Eat Your Greens

We speak truth to power and we eat our greens

There are no recipes here, although the advice holds - it's good to eat your greens. Eating our greens is good for us and, in time, we come to love them. Some of us even end up growing them. Being informed is also good for us, it's a core responsibility we have as humans, as is giving way to pedestrians, sharing our food with a stranger, greeting our neighbour and not drinking bad coffee.

Even more than that, if we want a kinder, gentler, more compassionate society, one which, presumably, we would all benefit from, it's also incumbent upon us to refrain from taking a position on any subject by basing that position on an ideology, merely because we are not prepared to apply the intellectual rigour required to properly understand it.

With that as a foundation, it's reasonable therefore to conclude that in today's world, with its surfeit of news coverage, and with it no shortage of opinion, on topics various - drought, bushfires, water management, the environment, climate change, economics, human rights, the welfare of others, political machinations, the list goes on, we need to, dare I say, be attentive and with it develop the skills to separate well constructed reportage from mere opinion, masquearading as analysis.

It's against this background of news saturation that a library of 3,000+ (and counting) pieces of credible journalism from reliable sources was established. It morphed into 'Eat Your Greens', in an attempt to present information, easily accessible, that contributes to making us a better informed, gentler and kinder society. It's also incumbent upon us, if we are to have this kinder, gentler, more compassionate society, that we hold the political class to account.

There are no answers here, only questions, that is what good journalism does, it shines a light into dark corners that the powers that be are happy to have remain in darkness. 'Eat Your Greens' attempts to expose this and hold accountable those who weild power, by shining a light into those dark corners and turning over some rocks - and - who wouldn't want that. Read on.

Every now and then someone will begin a sentence with "I'm no expert but …" which will invariably, though not always, precede a monologue resembling little more than a passing acquaintance to the subject at hand, revealing the speaker's pre-conceived version of the truth. This is not knowledge, it's an opinion, which, as Plato put it, is the bridge between ignorance and knowledge, and which outs itself as nothing more than ideology.

Ideology is not grounded in kindness or knowledge, it's usually grounded in the preservation of power, in privilege, prejudice, in any or all its manifest forms, or in fear, or a combination of all of those things. Ideology preserves injustice, destruction of environment, marginalisation of minorities, racism, institutionalised discrimination, species extinction, preservation of privilege, and high-office graft. And for the ideologue, the truth of a matter, or the facts that may prove or undermine their ideology more often than not is less important than the number of people prepared to believe in it.

Ideology encourages hyper-partisan reasoning due to what psychologists call "motivated cognition," which is the act of deciding what you want to believe and using your reasoning power, with all its might, to get you there. Just as it's true for individuals, it's also true for organisations and nation states.

Economic Ideology, for example, as it's extant is underlined by the following patently contradictory statement by Australia's Prime Minister, meeting at the junction of ideology and neo-liberalism (which we'll get to), probably unaware of his statement's obvious juxtaposition, in response to the government's reducing the Jobseeker payment - "the government can’t allow the lifeline [to] hold Australia back as we move into the next phases of recovery." (Nov '20). Whilst this statement (article here) demands closer examination it's perhaps best left to let it speak for itself, or, in the spirit of Hamlet, allow it to be "hoist with its own petard."

'Eat Your Greens' looks at the juxtaposition between economy and society, a distinction that political ideology fails to make. Making political decisions based solely on an Ideology starts wars, divides communities, discourages innovation, promotes secrecy and advances prejudices. And yet ideology is often based on minimal examination or appreciation of the things that make a society work. It's good then to ask oursleves how we might go about defining one.

The modern incarnation of the term, popularised by post World War II free-market proponents, such as economist Milton Friedman, emanated out of a push-back against post-Keynesian theories that advanced the view that the state is best positioned to support the social and economic well-being of its citizens.

Neo-liberalism's underlying principle is one of the State having a passive, rather than an active, role in society and economy, although the theory never holds because governments intervene in the economy when it suits their ideology, which, with that one single stroke, has their theory disproven. It's proponents claim that the market is better positioned to deliver prosperity, health outcomes and many services hitherto the preserve of governments, adopting a “if it's not working, and particularly if it is working, let the market take it over” philosophy. If there was a single event to punch a crater size hole in that theory it is Covid-19, although it's not as if we weren't warned, with the failure of the privatised aged care system being its poster child.

A neo-liberal would advocate government staying out of the way and allowing individuals decide, individualism being the bastard child of neo-liberalism. This meme falls at the first and most fundamental hurdle, that being a mis-interpration of what economics actually is. Economics has very little to do with maths, or statistics, it’s not logical, it never has been.

Economics is a study in sociology, it’s irrational, mad as a cat and prone to outbursts that defy the logic purported to it. A neo-liberal, even a rabid one, would surely not attempt to make the claim that their theory is a panacea but nonetheless, they will almost always look to the market as the default setting for addressing what they adjudicate to be a hitherto faulty or implacable situation.

Let’s step back a bit - the natural enemy of the neo-liberal would be the socialist, another term most people would struggle to muster up a definition of. Broadly speaking, socialism is the democratic (or in some cases, the revolutionary) socialisation of the means of industry, production, distribution and exchange. In its diluted form then, socialism exists in some form or another, in every developed country in the world. Each time a government interferes in the market, it is, by its actions, setting aside any ideological adherence to neo-liberalism while at the same time trumpeting its virtues.

Publicly funded health care is a form of socialism yet very few of us would demand that the government placed the responsibility for health care wholly and solely into the hands of the market, particularly given that private health care costs two to three times the cost of operating the public system. It would represent something more than an act of political folly.

Neo-liberalism, econonically speaking, advocates a takeover, while politically it abdicates responsibility, arguing that it has handed over control and therefore oversight, to the market. It will argue that is therefore not at fault if the whole thing implodes. And here is the rub, neo-liberals find it almost impossible to seperate a society from an economy, they view the economy as holding primacy and believe that all good things emanate from it. Time and time again they are proved wrong and time and time again, they look for new strategies to implement and promote their logic. We only have to look at how neo-liberalism increased inequality in the aftermath of the GFC to prove the point.

There is no doubt that the market has given us great innovation, it can and does drive progress but it is, at its core, an amoral system, it makes no attempts at being moral, nor should it - such that any contingency related to catering to the needs of people, be it fairness kindness, or compassion will have a price, or cost, assigned to it, set against the end result, which is not fairness, kindness or compassion but profit.

It’s important to note that Socialism on it’s own does not work any more than neo-liberalism on its own does, however, neo-liberalism as it’s advocated by our current government, does not deliver a strong or fair civil society any more than putting a saddle on a horse guarantees that you will be able to ride it. Neo-liberalism makes no effort to account for suffering, citing disadvantage as a natural by-product of a healthy economy and therefore, according to the neo-liberal model, a healthy society. I enjoy the dynamics of the market and the benefits it can provide but at the same time I bristle when caring for people is reduced to an auction, it begets the things that diminish us as a society and reflects back to us our core values.
Stop/Start Ribbon
Opinion is the bridge between ignorance and knowledge" - Plato
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Why an Indigenous voice would not be a 'third chamber' of parliament Prof. Anne Twomey (May ’19)
Chelsea Bond: The ‘new’ Closing the Gap is about buzzwords, not genuine change for Indigenous Australia (Jul '20)
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 Why is it so offensive to say 'all lives matter'? (Jan '21)
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    Climate science

      Aotearoa (New Zealand)

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      Jacinda Ardern urges leaders to widen their definition of ‘prosperity’ – video (Jul ’19)

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      Four lessons we must take away from the Christchurch terror attack (Mar ’19)

      Stop/Start Ribbon
      It's reasonable conclude that during the past year or two, there has been a surfeit of news coverage, on topics various. Drought, bushfires, water management, the environment, climate change, political machinations, the list goes on. A library of credible journalism from reliable sources was established, which then morphed into the Flip-Side, in an attempt to present information that made all of us a better informed, gentler and kinder people. To be informed, it goes with saying, is a core responsibility of all mature citizens. Gentler and kinder because we all benefit by not engaging in ideological shouting matches over a meal or a drink. S

      Every now and then you'll hear someone begin a sentence with "I'm no expert but …" which will invariably, though not always, precede a monologue resembling little more than a passing acquaintance to the subject at hand, revealing the speaker's pre-conceived version of the truth. This is not knowledge, it's an opinion, which is, as Plato put it, the bridge between ignorance and knowledge, and which outs itself as nothing more than ideology.

      Ideology is not grounded in kindness, intellectual rigour or knowledge, it's usually grounded in the preservation of power, in privilege, prejudice, in any or all its manifest forms, or in fear, or a combination of all of those things. Ideology preserves injustice, destruction of environment, marginalisation of minorities, racism, institutionalised discrimination, species extinction, preservation of privilege, and high-office graft. The Flip-Side attempts to expose this and presents us with more to think about, by shining a light into some dark corners and turning over some rocks - and - who wouldn't want that. Hover to read the “flip-side.” Read on.

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