Monday, 18 April 2016

Our Ideological Divides II - Personality and Values

This post serves as an extension of my April 5, 2016 post, ideological divides.

These days we can make somewhat precise predictions about people's values in relation to politics through various unconnected factors such as how they dress, where they live, the cars they own, how much orderliness there is in their lives and even, music and book preferences. Given that, our two main parties have well entrenched publically espoused values through their party platforms, they make for good targets for whatever political personality types.

Interestingly, our political parties have shaped their own values that in turn, influence people's lifestyle elements by creating diverging facts resulting in different beliefs about history (stolen generation real or not?), science and notably economics. How you ask? By way of example, the previous Labor government’s school curriculum over- emphasised the themes, Environment, Colonialism, Social history, Anti-modernism, Class and Minority groups and Multiculturalism while under-emphasising, Religion, Western Civilisation, Political History, and Economic growth and Technology. We also have no mention of the three pillars of Western Civilisation, instead replaced by what conservatives would refer to as, the three pillars of political correctness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability. Moreover, on the question of economic growth and technology one would think that the entrepreneurial spirit of the era would warrant a mention in the curriculum, but the word “entrepreneur” appears nowhere. More exactly, when the curriculum refers to wealth it only refers to the distribution of wealth, never the creation of wealth.

Let us now look at the interpretation of economics in terms of beliefs and values as associated with ideology. A centre-right Liberal party supporter or politician would have very different views to an ALP or Greens advocate about some contemporary economic issues of the day. Will abolishing the minimum wage increase unemployment or decrease it? Will it stimulate the economy or depress it? How is it best to deal with economic recessions, via stimulus or austerity? What about tightening the eligibility criteria or completely cutting unemployment benefits (dole), will it propel individuals to find employment or set them up for the scrap heap?

Given the differing personality types and personal values of LNP, ALP and Greens supporters it is nigh impossible to obtain an accurate and impartial answer to questions about ideological righteousness associated with economic policies since all participants are both consciously and unconsciously seeking arguments answers and facts, that are consistent with their personal values. Individuals begin their personal deliberations about what is right or wrong, true or untrue and then seek out supporting evidence that in all cases, is available. Hence, one can always find documented academic (even peer reviewed) documentation and opinion pieces arguing that removing the minimum wage will spur economic activity and increase employment just as one can find same for the opposing argument.

Asking what is truth or who is right becomes almost superfluous but not entirely so, for we should never stop asking, questioning and arguing. Argument is good and when related to consensus in politics, it should always precede it.

As a final point, we should also acknowledge that in terms of politics and ideology, human values, knowledge, convictions and even creeds are relative, elastic and fluid …


© 2016 Ottavio Marasco. All rights reserved.

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