Sunday, February 27, 2005

LibLab wheedles

Politics again, but this time on the wordpatch.

John Holbo recommends a strategy for Democrats

. . . work constantly to expose [that] conservatives are deeply unserious about conservatism. Expose their inauthenticity. On every front. Don't point up contradictions. Socratic logic-chopping leaves the electorate unmoved. Show the voter that your Republican is a creature who'll talk the talk but won't walk the walk. . . . This is the sort of 'contradiction' that actually bothers people.

In Oz we have a government which describes itself as liberal and conservative. Last week, it signalled again that it wants to take over industrial relations from the states. Not conservative, because it proposes a massive change for no clear gain; not liberal, because the change would reduce diversity and variety. The government's motive is plain and undeniable: centralise control, so as to 'reform' the system.

Whether or not you think that reform desirable, there is only one fitting word for such a government: authoritarian. Wanna put that on your masthead, Mr Howard?

But remember what John Dawkins and Labor did to the universities in the late 1980s. Nobody's forcing you, they said, you don't have to join the national unified system, they said, you're free to go it alone, which is to say, die.

My wife, who works in health, is always attending 'seminars' in which state bureaucrats ask health providers to justify doing what's been imposed on them - by the bureaucrats. The angry subtext of course is: we're doing this because we have to, so let's go back and do some real work. But if that were voiced, the bureaucrats would be very sad: aren't they consulting the people at the coalface?

I think I'd rather be ordered about than wheedled into compliance. But wouldn't it be nice to have other options?


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