Home > Oz Politics > Core promises (repost from 2008)

Core promises (repost from 2008)

May 18th, 2014

Now that Tony Abbott’s ‘fundamentally honest’ has joined John Howard’s ‘core promises’ in the lexicon of spin, I thought I’d repost this piece from 2008, urging Kevin Rudd to keep his (unwise and damaging) promise to adopt most of Howard’s proposed tax cuts.

If there is one word that will be tied inexorably to the Howard government in historical memory, that word is ‘non-core’. Indeed the word is so closely associated with Howard, that it’s surprising to recall that he never uttered it. Rather, having ditched a large number of inconvenient promises after the 1996 election, Howard proudly announced that he had implemented all his ‘core’ promises. The implication that the broken promises were ‘non-core’ was left to the electors.

The process by which Howard came to this point is instructive. In 1975, the Whitlam government had come to grief by sticking rigidly to its platform commitments even when economic shocks rendered a change of course vital. Subsequent governments, starting with that of Malcolm Fraser, learned the lesson too well, becoming increasingly willing to promise whatever was required to win an election, then renege when the election was over.

Howard himself was an early exemplar of the process, when, newly appointed as Treasurer after the 1977 election, he ditched the ‘Fistful of Dollars’? tax cuts that had been the centrepiece of Fraser’s successful campaign. Bob Hawke followed suit in 1983, after the convenient discovery that the budget position was much worse than expected. The Hawke-Keating government continued on this path through its four terms in office, on issues ranging from privatisation to the L-A-W tax cuts.

By the time Howard was running for office in 1996, voters had woken up to many of the standard tricks. Howard was asked explicitly what he would do if, as with Hawke, the budget position turned out worse than expected. Howard made the commitment that he would stick to his promises anyway. Once the election was out of the way, however, this commitment was adjusted to apply only to ‘core’? promises. A couple of years later it was the turn of the GST, which Howard had promised would ‘never ever’ be introduced.

The great majority of the economic commentariat cheered the repudiation of promises they regarded as obstructing the process of economic reform. Many of them simultaneously deplored the deterioration of the policy process in the later years of the Howard government. However, most failed to make the link between the two.

By the end of the Howard years, it was impossible to take any long-run policy commitment seriously. So the only credible promises Howard could make were those that involved lump-sum handouts (like the baby bonus) or immediate interventions to subvert long-term policy (like the Mersey hospital takeover).

The process is continuing with debates over the tax cuts promised by Labor before the 2007 election, and over proposals to privatise the NSW electricity industry, a violation of long-standing Labor policy.

Most economic commentators would prefer a larger budget surplus to tax cuts, and a privatised electricity industry to a continuation of public ownership. But they failed, before the election, to persuade the parties or the voters to adopt their preferred position. In seeking to retrospectively invalidate the outcome of the election, they are willing to subvert democratic processes to achieve their preferred outcomes.

As with the Whitlam government in the early 1970s, changing circumstances may make it necessary to abandon or modify electoral commitments. But that excuse does not apply here.

It’s true that the economic outlook is worse than when the cuts were promised six months ago. But the risks of higher inflation were evident even then, and were pointed out by critics at the time. And some of the adverse changes, such as the increased risk of a US recession, strengthen the case for tax cuts.

As regards electricity privatisation, the debate has been going on for years, and the advocates of privatisation have conspicuously failed to the carry the public with them. They can scarcely claim that current circumstances, with financial markets in turmoil and proposals for emissions trading in flux, are more favorable to privatisation than they were when the Iemma government was re-elected in 2007.

The Rudd government has rightly sought to reverse the damage to public confidence in political processes inherited from its predecessors, of both political colours. Keeping inconvenient promises, such as the commitment to tax cuts, is an essential part of that task.

The loss of public confidence is even worse at the state level, and particularly in New South Wales. The state Labor government should emulate its federal counterpart and follow the policies on which it was elected.

Who knows? If governments were made to keep their promises, perhaps politicians would be more careful about what they promised.

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  1. alfred venison
    May 18th, 2014 at 13:23 | #1

    iirc, doesn’t “truth in advertising” legislation specifically exclude promises made during election campaigns? -a.v.

  2. Donald Oats
    May 18th, 2014 at 15:25 | #2

    In the final campaign of the Howard era government in 2007, they started off with the “Interest rates will always be lower under a Liberal government” mantra, and yet the Rudd-Gillard governments have seen lower interest rates—consistently lower—than the rates Howard’s government left us with. Even more infuriating than a campaign starting off on such a ridiculous claim is that the government does not have direct control of interest rates in any case; it can only fiddle with other economic levers in the hope that it will exert influence upon the Reserve Bank board’s interest rate decisions. Or, hope that the dollar goes its way. Or that a once in a century mining boom should happen upon its watch. Or, fiddle with first home owner grants to further fuel house price rises. Or, fiddle with immigration for the same…

    The Howard government’s “Interest rates always lower…” mantra could not even be taken as a promise, just an entirely unjustifiable assertion, which wasn’t particularly challenged by the media at the time.

    They say we get the government we deserve; that saying, however, is making a wild assumption that we can trust a single thing we are told by the governments and opposition parties of the day, for without a basis on which to make a voting decision in a democracy, what is left to do, what can be done to avoid being saddled with “the government we deserve?”

    Our democracy is in a very sorry state.

  3. yuri
    May 18th, 2014 at 15:52 | #3

    Unfortunately we lack something in the folk memory as potent as Germany’s 1922-23 inflation (fortified by their starting again with a new currency after WW2) to make Australian economics safe from democracy. But the pity is that Abbott could have broken the cycle of promises that shouldn’t have been made, believable only by those incapable of understanding anything much or the much larger number who like to think well of people and hadn’t the time or motivation to apply hardnosed well informed scepticism.

    It is not as though Abbott lacked supporters to tell him he should actually boast of it being a no promises election (statements of what “we will honestly try to do” but no promises) because the whole election and new government should be (have been)about restoring trust.

    Obviously not all Rhodes scholars are equally bright, but, unlike the clever Malcolm Turnbull whose lack of experience caught him out over the egregious Grech, Abbott had ample experience in politics. So how could he be so stupid? All his troubles, for shich we will all suffer if we are taxpayers were self-created in the election campaign.

  4. J-D
    May 18th, 2014 at 17:02 | #4

    Yes, indeed, we may well ask how Tony Abbott could be so stupid. How indeed? It’s a great puzzle, isn’t it? What possible explanation could there be for Tony Abbott’s being so stupid? You’ve raised an excellent point there, yuri.

  5. Donald Oats
    May 18th, 2014 at 18:09 | #5

    With respect to the “horse trading” Tony Abbott mentioned recently, I’d caution any other political party representatives to first fully consider the Abbott’s government and its record on saying what they mean, and doing what they say; even the first half of that claim is untenable, so how can you horse-trade if you cannot even place some reasonable faith in the true value of the offer being made?

    My personal opinion only, yada yada yada.

  6. Bitter
    May 18th, 2014 at 19:40 | #6

    Unfortunate, yuri?! The hold of that folk memory on Germany is a large part of why the Euro area is a disaster area.

  7. Peter Chapman
    May 18th, 2014 at 20:42 | #7

    We could perhaps wish that our politicians might find ways of presenting themselves to the electorate that do not rely on promises that become potential liabilities. You keep them and they become shackles, you break them and they become another kind of problem. Meanwhile, Messrs Abbott and coy. made numerous promises, but then gave us their notorious Commission of Audit, and used the audit report to justify breaking the promises… in effect they had no real policies prior to the election (apart from a few like “Stop the Boats”, which are less central to economic management), but had to rely on their unelected and unrepresentative audit commissioners to produce their “fundamental” or “core” economic policies. Well might we say, damn them for their perfidy, but Labor must also at some time put up or shut up in the same way. If Labor now reacts by trying to reassure us that they will keep the promises they make, they’ll be back on the same path, and facing the same pitfalls. We need some serious analysis of our situation that leads to clearly articulated policies, as a basis for gaining the trust of the electorate, and presented in a form other than as promises that are likely to be broken. That said, lest (as in a comment on a previous post) I be said to be too indulgent of Labor, I can reveal (confess) that I have never voted for a Labor government that didn’t sooner or later disappoint me, and others. But hope springs eternal.

  8. Midrash
    May 18th, 2014 at 22:05 | #8

    I don’t disagree with your point about Germany’s fiscal conservatism being one of the factors contributing to the hardships of people in the weaker countries of the EU but…. First, that is the result much more of the whole misbegotten Euro project and the determination to maintain it instead of Greece, to take the obvious case just falling back on the Drachma as currency they issued and more or less controlled. It hasn’t been the same for Germany itself.

    So why have the weak countries gone along with the purgatory imposed on them?

    I think it is overlooked that, apart from the self interest of rich or well connected Greeks, Portuguese etc. there are genuine patriots who want radical reforms and know that it is only if it is forced upon them that it might occur.

  9. alfred venison
    May 19th, 2014 at 09:44 | #9

    i think the weak countries might not be opting out of purgatory because their right & left patriots fear the financial & political retribution that would be visited on them if they did. -a.v.

  10. Ikonoclast
    May 19th, 2014 at 09:51 | #10

    Political promises primarily should be about real outcomes not about the budget numbers. For example, the promise should be:

    “As a government we promise in our first term to act to reduce unemployment under 4% whilst keeping inflation under 4%. This is the “four-four” pledge we make to the Australian people. The budget settings will be appropriate to pursue these goals. The public should judge us by real outcomes that affect real people and not by budget balance numbers. The question of running a surplus or deficit in each year must be assessed in the light of whether an under-performing economy needs stimulus or an overheated economy needs damping.

    The government will develop a job guarantee program to ensure low unemployment and to set a minimum wage floor. Mining billionaires and other rich people will not get special deals from us and corporate welfare, negative gearing, fossil fuel subsidies and other economy-distorting subsidies which assist rich people will be wound down. If you are rich and believe in special privileges for the richest few then vote for the other guys. If you belong with the rest of us, with the real Australians who believe in a fair go for all then vote for us. We intend to govern for the majority of Austrlians not just for the richest few percent.”

    If Labor had the guts to say this they would sweep to power with about 55% to 60% of the 2PP vote. Why are Labor so stupid, so gutless, so supine and so beholden to the rich elite?

  11. Terje
    May 19th, 2014 at 09:59 | #11

    I regard the Abbott lies as the worst in living memory. Gillards lie about the carbon tax was totally abhorrent but it was a kind of hot blooded crime committed in the throws of a closing battle. Abbott crime was more cold blooded. He built his entire persona on ending the era of endless lies. He did it consistently and loudly over a long period of time. He also did it far more convincingly than Gillard which is I suppose an assertion that credible lies are worse than incredible lies. Telling somebody that their house is on fire is worse than telling them that their children have been abducted by Martians.

    At the end of the day I will judge this government by their accomplishments. We vote governments out not oppositions in. But these lies put in tandem with the hopelessness of this budget (spending will rise, taxes will rise, national debt will rise) and continued regulatory attempts by the major parties to lock out alternative parties mean that in future lections I’m inclined to shred my lower house ballot and litter it across the floor of the polling booth as a sign of utter contempt. Or maybe write profanity all over it as seems to be the fashion.

  12. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    May 19th, 2014 at 10:44 | #12

    There’s no reason to believe that Gillard would have introduced, as she put it, “a carbon tax in a government she led” – that is, one which wasn’t a minority government and hadn’t had to make concessions to the greens to lock in support in both houses, not just the Senate. She was, after all, one of the people who urged Rudd to drop the idea.
    Worst in living memory, I dunno. The 70s and 80s had some truly monumental pork pies from both sides.

  13. Terje
    May 19th, 2014 at 10:53 | #13

    Gillard offered her “no carbon tax” promise after public speculation emerged that we were headed for a hung parliament and it may be a Greens / ALP coalition in government. Her words were tailored to address that outcome. She referred to a government she leads rather than simply the Labor party precisely to address the concern that it would be a coalition. Pure and simple she lied. Any alternate suggestion is in my view complete bollocks.

  14. Terje
    May 19th, 2014 at 10:53 | #14

    p.s. I meant my living memory. I was born in 1970.

  15. May 19th, 2014 at 11:03 | #15

    Oh why oh why must we revisit this tired lie, TerjeP? There is a front page interview with Gillard in the Australian before the election where she said that her govt would not introduce a carbon tax but would introduce a carbon price. She then introduced a carbon price. This is not a lie. Tony Abbot spun it into a lie by deliberately obfuscating a fixed price into a tax. You believed him, because while you claim to have some kind of understanding of economics, you’ll believe anything a lying conservative spiv tells you if it suits your prejudices.

    So don’t come over all surprised now that the liar has reverted to type and revealed himself to be a big govt big spender who hates the poor. You were warned he is a liar, and his politics are obvious to anyone who isn’t blinded by their own ideology.

  16. Terje
    May 19th, 2014 at 12:08 | #16

    This is not a lie.

    When words are uttered with the intent of deceiving people then that is a lie.

    What was implemented was a tax. She promised not to introduce such a tax. It is baulderdash to suggest she was not deceiving people deliberately. She lied. Get over it.

  17. May 19th, 2014 at 12:09 | #17

    She implemented a price. It’s not her fault you don’t understand the difference between two very different things.

  18. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 12:49 | #18

    With the exception of the old “carbon tax” canard that Terje reintroduces here (and which I won’t buy into because people here have heard me on this many times), his comments about the quality of Abbott’s deceit are hard to disagree with.

    On the broader issue, I really object to people making promises in bad faith — which means promising things that are notionally possible given heroic assumptions, but which in practice are utterly improbable, or even run-of-the-mill improbable. I favour promise less and if you get lucky, deliver more.

    So you should say what you aim to do and the resources (human, material, technical, temporal) you are relying on to deliver on those aims, but acknowledge that if these turn out to be not as you assume now, or some other foreseeable factor complicates matters, then you will feel free to change the means by which you approach the aims.

    That’s a lot more nebulous, obviously, but IMO, a good deal more responsible and honest.

    The problem for Abbott was not that he forgot to qualify his aims. He wanted a “unity ticket” with the ALP to avoid having to ask people to choose between their evident distaste for the regime and their desire for Gonski and NDIS and on the right, he needed a no tax pledge because his campaign against the regime had been about the “fgreat big new tax” andf its fundamental dishonesty.

    It is fair to call what Abbott did lying not becvause he breached promises, though he has, but because it’s impossible to believe that at the time he uttered them he had any confidence at all that circumstances nearly certain to obtain would permit him to deliver them in the form he explained them. There’s no evidence at all for example that he consulted key stakeholders in each area pre-election to establish feasibility, nor any evidence of his party having written a detailed policy — if they had we should certainly have seen it by now — still less any costing on each. Yet these would have been essential to anyone claiming commitments were made in good faith.

    That’s lying any way you slice it.

  19. han
    May 19th, 2014 at 14:14 | #19

    I know the Carbon Tax has been debated thoroughly before. To me, to argue whether it was a price or a tax therefore whether the promise was broken was like arguing whether Abbot’s debit levy or fuel exercise is a tax. For all intent and purpose, Gilliard tried to kill off the climate action issue in the 2010 election by offering citizen assembly and no carbon tax, because 1. Abbot was running a scare campaign, 2. if we were to believe cabinet leaks, she was never a true supporter for climate action.

  20. Matt Hardin
    May 19th, 2014 at 14:25 | #20

    It was not a tax. It was a fixed price on carbon for the introduction of a floating price in 2015.

    The perpetuation by the media of the misleading statement by the coalition of calling the fixed price on a carbon a tax has been the worst example of sloppy reporting in recent memory. The fact that Labor failed to reject the narrative and correct it at every chance is the dumbest bit of media strategy shown in their six years of pretty poor media strategy.

  21. han
    May 19th, 2014 at 14:52 | #21

    And to quote some US spin doctor’s insight: In politics if you have to explain something to the public, you lost the argument already. True with carbon price. And true with debt levy/ GP copayment.

  22. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 16:17 | #22

    And to quote some US spin doctor’s insight: …

    Why would we want to quote “some US spin doctor’s insight”? Isn’t such a person. almost by definition, a dissembler and agent of the possessing classes — a person with utter contempt for working people and the foundations of bona fide governance?

    This is an excellent example of the utterly debauched state of public discourse. I’m stunned that you can come to a site like this and advance such a claim.

  23. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 16:18 | #23

    oops … messed up quote tags:

    And to quote some US spin doctor’s insight: …

    Why would we want to quote “some US spin doctor’s insight”? Isn’t such a person, almost by definition, a dissembler and agent of the possessing classes — a person with utter contempt for working people and the foundations of bona fide governance?

    This is an excellent example of the utterly debauched state of public discourse. I’m stunned that you can come to a site like this and advance such a claim.

  24. alfred venison
    May 19th, 2014 at 16:41 | #24

    about ham’s comments:- what he says at @han is right on as far as i’m concerned – it is what i think about gillard’s citizen’s assembly. and i’ve heard something like what he paraphrased at #21, too, i think it was one of clinton’s advisors, might have been stephanopoulos. -a.v.

  25. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 17:15 | #25

    You miss my point, AV. If someone is by profession, a paid liar, a peddler of memes of service to the elite, why would anyone concerned with the struggle to empower the dispossessed pay the spiv even passing attention, except to toss the head raise an eyebrow and snort derisively?

    The very remark cited reeks of the very contempt such folk bear towards the notion of inclusive governance.

  26. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 17:16 | #26

    Oops … One too many of ‘very’ in the above. Delete second.

  27. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 17:17 | #27

    The very remark cited reeks of the contempt such folk bear the notion of inclusive governance.

    Ok that’s better.

  28. han
    May 19th, 2014 at 17:21 | #28

    Well I vote Green too.
    In a perfect world there will be no need for spin doctors. But election is about winning people’s votes in this imperfect world. I am pretty sure the Greens employ media advisers too.

  29. han
    May 19th, 2014 at 17:31 | #29

    Stephanopoulos is actually right in the context of gaming (or winning, which is essentially the same) public opinion in the commercial media. We can complain endlessly about Abbot’s three word slogans but they worked.

  30. alfred venison
    May 19th, 2014 at 18:18 | #30

    why would anyone concerned with the struggle to empower the dispossessed pay the spiv even passing attention

    maybe in order to know your enemy? maybe because however you may despise him he speaks from experience about doing politics in the post-modern media ecology. -a.v.

  31. J-D
    May 19th, 2014 at 18:26 | #31

    The obvious answer to your question is that Labor does not share your confidence that the kind of appeal you suggest would attract the level of support you predict. I don’t share that confidence either. What is it based on?

  32. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 18:56 | #32


    If some Greens media adviser tried arguing the public ought to be bypassed or tricked, I’d seek to have him/her sacked.

  33. zoot
    May 19th, 2014 at 19:10 | #33


    I regard the Abbott lies as the worst in living memory.

    For once I totally agree with Terge. And my memory goes back to the (late) 1950s.

  34. alfred venison
    May 19th, 2014 at 20:06 | #34

    the point of political advertising on media is to manipulate opinion so that people change their mind & vote for you. and ham is right in that if your political advertising has to resort to explaining what you really meant then you’re seriously behind. -a.v.

  35. alfred venison
    May 19th, 2014 at 20:17 | #35

    but ham, re:- the three word slogans, abbott had help. the man can’t string two coherent lines together ad lib. and after his threatening behavior to the reporter no one asked him any more hard questions on air. he was given an easy time by media. its not like it was an even playing field. -a.v.

  36. Ikonoclast
    May 19th, 2014 at 20:18 | #36


    That’s becuase the Labor strategists are right wing idiots.

  37. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 22:26 | #37

    @alfred venison

    I disagree. The proper role of a media adviser is to ensure that our public communication accurately represents our party’s vision of our purpose and the vehicles through which we hope to realise that purpose, to those who may be sympathetic via channels that are cost- and time-efficient and make effective use of our potential under-utilised human and material resources.

    This has nothing whatever to do with lying or dissembling or regarding our audience as too stupid to make sense of our politics. If our audience is too stupid, then we are speaking to the wrong audience.

  38. J-D
    May 19th, 2014 at 22:52 | #38

    That doesn’t answer my question about what your confidence (about the level of support that would be attracted by the kind of appeal you suggest) is based on; and if you dismiss Labor strategists as idiots because they don’t share that confidence, do you also dismiss me as an idiot for the same reason? is it your position that anybody who doesn’t accept your view about this must be an idiot?

  39. Ikonoclast
    May 19th, 2014 at 23:03 | #39


    “Troll, troll, troll, troll, troll, troll, troll troll, wonderful troll, loverly troll!”

    (Sung to the tune of Spam by Monty Python.)

  40. alfred venison
    May 19th, 2014 at 23:20 | #40

    at elections the job of media advisers is to use advertising to manipulate people who don’t vote for your party into changing their mind & voting for your party. its pointless to advertise on media if you don’t aim to change the minds of non-supporters to your party. -a.v.

  41. Fran Barlow
    May 19th, 2014 at 23:43 | #41

    @alfred venison

    at elections the job of media advisers is to use advertising to manipulate people who don’t vote for your party into changing their mind & voting for your party.

    No, it isn’t. Our job is to persuade people who don’t vote for us why our vision of public policy ought be preferred to the vision, such as it is discernible, of the parties they are voting for. Manipulation has nothing to do with it. If they understand but reject our vision I’ll be disappointed, but they really ought to support someone else than us, and quite genuinely, I hope they do. I don’t want anyone supporting us out of misunderstanding. Those are pyrrhic victories.

    its pointless to advertise on media if you don’t aim to change the minds of non-supporters to your party. -a.v.

    Again, I disagree. Advertising may encourage those whose support for us is passive to become active. Whatever we do, it must be faithful to our principles. If I didn’t care about integrity or principle, I either wouldn’t bother with politics at all, or I’d join one of the gangs of scoundrels taking it in turns to screw the working people in their scramble to serve the boss class. The Greens offer nothing of value to liars and spivs, and long may it be so.

  42. May 20th, 2014 at 00:44 | #42

    @Fran Barlow

    What a coincidence! I just watched Naomi Wolf’s Bush era doco about, essentially, fascism and the ten things to look out for.

    Of course, Obama has done all of them and more.

    At the end of the film they clearly listed the things they “demanded”: such as closing Guantanamo, ending torture etc…

    Then they finished by telling us to go to their website: “americanfreedomcampaign.org”

    I checked that 3 times to be certain that I got it right. It is now a spambot warehouse.

    Sincerity! If you can fake that you’ve got it made.

  43. alfred venison
    May 20th, 2014 at 01:24 | #43

    members passive to active is minds changed. advertising is manipulation. as soon as you put babies on the screen for example you’re manipulating the viewer. same for solar panels, women in lab coats, leaping whales, jane campion, &c. to advertise at all is to seek to manipulate viewers into changing their minds. you can’t escape it by high mindedness which is just another trope of manipulation. -a.v.

  44. May 20th, 2014 at 01:36 | #44

    Maybe future PMs can be more honest about lying. “Of course we aren’t going to have any new taxes. But I’m only saying that now, in future I may change my mind. In fact, my mind may already be planning the new taxes needed for me to implement my favourite schemes, but if it is, I’m not going to tell you about it. Just trust me on the tax thing.”

  45. Midrash
    May 20th, 2014 at 06:12 | #45

    Once the Labor Party (and UK Labour) had a membership and leadership which was substantially working class but, before pretty well universal access to as much education as you can eat, also a high proportion of the community’s brainpower. Now the brainpower may be there but it is almost totally unrepresentative of the “humble and meek” or even the stupid and feral. So there is perhaps 20 per cent of the population including about 10 per cent with IQs at which you wouldn’t them driving a precious piece of machinery like a tank or crane, who are so completely beyond the mental world of politicians of all the parties that it makes one wonder if Labor, or anyone, can ever hope to own those votes en bloc. If one adds to the 20 per cent another slice of the 18 to 20 and over 80 year olds to get to, say 25 per cent then the answer would have to be No because family and inertia (in old age) would distribute a lot of the votes…..

  46. Midrash
    May 20th, 2014 at 06:15 | #46

    So what’s going to happen about that 20 per cent? Are they the reason for dumb camaigns, including Abbott’s stupid promises?

  47. Ikonoclast
    May 20th, 2014 at 07:51 | #47

    The Abbott/Hockey budget impacts most heavily on the poorest and hardly at all on the richest latest modelling shows. From the ABC:


  48. alfred venison
    May 20th, 2014 at 08:19 | #48

    merriam-webster online:- manipulate: (1) to manage or utilize skillfully; (2) to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage. since its a choice – “or” – i’ll settle for “artful”. whether they’re for a “good cause” or not advertisements exist to manipulate the opinion of viewers. -a.v.

  49. J-D
    May 20th, 2014 at 08:58 | #49

    Ah. Abuse.

  50. J-D
    May 20th, 2014 at 09:03 | #50

    ‘”If any one of them can explain it”, said Alice (she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid of interrupting him), “I’ll give him sixpence. I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.”‘

  51. John Quiggin
    May 20th, 2014 at 09:29 | #51

    Please, no personal attacks on other commenters

  52. John Quiggin
    May 20th, 2014 at 09:30 | #52

    Midrash, as noted elsewhere, nothing more on these lines please.

  53. Ikonoclast
    May 20th, 2014 at 10:28 | #53

    The Abbott/Hockey government knows how to squeeze oranges but it does not know how to grow oranges. That is to say it knows how to squeeze the existing wealth and opportunities (such as they are) out of the poor and middle class to give to the rich but it does not know how to produce new wealth and opportunities. Production of new wealth requires investment in people and infrastructure. This budget claims to invest in infrastructure though I want to check the detail as I have serious doubts. There is much that is tricky and deceptive about this budget.

    Nobody who has examined this budget thoroughly claims that this budget invests in people and their capabilities. Indeed, this budget very clearly gives youth (teens and twenties), who should be our future, the complete shaft. This is the way to create a very disengaged and even angry youth cohort. Homelessness, crime and unemployment will soar under this budget as an entire very important cohort has their life chances trashed. This trend to pro-cyclical austerity and youth bashing will damage Australia’s future very significantly unless it is reversed. There is nothing uglier than the spectacle of rich self-satisifed middle-aged and old men accreting wealth to themselves and ripping off impoverished youth.

  54. zoot
    May 20th, 2014 at 11:35 | #54

    And, this budget will probably put the economy in recession.

  55. Ikonoclast
    May 20th, 2014 at 13:24 | #55

    Unfortunately, we probably need a great depression to change the political spirit of the time. We probably need to have what I term a salutary disaster. Only a salutary disaster of this type will break the power of neo-liberalism and neo-conservative ideology. The West is possibly on track for a great depression. Europe is moving into a recession. The last quarter of last year saw year the EU’s economy shrink. Australia will very likely have a recession under this govt. Canada is flat and the US only appears semi-sound due to the deluding effects of the parasitic FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) sector. US manufacturing has just clawed back to pre-GFC levels.

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