lying-imgWe are assailed by an avalanche of lies! An assault and insult to our credulity! We cannot escape. And it is getting worse.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler championed the Big Lie as being far more credible than little deceptions. It is the communication phenomenon of our era. Big Lies about Syria, Ukraine, Brexit, Obama’s origins, cops shooting black Americans, TTP, boat people. And litanies of lies and betrayals continue today in the Middle East and Central Asia, crafted by successors to the old spinmeisters (Kissinger, Weinberger, Rumsfeld & Co.).

We have needed new definitions to cope: –

  • “Truthiness: – the quality of stating concepts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.” (Stephen Colbert, 2005). Hence…
  • “Truthy: -unburdened by the factual.”
  • “Post-Truth Politics: – the way voters choose with their gut or their tribe, rather than with evidence.” (David Roberts, 2010)
  • “Misspeaking: – euphemism for lying, if caught out.” (Hillary Clinton et al)

Earlier dishonest fabulists have left quite a legacy: e.g. Richard Nixon – a pathological liar; George Bush – repeated the Weapons of Mass Destruction lie 5,000 times. But the current Big Liars have no recent parallel.

New Zealand is still seen internationally as having high integrity. Stuff concludes that we have probably avoided the Post-Truth Political trend – so far! . I question that. I expect that Truthiness will be shameful in our Election Year, with Big Lies focused on immigrants.

Let’s now turn away from politics and statecraft.

Within our Legislative and Executive Branches, lying behaviour carries stiff penalties. Parliament’s Rules (Chapter 47, Contempt) are strict on lying to the House, while recent Prime Ministers have generally sacked liars from the Cabinet.

In business and investment, readers will have their own views whether people can generally be trusted, whether a Kiwi handshake still seals a deal, whether white collar crime is prevalent, or whether a concerning level of institutional corruption exists. However, there is some recent reassurance, both in the IOD Charter Framework / Code of Ethics and in the recently toughened Financial Markets standards. e.g. the NZX Market Participant Conduct Rules requiring integrity at all times (Clause 8.1.1). For all investors, this development of good governance and enforcement of behaviour rules were essential.

Lying is as old as Time. Perhaps a “Yes, Minister” take on the matter is the most honest way to end this rant.