Sunday, June 10, 2012

The nattering nannies are on the prowl again ...

(Above: First Dog on how the IPA might welcome the seven billionth baby, more here and below that, a new kind of breakfast cereal, cartoon from an unidentified source).

The scepticism of voters about Chris Berg, the IPA and the commentariat generally might be troubling to them but it's hardly surprising - for starters, the Bergians clearly show no sign of lifting their game, or changing their ways.

Here's Berg at the tail end of a piece about democracy titled: Politics of contradiction mean democracy for me, but not for thee, based on a spartan poll of Generation Y conducted by the Lowy Institute, throwing a few wild generalisations into the mix:

The cohort most sceptical of democracy is also the cohort that most votes Green. This is unlikely to be a coincidence.

Rush off to the Lowy Institute for supporting evidence, documentation, whatever, and you'll pull up short.

The bald summary of findings on the Lowy page Gen Y not sold on democracy provides a breakdown in relation to age regarding three statements about democracy, and if you can be bothered, and you hare off into the pdf, you don't get much more in the way of enlightenment (The Lowy Institute Poll 2012: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy with pdf link to survey).

The main point of the poll is to compare and contrast attitudes to democracy (with a demographic about age thrown in as a bonus) in Australia with responses in Indonesia and Fiji.

You have to wander away on a tenuous, convoluted path, not supported by what is a fairly skimpy Lowy survey, to produce any support for the bald Bergian statement. Perhaps Berg's logic, unsupported by the survey, runs along the line that young people are inclined to eco fascism and also inclined to vote Green, and this accords with young people's jaundiced view of democracy. Talk about a house of straw, or perhaps of sticks.

Where this leaves the rich inner city elite is entirely another matter.

You could just as easily wander down a path demonstrating that young people object to faux democracy because it's too closely aligned with fascisto-capitalism.

Never one to search for complexity, or subtlety or nuance, Berg instead settles for a book:

The sympathetic author of the textbook Green Political Thought, Andrew Dobson, writes of the ''palpable tension between radical green objectives and the democratic process''.

It's a classic bait and switch. Start with a survey, and then jump to a "sympathetic" author.

You might just as easily write sympathetically of the palpable tension between radical Clive Palmer or Gina Rinehart or Andrew Bolt or lobby group IPA objectives and the democratic process, and sound no more fatuous than Berg.

But hey let's keep going with the Bergian generalisations:

The public opposes much environmental action.

Sure, ask anyone the next time you meet them how they feel about having a gas fracking plant in their neighbourhood.

Sure ask anyone the next time you meet them how they'd feel if the Great Barrier Reef was comprehensively trashed.

How on earth could any member of the commentariat write such a simple-minded sentence? The out word of course is "much". You can use it in other sentences.

The public opposes much Bergian drivel.

And all this in a column which carries the moniker "democracy for me but not for thee", which might just as easily be retitled "a decent environment for me but not for thee", or you can get to live in shit, but please don't trouble me about it.

But Berg's not done with the generalisations, and rounds it all out thusly:

Anybody with radical politics will be just a little bit disappointed by democracy's results.

Uh huh, but as usual, along the way, it's the poor old greenie eco-fascists who've copped the bucketing, and not a word about people with radical politics, like the IPA, Andrew Bolt, Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart, and anyone else kowtowing to the crypto-fascist big business end of the capitalist town.

We keed, we keed, we love big business. What we really dislike are simple-minded pieties and piƱata bashing of the easy kind.

Berg really does show contempt for his readers, all the more ironical when he complains about the attitude of some people, who think some other people are too dumb to trust with the right to vote.

...ironically, the complaints show why Australians have come to be sceptical about democracy in the first place. Do we really want people who are too uninformed or too stupid to trust democracy to vote? Talk about reaping what you sow

This would be the same Chris Berg (along with other IPA brethren) who complains about compulsory voting in pieces such as Informal Ballots: Blame Compulsory Voting.

Yep, Berg and the IPA would be extremely happy if - in the guise of some kind of libertarian utopia - people had the right not to vote, instead of spending a few minutes every couple of years or so being asked to express their views at the ballot box.

There's another important argument against compulsory voting - we ought to have the freedom not to vote. In one of this country's few libertarian classics, Rip van Australia, John Singleton claimed it is the "ultimate contradiction for a supposedly free and democratic society to be founding on a system of compulsory voting."

John Singleton as a democrat! And Berg has the cheek to blather on about eco fascists.

Well here's a comforting thought about compulsory voting. Instead of Berg being forced to distort the findings of a Lowy Institute survey featuring a thousand or so Australians, how about millions of Australians being obliged to trot off to the polls every few years or so. What a shocking, onerous, anti-libertarian burden.

Sure you might end up with Tony Abbott in a perennial sulk about being denied the right to rule, sure you might end up with a minority government, but at least we haven't thus far ended up like the United States of America.

It's called participatory democracy of an extremely minimal kind - nothing like the ancient Greek version - but sadly, according to the free tree killer rag thrown over the fence on the weekend, the Bergians have already won.

According to figures quoted by Gemma Daley in the AFR in Why we're voting with our feet (sorry behind the paywall, but nudge nudge wink wink the AFR is handing its weekend edition out like confetti) 1.2m Australians aren't on the roll, 0.95m million didn't turn up to the last federal vote, and 0.73 million didn't cast a formal vote. That's a total of 2.88 million, compared to the voter enrolment for 2010 of 14.09 million people.

Toxic politics and toxic politicians are killing off the desire for even a minor participation in democratic processes every few years. And toxic commentary and the news cycle can take their fair share of the blame.

Unless of course it's all the fault of radical greenies ...

Is there any upside brooding about Berg? Well yes it leaves no time or space to brood about Paul "Generally Grumpy" apocalyptic hysteric Sheehan.

A passing reader suggested that Sheehan got his talking points from Tony Abbott and the Liberal party, but there's a new line of inquiry which suggests that Sheehan retired some time ago to devour sourdough, washed down by magic water, and Tony Abbott took over writing his columns while keeping the pen name.

It would be tempting to call Sheehan a nattering nanny, except that would do a grave disservice to nannies, who are generally law-abiding, quite nice people not averse to providing lamingtons and a hot cup of tea to those in need.

Here's how Sheehan starts his piece Boats keep coming and the real cost keeps rising:

The numbers are extraordinary. The failure is breathtaking - a failure in every possible way, of policy, morality, practicality, security, sovereignty, fairness and budgeting.

Talk about an attack of the vapours, has anyone got smelling salts handy? The hysterics are extraordinary. The exaggerations are breathtaking, exaggerations in every possible way, in the sovereign use of words, in the fair use of words, in the budgeting of words, in the immoral and impractical use of words. Why it's a full bushel of rhetorical Humpty Dumpty-isms.

In the old days, before the pond got tired of the game, we used to do a word display for Piers "Acker Dacker" Akermann, queen of the hysterical commentariat. Let's do the same for Sheehan:

Failure ... farce ... absurd gall ... deafening gale of laughter and cat-calling ... ripple of mirth ...most disturbing ... comprehensive debacle ... huge figure ... enrages voter ... outrageous comment ... gift that keeps on giving ... garland of shame ... game-breaker.

Etc etc. Oh and Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison wondrous ...

It's simply too tiresome to have a debate, or even an outright argument, or even give the hysterical Sheehan a box around the ears. Last month it was how disastrous the economy was, this month it's the disastrous boat people.

Next month? What's that you're suggesting Mr. Abbott? Why not just write it down and send it along. We have a pen name handy, no one will ever guess ...

Happily the sky hasn't fallen yet, for all Paul "Chicken Little" Sheehan's urging, but is it any wonder that temperate readers in search of temperate views are voting with their feet?

Pay for a Fairfax publication? Why the pond would just as soon subscribe to The Australian for a daily masochistic abuse about being a member of the inner urban elite, as scribbled by a bunch of over-paid members of an inner-urban elite (when do you think Greg Sheridan or Dennis Shanahan last visited Tamworth without the help of company expenses?)

Still Gina Rinehart must be pleased, having her very own man inside Fairfax peddling the party line like any fair average hysterical News Ltd member of the commentariat. (And as everyone knows, News Ltd is currently as good a bunch of nattering nannies as has ever been assembled in one place at the one time).

Sorry again nannies, we just wanted to end with a competition.

Guess which one is Paul Sheehan in the following Victorian cartoon?


  1. Berg is an idiot,just like Sheehan and Singleton has the biggest array of misfits assembled at any radio network.Fairfax,News Ltd and the ABC a complete waste of space.Is it any wonder the MSM in this country is in a complete tailspin.Thank you for LOON POND and keep up the excellent work.

  2. Not sure about "idiot" but Berg certainly has a naive faith in the invisible hand, which paints him into some very silly corners most of the time.

  3. Is it just me or does "The Invisible Hand" sound like a villain from a 1930 radio serial?


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