The ridiculous attack on reason…

REFLECTION
The ridiculous attack on reason

by Amy Brooke

News Weekly, May 16, 2020

I remember once coming across a saying that the dead have as much power to influence us as the living, through what they have written. Yet today educationists ignore so much of what our greatest writers and thinkers had to say, with most ”educational” activity no more than a complicated way of inflicting on children little of lasting value.

Plato, however, reminded us: “If a man neglects his education he walks lame for the rest of his life.” Yet the once widely acknowledged fact that teaching each generation how to use their minds well is at least as important as sporting activities, has long been displaced by curriculum subjects incorporating radicalised propaganda. Today we can add our Ministry of Education’s insertion of global warming groupthink into our schools curriculum.

I recall years ago one of my sons remarking that his secondary school was hosting a government-sponsored representative to make sure all students embraced the “correct” thinking in relation to the politically hijacked Treaty of Waitangi. The latter’s simple, straightforward provisions have long been distorted by activists for political advantage.

What was particularly striking was the local newspaper’s picture of this young woman addressing some senior students, and frankly admitting she was there to correct any “wrong opinions” their parents might be passing on to their children.

My son could always hold his own in debate, and I reminded him how important it always is to examine thoroughly both sides of any issue, weigh it up as objectively as possible and then defend his own thinking. After all, I pointed out in my naivety, he would have been taught at school, too, that the most important thing is to follow one’s own conscience with regard to what one thinks is right.

Now, incredibly, this is the last thing children are taught. Rather, that for the sake of social harmony, one should endorse groupthink.

Recently, reflecting on the irrational thinking now given ritual obeisance – with so many conforming to a herd mentality embracing the delusional – I was reminded of Aristotle’s “man is an imitative animal”. The advertising industry knows this well. And it goes a long way to explaining the conviction many individuals now have that the fact they were born biologically male or female is irrelevant. They seem convinced that by feeling differently they really become different. By such logic, if I feel I am a child again, not an adult, then I am. Or an elephant, if the feeling takes me.

And we are now being asked to endorse, with the capitulation of the hierarchies, allowing males claiming to be females to participate in women’s sports, to use women’s private facilities, toilets, changing rooms — to be lodged in women’s prisons where incidents of rape unsurprisingly result. But why this acceptance of groupthink – of insisting that self-delusion is acceptable?

One well-respected English writer, using the pseudonym of Alpha of the Plough, maintained: “There is a large part of the public, possibly the majority … born to be fooled, which will believe anything because it hasn’t the faculty of judging anything but the size of the crowd, and will always follow the ass with the longest ears.”

DISCOURAGING THE ‘FOOL’

One of the books I most treasure is Unended Quest, by Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper, who lectured for a time in New Zealand at the University of Canterbury, where my father sat in on his lectures. Popper gave this autographed copy to Dr Margaret Dalziel, in 1982.

Before she became Emeritus Professor, I had Margaret as a tutor at the University of Otago. She passed the book along to me. In it the author of The Open Society and its Enemies discusses an issue long puzzling me: the nature of intelligence.

In my time working as an independent consultant to a think tank in Wellington, particularly in relation to education and treaty issues, I became increasingly struck by the fact that many highly regarded individuals, having achieved outstanding marks in scholarship and other national examinations, were puzzlingly rigid in their thinking. I came to realise that very “clever” individuals, some holding positions in Treasury, others with leadership roles in political parties, were by no means deeply intelligent. They, too, took their cue from the intellectual fashions of the day.

Popper clarifies this, distinguishing between the dogmatic and the critical methods of thinking. He writes that the dogmatic way of thinking comes first, due to an inherent need for regularities, preceded by learning – first in the sense of discovery, then by imitation and by practising.

He postulates, however, that it is the critical thinking of a minority of individuals, examining and attacking presuppositions, that is particularly valuable. He argued that what characterises their creative thinking, apart from the intensity of interest in a problem, is a much more rare ability to break through the limits of the range of dogmatic thinking.

Given the sheer irrationality with which we are now faced at every level, and the aggressive attack by the now dominant left, perhaps it is time to reflect on George Bernard Shaw’s assertion that the future depends upon those whose laughter discourages the fool — a word that we understandably tend to avoid — rather than encourages him. Today we can certainly add her!

In fact, there is an important battle now under way. So is “risus est bellum” (“laughter is war”) a reality we are overdue to embrace?

Amy Brooke is an award-winning New Zealand children’s author, commentator and critic.

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Amy Brooke convened The 100 Days – www.100days.co.nz with the support of a core group of colleagues  from the annual Summer Sounds Symposium.    See her book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through her BOOK Page at www.amybrooke.co.nz, or at Amazon’s Kindle.

 

 

What taxes? The National Party’s stunning hypocrisy – versus Labour’s learning curve?

How many New Zealanders are aware of one of the National Party’s most damaging impositions on the country  – that in these three years since the 2008 election, it has imposed, or increased, reportedly 15 taxes, without prior warning?

Bill English increased GST from 12.5% to 15%. Remember ? John Key promised this wouldn’t happen. Any surprises here?

So let’s look at this list  – while National tries its best distraction tactic – pointing the finger at the Opposition.

However, among the National Party’s legacy?

Taxes were raised on KiwiSaver

Charges were increased for Internal Affairs – Births, deaths & Marriages

Student loan repayments increased from 10% to 12 %. Overseas-based New  Zealanders are also being charged interest on their loans

The average fee for tertiary education has also increased.

Passport charges increased from $135.00 to $180.00

Civil Aviation Authority fees rose

Road user charges increased

National slapped on an additional 9 % fuel tax increase

What about the large, reportedly unnecessary ACC levy increase?

Prescription charges increased by 66%

New online company filing fees were imposed on businesses

Revising of the scope of Fringe Benefit Taxes

National tried to tax car parks and plainclothes police uniforms

A lowering of Working for Families abatement threshold and the abatement   rate – taking money out of the pockets of families.

Imposing an incredible $900 Family Court fee

Descending to squeeze even children’s earning, by imposing what many consider a contemptible tax on the small earnings of paper delivery boys and girls.

Yes, Labour’s over-confident proposals to impose taxes did not go down with the electorate – any more than Gareth Morgan’s ill-thought proposal to apparently punish people who own their own homes. On the basis that people who rent pay for renting, Morgan apparently thinks it would be a wonderful idea if people owning their houses should also pay rent. The arguably unjust, even bizarre idea that this multimillionaire has come up with, completely ignores the fact that the equivalent of paying rent by home-owners has been the many years of paying off a mortgage. And of course they already pay an additional rent in the form of local government rates on their housing and land. Morgan makes no acknowledgement of the fact that those renting properties make no contribution to rates.

Jacinda Ardern obviously still has a lot to learn – at least she seems to have taken this on board. Just as well. Her hint that Labour might not tax the family home – but could tax the land underneath it  – is also weasel territory. It overlooks the fact that this land is already taxed by the rates that local government demands – constantly upping them, and always above the rate of inflation.

Between the extortions of central and local government, New Zealanders have been having a very hard time – and this doesn’t even take into account the best of our farmland and scenic reserves now being snapped up, under National’s too comfortable accommodation with the mega-wealthy – including, worryingly, Communist Chinese – and being priced inevitably out of the reach of New Zealanders. We are losing our land – at the same time that we have been incrementally losing our freedoms,   and if there is any more money to be squeezed out of us, National will not hesitate to do so.  Already another fuel tax by National is mooted.

In the past  three years, since the 2008 election, what National has basically been doing is scraping the barrel. We already know that their boast of the surplus they have achieved has been based on squeezing tight every single important service they could get their hands on – the hospitals constantly ordered to return more to the government; mental health services in shocking disarray; youth help and drug rehabilitation under-funded – no tax too mean-minded not to be imposed. Yes, Labour is still an unknown risk  – but National’s avaricious grab for any possible tax, its utter arrogance and lack of consultation with the country. make it too undeserving and too big a risk to vote back in.

However, apparently the media never learn. A too–often soppy-sounding  Dompost columnist, who has apparently stayed close to the political scene for too long, has attacked Labour’s consideration of the capital gains tax… (but doesn’t mention any of National’s taxation impositions, during its recent three year term. ) She describes Labour’s  airing of a  possible capital gains tax  as “cavalier and uncaring about the uncertainty it created among people whose financial future was tied up in property.” What an extraordinary statement!  – given her failure to recognise that one of the reasons the capital gains tax has been so often kicked out of the arena is that most MPs own multiple properties – they themselves, while cavalier about inflicting taxes on others – are not quite so keen when it comes to their own pockets being raided.

It is not just as Tracey Watkins blandly reports,  that “a capital gains tax has always been fraught electorally because of the kiwi love affair with property.”  What about our MPs love affair with multiple properties?  And her what of her inability to stand off and analyse the issues – without over-praising the politicians with whom she is constantly in touch ?  E.g. No guesses about  “probably two of the nicest people you will meet in politics. They are both supersmart, genuinely care, and have empathy and emotional and  intelligence in spades.”

Grief…what about a lot more  objectivity, Tracey – instead of what sounds like a failure to remain emotionally detached? Why fall for the smarm and charm offensive that is so crucial for politicians to dish out – around election time?  It doesn’t help if  female reporters gush like this – Watkins  apparently needs to toughen up. And she is still finding excuses to praise the evasive and slippery John Key – “ One of National’s most successful Prime Ministers, because he never let ideology  get too far ahead of pubic opinion.” Sheer nonsense, Tracey –  he had the gift of the gab, and is regarded as having had far too close an attraction to the Communist Chinese super-wealthy, who were keen to support  him  to get rid of the Union Jack  from our flag. They are still massively contributing to the National Party’s fund-raising efforts.  Is it really too much to wonder why?

Key opened the floodgates to unmanageable immigration, was basically responsible for all the sneaky tax increases National introduced this last term  – and he took no notice of the country when he wanted his way – the TPPA was a very good example of this… Many will argue he got out  – seeing the writing on the wall.

Let’s hope it’s also on the way for this damaging government – and that New Zealand First, the one party which has a chance of reining in the excesses that the two major parties consistently indulge in – is able to make its presence a formidable reality in the new period of government ahead.

 

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© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.

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