Believing What You Want to Believe

I've neglected the blog lately due to a backlog of domestic chores and responsibilities. And my bursitis makes typing for any length of time difficult. So this post is a brief catch-up.

I continue to be amazed (dismayed would be a better word) with the way so many "made up" minds are made up.  It seems that once a thought is triggered and a position adopted on many issues, even educated people think further thought is  unnecessary. If only life was so simple.  Here are a few recent examples of the workings of "made up" minds:

TWO readers read the item that claimed Fijian life expectancies had dropped and that the coups and lack of economic growth were responsible. The first (anti-Bainimarama) reader wrongly concluded that the 2006 Coup was responsible when the figures cited stopped in 2005, a year before the Bainimarama coup.  The second (pro-Bainimarama) reader made rude remarks about foreign experts and asked how the 2006 Coup (he also did not check the dates) could possibly have resulted in an increase in poverty, although the article clearly stated that the relationship was indirect, through a moribund economy.  Neither reader seems to have seen that the article stated there were many interrelated causes, and not just coups. And neither saw my comment that I suspected the figure showing the 70+ year expectancy to be anomalous and probably incorrect. 

EARLIER examples of not seeing what you do not want to see are Dr Jonathon Fraenkel's deductions from the Lowy/Tebbutt poll that showed Bainimarama was supported by nearly two-thirds of the population.  After rubbishing the poll, he went on to ask why if, indeed, the poll was accurate, Bainimarama not lift PER and call an immediate election making it seem that Bainimarama's popularity was the issue, which it is not. False reporting, provoked unrest and physical threats come from a few, and it is these few who lead government to believe it would be unwise to lift PER. Similarly, Bainimarama's popularity has nothing to do with not holding immediate elections. As government has repeatedly made clear, there is a Roadmap and many things to do before elections are held. But, of course, Jonathon knew this.

GOVERNMENT  has given the impression that 90 percent of the population will benefit from the 2012 Budget tax cuts, and its supporters have made much of this claim because they wish it to be so.  But it is, as Fr Barr has pointed out, not so. For some 70% of the population, those below the old $15,000 tax threshold, there will be no difference.

SIMILARLY, the Attorney-General has claimed that lower taxes will result in more investment and economic growth because his training and political views lead him to this conclusion. This is the same logic used by NZ's National Party leader John Key.  But as a speaker on Radio NZ pointed out a few days ago the highest rates of economic growth in the Western world occurred in the 1950s and 1960s when personal and company tax rates were at their highest!

THE proposed fact-finding visit of Australian (and NZ) trade unionist provides another example. Having told the world the "facts" on Fiji, they proposed a visit to see for themselves. In the circumstances, it would seem they expected to find what they had foretold.  Government made it clear that while it would welcome genuine fact-finding visits, a visit from the ACTU (that had already made up its mind) was not welcome. The ACTU then accused Government of concealing the facts, whatever the "facts" may be. The last I heard is that they intended to sneak into the country somehow.

AUSTRALIAN  journalist Paul Howe* wrote a blinkered opinion piece in the  Daily Telegraph on Sunday. It has all the hallmarks of the sort of journalism deplored in Fiji that  made the Media Decree necessary. It is shallow, unresearched, biased and contains a number of factual errors. Education and health spending has not decreased. It has increased considerably over the past few years. The recognition of human rights in some areas leaves much to be desired, but in other areas they are much improved.  Institutional racism is now a crime; all citizens are considered equal irrespective of race, culture and religion; women's and children's  rights have been codified, and much more is being done to with respect to fundamental human rights in housing, empowering and assisting  the poor and marginalised. It is, of course, true that censorship in Fiji has also produced distortions but that's no excuse for overseas journalists.
* I'm informed he's a unionist not a journalist!
TOMORROW or soon, when I've checked the story out,  I hope to have something on the latest allegations: the torturing of sex workers.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Is bursitis an excuse or just your security blanket? moan a lot about it
Made up minds said…
Croz
You seem to have made up your mind that a military junta is a 'government' and that Bainimarama is a real 'PM'. Perhaps it is you that needs the reality check?
Anonymous said…
Actually, for those under $15000 they will be worse off as some indirect taxes have been increased. That is the problem with the right wing ideas of lower income taxes and company taxes, but higher indirect taxes like VAT. The proportion of taxes paid by the poor increases and for the rich decreases.
Anonymous said…
Hi Croz,

Wouldn't one factor that may have influenced the life expentancy (and the poverty rates) have been the income of those indo-fijians who emigrated after the 2000 coup? I would have thought that those who left Fiji would have been more well off.
Believe me for I speak the truth says the AG - NOT said…
Believing what you want to believe is something of which we are all guilty.

PER you say it is not being lifted because of false reporting and possible public order issues. I believe it is not being lifted because the accurate reporting would raise too many questions about the performance and the honesty of this regime.

Union visit. Surely it does not matter what statements the Unions have made prior to their arrival. Any dialogue between the unions and the regime has to be beneficial for the regime. It gives them a chance to explain their position and persuade the unions they are misguided. Even you Croz feel the Essential Services decree in unnecessary and draconian and have spoken out against it in this column. So does that mean the AG should ignore you from now on because you have already formed an opinion.

Paul Howe’s article has no factual errors. It does not give the whole picture by omission. You quite rightly point this out. However, when the Ministry of Information does the same you keep quiet. It is understandable for a journalist to do this. But when a ministry that is paid for by the Fijian people lies by omission that in my view is criminal. Surely it is the job of the Ministry of Information to give the full story to the people of Fiji. But unfortunately under the direction of Sharon Smith Johns they are very selective about what is put in the public domain.

Elections 2014 – You want to believe they will happen. I want to believe they will happen and be free and fair. But past lies and logic makes it seem very unlikely.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Made up minds ... Please check out earlier postngs. I've always made the distinction between a de jure and de facto government. Constant repetition of the adjective is unnecessary.

@ Anonymous 2 ... Yes. There are many interrelated reasons.

@ Believe me ... I am in agreement with much of what you say. And I think my pretty even handling of most issues indicates this. Few things are black or white. We all have doubts and hopes.
Jimmy The One said…
A common argument which I see in most blogs is that if, according to them,the government is not telling the truth then those opposed to the government are justified in doing the same. A case of two wrongs making a right??

Secondly, why is it that those opposed to Bainimarama are so certain that the government is not giving us the "full story".

If the media in Fiji is locked out where do these folks get the information that there is a fuller story?? Isn't it just possible that the government story is full?

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