Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Voting by numbers – a guide for the terminally stupid

For a very long time it has been apparent that a concerted effort has been made to dumb down the population. This is a practice that is not limited to New Zealand; it is alive and thriving pretty much worldwide.

Not mentioning any names, but some countries need less of an effort in this regard to achieve the necessary level of stupidity for their people to become fully compliant with their ruling regime (be it political or religious).

But my point is that for at least the last 30 years there has been a conscious movement to for example, replace commonsense with simplified instructions that appear to have been designed for mentally challenged people.

The more obvious examples would be warnings on electrical appliances to not use them underwater or to try and snip through their power cords while you are using them. Knives often carry the warning that they are sharp and we are also warned that if we allow our children to shove plastic bags over their heads they will face the danger of suffocation.

I am sure there are people out there for whom these warnings would not have been self-evident. However few of them would or should be walking around ‘at large’ rather than securely held in captivity.

But the safety police are not the only ones pandering to our shrivelling grey matter. The catalogue advertisers are coming out with loads of new and useful devices to make our lives easier such as handle tie bags for your kitchen bin. These are in reality simply supermarket bags that some sharp operator has conned people into forking out money for. Another I saw was a memory foam leg pillow, but I am sure you will be able to recall many more of these pointless items that have been designed to solve a problem that doesn’t exist other than in the mind of telemarketers.

Governments in collusion with the media have done their bit by providing us with sound bites and slogans. These have gradually eroded our brain cells so that few can see that they are like pixie dust and contain absolutely nothing of any substance or have any relationship to reality. We have now reached the point where people are completely ignorant of how our laws have been framed or how our justice system works (or doesn’t as is often the case).

Political parties have replaced properly conducted public meetings where they laid out policies and voters were able to ask questions about the implications of those. Admittedly not all people did this and many simply voted what the husband told them to for fear of getting the bash, or what their parents had always voted for fear of being disinherited. But beyond that group there were a reasonable number of people who made their own minds up based upon their assessment of the policies laid out before them.

Today we seem to have reached the point where policies have been shunted aside and replaced by slogans and for the most part, pretty meaningless ones at that.   

A sample I saw while trawling the party sites were:

National - Working for New Zealand. I had to wonder exactly what and who in that party is working for New Zealand as it seems they are pretty keen to work for both China and the USA and don’t give a monkey’s for Kiwis.

Labour - Vote Positive. This isn’t even grammatically correct unless they are telling us to vote for a party I didn’t even realise was standing.

New Zealand First - It’s common sense. What is common sense these days and where do we find any? Certainly not in our Parliament.

The Maori Party -Tu Maori mai (That’s us). Yes; I get that is you, but so what?

The Mana Party - Movement of the people. What movement would that be, then? A bowel movement perhaps?

All these sorts of dumb slogans do is reduce politics to the level of the sound bite and people not knowing what these parties stand for.

So just when you thought it was safe to go back into the polling booth, along comes Vote Compass. This has been heavily promoted by the nice young folks at TV One as the answer to all our problems; apart from confusing a few people by having them think Compass is a new party seeking their vote, that is.

Vote Compass is an app that has been set up on TVNZ’s website to help people reach a decision on who to vote for! It is a sort of vote by numbers set up where you answer a few rather non-specific survey type multiple choice questions and at the end it tells you whose policies align best with your answers.

Now you can call me paranoid – and many will; but if you take the subjective analysis by the individual out of this particular equation how do you know you aren’t being manipulated to vote the way the designers of the app want you to? Nobody knows what agenda these people might be trying to push.

I see that 176,000 odd (some very odd) people have used this app and I can only hope that most of them did it for a laugh rather than out of any real desire to make a decision on who to vote for. However the cynic in me says that most of them probably did take the survey to help them reach a decision on who to vote for.

Is it any wonder the country is going to the dogs? I expect the next election will bring a board game which is a variation on snakes and ladders (called snakes and snakes) where you throw the dice and vote for the party whose square you land on. 

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