Saturday, April 09, 2011

Abbott's carbon tax strategy to win govt at the cost of the national interest

Abbott and his conga line of media cronies are continuing the thinly camouflaged campaign to win government by trashing any attempt to put a price on carbon. In the process our national interest is being subverted for political gain. The science on climate change is routinely questioned and vilified by skilled dog whistlers and commentators compromised by their links to vested interests opposed to carbon pricing. A largely ill-informed electorate swallow the sound bites and media grabs of this shoddy bunch and are conned into believing their life-styles are under threat. The test of sound leadership is knowing when to sublimate the desire for power in the national interest. Throughout history great leaders have offered bi-partisanship in the face of national challenges. What do we get here? Abbott pretends to care about the little people while doing the bidding of the mining and power companies. He pitches a different message to different audiences, depending on their relative levels of literacy - in the case of the recent rally outside Parliament three word slogans were more than enough. Demagogues always operate like this - it is in their DNA to tailor the message to suit the crowd and they are gifted at pressing the right fear buttons with confected outrage and anger. Sound familiar?

Lenore Taylor is one of the better journalists following the carbon pricing debate. In her latest piece she writes:

"...The political genius of Abbott's campaign is to focus all that anxiety, all the anger about all the existing price pressures, on to the carbon price which has not even happened yet. Coalition strategists are absolutely blunt about it. ''We are going to blame the carbon price for absolutely everything,'' they say."

If its not scaring people over asylum seekers its scaring them about phantom cost of living increases. Abbott is a fear monger-er of the worst sort. We have seen his type of politician down through the ages. They set up straw men to knock down and claim the credit for 'saving' the people from some imaginary onslaught. Coalition supporters have used asylum seekers and certain 'types' of migrants to raise the spectre of threats to personal security and standards of living & public services, lower land & property values. Instead of joining with the government to develop a bipartisan approach to immigration and the ongoing challenge of irregular arrivals by asylum seekers, we get a shrill pitch to fear and division. Ring a bell? Well it bloody well should. Carbon pricing is the next bogey man to be misused by this reactionary campaign to grab power.

Another plank of the strategy is to demonize the Labor leadership, much in the way the Tea Party is demonizing Obama's leadership in America. They paint a picture of disunity, betrayal of the body politic, a 'stab in the back' for decent citizens by a government beholden to 'special interests' and unspecified 'elites'. More coded dog whistling to convince the electorate that their government is weak and incapable of protecting the country from outside threats and the export of jobs. Our PM is branded a liar, wooden, childless and weak. Ring a bell? Well it bloody well should.

The latest strategy in the US Congress is to link repeal of progressive social policies in areas such as abortion to an agreement on reducing the budget deficit. A quick scan of the signs on show at Abbott's 'people's revolt' rally reveal a similar bent. Ring a bell? Well it bloody well should.

One of the Tea Party pin up boys, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has called for a “roadmap” for the economy, brought out last year, which "would essentially privatize Social Security (a failed effort by George W. Bush); replace Medicare with vouchers that people would use in the private insurance market but that would likely not increase in value as the cost of care went up; and revise the tax code so that the middle class would end up paying higher taxes than the wealthy. Low-income people would be especially hard hit by Ryan’s plan." Similarly, Abbott's welfare prescriptions would be just the first step in the dismantlement of a fair income re-distribution system built up over decades. Guess who would shoulder the lion's share of Abbott's carbon emissions strategy? The low and middle class tax payer of course. It is a recipe to recycle public money away from tax payers to the big end of town polluters. Ring a bell? Well it bloody well should.

Poor fella my country....

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