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Fear boosts ratings

There are, and always will be, things we should be concerned about, things we should be working to improve, but they get lost in the political misinformation deliberately fed to us by a government that lacks any integrity, a government who chooses to confect crises and then boast about saving us from dangers that either never existed or were greatly exaggerated, or are entirely of their own making.

The great Debt and Deficit Disaster that we faced going into the 2013 election has miraculously disappeared (even though the debt has more than doubled) and been replaced by good debt and bad debt. Apparently, when the Labor government invested in stimulating the economy, keeping people in work through the global financial crisis, that was bad debt, but borrowing $400 billion to spend on war machines is good debt.

Scott Morrison’s suggestion that they exploit the community’s ignorance and fear about Islam has been enthusiastically embraced and expanded into a full-blown jihad on Muslims. There are increasingly loud calls to ban the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the construction of their places of worship and even their travel to our country.

Asylum seekers, instead of being welcomed to a place of safety, have been portrayed as bludgers ripping off our generosity, even as we incarcerate them indefinitely in hellholes where they are beaten and raped, and as we continue to bomb their homelands. Refugees are now economic migrants wearing designer sunglasses who will simultaneously take your job and languish on welfare. It’s their fault you are stuck in traffic jams or in hospital waiting rooms. That’s why we are spending tens (if not hundreds) of billions to keep them from coming here.

Speaking of welfare, the system is rife with cheats apparently. Cheats like me who, when asked to make an estimate of their future earnings, sometimes get it wrong and have to pay some back. No doubt there are a few who deliberately make fraudulent claims but they wouldn’t make the tiniest scratch on the company tax that we miss out on through legal(?) loopholes.

We can’t afford the age pension so everyone must work until they are 70 or the country will go broke. Forget the tax concessions given to people who invest in superannuation – they are lifters so shouldn’t have to pay tax.

We should also be really scared about an energy crisis – pensioners will freeze/boil to death because of Blackout Bill, Brownout Butler and No Coal Joel. It’s Labor’s fault, it’s the state government’s fault, it’s renewable energy’s fault, it’s the gas companies fault. Please ignore who actually imposed the moratoriums on fracking and why, ignore who approved the export contracts and who privatised power generation – just get scared and angry. Oh and then grateful when the government has a meeting and calls for a non-binding review.

Marriage equality will, apparently, completely destroy our way of life. Boys will wear dresses and girls will bind their breasts, children will be forced to “celebrate homosexuality” (as opposed to worshipping a mythical being?), cake makers and photographers will be oppressed.

We must be protected from left-wing loony teachers who encourage subversive questions. Direct instruction, rote learning, back to basics, standardised testing, corporal punishment and more truancy officers – that’s the ticket.

Our national broadcaster has been taken over by extreme terrorist-enabling, gender-morphing, unpatriotic ideology. The only way to return to “fair and balanced” reporting is to give pay tv a better deal, some gratuitous cash, and allow Murdoch more reach.

And then there are those job-destroying environmental terrorists using lawfare to impose socialism on us all. Or those un-Australian lawyers who do pro bono work for refugees. Or those activists in legal aid and charities who risk breaking the law or losing funding if they tell the truth. Not to mention wind turbines that make people just sick with worry.

And how remiss of me to get this far without stressing the threat from TERRORISM.

So much to be frightened about.

There was a time when Australians didn’t waste time being afraid. A time when they saw what needed doing and got on with it. A time before politicians and shock jocks decided fear boosts ratings.

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  1. Andrew Smith

    I think what we all complain about are symptoms of what New York magazine’s Jane Mayer investigated and described as the Freedom Works (Tea Part, Koch’s et al.) audit and creation of a ‘media assembly line’ by a minority to influence and shape political policy to advantage vested interests e.g. fossil fuel and related oligarchs; while paying lip service to conservative Christians for their support.

    Started decades ago with focus upon universities (and education curricula), academia and/or think tanks producing the right research, fed to compliant mainstream media, plus Public Service, advocacy groups and to MPs through lobbying, spun negatively in media and picked up by below the line comments i.e. word of mouth (objective of advertising, promotion and PR messaging is to get people talking).

    The outcomes are not just on policy (or avoidance of policy), but it’s about nominating what issues are aired (or not), and how we think, or not. The latter has been impacted by e.g. environmental science becoming more social science, lack of data and critical literacy, academics can promote their pet beliefs, politicians obsess about cultural wedge issues, while there is a consensus of opinions and beliefs in favour of an old status quo.

    Related, CUNY journalism professor Jay Rosen visited Australia 5+ years ago, interviewed by Tony Jones on ABC who was informed that e.g. ABC’s Insiders said it all about lack of diversity and close relationship between media and political establishment (Jones was huffing and puffing in disagreement; while Insiders panel list is mostly pale, male, middle aged and unrepresentative of Australian society’s diversity).

    ‘From a TV programmer’s point of view the advantage of politics-as-entertainment is that the main characters, the politicians themselves, work for free! The media doesn’t have to pay them because taxpayers do. The sets are provided by the government, the plots by the party leaders, back benchers and spin doctors. Politics as problem-solving or consensus-building would be more expensive to cover. Politics as entertainment is simply a low cost alternative’

    Why Political Coverage is Broken

    Finally, most disturbing is how it seems that the same forces in the US (and Anglo world plus old GOP types advising eastern European regimes) are about a fascist conservative nativist Christian theocracy for private corporations, aka 1930s and ‘40s Germany (many conservatives in the Anglo world are now messaging and seem to think Merkel, like the EU, is the root of all evil for welcoming refugees and/or immigrants?).

    According to former theologian and NY Times journalist Chris Hedges it’s through changing language or meaning (in Oz ‘immigrant’ has been conflated and inflated to become negative), creating siege mentality, unnoticed incremental policy steps (seen in UK with demands over years for reporting of ‘foreigners’ by landlords, doctors etc. to authorities, and now deportations):

    ‘“The split in America, rather than simply economic, is between those who embrace reason, who function in the real world of cause and effect, and those who, numbed by isolation and despair, now seek meaning in a mythical world of intuition, a world that is no longer reality-based, a world of magic.”

  2. Matters Not

    … was a time when Australians didn’t waste time being afraid.

    Perhaps? But it must have been before my time. (LOL). I grew up with maps of Australia overlaid with red arrows signifying an imminent communist Chinese invasion. … then there was the fear of hell and damnation. Not to mention …

    And so on.

    (A great comment by Andrew Smith. Particularly the links.)

  3. Zathras

    Hardly a day goes by without some tabloid TV programme warning us about some everyday item that could kill, maim or make us sick.
    The newspapers do it all the time as a matter of course.

    The commercial media does it because frightened people are more likely to spend their money implusively “to fill that hole” in their lives.

    Politicians do it as a means of distraction and control.

    Goering said “The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

    The term War on Terror was intended to generate a culture of fear deliberately because it “obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue”. (Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski)

    Ever since the days of Crassus pursuing Spartacus in ancient Rome and relieved citizens gratefully surrendering various freedoms in return, it has been that way and probably always will be.

    How many personal freedoms and legal rights have we given up in the last 20 years?
    How much more power have politicians taken for themselves?

  4. paul walter

    Speaking of fear-mongering and “terrorism”, the stand out phenomena in reportage involving the Los Vegas massacre derives of the semantic and intellectual knots reporters have tied themselves in, to avoid describing this monstrosity as “terrorism”.

    No, it is not “terrorism” because it didn’ t involve leftists or mossies?

    When are these people going to give us a break?

  5. Terry2

    Last night I saw the first of the government’s TV advertisements assuring us that prompt government action has staved off a looming energy crisis following their meetings with the gas companies and having them agree to sell their surplus gas on the domestic market and offer less opaque agreements – no mention of lower prices, however. It also shows how proactive they have been in rolling out alternative renewable energy technologies including Snowy 2.0 and acres of solar panels as far as the eye can see.

    Precisely as you noted, Kaye a government who chooses to confect crises and then boast about saving us from dangers that either never existed or were greatly exaggerated, or are entirely of their own making.

    And we the taxpayers are funding this advertising that paints a government who cannot agree on an energy policy as a white knight riding in to save us all from summer blackouts.

    I have no problem with the Liberal Party indulging in self serving advertising and promoting their own interests even if they are deceptively misleading but what I object to is having to foot the bill for this flim flam. I feel as though I’ve been suckered by these snake-oil hucksters.

  6. stephentardrew

    Spot on Kaye the fear mongers at work on overtime.

    We were taught to stand against fear and look to the future with courage and the goal of a better society. Today everything is a threat and only corrupt greed infested governments can save us by perpetrating even more fear and doom.

    Meanwhile the populace are scared of their shadows they increase inequality and reduce wages and conditions while eviscerating public services and welfare.

    Frightened people are their own worst enemy.

    We unionist were not averse to fight and go on strike for what is just and equitable where else did improved work conditions come from?

    Control peoples autonomic visceral subconscious drives through fear and you have a compliant populace ready to believe any fake narrative especially economic. The fearful debt narrative first amongst them.

    We are living the great neoliberal, neoclassical lie driven by unnecessary fear simply to redistribute wealth upwards.

  7. Kaye Lee

    And yet the one existential threat that we should be concerned about, climate change, has disappeared from the lexicon.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Has Malcolm Turnbull made a statement about the Las Vegas shooting?

    Whenever an overseas terrorist attack is carried out by a Muslim he is quick to front the media. Where is he now?

  9. helvityni

    People are fearful, anxious and argumentative…

    There’s a paedophile behind every bush, into to the mummy’s big car kids, even though the school is just around the corner..
    Neighbour’s ten year old daughter takes a timid little ride up to gate and back and wears a helmet, mum anxiously watching…
    Scared of fluoride, worried about what deceases the farmers get from tank water…
    We have to worry about too much fat in the daily bread, we drink bland soya lattes and avoid ordinary milk…
    Coca Cola, filled with sugar is safe because it’s cleaner than our water and it comes from USA…
    We fear telling kids and friends that they are getting obese, because we might lower their self esteem, even though it’s a health issue…

    With all those many DAILY worries, we are well-trained in the art of worrying, no wonder we are such an easy target for our governments’ fear campaigns, We can’t let those Armani clad asylum seekers to go to NZ, it’s too close to home, they’ll come back terrorise us, pay-back…
    We better check what those fourteen year old Muslim boys are texting about…

    We forget about that for many women and children ,the most dangerous place is their home…oh, that’s domestic violence, not terrorism…
    So we spend our money on the latter, and hope the other disappears..

    Of little fears, big fears grow…

  10. Frank Smith

    I fully agree with your comments on that deceptive message from our Coalioin Government that is airing on TV. What a load of twaddle. What important information is it supposed to convey to the Australian people that would justify the use of taxpayers dollars on a prime-time TV splurge? And where has this Federal Government built all those acres of solar farms? Is this another example of the Finance Minister using his “contingency fund” to finance another “unforeseen emergency” they have confected? Don’t bother to ask the Supreme Court though!

  11. Wam

    Oh kaye what a read! Right up there with ‘it was a dark and stormy night’. It is sad to decry those who know how australians think and use that information to their advantage. Truth is what is believed and the rabbott made us believe little billy doesn’t have the luxury of automatic media support but he doesn ‘t use what he has. QED

  12. Michael Taylor

    Just saw this comment on Facebook:

    Travelling on an inter-city train last weekend I was reminded by a friendly recording which played at 15 minute intervals, to be on the lookout for terrorism and anything suspicious.

  13. Kronomex

    As a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we had the shadow of the atomic umbrella over our heads. Now I have more fear of the LNP umbrella opening over us and dragging into darkness what little democracy we have left.

  14. Johno

    Then there is the sharks. How dare they try and eat a human. When I go kayaking I am on the look out for suspicious looking sharks. The worst are the ones that pretend to be dolphins.

  15. roma guerin

    Oh Kaye. You have covered all the bases. I am damned if I am going to fall for it though.

  16. jamesss

    The gangsters (govt) use good marketing practices to create their required chaos. As revealed in the comments above. The NLP are obviously not in charge, those that are, are at war with you. They know there is very little time left and will do as much damage as possible and are imitating a terrorist organization through their treatment of our Australian society.

  17. win jeavons

    I watched Q&A last night, but gave up in the end because no one addressed the basic question ” what sort of society do we want to be, assuming dramatic climate changes give us a choice?” , gushing over exciting new jobs that might/might not exist, and who will be competent to do them is useless unless we decide what work is necessary or possible in the future . Yes we need STEM but we will need philosophers and ethicists as well and informed citizens to choose leaders and governments who are not trying to ‘ put new wine into old bottles” i.e. use a failed economic system to poke workers into these new imagined jobs. Teaching civic responsibility and social behaviour is more vital than any amount of coding , which seems to be designed to make wealth for some at the expense of the many.. After all remember the computer was supposed to usher in the paperless society. Didn’t happen We were all going to have more leisure; So now the unemployed have to scurry after nonexistent or miserable jobs, to fill their time “usefully” and others find that they work many hours more than is good for their health or family life! Leisure? in the nursing home , maybe. We need a much deeper discussion about work, and life before we rabbit off like this.

  18. Andrew Smith

    win jeavons I agree, cannot watch Q&A as it is all about raising emotions, many issues cannot be analysed or presented verbally (especially when needing data), and too much opinion and even astro turfing can occur with dodgy input or comments being dropped into the narrative, unchallenged, then they stick…..

    Many don’t realise that Q&A is a knock off of BBC’s Question Time which I sometimes watch with amusement, especially as one has no skin in the game or the UK 🙂

    There is a very good documentary by Adam Curtis ‘Century of the Self’ BBC (2002)

    I don’t agree with all his views on ‘business’, and using focus groups makes sense if done ethically to learn from people. However, how focus groups migrated from Freud’s psycho-analysis then via his daughter and nephew (Anna and Edward Bernays, the founder of PR) to corporate marketing or advertising and then to political PR is disturbing; learn what society, the electorate and one’s own constituency fears and then use it against them i.e. scare them into voting for you (but leads to ever decreasing circles).

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