“Functional stupidity: A general reluctance to self-reflect, question our assumptions, and reason about the consequences of our actions. Although this may increase productivity in the short term (making it ‘functional’), it reduces creativity and critical thinking in the long term.” from “The Intelligence Trap: Revolutionise your Thinking and Make Wiser Decisions” by David Robson
Ok, maybe there are better terms than “functional stupidity” for what the Liberals are currently doing but it’ll have to do. Not being in Australia at the moment means that I only hear about what’s going on when I actually go to the trouble of looking it up, and away from the constant noise of the campaign, certain things become obvious.
The first is that while Bill Shorten seems to be singing about his plans for the future, the Liberals seem to stuck on the “Everything is Labor’s Fault” tune. Ok, it was a hit for them once way back in the seventies, and every few years it makes a nostalgic comeback, but really their chorus of “We’re the better economic managers” always wears a little thin once they’ve been in power for more than two elections and they expect us to still join in.
However, the second point may not be quite so obvious when your subject to the cacophony of the combined Liberal/Murdoch Media choir all singing in unison, though not in tune.
What happens when the future happens?
Now I know that people have really short memories and that the fact that someone is wrong, doesn’t seem to bother them when the prognosticator has another go. How else would racehorse tipsters still be employed. Or economists for that matter. As someone once observed an economists are people who get paid large amounts of money to explain why their forecasts were wrong.
Which brings me to Josh Frydenberg’s statement that his Budget “Surplus” is something that hadn’t happened for over ten years. I’m pretty sure you’re wrong there, Joshie baby, because it happened in 2012. Wayne Swan announced a Budget surplus for the next financial year. True, it didn’t eventuate. But essentially that’s exactly what Frydenberg has done. Of course, I’m sure the difference – the Liberals will tell you – is that they will deliver it, whereas Wayne Swan got it wrong because the Treasury forecasts had to be revised. Now that the Liberals are back in charge, Treasury forecasts can be relied on with more confidence because while Treasury is still Treasury, their forecasts suddenly become rock solid under a Liberal government… Ok, Treasury has still got it wrong every years since Hockey’s first Budget, but that’s no reason to think they’ll be wrong this time… And by the way, a racing tipster says that Number 5 in Race 3 is a sure thing…
Yep, the Liberals are thinking ahead with this one and they’ve got their line of attack worked out when Labor are elected and a surplus fails to eventuate. Of course, it may be a minor problem if they were re-elected, but at least they’ll be the winners and isn’t that what counts. After all, if you’re not the government, you can’t give your mates jobs or put them on boards… Or help them get amounts of money that I can’t mention because a certain minister is sending out a flood of legal letters due to some scurrilous accusations that must clearly be false or surely the mainstream media would have printed something instead of spending more time on Married At First Sight.
Yes, there’s only so long you can say this is a work in progress and after the next election, there’ll be no need to blame Labor because we’ve fixed things. The surplus announcement means that you’re in the same boat as Swan if it doesn’t eventuate. “Yes, well, we predicted a surplus that didn’t eventuate, but unlike him, we’re better economic managers and the only reason that ours didn’t eventuate was that the forecasts were wrong…”
Now I’d like to say before I go on that I’ve sometimes been accused of just writing Labor propaganda and that I’m just a leftie hack. Let me make it quite clear that I look forward to the day when Labor has done something that’s annoyed me so much that it hasn’t been trumped by the Liberals before I actually get around to writing about it. Yes, Labor has disappointed me. The Greens have disappointed me. But I must honestly say that the Liberals haven’t disappointed me any time this century. They’ve pretty much done what I expected…
Having said that, I must say that their election campaign so far is bordering on the sort of functional stupidity that makes me wonder if they’ve thought beyond the counting of the votes.
Let’s for a wild moment presume that the opinion polls are somewhere near correct and that Labor will win. Not everyone is interested in politics so when the Liberals tell us that there’s going to be a tax on new cars and that we’ll all be forced to drive electric cars, some people will believe it. Similarly, a lot of people who get franking credits won’t have read the fine print and they may hostile to Labor because they’re expecting to lose money. Some don’t realise that negative geared properties will be grandfathered so it’s only future properties that can’t be negatively geared. And it’s only old properties. A new property can be negatively geared.
All in all, some of these people are going to be pleasantly surprised that the Labor government isn’t going to be “the end of the world” as Terry McCrann wrote. Literally. That was what he suggested. I often wonder if journalists – and I use the word loosely – in the Murdoch stable have great senses of humour and have bets with themselves to see who can come up with the stupidest article and still get published. Or whether they really would make a less suitable Malcolm Roberts replacement in the Senate than Fraser Anning
Many of the people who believed the scare campaign suddenly go, Hey, this Labor government isn’t so bad and rather than a backlash they actually get a bounce at the next election. One only has to look at the Victorian election to see an example of that.
Nothing’s certain. Yes, it’s true that nobody asks Barnaby about the $100 lamb roasts. But I doubt that he’ll try that one again.
Still, we are talking about a man who said that he’d still be happy to be Deputy PM just a short time after being forced to resign in disgrace.
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