Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How Rudd feeds from disinformation and Howard’s moral consequences of wealth ...

It been written that Governments that successfully nurture the economic well being of a nation can write their own electoral tickets. Seemed sensible enough, and yet, John Howard’s Liberals, who crushed inflation, unemployment, kept interest rates largely in check, and presided over a period of greater engagement with Asia than any of his predecessors suffered a significant and well documented election loss.

This was the subject of our discussion yesterday. Sadly, definitive answers went begging. It was suggested that the role of governments is to facilitate the greatest level of happiness for its constituents and that voters care little about wealth, prosperity, economic growth or other economic factors. Could it be possible that voters had become so comfortably numb? Are Australians happier now?

When Howard said that "working families have never had it so good," he alienated many and gave Rudd a label that soon became a catchphrase for a triumphant campaign. Over a year has passed has he, (Howard) not been vindicated, or do some believe that working families are better off now? Let's cast our minds back to October last, anyone who suggested that Howard may have been correct was bluntly told that they were, “out of touch".

Blank stares all round, perhaps then, Harvard Political Science Professor, Benjamin Friedman and author of the, Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, had a case in point when he wrote that prosperity encourages voters to embrace progressive policy. The premise being that over time many come to take prosperity for granted, when this happens we worry less about our own circumstances and become more open to the notion of helping others, more receptive to policies that advance humanitarianism - thus more Liberalist, but in the Trotskyist method of the left; an argument linking economic prosperity and moral behavior. The more prosperous societies are and the more growth they experience the more generous and compassionate or Liberal they become.

Someone offered a far simpler explanation, disinformation; of a kind driven by an increasingly Liberal media and nurtured in our educational institutions. Roughly a third of voters will always be liberal, and another third always labor with the balance deciding the winner. This “malleable” balance is focused on the policies and issues of the day and the personalities involved. They are, in the words of a friend, “not as bright as we’d like” and remain susceptible to all forms of disinformation.

Perhaps this disinformation premise has some merit. ACTU surveys conducted over the past month show that many voters believe that the Rudd Government has already scrapped WorkChoices, no doubt the catalyst for the new ACTU advertising campaign. Perhaps too, many voters believe that the Rudd Government has, through signing Kyoto, saved the environment, and that the oceans whales have also been saved. Or that ALL the troops and ADF personnel have been returned home from Iraq. Only last week we overheard a conversation on a Melbourne train, that seemed to suggest a belief that Rudd has put in place a process that WILL eventually rid the world of nukes … Flourishes of disinformation.

Interesting …

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