Learning From Failure

A regular maxim of sporting coaches is for their charges to learn how to win. This is much more than simply developing skills or playing the game better. Developing a culture of success is about building confidence, integrity and optimism that almost anything can be achieved if success principles are applied appropriately.

In the opposite vein, failure feeds upon itself and can be a very tough spiral to escape from. It seems the more you try, the worse it gets. In the end, you may be tempted to look for the ‘quick fix’ to deliver a temporary reprieve but that almost inevitably makes things worse in the end.

This seems to be the current status of the government’s positioning. Everything it touches seems to create a bigger problem than was originally considered. The continual borrowings make funding important programs more difficult. Lifting taxes to repay borrowings makes it tougher for families and slows the economy. This reduces government revenues which means more borrowings and higher taxes…the downward cycle continues until it implodes upon itself.

To break out of the spiral of failure takes a virtual reset of the status quo. It needs someone to stand up and say that we cannot keep doing the same things we have always done and hope the result will be different.

In politics, that reset is usually caused by an election where the Leader of the Opposition detects that the Australian people have simply had enough and is prepared to vocalise their discontent.

Tony Abbott did exactly that in last week’s budget in reply statement. He spelled out the challenges facing the country and how we cannot continue down the same path any longer.

He acknowledged that should he be elected Prime Minister he would take us in a different direction. One in which there was no guarantee we would all be better off. He asked us to accept that changes had to be made and that they would require sacrifice for the good of the nation.

Abbott’s message is strengthened by his history as part of the 11 years of the Howard government. He has learned from its successes and failures, adapting the enduring principles of good government to our current circumstances. Thus he can detail his new vision for the nation built upon the bedrock of experience.

Labor has no such ability. For many decades they have sought to rewrite the history of socialism’s failure rather than adapt their political offerings.

While one can understand their celebration of Whitlam’s legacy when compared with the current ruling mob, it is like comparing a gambling addict with a shopaholic. They are making different mistakes but both will end up at the same final destination. Thus the Whitlam and Gillard legacies will be the same because the Labor Party celebrated Whitlam’s failures rather than learnt from them.

Rather than confront the systemic failure that is built into Labor’s political DNA – tax and spend, redistribution of wealth, cronyism and dodgy deals – they try to cover it up with spin and the distortion of truth.

They have become so successful at redefining truth that they manage to actually convince themselves they have done the right thing. Somehow, multi-billion dollar budget blowouts become ‘prudent economic management’ and interest rates at emergency levels are a product of a strong economy.

I could go on, detailing many other examples but it is only the one-eyed Labor supporter who remains to be convinced. The rest of the country has woken up to the deception and crooked games of this government.

And yet Labor cannot accept the reality of their position. That’s why they cannot and will not develop a culture of success. They refuse to learn from failure and update their discredited socialist ideology to a more mainstream approach.

It is good for all of us that Tony Abbott has pushed the ‘reset’ button and we will be able to endorse his approach at the next election. We are one of the few Western nations that can still redress the damage of an incompetent administration.

It is too late for the likes of Greece and Spain and Portugal. Their political failings and culture of entitlement have become too entrenched to be undone through a simple election. It will take something much more dramatic to get them back on the right path.

I suspect it will take something equally momentous to get Labor to confront their own failings and to press the reset button on their flawed ideology. Until they do, they will remain unfit to govern the country.

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