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Why is there so much anger?

By Ad astra

No matter when we listen to the news, watch TV, or browse social media, the pervading emotion in so many items is anger, unremitting anger.

We see it in the wars in the Middle East and among terrorist organizations. We are told it is what motivates individual terrorists.

Social commentators insist it is what motivates gangs of youths to invade homes, terrorize families and steal luxury cars in our big cities. It is prevalent within our indigenous communities.

We see it among the protesters in US cities where police officers have gunned down black people, and affronted citizens have retaliated by shooting police.

We see it in America where support for the mavericks Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is attributed by political commentators to intense anger within the electorate directed towards the political establishment, which is seen as not listening to voters’ pleas, unaware of their plight, indifferent to their needs, out of touch with ordinary people, simply focused on its own agenda and power struggles.

People support Trump and Sanders because they are angry with Washington, angry about the way it goes about its business, angry that they languish while politicians and their wealthy backers prosper, angry because the politicians don’t seem to care. They want a voice, and they want the politicians to listen. It’s Trump’s and Sanders’ anti-establishment stance that attracts people to them. They promise to change the prevailing culture, which is what the voters want, now more than ever. In his acceptance speech at the recent Republican Convention in Cleveland, tellingly Trump shouted: “I am your voice”.

George Lakoff has penned a fascinating piece: Understanding Trump. Addressing the question of how Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, he says: “There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?” Lakoff goes on, in the words of a linguist and cognitive scientist, to elucidate. His long article is well worth a read. Using the language of framing, he develops his argument around his ‘Strict Father’ model of parenting, which he demonstrates Trump is using to appeal to conservatives.

We see anger in our cities here in Australia. Some are angry about immigration, particularly Muslim immigrants; others are angry about racism. Some are angry about 457 visa workers taking Australian jobs. Others are angry about politics, policies and politicians.

We see anger in our parliaments too. Political opponents attack one another venomously. What the opponent suggests or does is always wrong, stupid, self-serving, or poorly thought through. Adversarial discourse overwhelms any talk of cooperation; indeed, an offer to collaborate, such as was made post-election by Bill Shorten, makes it into the breaking-news headlines!

We see anger in our institutions where conflict too often despoils the worthy agendas they are pursuing.

We see it among disadvantaged groups: the homeless, the poor, the unemployed, young people unable to afford a house, parents of students at underprivileged schools, the LGBTI community, indigenous people and communities, all of whom feel left behind, excluded from the privileges and bounty this rich country affords so many others, disenfranchised with no voice to protest, with no power to effect change.

It is social injustice that is the root of all of this. Inequity, unfairness, disadvantage, the over-abundance of have-nots in our wealthy society, and the experience of marginalisation that induces anger, and in extreme cases radicalisation and violence..

In April I wrote Inequality will be a hot button issue at this election. It was not apparent as a strident issue during the campaign; instead it manifested itself as simmering anger about the emptiness of the Coalition’s policy of ‘Jobs and Growth’, predicated as it was on giving a tax break to big business. The ordinary folk were sceptical that any benefit would trickle down to them.

They were angry that the beneficiaries of the corporate tax cut included the big banks, whose unethical behaviour is well known to us all, and the multinationals, whose tax avoidance is legendary. They remembered the ‘Panama Papers’ that exposed the tax havens so many use.

They were angry that the big boys were to get the breaks they did not need or deserve, while the little man in the street had to wait, hoping some of the oats the horses were to be fed would eventually end up in the manure on the street, from which they might take their pickings.

They realised the ‘Jobs and Growth’ mantra was a fraud. They were angry that PM Turnbull, Treasurer Morrison, Finance Minister Cormann, and all the ‘little Sir Echoes’ in the Coalition, were selling them a pup.

They showed their anger by voting for other parties and independents to the point that the LNP just scraped over the line ahead of the others; unable to legitimately claim it had a mandate for the tax breaks. In all likelihood the best the LNP will achieve is a tax cut for genuinely small businesses.

The rush to support independents, particularly in the Senate, was another sign of the voters’ anger with the major parties. They were determined to put roadblocks in the way of the unfair legislation proposed by the Coalition. Even Coalition members were angry with some of it – the superannuation changes – that they saw as unfair to their constituency. They are threatening to force amendments on a PM and Treasurer unwilling to forego the revenue the changes would generate.

The anger among Coalition members extended to the marriage equality issue, which the arch conservatives want to abort and defeat, and also to what they saw as under-representation of the conservative clique in the ministry.

Anger is everywhere. It derives from a sense of injustice, a feeling of unfairness, a perception of inequity.

We saw hard evidence of inequality last week in the ABS ’HILDA’ report The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: (2016). The data-rich report in pdf format can be accessed here.

It showed that the wealth of the over-65 year olds had increased over the last decade while that of the young had remained static. The wealth gap has widened. Here’s what it said:

“Wealth typically accumulates over the lifecycle (at least up until retirement), so it is unsurprising that there are large differences in median wealth by age group. In all four years in which wealth data has been collected, median wealth is lowest for the youngest age group, and increases in age up to the 55–64 age group. Prior to 2014, the median wealth of people aged 65 years and over was less than that of those aged 45–54, but in 2014 the median wealth of the 65 and over age group had overtaken the median wealth of those aged 45–54.

“This reflects the very strong growth in median wealth between 2002 and 2014 for the 65 and over age group, with the median increasing by 61.2%. Growth was also strong for the 55–64 age group (39.1%), but much weaker for the younger age groups.”

In recent times, fewer young people have been able to acquire a home. It is predicted that soon less than half of Australian families will own a home. Here are the details:

“…the decline in home ownership has been concentrated on those aged under 55. Home ownership among persons aged 25–34 declined from 38.7% in 2002 to 29.2% in 2014, with much of the decline occurring between 2010 and 2014. Among persons aged 35–44, home ownership declined from 63.2% to 52.4%, and among persons aged 45–54, it declined from 75.6% to 67.4%. There was also a slight decline in home ownership among persons aged 55–64, from 75.1% in 2002 to 72.9% in 2014. There was essentially no change in home ownership among those aged 65 and over.”

When it came to investment housing, the statistics were stark:

“… owners of investment housing are predominately in the top two income quintiles… In 2006, 70.3% of owners were in the top two quintiles and a further 14.5% were in the middle quintile… Over 50% of owners are in the top wealth quintile, and over three-quarters are in the top two quintiles. Thus, the evidence from the HILDA Survey is that owners of investment housing are relatively affluent from both an income and a wealth perspective.”

Increasing inequality is a cancer in the body of our society. Unless it is reduced, anger and dissatisfaction continues to grow. Like cancer, it spreads. Joseph Stiglitz has written about inequality for years. His book The Price of Inequality is a classic. He advances hard evidence that increasing inequality breeds anger and social disruption.

Much of the anger and aggression, much of the terrorist activity we see abroad, and sadly much of the antisocial behaviour we see in our own country, is a direct result of feelings of inequity – about income, wealth, housing, unemployment, opportunity, and social justice.

Here is what the HILDA study reported:

“There is a clear and unsurprising ordering of deprivation by labour force status, with the unemployed faring worst and the full-time employed faring best. Likewise, deprivation is strongly ordered by income quintile and is strongly connected with receipt of income support.

“Indigenous people have very high rates of deprivation…and…there is a very strong relationship between disability and deprivation, which is highest for individuals with a severe work restriction and lowest for individuals with no disability…”

Those who are unemployed, disabled, or feel deprived and dispossessed, who feel left behind, who feel they are swimming against the tide and getting nowhere or going backwards while others get the goodies and prosper, justifiably feel angry and seek to reverse their disadvantage.

Too often the system thwarts their best endeavours. Eventually they revolt as anger and frustration boils over. Then the ‘authorities’ come down on them heavily, thereby exacerbating their anguish. The ‘law and order’ advocates see more punishment as the solution, whereas what is really needed is more equity, greater fairness, better opportunities, more empathy, and consistent encouragement and uplifting. It is telling that Trump now styles himself as ‘the law and order’ presidential candidate!

How can we achieve equity and fairness in our Australian society, one so blessed with riches and opportunity?

Not through legislation that advantages those who have the most at the expense of those who have the least, not by bolstering the top end of town, not by keeping the poor and disadvantaged in their inferior position.

Only when the needs of all our citizens are acknowledged, only when income, wealth and housing are more evenly distributed, only when opportunity is available to all who can benefit, only when inequality is minimised, will the anger gradually ease, and its effects become less violent.

If we want to live in a tranquil tolerant society, free from the fear of unrest, social disruption, violence and terrorism, where we can feel secure and cared for, our governments will need to abandon ideologies that promote disparity and division, and adopt those that foster equality and a fair go for all. They will need to create an agenda that takes care of all our citizens; they will need to focus on values and show empathy for all. Lakoff puts it well in his conclusion: “Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values: empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values…

With the world in the turmoil it is in, is this a vain hope? Maybe, but only we, the ordinary folk, can make a difference. The establishment is a formidable barrier, but it cannot oppress us indefinitely. It is up to us.

What do you think?

What do you think is making people so angry, here and abroad?

How can this anger be assuaged?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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77 comments

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  1. Kaye Lee

    It would be helpful if we stopped electing fools like George Christensen who wants to scrap the superannuation changes and fund it by cutting people off unemployment benefits after six months. Asking the poorest in the country to fund tax concessions for the wealthiest seems to be this government’s MO.

  2. Jaquix

    I watched the last part of the National Press Cub address today, visiting US political commentator PJ O’Rourke I think. He said when people are hugely disappointed in their governments, they form into angry little groups. Must watch it again, he was SO interesting and entertaining and insightful. Esp. About Trump and Hillary.

  3. Jaquix

    Exactly, Kaye! I notice Essential poll (not the best, but an indication just the same) 2 days ago has “voting intention 52% Labor, 48% Coalition. So maybe there is a bit of voter remorse showing up. Also good news that Cathy O’Toole has finished ahead by 35 votes in Herbert, with the recount finished BUT 2nd preferences still to go. Sounds like the born to rules might be very disappointed, a swing of 6.2% against Jones. And MT stays on that nice sharp knife’s edge of 76 seats.

  4. Phil

    Damned interesting post Ad Astra – sums up the situation very well.

    I’m angry at a those older and middle aged Anglo-Australians who see their privileges as a right and who turn a blind eye, or worse, who promote and provoke hatred, injustice, racism and inequality trumpeted from their ivory towers. Radio and newsprint is full of this cohort’s mouthpieces. I am angry at their purposeful subversion of our diverse culture, seeking to bend and mould it into their private comfort zone to protect their privileged lives, and to hell with all others.

    What feeds this is neoliberalism – championed by Thatcher and Reagan and ramped up by every western political leader since – enriching the few, but otherwise a cruel, divisive ideology that even to day remains the guiding ideology of the Murdoch machine, the LNP and its policy arm, the IPA.

    Neoliberalism has perverted our economics and is destroying our social systems and ecosystems. Neoliberalism will not relax its death grip on the national jugular until the LNP is removed from power. The ALP should pay very close attention to policy innovation that takes account of what is making Australians so angry – we don’t want to sack the LNP only to usher in a neoliberal-life version.

    I don’t think the disenfranchised so much as ‘feel’ left behind – rather, I think they ‘know’ they are left behind – and they know that the game is rigged – they know it is meant for them to be left behind – their feelings don’t matter to neoliberalism’s acolytes – only the neoliberal’s own wealth, privilege and power matter.

    Yep, anger it is, and anger it will remain, until at some time soon the lid finally blows and then what??

  5. ozibody

    Very quietly, and throughout the entire campaign, the theme – ” A first term Government deserves a Fair Go ‘” resonated ! Along with constant mention of the previous Government,s ‘revolving door Prime Ministers’ proved enough to sway to / retain a significant percentage in this election.

    Were our Labor Party able to quietly drop the Left, Right, Centre etc. flags and (also quietly) raise a solid and united flag under the banner of Fair Go for all …. demand that all legislation must pass their solid ” For the Benefit of ALL Australians ” criterion .. be it their own or anothers ……. then the door is wide open to slot in with the world wide call for fairness.

    Very interesting times cometh.

  6. astra5

    Kaye
    You are right – Christensen is a gross example of neo-liberal conservative thinking. That he could make such a proposal defies explanation, but then logic and facts are irrelevant when bigotry prevails.

  7. astra5

    Jaquix
    I must find P.J.O’Rourke’s address.

    Today it looks as if Labor will win Herbert. If so, Turnbull sits on an uncomfortable margin.

  8. astra5

    Phil
    Thank you for the compliment.

    You are right. Neoliberals have an inbuilt sense of entitlement. They regard inequality as part of the natural order. Their miscalculation is that those with little will go on accepting their lowly place. They won’t. They are angry and will show that at the ballot box and in the social media. As you say, the resentment will explode eventually, possibly quite soon.

  9. astra5

    ozibody
    I do hope Labor will play the fairness card strongly and continuously. Aussies value ‘the fair go for all’. There’s no need to denigrate their opponents; the contrast between ‘the fair go’ and the neoliberal mindset will be obvious to all, and will erode the small electoral advantage they now have

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    As I said on another AIM Network thread, “…the experts will be the decision makers but ordinary people must be part of the consultation process in community forums, so that the experts design the policies to address the needs of the ordinary people.”

  11. jim

    I still wonder why the voters keep electing this rotten LNP government, they have cut services right across the board, but have given their rich lawyers some very creamy jobs like the TURC= $millions to their lawyers, and for what result here an example of their waste;…. https://www.laborherald.com.au/people-families/magistrate-labels-legal-action-against-union-a-dogs-breakfast/……and now the NT case of abuse in custody $Millions to their lawyers geez wake up to this scheming Liberal party now,already.

  12. Zathras

    Same old story.

    As well as growing inequality, another reason for anger in people are the feelings of personal dissatisfaction, disappointment and powerlessness against everything around them.

    The system they thought was working for them now makes them feel like one of its helpless victims.

    Maybe their lives aren’t turning out as well as they were expecting and somebody somewhere must be to blame.
    “There’s nothing wrong with me so there must be something not right about them”.
    It’s always been that way and probably always will.

    You only have to fool enough people every thousand days or so to keep it all going and we all fall for it every single time.

    Inequality will never be addressed as long as those that benefit from it continue to hold the reins of power.

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    True Zathras,

    hence the need for ordinary people also at the table.

  14. Kaye Lee

    JMS,

    Do you seriously believe that people with absolutely no expertise and no experience and no knowledge of how things work should be deciding on policy? You keep saying this but, in reality, policy making is not for amateurs. That does not mean that ordinary people should not be represented but they should be represented by people who know what they are talking about rather than people off the street who just want to tell their own story. Of course they need representing, but they will be far better represented by groups who have some expertise. If I am sick, I am not going to take advice from anecdotal stories from ordinary people. I want someone who has training and expertise in the area.

    Politicians are ordinary people. Thank Christ we have experts to keep them in check and to advise them. I would much prefer Gillian Triggs and Cassandra Goldie and Tim Costello and John Falzon and union leaders representing us than “ordinary people”.

  15. Matters Not

    The role of ‘experts’ in the democratic process has been debated over many years. Most agree (at the theoretical level at least) that the ‘goals’, the ‘aims’ the ‘outcomes’ should be determined via a democratic process.

    But after those ‘ends’ are agreed upon, the ‘means’ (the how) to achieve what is ‘desirable’ should be left to the ‘experts’. But that’s too simple. Take a ‘macro’ example. It was the scientific ‘experts’ who told us that the climate was warming. It was the scientific ‘experts’ who explained the causes of same and what needed to happen if the warming trend was to be halted (and maybe reversed). So, in a sense, it was the scientific experts who alerted us to a problem, outlined the cause and told us what should be done (cut Carbon Dioxide emissions). That’s where the role of scientific experts expires.

    Now enters the ‘policy making’ phase. Let’s assume that the populace via a democratic process agree that global warming needs to be addressed (yes it’s an assumption, not universally shared). The scientist told us that Carbon Dioxide levels must be reduced. But (apart from the obvious chemical necessities) they don’t provide a policy prescription. That is not their role and besides they have no expertise in the policy making area.

    To cut Carbon Dioxide emissions the policy options are many and varied. We could simply ban the mining of coal. We could ban the burning of coal. We could ban the selling of coal. We could ban the export of coal. All are possible policy responses. Or we could allow all the options just outlined, but impose a financial penalty on those who choose to do any or all of the above. Further, instead of financially penalising those who choose to do any, or all of the above, we could choose to reward those who desist. (A bit like rewarding bank robbers who don’t rob or shop lifters who desist.)

    While scientists can’t tell us the best policy option, there are other experts who can inform us as to the wider implications of any chosen policy. Here ‘expertise’ should always be involved. Economists, sociologists, and other experts have a role to play.

  16. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I like MN’s attempt at explaining my democratic angle.
    If our votes are needed for change, then our voices should be needed to support that change. Simple.
    If our voices are ignored, our votes shouldn’t glorify them.

  17. mark

    because of oppression,suppression and repression,I believe.mark

  18. mark

    I like the article but not sure if the summation. Are you advocating a communist society where all is shared equally so no one is better than the other ? I would suggest that the over 65 people are better placed as they have accumulated their wealth over their working life . They certainly didnt start out in that position.

  19. Kaye Lee

    I don’t expect everything to be shared out equally regardless of one’s contribution but I do think it is shameful that, in a wealthy country like ours, over 100,000 people are homeless and over 17% of children and more than one in four older Australians live in poverty. The economic and social benefits of lifting people out of poverty far outweigh the cost. The problem is the system favours those who already have a great deal and sadly, those very same people are the ones who work hardest at avoiding paying their fair share. Ordinary workers can’t avoid paying tax but the wealthy have a plethora of avenues available to them to do so.

  20. Jaquix

    Yesterday I came across an observation: “Fear, resentment and shame trump policy every time”. This partly explains the emergence of Trump and Hanson. Voters feeling disaffected in their life circumstances will clutch simple, emotional nessages. The Labor party had a good solid lineup of policies for improvement and pegging back inequality. The Coalition had none, just a “trust us, you need stability, not chaos” and enough voters fell for it. The lesson for Labor is as the article mentions – you need to have a message and sell it. One that resonates with people. Which encapsulates inequality, that people “get”. Labor had the policies, they ran a very good campaign, all power to them for doing so well. Medicare became their main message at the end. Essential weekly poll of voter intention on 26 July had Labor 52, Coalition 48, so perhaps there is a bit of voter remorse out there already.

  21. townsvilleblog

    My thoughts are as the global society is 50% owned by the 1% which obviously leaves only 50% for the billions of people left on the planet, ordinary people can literally feel the tightening of their revenue and feeling the pinch, I say this is where the anger comes from. Ordinary people are too busy and stressed to give it much thought, all they realize is that their money is not stretching as far as it once did, and deep down anger is the result. They do not understand who or what to be angry with, so they are angry with everything and everyone. It’s bloody hard to see what we here see when you are on the treadmill of life, that seems to continually speed up under your feet. Sadly they don’t have time that some of us have to clearly see the enemy.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Pauline Hanson is suggesting that “ordinary people” should replace the Family Law Court.

    The Family Law Court will be abolished and replaced with a Family Tribunal.
    The Family Tribunal will consist of people from mainstream Australia.

    Whilst there may be problems with the current system, I think that would be a disaster. With no legal expertise, would they base their decisions on who told the most convincing story on the day? Who they liked? It is just impractical.

  23. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, no surprise I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment, how do we break through to everyday Australians?

  24. townsvilleblog

    It’s impracticable and stupid, it’s more of the ordinary people wanting to have a feeling of belonging, that their opinion matters, because these systems are viewed by the ordinary people as being elitist by nature, it’s is similar to the doctors pre-Medibank/Medicare they looked down their nose at you like pompous gits, now most of them have learnt to communicate with patients as equals.

  25. townsvilleblog

    Jaquix, again I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment, I’m reading backward and I expect I will agree with the majority of what is said in this place as I go.

  26. townsvilleblog

    jimJuly 27, 2016 at 7:02 pm agree 100% I wish we had a “like” button or an “agree” button or both.

  27. townsvilleblog

    Jennifer Meyer-SmithJuly 27, 2016 at 6:38 pm, I fear that this situation is why we do not have any ordinary people in any parliament in Australia. The major parties don’t believe that ordinary people without a university degree could understand what the “experts” were telling them, which is just false. A great many of us are well versed on things as complex as climate change to hospital beds, we understand push and pull factors, we understand budgets, we understand tax avoidance and most other subjects. With advice we are just as likely to arrive at the same conclusion as a degree holding person, why, because most of it is pure common sense.

  28. townsvilleblog

    astra5July 27, 2016 at 6:23 pm very true, unfortunately Labor Leader Shorten seems to come out in the election campaigns and campaign well but after the election he needs some time to re-coup which is understandable which is why the Deputy Leader who is frest should take the first month following the election to hammer home the difference a Labor government would have made, on the nursing home story, on the NT juvenile justice story, she should be hammering the tories bu Bill is the leader so he must reserve the right to do the hammering? I don’t see why the Labor party go quiet after an election in which they picked up 14 seats? Does anyone else understand the behaviour?

  29. townsvilleblog

    ozibody put in its simplest form, at least 20 years ago when I was in the Labor Party, the Left were principally concerned with the welfare of working class Australian families, the Right were principally concerned with the viability of the Business world via their AWU/SDA alliance. The Left were principally backed by blue collar “real” UNIONS who stood up for their members unlike the AWU/SDA alliance who run the Qld Branch.

  30. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said townsvilleblog,

    for both your comments @ 8.02 am and 8.10 am

  31. Kaye Lee

    I would suggest that, without the advice of experts, you wouldn’t even know that climate change was happening let alone what is causing it and what must be done to address it.

    I don’t understand this resentment of people with degrees. Is education a bad thing all of a sudden?

  32. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Education is a wonderful lifetime achievement for all of us who have had the opportunity and/or the drive to attain it in whatever way we have been able to.

    My focus is on letting ordinary people have a more central voice in the daily workings of political life with the assistance of the expertise of experts.

    Ordinary people are experts in their life experiences. Safeguards can be built into this more collaborative model to guard against the domination by the likes of Hanson. Perhaps a quota system of numbers from a range of selected representative groups.

  33. mark

    Jennifer -is not pauline hanson an expert due to her life experiences. Is not jacquie lambie or the other independents experts due to their life experiences. Or are they only experts if their life experiences are compatable to particular political views.

  34. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I am not saying Hanson or Lambie should not have their say. That is where a built-in quota balance system would be valuable, so that their voices would be balanced by other sections of the community with alternative viewpoints.

  35. mark

    I thought they were the ones that were balancing the main stream parties. They were the avenue for the individual to place a protest vote . We shouldnt be moderating their views we should be encouraging more to participate. At least then their policies can be open for scrutiny and the electorate can decide for themselves if they are worthy of selection

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I thought that was what I was saying.

  37. Freethinker

    IMO the situation world wide will be not change until the economists gurus do not change the way to see macroeconomics and persists with the neoliberal policies.
    I base my opinion by what happens in my mother country.
    During the end of the 1950’s and the beginning of the 1960 decade the boom in Uruguay in supplying goods to Europa during the rebuilding of the countries after the second war was ending.
    The gap between the rich and the manual workers start increasing, the middle class start suffering the consequences of the policies by the conservative government.
    Divisions start appearing in the both big parties between those progressive politicians or moderate left with the conservative factions within the parties.
    The workers unions start uniting with the white collar workers and the students by doing massive strikes.
    Anger and lose of hope were the cause.
    All ended in an urban rebellion and dictatorship for many years.
    At the end of the dictatorship elected governments continued with the neoliberal policies until an alliance of progressive parties and those progressive politicians that left the two big parties. They won the election and still in power but now the economists with not other vision that the “traditional” way of thinking are back to the old neoliberal policies. No vision,
    Anger is again in the population, the rich becomes richer and the poor lost hope.
    I just hope that things will be to come back to a extreme right dictatorship again.
    The only hope is to educate the future economists and politicians that the neoliberal way does not work and will look for other alternatives.

  38. Terry2

    The Labor Party are scheduling a private members Bill – either in the House of Representatives or the Senate – to bring marriage equality to a parliamentary vote…finally.

    In so doing they may be offering Turnbull a get-out-of-jail-card with the prospect of avoiding a costly, divisive and non-binding plebiscite altogether.

    I haven’t done the individual numbers but, with the coalition holding 76 of the 150 seats in the lower House and one of those going to the Speaker they have a bare majority and as several coalition members have indicated they would abstain from any such vote, it could be the opportune time to put it to a parliamentary vote with as, as the Prime Minister has asserted, the prospect of it ‘sailing through’.

    The other attraction for the Prime Minister is that if there were to be a plebiscite in early 2017 at a cost of $160 million he would then potentially be up for a referendum on aboriginal constitutional recognition mid-year at another $160 million and that sort of spending is something that the electorate would just not entertain at a time when we are being told that we have a spending problem : inebriated mariners come to mind.

  39. Jaquix

    Freethinker to pick up your point that eventually “an alliance of progressive parties and those politicians that had left the two big parties” got into power. I know Labor and The Greens profess to hate each other, and that the giving of preferences at the end of the process goes some way to giving Labor the edge, its not a very satisfactory setup. Surely they can come to some agreement/alliance/cooperation whereby they are not competing for the same seats, not fighting in public. The Libs only got 28% of the vote, they would never be in power if it werent for their agreement with the Nationals. Labor got 34.7% – the Greens about 10% (in some cases much more). The old adage applies UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. Labor probably thinks that now they are only 7 or 8 seats away from topping the govt, and that they can do it next election. But relying on capricious Greens preferences seems to me a precarious way of getting there.

  40. Freethinker

    Jaquix, it is not up the the Labor or the Greens for that matter, it is up to the progressive members of the Labor to realize that by staying in the party will never going to satisfying their goals and therefore leave the party and with other progressive politicians form a united front.
    That was what happened in Uruguay, the good progressive politicians left the traditional parties and got together with the Socialists, Communists, Christian Democrats, the Central Union, the Students Union and formed a party.
    I know that it takes political maturity, less greed and ambition to work for the country but I only can hope.
    So far, for what I have saw in this election I cannot see political maturity within the senior politicians in the ALP. Sad really.

  41. Harquebus

    The law of diminishing energy returns is physical phenomenon that ignores economic and political ideology. We are investing more and more and getting less and less as a result. Those at the bottom of the social economic scale are only the first to feel the effects. Eventually, we will all be affected.
    The symptoms described in this article will exacerbate until the underlying problems caused by diminishing returns is addressed.
    In other words, there are too many people and not enough resources to continue with our growth binge and without growth, debts can not be paid. This is why the powers that be are so desperate to maintain growth.

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Jaquix,

    an insightful comment but are Labor and the Greens listening to the bleeding obvious?

    Freethinker,

    thanks for telling us about Uruguay. It sounds like an exciting place for political representation. Denmark is another place whose methods are well worth following.

  43. mark

    My mistake Jenniferm i must have read it incorrectly.

  44. astra5

    Folks
    Thank you for your comments, which have added so much to this piece. There are so many, I cannot respond to each.

    Freethinker, your comment took my mind back to something I wrote on TPS Extra in November of last year: ‘Understanding the conservative mind’.

    http://www.tpsextra.com.au/post/2015/11/18/understanding-the-conservative-mind

    Commenters here may care to read it, and the comments that follow, which themselves add to the scientific thinking about conservative and progressive minds.

    Progressives are frustrated when they try to understand the conservative mind. The tendency to use facts and reason to do so often leads to more frustration. Might it be better to examine the explanations offered by cognitive scientists, such as George Lakoff and others, and simply accept their explanations until more plausible ones emerge?

    As Thomas S Kuhn showed in his book ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, scientific theory is subject to change as evidence accumulates, yet a theory will hold sway until contrary evidence becomes overwhelming, whereupon a paradigm shift occurs, often suddenly.

    The theories of cognitive scientists (and Lakoff is a linguist too) prima facie seem credible. I find it helpful to simply accept their explanations about why conservatives think the way they do, (and likewise progressives), rather than fuming about what seems to me to be an unreasonable way of thinking. By doing so, it is easier to understand why conservatives do and say what they do, and more congenial to enter into a conversation with them that has some possibility of rapprochement.

    What do you think?

  45. nurses1968

    I think rather than come down on Labor you should consider that Labor does not see itself as a party of the Left but a party of social democrats.An interesting observation was made online and that was about 10% of people are from the left 10% from the far right, the Coalition is considered centre-right and the Labor Party is considered centre-left with about 20% to 25 % support and unaligned or those not interested filling the gap. One in 4 voters vote for other than the major 2 parties but that 1 in for covers the spectrum from far left to far right.
    The Labor Party needs to be a centrist Party to attract the bulk of the voters as Australian voters are in the main consevative or centrist with no allegiances.For Labor to govern it is not the Left it must attract but the average non aligned voter who steers well clear of the Left or right.
    This election seems to illustrate exactly that position with both far right getting their 10% or so and the Left their 10%.
    Labor will determine policies best suited for all Australians and for those of you continually on about Labor needing to o more Left I would suggest you get behind the Greens,Pirate Party Wikileaks Party Socialist Alliance and try to improve their 10% and stop worrying about Labor,Labor will develop policies for the broad community and they have the mechanisms within to deal with that.
    I hardly think those trying to ram their personal opinions on Labor will have any affect.Spend you time with the 10% Left parties and try to get them to a position where middle Australia may consider them but good luck with that

  46. nurses1968

    Freethinker
    You are sounding more like Jennifer and her coalition idea Maybe you could be a membership of 2.
    Labor is not into coalitions and rather than people leaving Labor as you suggest people are actually joining

  47. nurses1968

    I will try again here. Everyone has ideas for Labor but when will you people stop and look at why the Greens failed {again} and what they need to do or are they untouchables in analysing what went wrong.Where are all you Greens supporters now cat got your tongue

  48. Kaye Lee

    It will be very interesting to see how they determine which Senators are only there for three years. Labor and the Coalition could combine to decide on using the countback method. Under this, each elected senator would be ranked as if it was a half-Senate election, and their vote matched against the much higher quota for a seat of 14.28 per cent. This would greatly favour the major parties.

    According to Phil Coorey…

    “in Queensland, the top six spots would be filled by three Liberal-National Party Senators and three Labor Senators and they would consequently receive six-year terms. Ms Hanson won 1.2 quotas in the double dissolution but under the countback system, this would rate as just over half a quota in a half-Senate election and she would be relegated to the bottom six. Similarly, Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters who won a full quota in the double dissolution, would be relegated to a three-year term.

    In South Australia, Senator Nick Xenophon would make the top six based on the sheer size of the NXT vote but the other NXT Senators expected to be elected on his ticket in South Australia would be bottom six, meaning he could again be a lone voice following the 2019 election.”

  49. jimhaz

    @ Astra

    [Might it be better to examine the explanations offered by cognitive scientists, such as George Lakoff and others, and simply accept their explanations until more plausible ones emerge?]

    Thanks for reminding me about Lakoff.

    Here is an article he wrote about Trump. I think Lakoff is right on the ball. Some great points about Trumps unusual conservative mix.

    https://georgelakoff.com/2016/03/02/why-trump/

    As to your actual point – well whatever you can stand !

    Even though, I have some conservative elements (for instance, I feel high immigration is limiting our future via a lowest common denominator effect, I have a hatred of feminist or corporate based PCism due to concerns about the need for conflict and masculinity) but there would be no chance of me being able to stand posting much on a conservative forum. The people are too horrible – the selfishness and resulting shallow thinking is too apparent.

    I just think the bulk of the prolific long term posters here, being primarily The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) type, should try as much as possible not to exaggerate facts and to be more even handed on the minor sins. Hold your ground – but give an inch here and there. Some posters here are able to do that – a difficult skill you won’t find very often at all on the conservative side.

  50. Freethinker

    nurses1968, I ma not suggeting what Jennifer are saying but at the same time I think that have merits. Jennifer suggesting a coalition between the ALP, The Greens and small progressive parties.
    IMO the ego and greed for control on many members of those parties, specially the Labor it will be impossible.
    What I expect, in the future that progressive members and future candidates of the Labor party to realize that the Labor does not go any were as long as the moderate right is in control to move out of the party.
    The present ones are there with the hope that as long as are in the party they can change things, others are not like to risk their seat or position in the party and go along with the present policies.
    The Frente Amplio ( Broad Front) in Uruguay is different to what Jennifer suggesting.
    Here is the history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_Front_(Uruguay)
    As an example Rafael Michelini was a member of one of the two big parties, the Colorado or Ballista party and he left forming a progressive party (New Space) and joined the Broad Front.

  51. Kaye Lee

    I find it interesting that nurses is asking “what went wrong” for the Greens when they got a 1.6% swing towards them in the lower house compared to a 1.3% swing to the Labor Party. I would suggest that the Greens have a wider appeal than you realise but, because their support is scattered across all electorates, they do not get the representation their support merits.

    Together, Labor and the Greens got 44.9% of first preference votes. The Coalition got 42%.

    There are more progressives out there than conservatives – they just haven’t worked out how to take advantage of that which is why the Coalition gets the inside running because Liberals and Nationals rarely compete with each other.

  52. Kyran

    “Anger is everywhere. It derives from a sense of injustice, a feeling of unfairness, a perception of inequity.”
    My contention is that, whilst anger may be everywhere, it is greatly misunderstood. The people I know, and the ‘strangers’ I meet with on a daily basis, are, mostly, angry. Not so much at their circumstance, but at their circumstance being ignored.
    I can honestly say I haven’t met anyone who denies climate change is occurring. I have met many people who are angry that, anytime the conversation comes up, it becomes a discussion of a vacuous git’s right to say it isn’t happening. Our ‘leaders’ not only enjoy the distraction, they actively contribute to it.
    I have yet to meet anyone who thinks that Gonski is not worthwhile, or unachievable. The people I have met share my disbelief that it isn’t a guarantee of the Australian government. Denied only by a government that can’t guarantee Gonski’s budget, yet can ascribe a budget, as a fixture of GDP %, for defence.
    I have yet to meet anyone who thinks that universal health care is a no brainer. Clearly, the system needs tweaking, but it is something worth fixing, not replacement or privatising.
    I haven’t met anyone, yet, who thinks Australia doesn’t need NBN to the premises.
    I haven’t met anyone, yet, who doesn’t think NDIS is a no brainer.
    There are numerous issues that the majority of Australians have a common voice on, yet their voice is ignored because the ‘discussion’ becomes about the commentariat’s opinion of each other, rather than the issue.
    I have met people who think that the colour of your skin, the identity of your religion, the origins of your heritage, should not only be measures of your character, but definitions of it. Thankfully, not too many. For the record, they were all white.
    Politicians are not out of touch with their constituents, they are indifferent to them. They only have to talk to them once, in any electoral cycle. After that, everyone gets to sit back and say ‘How stupid are voters?’
    They aren’t that stupid. My experience is that they are angry. My hope is that Freethinkers experience in Uruguay doesn’t become our reality. That the anger doesn’t become fury.
    ‘Plato’s Republic started as a discussion of justice, and became a definition of a just society. 380BC.
    Thank you, Ad Astra (and commenters, across many articles). Take care

  53. Freethinker

    Kyran said, quote:My hope is that Freethinkers experience in Uruguay doesn’t become our reality. That the anger doesn’t become fury.

    I share your hope and rest assure that will not happen here as long as the young generations do not get politically educated and have a profound understanding of current affairs.
    Back then Kyran, young high school students from year 10 to 12 were very well informed, members of the students union, I remember very clear when we at the age of 15 went to see el “Che” Guevara to speak at the steps of the University.
    Ask a 15 years old Australian student about Australian or international political issues and see how many know anything about it.

  54. ozibody

    Whilst I am cheerful that our Labor played a reassuring Fair Go tune during the election ….. we are still at the mercy of the Cons. whilst we dance to the Left / Right / centre etc. music they play allowing them to bray thru’ the MSM about ” Leftists ” ….. which can be pitched, and heard as … ” Radical Extremists “! … in today’s world climate … damaging !? …

    Menzies worked this theme very successfully with the ” Communist under every bed ” and the ” Yellow peril to the North ” , scams!

    Were Labor able to settle upon a centre ground under a ” what’s best for ALL Australians ” recipe … and Live it ! ….the percentage of support at the ballot box would carry the day ….. AND ….. all fair minded Australians can lead this great country into prominence and prosperity!

    And incidentally, ‘fair mindedness’ will permeate throughout our society ( over time ) and will go a long way to naturally eradicating problems such as raised again by our ABC (again !) …

    Much of our National Social challenge stems from ” the top ” ( from which the Fish is said to rot !!) …. A significant percentage of our Australian population is aware of ” the scams ” and simply looks for reassurance that ‘ no nonsense Fair Go ‘ can rise to the surface.

    There’s never a better time than now !!

  55. jimhaz

    @ Me

    [Here is an article he wrote about Trump. I think Lakoff is right on the ball. Some great points about Trumps unusual conservative mix.

    https://georgelakoff.com/2016/03/02/why-trump/%5D

    Lol.. Read the actual starter article next time Jim!

  56. Kyran

    Freethinker, as long as there are people of aspiration, rather than people of desperation, there is hope. Without a need for violence. The youth I know are not ignorant, disengaged or disinterested. I have far more optimism in the youth of today, than the ‘leaders’ of yesterday, parading as ‘leaders’ of today. Perhaps, the difference between ignorance and ignore-ance. .
    Our countries of birth have violent history’s, both borne of the difference between ignorance and ignore-ance.
    My preference is to aspire, not despair. Take care

  57. nurses1968

    Kaye LeeJuly 28, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    “I find it interesting that nurses is asking “what went wrong” for the Greens when they got a 1.6%”
    The rest of your comment is all directed at the lower house with not a comment about the Senate where they suffered -0.1% and lost a Senator.
    As a Party who it seems all on here want to have an important role in government and are held as the virtuous ones wouldn’t someone want to know why they lost ground against an Abbott Turnbull government?

    I have lost count of the ..”Labor must” articles and not a squeak about the Greens other than now wanting to change the voting system to suit them. It is a shame the name Green Weekly is taken

  58. Kaye Lee

    I didn’t mention the Senate because the Senate has nothing to do with forming government which was what my comment was about. I made observations. I made no criticism or endorsement and gave no advice. You are very defensive. I wonder if you ever consider comments dispassionately?

  59. nurses1968

    Freethinker I googled and found it didn’t do much different to what happens here
    “The Broad Front consists primarily of progressive political parties. However, in government it has tended to follow policies favouring a market economy with expanded social programs. Not all the parties in the Broad Front can be considered left-wing, indeed some lean towards fiscal conservatism or social conservatism. Uruguay Assembly of Danilo Astori can be considered a centrist party and Astori has followed fiscal conservative policies as finance minister, whereas the Christian Democratic Party is vocally opposed to abortion. Tabaré Vázquez during his presidency maintained his pro-life stance, in contrast to the stance of many in his own Socialist Party, leading him to leave his positions in the party”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_Front_%28Uruguay%29

  60. Freethinker

    nurses1968, in my posts July 28, 2016 at 10:09 am, I said, “They won the election and still in power but now the economists with not other vision that the “traditional” way of thinking are back to the old neoliberal policies. No vision,”
    This was with reference to Astori and his team.
    Astori have a neoliberal ideas the opposite to the previous president José “Pepe” Mujica who has inclination to measure the economy by GPI metrics (Genuine Progress Indicator)
    Having said that, the Broad Front is a much progressive party than the ALP and The Greens with very strong policies for alternative energy and very strict environmental laws for the industry.
    If we look at the investment in paper mills and alternative energy in Uruguay in the last 15 years and the strict laws and see what happens in Tasmania you will appreciate that our politicians here in the ALP, Coalition and Greens did not have the skills to attract new investors.
    Then again that it is for another article.

  61. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    nurses @11.43 am,

    I think you need to start taking notice of wiser heads than yours such as Freethinker’s.

    If you represent modern Labor, god help any residual ‘true believers’ for you’d rather keep the divisions between Labor, Greens and other Progressives open instead of forming a working ALLiance that can bring institutional change that Uruguay has historically proved can happen and will happen again.

  62. Freethinker

    Jennifer it will take political maturity, less ego and greed.

  63. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I understand your viewpoint Freethinker but we’ll all die of old age by the time these Duopoly numpties understand that, so we need to take more strident measures.

  64. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I will attempt my version of an answer when I’ve watched one of my favourite ABC programs at the moment: New Blood.

  65. nurses1968

    Dan Rowden
    You seem a far more knowledgeable person than me so if you can extract any information on Jennifer Meyer Smiths ALLiance It would be appreciated.To my understanding not a single politician or Party has shown the slightest interest and the JMS ALLiance is JMS.
    If all are to be invited into the JMS sandpit and be a true {ALL}iance, is there room for Hanson as she attracted 250,000 folowers in QLD.Has any politician from any political party indicated they would abandon their current party to join JMS?

  66. nurses1968

    Dan Rowden
    I pinky swear to keep that a secret. I did believe all along that vivid imaginations came into play.
    Still whatever floats your boat and you create no harm

  67. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Dan Rowden,

    the Progressive changemaking political movement is happening already throughout the Western world hence the rise of Sanders-led influence in American politics, Corbyn-determinate political reform in the UK and a coming together of sane Progressives in Australian polictics.

    I accept Labor in Australia is flagging behind but you can bet the Greens and other more enlightened Progressives are raring to go right now.

    I live in hope for the left in Labor to see the light of day again and to take control so they can join the movement.

  68. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    nurses (cornlegend),

    stop thinking you can conceal your silly little secret.

    Dan,

    listen to cornlegend at your peril

  69. nurses1968

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    You are a sick individual not content with inventing things to suit your own silly little situation but blatantly lying about it .
    Wasn’t it last week I was Bighead 1883?

  70. Mim

    Ad Astra, you are spot on about the cause of the anger. For too long our elected politicians have forgotten the reason for their election. They are supposed to be governing for the benefit of the people and the nation as a whole. Yet, too many of our career politicians have given way to the lobbyists and minority groups. With so much wealth in the hands of so few there is bound to be anger. I see my beautiful country going down the gurgler rapidly. I see our assets being sold off to benefit investors, usually Chinese. In my mind it is the height of stupidity. Assets belong to the public not the government. Privatisation simply doesn’t work. The stupidity is that if we still owned the assets there would be more money going into treasury and not investors pockets and services and prices would be lower.

    Decisions are being made without regard to the welfare of the people. Coal mining in water catchment areas, CSG fracking despoiling our land and no action for climate change. Trees bulldozed and land cleared. Wildlife rendered homeless and our World Heritage Blue Mountains under threat from the airport.

    Have you heard about the airport at Badgery’s Creek? Government is set to impose it on western Sydney residents despite the area being dismissed as totally unsuitable for an airport in the previous EIS in the nineties.This time the government deliberately withheld the negative impacts from the people. They worked with councils first, particularly councils with big business representatives. The offered infrastructure for support. They gave money to groups to speak in support. They patched together a dodgy EIS that used out dated data and inadequate assessment such as Possibility of bird and bat strike assessed only in daylight hours, fog assessed at Camden at 11.00am and 3.00pm. Public information sessions were held at working hours when commuters could not attend. Information was not presented – only marketing. There were many other breaches of the guidelines as well. There is no doubt in our minds that the process was totally corrupt.

    If this airport proceeds it will make all of Sydney but especially western Sydney suffer chronic illness as a result of air pollution because western Sydney is well known as a collection point for all the polluted air from vehicle emissions. Then western Sydney residents will be denied a curfew. Social injustice is treating one side of the city differently to the other. Where is the government’s duty of care? This is what makes me so angry. Our government does not care about the welfare of the people. It only matters that the wealthy make more money. I am 67 and I have never known a worse government. I have no hope for the future and the kind of life my grandchildren will inherit. I want to bang heads together.

  71. astra5

    jimhaz

    The Lakoff article on Trump made a lot of sense. Another magnificent analysis.

  72. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Ok nurses/cornlegend,

    I promise not to call you little Biggy too. One split personality is enough. You don’t need two, especially little Biggy!

  73. astra5

    Kyran, Mim
    Thank you for your kind words and your comprehensive comment.

    You describe the many sources of anger in the community. They have their origin in feelings of abandonment by the very people who owe it to them to listen to their problems, act on their behalf, and represent their views – their parliamentary representatives. Until politicians learn that they are the servants of the voters in their electorates and of the citizens of our nation, they will continue to be despised and distrusted. Too many behave as the servants of lobbyists, vested interests, and donors to their party. Self-interest prevails among politicians and the people despair. But the day of reckoning comes on Election Day. It came in Australia a few weeks back for the Coalition, and will come in November in the US when the pent-up anger of the middle and poorer classes will erupt. Who knows how it will turn out? Acting in anger is hazardous.

  74. Kaye Lee

    I for one am sick of this continual personal squabble. It is childish.

  75. Freethinker

    I agree Kaye there are other forums and blogs for that kind of posts.
    i hope that the standards here will be not come down to the level of others.

  76. Pingback: Trump – fascist or fascistic? – Australia Awaken – ignite your torches

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