For democracy to function with anything approaching efficiency, the people who choose our representatives need to know the truth about the challenges facing us, have some understanding of the pros and cons of varying approaches towards dealing with issues, and should be given the choice between candidates who are capable of understanding, prioritising, and acting on solutions.
The sad fact is that, whilst we go through the motions of having elections, most voters are poorly informed, media and lobby groups distort the truth, political parties will do whatever it takes to gain power, and preselections and positions are bestowed on fellow travellers for their factional loyalty rather than their competence.
The latest quarterly update on greenhouse gas emissions was released on Friday. In amongst a lot of spin about per capita emissions and declines from the 2007 peak, there were two important sentences in this report:
Emissions for the year to March 2019 are up 0.6 per cent on the previous year.
Australia’s emissions for the year to March 2019 were 0.5 per cent above emissions in 2000.
If our emissions are above those in 2000 and have continued the trend of rising every year since abolishing the carbon price, we CANNOT meet our 2020 emissions reduction target.
Sure, we can bullshit about carryover credits and something about cantering, but the government’s own report demonstrates once again what crap that is.
We see the same message massacring from the ABS who, they assure us with no coercion from the government, decided to put a positive spin on inequality with a feel-good media release titled “Inequality stable since 2013–14”.
That too is, of course, crap.
Wealth inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient, “is at its peak now (0.621) since it was first comprehensively measured in 2003-04 (0.573)”, a phrase that was deleted from the draft copy after a direction to “focus on income over wealth”.
Another media release was engagingly titled “Average household wealth tops $1 million”. That’s the great thing about averages – a few billionaires make it sound like we are all going along just tickety-poo. Until you get to the part that says “the lowest 20% controlled less than 1 per cent of all household wealth, with average wealth currently at $35,200”, while “the wealthiest 20% of households still held over 60% of all household wealth, now averaging $3.2 million per household”.
And all policy settings are designed to keep that trend going. We can apparently afford tax cuts and a range of tax concessions for wealthy investors but we cannot afford to increase Newstart payments or provide affordable housing.
Wherever you look, we are being manipulated by messaging. The idea that, unless we persecute a hard-working Sri Lankan couple and their two baby daughters, our navy, air force and border force will be unable to repel an invasion by fishing boats, is beyond ridiculous.
The apathy brought about by the safety and comfort we have enjoyed in this country has led to an acceptance by the majority of the population of these massacred messages. The truth has been obscured by spin. No longer do we hear genuine debate about opposing ideas informed by factual evidence – we hear propaganda designed to maintain the power and privilege of the few.
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