Are you rational or self-interested, PM?

3 May

Self Interest


“We mustn’t let empathy cloud our judgement.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged the Australian people not to get all “misty-eyed” about the fate of refugees held in off-shore detention. He followed this urging with the above statement, after learning that the late Nauru refugee, Omid, had died as a consequence of setting himself on fire.

Turnbull urged us to stay “rational” when considering these matters.

However, if you think he’s only talking about the plight of refugees we continue to torture, think again.

Turnbull isn’t the first to expound the false dichotomy of empathy and judgement: determination not to allow empathy for raped and molested children to cloud their rational judgement is one of the factors that enables the Catholic church hierarchy to shelter perpetrators of these crimes.

Note how in these examples from church and state “rational” in both cases reflects the institution’s best interests.

It’s remarkable how the “rational” so frequently coincides with self-interest.

There’s nothing wrong with being rational. It’s a human attribute and a useful one. Like so many other useful and admirable human attributes, the rational has been co-opted by the self-serving to justify (rationalise) cruelty, and contempt for anyone considered “other.”

Empathy, on the other hand, rarely equates to self-interest. For a start, empathy asks that we imaginatively walk a mile in another’s shoes, an act entirely at odds with interest only in the self.

There is no either/or in the matter of empathy and judgement. No legitimate judgement can be made without empathy. Empathy is what tempers decisions that are otherwise entirely self-serving.

Turnbull’s attitude is a core belief of today’s LNP.  If you think it applies only to refugees you’re dreaming. It is the default position of the present-day Liberal towards anyone considered in some way less worthy. It’s why they won’t tackle negative gearing. It’s why they fund private schools and want to strip public schools of all assistance. It’s why they don’t care if you can’t afford private medical insurance and suffer horribly as a consequence. The LNP will not let empathy cloud their judgement not only of refugees, but of every citizen in this country who suffers as a consequence of their self-interested (rational) policies.

Rational or self-interested? You decide.





61 Responses to “Are you rational or self-interested, PM?”

  1. townsvilleblog May 3, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    Jennifer, we don’t agree on this subject and I have told you why. In my mind the recouping of tens of billions of dollard in taxation from corporate Australia takes precedence over refugess who may well mean us harm. We pensioners have now been forced into a hole, where we cannot pay for our pathology tests, but as from the 1st of July, we will be asked to do so. I see the survival of Australians as any Australian government’s first priorities, but sadly no empathy is being extended to our own people so I fail to see how you could expect it for refugees who may well be in the same category as Man Monis or the young bloke who murdered Curtis Cheng?

    Liked by 1 person

    • doug quixote May 3, 2016 at 10:18 am #

      Try reading the whole article, Shaun.

      It is the entire milieu, the mantra, the ideology which is in issue.

      Their attitudes pervade and pervert the entire conservative parties’ policy making.

      Liked by 1 person

    • FA May 3, 2016 at 10:21 am #

      Yes, it is rationality.

      There are many cases where rationality must triumph over emotions. In a previous post, I used an example of a life boat. At some point you have to be cold and stop allowing more people on, otherwise the whole thing sinks and everyone dies. Quarantine – it doesn’t matter if you want to hug your infected relative, cold consideration of the entire population is more important than your feelings. This extends to vaccination and the herd immunity that protects those unable to be vaccinated. Military operations where you have to accept that you will kill people in order to achieve specific goals.

      These are all about protecting populations not individuals. I don’t buy into cultural relativism. Australian culture, for all its faults, is objectively better than far too many others around the world. Therefore, it is worth defending apologetically. Australians must be put first by the Australian government, otherwise it has no meaning.

      At any rate, this is not a policy that is going to change in the near future. After Labor’s flirtation with dismantling offshore processing, and the dramatic increase in boat arrivals that caused, Labor is going to be too cowed to change their position on this for years, probably decades.


    • Jennifer Wilson May 3, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

      What I’m saying, Townsville, is that the way asylum seekers are treated is the way we will all be treated if the govt. decides it’s in their interests.
      I think you’ve proved my point by highlighting actions taken against pensioners.


    • Jennifer Wilson May 4, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

      Fuck, Marilyn. You know I hate deleting you.


  2. helvityni May 3, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    Mr Turnbull, you have to have compassion first before it can ‘ cloud’ anything…

    Please allow me to get misty-eyed, and even to cry at our inhumane treatment of people on Manus and Nauru.

    If NZ is willing to tale some, please allow that to happen….

    Liked by 2 people

    • diannaart May 3, 2016 at 9:12 am #


      Turnbull’s admonishment for us not to get misty-eyed, is LNP speak telling us to harden the eff up.

      He’s no doubt right – with a budget fiscally favouring the big end of town, any of us on low income or pension are, indeed, going to have to toughen up.

      Empathy is for losers – like people who wind up as refugees – they are being framed as the lowest of the low, a threat to our world – which is a bit of a contradiction, when you think about it.

      How can people so demoralised they set fire to themselves be any kind of threat an entire nation?

      Liked by 1 person

      • helvityni May 3, 2016 at 9:38 am #

        I’m not a loser, I have enough, but that has not hardened me up.
        A rich man can have compassion, many of them do. Turnbull is not one of those.
        He lost once…to Abbott, he’ll do anything to fulfil his dream to be the country’s elected leader. He has not changed, he’s finally showing his true colours.

        Liked by 1 person

        • diannaart May 3, 2016 at 9:48 am #


          I agree about Turnbull showing what was only hinted at during his Godwyn-Grech-fiasco.

          By ‘losers’ – I meant that any showing compassion are cast as losers by the LNP; a way of fomenting hate towards those even less powerful. For example, former immigrants with a ‘close-the-gate’ attitude towards other migrants, low income and people on pensions inculcated into fear of refugees – “they’re (refugees) coming to take our jobs/pensions or to harm us”.

          Fear has always been used to manipulate, Turnbull is no exception.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson May 3, 2016 at 9:49 am #

          Ego. They are all consumed by ego.


      • Jennifer Wilson May 3, 2016 at 9:48 am #

        There is practically nothing less reasonable and rational than asylum seeker policies. They’re totally toxic, dysfunctional and self-interested. That’s why your excellent question is unanswerable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. silkworm May 3, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    Funny, I thought we were being cruel to those on Nauru and Manus out of empathy for those who might have drowned at sea.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sam Jandwich May 3, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    Interesting… is MT effectively saying that he believes in a public/private dichotomy, whereby the world of work and affairs is (or should be) an emotion and self-inquiry-free realm, and you should only let your guard down and indulge in emotionality when in the privacy of your own home? Otherwise how would you ever enjoy the fruits of your labours…?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. doug quixote May 3, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Try this quick quiz.

    Would you prefer to be:

    a) burned alive;
    b) drowned at sea;
    c) imprisoned for life in a hellhole;
    d) returned to a place where a, b and c are likely?

    Answer quickly or we will stone you to death.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson May 3, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

      And there DQ has put the entire hideous mess more succinctly than I ever have.


      • Marilyn May 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

        And according to the racist ALP all of the above are the world’s greatest ever public policy.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. paul walter May 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    It is a strange government, dislocated from reality, that needs to offer up human sacrifices to propitiate angry anonymous gods, as did the ancient Aztecs. Smacks of lunacy and the natural processes up-ended and turned in on themselves, on the false binary of feeling and reason as antagonistic rather than complementary.


  7. paul walter May 5, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Dutton’s incredibly detestable comments about refugee suffering being down to activists really emphasises the sterile innanity of Turnbull’s comments on the subject.

    It is all very reactive stuff and paradigmatic of a defensive outlook Mark Latham also revealed in an attack on Guardian columnist Van Badham, on tabloid TV.

    Retreating to fantasy and denialism is not the way things will get fixed and reactivity is not rationality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson May 6, 2016 at 6:30 am #

      What will it take, I wonder, for the voters who support Dutton et al to change their attitudes to refugees & anyone else they perceive as unworthy of life?


      • Di Pearton May 6, 2016 at 8:20 am #

        I think that it will take great leadership, aka Malcolm Fraser (on refugees) a bipartisan approach, and serious funding of services where refugees settle in Australia. They often settle into areas where education and health services are stretched, and they do put a strain on those services. This could easily be achieved by redirecting the enormous cost of their disgusting offshore detention. Disgusting not only because it is inhumane, but because it outsources the ‘problem’ of refugees.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paul walter May 6, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

        We know not we do.. in taking the route of expediency we set ourselves up for a collossal fall, for in opening up the possibility of assuming the role of god in deciding the fate of others we have left wide open the possibility of arbitrary tyranny being applied to us as we permit the aceptance of tyranny as a general rule.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:14 am #

          Yes, exactly, PW. People don’t seem to realise the same attitudes are being applied to the poor, it’s only a question of degrees.


  8. Melly Smuff May 5, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    Is Malcolm prepared to introduce to the Medicare Benefits Schedule an item for “empathic personality disorder (EPD)”? This is a pervasive personality disorder characterized by a concern for other people, care about their rights and an impulse to improve their well being. Many Australians currently suffer from EPD. It is believed to have reached epidemic levels across the more progressive community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter May 5, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

      There is a call for serious reform afoot to end the milksopping of freeloaders via the health care system. Remember, “no good deed goes unpunished”.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson May 6, 2016 at 6:31 am #

      All good Christian virtues, surprising the Christians Malcolm et al despise them so much.


      • Di Pearton May 6, 2016 at 8:21 am #

        (Is it true that Turnbull converted to Catholicism? Does no one else find that a weird thing to do?)

        Liked by 1 person

        • diannaart May 6, 2016 at 8:52 am #

          Mr Turnbull converted to Catholicism after marrying Lucy in 1982. He was originally Presbyterian.

          Given the timing of his conversion, it is not particularly weird.

          Liked by 1 person

          • helvityni May 6, 2016 at 9:30 am #

            One day Presbyterian, the next Catholic.
            One day Republican, the next Monarchist.
            One day charming, the next pure ice.

            Who and what are you, Mal?

            Liked by 1 person

            • doug quixote May 6, 2016 at 11:10 am #

              One day a Minister, the next Prime Minister.
              One day PM, soon just the member for Wentworth.
              One day a rooster, the next a feather duster.



              Liked by 1 person

              • helvityni May 6, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

                He beamed when Shorten started his speech, the smile died soon enough, he kind of shrank…

                Liked by 2 people

            • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:13 am #

              Who cares, Helvi?! Not me.

              Liked by 2 people

          • doug quixote May 6, 2016 at 11:20 am #

            Yes, if you don’t really care which witch doctor mutters over your nuptials nor whether your kiddies are indoctrinated by marginal religious nutters . . . any god-botherer will do.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Di Pearton May 6, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

            Except that Lucy wasn’t an active Catholic.


            • diannaart May 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm #


              I guess that IS the weird part


              Liked by 1 person

            • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 7, 2016 at 1:20 am #

              Remind me when it was that it became public knowledge that Malcolm ( and/or his business entities) had come into that, from memory, $65M that seemed to have been the basis of his fortune?

              My recollection is that that may have come out in the eighties, but that was a recollection formed without any context as to his marriage, or embracing of catholicism, at the time.

              Liked by 1 person

            • silkworm May 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

              Turnbull did’t convert to Catholicism till 2002. He was married to Lucy in 1980 by a Church of England priest in Oxford. He may have converted to Catholicism not for Lucy’s sake, but for her father, Tom Hughes.

              Liked by 1 person

              • paul walter May 7, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

                Silkworm, you go back as far as Tom Hughes?

                The AG for the Coalition government that antagonised the public over Vietnam and conscription with nonsenses that bring to mind Peter Dutton blaming refugee advocates for the traumas triggering self harm and suicide at off shore detention centres, with a notorious comment referring to anti war and conscription activists as “polical bikies pack raping democracy”.

                Billy Snedden might have been the original source of the remark, but it is forever associated with Tom Hughes, for people of that era.

                The Turnbulls are underlyingly hard conservative and pro Zionist ( the attack on Hanan Ashrawi’s Sydney Peace prize a decade ago ); a true empathy and brain-free

                Liked by 1 person

                • doug quixote May 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

                  PW, Hughes’ cv in Wikipedia is sadly deficient. The old bugger was a leading QC until very recently and a dominating personality, one used to always getting his way.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • helvityni May 7, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

                    Tom Hughes was leasing a farm across the river opposite our alpaca farm. During the draught his cattle cheerfully crossed the river then somehow got to our alpaca paddocks and ate their feed.
                    His cattle got their way as well… and we were forced to buy feed for our poor creatures.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • silkworm May 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

                      You should have caught and killed those cattle, then eaten them. Finders keepers. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:18 am #



                    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 8, 2016 at 9:06 am #

                      How do you know they (the cattle) were cheerful? They may have felt driven to it!

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:18 am #

                      You can always tell when a cow is unhappy.


                    • helvityni May 8, 2016 at 9:24 am #

                      Of course they were happy, they saw, they smelled the green grass on our side and run for it.

                      A very expensive grass it was too, as we had spent money and effort watering the house-paddock.

                      PS. I did not ASK them, they just LOOKED happy.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • helvityni May 8, 2016 at 9:31 am #

                      Silkworm, I only ever kept the paper money I saved from drowning before putting on the family wash.

                      Served them right leaving as much as twenty dollars in their jean pockets…

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:18 am #

                      Typical conservative privilege. Even extends to their cattle.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:21 am #

                    OT I don’t have time to write posts because Mother’s & Grnadmother’s weekend with extended family including teething baby who somehow became my responsibility & kept me up all night poor little lamb. Her, not me. I’m a cranky sheep.But I just dsaw this link to Credlin’s first Tele column I thought might amuse y’all.


                • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:17 am #

                  Very interesting PW. Context is everything.


              • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:16 am #

                So he didn’t convert till decades after marriage? That’s weird.


        • Jennifer Wilson May 8, 2016 at 11:12 am #

          I think he did. For love I gather.


  9. paul walter May 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    Tuenbull eventually converted to catholicism, but not till the early years of this century.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. doug quixote May 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    In less than two months now, we get a chance to turn Turnbull into a feather duster.

    His rationality and self-interest will then be academic.


  11. paul walter May 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    Self interest trumps rationality?



  1. Are you rational or self-interested, PM? – By JENNIFER WILSON – winstonclose - May 3, 2016

    […] 3 May […]


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