Brown Study

Brown study

25 July 2015

9:00 AM

25 July 2015

9:00 AM

It looks like we may have an early election. So that my readers will be well-informed citizens ready to take part in the noble activity of voting, I thought it would be useful if I gave you a handy guide to some warning signs you may come across in the campaign, so that you can take evasive and defensive action to stamp them out before they gain a foothold. Should you find any candidates exhibiting these symptoms, I would strongly urge you to reject them outright and look elsewhere for a candidate worthy of your vote. As a rough rule of thumb, then, I would urge you to reject any candidate who uses one or more of the words ‘vision’, ‘reform’ or ‘equality’. As another rough rule of thumb it is pretty safe to put a candidate on the Watch List if he or she shows any one of the abovementioned tendencies in the same speech or interview. Two strikes puts them on the Presumed Dangerous Tendencies and Not to be Approached Under Any Circumstances list. Committing all three of these indignities at once puts the candidate on the Banned and Never to be Let Loose in Public list. Let us look at all three to see why they pose such a threat to sensible government. Basically, ‘vision’ means that a politician has lost contact with the world of reality, of assessing what a government can and should do and, instead, seeks refuge in some vague, amorphous dream world where everything is perfect and everyone happy. So, when candidates say they have a vision for the country, it means they are incapable of working out what resources the government has or should have or what it should be doing and that they have replaced it with something nice that is going to appear from nowhere simply because the politician has seen Nirvana in a vision. Even the dictionary definition should be a warning; ‘vision’, the Oxford tells us, is a ‘thing seen in dream or trance; supernatural or prophetic apparition, phantom.’ If you want a contemporary analogy, the best I can think of is the modern Greek tragic-comedy where there are debts but no repayment, assets but no liabilities, pensions without earning them and none of the boring features of real life like work, discipline and saving. So, if you want a government guided by illusions, the candidate with vision is the man for you. But if you want policies based on reality, give him a wide berth. Then, there is ‘reform’. The problem with reform was best summed up by the English high court judge I heard at a commonwealth law conference some years ago. He spoke just after some academic had been waffling on about how the law was in need of reform. ‘Reform; reform?’ asked the learned judge. ‘Aren’t things bad enough as they are?’ In other words, reform never made anything better. It can only bring about the result, as it always has, that nothing will be better, it will make things more complicated, regulated and expensive to administer and you and I will end up paying for it. For example, it is no co-incidence that the call for reform of the GST is really a call for more taxes, a wider base as it is disarmingly put, more incomprehensible forms to fill in and more heavy-handed enforcement. Finally, ‘equality’ is probably the worst delusion of all and deserving of a place at the very top of the list because it is grasping at the unattainable and the unnatural and at something that people do not even want. Human beings are not equal and cannot be made equal. They strive not to be equal but to be different, to lift themselves out of the hum-drum of uniformity and mediocrity and to be given some prospect of getting ahead of their neighbours in return for harder or cleverer work. But if all you can offer them, after all that work, is the prospect of equality, it will fill them with despair because they know the game is not worth the candle. So, voters: beware of vision, reform and equality and stick to the world of reality.

While on the subject of words, one that is increasingly entering into public debate is the word that keeps on giving: ‘racist’. It is now regularly used to denigrate anyone who has an opinion on immigration, refugees, human rights or terrorism that departs from the official opinion approved by the ABC and Fairfax Media. It also a standby argument to throw at you if you do no more than advocate higher standards of public behaviour by, for instance, tennis brats, which is all that Dawn Fraser did last week. A lot of people, particularly in the media, now seem incapable of replying to an argument logically and methodically in a calm and dispassionate way. But no, the Left do not want arguments where logic and the facts will win the day. For them, if you want some responsible control of our borders, you are a racist. If you want a cohesive population mixture you are a racist. If you say that our law enforcement bodies need more power to fight terrorism, you are – quelle surprise! – also a racist. This is all nonsense, of course, and is perpetrated for the basest of motives: to intimidate others from taking part in the debate, to smear them and, with them, their point of view.

But the good news about words is that we now know, from the recent offerings of Mr Shorten, where the benefits of ‘flexibility’ in employment contracts are supposed to go. Naive as I am, I thought they would naturally go to the workers. But for Mr Shorten and his dodgy deals, when workers forego their penalty rates the benefits are expected to flow straight to a union, with all the justification of a secret commission paid on a mafia contract.

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