My humbug factor is an imaginary figure by which I assess how much I am being given no real facts yet I’m being hoodwinked by a smooth sales pitch.. The higher the factor is and the more I’m subjected to histrionics, the less I believe what I am told. If the speaker gives the unvarnished truth, the factor is zero. Do you ever find yourself being spoken to with the greatest sincerity, about things that are vitally important, and you still have your doubts? I find this highly prevalent in the political field. I think the classic case is the primary electioneering currently running in the US. Everyone knows the problems the government is faced with, and the majority of the solutions, which while unpalatable, are generally accepted, yet millions of dollars are being ploughed into a race to the White House. I sometimes wonder who is getting all that money, and at the end of the day does it matter? Surely all that razzmatazz is purely hype, and people would still vote in the same way if it wasn’t there? I have been known to consider whether a few months after an incumbent has been voted in, if the electorate suddenly wonders how in the world they managed to pick him.
I am no aficionado when it comes to political protocol. In some ways our own system defeats my logic. For example, I believe that our system like many others, has a safety valve, the approval of the upper house, in our case the House of Lords. In addition we have the Queen, who clearly has some power, or the Prime Minister would not have to ask her permission to form or dissolve the Parliament. Yet how is it that decisions as disparate as the 10p tax and Afghanistan can come about against the general will of the electorate? Recently there was a TV programme hosted by Andrew Marr, in which the leader of the Opposition, and a representative of the government answered questions. What was apparent was that they were not going to commit themselves to anything, but wished to give the impression that they had everything under control, and each in turn was doing a better job than the other. Taken on face value the whole discussion system was a total waste of time, but less abrasive than the ones we get concerning Northern Ireland politics. In the former the humbug factor was very high, in the latter, because of the unvarnished distrust and dislike among the participants, strangely the humbug factor was low, because there was no need to play to the gallery, they were too busy fighting their own corner.
The one area where the factor is almost 100%, is advertising. By the people who are chosen to present the advertisement, the way in which the product is used on screen, and the visual claims by inference, are so absurd as to be laughable. Now to save money we are being treated like children watching Blue Peter, with articulating puppets, and absurd scenes. I wouldn’t mind all this nonsense, if first of all I was not having to pay for it in the price of the product, and that I wasn’t so sure that some, busy people, without the time to be critical, are taking it all at face value.