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Literally doesn’t mean literally anymore, and the Conservatives have been Radicals since the 80s

The word ‘literally’ has been redefined in the Oxford English Dictionary – to include what is widely accepted as the ‘wrong’ definition.The dictionary has altered their definition of ‘literally’ to include two contradictory meanings. They cite the word as meaning both ‘in a literal way or sense’ or the opposite meaning, ‘used for emphasis rather than being actually true’.

con·serv·a·tive Noun – A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in politics.

“The Lenin Dam, on the Dnieper River in modern Ukraine, was the world’s largest when it was commissioned in the late 1920s. Palchinsky was unmoved by its scale. Stalin’s brainchild it might be, but he warned that the river was too slow and, on a flood plain, the reservoir would be huge and would swamp many thousands of homes and much prime farming land. Nobody knew how much, he pointed out, because no hydrological surveys had been carried out; but the reservoir eventually proved to be so large that simply growing hay on the land it had covered and burning it in a power plant would have generated as much energy as the dam did”

From “Adapt” by Tim Harford

So why are we still calling the Coalition “conservatives”. Yes, it’s true that many oppose certain changes like the Republic or Gay Marriage, but when it comes to the economy they introduced “WorkChoices”. Whether or not you agree with them, the constant demand for “reform” is hardly conservative. In government, they have abolished institutions like the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and privatised many state-owned institutions. These are not “conservative” acts.

However, it was today when I was reading about the problems of the Soviet economy, that it hit me. In spite of their rhetoric, they don’t really embrace a free market economy either. The mistakes of the Stalinist Soviets sound like something out of the Liberals’ playbook when it comes to major projects. Sure, they’re all not state-run, and as far as possible projects are farmed out to private industry, but that’s about where the differences end. All the other stuff – refusal to listen to experts, secrecy, the attempt to silence critics -sound exactly like the Victorian Government’s decision to build the East-West Link. “Yes, we made a decision, got Tony Abbott to agree to fund it, after that we created a business case, but you can’t see that because it’s confidential, and we’re passing legislation to prevent people from protesting too much.”

Ok, I’ll concede that Stalin was a little more extreme when responding to critics, but the point remains that when you start with your decision, ignore criticism and call checks and balances “unnecessary red tape”, the possibility of poor decisions becomes greater, before we even mention the potential for corruption.

The Liberals promote the free market and non-Government intervention, but when Labor introduce a paid maternity leave scheme (when does that get mentioned in discussions???), they promise even more. They levy Big Business (“It’s a levy, we don’t tax”) and unlike the Carbon Tax, there’s no mention of this being passed on to consumers, to give people a benefit based on what they were earning. We’re told that this is only fair. After all, sick leave and holiday pay are based on the person’s income. (Using this logic, should we expect that unemployment benefits should also be in line with what a person was earning?) This is promoted after Joe Hockey’s “We have to end the Age of Entitlement” speech.

The more I hear from the Liberals, the more I feel as though we’ve fallen into a sort “through the looking glass” sort of world, where their own stated values have nothing to do with their actions.

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