Conspiracy theorists and trust

This is a bit of a strange post but bear with me if you can. It involves my view of the current problems with peoples anti-beliefs in Bill Gates, microchips, the United Nations, 5G technology, 1080 poison, fluoridation and electromagnets technology, etc…They are problems, but they are not as big a problem as the media would have us believe I think. I also think we are dealing with them in the wrong way. These things aren’t new, they have been been happening a long time and in some cases have proven to be correct. For example, from a New Zealand perspective…

You can’t trust the New Zealand Government

Remember the Snowden revelations about the United States surveillance capabilities. Previous to that, most people used got told to put on their tin foil hat if they thought the government was spying on them. But, in New Zealand, he exposed that the government was secretly working on working on a mass surveillance system while publicly denying it. In rebuttal, the government changed the law to legalise everything the GCSB had done. A few years into the future and “the economic well-being of New Zealand” objective of the GCSB is now being used to justify that department being involved with drug trafficking even though little evidence of a threat exists.

“GCSB is increasingly focused on using its advanced technical capabilities in support of this priority,” said GCSB director-general Andrew Hampton.

‘Insidious’ threat: ‘Organised criminal groups gaining greater access’

There are the reports of the Government breaking into foreign embassies in breach of the Vienna Convention, Ministers of Parliament being surveilled, Greenpeace, Earthquake Claimants, 1080 activists, etc… To borrow a RNZ time line on the known efforts of just Thompson and Clark, a business associated with the Police, SIS and hired by other government agencies,

2005/2006 – The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) pays Thompson and Clark to attend two conferences run by animal rights activists.

2007 – Thompson and Clark, working for Solid Energy, pay an informant to infiltrate the Save Happy Valley Coalition, an activist group opposed to Solid Energy’s coal mining plans on the West Coast.

2007 – The Crown Law Office, on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) told private investigators (not Thompson and Clark) to assist with a state care abuse case. Indications are that at least one person was covertly surveyed.

2008 – The State Services Commissioner warns government departments against using information covertly gathered by third parties.

2011-2012 – A MAF employee takes up secondary employment with Thompson and Clark.

2011 – An NZTA employee gives information to a MAF employee who then passes it on to Thompson and Clark.

2012-2017 – The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) allows Thompson and Clark access to its motor vehicle register. It undertakes thousands of searches in this time. Thompson and Clark no longer has access to this database.

2013-2014 – Another MAF employee takes up secondary employment with Thompson and Clark. These secondary employments are currently being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

2014-2016 – Southern Response uses Thompson and Clark to attend five insurance claimant meetings, some of these were recorded.

Thompson and Clark probe – all you need to know

Somehow, after all the incidents in the time line above the State Services Commission said that there was no evidence of widespread surveillance but that the company is now no longer able to undertake work for the government. There was no comeback on anyone in the government including those in the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment who falsely claimed to have no dealings with the company in Official Information Act requests. A claim that they later retracted.

What I am trying to say is that this has been going on for a long time. The New Zealand government appears to have a long term systemic lack of any non-political problem about spying on it’s own citizens and breaking the law when it feels like it. And if it gets legally inconvenient, then they change the law in order to legalise the behaviour.

But let’s get to the point.

I have just picked one facet of the New Zealand government and I think by now it should be fairly clear why many people do not trust it not to lie to them. They have done it before, they will do it again. It is not even a single Party issue. National has done it. Labour has done it. When caught they have happily legalised it or have launched their own investigation (the GCSB is only allowed to investigate itself it seems) and then “stunningly” come to the conclusion that no wrong was committed, or that no one should be charged, even in the face of clearly illegal actions.

I could have picked their treatment of Maori and other Pacific Island people but this is a blog post, not a book. It should be clear though that the government says one thing and does another when it comes to surveillance.

But you can’t trust the news media either…

Which leaves just a little bit of a problem, if you can’t trust the government then who can you trust? What about the people I have quoted above in my argument. Can we trust the journalists? Well, according to the journalists, no. According to them the publics confidence in journalism in New Zealand is 23%, only 1% higher than in the politicians. And this has been the status quo for years. In 2015, they were also some of the most untrusted people in the country. People are unable to trust the media, and the government they are supposed to keep in check, and are unable to do so for very good reasons.

What many don’t acknowledge is that media is largely a business in New Zealand. This was easy to hide in the days before the Internet as it was virtually the sole outlet for advertising but…then came the Internet. Media’s reaction was apparently to then en mass descend to the lowest level and make money by using what are called click bait headlines and stories. These headlines and stories were no longer based on content, they were based on if, and how long, they could get a person to look at certain pieces of advertising. They did this because the model had already worked for companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Oracle, etc… It’s just didn’t work because the NZ media weren’t as good at it.

They tried though. In 2008 the Editor of the Dominion Post said,

“Of course Paris Hilton is a pantyless airhead but if she gets sentenced to 40 days in jail that’s news in my book. And, according to Google’s 2007 survey of New Zealand users, it was Paris Hilton that drew more search engine traffic than anyone else,” he said. 

Pacific Journalism Review 2008

But compared to the rest of the world New Zealand is still in fairly good shape. We don’t seem to get as many stories like, “39 Missing Children Located in Georgia Sex Trafficking Sting Operation” that on closer inspection turn out to mean,

“This was not a designated anti-trafficking operation,” Darby Kirby, a U.S. Marshals Service inspector involved with the operation, told HuffPost. Operation Not Forgotten, the name law enforcement gave the recovery effort, was a collaboration between state and federal authorities to locate 78 “critically missing” children. That term means they could be at risk for trafficking, but they could also be at risk of parental abuse or have medical conditions that make their recovery more urgent.

Huffington Post

Which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen in New Zealand. The Herald had to recently withdraw a story called, “Cheese pizza: Internet paedophiles exposed” which was based on the Pizzagate conspiracy that there was a paedophile ring operating out of Comet Ping Pong Pizza. Go figure.

After ten years or so, another news outlet has suddenly changed tack from what is termed populist media and decided that perhaps they would do better if they became a trusted news organisation. Something they apparently haven’t been over the last decade? It’s like saying, “But honestly” implies you weren’t being honest beforehand.

So people don’t trust the news media either. For good reason.

So who can you trust?

And this is the crux of the matter. Who can you trust? As the government and media in New Zealand have lost trust then so called conspiracy theories have filled the vacuum. It’s basically gossip becoming fact. If there are no trust-able statements of what are the facts and how to interpret them then people make up their own interpretations. This has been accentuated by the new speed of communications but I think the greater problem is that Government and the media refuse to see the problem is of their own making. For years they have lied, twisted, politicised and monetised and now it is coming back to haunt them.

But this still hasn’t answered the question. I cannot ask you to trust the government or media to tell the truth, you are going to have to decide what is true on your own. I remember a friend of mine who was sure that the moon landings were fake because the flag was waving in the wind. It took me a couple of weeks of thinking about it before I realised there was nothing to stop the flag waving. As soon as they moved the pole it should have started waving and, with no air resistance, continued to do so until the energy dissipated (probably into the ground).

Make up your own mind but think things through. We are being deluged with media at the moment from all over the world and although much of it is highly concerning 99.9% is about things that have little to do with you or that you cannot effect. Find the ones you can, support the people you trust, share the positions you have thought about. Go slow. And if it all gets to much then switch off. I spent two years off Facebook but recently joined again so I could see photos of my nieces and nephews. I don’t think that is going to last long though as it has exposed me to all sorts of weird ideas that wouldn’t last outside social media (or a pub) and wouldn’t have gained any traction if people just thought about them and did a little research.

Epilogue

A little bit of history and an alternate way to decide how you should act

And now to America. If only because it is easier to find the videos and because of the rise of President Trump.

Have a look at this campaign ad for Richard Nixon from 1968 and it becomes clear that many of the same problems are being addressed in America today as in the 60’s.

1967 was called the summer of love but that was apparently only if you were white middle class and probably male. It was also the rise of the civil rights movements and the ‘New Right’ in America. It is worth quoting Britannica,

The New Right grew rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s, thanks in part to organizations such as Young Americans for Freedom and College Republicans. These organizations shared demographic characteristics (white, middle-class, Protestant, suburban) and were frustrated with a perceived decline in morality during the 1960s and 1970s, including rampant drug use and more-open and public displays of sexuality as well as rising crime rates, race riots, civil rights unrest, and protest movements against the Vietnam War. Additionally, New Right conservatives often blamed the nation’s ills on liberalism, which they saw as contributing to the mismanagement and corruption of the federal government.

New Right

Sounds familiar doesn’t it. This was the beginning of what is sometimes referred to as the Republican Ascendency which not only dominated the end of the 20th century but into the 21st as well.

Now look at this one from 1964.

So possibly another way to think about things is from an historical point of view. Instead of trusting the current state of government and media just think back over your lifetime in New Zealand or America, or where ever you are, write down the things that have changed for the better or worse since the 1960’s and decide how important they are to you. Then support those values. Good luck.

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