Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Marc My Words - 7 April 2006

Marc My Words - 7 April 2006

Political comment By Marc Alexander

A war can be fought with guns but it is won with ideas

Imagine a game where you were a government. Imagine also that the object of the game was to amass as much power over the people as possible in the shortest possible time - with the only catch being that you couldn't use military force and every few years you had to try and survive an election. How would you do it?

Well, the first plan of attack might well be to influence the education of our future citizens. After all, the best control to exert on someone would be to capture their minds. You could achieve it simply by removing the one obstacle that could threaten control - the ability to think critically and independently. Perhaps making such consequences less likely, less relevent, and less quantifiable. That means no less than reducing the so-called inequality of outcomes based on individual merit through a wholesale destruction of comparative attainments. For example, get rid of exams and the educational competition amongst students that truly allows them to rate their achievements. Replace objective criteria with say, an approach that rewards access to process above knowledge. Lets call this NCEA.

Of course, parents who have yet to be brainwashed into accepting mediocrity for their children's future might be a noisy electoral problem. Best to preoccupy them, not only with an increasing need to work longer hours - or better yet get both parents out in the workforce - but also by undermining a paren't ability to parent. The former is easily achieved by raising taxes so that the work/reward relationship is disturbed and forces longer hours in work to get marginally ahead.

The latter can be achieved through a number of invasive strategies that weaken the family. Certainly higher taxes diminish the economic viability of families but so too does teaching children that they have rights with which to threaten their parents with. This now far exceeds the genuine dangers of child abuse to include, by example, the Independent Youth Benefit which is nothing less than taxpayer subsidised dissolution of the right of parents to parent. After all, if it really was applied for the purpose intended, why has not one parent whose child receives this allowance ever been charged?

While we're on the topic of diluting parental rights, how about getting supporting political allies to introduce legislation that repeals a parent's right to use reasonable corrective force? Sounds like the push for the repeal of section 59 doesn't it? Not simply a prohibition on a smack of the hand but hypothetically a criminal prosecution on a parent who physically restrains a child from commiting suicide!

Make no mistake, if you want to control the future you must control the children - and the most effective way to do that is to administer the education they receive in content and outcome, place demands on families that undermine their stability, and wrest parenting control away from parents.

But if the children are the future, a more immediate problem is what to do with the voting adults who, set in their ways, might be more difficult to control?

Obviously the tax system could be worked to some advantage. On its own a progressively rising tax burden would minimise the incentive to work harder (and if it didn't then an increasing proportion of wealth be diverted to fill the government coffers). More importantly though, the disincentive to work longer, harder, or risk starting and expanding a business, might also create a perverse encouragement to go offshore. Just like the 650 a week who leave at the moment. These entrepeneurial and free thinking individuals who have the temerity to want more out of life for themselves and their families might just be the people a government hellbent on as much control as possible wouldn't want anyway. They'd be too much trouble. The spark which drives their dreams and passions might make them harder to control. They'd more likely get resentful, resist and fight back - at least at the ballot box. Who knows.they might even get vocal and organised enough to attract support! Can't have that now can we?

Next we need to capture the language of debate so that articulating 'dangerous' free thinking ideas (which run contrary to the interests of government) can be curbed. It would be easier for the totalitarian ambitions of government to flourish if we dampen debate, make challenging ideas sound like the ravings of those who ought not be taken seriously, and if we restrict the orbit of language.

And if we could dress it up to sound like the language of egalitarianism, well, then we're on our way. Superanuitants, health beneficiaries, the temporarily unemployed and the lazy become lumped into one amorphous category so that we can no longer discern amongst them; the right not to be publicly shamed for wrongdoing becomes a privacy rights issue; and criminals become rehabilitation clients! Perfect!

How about comining up with a cunning scheme to entrap not just one or two generations into the driftnet of dependence, but a whopping two out of three families and calling it the precise opposite of what it is, such as 'Working for families'? Genius!

In one 'foul' swoop a government has done what the Soviet bloc tried to, what cappucino swilling socialists dream of, and what the indolent, the indifferent, and the unscrupulous clamour for - the right to be rewarded for mediocrity! The elegance in all of this is that we give succour to our jealousy by denying the hardworking the reward of their efforts (whose drive and success would otherwise damage our self-esteem). We could be smug about this, pick their wallets and dress it up sanctimoniously as providing for identified social needs. Fantastic!

Just look at the consequence of this 'Working against.oops, for Families' initiative. For many if you have a couple of kids, and assuming marginal tax and abatement rates at around 90%, the difference between being on $38,000 and $60,000 is only around $45 a week! So much for the work/reward relationship. The beauty of this is that as a government you can gussy up how you 'value the vote' with how you 'value kids and family'. Sell an easy message and reap the life-blood of any electoral cycle. Creating subsistence and dependence is the perfect strategy to maintain voter loyalty and increasing government power. Hell it's the same thing!

Now, you may ask why the 'Working for Families' dependance strategy is only offered to those with kids? If its about 'need' then why is reproduction the criteria when other groups might be equally deserving? Good question.but here's the thing: parents are most suseptable to extract loyalty from because for most of them, the kids come first. They are the most vulnerable. The real point is that stripping wealth from those who work for it and redistributing it to others who may not, on the basis of an ideology to expand fairness is a successful strategy. The justification of fairness being justified with unfairness is also wonderfully ironic is it not?

Imagine the consequences?

How can we teach our children to value the reward from work when the government removes it? How do we teach our kids to live within their means when this government has in effect told people through 'Working for Families' that they don't have to; that their income will be topped up - paid for by depriving someone else from the friuts of their labors?

So will the children really benefit? How do we know what the extra dollars will be spent on? Will the family in the TV advertising - the one in the $700,000 home who are so deprived the dad has to text his daughter (who is in the same room) listening on her ipod, that dinner was ready - purchase other gadgets to dig them out of poverty?

Well.enough. This is no game.

The voracious power grab of this government has seen it extend its tentacles of control over our children. We need to return education back to the needs of the child not the state. Of course the only people who will like this plan are the parents and children. Everybody who matters will be against it - the Labour government, the ministry of Education and the teacher unions. In tandem we need to recognise what has happened as nothing less than state-sponsored child abuse: a deliberate strategy to dumb down our kids.

All the while this government has been busy whittling away the liberties we talk fondly as those we used to have. The absurdity of 'Working for Families' (and perversely supported by political allies who profess to actually care about families) lies in the fact that some of those who helped pass this duplicitous poisin to families will themselves be eligible to 'top-up' their incomes if they have a few children, and their partners do not work! Nothing like self-interest to motivate law-makers!

No one can blame families who have seen this government suck their wealth from them over the last six years from wanting some of it back any way they can. But we need to challenge this government every step of the way. We have to start with ourselves. We should begin by believing in ourselves and demanding a government to believe in us too. We can no longer tolerate our own apathy because it is that which conspires against us.

No longer should we look to government for those things we should do for oureselves. We cannot afford to go on ceding authority and responsibility to this government. After all, it's our life, and its time we take it back.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news