation or distortion of truth through limits or restrictions on the production, dissemination of and access to information. Transparency is the first principle to go in these instances. Paradoxically, given the claim of Brandis that his Bill is about de-restricting “free-speech”, what the intelligent observer sees is a Bill that will allow individuals and organisations to restrict the freedom of others through public denigration and abuse of the sort that eventually leads to ill-feeling, discrimination, and hatred. The rise of the new Nazis in Europe and now, their establishment in Australia is an example.

    In Australia, we have a country where the main stream media is in the hands of only two players and the voice of other or alternative reporting is swamped by that block, which for most people is their main source of news and current affairs. This would be bad at any time but given the current clear alliance of the government of the day with the 60% media ownership of the Murdoch press, this is a major impediment to the practice of democracy. To make matters worse, the current government has shown itself to be not only opaque and restrictive in providing information to the public but also to have taken the art of lie telling to heights not previously climbed in our society. Add to that the very blatant manipulation of the ABC through funding threats and public rebukes and, it seems, there is an increasing assault on truth and information access in Australia. The conditions that I have suggested accompany all authoritarian states are in evidence already and increasing by the day.

    So, back to my interest in the non-appearance of librarians in the list. Libraries have long been places recognised for their public worth in enlightening the public; facilitating self-study and learning; and promoting new ideas through provision of a wide range of diverse authors and points of view. Libraries have also long been the most patronised of recreational and informational services for the public. They are used by all age groups and people of all levels of education and all occupations. Certainly, the disinterest of their librarians or at least their putting aside of personal ideology or allegiances when working professionally, has no doubt done much towards inculcating the generally positive image of these institutions right across society. I wonder, however, if now isn’t perhaps a time when librarians should become somewhat more engaged politically and exercise some “positive” discrimination to balance the skewed view of the world presented by our totally out of balance news media?

    It’s just a thought and one which, i openly admit, many of my library colleagues find disconcerting but I feel that perhaps there is a real opportunity for librarians to contribute to filling this information gap by pro-actively ensuring stocking, promotion and display of literature that stimulates thought and understanding of the sorts of issues facing our deomcracy and factual material, reports and commentary that balances the misleading and inaccurate information provided by government agencies and the main steam media groups.

    Hitler burnt the books. One could well see Abbott closing libraries. I’d be interested to know what others think about this and would also urge you all to check out what is happening on your local library scene – as, in much the same way as it is with health and education, negatively causative decisions of a federal nature are often disguised as funds and pressure move through tiers of government down to the local level. Perhaps, also, it is time for us to consider a bottom-up campaign, rather than a top-down one?

  34. Douglas Evans

    As a fringe dweller, more an observer than a participant, I’ve got a few (shamelessly partisan) thoughts about the Greens. My former Federal MP Lindsay Tanner liked to say that voting for the Greens was just “shouting from the sidelines”. Of course that was just before his Labor successor in the prized ALP Seat of Melbourne was defeated by Adam Bandt. Bandt has since repeated this feat without the aid of Liberal preferences. Today’s Age-Nielsen Poll has the Greens on 17% nationally (up 5%) mostly on the back of disaffected L-NP voters. In WA apparently the Greens lead Labor in the polls 27% to 20% currently and over the weekend with Labor still engaged in ots own life and death struggle to reform itself, Christine Milne called for reform of the Greens constitution to give more power to members in formulating policy. This in a party that (in Victoria at least) already formally and regularly, as a matter of course, invites the participation of members in policy formulation.

    Despite these positive signs it would not be sensible to assume that Greens support will continue to grow. The Greens have experienced such swings in the polls in the past only to fall back to what appears to be the baseline 10% of the primary vote. Nevertheless it is a striking illustration of how uneven the Australian political playing field is that 10% of the primary vote delivers a single lower house seat (out of 150) to the Greens while (for example) 4.29% of the primary vote delivers nine seats to the Nationals.

    The Greens vote is complex. People vote Greens for all sorts of reasons. Many find a policy agenda that prioritizes environmental responsibility, social justice and compassion attractive. Some ageing social democrats like me, who believe this is what the Labor Party should stand for but increasingly doesn’t, are encouraged to find it is still possible to vote for a party that reflects these principles and is not simply the least-worst option. Many find it energizing and refreshing to be around an organization with a positive agenda that still in the face of darkening times has faith in the possibilities of the future and the potential for positive change rather than offering up continually reheated versions of the same-old same-old that has ialed us in the past. The irreducible core of the Greens vote, about 10% of the electorate seems (to me) to be firmly based on these factors.

    Then there is a soft vote that will come and go. Some have voted for the Greens simply because they are not either of the two old parties that so many Australians are so very tired of. A large chunk of this group (which is politically pretty uninterested) is fundamentally conservative. These deserted the Greens in the last election when Palmer showed up on the horizon offering them a conservative alternative to the L-NP. Others (who are basically Liberal ‘wets’) vote for the Greens because they profoundly disapprove of what Abbott and his bunch of goons are doing to their Party and they can’t bring themselves to vote for Labor – the old enemy.

    Others have voted for the Greens because they have seen them as the new-on-the-block-little-guys sticking it up the tired old tweedle dum and tweedle dee parties in Canberra. For these people the sight of the Greens actually wielding some power both in Canberra and Tasmania (Oh no they are a political party after all!) was disturbing and at the last election these voters deserted for The Pirates, the Animal Liberation Party and the Sex Party.

    I assume that as the crisis deepens (as it surely will) and both L-NP and ALP show themselves to have no remedies (as I expect to happen) support for the Greens will grow but for their policies to have any effect will mean coalition of some sort with Labor. For this to happen a number of things must change. Labor will have to realize that Greens votes do not automatically flow on to the ALP. They never have done. A significant percentage of Greens second preferences go to the coalition. A Labor primary vote in the mid 30s and a Greens vote in the mid teens (eminently possible in the current climate) might just translate into some sort of progressive coalition government but in the absence of this would probably deliver power narrowly to the coalition. Labor cannot simply assume that they can continue to disparage their progressive potential allies and float into power in their own right on a raft of Greens preferences. Those days are gone. Nor can they assume that they can get their primary vote back up into the 40s from where they might just achieve power in their own right. The decades long decline in their primary vote to its current position in the mid 30s makes ALP government in its own right increasingly unlikely. They should get busy exploring the possibilities for co-operation and get used to the idea of shared power as an acceptable Plan B. They should start exploring the possibilities for re-educating the Australian public to accept that coalition with the Greens does not equate to a communist takeover or a pact with the devil. The Greens for their part must learn the lessons of a couple of stints in power in Tasmania and the part they played in the Rudd-Gillard Federal era all of which ended in tears and recriminations.

    Sorry to be so long winded – again!

  35. Zathras

    I’ve heard the ancient Greeks believed that politicians should be appointed via public nomination rather than putting themselves up for election.

    This minimises the chance of them acting entirely out of self-interest (or the interests of their sponsors).

    I guess they didn’t have the concept of political parties in those days, but it’s an interesting idea.

  36. mikisdad

    Douglas – I like what you have to say – long winded, or not – don’t apologise – it makes sense.

  37. Stephen Tardrew

    Douglas excellent well thought out post. Just what we need. Thanks heaps.

  38. Paul Raymond Scahill

    Probably like many , I too have voted for what I considered the party that looked after its people best. Next time I will in all probability vote for the Greens who seem to have a much more aligned policy towards the betterment for Australian citizens. Although I am 71 years of age I have always considered the economy first. perhaps the humanity aspect of politics, and finally the environmental. In saying that I have always thought health and education were a given. Not under the LNP. So from that you will probably deduce that I will never support the LNP! Previously I tended to agree with Lindsay Tanner that a vote for the Greens was similar to shouting from the sidelines. However, when one sees the lies and deceit that this current government and its “ministers” , or whatever one should refer them as, expound the virtues of their policies (what policies I hear you say) they show themselves as the biggest liars that we as a nation have ever known. Unfortunately there are a number of politicians on the other side who are no better. That is why I am looking to the Greens for government at the next election., Bring it on..

  39. Sir ScotchMistery

    In truth, most of the politicians sitting as members of the major parties, are liars. Tony Abbort, chief among them. 26% Green in a mining state? What does that say about Peta Credlin’s policies and about having a prime mincer with no nuts, merely an arse for sale to whoever will give him the job.

    Ahh, good to be back.

  40. Zofia

    Mikisdad

    I do know what is happening at the library I visit.(council facility) It is well-managed and provides a range of material allowing the public to come to their own conclusions about various subjects. I too would find it disconcerting if the library staff was giving preference to some material over other material. It’s the same with teachers providing material for their students and allowing them to use their critical thinking skills (which would be fostered, of course) to reach their own conclusions.

    You may find the following from the foreward of Neil Postman’s book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death” has an interesting point to make about banning books. He discussed George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”.

    ‘What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
    Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.
    Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
    Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
    As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the avid libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ” failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.’

    As an interesting aside, I noticed that “the most trusted people list” consists of television personalities, actors, sports people, and the others are all seen on television.

  41. mikisdad

    Zofia, thank you so much for responding to my request for opinion. You have the same view, it seems, as most of my colleagues. As I mentioned, I’m out of step with them but then I’m out of step with most.

    My view is that we (all of us, but certainly librarians) have a responsibility *not* to be apolitical. Yes, I agree with providing collections that, where possible, provide a wide variety of points of view – however, that is interpreted by most librarians in a very superficial way and one that turns out not to achieve their purported aim.

    This is neither the forum nor is their room to go into all the ins and outs of effective and competent selection and their are many ways in which this is carried out but I’ll give you just a couple of examples to illustrate some simple flaws in the way selection is practised far too commonly.

    * Most public libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification System. As you may be aware, it has 10 main divisions which, together supposedly cover the universe of knowledge. However, even when it was devised, Dewey couldn’t quite figure out where some things fitted so the first division is; “generalities” – you might call it, “anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else.” However, my example concerns the 3rd division, 200-299. This is for religions. 200-295 cover Christianity. 296-299 cover all other religions in the World. – Great balance,eh? Yet most librarians follow this not only without question but without even considering it questionable.

    * There are many selection guides produced by publishers and others to which librarians refer for assistance in deciding with what to fill the shelves. These guides are heavily influenced by what is “popular” in fiction and what are the “standard” texts and best known “expert authors” in non-fiction. Whilst these lists are useful and valuable guides, they do tend to reflect orthodoxy and and what will bring in the $. Alternative materials are scarcely included and have much less chance of being noticed and purchased by librarians, even when they have much to offer.

    I could add much more to this argument but won’t press my case. Suffice it to say that other factors, such as the neighbourhood, the local council, the prevailing political climate and the level of sophistication and intellect of the librarians all have a bearing.

    The result and the point is, that collections are almost always biased and not the balanced and wide range of views that you suppose.

    My view is that librarians should present an opportunity for people to be informed of all perspectives on an issue but also, that is is simply not true to pretend that they are a-political. Quite the opposite is true. Indeed, librarians are responsible for more censorship than any other group in society. When society is afflicted by an outrageous imbalance in the presentation of ideas, philosophy, political ideology or whatever – such as is the case in Australia today – at least in the political sphere – I believe that librarians could do much to redress this imbalance and that they should do so.

    The illusion of neutrality is a cowards’s or, at best, an ignorant way out for it is, just that, an illusion. I might add, that the same thing applies to schools – but that’s another discussion.

  42. Zofia

    Mikisdad

    Thank you for clarifying the situation and giving me an insight into how the selections are made. It does change things.
    Your point that many selection guides are produced by publishers and tend to reflect the current orthodoxy, I find very unsettling. Knowing that small publishers, who published alternative views, are being taken over by big publishing companies is of great concern, because it is there that the censorship begins. I was troubled by Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of HarperCollins many years ago because it’s a subtle way of controlling information. So is what you suggest is happening in libraries.
    Your view that library collections are not balanced and don’t reflect a wide range of views certainly needs to be rectified. But, since you say your colleagues hold the opposite view, there doesn’t seem to be a solution.

    Is it basically that you work within a system, as do teachers, and as an individual within that system, you find it difficult or virtually impossible to implement the changes you see as necessary? You can try and hence your feeling of being ‘out of step’ with your colleagues. Fighting against a group mind set takes courage because groups don’t like those who ‘rock the boat’ and bring uncomfortable truths to their notice.

    You are rightly concerned about the dissemination of information within your field. My greatest concern is that not many people want to read books nowadays. Currently at universities, many undergraduate students don’t want to read the textbook or do any further reading (journal articles, other related books). They would prefer to be spoon-fed course outlines and notes. This varies across the universities and disciplines. If you look at many people’s homes these days, you won’t see a book or bookshelf in sight. I have witnessed the closure of bookshops everywhere and it’s not all due to online buying. Books are losing favour. I feel people want their information quick and easy.

    Back to the topic. Something to consider: authors reference other authors through their Notes and Bibliographies and these give the reader another way of sourcing further information. Authors mention those who agree with them, as well as, those who disagree. That is how I usually move through books – one book leads to another and the field expands. The system in reverse – I read, then go to the library to find a book mentioned by the author. It’s not always, go to the library and see what is available on the topic.

  43. John.R

    One problem is Apathy.I have said this before and will say it again.Australians are about to be shaken out of their apathetic ways big time
    For one thing the baby boomers are retiring after putting their money into the casinos known as super funds.The next generation behind them are so up to their necks in debt and time poor they either don`t have the time to source out alternative points of view or don`t care and are blinded by the MSM.Most of the ” Y ” generation have little or no clue as to how many of the structures in society got to be as they are today and so take it for granted as just the way it is and though many of them might not like it they submit to it
    We live in a society that tell us that we will better ourselves by attaining wealth and a higher education for which there are no jobs and a debt you cannot pay.
    The whole democratic system has become and probably always has been a tool for those with the money to manipulate it
    This planet has not in the last two thousand years had a real democracy where people actually have power to make a real change through the process of power.It only ever happens at the end of an era and after a collapse of some or all of the structures in a society and those structures,in this one, are the financial ones creating money out of thin air and backing it with a promise written on a piece of paper as to the agreed value of those assets.Which works…………..until no body wants to or can afford to pay the agreed value
    in the meantime everyone has a form of slavery imposed from the top down but that is what happens when you let someone else rule your life for you
    They are called leaders and the only reason they lead is so as you will go where they want you to………………………SERVITUDE…! !

    But no one actually sees it
    The earth is 4.5 billion yrs old. Do you think we are the first. I bet we make the same mistakes.

  44. Sir ScotchMistery

    Michael we need a spam bot..

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