Susan Ryder discovers that never have so many so often missed the point . . .
When I was a member of Toastmasters International, I could never understand how others had difficulty in finding topics for their speeches. It was the most common gripe. Not for the first time, I found myself marching to a different beat in that I had precisely the opposite problem: numerous options from which to choose only one.
Nothing has changed in the interim. When it comes to penning this weekly post, I usually have a few ideas floating around. Occasionally though, they’re all discarded for something completely different by the time I sit down to work.
And so it is today.
I’d been toying with a piece on advertising – painful television ads in particular – but the lovely Bernard Darnton beat me to it, or at least acknowledged it in last week’s terrific post, “NOT PJ: Wheel of Misfortune.” (If you missed it, I highly recommend it - after this!).
And lately I seem to have done nothing but run into Che Guevara. Not literally, of course – that would be silly – and not only that damn image from 1960 either, but repeated mention of the odious communist in books, newspapers and magazines. As such, I felt a rant coming on, but not today, Josephine. The ads and Che will keep.
Yesterday’s Newstalk ZB programmes had callers consumed with the notion of One Council to Rule Them All in Auckland. Most appeared to be against the plan, preferring to retain the status quo, but all were vehement as to their respective opinions.
Nobody proffered the idea of, God forgive me, a third way. A real alternative. Nobody thought of questioning state control altogether via the abolition of councils with subsequent services being conducted by private enterprise. To weigh up the pros and cons of one big council versus several regional councils is like discussing the pros and cons of Stalinism and Maoism.
The truth is that both are disastrous. It is not a question of "which" council is better. It's whether the state is better at delivering services than private enterprise. And that question was answered, definitively, when the Soviet Union fell over and didn’t get up again. Next!
A bit earlier, ZB breakfast host Mike Hosking was singing the praises of paper shopping bags in light of Nick Smith’s touted 5c tax on plastic bags. “Groceries look good in brown paper bags!” he cried. Well, the man has a point. Heaven forbid that my groceries don’t ‘look good.’ Sports reporter Tony Johnson, announcing a preference for reusable bags, went even further suggesting a 10c tax on paper bags and an outright ban on plastic bags, citing that “Ireland doesn’t allow plastic bags at supermarkets and we shouldn’t either!!” So there.
But hang on a minute. Tony can’t have been paying much attention at high school. He’s forgotten that back then the Sandalista parents of today’s Greenies waged war against the paper bag for its notorious tree-chopping crimes, which went on to play a part in the subsequent growth of … plastics. Holy renewable forests, Taxman! There’s just no pleasing tree-huggers!
Of course Mike, Nick and Tony could all just mind their own business and leave others to do the same, but that would be too simple. Next!
Smoking and Smacking. The banning of a) smoking in privately-owned commercial premises and b) smacking one’s children, quickly developed into arguments over the issues of a) second-hand smoke for patrons and staff alike, and b) smacking or not smacking one’s children as a means of appropriate discipline.
Wrong again and wrong again. The issue; the only issue; is and always was one of state interference. It’s the same with arguments regarding the teaching of creationism in schools, the location of a new sports venue or the ‘merits’ of various forms of taxation.
Privatise education and let individual institutions dictate their own curricula. Remove the government from sport and allow private investors to construct their own facilities. And “fair taxation” is an oxymoron – not that you’ll find that particular example in high school English classes.
The point of today’s Gospel is the question of why we seem to so often miss it.
* * Susan Ryder writes every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *