Begun in 2008, it's unlikely that I'll regularly make entries to this blog, so do check my main site at

This blog is more likely to include posts of a political nature - and one that requires sisu on the part of many!

Archives dated prior to March 2008 are entries moved across from either LiveJournal or Octant.

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Policies are not just policies

Of late given the Australian elections, I’ve engaged in something that I otherwise on the whole consider a waste of time: tweets.

Part of the problem with tweets is that one is restricted to 140 characters: whether or not this can genuinely be called ‘micro-blogging’ or not, it certainly encourages depth of neither reflection nor intelligent participation – yet it has its own merit, in that it allows some encapsulation of core ideas that, as long as there is a shared vocabulary, can be (very) succinctly expressed.

The greatest difficulties arise when the vocabulary is not truly shared.

WItness this exchange (I’m ‘ME’, the other ‘OT’ I have not used the correct name as I did not ask for permission, but trust that no misrepresentation results – for that is certainly not my intent):

ME: “people … can’t tell them apart, hence 50/50 result” Disagreed. Some PREFER LAB central control, others opt for LNP freedom

I here quoted another tweet and wanted to point out that it’s not so much that people cannot tell the major parties apart, but rather that there appears to be a real division (roughly equally divided) between those who prefer what Labor [henceforth ‘LAB’] has on offer, and others who prefer what the Coalition [henceforth ‘LNP’] has on offer and that, furthermore, LAB tends to favour greater centralised control and overseeing, and the LNP a more decentralised and less bureaucratic approach. Of course, in practice, there’s quite a lot of overlap!

OT: The LNP were going to repeal govt, rescind taxation, unwind the Parl and leave it up to the Transcendent Market? lol

Only a most ungenerous interpretation of my mention of ‘opt for freedom’ could elicit an outlandish caricatured response such as that – especially in the tweeting context of time. So I further responded:

ME: not sure what you’ve been smoking, but your reading seems affected.

I mention this not for the comments that follow, but more to show that herein I am not pulling back from comments I wrote that may also seem ungenerous. Response:

OT: The parties are much closer than you paint them. RT @ME: “Some PREFER LAB central control, others opt for LNP freedom”

OK – so now I accepted an engaged conversation…

ME: “The parties are much closer” AGREED, in policies, but NOT in impulse behind policies, where it matters more

This is the part which really lies at the root of my first point: one and the other political party may have general policies that appear very similar (example: roughly equivalent financing of independent schools; or roughly equivalent, in practice, of military engagement in Afghanistan), but not only will their motivation be distinct one from the other, but also, as a result, both the wording – ie, the fine print – as well as the likely ways in which the policy interpretations by numerous ‘stake-holders’ will unfold: how the government itself further develops these; how the public service interprets these, especially in light of further instructions by memos; as well as ‘interpretations’ by those at the coal-face who will, depending on their own preferences, will work with various leeway that one or the other political party will give to possibilities of understanding the policies.

…and that was my real point.

anyhow, let’s go on:

OT: That is GIBBERISH. Policies are less important than ideology?! Policies are what govts DO and determine their EFFECT.

Here shows in large part the difference not only of a common vocabulary, but also that alternate worldviews may place different importance on various parts of the social fabric. To be honest, I tend to consider any ‘policy’ to which I may be subject with probably as much contempt as some bureaucrats appear to sanctify the same [this does not mean that I won’t go along with a sensible suggestion: rather, it means that if the ‘policy’ is sensible, it will simply already reflect what I strive to undertake with others in community, and if not, will only ‘tow the line’ to the absolute minimal ‘letter of the law’ to which I may be subject]. Anyhow… my response tried to clarify this a little… but obviously it was going to prove difficult:

ME: HOW policies are interpreted & implemented have lasting results.

Given the longer explanation above, it may now be far easier to understand what I meant…

OT: No, you’re just covering because you said a silly thing. Ideology of govt means more to you than what govt actually does.

I’m not sure if given the existing exchange it already proved more difficult to see that instead of ‘covering’, I was simply and indeed doing what I exclaimed next:

ME: Not at all: I tried to explain to you what I said. But good to see you must have agreed with my point, then!

…and of course acknowledge that I was being a little cheeky with my second sentence!

OT: You made no point. “HOW policies are interpreted & implemented” is still what govts DO, not the “impulse behind policies”

I suppose that here we do have to fundamentally disagree if the statement means that only governments interpret and implement. Of course, as I acknowledge for myself the limitations of 140 characters, I do so also for OT – hence in part my reply:

ME: policies interpreted & implemented based on wording created by impulse behind policies – 140 chtrs not enough

But of course, there was no way that I could therein go on to explain the point I previously explained in this post!

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