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2017 wrap-up

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Another year has almost whizzed by and Christmas is just around the corner. So, Yule all better start getting ready for Santa’s visit. As we hurtle towards the end of the year, we at Gateway want to thank you - our readers and members - for your support. It’s been a good year for Gateway and I hope that it’s been a good one for you too.

The end of the year lends itself to reflection. As we look over our shoulders and review the past twelve months, it’s clear that 2017 was an eventful year. Around the world, political upheavals, natural disasters, terrorist activities and human tragedies captured the headlines and grabbed our attention.

In Australia, the biggest news stories were not about violent uprisings or armed conflicts. Rather, what dominated our conversations and social media feeds were debates about same-sex marriage, dual citizenship status for politicians and clean energy targets.

At Gateway, we used this blog to hose down alarmist claims. We refuted the unrealistic talk of a housing bubble, challenged the dire predictions about a rise in robot workers, contested the alleged need for a robot tax and opposed the recommendation to introduce a universal basic income. Yes, I was a real Doubting Thomas!

Some of the less contentious subjects we featured in this blog included an explanation of stock indices, an overview of rental yields, an introduction to algorithms and an insight into drone technology. But the one topic that we covered more than any other was politics - specifically, Donald J. Trump.

Our focus on America’s 45th president is no claim to fame. Mr. Trump and his outrageous antics have received saturation coverage throughout 2017. He has been discussed incessantly in the mainstream media and on social media sites. His un-presidential behaviour is disgraceful and an affront to the high office he holds.

Trump is part of a populist movement which has been rallying against the status quo and demanding change. The disenchanted have been drawn to the divisive communication styles of Britain’s Nigel Farage, Donald Trump in the US, France’s Marine Le Pen and Pauline Hanson in Australia.

These populist politicians play on the anxiety of those suffering from economic and cultural insecurity. It’s the politics of fear and it resonates with a growing number of citizens who believe that governments have failed them. In many countries, voters feel let down by the democratic system.

The major political parties are accused of being indifferent to the plight of the “common man”, enabling the populists to tap into deep seated frustrations. (NB: In politics, a populist is defined as a person who claims to represent the interests of the “common man”, as distinct from the wealthy elite.)

Openness and tolerance have given way to xenophobia and the populists use this to divide and conquer. In many nations, large scale immigration is seen as a threat to national culture. The unprecedented refugee tidal wave in Europe has caused a rapid change in attitudes towards outsiders.

Fear of migration has also contributed to the “us” and “them” style of opportunistic politicians like Donald Trump. The president is seen by many as a shameless demagogue with no regard for facts who offered half-baked policies to tap into the disenchantment of “neglected” Americans.

As politicians struggle to respond to these harsh political awakenings two things are clear: Building walls is not the solution nor is erecting trade barriers. Yet many fear that the increasing popularity of the anti-establishment will drive poor policy decisions.

It’s been a tumultuous year for politics and one that has re-written the rules of political engagement. Questions about politics and politicians have dominated conversations and challenged conventional wisdom as fringe actors moved to centre stage.

Politics is always a volatile business but during the past year it entered unchartered waters. Playing with fear is a dangerous game as fear is the most powerful enemy of reason. The challenge facing all societies is to get voters to rationally assess the policies of the fear-mongers.

Well, that’s almost it for me for 2017. Next Monday, I will publish my final blog post for the year - my tenth annual Christmas parody. On a personal note, thank you to my loyal readers for your on-going support. I trust you have enjoyed the breadth of topics covered in Doubting Thomas during 2017.

May peace and happiness be yours during this holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Paul J. Thomas, CEO


avatar Des Tubridy
Paul, thank you for keeping us across the major issues in 2017. Great summary and very true. Populism here in the UK has Brexit pulling the government and society apart. The inevitable decline in the standard of living has already commenced.
Best wishes to you and all at Gateway for another successful year in 2018. Regards, Des
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CEO Paul Thomas