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Tag Archives: Arts

The Economy Is A Flesh-Eating Spider With Wings – Special Offer One Week Only!

“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

George E. P. Box

Scotty Morrison’s recent analogy got me thinking about analogies.

I mean, for years we’ve been told that running the government is like running a household. You can’t keep putting things on the credit card, because you’re paying excessively high rates of interest, so that means you should never borrow anything and pay cash for your house. Or something like that. Mind you, government’s borrow at much lower rates of interest, the ever-mentioned credit card is itself an analogy!

Well, after years of trying to get my head around which household has several million unrelated people in it, plus companies that come in, use our stuff and then leave without offering anything in return, I discover that there’s more to government than just staying at home doing nothing.

Government – according to our Treasurer – is also like a drive with the family. The driver doesn’t want anyone asking annoying questions like “Where are we going?” or “How will we get there?” or “How did Tony get out of the boot and what’s he doing on the bonnet of the car?”

Analogies are good for explaining things, but they break down if you try to examine them in more detail. As I said to my wife, “Think of me like Brad Pitt.” Of course, when she asked why, I explained that I was taking a leaf out of the Liberals book and just using an analogy, but she insisted on pointing out that Brad Pitt was good looking and wealthy at which point the analogy broke down as did I.

So, if the Liberals want to use an analogy that’s fine, but it’s no substitute for an actual explanation. If I want to suggest that you think of the economy as giant flesh-eating spider with wings, then I’ll probably be asked in what way. When I suggest that it’s scary and we don’t want it to get out of control, then the analogy still makes sense. Even suggesting clipping its wings can make sense, if I’m talking about unrestrained growth.

However, when I make the mistake of thinking of the economy as an actual giant spider and don’t move back into the real world, then I can hardly be surprised if people with arachnophobia refuse to participate in the workforce. Similarly, I shouldn’t keep talking about spiders and at some point, I have to explain how this translates into the real world.

To return to the Liberal idea of the household budget, it’s one of those things that sounds good, but bears about as much relationship to an actual economic policy as my mythical eight-legged creature. Even in terms of their own analogy, there are times when a household should go into debt. Gaining qualifications that enable one to get a well-paying job is an obvious example. Buying the house may be another. And, if the Liberals get it through the Senate, paying for one’s pathology bills.

But the one thing that they constantly ignore in their use of the idea of “living within your means” is that all government expenditure leads to some return in the form of revenue for the government. It may not cover it all straight away, but if you create opportunities for people to work or train, it eventually adds to the tax base. Similarly, if you cut these opportunities then eventually you restrict your revenue in the future.

Think of it like a car, you need to put a certain amount of petrol in, or you won’t make it to the next petrol station, so it’s not a matter of saying petrol’s too expensive this year unless you plan to stop driving altogether and become one of Joe’s poor people. (There’s one that’s almost simple enough for the Liberals.)

(Relax! Competition will mean that pathology companies don’t put their prices up, and adding 5% to the GST won’t lead to higher prices either and Santa will bring all the presents this year so you needn’t buy any!)

For a party that’s slashing so much out of the Arts, they seem great at using metaphors and analogies instead of actually talking about policies. And when you add in all that fiction about what good economic managers they are, it’s a wonder that they don’t see the value of the Arts.

Just in case you haven’t noticed what the Liberals have done to the Arts becuase you’ve been distracted by what they’re doing with bulk-billing, I’ve included this short video from the Arts Party.



Progressive Social Politics and the Arts

When I was studying for my Dip of Fine Arts I often used to say, when we were discussing its history, that “Art in all its forms, dance, music, drama, painting or other genre, is but a reflection of society”.

A ‘class’ fascination for me was trying to identify the political leanings of my fellow students. Invariably when they spoke about their work, it was apparent that those producing works with a social objective, or commitment to social justice were always of the left. As for me, I always confronted the class and told them that if art was not commenting on society then it was not contributing toward it.

The arts is about broadening human horizons, lifting people up, and opening their eyes and hearts to the glories of existence. Simply put, it is easier to be creative if you are sensitive to the human condition. Art over many centuries has reflected the society in which it found itself. From ancient Aboriginal painting to Pablo Picasso’s depiction of war in his work Guernica, which was a powerful political statement about the Spanish war. The Russians and Germans made art a general tool of propaganda.

Then there was early Christian art that portrayed arguably the worlds first socialist as white and fragile when the reverse was probably the truth.   Throughout history, art has been used in as a means of political persuasion. Art challenges many of society’s deepest assumptions. Look at the persuasive techniques of street art.

In music think about the protest songs of the 60s and the rap singers of today. Think about the environmental lyrics of John Denver and the working class words of Bruce Springsteen. The protest songs of Dylan, Billy Brag and Joan Baez.

In literature the writing of John Steinbeck whose book “The Grapes of Wrath” changed my life and the leftist writing of Australian poet Henry Lawson? Other notable Australian leftist writers include Thomas Keneally, Patrick White, Marcus Clark, Frank Hardy, Manning Clark, and Martin Flanagan.

And it should not be forgotten that the Australian film industry might never have gotten of the ground but for the efforts of the left wing Philip Adams and Labor legend Barry Jones.

Civil rights had no greater champion than the black entertainer and actor than Harry Belafonte. And Edward G Robinson was the prince of Hollywood Lefties.

In my observation and experience people from the creative arts, be they writers, actors, painters, sculptors, poets, musicians or from whatever genre, predominately come from the left. They tend to be more sensitive to the marginalised and social issues like the environment, equality, gay rights (and a fair portion are indeed gay) and are more open minded about such issues.

Their views are more humanitarian and empathetic. Artists are not afraid to speak through their work and readily accept the challenges of change and its consequences. Artists see possibilities and opportunities that others do not.

The left side of politics has always attracted those from the arts because there is a mutual philosophical co existence and understanding of what human nature is.

There are entertainers, writers and artists who would define themselves as conservative or “right-wing” but they are in the minority. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Clint Eastwood (who also plays jazz piano) Bruce Willis, Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan and Sonny Bono come to mind.

On the other hand the right in Western democracies can only see the arts through the prism of capitalism and profit. Rightists only see the arts as a means for social display and as a source of commodities to be bought and sold for profit (like everything else). They instinctively resent and despise those morally and spiritually superior to them.

That’s the real reason behind the rights contempt for the arts, and their crude vindictiveness as witnessed by George Brandis’s attempt to take over the arts budget and place 105 million dollars of it under his control.

Censorship of art & entertainment is, historically, a socially conservative trait.

There is no greater illustration in political history of the rights attitude to the arts than when, in the 1950s USA, junior Republican Senator, Joe McCarthy accused 10 innocent Hollywood writers of having connections to the Communist Party. It snowballed to the point where the slightest suggestion of association ended many entertainers’ careers and left a dark stain, on American political history.

Many had to go to England to further their careers. The events of the time were later encapsulated in the movie “The Way we Were”.

Notable names included as communists were: Helen Keller, Leonard Bernstein, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Artie Shaw, Zero Mostel , Charlie Chaplin, Langston Hughes, Orson Welles, Dolores del Rio, Danny Kaye, Dorothy Parker, Lena Horne, Gypsy Rose Lee, Burgess Meredith, Ruth Gordon, Eddie Albert, Richard Attenborough, Barbara Bel Geddes.

Chaplin had this to say:

“…Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America’s yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States.”

I suspect that if a poll was taken of prominent actors, writers, musicians and other artists etc. in Australia prior to any election 90% would pledge their support for Labor, and 10% for the Greens. The only way the arts will ever increase its funding by Conservative Governments is to convince them that it’s profitable. In a way it’s like the advertising industry which is dominated by capitalists but creatively inspired by the leftish artistic directors..

Artists and the left exist in a natural marriage of ideological compassion and understanding that speaks of protest of dissent of change of charity and challenge but most of all for the common good. The creative arts shares its values and social democracy exists for the same reason.


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