A Conservative Abandons Almost All Hope

I lamented publicly a few years back about the dismal prospects for economic reform in Australia. While I tried not to pay too much attention to domestic affairs in the intervening years, it seems I had the measure of the situation and have been at least vaguely vindicated. To be honest, it is probably a lot worse than that, but it’s too demoralizing to keep score at this point. Needless to say, there’s not much one can point to in our recent economic history that constitutes progress.

It’s not that the prognosis I made was particularly radical, few would have disagreed, it was more that the assessment of the underlying malady was likely more candid than most appear willing to admit. The political eco-system is busted as far as good economic policy is concerned; it contains no usefully organized constituency for the politically difficult policy changes that will lift living standards incrementally across a range of fronts. Meanwhile, the left and the rent-seekers are everywhere ascendant.

That piece prompted encouragement from one prominent individual to suggest I follow up with a series analysing what should be done about the current situation. The response was a hopeful one but inconsistent with any semblance of self-preservation. Anyone working in public policy knows that no good deed in this country goes unpunished, with devastating career sanctions levied on anyone who genuinely speaks truth to power in any meaningful way.

Indeed, the contra advice from more pragmatic quarters was that survival dictates not saying anything about anything. While that counsel came with the proviso that they hated having to provide  it, it appears consistent with the observed behaviour of the vast majority of professionals engaged in public policy.

People are terrified now to voice opinions about legitimately contestable issues of national importance, unless of course they’re on the Left, in which case anything goes. Even statements that are outrageous and “demonstrably false”, from anonymous sources naturally, can be aired on the state broadcaster consequence-free by its left-leaning political editor. Accordingly, the totality of non-progressive leadership now consists of empty generalities and vapid statements of the obvious.

All of which serves to highlight that the most significant barrier to economic reform at our current point in history as undoubtedly journalists and the newspapers and newsroom who employ them. Given the authority and control they exercise over the foot soldiers of the press, the editors and media-owners ultimately carry the bulk of the moral culpability for the intellectual squalor they’re inflicting on the economy.

Journalists with serious economic credentials are virtually non-existent in this country. If you had those qualifications, you wouldn’t think twice about working in a low-paid profession with poor job security, alongside the stress of daily deadlines and real-time reporting.

The media instead self-selects for people who are pathologically biased and view their employment as a way to subsidise their activism. Few seem to stop to contemplate why they are listening to financial and economic reporting from barely employable liberal arts graduates with no real competence and limited accountability. It’s obvious to anyone that gives these matters a moment’s thought that the press are little more than thinly veiled activists masquerading as journalists.

It is difficult for this country to sustain a coherent debate about economic policy issues when those tasked with reporting on them are so dangerously unable to comprehend the subject matter. The activist journalist suffers from the further disability of being antithetical to considering fundamental issues like costs and trade-offs because the defective mindset is rigidly ideological and uncomprehending. If a course of logic leads to the resolution of a policy matter that is disdained by the journalist, they simply ignore it.

But the problem is so much worse than simple incompetence and neglect. Journalists not only ignore and refuse to report objectively on contentious policy issues, they also actively campaign to undermine our institutions of government and vindictively seek to terminate the employment of anyone who disagrees with them. Journalists and their editors for years have been actively engaged in ruthless campaigns to terrorize and silence their political opposition.

The worst thing about all of it is how conservative politicians have abandoned their constituents to the torment of these inquisitors. We have now finally reached a point where the kill-me-last conservatives are being put through the meat-grinder they allowed to relentlessly chew through the rest of us with stony-faced indifference. Christian Porter has been the subject of a relentless, cruel, and grossly defamatory smear campaign at the hands of the press. It is not clear having been so severely calumniated there is any real recourse in the defamation case against his accusers, even assuming he wins.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s attempt to stand up to the hectoring of the Canberra Press Gallery a few weeks ago lasted all of several hours before he issued a grovelling apology. Apparently pointing out that the press may have their own issues when it comes to sexual abuse and harassment is forbidden and will be met with outright denial and swiftly deployed counter-attacks. Is there any real check on the media at this point? Morrison’s humiliation highlights the extent of his impotence and demonstrates who is really in charge in Canberra.

Journalists and their journalism are a sheet anchor on our national prosperity. The media are hostile to the truth and particularly vicious toward those who would hold them to account. Anyone seriously committed to Australia’s national interest will need to demolish the press and walk through the grotesque smear campaigns that will be unleashed upon them by this increasingly despicable group of people. If you’re not being attacked by the press, you simply aren’t doing your job properly and are, in all likelihood, part of the problem.

For too long we have allowed our national policy conversation to be out-sourced to pseudo-intellectual narcissists calling themselves journalists. Australians are right to lose trust in the custodians of the fourth estate, they have abused their position for too long and too thoroughly. Further erosion of trust in the press is a necessary pre-condition for economic reform. Fortunately, in newsrooms across the country, journalists and editors are doing their worst to bring that about.

Burchell Wilson is a consulting economist with Freshwater Economics


10 thoughts on “A Conservative Abandons Almost All Hope

  • RB says:

    First against the wall come the revolution.

  • ianl says:

    >”It is difficult for this country to sustain a coherent debate about economic policy issues when those tasked with reporting on them are so dangerously unable to comprehend the subject matter”

    As is the case for matters scientific and mathematical. Recently and by accident as I was changing channels, I heard some popular news commentator warbling on with his bird-brain colleague about GW and GWh. It was very apparent he knew nothing about this, nor even why it mattered, so he turned to his colleague and giggled:” I have no idea what any of this means !”. She agreed, giggling even louder. This exchange was apparently meant to inform the audience why windmills, solar panels and batteries were sufficient to power the grids reliably.

    Such is the level of information disseminated to the gullibles by vain-glorius activists pretending to be serious.

  • ChrisPer says:

    Wilfred, it is possible that you have failed to show journalists in a sufficiently poor light.

    For instance, their efforts have created the recent year of racial violence, mob looting and decades of institutional damage to the fabric of American society.
    They create the chain of mass shootings by teaching and rewarding the social imitation of highly-publicised evil-doing role models.
    From Lindy Chamberlain to the innocent shooters of 1996 to the damage FOur COrners does to selected classes of ordinary Australians, the persecution and false conviction of George Pell, to pretending decades of lies are the higher truth in issues like global warming and sexual politics, the intellectual fashions of our shallow journalistic betters are compounding harms.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    I apologise for the unrelated comment, but the emperor of WA has just announced that he is sending the Perth and Peel regions into a three-day lockdown, starting at midnight. AT LEAST three days. We can’t say that he’s entirely unwilling to change; in Feb. it was a five-day lockdown, and included the Southwest. A few other of the restrictions are also less onerous than the last time.
    However, this of course, cancels the entire Anzac Day commemoration. This was after places had had to go through a fair amount of trouble to ensure that commemorations would be “covid-safe.” Those that had already canceled their services now look like the smart ones.
    Two Anzac Days in a row–how patriotic our leaders are!
    Much as I wanted to, I already knew that I wasn’t going to go to an Anzac service at 11 A.M. on Sunday; the Lord must come first. But my sister and I were planning to go to our local war memorial after church services. Now–I hope we will still have church (especially as LARGE religious gatherings have been canceled; unfortunately, that does not describe our services). But I definitely hope that my sister and I will be able to go down to the memorial and have a bit of a memorial service ourselves.
    I urge all other residents of Perth and Peel to do the same. Here in Mandurah, last year, there was an unofficial service. Two or three veterans (wearing their medals) were there; a pipe and drum band marched up to the memorial right at 11 and played several pieces; and a number of ordinary people were there. I think that most, like my sister and me, had no idea that there would be such a commemoration; they just showed up.
    There’s little time to plan for it, this year; and I imagine that, unlike last year, any police boats around would not just sail on past. But, oh! for the veterans–those of the past (who fought to PROTECT us from tyranny)–for our country–please, let us not make do with huddling at the end of our driveways in the dark!

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    I have a friend whose brother works in a senior bureaucratic position in Canberra. He thinks the climate scam is exactly that, and that far too many policies are ‘woke’ to the core, and basically just rent-seeking or vote calming. He can’t say that, of course, my friend tells me. At work, and even socially and with some of the family, he has to keep very quiet about his real views. Or his career would be gone and family relationships fractured.

    We are very close to living in a Soviet State. Politicians are giving up, and the media and education system are totally entrapped. It is sad, and scary. Australia is caught between two powers going slowly crazy – China under Xe and the US under a quasi-religious ‘climate’ coup. Neither one pulling our strings is an attractive choice, as we slowly proceed to de-industrialise ourselves into a take over by one or the other of these two: most likely China, for America will be busy solving its own civil wars.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    I should add that professional basketball and rugby matches tonight are allowed with mask-wearing fans–a Dockers match is allowed tomorrow with no fans–but our ex-navy premier is not allowing any Anzac Day services, with or without crowds. Oh, excuse me, the health advice won’t allow it. It would be too dangerous on Sunday, but it’s hunky dory tonight. Horseradish!

  • Greg Williams says:

    There might be a silver lining, Rebekah. Maybe some of the hordes who voted for him last month will come to the realisation that he is a. one trick pony. Galactically stupid doesn’t even start to describe this decision.

  • STD says:

    Well said- if it’s not Fair dinkum Australian, it’s fake. BLUNT IS THE SHARPEST SHARP GETS.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Journalists are the way they are because the nature of the news/opinion media is the way it is.
    The news/opinion media are of two types:
    Tax-payer funded and commercial.
    All tax-payer funded institutions are exempted from reality, and so are leftist by nature.
    (That includes 90% of the public services.)
    Meanwhile, all commercial entities must appeal to their market/customer mix.
    Customers of the news-/opinion are ill-prepared for reality, given both the general dumb-down in the schools and universities, and the pushing of anti-civilisation factors within the education systems.
    This includes the elevation and endorsement of parasitism and the denigration/demonising of personal productivity and contributory citizenship.
    So, 90% of the commercial news/opinion output is as leftist as the ABC and SBS -that is, fully leftist.
    The other 10% of the news-/opinion media presents a mix of leftism, woke-ism and climate scam-hysteria with some non-left material.
    That’s what one sees in The Australian and Sky.
    Add it all up, and only a very, very few journalists/columnists will ever be equipped or incentivised to deal with reality.

  • Petronius says:

    This comment might be off subject a bit but it does concern contemporary journalism. I have recently finished The Persecution of George Pell by Keith Windshuttle; it is one of the most impressive books I have read in a long time. You are never in any doubt Mr Windshuttle has a brain and is indefatigably in pursuit of the truth. May it be on the reading lists of all media schools, police academies and laws schools in Australia. I requested my local public library to buy the book and to my mild surprise it did so. It has already been read by 11 people and 9 are on the waiting list. Alas, there is only one copy. Contrast the journalese competition in the library (in several formats): Fallen by Lucie Morris-Marr (4 copies); Cardinal by Louise Milligan (4 copies), The Case of George Pell by Melissa Davey (6 copies) and The Prince by David Marr (4 copies).

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