Why is it that the people can be so easily manipulated? Who benefits?
There’s an old joke which runs something like this:
A man doing a person-by-person survey asks someone the question, “Do you think it’s true that the majority of the population have a mindset dominated by a combination of ignorance and apathy?”
The reply was, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
DUMB IS GOOD
For some time now I’ve believed that governments in Australia have encouraged the population to slide into just such a mental state—an unquestioning and obedient torpor in which the highlights of life are associated with winning money, instant stardom, booze and puerile entertainment. I’m convinced governments want to keep the people preoccupied with trivia and to progress what’s known as their “dumbing-down.” This process is helped along by the lowest common denominator principle, in which regulations are formulated to protect stupid people from their own stupidity, and are then forced on everyone including those who aren’t stupid. This is readily illustrated by the laws enacted in some areas of the Northern Territory of Australia preventing sales of certain types of alcohol, or sometimes any alcohol, at certain times of the day or on certain days. The intent is to better manage those who can’t control their drinking. Another outcome is to annoy those who can. Why can’t people be licensed to drink? They’re licensed for all kinds of other reasons. People who demonstrate they can’t manage their drinking simply lose their licence and then cannot legally buy or drink alcohol.
This “dumbing-down” proposition, and the way people are “managed,” is demonstrating as moving insidiously ever-closer to an existence disquietingly reminiscent of the lot of the characters in George Orwell’s 1984.
There are many often provocativeexamples which I contend will illustrate my argument that populations are being manoeuvred—or if you prefer, conned. One such example is the voting system. While voting systems vary slightly around Australia, basically they centre on the “preferential” system. In general terms, in Australia everyone of voting age is required to vote—they must vote or they will be fined. They must also indicate their preference for every candidate appearing on the ballot paper by placing a number in a box by the candidate’s name, beginning with “1” for their most preferred candidate, then “2” for the next preferred, and so on. This mandatory voting task is glibly described as “a right” by those who benefit from it—and who assert that Australians should be proud they live in a country where voting is so well-managed.
But is it well-managed? I contend it isn’t, for several reasons. In any scheme where a population is forced to vote, a huge number of people will do so without the slightest consideration of why they are voting—of what will be the outcome of their vote. Presented with a ballot paper carrying more than around six nominations they, like just about everyone in Australia, will have no idea of how to rank the candidates by their preference—because they simply don’t know enough about all of the candidates. Politicians take advantage of this by offering every voter a dummy ballot paper which puts a preference number by each candidate. The voter can then copy the list onto the real ballot paper. Naturally, different political parties offer dummy ballot papers with different preferential listings intended to help bring their party into power. So—let’s backtrack a little. Most people don’t know how to order their preferences and political parties show them how to do it in a way which benefits the political parties. It doesn’t sound like much of a way to find out how an intelligent population thinks, does it?
But what if a person does know what to think about a list of candidates? Let’s say there are twelve candidates—Smith, Jones, Bailey, Tomaso, Chin and so on, and a voter has decided his preferences are like this: Tomaso is 1, Smith is 2, Chin is 3. That leaves Bailey and Jones and seven others. But suppose the voter has no reason to prefer any one of these nine. Logically he should then rank them equally by entering the number 4 by every remaining name—and in doing so the intention of that person’s vote is quite clear, and it is an purposeful response rather than a donkey vote or a politically-managed vote. The mathematics of voting systems are intensely complicated. I think the one I just described, and which I consider to be quite logical in terms of expressing a voter’s intent and knowledge, is a variant on the Schulze voting system. In Australia, some years ago, using the Schulze system when marking a ballot paper was declared to the equivalent of voting informal—the vote meant nothing. Why? It’s a more intelligent and purposeful process than the current system. But then, perhaps that’s the problem…
THE “NO” OPTION
What if a voter doesn’t like any of the candidates? Why don’t the words “None of the above” appear on the ballot paper, with a box to tick?An argument is that everyone already has the option to vote informal—that is, to simply walk through the polling booth to “prove” they’ve voted, without actually voting. Now that’s a really adult approach, conveying next to nothing back about public opinion! And it’s quite different from making the statement, “I don’t want any of these people to represent me.”
Another argument is, “We must have representatives in government.” The counter-argument is quite simple: “Quite so—but I’ll vote for someone I prefer if they stand for parliament, not for someone indicated on a list from which I’m forced to choose.”
A POLITICIAN’S PARADISE
I’ve no doubt our politicians are delighted with the current system. I’m sure they don’t care in the slightest that the bottom line to this voting issue is that in Australia the population is usually voting in the politicians who are the least detested.
Moving on from the voting system, let’s consider its outcome—which is government. A quick look at one tiny aspect of the process of government will suffice to illustrate what Australians have been forced to both vote for and pay for—and pay handsomely. In Parliamentary Question Time the opposition asks questions of the government which are rarely if ever answered, members of the party in power ask questions of the government to which the answers are almost invariably already known, and the entire circus is managed by a Speaker who is often biased towards the party in power and who very often ignores or diminishes the rules of procedure. The public is expected to view this and continue to admire the politicians they were forced to vote in. There’s little wonder that with few exceptions, Australian politicians are reviled. Unfortunately the vast majority of Australians put up with it.
And because of this acceptance, we face the killing combination of politics and big business. These two factions insist that the country must have “growth” and we’re expected to believe and accept this. The assertion is that every business must continuously expand—and so must our population. In 2009 the Prime Minister of Australia proudly told the people he would do his utmost to increase the population of the country by sixty per cent by 2050, to thirty-five million. He made this astonishing pledge against a background in which it’s quite obvious such a move is extremely ill-advised—unless you’re involved with big business or politics, both of which have very short-term time horizons. We know there are insufficient water resources to support the current population of the country. Australia is the driest continent in the world next to Antarctica, and getting dryer. And the infrastructure of the country is rapidly deteriorating because of neglect, and population expansion is already worsening the situation. The outcome is a steady reduction in our quality of life—water restrictions, power outages, traffic jams, overcrowding, health service failures, environmental pollution and destruction. Of course, these issues have far less importance to people who are comparatively wealthy, such as politicians and the business leaders.
Let’s look at this population issue from another contentious point of view. A few years back the then Treasurer made his famous remark about births in Australia. He said, “One for Mum, one for Dad, and one for the State.” He was advocating population expansion, just like the current Prime Minister is. How very Orwellian. The Federal Government supports population expansion by providing various benefits to those who produce children—and if questioned, many, if not most, women are likely to assert, “I have a right to have children.”
It’s my belief that this assertion is incomplete. It should be, “I have a right to have children if I can afford them.”
Let me explain. We have a situation in which the world—not just Australia—is being over-run by the worst parasite ever. It’s called mankind, and mankind is destroying our planet as a place where we can comfortably live. There is no sense in increasing the population—unless of course one considers that outcome from the point of big business and politics. One sector requires an ever-increasing population of mindless consumers, the other an ever-increasing population of mindless voters.
In my “perfect world”, when a man and woman choose to produce one child, they should be given some government support, since they’re sustaining the population. If they produce another child, then they should be given additional support—but not to the same extent as that provided for the first child. Produce a third child—no support. And a small tax to be paid for subsequent kids. Because in our overcrowded world, more than two children are a luxury.
In 2008 an extremely outspoken Australian politician was asked what he thought about low-income families being given several thousand dollars as a reward when they produced a child, and the same benefit not being extended to wealthy parents. He replied, “I've been in the racing business for many, many years, and we tend to look at the high achievers as those that should have foals.” Or to put it another way, he was suggesting it made more sense to breed from the winners than the losers. There’s food for thought in his comment. And it—sort of—fits in with my suggestion about child support. If you think about it, the people who can afford more children can have larger families. So, the people who are making the money—being successful—winners—are making the babies. Selective breeding?
FORGET CLIMATE CHANGE FORSECOND…
Now for something completely different. The arguments over climate change are, astonishingly, still raging. Whether or not you believe humans are worsening our climatic conditions—and I do believe that we are—there are some other fairly simple arguments supporting the contention that we humans should change the way we produce and use energy. In no particular order, and with no reference to global climate change, here’s a list of arguments:
If we find cleaner energy sources than coal and oil, the microclimates of our cities will improve. This would mean there would be far fewer incidences of respiratory distress and, most likely, fewer allergic reactions.
It’s known the world’s reserves of oil are rapidly diminishing—it would be a good idea to stop burning the stuff and use it for something more useful.
Australia is one of the best places in the world in which to establish devices which can produce electricity from sunlight. The argument that solar power can never replace the sources currently used to address the base load of electricity demand is spurious. The ability to deal with base load is dependant on two things—the capacity of the power source to produce energy and, in the case of solar power, the ability to store energy when there is insufficient sunlight. Or, to put it another way, if the solar array’s big enough, and the storage capacity matches the demand in darkness, it would work. I believe we could start building massive solar arrays right now. And tidal, wind, and geothermal generators.
I’m adding this paragraph in September 2012. Last month or thereabouts, the state of South Australia produced so much energy from wind power that it was able to export the energy to other states. Get the picture?
Establishing new and major power generators will create a demand for workers. The argument that jobs will be lost if we stop burning oil and coal is invalid—there are obvious opportunities for job transition, and across an energy-producing industry which is gradually changing.
What about nuclear power? Why would anyone want to create an extremely expensive, potentially dangerous generating system which produces large quantities of a waste product with onerous storage requirements when there’s a supply of limitless energy from the sun, the wind and the sea?
I don’t know the answer to that question—but I bet it’s something to do with politics and big business.