Fact checking Tony Abbott

I’ve had two calls in the last 24 hours asking me to fact-check claims by Tony Abbott. I accepted one, and found that his claims were nonsense (links soon, I hope). The other didn’t sound much better, but I thought I’d let someone else deal with it.

The emergence of systematic fact-checking is a huge vulnerability for Abbott, coming at just the wrong time for him. Until recently, the perception that the government was untrustworthy and deceitful[1] allowed Abbott to get away with just about anything he said, and he took full advantage of this. Now his record is littered with obvious lies and he’s finding it hard to break the habit. Worse still, the post-truth state of the political right, in Australia and the US, makes it hard for anyone on that side of politics to discern the truth even if they want to. Once you assume (correctly) that anything said by Bolt, the IPA, the Oz, Fox and so on is probably false, where can a conservative go for information. Essentially, it’s necessary to do the work from scratch, and I don’t get the impression that Abbott or his team enjoy hitting the books[2]. So, switching from his previous line of fact-free negativity and putting forward a positive alternative to Rudd is going to be very difficult for Abbott, I think

fn1. As previously, I don’t want to debate the accuracy of this perception. I don’t suppose anyone will dispute its existence
fn2. To be fair, he obviously trains much harder than I do, as our relative performance in endurance events illustrates. But I haven’t found a lot of transference of training between ironman length triathlon and policy analysis.

92 thoughts on “Fact checking Tony Abbott

  1. @Fran Barlow

    The research does not back this claim up. Older people are generally socially more conservative than younger, because society has changed since they acquired their political beliefs. But – perhaps for precisely the same reason – older people are generally less conservative than they were when younger.

  2. Ikonoclast, I am fortunate enough to have time to waste and every so often it seems like a good idea to see if the libertarians have come up with anything interesting, any coherent idea that supports their religion.

    Apart from that there is much to be gained in terms of understanding human nature (well cognition anyway and the way people rationalise their beliefs which is big part of our putative nature) by asking people who are not like oneself, what and how they think.

    Jim has said something I agree with, people can change. But the motivation to change is lacking in successful Libertarians so I’m not expecting Terje to see the light and start thinking seriously about his motivated cognition.

    But if anyone else is interested there is a Cultural Cogntion site where they do research on this topic.

  3. @Fran Barlow

    I’m a lot more conservative than I was in, say, 1984 and rather more than I was in 1994.

    Part of this also reflects the changed ‘facts on the ground’ of course. The fall of the USSR and its aftermath for me recommended in favour of a thorough re-evaluation of my conceptions of what was possible in practice, in what ways and to what extent the conceptions associated with Marx, Lenin and Trotsky remained germane

    I am disappointing that you were involved for a time albeit a long time ago with non-democratic politics.

    Having to resolve differences by trying to persuade each other and elections is so cumbersome when you just know the way, the truth and the light, for as Orwell noted:

    The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent.

    Mises explained the youthful allure of socialism thus:

    It promises a Paradise on earth, a Land of Heart’s Desire full of happiness and enjoyment, and—sweeter still to the losers in life’s game—humiliation of all who are stronger and better than the multitude.

    Logic and reasoning, which might show the absurdity of such dreams of bliss and revenge, are to be thrust aside. Marxism is thus the most radical of all reactions against the reign of scientific thought over life and action, established by Rationalism.

    It is against Logic, against Science and against the activity of thought itself—its outstanding principle is the prohibition of thought and inquiry, especially as applied to the institutions and workings of a socialist economy.

    Marx predicted the immiserisation of the working class where there would be nothing to lose when they rose up but their chains. Instead, it is now rise up ye workers, rise up for you have nothing to lose but your Iphone and air miles.

  4. Not another one of these simplified ridiculous talking point arguments again.

    Let me make a couple of logical arguments in the same vein as what has already occurred:

    – Australia is made up of the city (left wing voting) and the country (right wing voting)
    – The right-wing voting part is less educated, less wealthy, more violent, and is a net taxation deficit
    – Therefore, left-wing ideology is better and is needed to make stable, prosperous countries

    – Conservative political views increase with age
    – The elderly suffer from endemic poverty rates
    – Therefore poverty is positively correlated with conservatism

    It’s all science bro!

  5. @Will
    “- Conservative political views increase with age”

    As I pointed out above, the research shows that people get less conservative as they age.

  6. @Jim Rose

    I am disappointed that you were involved for a time albeit a long time ago with non-democratic politics. {typo corrected}

    That’s simply mistaken. I was never involved with ‘non-democratic’ politics. I believe we have a difference of view on what bona fide democracy entails. For you, the mere appurtenances of democracy — elections to legislative office, separation of state and civil society, separation of the branches of government, an independent public service, protection of commodity property from state seizure — suffice to qualify some regime as democratic. For me, these features, while non-trivial are inadequate. The debauching of the term ‘democracy’ propmpts me to prefer ‘inclusive governance’ as a description of what I’d favour, since it works to ensure the informed consent of the governed in circusmstance where, so far as it can be had, the governed are equally socially empowered.

    Once again, I reject your characterisations of Marxism, borrowed from Mises and Orwell. Marxists do recoognise that opponents can be honest and intelligent. Neither of these is a warranty against being mistaken, but some of them may also prove to be correct. Others may be serving interests other than those of working people.

    Those of us who see ourselves as the allies of working humanity have no desire to humiliate anyone. We don’t see being the social equal of everyone else as degrading, but rather a statement of belonging — and an affirmation of the worthiness of life. Those who can bring their accomplishment and passion to making the world a better place for everyone become part of a positive sum are richly rewarded by that most elusive of all things in human life — worthy purpose, and insofar as they offer an intellectual or ethical exemplar to others, can take legitimate pleasure in their works. What greater reward could there be than that?

  7. @Fran Barlow The strength of democracy is a small group of concerned and thoughtful citizens can band together and change things by running for office and winning elections.

    That is how new parties such as the ALP, the country party, DLP, and greens changed Australia. One Nation even had its 15 minutes of fame. Bob Katter’s party is next.

    The ALP immediately won many seats and formed governments a few years later. Those agrarian socialists in the country party immediate secured cabinet seats.

    Over the 20th century, the state grew from a night watchmen size to account for 1/3rd to ½ of GDP with a generous welfare state because this was popular with the median voter.

    • Communists were elected to 40 odd parliaments including in Europe and Japan.

    • The Trots put up a good show in recent French presidential races. Sadly, the English Trots get less votes than the monster raving loony party, head to head.

    You find democracy frustrating not because parliaments cannot change things.

    You find democracy frustrating because you cannot win at the ballot box even under proportional representation in federal and state upper houses.

    When the shooters party, new DLP and the family and Christian parties win seats ahead of you, it is time to accept that your message simply does not resonate with the 99% of the electorate. Complete amateurs can win seats. the reason is their ideas are more workable than yours.

  8. @Fran Barlow
    Perhaps you are too kind to your interlocutors: this debate happens in a “virtual” bubble where your opponents have the metric as word production – they can only aspire to quantity rather than quality since they mostly lack ideas and empathy. By defining politics as inconsequential talk and voting once every 3 or 4 years between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, they deride what happens outside the parliamentary system – where real people try to improve their daily lives and their future. An example of this limited view of democracy is the spectacle of TV presenters being genuinely bemused at why Egyptian demonstrators don’t wait till the next election to vote out Morsi: because they think politics doesn’t really matter, so change has no urgency.

    For instance, JR likes to denigrate the SWP UK by comparing their vote to the Raving Looney Party. But the SWP ridicules parliament while standing for elections (read up on their reasons Jim, there are subtleties and tactics in politics). It also has participated and built things that matter, like the Stop the War march which got between 750,000 and 2 million people involved. This is what really matters to people who see politics as being about change not fake processes yet this is derided as non-democratic politics by conservatives. For JR to quote Orwell in support of his views is odious: Communist meant Stalinist to Orwell, and both you and I would probably be killed, gaoled or in hiding under such a regime. (Actually I can think of 3 state premiers who have been Stalinists or Trotskyists at some stage in their life, and many Federal ministers, who have contributed much to the body politic.)

    The political virgins who never take a risk or take a stand will never understand that doing things means making mistakes – as a teacher you probably agree that’s how we learn. Lastly, it’s always amused me that people who do nothing criticise people who do something because they don’t do everything.

  9. see http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/67175_Page3.html for a fact check of factchecking

    But while they are all formally nonpartisan and, in fact, drive Democrats in general and the Obama White House in particular crazy, their historical roots are in Democratic outrage, heavily laced with a centrist, journalistic impulse.

    … The same political operatives who hate being factchecked love to see their rivals skewered. And the power of the scientific-sounding factcheck label, ironically, makes a powerful tool in characteristically overstated political rhetoric.

  10. So, when the lighting allows, and you want the highest quality images,
    you should always shoot at the lowest ISO you can.
    s easier than you may think to make money as a digital photographer.

    Everyone wants to treasure some moments of the most auspicious day in their lives.

  11. @Jim Rose

    As usual, your copy and paste boilerplate entirely misses the point. My post was entirely about processes and structures associated with empowerment, rather than the triumph of any particular party.

    Your “analysis”, if it is fair to so signify so vacuous a post, invites questions that you assume require no answer and are paradoxical. By all means though, pretend to insight if it salves your suspicion that you have none.

  12. @Ken_L #9

    Didn’t notice your comment till now, sorry.

    Rethinking my comment about Abbott’s attraction to muscular pursuits, what I meant to say was that he doesn’t go for gentle exercise of the type you mention (like the Howard style power walks) which allow reflection on events and ideas and is useful to de-stress and work through things, and which I do myself.

    Rather, his inclination is for constant vigorous activity (including the assorted fluoro vest exercises of taking widgets off production lines, stacking boxes etc.) which is essentially distracting and mindless, and would seem to require lots of sleep, showering, changing of clothes etc. Do his work practices prevent him from matching Rudd on the intellectual arena? Would be interesting to know how many hours a day he spends on intellectual exercise – reading, working through policy issues, strategy meetings.

    This is not just an Abbott question of course – Kev 24/7 is lovebombing the population continuously at present, but he does seem on top of the issues and has a confidence in projecting his vision. Is it just me or is Abbott’s communication style awkward? It seems diffident and hesitant, and detached and ponderous like one of m’learned friends at the bar?

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