Sunday, January 3, 2010

Truth in a Democracy

Truth in a Democracy

Politicians in a democracy are famously economical with the truth. However there is a big difference between lying to the voters and lying for the voters. When America invaded Iraq most people knew that it was about oil. However the government had to steadfastly claim that it was about other things. Bush and co knew the voters didn't mind him lying and would support the war if it was intended to keep a lid on prices for petrol and heating oil. But what if some voters didn't get it. The government couldn't make its case directly. Then out of the blue, Rupert Murdoch makes his statement about $20 oil. We assume its a gaff, but was it? Fast forward to the recent Australian election. The opposition Labor party is criticizing the Iraq war, and the criticism makes sense based on the claimed reasons for the war. However most voters knew that the war was about oil, and supporting our great and powerful friend right or wrong. But what if some voters hadn't got the secret message and took the Liberal government's professed reasons literally. Something had to be done. So the Defence Minister says in an interview that the war was about oil. Government rushes to deny it. Everyone thinks it was a gaff. Was it?

We see the same thing with CO2 mitigation. The voters want their cheap coal power and the coal industry supports a lot of voters. So the government pretends it will reduce CO2 emissions by CCS and other magic, and the voters pretend to believe. Even worse lies are perpetrated by parties lying on behalf of their own supporters: particularly for support of racist actions.