Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Negative political advertisements about the economy have ALREADY started

I don't often watch television however happened to have very little to do a few days ago and so noticed something I wouldn't have ordinarily noticed.  The negative political advertisements about the economy have ALREADY started.  They have started before a general election has been called and, like most political advertising, is so biased an inaccurate as to be rather misleading.

For all my international readers, this post will be a complaint about the Australian electoral cycle however you may get some benefit when thinking about advertising in your home districts when you go through election cycles.

What sort of advertisements am I talking about?

I tried to find videos on YouTube which illustrated my point but appears that Australians do not bother enough to put their political advertising on YouTube and thankfully our politicians are not yet internet savvy enough to deploy the full gambit of internet advertising.  Alas, that means that I will need to describe for you the type of advertising I am talking about.

The particular advertisement that got to me was one in which the Liberal party pointed out that the Australian government was running up a deficit of $100m a day in 2009/2010 when Kevin Rudd was last leader of the Australian Labor party.   The implication of course being that with him now back in control, if you vote for him he is going to destroy the economy and pile on the national debt again.

It reminded me of an advertisement a few election cycles ago where the basic argument was that you could not trust the opposition party because every time they were in power interest rates rose, thus if you put them in power again, the interest rate that you pay on your home loan will go up again.

This happens at EVERY election cycle.  And both sides of politics play this game with different issues.  I am particularly concerned about economic policy and the Liberal party is typically the one that runs the advertisements about how the Labor party is going to ruin the economy and look at their past record.  The Labor party does it about other issues such as how the Liberal party cronies up the businesses and sticks it to the ordinary Australian worker.

Why do I hate these sort of advertisements?

I am passionately against any sort of advertising that relies on the fact that your electorate is uninformed and which feeds them a simplistic
message, which although technically true, is not necessarily the full story.  I hate the fact that politicians and political operatives feed off the fact that most people do not have the time, interest or wherewithal to think through economic policies and why they have been designed so resort to simplistic views of the world where 'we are good and they are bad'.

The thing I hate most about these that they work.  They work and people get simplistic messages about political parties and their relative strengths and weaknesses which are not based on any sort of truth or understanding about how policy decisions are made.  Further they do not say how they will do it better - it is rarely politically profitable to talk about your alternative plan.  Slinging mud is much easier than letting people make a decision on your relative policies and visions for the country.

Two examples of what I am talking about

I am going to use the two advertisements of the advertisements I mentioned above to illustrate why I hate these sort of advertisements.

In the most recent one which I saw the other day which attacked Kevin Rudd for running up a deficit at a staggering rate, the advertisement relies on the fact that the average voter will have forgotten that at that time the country was running expansionary fiscal policy to insulate it from the downturn in the world economy. They do not mention that the debt incurred was as a result of automatic stabilisers in the budget.  That is, when growth slows and unemployment rises there is a decrease in the amount of taxes received and an increase in the payments of things like benefits.  I have no problem if the argument is made that the stimulus was a bad policy measure and then propose what you would have done instead in that economic environment.  But this is less catchy and forces people to think a bit more.

The one that truly drives me nuts is the argument about interest rates.  To all voters out there - you should crucify any political party (on either side) who argues that interest rates are higher or lower under one political party.  First, and most importantly, the Reserve Bank of Australia is completely independent.  They do not care what the politicians think and ignore them at all times.  They look at the state of the economy and focus on inflation alone - they don't care about things like unemployment.  If inflation is going up then they raise interest rates and if inflation is coming down then they reduce them.  No political party has the power to influence this.

I found an interesting article from the last election on this very issue and it is worth a read even today.

Maybe I am too idealistic

Maybe I am too idealistic.  To hope that we can have an election where we get facts and not spin.  Where people stop playing the person and start talking about the real issues in the country and how they propose to solve them.  I know this is the game of politics...but it stinks.  Unfortunately for us Australians, the stink has started early and it looks like being a LONG election.

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