Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Rupert and Irony

Kissy-kissy at the IPA - Pic courtesy Independent Australia

Rupert Murdoch’s recent address at the IPA has been well and truly promoted in the Fart of the Nation the Australian.

I guess if you own the corporation, you’ll always use if for a bit of healthy self-promotion – completely understandable.

The text of the speech is revealing. It sings the praises of the market, describes it as essentially moral, and deplores “socialism”, although Rupert doesn’t oblige us with a definition of this evil philosophy.

It’s more than a little bizarre then, to read an interesting piece in this weekend’s Australian magazine, by Stefanie Marsh, about the corporate practices of the international food industry.

It’s interesting to compare Rupert’s lofty view of the “morality” of the market, and the practices revealed by Marsh in her piece.

On the one hand, Rupert says –

The cold, commercial word "market" disguises its human character - a market is a collection of our aspirations, exertions, choices and desires.


We need to defend the market on precisely the grounds that its critics attack it: on justice and fairness. Yes, the morality of free markets.

Ok – I wonder how Rupert would defend this –

Moss says the public and the food companies have known for decades that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are diabetes, obesity and hypertension numbers still spiralling out of control? "It's not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-whattheywant attitude on the part of the food manufacturers," he says. "What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles - to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive."

How is it “moral” to deliberately and cynically develop food preparation technologies that increase profits at the cost of public health? That would be a good question for Rupert.

This is even more illuminating -

Does he think companies have a moral obligation to look after the wellbeing of their customers? Will the parallels that some people are drawing between the tobacco and food industries mean that he thinks the big food companies will be held responsible, legally or otherwise, for the obesity crisis? "I think it's been wrong of anyone to expect these companies to do anything on moral or ethical grounds”.

In other words, morality and ethics don’t cut it when it comes to profits.

Marsh isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. I find it strange that this piece is published in one of Rupert’s journals.

I guess this wonderful press freedom that he spruiks incessantly has bitten him on the bum.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer ex-Australian….

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