During the neoliberal boom of the 1970s and 1980s, it became fashionable to sell many valuable state-owned enterprises, often for a song, and usually to friends of the regime. Later on this would become something of a blueprint for the Russians, who created a whole class of thieving kleptocrats, who then went on to pillage Russia’s wealth, and waste it on buying fripperies, like English soccer clubs and Faberge eggs.
They justified the sales by stating that ‘the market’ would run things a whole lot better than career bureaucrats, and that the profit motive would cause the new owners to utilise every trick of modern management principle, to strip down waste, and to maximise service, and customer satisfaction. They would make loads of lovely profit as well, because of their inherent efficiency.
Have a look at your latest electricity bill, or your water bill. That shows you what ‘the market’ will do, when let loose. The misfortune we all suffer is that the same class of idiots are still in charge of government policy, and contrary to all evidence, they maintain their absurd faith. As the late, great Maynard Keynes said so clearly, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”
No matter how often energy companies, or public transport, or toll-road operators make huge and stupid losses, they bring the begging bowl along, demanding more state subsidies, and the neoliberals continue to deliver. Of course, many of these same true believers pick up a post-career job, often working for the very same outfit to which they gave taxpayer subsidies.
As my old Uncle Jeff remarked many years ago, quoting Jack Lang, “always bet on Self Interest if it’s running, because you know it will always do its best.”
Is Rupert Murdoch just a big, old socialist?
You can see this magical farce playing out, in real time, right now. Rupert Murdoch cannot run his media organisation at all well, and so he has an army of ‘servants’ pushing for one of his competitors to be closed down, and also getting lovely, un-tied, taxpayer-funded subsidies. I think it has been $40 million so far this year, but you never know where our money is going, with this Government.
That inability to thrive seems to prove that he is not very good at running media companies, and that he is just a big, old socialist. He wants to close down his competitor, and he wants taxpayers’ funds, presumably so that he can rule the world. And he wants his ex-countrymen’s Government to pay for it.
If you listen carefully to the frenzied attacks on our national broadcaster, you will notice that there is a constant theme, repeated loud and long, that the ABC is left leaning, and biased. This comes from many different voices, most of whom spend time at Sky News. If you want an example of an unhinged set of ‘journalists’ look no further. Alan Jones, Peta Credlin, Paul Murray and the legendary Andrew Bolt are names to consider when looking for bias.
Alan Jones probably felt he was doing Mr Trump a favour, by personally not conceding the election, but he did not do himself, or his tattered reputation, any favours. Is it any wonder that almost no-one watches it?
Let us look at that scary ABC
Firstly, they argue that the ABC is now an anachronism, past its use by date. How they came to this position is peculiar. They state that when the ABC was founded, in 1932, there was a shortage of media available, and so the ABC was designed as a stop-gap measure. It would ‘fulfil a need for information’, until the real thing came along.
As the local commercial media matured, and evolved into something able to adequately serve the Australian public, the ABC, having served its purpose, would pack up its tent, and slip away.
Secondly, they argue that the ABC is not past its use by date, but rather it is cannibalising media opportunities, by competing too well with the media professionals, and shrinking their market. Global monopolies like the Murdoch empire cannot compete, and feel that the government funding gives the ABC an unfair advantage. This is the actual position put forward by the free marketeers, with access to seemingly unlimited funds, being unable to compete with ‘the luvvies’ of the ABC.
So on one hand the ABC has become redundant, as their charter is now being performed adequately by the corporate media; on the other hand they are too good at their job. Thirdly, the people like the ABC.
They acknowledge that the ABC is popular, but in remaining true to their neo-liberal beliefs, they argue that there is no value in something merely because it is popular. It is a drain on the public purse, and must be divested. Another reason they don’t do well managing anything. Perhaps trying to please their audience would be a starting point.
What does the ABC do?
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is legally required to ‘encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia’ and ‘broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity’ with specific emphasis on regional and rural Australia’. Wikipedia
The ABC Charter, set down by Parliament, requires the Corporation to provide informative, entertaining and educational services that reflect the breadth of our nation. That summary is taken from the ABC’s own website. https://about.abc.net.au/abc-history/
This year they have covered the bush-fires, peerlessly. Their staff were spectacularly committed, professional and pushed to their limits. Of course there were some who accused the ABC of committing too many resources to the coverage. That is easy to say, after the fire-storm, but I live in regional Victoria, and there is no other place I would trust to provide me with accurate, up-to-date information.
Take a look at their coronavirus coverage. During the darkest days of April they provided us all with straight, professional, uninterrupted coverage of a once-in-a-century pandemic situation. They did not drop the ball when the second wave arrived.
When researching this article I went back in time. They were there in the 1930s, broadcasting by wireless about the death of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, and the declaration of war, by Robert Menzies, in 1939. Cricket broadcasts began.
During the 1940s the ABC provided war reports from various overseas offices. It also attempted to provide an independent news service. In a precursor to today’s problems, it encountered some early government interference and censorship, by way of the newly formed Department of Information, run in 1940 by newspaper proprietor Sir Keith Murdoch. He was Rupert Murdoch’s father. So it seems that the Murdochs have always had a problem with public broadcasting. And they clearly don’t like competition.
The list of disasters, triumphs, royal weddings, funerals, bush-fires and floods is too long to recount, but there is not a time when Australians did not know where to look, if they wanted fearless honest reporting. We remember that the ABC is always there, and it is not swayed by the views of their advertisers, because there are none.
And if the ABC continues to outshine the so-called ‘professionals’, then the professionals need to lift their game. Stop asking the umpire for favours, and get on with it. The ABC does.
Why does the ABC use people like this?
My only complaint about the ABC is its regular use of right wing people whose stated aim in life is to eviscerate the ABC. Why have Amanda Vanstone? Tom Switzer? John Roskam? Tim Wilson? James Paterson? They are not ‘talent’. They are ‘assassins’, waiting to slip the knife in. I reckon they would all look great over on Sky News.
What we need on the ABC are people who are interested in the contest of ideas, rather than the mindless parroting of partisan rubbish. So disagree with me, but bring your brain along.