On the long term view of government responsibility and ivory tower philosophies

This is a two parter, the first part is on the responsibilities of government in the long term, the second part is on philosophy and ideology detached from reality.

Part the first.
I was thinking about the merits and disadvantages of democracy, how I considered the main advantage being that you couldn’t get a complete lunatic as your leader, but this turned out to be untrue at the last election, however, at least the term is brief.

But that got me thinking about government in the long term, and that got me thinking. Democracy is sort of like having a schizophrenic dictator, where every few years the leader has a complete change of personality and everything that was right and good becomes bad and wrong. Things that were valued overnight become waste, long term projects get scrapped or changed on the whim of the new personality in charge. Laws are repealed, new ones are introduced at odds with what merely a week ago was considered an inalienable right.

This is not a very responsible form of government, and that’s not a reflection on any particular party. New governments come in declaring a mandate and their vision for Australia, as though they plan to be in power for the next 50 years, which will never happen. The previous government also had a mandate, was also voted in and had public support for their vision. Do they really believe that the public are truly so inconsistent that their values completely backflip every few years?

It seems to me that governments of all creeds have a responsibility to moderate their visions to a longer view and compromise. If you believe government should not play a heavy role in public infrastructure projects and should be privately funded, then by all means, facilitate private funding of projects you plan, but that doesn’t give you the right to undo everything the previous government did or privatise their projects simply because you’re now in charge. The public didn’t agree with you when that project was funded, your ideology does not apply retrospectively.

There needs to be some mechanism for these sorts of changes, but I don’t think it should be up to a single party. I think something like 85% of the parliament in support would be more appropriate, but this presents another problem- the adversarial nature of the system.

To me this is a major problem with our system. The parliament is set up as a government and an opposition, whose role is to be contrarian and little else. Is this really in the public interest? Or should the parliament be trying to discuss solutions rather than playing party line games?

I remind people that the entire parliament was elected to represent their constituents, not just members of the government. Every single sitting mp should be contributing.

Long term stability requires a middle ground view, curbing all the extremes rather than swinging wildly between them.

Part the second
Which brings us onto ideology, philosophy and the problems of holding to a philosophical ideal without relating it to reality.

Last night I watched Tim Wilson, commissioner for human rights, speak on freedom of speech on the ABC show “Q and A”. He values certain universal rights above all else, which is why he opposes racial vilification laws at least in their current form. I understand his position. I value freedom and hold it in high regard, however, the flaws in his philosophy were pointed out to him on the spot, that such freedom to say what you like, is an inalienable right and that on private property especially no one has the right to tell you not to. The issue pointed out to him is that this favors the wealthy and powerful over the disenfranchised targets of the vilification, they do not have the means to respond, despite having the right. The right also doesn’t give them the arena in which to respond. Essentially, Wilson’s philosophy supports freedom in principle, but not in reality, in reality only those with means have rights, and those that do not have the resources are entirely at the mercy of those that have power. Technically everyone has the same rights, that’s equality and freedom in principle, but in practice if is not. It is, in reality, an oppression of free speech and the favoring of one group over another, fundamentally against the very principle of freedom he supposedly holds to.

And that’s really the point to take away from this second part, an ideology that you don’t have to relate to reality is not an ideology to live by in the real world. This goes for all philosophies. Facts and how your ideology plays out against it’s aims matter.


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