Confidence in Government

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Every intellectual Leftist is well aware of the faults of their government. The endless whining and bitching about what the government should and could do features highly over the morning latte. But like a bitter wife complaining about a dead-beat hubby who she refuses to divorce: all would be better if only hubby was nicer to her and had more money and power. The answer to government failure is always the same: bigger and more powerful government will solve the problem.

There are two recent laughable examples of this belief. And while they don’t actually involve the four riders of the Apocalypse (pestilence, plague, famine and war), they do involve plague and fire.

The first example was the political stumble from Queensland’s Premier, Anna Bligh. On the threshold of a swine-flu epidemic she suggested that people might like to stock up on food. Common sense suggests that a few extra tins of soup and some dried milk powder might be a good thing to keep in the back of the pantry.

But there was an immediate outcry at the mere suggestion. Apparently people would panic. And in the panic they would buy, well .. food. And then the shops would run low on food, and then that would cause even more panic and then people would stock up on even more food, and then the children would starve (apparently because there was so much food about), and the dead would walk the earth, and .. well .. it would be better just to make people feel safe.

Of course if she had stuck to her guns and there had been mass scale food buying, several things would have actually happened.


  • People would have ended up with a stock-pile of food, and be more prepared for an emergency.
  • People would have realized how fragile supply mechanisms are in the short term.
  • People would have realized how robust supply mechanisms are in the longer term.
  • People would have realized how helpless The Gummint is to do anything about it.

All of which would have undermined people’s confidence in the Gummint. So she ‘clarified’ her statement to say that she had only meant ‘a day or two worth of food’. Right.

The second example was the number of calls which were ignored during the Victorian bush fires. Some 80% of calls to the 000 emergency number went unanswered on the day. Apparently people who’s houses were being engulfed in flame were ringing 000 emergency in the belief that the Gummint would (or even could) come and rescue them. Why would anyone think, as their homes and all their neighbours’ bush homes burned, that the Gummint fairy God mother type force .. er .. thing would magically appear and protect them from Mother Nature’s fury? Apparently they believed that spending 20 minutes on hold to the Gummint was better than spending 20 minutes protecting themselves and their families from dying. And die they did.

Clearly the Gummint is a more powerful force than Mother Nature. Or it would be – all they need to do is to create a new law. Right?

Well actually, people’s faith in the government kills them.

5 thoughts on “Confidence in Government

  1. This is consistent with my own thinking – people increasingly expect the government to save them and are aghast when it doesn’t.

    My concern is what comes next. Politicans have historically been in the firing line but holding public servants to account is growing in significance. The Victorian bushfire Royal Commission is applying some serious heat to the bureaucrats, for example.

    There are two possible outcomes. One is that public service at senior levels will become more risky, with losing your job due to “negligence” becoming an occupational hazard.

    The other is that the public service will start to push back, refusing to accept responsibility for the choices others make.

    I’m not sure which one is more likely, but I’m prepared to help the crowd arguing that “the government should have saved us”. I’m betting it will make the bureaucrats more wary of creating a nanny state.

  2. On a point of information, the four riders of the Apocalypse are war, famine, pestilence and death – in that logical order if you want to trace which of them sets up for the later ones. Pestilence and plague are actually the same thing by different names.

  3. >> On a point of information, the four riders of the
    >> Apocalypse are war, famine, pestilence and death

    Hmm .. thanks for this. I used to use death – until I realized that having death in the list is illogical. Oops.

    .. clearly I didn’t pay enough attention in Sunday school!
    (The teacher didn’t beat me enough)

  4. The sort of thing the writer was referring to, using imagery, was a typical pattern of bad things: war, which didn’t actually cause that many direct deaths because most people could hide; famine, because people had been unable to look after agriculture while hiding and because the fields had usually been ravaged to encourage people to come out and fight with the odds against them (“havoc”), which also didn’t cause that many direct deaths but usually led to poor nutrition rather than outright starvation; pestilence, which flourished in the weakened population, both because they were individually more vulnerable and because there were more sick people to catch it from; and death, from any of those causes but most of all the last. So it wasn’t redundant to have death on the list; the others were other ills, usually coming first and each setting up for later ones.

  5. Death is part of life.

    I hope to never experience war, pestilence and famine.

    I will experience death. It’s not something to fear, or
    something to fight – just something to delay until it’s my time.

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