Advertising Campaign Strategy Brief
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to successfully defend Gina Rinehart without any risk of it backfiring. So your activities must:
- Be fully exposed to the public, even at this early planning stage. That way no one can criticise her for having something to hide, captaining a leaky mutinous ship, being advised by faceless men or failing to consult the public.
- Avoid relying on funding, lobbying or spin. That way no one can criticise her for outdoing her critics due to her money, contacts or skill.
- Only tell people what they agree with. That way no one can criticise her for irresponsibly courting controversy or being disagreeably argumentative.
And all that is just so it doesn’t backfire. Apart from not backfiring, what would a successful campaign defending Gina Rinehart entail? What has been done so far has failed to facilitate the about-face of the great mass of public opinion. Do we resign ourselves to there always being many more people criticising than celebrating her?
Gina Rinehart can inspire and commission the propagation of messages she agrees with. She can personally express eloquent impassioned pleas for the free-market. She can buy into media organisations that are critical of her until she has enough shares to influence what could eventually be her company into becoming more in line with her viewpoint.
Unfortunately, whatever the positive outcomes of such activities, they will also result in her opponents working even harder to sabotage capitalism. The more her influence grows in controversial directions, the more she will be vilified. You can’t douse a fire with oxygen, and fighting fire with fire is not necessarily much better. Throwing a punch is not necessarily the best way to break up a fight. Any success she has will make her a bigger target and be a call-to-arms for her critics. Her enemies will have less to lose and she’ll have further to fall.
So buying into the media is good fun shit-stirring, but it is the not the radical shit-stirring required. It is not of no use, but it treats the symptoms rather than cures the cause. It will change the bylines and even the headlines, but it will only reinforce the same frame of discussion. It will rock the boat, not fix the leak. It will sway the pendulum, not move the pivot. Like having your feet stuck in one spot in a fight, although it impresses that you bravely won’t back away, your stance lacks balance, strength and variation. Of all boxing stances, the weakest is that of a soapboxer. Lowering your centre of gravity is not lowering your chance of success. Being on the front foot is merely metaphorical, and is always said in the singular anyway, proving the importance of the back foot. It can be more attacking to step away, bob and weave, create room to manoeuvre, recalibrate, gain momentum, survey the landscape and explore your options.
The Case for Ideological Prospecting and Exploration
Have all our strategic resources been discovered and developed? Or should we question our arrogance and welcome prospecting for undiscovered, underexploited and newly-economic strategic resources? By “strategic resources” I mean especially advertising and public relations strategy ideas. I like iron ore, coal and precious metal prospecting too; but I just think there is less bureaucracy and red tape in the way of prospecting for free-market advocacy ideas. (And most of the so-called traditional owners of Australian free-market advocacy strategies are so supportive that they disown them.) We should remember Lang Hancock’s eloquent and heroic campaign against the know-it-alls:
Obviously, someone forgot to polish the crystal ball … Canberra in the Menzies era imposed a 30-year embargo on the export of iron ore because the crystal ball told them that by 1965, Australia would be importing iron ore, when in fact the true position is that Australia can supply the whole world for centuries.1
Are there any strategic ideas waiting to be discovered that could reverse public opinion just as drastically? That question is so big it could even be said to dwarf Hancock’s mineral discoveries. As Colin Chapman said in one of the few times a journalist has made a worthwhile observation on Hancock:
In a sense, finding the ore was the least of Hancock’s achievements. His real value to Australia has been his brute force drive and his restless energy in getting both Federal and State embargoes on ore exports lifted and in scouring the world for someone prepared to mine and develop it.2
Lang Hancock’s critics were (and are) the close-minded dogmatic ones. Lang Hancock’s critics are old-fashioned and anti-progressive, as they advocate a return to feudalism by increasing royalties and tributes to the Crown. They cannot picture that private property capitalism could ever produce private security, roads, malls and aisles, as they already do in modern shopping centres. Henry Ford famously said that if he had asked the people what they wanted he would have made a faster horse. “Realists” advocated reforming the slave trade; the abolitionists were “impractical idealists” — but look who won. If slavery was still an issue, how would the big-shot political strategists handle it? In thinking of the answer you see just how far strategists have ventured, in the name of realism, away from reality, in favour of justifying their own industry and its lack of ideas and interest in truth. They were unmistakably caught in the act by theatre critic George Jean Nathan:
Politics is a peep-show the particular low humor of which is derived from the circumstance that the performers have their eyes glued to the other end of the same keyhole that is used by the onlooking customers.3
Similarly, G.K. Chesterton said:
Every man speaks of public opinion, and means by public opinion, public opinion minus his opinion. Every man makes his contribution negative under the erroneous impression that the next man’s contribution is positive. Every man surrenders his fancy to a general tone which is itself a surrender.4
Clarence Philbrook made the same observation in the prestigious peer-reviewed American Economic Review:
Major economic policy, in so far as it is influenced at all by [strategists], apparently ought to be the product of infinite involutions of guesses by each about what others are guessing about what he is guessing about what they will advocate!5
It’s like a game of hide-and-seek, except each player thinks the other is doing the seeking. It is as though the truth-value of all ideas is considered equal, which amounts to nothing, and the number and apparent influence of the people who hold the ideas are what almost-exclusively should be considered before any ideas are put forward. Philbrook masterfully wrote in that same essay:
Unless the intent is simply to lead others to act under false impression of the results to be expected, advice consists of making evident the soundness of an idea and relying upon the resulting recognition of that soundness to cause action based upon it. The force at work changing attitudes is, then, “idea force.” “Probability” implies a mechanical relation, some kind of quantitative continuity. But correct conclusions cannot flow from treating “idea force” as if the law of conservation of energy applied to it; for, however an idea may get into a mind, it is capable of dying there or of gathering immense force. Moreover, a number of minds can be seeded with one expression of the idea. Potentially, then, the force may grow at an astronomical rate … [T]hat which is believed to be true [can have] an appeal to the mind believing it, over and above the attraction it may have on other grounds: truth has a positive appeal in its own right. Although other appeals may swamp this one, there is no limit to the possibilities of its breaking through and causing action. The degree of apparent influence of the person holding an idea is, therefore, no measure of the potential effect of his giving utterance to it … In the face of these considerations it seems doubtful, not merely whether we can effectively measure “probabilities” for different “actions” upon attitudes, but indeed whether any real meaning attaches to the conception.
Philbrook again, this time mocking the realistic strategists with the reductio ad absurdum:
Of course the man least demonstrably ineffectual is he who advises others to do what he knows they will do without his advice.
Similarly, Australian Workers Party veteran Bob Howard wrote in the illustrious Australian Playboy:
You can’t change public opinion by telling people what they already agree with.6
Another reduction ad absurdum on this is provided by Walter Lippmann:
Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.7
And here’s a great Bill Bernbach quote:
But if you tell people what they don’t agree with, then there is likely to be abrasiveness and divisiveness, and our mission is to defend Gina Rinehart without any risk at all of it backfiring! So much for all that defence of exploring new and radical ideas. But our mission is clear that we just can’t risk any criticism being directed at Gina Rinehart.
An Open Letter to (and from) John Singleton
Finding a solution to the mission is as unlikely as Gina Rinehart being seen as a popular figure occupying the middle of the mainstream political debate, or having respected big-time Australian business figures like John Singleton (Australia’s most successful adman) speaking out in favour of a total free-market and against each and every government intervention in the economy. But what if Singleton tackled political issues with his distinctive talent and style? I’ll impersonate Singo to help you picture it.
On Australian Aborigines:
I know the Aborigines are drunk most of the time when they’re in town, but as close as I can make out it’s just like if you or me win the lottery.
We take the day off work and go and get plastered, don’t we?
Well, it’s the same with the Aborigines except they win the welfare lottery every day, so they celebrate every day. And take the day off work every day. It is logical.8
On the bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle:
Ever since the It’s time campaign of ’72 all the experts have been taking a good hard look at political advertising, as if it were really important. Of course it is really only a minor bit of electioneering nonsense because neither of the major parties has anything important to say. Just knock the opposition and hope no one asks what you’d do about it yourself, seems to be the go.
… Whereas the Libs were going about screwing up the country with their own weird mix of socialism and free enterprise, they at least did so slowly and boringly. Lab socialist rule on the other hand was so fast as to be reckless.9
The government is the real criminal. Examples, for starters: taxation is extortion (tax evasion is only self-defence), inflation is fraud (counterfeiting) on a massive scale, [“compulsory education”] is kidnapping and/or slavery … Of course, there are any number of “practical” arguments against these assertions, but no principled ones.10
Democracy is inherently immoral … by claiming to have a “mandate” for all the policies in its election platform, the government of the day enshrines the notion that half the people plus one have the right to kick the rest around … We are thus being conned into accepting the totalitarian idea that might makes right. But truth and principle do not necessarily have anything to do with numbers. One million people have no more right to enforce their will on one person than that one person has to enforce their will on them. If they did, then it could indeed be said that a lynch mob is democracy in action.11
There is only one thing wrong with our whole education system and this is our whole education system … naturally, as there is no profit incentive in the education system, it is monolithic, incompetent and generally not worth pissing on.12
All today’s education system has done is to make children hate learning and knowledge, and to justifiably lose respect for their parents and social institutions. If you owned a store, and the government guaranteed that a certain number of people would, every day, spend a certain amount of money in your store, what would happen? (Assuming that the amount you would receive was enough to satisfy you.) What would happen to your store, your service and your attitude? Nothing is what.
And that is the situation in our schools. The teachers are guaranteed classes. The schools are guaranteed customers by the zoning regulations and compulsory attendance laws. As a result, there is no market function relating what is offered by way of facilities, teachers and syllabuses to the demands of the market. We are forced to accept what we get. This is why compulsory schooling has to go.13
So that’s a small taste of it. In addition to such provocative outspokenness, he would also: run the behind the scenes, produce the campaign ads, buy into the tv and radio stations that run the ads, buy and breed his own politicians, bet on politics, and make money running other people’s election campaigns14 and auction houses (elections, after all, are just disreputable auction houses — in H.L. Mencken’s words, “every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods”). Such is his long-proven, diverse and undisputed talents.
There’d be no disagreement between belief and policy to manage, so there’d be no curtain or middleman to separate on-stage from backstage. His would be the first wholesale political agitation, offering a fresher, brighter, stronger, cheaper, simpler and purer product, thereby undercutting the retailers trying to dumb down politics to a level that chronically realistic strategists, inflated economists, political careerists and their incestuous siblings in the media can follow.
Far from worrying about offending people, he’d revel in it. He’d add layers of entertainment to what he says, while everyone else’s messages will have added layers of haze and darkness. He would be so free to speak his mind and everyone else would be so chained to some board-managed committee-approved focus-grouped workshopped-to-death analysis-paralysis strategy that it will be like Singo is trying to get media attention while everyone else is trying not to. Singo will speak in everyday language, while his opponents will use big words to justify using simplistic slogans and cloy clichés, combining the worst of both intellectual and anti-intellectual worlds. It will be the master of communication versus the masters of miscommunication, so Singo, being greatly outnumbered, would still have the underdog advantage.
It will be like he has made the political strategists who develop and support the left-right spectrum look so stupid as to group extreme left-wing tyrants and extreme left-wing nuns at the same extreme. He makes the popular political spectrum look two-dimensional, cartoonesque and suitable only for suspending the disbelief of idiots.
But enough fantasising that Singo could ever be political. But imagine if he was and is. Then imagine that Gina Rinehart had so much respect for John Singleton that she would feature, as the most prominent endorsement on her magnum opus, Singo saying something like:
Thank you for doing this [book] for Australia, Gina, and once again, you have outdone your dad.15
And just imagine if that quote not only existed and was featured there, but actually meant something, which it would only do if Singleton liked Gina’s father, who had more critics than any politician. But what if Singo did like him? Imagine if he said:
Lang is, to my mind, the man who has single-handedly done most to move Australia into the 20th century.
I wonder, will he have to die before Australians recognise him rather than deriding him for so promptly breaking Australia’s 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed.
Fortunately, I know Lang will keep right on fighting.
Sadly, I know Australia will go on ignoring.
And now, in the meantime, our highest national awards will continue to go to divisive Bible bashers, blood-sucking public servants and worn-out businessmen.16
Incidentally, imagine if the recipient of “our highest national award”, like, say, the 2013 Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose, provided a platform for Singleton to praise Lang Hancock:
Is there anyone [John Singleton] admires? Silence. Finally, he says yes. Two people. Ted Noffs and Lang Hancock … Hancock, the mighty mining magnate from West Australia, probably Australia’s richest man is, according to Singleton, “The only business man with 100 percent courage. He will not back down, bow down or compromise to any Government no matter what it costs him. He has enough money to stop but he still gets up at 4 am and works to try to get people enthusiastic about a country that no one really should be enthusiastic about.”17
And imagine if Singleton spearheaded a brand-new political party, and imagine if Lang Hancock was the special guest of honour at the launch and presented the keynote speech; and imagine if Singo wrote an encyclopaedia of politics, and imagine if Lang wrote the foreword. And and and, but back to the real world. Businessmen like Singleton are obviously beyond our reach. But if they weren’t and it’s not all a dream, then what would such an advertising/PR campaign to defend Gina in light of Singo look like? After all, it is all so radically and elaborately fanciful that people will believe it couldn’t possibly be made up. And who are we to disappoint them?
A Fail-Safe Strategy Idea
To remind people why they agree that Gina Rinehart is not difficult, stubborn and uncompromising, because she occupies the middle ground of the mainstream political debate. She is trying to find a generous compromise between:
- On one side, principled businessmen who advocate a total free market, like, say, John Singleton and his co-conspirators and followers.
- And, on the other side, both major political parties who have historically increased government intervention in the economy, as was repeatedly observed with great sadness and frustration by Bert Kelly (often the only free-market advocate among Federal Liberal Party politicians) and Lang Hancock.
Imagine a rugby league team that only ran down the middle and never spread the ball to the wing. That’s what the free-market advocacy movement is doing in ignoring those who are on their team at the far wing.
This strategy reframes the worldwide political debate into including advocates of a total free-market, thereby shifting the default democratic disposition, the mild moderate middle, the careful comfortable compromise, the respectable Realpolitik restpoint, the safe sensible swinging centre, the political pendulum pivot, to Gina’s standpoint. It is practical, truthful, does not require Gina to change any of her politics and would be useful for her, since no one could criticise her any more for being radical, stubborn, difficult and uncompromising, because she could point to Singo who favours a total free-market without any government interference as being the one who is radical, stubborn, difficult and uncompromising.
Everyone knows that Gina is not difficult, stubborn and uncompromising. This is because every knows that she does not advocate a total free-market; she does see a role for government. Radical uncompromising free-market advocates oppose government altogether in favour of a total free-market. Unlike Singo, who opposes taxation altogether, Gina opposes not all but some taxes, especially in not all but some of Australia (the north). Unlike Singo, who opposes the minimum wage altogether, Gina merely warns that high labour costs make it harder for mines to operate in competition with mines in lower labour cost countries. Singo, being an advocate of a total free-market, has called for the abolition of all drug laws. Has Gina? No! Singo has encouraged civil disobedience. Has Gina? No! The public may not yet know that Singo advocates a total free-market, but convincing them of that is teaching them about something they have no prejudices about.
So those who call her difficult, stubborn and uncompromising must admit it is undeniably self-evident that she isn’t and that they are lying. This is how we change public opinion about Gina by telling the public only what they agree with. This is how all debates about Gina can be turned into simple public service announcements about Singo that no one can dissent to. Political debates will now be gentler and Gina will be seen as someone trying to find a compromise between principled businessmen like Singo on one side, and the major political parties on the other side. Voilà.
Singleton offered to pay Lang Hancock’s Workers Party membership fee. Lang still refused to join. It was too radical for him. In 1987 Singleton criticised the public figure then-considered (also wrongly!) to be Australia’s most radical free-market advocate by saying: “Joh doesn’t go far enough … I want absolute deregulation of the economy.” Historical facts like those support this essay and Singo on Joh provides a precedent for its strategy.
The strategy is not one of an ambit claim; the evidence is overwhelming that the Workers Party was real and genuine (see www.WorkersParty.info). Many people do think that Singo has forgotten about all his amazing Workers Party efforts and that Australia has forgotten about it. Nevertheless, this is more reason for optimism, because even more people say that those who forget the past are condemned to repeated it. But seriously, some people do make the scandalous and shocking accusation that Singo has left his radical political shit-stirring days behind, and possibly now bats for the other team and even another sport. Even if that is true, so what? It’s still an argument for Singo’s comeback, because it’s like saying that Michael Jordan retired from basketball in 1993 to play baseball. Even if Jordan never returned to play basketball, surely no one would ever dare to claim that he was never a basketballer; yet that is what discounting Singo’s time in the Workers Party and Progress Party amounts to.
Further justifications for this fail-safe strategy idea are given in the next section.
Scatterbrained Citizenry’s Normal Distribution/Mid-Domain Effect
Our future hangs in the balance. Gina is trying to protect the major political parties from the wrath of the advocates of a total free-market. She is bravely trying to find a workable compromise. It is not in Gina Rinehart’s immediate interest to defend a free-market. It is in her immediate self-interest to put all her propaganda power into trying to get special grants of monopoly control, protection from competition and other special privileges. If you want to see how a self-interested self-described businessman would behave, there are many examples throughout Australian history. Read Maxwell Newton on Reg Ansett to get a taste. If you want to see how a committed and genuine businessman would behave, it is difficult to find any examples. But one of Gina Rinehart’s biggest admirers, famous Australian businessman Neville Kennard, provided a rare exception. He said:
The system as it now works, with extensive government intervention, discourages newcomers. It works for the benefit of those already in business, because it is difficult both from the financial and regulatory viewpoints for new people to get into business. The result is that those of us already in business are less innovative and less bothered by newcomers and competitors than we would otherwise be in a freer economy.18
Whenever Gina Rinehart argues in favour of a free-market she is doing it despite the fact it would, in many ways, make life much tougher for her. As Ludwig von Mises, the world champion of free-markets, said:
The “have’s” do not have any more reason to support the institution of private ownership of the means of production than do the “have-not’s.” If their immediate special interests come into question, they are scarcely [libertarian]. The notion that, if only capitalism is preserved, the propertied classes could remain forever in possession of their wealth stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of the capitalist economy, in which property is continually being shifted from the less efficient to the more efficient businessman. In a capitalist society one can hold on to one’s fortune only if one perpetually acquires it anew by investing it wisely. The rich, who are already in possession of wealth, have no special reason to desire the preservation of a system of unhampered competition open to all; particularly if they did not themselves earn their fortune, but inherited it, they have more to fear than to hope from competition. They do have a special interest in interventionism, which always has a tendency to preserve the existing division of wealth among those in possession of it. But they cannot hope for any special treatment from [libertarianism], a system in which no heed is paid to the time-honored claims of tradition advanced by the vested interests of established wealth.19
Such sound economic analysis is obviously beyond the comprehension of most Australians. Gina’s critics are mostly uneducable. She is so hated she might as well commit the crime she is already supposedly guilty of — but she doesn’t, thereby altruistically acting against her self-interest. Gina’s critics are scatterbrained; corrective education is not the answer and it will result in criticism of her as self-interested just for defending herself anyway, and our mission, which we accepted, can’t result in any risk of it visiting criticism upon her. Our mission means that the truth about how amazing Gina is for defending the free-market is something of a red herring for us; Gina’s critics will refuse to accept it and be provoked into further criticism by it.
The high and large volume of disapproval directed at Gina Rinehart makes it difficult to formulate a safe strategic response. But there is one pattern that permeates all criticism of Gina: Her critics always admit that they don’t oppose capitalism altogether, but they just think there should be more government interference to moderate capitalism — to moderate Gina creating jobs, unlocking resources and providing what customers want at a price they are willing to pay. In other words, her critics don’t want all mining wealth to be taxed away. When you press them further, they will admit that Gina Rinehart does not call for total capitalism either.
No one today advocates unlimited government. There are people who advocate maybe 75% government, but they always try to keep some scope for individual freedom. Gina is a limited government advocate, just like the Greens, the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Smith, the CIS and the IPA. Of course, there is a big difference between someone who advocates government be limited at 10% compared to someone who wants government limited to 75%, but the difference is one of percentage points not principles. Gina’s socialistic, socialist, statist and leftwing critics all agree with her principles.
Although there are no advocates of unlimited government, there are advocates of no government and total free-market, like, say, John Singleton. If the advocates of a total free-market had their way, their taxation policy would be that of the Workers Party Platform:
Taxation is Theft. Taxation (which is legalised coercion and robbery by government) is no less immoral than coercion and robbery committed by private individuals … Taxation can be replaced by: (1) Fee-for-service payments; and (2) Private bodies [including charities and insurance companies] taking over many of the present functions of governments.
So Gina and Singo disagree over principles, a far more serious disagreement than over percentage points. That makes all the more impressive Gina’s attempts to find a compromise between radical free-market advocates like Singo on one side and the advocates of big government like the major political parties on the other side.
Why are there more people near the middle of the mainstream political debate than at either extreme? Is it because true morality and self-interest is thereabouts? Is it because both extremes believe in incompatible truths, and those in the middle tend to keep the best and exclude the worst of both extremes? I don’t think so.
Those in the middle are less exposed to criticism than those at the extremes, because they can never be dismissed as totally bonkers, since some of what they believe overlaps with some of what their critics believe. That might be one reason there are more people in the middle than at the extremes, but I am not convinced it is the major factor, and especially I don’t think it was the original factor. Once the primary factors were in place that made the middle position more popular, then secondary factors served to entrench it, like institutional inertia, party politics, peer pressure, vested interests and confusing the way things are with the way they ought to be. What are the primary factors?
I believe neither concern for nor ability to discern true morality or self-interest are major primary factors in the distribution of people along the political spectrum. The way I see it, people are placed randomly along the political spectrum in what statisticians call a normal distribution, and because most people tend not to stick too tightly to a certain viewpoint on the political spectrum, but occupy a range on it, the area where there is the most overlap of ranges on the political spectrum is the middle.
When I say people are placed randomly, I mean that unpredictable kaleidoscopic soup of whatever influences their political viewpoint, whether it be upbringing, schooling, collegiality, parochialism, patriotism, concern for truth, stupidity, or whatever. I do not claim it is random in intention, but it might as well be given the scatterbrained result. On this we can do no better than quote Australia’s most successful communicator and seller of messages, an adman by the name of John Singleton:
[T]he public’s wants are created in a way that no one will ever understand.
The media play a tiny part, so does advertising, so does talks in pubs. Everything contributes to a natural evolution. The real job is to find out what people want and give it to them about five minutes after they have decided.
The legitimate job of advertising is to let the public know that what they always wanted is now actually available.20
In biogeography, the mid-domain effect is a hypothesis explaining why species richness increases in more tropical latitudes and intermediate elevations.21 The larger the distance that species travel, the more pronounced the mid-domain effect is, because then there is more overlap of species ranges generally. The mid-domain is the middle of two hard boundaries, like the uninhabitable North and South Poles. In politics, the hard boundaries are: on one side, the communists, who want to abolish altogether the free-market in favour of total government; and, on the opposite side, the anarchocapitalists, who advocate a total free-market with no government. I’ve never met an advocate of total government control and zero individual freedom, but I do know that anarchocapitalists exist. So unlike the North and South Poles, at least one extreme of the political spectrum definitely is inhabitable. But the point is simply that there is no further extreme than pure communism or anarchocapitalism in their respective directions; there is no way that communism and capitalism can overlap except in the middle of the extremes; they cannot overlap outside of the habitable extremes, or even the uninhabitable extremes for that matter. They can only overlap on one side of the extreme, whereas middle-of-the-roaders can overlap with people on both sides; hence why there are more middle-of-the-roaders.
Even if you are convinced that your political viewpoint is the position of true morality or self-interest and you believe others share your talents for and interest in truth, it is not an argument you can make against the mid-domain effect unless you believe that the middle of the political spectrum is the position of true morality or self-interest. But even if that is your position, then the mid-domain effect still has to be accepted as an equally plausible and equally non-falsifiable explanation.
There is a major obstacle in the face of the theory of the mid-domain effect as applied to politics. Why does there often tend to be two major political parties, one on either side of the middle, or at least a mish-mash of policies from each party being on one side or the other? Why is there not just one political party in the middle? If the mid-domain effect is right, there is! Australia’s Liberal and Labor Parties, USA’s Republican and Democratic Parties, they are basically just one political party both occupying about the middle ground. They are often neck and neck in the polls, because they are draconian blood-sucking parasites and voters have trouble telling them apart. If you don’t believe me, what are the major differences for taxpayers between the Liberal and Labor Parties on such major areas of government spending as healthcare, pensions, middle-class welfare, school funding and defence? They are all ranked very similar on Robert Haupt’s marshmallow index.
Why do the major political parties debate so fiercely if they agree with each other on so much? Because they are angry that everyone agrees with them; it is like they are treading on each other’s toes. Because they all want to be in office, they pretend they are arguing over intellectual disagreements to cloak their true motives.
The more publicity that people in the middle give to advocates of a total free-market, acknowledging that there are major people who hold that position, the more the mid-ground will tend to drift towards the middle, which is Gina’s position, and away from the extreme that is government control. When the radical free-market advocates decide to soften their message, that means the radical government intervention advocates have succeeded in shifting the middle ground more towards communism.
John Singleton’s Call to Action
Before we finish, we should again turn to the most mature reflection on John Singleton and the Workers Party, which is in that same dog-eared old Playboy article we quoted earlier:
Binding John in the same way we did to our cause was like hitching a champion race-horse to a milk-cart … We shouldn’t have worried about being popular or practical or realistic. We should have been proud of being political ratbags. You can’t change public opinion by telling people what they already agree with. Instead of moving towards the people by watering our message down or dressing it up, we should have kicked, prodded and provoked people into examining their prejudices and assumptions and, by so doing, moved them towards us.
As the radical left has done successfully for the past 30 years at least, as well as Aborigines, gays, women and ecological groups, we should have recognised that the slow process of change is best accomplished through uncompromising, radical shit-stirring … And whereas John Singleton was misused as a leader of an ideological party operating in a conventional political manner, he could have been a shit-stirrer par excellence.
Now is his chance! The aim of our strategy is not for Singo to get endorsements and votes; the aim is for him to get all the criticism and ridicule currently directed at Gina and more. He deserves it. He should hold a press conference, come clean and admit the truth that Gina is innocent and has been wrongfully accused by all her critics. And it wouldn’t hurt if Gina Rinehart’s people made a public statement too. Singo is not that fragile and sensitive; he does not need Gina’s continued protection; he should be able to stand on his own two feet.
This essay has explained why positioning Gina Rinehart as a moderate won’t backfire, is fail-safe and is sure-fire. Given this strategy’s importance in defending Gina and the free-market, we can do no better than again quote Singleton:
It is good to have you back mate, your mates say. Get back into the old advertising and leave the politics to the politicians.
And when people say it you realise how close we are to providing the very apathy which will mean the ultimate end of the free world which has been built by the capitalism which our own business of marketing so clearly represents. And yet unbelievably equally resents.
Our society is becoming less free with each and every day and the people who make their living and gain their incentive from that freedom are caring less with each and every day.22
Business in Australia today is, as usual, allowing itself to lie down and be raped by government intervention without even a whimper of protest … There is, however, one thing worse than the business leader without the guts to stand up and fight, and that’s the person who accepts the system willingly and uses it to make a quick dishonest buck. And the only thing worse than that is business leaders with neither guts nor honesty, which is most of them … And nothing really changes and things continue to go downhill slowly for everyone … And on and on the inevitable stupidity goes.23
The media obviously aren’t interested, so who will gather the funds for an advertising campaign to let both parties know there are more votes in less taxes?
Obviously, no one will.
We will always have the sort of government and the size of government that we deserve. May God have mercy on us.24
These quotes, coming from such a successful advertiser and powerful businessman, show how difficult it is to get businessmen to stick their necks out. This works as a call to action for this essay. The beauty of our strategy is that it does not want anyone to stick their necks out, except those who have already done so in the giraffic extreme. The only requirement is for Gina to stand aside when it is time to be counted. I fear that is too little to ask. It would be best for all concerned if she deflected all criticism directed her way for being difficult, stubborn and uncompromising away from herself and onto the advocates of a total free-market, thereby placing herself in the middle of the mainstream political debate.
It would help if John Singleton would continue his prolific free-market advocacy from decades ago, but he has already done more than enough to be labelled a difficult, radical, uncompromising extremist who deserves to have all the criticism currently directed at Gina Rinehart deflected away from her and towards him. The long lost leader of Australian free-market advocacy must now become its loss leader. It is the duty of all fans of Gina to denounce Singo, to make him: do the legwork, so we can ride in his slipstream; carry the bags, so we can travel light; attract the fire, so we can inconspicuously reach our target; and do what he is best at, so we can better do what we are best at. He must get ideas beyond his station. He must bite off more than he can chew. He must start a fight he can’t win. He must embark on the impossible mission. He must be sacrificed for the greater good. We must not allow his good deeds to go unpunished.
Oops! Wait! Oh no, what have we done? Could we be hanging an innocent man? Is John Singleton really a radical or is he a moderate too? Did Singo ever explicitly himself call for the abolition of all government provision of defence and law and order? I don’t think so. But his Workers Party included people who did and some of them were very high-profile, like Neville Kennard, the founder of Kennards Self Storage, which is the business with the most street frontage in Sydney. So, please, all the criticism currently directed at Gina, we should dump onto Nev. The time has come to blame everything on Nev. He should be the most hated Australian. You can find his political writings at www.NevilleKennard.info.
If you want to start with a lower profile target, I am a willing volunteer. But whatever you do, stop criticising Gina for being difficult and uncompromising and start celebrating her caring diplomacy and generous compromises.
Earlier this year John Singleton flushed out the world’s most famous rugby league player, Andrew Johns. He told him to “front-up” and “man-up”. And asked him on prime time national television, “Geez, how can you be so strong on the field and so weak off it?” Surely we are even more entitled to do the same to Singo, turn the tables, give him a taste of his own medicine and put to him:
How come in recent decades Singo has done nothing politically radical that isn’t behind the scenes, when government is bigger now than it has ever been, he can more safely speak out now than when he used to and today he has the benefit of even more money, experience, contacts and seniority? This is not the time to be “respectable”; this is the time for the practical uncompromising inspirational shit-stirring that he did so well in the 1970s-80s. How can he be so strong then and so weak since? He has set his own example! And Neville Kennard has set quite a precedent too, perhaps even more explicitly radical. Now is the time for Singo to get more active, outspoken and radical with age, not more timid, respectable and distracted. The biggest horse race, the biggest advertising challenge, the biggest hobby, the biggest political concern, is questioning the nature of government itself and undermining its respectability — government being an expropriating property protector (in Professor Dr Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s phrase), a protection racket, a coercive monopolist, that does not rest on consent. The essential problem is not government waste, excess or corruption; the problem is the nature of government itself. Government itself is wasteful, excessive and corrupt. Taxes go to somewhere other than where the taxpayer most valued spending it; that’s why it is compulsory. Taxation does not rest on consent. It is not consensual. There are no signed contracts, as is considered a basic necessity of far less significant relationships.
If Singo fails to convince people of the criminality of all government, then so what? Either way he succeeds in making everyone aware that Gina is a moderate! Does Singo not care about helping Gina? She has provided a situation, with her business success and diplomatic politics, that is the best opportunity the world has ever had for successful advocacy in a free-market direction. What is Singo doing about it? And this way, just imagine: all the amazing effort that went into the Workers Party, not wasted, but refreshed and built upon. It will be so marketable. Like combining a grand opening sale and closing down sale, selling items of novelty value and antique value. New and improved and tried and true. Neither utopian nor regressive. Neither naïve nor curmudgeonly. Youthful yet wise. New yet known. Can Singo really claim to have an idea for defending Gina that is more exciting, fail-safe and sure-fire?
It should be clear to readers that I am not so crude and vulgar as to be writing all this just to get money from Singo. Money isn’t everything. It is far from enough. That’s why I want Singo himself. I am not like those stalkers who the courts and police have the power to stop. Nor am I like those stalkers they make scary movies about. I am worse. I don’t try to hide. I already have Singo from 1969-1991 at www.JohnSingleton.info; I want him to return. Lazarus rose four days after he had been dead and buried; it’s nearly four decades since the Workers Party. Surely that’s not just a coincidence. The similarities don’t end there. If Singo did restart his radical political shit-stirring, it would re-endorse, refresh and remind everyone about the fact that the free-market philosophy has timeless principles that are relevant forever. And so, as Singo himself said about the advertising strategy behind Christianity, with its necessity of allowing people to die so that they can be risen from the dead, and prove their eternal relevance:
One day a young man had an idea and he came into the agency to discuss it. The prospect’s name was Jesus Christ and His product was called Christianity … They recommended a great product benefit and christened it Eternal Life. Now here was a great product plus. Something that would appeal not to the small and unprofitable market of Toorak and Bellevue Hill, but something that would sell to the mass market in the enslaved Roman Empire and in Palestine, in particular … The consumer could be given something he and she wanted … they could not be disillusioned by the product promise because they had to die to be born again … It was a marketing Masterstroke, which is probably where the phrase came from.25
Can you see how brilliant all this is for our strategy? Not only does the strategy build on and vindicate the Workers Party, but it also vindicates Singo’s time away from it. His time away from radical free-market advocacy shows that he is not just a soapboxer; he also proved to all his doubters that he knows how to bob and weave. Everything he has done while away from uncompromising shit-stirring politics has served to build momentum for his second coming.
Selling Singo is a more worthy object of his attention than selling anything else. Enough wasting time on other people’s projects! Even if he does want the focus to be other than on him and his radical free-market advocacy, the advertising strategy suggested in this essay should still get his support, because it will help Gina, who surely is the most exciting advertising project in over 2000 years. Profitable yet charitable. Immodest yet modest. Safe yet heroic. Strategic yet public. It is the best of both worlds; it is other-worldly and this-worldly. It is political and apolitical. It is ridiculous and realistic. It is a strategy that has never before been tried, but has an experienced track record to back it up. It is unprecedented and historically sound. Singo should do it and he already has.
- Lang Hancock, “OUR MINERAL POLICY IS ON POOR GROUND,” Sunday Independent, November 4, 1973, p. 16. ↩
- Colin Chapman, “Hancock: King of the Pilbara,” Sunday Australian, June 27, 1971, pp. 13-14. ↩
- George Jean Nathan, The Autobiography of An Attitude (London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926), p. 38. ↩
- G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905), ch. VIII, reprinted in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), p. 101. ↩
- Clarence Philbrook, “‘Realism’ in Policy Espousal,” The American Economic Review, vol. 43, no. 5 (December, 1953), pp. 846-59. ↩
- Bob Howard, “Up the Workers!,” Australian Playboy, May 1979, pp. 105-10. ↩
- Walter Lippmann, The Stakes of Diplomacy (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915), p. 51. ↩
- John Singleton, “The real story behind WA’s ‘race riots’,” The Bulletin, October 9, 1979, pp. 22-24. ↩
- John Singleton, “The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle,” Nation Review, April 23-29, 1976, p. 681. ↩
- John Singleton with Bob Howard, Rip Van Australia (Stanmore: Cassell Australia, 1977), pp. 59-62, under the heading “Crime”. ↩
- Rip Van Australia, pp. 77-80, under the heading “Democracy”. ↩
- John Singleton, “The day the parents became citizens,” Nation Review, August 6-12, 1976, pp. 1044. ↩
- Rip Van Australia, pp. 83-87, under the heading “Education”. ↩
- See, for example: John Singleton, These Thoughts are Genuine (Kensington, NSW: Blake and Batcheler, 1971), pp. 26-28, as “At Last the 1948 Show“; John Singleton, “How Malcolm Fraser will become Prime Minister: A two-year non-marketing programme,” Quadrant, June 1975, pp. 33-35; John Singleton, “A brand new market leader,” The Bulletin, March 15, 1983, pp. 26-28; John Singleton, “Singo returns the slings and arrows,” Times on Sunday, August 2, 1987, p. 16; and John Singleton, “Labor’s Hard Sell,” The Independent Monthly, April 1990, pp. 3-4. ↩
- John Singleton in Gina Rinehart, Northern Australia and then some: Changes we need to make our country rich (Melbourne: Executive Media, 2012), back-cover. ↩
- John Singleton, “KEEP ON FIGHTING,” Daily Mirror, January 7, 1981, p. 11. ↩
- Ita Buttrose, “… yes, but what’s he really like?,” The Australian Women’s Weekly, September 7, 1977, pp. 11-13. ↩
- Neville Kennard, “The Views of an Entrepreneur,” in Barry Maley et al., The Entrepreneur in Society (Sydney: CIS, 1983), pp. 51-56. ↩
- Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism: In The Classical Tradition, trans. Ralph Raico (New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1985), p. 186. ↩
- John Singleton, “A brand new market leader,” The Bulletin, March 15, 1983, pp. 26-28. See also: John Singleton, “I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree,” Advertising & Newspaper News, July 9, 1971, p. 4. ↩
- Robert K. Colwell and George C. Hurtt, “Nonbiological Gradients in Species Richness and a Spurious Rapoport Effect,” The American Naturalist, vol. 144, no. 4 (October 1994), pp. 570-95. ↩
- John Singleton, “The politics of marketing — laugh now, pay later,” Advertising News, June 21, 1974, p. 4. ↩
- John Singleton, “The great consumer protection trick,” Nation Review, May 28-June 3, 1976, p. 802; Rip Van Australia, pp. 27-28, under the heading “Business”; John Singleton, “A brand new market leader,” The Bulletin, March 15, 1983, pp. 26-28; and John Singleton, “Come back Bob – It was all in fun!,” Matilda, May 1985, pp. 14-15. ↩
- John Singleton, “Save Parramatta Road,” Australian Business, November 13, 1985, p. 162. ↩
- John Singleton, These Thoughts are Genuine (Kensington, NSW: Blake & Batcheler, 1971), pp. 29-32, under the heading, “Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents,” which was originally an address by John Singleton, during a debate, “Advertising is Immoral,” held during the 1969 Seminar of the A.A.N.A.’s Victorian Branch on October 30. Also republished in Advertising & Newspaper News, November 14, 1969, p. 4. ↩