People are creatures of habit and it is only that so many people are habituated to buying the news papers that any are still being sold at all. Just take any kind of commute on public transport and consider how many people are reading a paper and how many are staring at a screen instead. Some certainly may be playing games or even watching video but I expect that they will be out numbering those who are still reading dead tree editions of the MSM.
Then there is the things in the paper that people buy them for, most papers are not exclusively about politics and current affairs anyway, so some readers will be buying the paper for its coverage of sport, lifestyle or even just for the crossword puzzles. My point is that the political classes (in particular those from the left ) just look at the raw sales figured and they think that every reader of the Herald Sun is in the thrall of Rupert Murdoch and that the owners dictate to their readers directing their opinions. The reality is that all media entities write to their audience. If they don’t their audience wither away quite quickly. With the coming of the internet this is even more how things work Online entities are even more in an endless quest for readers so you have to play to what your readers want rather than thinking that you can manipulate their thinking. I have been writing a blog for nearly a decade now and I have noticed just how quickly particular readers flit in and out its the same now with the way that people read things online from the likes of Murdoch, Fairfax or even the Guardian People don’t just get their news from one source any more no matter what the subject is they will read what several sources say about it and then make up their mind. This behaviour is the same when it comes to broadcast TV people flit form one channel to another seeking different perspectives. My argument is simple, if the media consumers have changed their habits then perhaps there is something in the notion that media diversity laws from the last century should perhaps reflect those changes as well.
I have long thought that the constant tugging of our heart strings to get donations for one disaster or another somewhere in the third world are well intentioned but ultimately futile. While sending funds to help the flood affected in Pakistan may do some small good (and it will be a very small good after the corrupt have taken their slice of the action) in the long term there will be no change to the core problem of poor governance that is the underlying cause of the poverty and suffering. The piece at the Drum that I cite today explains why aid is actually bad for its recipients:
Before countries like Australia donate anymore taxpayers’ funds as foreign aid, we need to understand why poverty exists in the first place. Common explanations for this phenomenon include:
Extreme weather events, like drought – Yes, the absence of rain will cause crops to fail, thus hurting agrarian dominated economies. But droughts, unlike poverty, rarely last for decades on end, as we have recently discovered here in Southern Australia;
Natural disasters, like earthquakes – Yes, these can create temporary poverty. But as the experience of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami demonstrated, the West is actually pretty good at getting supplies and people into places that require short term assistance. Unfortunately as the Pakistan floods also demonstrate, political will is necessary for such aid to occur;
Wars – Yes, these are responsible for creating much poverty. There’s little evidence, however, that intervention achieves much, if anything. Remember the events dramatised in the film Blackhawk Down? UN and American forces were only in Somalia to try and help distribute aid to starving civilians. Once the shooting became too much to bear, these forces were recalled;
Lack of natural resources – This factor is less important than one might think. As mentioned, Africa is well endowed with many resources, yet remains poor. A place like Singapore, however, has little more than a good deep water harbour yet is extremely wealthy. This is due mainly, I suspect, to the industriousness of its people and the country’s well developed system of law and order.
I am reminded of the image of a band aid being used to treat a gangrenous leg you may be able to suggest that it might do some good but in the real world the only treatment that will actually save the patients life is the judicious use of a surgeon’s knife and the bone saw. So perhaps the real long-term “cure” for third world poverty is to take a step back and let those societies stand or fall upon their own efforts. Because without the development of good governance and maybe some tough love from the first world places like Africa will never properly sustain its people or give them a future.
Warministas love to counter the citation of extreme winter conditions (as proof that the world is not warming) with the suggestion that it is only “weather” and that “weather is not Climate“. Personally i have always thought that such a distinction is rather spurious. Spurious in the same way that saying that the millimetre marks on a tape measure are not a measurement in the same way that the metre marks are. It is all a matter of scale. Despite the Warministas denouncing any citation of any weather event that contradicts their argument they are still rather fond of citing weather events that fit with their own prognostications
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based the claims on an unpublished report that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny – and ignored warnings from scientific advisers. The report’s author later withdrew the claim because the evidence was too weak.
The link was central to demands at last month’s Copenhagen climate summit by African nations for compensation of $US100 billion from the rich nations.
However, the IPCC knew in 2008 that the link could not be proved but did not alert world leaders, who have used weather extremes to bolster the case for action on climate change.
Kevin Rudd last November linked weather extremes to the debate over the government’s emissions trading scheme.
“We will feel the effects of climate change fastest and hardest, and therefore we must act this week, and the government will be doing everything possible to make sure that can occur,” the Prime Minister said at the time.
British Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband has suggested floods – such as those in Bangladesh in 2007 – could be linked to global warming.
US President Barack Obama said last year: “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”
Last month British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told parliament that the financial agreement at Copenhagen “must address the great injustice that . . . those hit first and hardest by climate change are those that have done least harm”.
The IPCC has now been forced to reassess its report linking extreme weather to climate change.
There is a clear dissonance here between the “weather is not climate” mantra and the “weather events prove Global Warming is happening” rhetoric that we are getting from The likes Of Obama and Brother Number One and it is obvious to me that the rhetoric is intended to activate the guilt chips in the heads of the worlds progressives this enables the aforementioned leaders to bring about fundamental changes to our society by stealth. Changes to the energy economy and changes to the world’s political institutions. But then hasn’t that been the desire of religion since men began to draw pictures on the stone walls of their caves? Like the measuring tape I mentioned earlier it is all a matter of scale and finding the marks on the tape that fit the liturgy.
Oh yeah its also another reason to think that the UN in general and the IPCC in particular is as useless as titties on a bull.
I could not help thinking of my occasional commentator Damian Doyle when I heard about the earthquake in Haiti last night because it seems that he is quite inspired by death and destruction in the poorer parts of the world (it is the subject of his many tweets) and they don’t come much poorer that Haiti nor is the scale of the disaster insignificant.
“But so many, so many buildings, so many neighbourhoods totally destroyed, and some neighbourhoods we don’t even see people, so I don’t know where those people are.”
President Rene Preval painted a scene of complete destruction in his impoverished Caribbean nation after the quake struck on Tuesday (Wednesday morning Queensland time).
“Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,” he told the Miami Herald.
“There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them,” he said, as experts spoke of the worst quake to hit the disaster-prone nation in more than a century.
With hospitals also having crumbled in the fury of the quake, medical services were struggling to cope with the flow of wounded.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the capital, with its population of two million people had borne the brunt of the quake which struck at 4.53pm on Tuesday local time (7.53am Queensland time), saying vast areas had been destroyed.
While much of the rest of the impoverished Caribbean nation appeared largely unaffected, Ban gave a grim assessment of the devastation in Port-au-Prince, saying the city’s few basic services had collapsed.
“There is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required,” he told a press conference in the United Nations, as he prepared to visit Haiti as soon as possible.
The temblor toppled the cupola on the gleaming white presidential palace, a major hotel where 200 tourists were missing and the headquarters of the UN mission in Haiti where up to 250 personnel were unaccounted for.
Five people were confirmed dead in the UN headquarters, and the head of the peacekeeping mission, Tunisian Hedi Annabi, was among the missing.
Jordan reported that three of its peacekeepers were killed and 21 injured. Brazil said 11 of its peacekeepers died, while eight Chinese soldiers were buried in rubble and 10 were missing, state media said.
An Argentine-staffed hospital was the only one left operating in the city and was struggling to cope with huge numbers of injured, its director told Argentine television.
Of course at this remove there is not much anyone here can do apart from sending money and of course I hope that the death toll is less than many people fear but I can’t help thinking that there is a certain cruel irony that it is always the most solid and substantial buildings that are the most deadly when the earth decides to move.
Anyway lets hope that the rescue effort is swift and substantial while there is still time to extract the trapped from the ruins, the rebuilding will take longer and sadly I think that the buildings that replace the fallen will be no safer than the ones that that have fallen.
Until next time Comrades