Jan 31, 2018

Pollyannas peddling optimistic nonsense, now in The Age

Why do conservatives like Tom Switzer hold on to their Pollyanna view of the future of the world?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


atomic bomb

Fairf***ed: The Fairfax op-ed pages have long since been a virtual wasteland for foreign policy and global affairs. A selection of yesterday's headlines for the double-spread tell the story: "Time to tax sugary drinks", "My friend, a lost, little yellow share bike" and -- giving The Guardian a run for its money -- "I smoked pot to make our roads safer".

But among them is Tom "Heidi" Switzer, inventor of a new radio genre -- uneasy listening -- and realpolitik maven for the right. And guess what? His take on global affairs is just as drivelicious as the stuff surrounding it. Under the headline, "Be wary of doomsday predictions", Switzer does a usefully succinct and direct version of the usual right-wing Pollyanna take. Despite the fact that there exists a global nuclear arsenal barely 70 years old, global warming on track for a four-eight degrees rise, and vast habitat destruction, it hasn't happened yet, so it never will.

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15 thoughts on “Pollyannas peddling optimistic nonsense, now in The Age

  1. Wayne Robinson

    Tom Switzer also wrote “Never mind that the shale gas ‘fracking’ revolution has meant in lower US emissions.” I wrote a letter to ‘the Age’ (which they didn’t publish) pointing out that this is incorrect.

    According to the most recent figures from the EPA, emissions from natural gas and oil haven’t changed significantly. It’s the emissions from coal that has fallen in recent years.

    There’s no indication that the shale gas ‘fracking’ revolution has resulted in increased usage in the American market.

    The shale gas ‘fracking’ revolution has resulted in lower prices for natural gas (to the detriment of producers such as BHP which has been forced to write down its investments by billions of dollars) because of supply exceeding demand.

    The fall in CO2 emissions is probably due to coal powered electricity being replaced by that from renewables (or increased efficiency). Not due to increased natural gas usage.

    If the low natural gas prices persist, then eventually, perhaps, more gas turbines and more gas driven automobiles might be sold reducing emissions.

  2. Alex

    Guy writes: “The bias of the unreflective will always be towards the pollyanna version of events. So too will the politically compromised.”. This applies to the Rudd home insulation scheme and the deaths of a number of installers. Expecting small business and tradies to do everything by the book is bad enough but when federal funding is involved anything is possible. The Rudd government were very naive if they believed that business would behave itself but the workplace practice laws were in place to protect the workers so the deaths were not the Rudd government’s fault. The government determines policy, the bureaucracy caries it out etc. That didn’t stop the Libs from blaming them while at simultaneously demanding the cutting of red tape to help small business.

    1. 124C4U

      Yeah, I never could understand why the Lab Govt. accepted the blame for that. However given the virulence of the media at that time, in attacking anything Lab., I guess it was an attempt to get it off the front page.
      But if the same logic is followed why was Phony Rabbit never charged for the accidental deaths when he was health Minister?

    2. Woopwoop

      I have pointed out ad nauseum that a workplace death occurs virtually every working day.
      yet another example of Switzer’s misuse of statistics is
      ” We were told that unless prompt and drastic action was taken to limit population and industrial growth, the world would face disaster by the end of the 20th century.
      And yet population growth estimates have declined.”
      He seems not to see that a decline in population growth estimates is very different from a decline in population. There might have been an estimate of 75% growth, but now it’s only estimated to be 74%!

    3. klewso

      When poor Jason Garrels died in much the same circumstances – “employer/regulator neglect” – but away from the “home insulation debacle” – where was the media?
      Too busy – caught up in the Abbott-Murdoch Limited News Party crucifixion mob trying to nail Rudd and Garrett – to consider the hypocrisy.

  3. zut alors

    Please don’t claim copyright on ‘drivelicious’ before I steal it. It suits so many current media mouths that it’s in immediate danger of over-use.

  4. MJM

    Sorry Guy. This is not the forum but I do not know how else to contact you.
    We crossed swords a couple of years ago and I think it might have been over a piece you wrote about the Viet Nam Government’s refusal to allow a 50th anniversary commemoration service at Long Tan (which many thought had been agreed to). Today is the 50th anniversary of the Tet offensive. I am old enough to remember it well and, since I lived in Hue for almost a decade, I am marking the day.
    One marker is by reading Hue 1968 by Mark Bowden which I am finding heart-rending. It describes slaughter on streets I have walked along thousands of times. I feel profoundly sorry for the young USA troops, especially the marines, who were led (from behind) by fools. And, especially read in conjunction with the Burns-Novick tv series shown recently on SBS, it is a stunning reminder of how our political leaders lie.
    It is a time that should not pass unremarked.

  5. Duncan Gilbey

    Last year, a guest of Switzer’s (Mary Kissel from the Wall Street Journal) on RN’s “Between the Lines” commented that we didn’t need to de-carbonise the economy because “…carbon is not a pollutant… it’s essential to life…” and that debate on the matter was “…uninformed and stupid…” if one thought “…that carbon was a bad thing…”.
    Tom thanked her for her appearance (neglecting to explain that it’s the actual burning of carbon that’s the problem) then pointed out that she was in Australia as a guest of the IPA.
    I’ve never listened to him again because of that act of blatant intellectual dishonesty.

    1. klewso

      In a balanced atmosphere “carbon” is fine – it’s when that balance is tipped that things get out of hand.
      Sadly, from all the evidence he’s provided, I don’t think poor Tom knows what “balance” is?

      [While he’s so obsessed with the pushing of this (“How could the left be right about anything?”) barrow :- I wonder if he’s ever thought what would happen if he put his head in a plastic bag and inflated it with “carbon (dioxide)”? Then again, there’s that “walk and chew gum” that some can’t master?]

  6. Reverend Owen

    “Uneasy listening” hardly covers it. Switzer’s sycophantic groveling to the influential and his patronizing attitude to everyone else, including the listening audience, makes him the ideal token voice of the right on RN. It’s a sign of the decline of that fine old radio station that they used him to displace Jonathan Green [now wasted on a pretentious lifestyle programme] on Sunday Extra last year. This year they’ve turned Sunday Extra into a retirement slot for a bland newsreader who got too old for commercial TV. Perhaps it’s a clever new strategy by Michelle Guthrie: stop trying to “balance” RN with right wing punditry, just bore its listeners till we turn off.

    1. zut alors

      Switzer materialised last night on Stan Grant’s ‘Matter of Fact’.

      If the programme was called ‘Matter of Opinion’ Switzer’s presence could be explained but this forum is supposed to showcase experts dealing in FACTS.

      1. klewso

        “The world is awash with bogus news, dubious sources and noisy opinions, Stan Grant brings Australian audiences the essential context they need to separate facts from fiction ….”? Trust Stan to “get to the ex-spirts and find out what they know, not what they think”????
        So who did we get on last night’s revue to “discuss” Trump’s “State of the Onion” teleprompter panto?
        No less than Ma, Switzer and FOX rent-a-mouth and hand-me-down Nauert (now ensconsed in the “State Department of Propaganda”)?
        Talk about false advertising – the Murdoch Guthrification of the ABC continues apace.
        Where are the bikini models?

  7. Irfan Yusuf

    A white Marxist Crikey columnist complaining about a white conservative Fairfax columnist. About as much diversity as a bucket of vanilla ice cream.

    1. Duncan Gilbey

      Good thinking – always shoot the messenger first.

    2. Bob the builder

      A brown conservative columnist complaining about a white Marxist columnist.
      So much diversity

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