Allan Takes Aim Blog

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Does Australia want a showground spruiker as PM?

Although I am as yet undecided as to how I will vote on Saturday 7 September, I find myself thinking of putting the Liberals, Labor and the Greens last on the voting paper and giving my vote to one a minor party candidate or an Independent. I’m thinking of doing so because I’ve come to the conclusion that Labor, Liberal and the Greens all think they have the answers to the country’s problems and each think that giving your vote to a candidate for a party other than theirs is tantamount to wasting it.

The logic of this argument is beyond me which isn’t surprising because I think democracy itself is anything but a logical process.

In fact it seems to me that military warfare differs little from political warfare except in one way. Military battles are won by the best fighters whereas the verbal political fights are won by the party whose ranks are filled with the greatest number of political troops.

Sadly, in such battles, logic takes a back seat to sanity leaving the enlightened troops distraught while the unthinking and unenlightened troops march in celebration of a nonsensical victory.

Over the years I have witnessed also, the deterioration of quality in politics. Once upon although politicians told a few lies, in general one could rely on the truth of their statements. Today however, that situation has changed. Lies now seem to be the order of the day. Regularly, too, opposition statements are quoted out of context in an effort to portray the leader as the equal of history’s legendary and monstrous dictators.

By accepting these statements as true, voters send good candidates to the political gallows from whence they will be cut down, drawn and quartered, never to arise again. Others escape the gallows but do not escape their honesty and integrity being so impugned they become political lepers. The fact is that in many cases, the people who should become political lepers are senior members of the political hierarchy.

As an example of what I mean the Liberals have been accused of having a $70 billion black hole they will need to fill and that they will fill it with money saved by cutting public service jobs. Senior non-aligned economists have already said this statement is false as have some of the politifact groups that have now been established.

In a world awash with violence that perhaps could be described in terms of the biblical Armageddon our politicians should take a calm and serious approach to solving the problem. Unfortunately many of our politicians – and politicians elsewhere, seem anxious to escalate the problem in a display of the militancy that democracy was supposed to overcome.

Let me now focus briefly on party leaders in this election. It is clear that the next Prime Minister will be either Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. At the moment I am watching Mr Rudd being interviewed on TV and I must say that, on the basis of what I see and hear, I have serious reservations about his genuineness.

He seems to think himself some kind of political genius and has not been slow to cast Mr Abbott in the role of political dolt, not the kind of behaviour I expect from a man who wants to be Prime Minister. As this probably is one of the reasons he was deposed by his party during his first incarnation in the post it also raises the question do they really want him now?

As for Mr Abbott, I watched him the other night on television when he launched his campaign for the Liberal/National Coalition to become Government and him to become Prime Minister. Clearly he does not see himself as a political genius but equally clearly he is not a fool or as glib as Mr Rudd. But then: does Australia want a glib Prime Minister?

Unfortunately Australia has watched as glib politician after glib has feathered their nest even as they protested they were working hard on behalf of constituents. That said I am left with the uneasy feeling that it would be wrong to make Mr Rudd who is as glib as a showground spruiker, to again become Prime Minister.

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Don’t listen to the songs of the Fat Ladies

You’ll all be familiar with the phrase it ain’t over ‘til the Fat Lady sings which means that one should not presume to know the outcome of an event which is still in progress. And while normally it is used in a sporting contest I think it has particular application to the political contest between Kevin Rudd Labor and Tony Abbott Liberal to become Prime Minister of Australia. However, any attempt to describe it as a sporting contest is to diminish all real sporting contests. .

More precisely, it describes the situation the phrase when it appears to be nearing its conclusion although it cautions against making the assumption that the current state of an event is irreversible and determines how it will end. However, as the contest to be Prime Minister is between two men shouldn’t there be an alternative phrase.

That apart, most of the Fat Ladies singing today are male political columnists and journalists who have already decided the winner. Even most letters to the editor are from males. Not that this will come as a surprise because most MPs and Senators are men.  However, the situation changes in the electronic media where women hold their own although again it must be said the chief commentators on the electronic are mostly men.

This raises the question: how did this male – female imbalance occur; it seems contrary to Mother Nature. Indeed, it has always struck me as odd that women, who influence every man, have, over time, been sidelined for the benefit of men. Just think of it: they are the mother of men and the wives of men, notwithstanding that some men wish to be seen in the same light. But that’s another argument.

More to the point, at his stage in the race to be Prime Minister, I think even the most biased voter will concede that Abbott and the Liberals are ahead of Rudd and Labor. On the other hand there are still two long laps to go in the race and who knows if during these laps Abbott will stumble and allow Rudd to catch up or will Rudd stumble oftener than Abbott and so fall further behind.

While one expects outlandish ideas and outrageous promises from wannabe members of parliament in every election, voters have no one to blame but themselves if any of them get elected. Sadly because our record on this matter is not something to shout about, I suspect the status quo will be maintained at this election.

Of course, as to who will become Prime Minister is not a matter of which we have charge. We can but hope Australian voters will not give political chancers, populists, sycophants and candidates of questionable capacity the opportunity to display their venality or lack of talent to occupy that position but elect people of honesty and integrity.

And let me plead with voters to judge candidates because they feel they can trust them and not elect people who seem to think parliament is a permanent theatre of the absurd where they can act out their absurdities but a theatre of the serious that sometimes is funny.

A final comment: of one thing you can be sure many of the fat ladies who have started singing early will suffer from laryngitis after the election result is known.

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Who’s for the long drop: Rudd or Abbott?

It was Samuel Johnson who made the following remark with regard to a clergyman he had tried to save from hanging: “depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, in concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

I think this phrase could usefully be brought to the attention of Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott only because in just short of a fortnight’s time if they haven’t persuaded Australians that their policy promises are true, as voters leave the jury room of the ballot box on Saturday 7 September, on they could have helped consigned one of them to taking the long drop from the top of the political gallows.

But perhaps all is not lost. Perhaps they will heed what George MacDonald Fraser’s cowardly hero Harry Flashman has to say on the subject of death:  “ Some wiseacre once said that the prospect of death concentrates the mind wonderfully,  but I’m here to tell you the chance to work for a reprieve concentrates it a whole heap more.”

With the election but a short time away can voters hope Rudd and Abbott will be more truthful than they have been so far about their policies so that voters can make up their mind about who they want as Prime Minister? Being a realist, I know one will become Prime Minister but won’t hold my breath waiting for the former to happen.

It being more than possible that I might not be around come the next election, I sincerely hope the centuries that have gone into creating viable democratic systems have not been wasted. Indeed, to some extent what is happening in politics today, not just here in Australia but across the western world, is reminiscent of wars in the middle-ages.

It could be argued that in some respects our ancestors did it better. They followed their leader onto the battlefield and at the end of the battle the spoils of the war went to the victor. The victor then went on to govern until a new challenge arose. This still happens, of course, but without the violence. However as to whether or not the aftermath today is better would make a good argument.

And nor has the cause of the wars changed much. They are still be being fought between people who have gained the wealth by ancestry, trade or commerce and those who helped them produce that wealth but think not enough of it stays with them or helps provide the better services they think their efforts deserve.

And this is where the real battle begins. How to measure what share of the wealth do the latter think they are entitled to and to what services should some of the wealth they had helped create be the Government’s first priority. Should the Government’s first priority be the building of a better and more successful economy because without a successful economy where will the Government find the money necessary to create or improve services?

At this point the argument about which came first the chicken or the egg arises. It is also at this point where common sense should play a leading role. Unfortunately, this is also the point at which common sense becomes noticeable by its absence and greed on both sides colours the debate.

So which of the Prime Ministerial protagonists, Rudd or Abbott, will win on 7 September? This is the real difference between the wars of the middle ages and today’s wars because in today’s wars it should not be winner takes all.

On Saturday 7 September that decision is yours. Who will you consign to the long drop?

Comment welcome.

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Be afraid, be very afraid

The phrase “Be afraid, be very afraid”, is used to describe the decline of all leaders and the empires they build. Generally it is used with the intention of being funny and a warning of imminent danger. However, I use the phrase not with the intention of being funny but with the intention of warning Australian voters that, at the next election if they choose the wrong Prime Minister, not only is danger imminent but likely.

As for the phrase, it comes from the short poem “Ozymandias” by Shelley ,which paraphrases the inscription at the base of the statue, given by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica, as “King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works.”

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders with no clear consensus regarding its diagnosis or treatment. Research on treatment effectiveness still focuses mainly on clinical approaches and case studies. Dissociative symptoms range from attention lapses, becoming distracted by something else and daydreaming, to pathological dissociative disorders. No systematic, empirically-supported definition of “dissociation” exists.

I am not a psychiatrist but of the two men I see on television news broadcasts who are in contention for the job of being Australia’s next Prime Minister, I am convinced one of them is suffering from DID and that if by any mischance he became Prime Minister, then he is even more dangerous to Australia’s future than in his first incarnation as Prime Minister. I won’t beat about the bush: the man I’m talking about is Kevin Rudd.

He displays all the traits of an Australian Ozymiandas who sees himself as leader and King. Indeed, which profession, other than politics, can offer them the same opportunity and which profession other than politics can give them virtually untrammeled power to control people’s lives and foist political fantasies on them and bring despair not joy.

Perhaps Tony Abbott the other Prime Ministerial contender also has traits of DID but if he has they are less obvious? It could be of course that perhaps every politician, regardless of party suffers from DID to some extent. Indeed, the more I think of it the more likely it seems. The problem for Mr Rudd is that he seems to have these traits in spades.

I know of a few narcissistic politicians who think themselves great philosophers, visionaries or great leaders. Some of them also think they are great orators or great actors although most are great hams and leads to the question: if you think a politician with just one of these traits is deluded what is a politician who when giving a performance (isn’t that always?) displays them all of and also adds what they think are meaningful gestures and what passes as sympathetic facial expressions that look more like grimaces.

Earlier in the piece I said that although DID is one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders, there is no clear consensus with regard to its diagnosis or treatment.

However, when it comes to voting it seems to me that if we want to save Australia and also save Mr Rudd from himself and from leading the Labor Party into political Siberia, the best treatment we can give him is to turn him down at September’s election.

Do so and you will have no need to be afraid or be very afraid.

Comment welcome.

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Which political tall tales are true is for you to decide.

The federal election is five fabulous five weeks away. I say fabulous weeks because the tales being told by Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, the leaders respectively of Australia’s two major parties Labor and the Liberal/Coalition who are vying to become Prime Minister, seem bent on outdoing the tales of fabulists like Aesop – African; John Gay – English; and Hans Christian Andersen – Danish.

But there is a difference. While morality is the basis of the latters’ tales it is clear that what allegedly forms the basis of the formers’ tales is not morality but lust for power. This applies particularly to Rudd who, regardless of the fact that earlier he used it to justify the carton tax in his statement that Global Warming is the greatest moral challenge of our time, then allowed it to become prisoner of his lust for power when it became a political inconvenience.

Not that the major parties are alone in telling tall tales. There is a third party, The Greens, whose leader, Christine Milne, seems equally bent on power but whose tall tales have found limited acceptance among voters. And there are other small parties whose leaders share the hope of being Prime Minister. But despite hope springing eternal, at this election their hope is running last. Last but not least are the Independents or ‘Gadflies’ as  described by Socrates to Plato as uncomfortable goads to the Athenian political scene which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse, who do the same to the power seekers.

More to the point: the saying ‘you’ve got to speculate to accumulate’ is not a fable but a phrase that describes people whose capital is ambition and intelligence that they use to speculate.  It is the speculation of people such as this this describes that has been the source of Australia’s growth and prosperity.

After examining the policies of the various parties it seemed to me the policies of the Liberal/Coalition come closest to that of the people who speculated to accumulate and led Australia down the twin paths of growth and prosperity. On the other hand, many Labor politicians seem to think that all they needed to do was convince gullible people (voters) to let them spend their money on grand plans that would take them on a magic carpet ride to a life if not of ease, then of comfort.

So you’re not gullible you say. Well I hope not, but in the days and weeks after the Federal Election, Saturday 7th September, it will be too late to say I knew the promises sounded too good to be true. However, they will face the harsh reality that the promises were worthless and that the magic carpet will never take off but stay firmly grounded in the hanger that serves as the very large Museum of Political Promises. Indeed, as they will find out, the only things that will take off will be the politicians who made the promises.

With regard to this election and politicians’ promises which of the two, Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd will take off.  With respect to Mr Abbott, will he be the politician to take off. If he is, he will merit a paraphrase of Lady Bracknell’s famous saying: To lose one election, Mr Abbot, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.

But if it is Mr Rudd who takes off what will he merit? Now that opens up a galaxy of ideas. Being host of Tell the Truth, a new TV show, springs to mind.  And no doubt rederswill have many others. If you have, make a comment.

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Let’s re-democratise politics

The thought came to mind that perhaps it’s true that the older you get the less you come to understand what people are talking about. The thought was spurred when, despite my having been around politics for more years than I care to remember, I found that trying to understand what politicians today are talking about is getting harder and harder.

In fact as I listen it seems to me that some of them don’t really understand politics. This is noticeable some don’t seem able to answer questions they’ve been asked but give answers to questions they haven’t been asked. Indeed it seems they only want to answer questions on topics within their comfort zone.

Although these answers are of little use to voters these politicians continue to parade their honesty, truthfulness and integrity as prime reasons to vote for them. Unfortunately, their shiftiness in answering questions is likely to lose them votes whereas if they say they don’t know but say they will find out, their image with voters might improve.

It seems to me that the latter have been politicians too long and have forgotten who they represent. And that they have little knowledge of what is happening in their own constituencies or have any knowledge of what is happening outside their little world makes them political bludgers.

I can only add that they should be removed from office because in these days of advanced technology not only can their lack of performance be seen and judged by a local audience but also by a worldwide audience with a poor performance not only working to the detriment of their party but also to Australia.

Indeed the day has long gone when parties value this kind of politician because they can be relied on to spring to attention and support what their leader says on any given issue.  In this complicated world where technology grow more quickly every day, parties need politicians with a vision of the future not the past.

Unfortunately, democracy has not progressed at the same rate as technology. Even in our allegedly advanced societies politics is still a system that seems mired in the feudalism of the middle ages. While parties pay lip service to democracy they remain fiefdoms controlled by people with a love of power and the wish to control others. Importantly even though they appear to delegate some of that power they still retain control because they want to control how society functions. Of course, such a system is not particular to political parties; it is also inherent in trade and business organisations.

While technology will continue to play a major role in society does not mean that Government should be determined by statements on Twitter and Facebook. So what if a putative President, MP or Senators have a million followers on Twitter or Facebook does not mean that a million people read what they have to say.

The fact is many Twitterers and Facebookers have had nothing to do with the site since becoming subscribers. And when the various political parties target them and send then messages, it is more probable than not that the messages are never read. But don’t the figures look good. In fact much of the hype surrounding this form of campaigning is hogwash.

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Australia a brave new world: or is it?

Although the campaign for electing a new Australian Parliament has only just started, I’m already fed up listening to candidates who make promises to voters clothed in fake sincerity, such as on the day they elect them and their party to government and on every day thereafter, as they wake up they will find themselves beneficiaries of policies that will bring them never ending joy. And the band played, believe it if you like.

But cynicism aside what are we to believe? As the disturbed world in which we live gets even more disturbed, the choice we make when electing the next government becomes even more important.

Should we elect a government led by Tony Abbott, who believes in a strong work ethic and people doing things for themselves and promises to help them live happily in this land of opportunity because of policies introduced by what he says will be his just and socially aware government or a government led by the current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who seems to believe that popularity equates to ability.

Clearly Mr Rudd is not a fan of Wilkins Micawber in Charles Dickens novel, David Copperfield who said : “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness; annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery” And because Mr Rudd seems bent on continuing to spend more money than the government has in its coffers let me resume my cynicism and suggest Mr Rudd should consider establishing a Department of Misery. Indeed, he seems to want to remodel Australia as old world.

Over the next five weeks voters will get a chance to make their own decision as to who they would rather have at the helm of government. Advert after advert In support of and extend the messages in the adverts, Abbott and Rudd will make personal appearance after personal appearance in the hope they impress enough voters to think of them as trustworthy and in doing so gain their vote at the ballot box come election day.

It is important however, that voters analyse Abbott and Rudd’s policy promises in detail and sort out those that will benefit Australians long into the future and despatch the expedient promises designed to paper over policy deficiencies to cyber space. This is important if they want to ensure Australia will continue to benefit because, as time goes by, nations we foolishly think inferior, will catch us up and perhaps as the evidence of history has sown with other countries shows, make us pay for our foolish idea.

And while important that we listen to media reports on the policies of the major parties, it is also important to remember the only reports that voters should pay attention to are the factual statement of candidates. Anything else is merely opinion and there’s lot of that. Examples: ABC’s The Insiders and Q&A; Ten’s The Bolt Report (though Bolt doesn’t hide his political affiliations). In radio media, Radio National and various other ABC programs do the same as do many commercial radio programmes. While in the press I doubt if voters would be confused as to the political sympathies of Fairfax and News Limited.

And much as the Federal election is important, many ACT voters think the election of. ACT candidates such as Greens, Liberals, Labor, or small party candidates and Independents to Federal Parliament more important. And why shouldn’t they?

Small polity it might be but sadly the campaigns of the two major parties in the ACT, Labor and Liberals, as well as the Greens are copying the campaigns of their national brethren, more slanging match than explanation of policies.

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