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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

politics as usual « Previous | |Next »
January 31, 2011

The political year is in swing and the partisan rhetoric from the political noise machines is being cranked up. The blustering Nationals continue to denounce the Gillard Government for its failure to adopt the politics of austerity whilst continuing to hammer the government by demanding more handouts for regional Australia. Hammer hammer hammer.

Behind the ever increasing noise the tactic looks as if the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott is only going to amplify his style of opposing everything to make life for the government as tough as possible. The Coalition's belief is that the fall of Gillard is inevitable.


The strategy is for Abbott to be prime minister by the end of this year without facing an election and so the Coalition will make the life of the regional Independents---Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor--- as difficult as possible. Destroy them and the Gillard Government falls. Hammer, hammer hammer. Labor throws environmental programs overboard when the going gets tough in order to save its bacon.

We'd better get used to the noise about the incompetent, hopeless, useless Gillard Government, because there is going to be plenty of it. For instance in The Australian Mirko Bagaric, a professor at Deakin University, runs through the right wing talking points:

The only sound response to the flood damage is to defer or scrap other spending programs, especially non-essential items such as the National Broadband Network...the flood impost is exactly what you would expect from a government that has lost its way. One thing that is clear is that for the country to move forward for the benefit of working families, a fundamental shift is necessary in the approach to government policy delivery. That is not likely to happen under Gillard's stewardship.

The rhetoric around the NBN from the conservative noise machine is becoming ever more extreme as it goes way beyond the standard concerns about the internet. Bagaric adds that:
Gillard's only big-ticket item, the NBN, highlights her inadequacies. Governments should never use our taxes for projects that they can't prove will be good for us.It is not clear whether the internet is doing more harm than good to the human species. But what is incontestable is that it is a luxury, and that it is quick enough at present to accommodate all useful applications.Sure, the internet provides quicker access to information, but it has several disadvantages, many of which are just starting to emerge.

These are: most internet use relates to email, (anti-)social networking sites and trash searches, including music videos and porn; it is retrograde from a work and health perspective since online technologies make workers contactable 24/7, breaking the separation between work and family and social life; there are no positive educational outcomes as research suggests the internet is probably making us dumber etc etc.

What we have is an academic opposing an information economy and recycling old work. Bagariuc concludes on this note:

Gillard's persistence with her fanatical plan force us to pay $2000 each to improve a tool that makes us more stressed, dumber, fatter and less healthy is the ultimate proof that she is incapable of making decisions that have positive outcomes in the real world.

I presume that Bagariuc used the internet to send his opinion piece to The Australian to be published, and he is quite happy for us to read his pearls of wisdom online using the internet. The contradictions don't matter, do they? It's just hammer hammer hammer.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:21 AM | | Comments (6)


'It is not clear whether the internet is doing more harm than good to the human species. But what is incontestable is that it is a luxury ...'

It's staggering that someone could be allowed to write such nonsense in a commercial newspaper. The absence of understanding and historical awareness is simply stunning; no doubt people wrote the same kind of deluded rubbish about cars, electricity and telephones.

Nation Review Online's proud motto is something like 'standing in the path of history crying "STOP"'. 'The Australian' seems determined to do the same thing, presumably to defer its own inevitable decline into irrelevance.

what is even more stunning is that the author of this kind of nonsense is a professor at an Australian university.

Several years ago Professor Mirko Bagaric wrote a scholarly article as Deakin law dean, in which he advocated the use of torture on terrorism suspects.

In the earlier article on the internet--Necessity or Luxury at Online Opinion that Bagaric recycled for The Australian he wrote:

The internet is also socially isolating. Facebook and Twitter facilitate superficial, meaningless communications which are devoid of emotional and deeper connectedness and cut into the time people have to develop genuine bonds through shared activities with others. The internet is the cause of incalculable emotional distress from bullying and defamatory tweets. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found in 2009, that 3 per cent of children who used the internet experienced some kind of personal safety or security problem on the internet.It is hardly surprising that in first large-scale study of Western young people looking at the impact of the internet on mental health, psychologists at Leeds found that high internet users “had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than normal users

He adds that the popularity of the internet as a pastime simply highlights the weakness of the human will. It is a total victory of apathy over industriousness. It underlines the way in which we prefer short term escapism (which requires no effort) to meaningful endeavours which provide real levels of achievement and stimulation.

Gary I bet he and David Flint get on famously. Lawyers who believe they know much better than the majority what's good for society and have no compunctions about manipulating the power of the state to achieve their elitist goals.

'3 per cent of children who used the internet experienced some kind of personal safety or security problem'?? I reckon that's about 50 percentage points less than the number who experience some kind of personal safety or security problem walking the streets or using public transport. On that kind of idiotic reasoning, using the internet is much safer than riding a bicycle home from school. Does he want to withdraw public funding for bike tracks too? Hmmm he probably does, now I think about it.

Mirko's stuff occasionally appears in the Oz, and Online Opinion too.

But he never says anything that is at all real (however that is defined), or usable. As indeed is the case with David Flint.

And yet lawyers are supposed to be capable of clear thinking and well reasoned arguments - or are they?