Your A B C and 1 2 3 of Political Economy by Part 24: Cost of Political Misinformation
By Sarjo Bayang
Next time you hear politicians talking about helping people and communities by flagging up projects, ask them where the money comes from. Not all of them will give clear correct answers and that can lead to doubts.
Most mistrust against politicians stems from misinformation; especially when making promises they never fulfill.
As man cannot survive on bread alone, politicians must not expect to feed the population with empty talks. To promise and fail leads to possible loss of public confidence. Translated in political gains, failed promises can be enough reason why voters shift allegiance to opponents.
Occasional delays in delivery of promised goods are expected and readily accepted. When it becomes repeat happening, right thinking voters make better informed choice next time round.
Politics of Misinformation
Out of the large crowd, not all those clapping and cheering will end up casting their votes by what they hear alone. People want clear answers with proper fix of the situation. However, not every eloquent politician has equal gift of good fix solutions.
A misinformed population can easily be misled. That makes anyone to wonder if politicians choose misinforming the public for reasons better known to them alone.
Opinion is divided about public misinformation in political communication, regarding intent and purpose. It is said that politicians enjoy easy ride when they manage to keep the population sleeping by not giving people clear and correct information.
Another view is that a better-informed population becomes too sophisticated to be deceived. But the same politician may promise raising educational standards as way of awareness creation and making relevant information readily available to everyone in society.
Dilemma of political elites lies in the urge to get everyone properly informed which poses more serious challenge than when the population is least informed.
Perhaps the best way in building trust between politicians and wider public is through consultation with frank dialogue.
Consultation provides the occasion where everyone is free to say what they consider in their best interest. By extension, consultation defeats the situation of taking decisions about people and not with or by them.
Politicians are seen to be so clever that they feel no need for second opinion. They have the big heads to think about everything for everybody. Rest of society simply listen and keep waiting for what may never come their way. Not so soon anyway.
Power of decision making over collectively owned resources cannot be left in few hands without needing to mitigate every associated risk.
Common practice defeats the purpose of effective consultation in situations where few are entrusted to decide for the many and they fail doing it right. Without proper consultation, even most competent persons run the risk of possible failure in decision making.
Politicians not getting punished for doing wrong
Confident that that they can escape without being hurt, politicians take dangerous uncalculated nose dive in situations requiring critical reasoning. They are confident; which often stems from the notion that they are empowered to act on behalf of everyone else. Priority Ranking of Needs is not part of the common agenda.
Making choices without thorough needs assessment can put resources at risk. Proper consultation in an atmosphere of due respect creates a situation where every voice matter.
Worst about economic decisions for political point scoring is seen in situations where unpaid debts are handed down to coming generations including the unborn innocent little children.
Cannot but borrow
Rather than banking on realistic facts and figures, some politicians take chance that only dangerous gamblers are best known for.
Cost of borrowing is not considered of anything to worry about. Spending becomes the focus of attention. When government borrowing goes without proper risk assessment, any failed plan results to high impact damages. The situation requires thorough assessment not only on what is nice but best to have.
In the absence of better planning politicians end acting like fire fighters. Not watching your steps leads to a situation of dangerous falls from high.
When everything turns so wrong, politicians like bad resource managers end up having to employ the survival tactic of “cannot but borrow.” They look up and down with no quick fix solution readily at hand.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul. “Jel bu ki, soolay bu ki” (in other words; take one debt to bury another debt.) In that case the final debt is never paid; resulting to round of borrowing because you cannot pay.
The pain of planning when bypassed can result to regrettable failure. In reverse scheme of things, failing to plan equates planning to fail. Can that not be avoided by applying due prudence?
Political point scoring at high cost to public finance and vital resources is not a sustainable solution; however quick fix it turns out to be. Think before you leap.