Monday, August 11, 2008

Truth in Politics

“An environmentally compatible economy will bring prosperity”

“The climate change sceptics, just like Kermit the Frog, are wrong - it is getting easier to be green.”

Rob Oakeshott Port Macquarie NSW

I quote Robbie first up here because he has said something many potential Obama supporters want to hear from the probable Democrat candidate. First up, Oakeshott is no more honest than Obama, but his constituency is far more ready to hear the message.

Just backtracking, I have been discussing Obama and truth in politics on this and other blogs. That a candidate might be cautious and circumspect in commenting on issues seems a fair call to me. After all, putting faith in the electorate to accept Jeremiah like prophesy is a big ask.

Here I’m talking about people who find themselves in deep financial straits because:

  • They enter contracts and agreements on terms they cannot possibly meet
  • They ignore or rationalize bills as they come in
  • They ignore or dodge those attempting to collect supposed debts
  • They fail to try and negotiate a resolution (often fanciful these days anyway.)

In short, they ignore the hard economic reality before them.

It goes even further, however, to the corporations, banks and business who extend debt to people who obviously cannot met the terms of agreements. Of course there is a strong element of corporate corruption in all this, as debt is a saleable commodity up an increasingly slippery finance chain.

But the personal debt issue can be turned back to the political argument. Can you save people (a country) from themselves by telling them the hard truth? And what is the hard truth anyway?

Oakeshott can make his statements safely in a country which has just endured a decade or so of water restrictions and some fairly brutal weather extremes. Even my sub-tropical paradise has registered extreme low night time temps through this winter.

Yes, we know there is something big happening out there. Can we prove it scientifically? Well I can’t, and I don’t believe Oakeshott can either. But we believe, almost as a nation now, in the need for positive action even at personal cost.

So that is the economics of environment; what about personal finances? Surely nearly every household is touched first or second hand by the debt trap or housing crisis. The remedies in Australia and the US would be quite different, but initially would still call for a major overhaul of personal aspiration and acquisition.

It would be a brave politician, in either country, who would put forward an effective plan of attack as an election agenda. The question is, does avoiding to spell out the hard detail amount to lying? I think not. But I do agree with those who are aggrieved at representatives who claim to care and still don’t take action when they have the power.


abi said...

You know where I stand on this, Cart. I'd jail every fork-tongued pol who ever promised what he knew he couldn't deliver.

Cart said...

c'mon Abi, you are just baiting now :)That attitude is exactly why good pollies bite their tongue. There are no certainties in policy.

abi said...

I concede the point, Cart. The only certainty in politics is this: When you see a politician's lips moving, he's lying. ;-)

lindsaylobe said...

Let me attempt to summarize the truthful position as I understand it in the USA~ let’s see if you and any of your blogger friends agree!.

It’s the worst credit crunch since the great depression and the current resultant very severe housing meltdown is likely to last until maybe 2009.

The oil shock is worse that 1970 and you have accompanying rising unemployment and inflation (as you did then) but this time in tandem with an unsustainable 9 trillion dollar debt.

After six long years of a highly unpopular war you have a President who consistently scores 30% in the popularity ratings.

Would I be excused in thinking under normal political conditions the American Democratic Party, given sensible policy initiatives should be streets ahead in the polls?

Why should I not conclude there is in effect a very ineffective campaign?

I am less sceptical than ABI and contend the truthful responses will not only strike a chord with most voters but will be self evident in their integrity.

However such responses must also address voter concerns.

The polls indicate energy and inflation rank first and second in voter concerns.

The idea that you must make a choice between encouraging conservation and increasing supply I think is to be a slave to different ideologies.

There is no reason why you cannot have both.

Attempting to increase supply with sensible initiatives that do not harm the environment such as increased drilling may not materially change supply in the short term but it changes perceptions. In fact the return may me much more assured than many of the alternatives which are also to be pursued.

It boils down to the fact there needs to be a large number of different initiatives, including the use and investment of alternatives and conservation rather than and either or approach.

Obama is captive to the pressure groups within his party and it all too evident in his single approach to energy. People I thnk sense this, it doesnt go over well.

Inflation is also due to a mixture of things and the limited fiscal and monetary policies now available and that reflect poorly on the overspending by the current administration. There is ample opportunity to draw up a more detailed policy response, including an acknowdgement things may will get worse in the short term.

This has been resisted by either party, but on once initiated that party would immeadsiately gain an advantage and enhance its creditability.

In the Northern areas of NSW, Australia it is a different story but I think exactly the same principles apply.

These areas in my opinion need to become more self sufficient in food production brought about by a different approach in caring for the land, already highlighted and ably assisted by the wonderful work of the land care movement.

Coastal development has been deplorable in some regions with insufficient respect for the environment which will mean many ill advised developments will suffer badly in future years.

There is also an ageing population issue which will require much more emphasis on savings rather than spending. The rural price for land is also overstated which also contributes to its over use. In the Future a different style of politicking will be required as your post suggests
best wishes

Cart said...

“worst credit crunch since the great depression”
“should be streets ahead in the polls?”
Lindsay, my argument is that most voters don’t really want to be told just how bad the medicine might taste, but they also expect BO to feel the need to administer it. In short I believe the country is pretty much in denial. But remember, this is a country which has survived on debt for 30 something years, the demand letter is something worthy of avoiding.
To be fair, I expect Abi and others recognize that reality and want it expressed, but it would take a brave/foolhardy candidate to do that. The fact is, these issues will need to be addressed and see OB as sufficiently cautious and focused to do what needs to be done.

Now the Northern areas of NSW; you know the region well. I see two clear priorities for a designated ‘growth region’ like Port Macquarie. First up is to become self sufficient in produce and other appropriate commodities, then sell on the surplus. Life worked like that for millennia.
The second runs off the first, the provision of green power for this region. Again it is about regional self sustainability, just as I have argued national self sustainability ahead of export dependence. There are only a few who benefit from shipping product directly out of the region.
Having said that, I note some who actually do benefit the region with shipped product. They include, obviously, the company supplying outfits for various of our Olympics athletes. There are others, all worthy of encouragement but few big enough to sustain the outside market pressures. I think the ‘growth’ region deserves a decent analysis of resources and opportunities into the future.