Government control

This story of a Belgian woman who drove 3000 km off track by relying on her GPS is a metaphor for government. She intended to travel 61 km to Brussels, but mindlessly followed the instructions of the GPS and ended up driving 1500 km before realising her mistake.

So too if we rely on government to take decisions on our behalf – brain atrophy is one risk, ending up at the wrong place is another. Government is like a big GPS device – from the outside it looks logical and well-functioning, but it is capable of taking you precisely to the wrong destination.

The Belgian woman eventually discovered her mistake. But many citizens take their mistaken belief in the omnipotence and omnibenevolence of government to their graves.

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53 Responses to Government control

  1. Papachango

    Interesting metaphor. Only thing is, a GPS is generally far more accurate than any government (I suspect user error here). Also, a GPS doesn’t force you to use its services by making maps and compasses illegal.

  2. Jim Rose

    the oldies do wonder-off sometimes. she was 67.

  3. Steve D

    Wayne Swan would just suggest that everybody’s got a hungry heart…

  4. NoFixedAddress

    isn’t misdirection the purpose of government?

    The Qld Swan can easily find US constituents to rant against yet he is part of one of the greatest ‘crony’ taxation thefts that has ever been undertaken in this country.

    And who actually helped that kid put out the Whitehaven hoax? Or is that what they teach in university these days? How to manipulate and corrupt the capital system.

  5. amcoz

    It’s the mindless belief that what ever the machine says must be true, which is exactly how the goose cooked his swann with all those extra zeros and no more digits to count them with but, what can you expect from the All Liars Party.

  6. Bruce

    For a complete utter opposite here is an article I read earlier today.

    Kibera may be the most entrepreneurial place on the planet

    A place where there is no government, no unions, no taxes, an entrepreneurial spirit that would put Keynesians to shame (and make their heads explode). And yes, it is a real place, a million people live there.

  7. Mk50 of Brisbane

    Samuel, Samuel, Samuel…

    Are you trying to make our trolls cry?

  8. Samuel J

    Mk50: A Catallaxy Troll is generally of a higher class and deserves to be fed occassionally.

  9. The GPS situation is a very serious one that is probably the largest vulnerability in a country like Australia. Turn off the ATM and EFTPOS systems for a week and see what happens. We will look little different to a low income country not middle like say Thailand but low like say a poor province in India.

  10. stackja

    “omnipotence and omnibenevolence of government” reminds me of Stalin/Hitler/Mao etc. etc.

  11. Rafe

    Fortunately my petrol tank is smaller than hers.

    Starting in Canberra and punching a Cooma address into the GPS I drove out the other side of the town to a fork in the road where the machine said “Take the right turn and drive for 103 km…”

    A phone call was followed by a U turn.

  12. Boy on a bike

    The problem is obvious – Tony Abbott programmed her GPS.

  13. Alfonso

    Don’t despair…..she is a necessary food source in nature’s overall plan on the veldt.

    Incompetence invites ‘supersedence’. Sorry.

  14. Gab

    but it is capable of taking you precisely to the wrong destination.

    garbage in, garbage out. Hey, remember when the Vuvuzela Strapped to a Mallard™Carpe said the Rudd government (of which she was deputy) had lost it’s way? And then gillard decided to toss out that GPS for one of her own making?…and we’ve been mooooving backwards ever since.

  15. Jannie

    Its not 1 April is it? There are plenty of dumb people about, but I cannot believe anybody could be that stupid.

  16. Tom

    Exactly, Jannie. Unless they’re not telling us about some kind of dementia issue (since she’s 67), it’s not a very good advertisement for womanhood.

  17. I have been tracking UN documents related to The Learning Society and The Knowledge Society going back decades. There is unquestionably a deliberate move afoot to shut down that rational capacity to decide for yourself in favor of decision-making by majority consensus. With that majority having been deliberately weakened via educational institutions to be able to Be and Do but not know much.

    Over and over in the documents are references to having a positive view of government. That government dominance and direction need not be totalitarian. That the tragedies of the 20th century were caused by the struggle between freedom and equality.

    But. But. They are taking the policies side of the instigators of the 20th century tragedies and hoping no one reading knows any history or economics.

    And this idea that ICT has so changed the world that nobody needs to know anything beyond the basics. They can just look it up gets automatons unable to turn around when their senses and brain should be overriding the machine.

  18. Pickles

    On the other hand no misadventures other than taking the scenic route. It must have taken a couple of days. Good drive grandma.

  19. JC

    The Belgian woman eventually discovered her mistake.

    Bit generous aren’t you, Samuel?

  20. Lazlo

    Says more about the Belgians than GPS.

    If you don’t have a sense of where you are and what is around you, then you deserve to be prey.

    Most recently exemplified by wanting to have your photo taken right next to a several tonne bull rhino.

  21. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    She was doing the toute seul version of Thelma and Louise. Every woman deserves an excuse to run away sometime in her car, or just drift off while she is pondering something else.

    I had a little drift early this evening at the traffic lights on my way to my first full-on jazz ballet class of the year – just been practicing at friends’ places so far. Thinking about a new routine. Someone scared hell out of me by honking that the lights were now green.

    A man, natch. No sense of occasion.

  22. James of the Glens

    The Ride of the Sabine Woman, by TomTom.

  23. Alfonso

    Ah, Rhinos…

    But, but she dina need to think no more ….a govt approved operator was protecting her…..he’d done the course, ticked the boxes, and knew how complicated shovels are and how most people need instructions to use them….

    More regulation is the fix.

  24. Sea Wolf

    Sounds like a good reason to reinstate border controls within the EU……

  25. Louis Hissink

    One particular GPS I had put a Coles roadhouse 35 km north of the Nanutarra Roadhouse, the most expensive in the NW. Wasn’t there of course, and when I checked with the GPS wholesaler who their GIS supplier was, their reply caused no surprise at all.

    In the case of the Belgian lady, and me being Dutch, well, all I can do is smile with bemusement and think of irish jokes, or polish ones, or other ones etc. Belgium is an historical accident – the northern half is Dutch, the south French, and come to think of it, what an apposite place for the EU as well, to be what would be the European equivalent of one of those nationalistic jokes.

    Jokes aside, I discovered the latest Mine Safety audit regulations and guidelines for mineral exploration in WA today and it confirms the suspicion that these are being put in place to micromanage the masses via government down supervisory hierarchy – with me, the exploration manager, managing the deluge of safety and environmental audits designed in the prescribed manner according to the modern day risk fetish based on the precautionary principle.

    So Robin, you are right on the money, sad to say.

  26. Well, of course. They have fake boobs. And washed hair. What’s not to hate?

  27. What happened to my reference?

    “Illegal in Roxon’s Australia.” Now that I think of it, it’s not fucking hers! It’s my Australia – she just putrifies it with her presence until she gets a pretend job at the UN.

  28. sfw

    I operate a small motel in Vic. In the last twelve months it has become apparent that most visitors to the area never look at a map, it’s all GPS. The local pub is 600 metres further up the road. Guests come in and ask for the exact address for the pub for their GPS. I explain that they go out the drive, turn left and it’s 600m on their left. Many of them can’t use this information, I’m serious they don’t know how to travel anywhere unfamiliar without a voice telling them where to go. I have maps in reception and many of them are incapable of reading one. I sometimes wonder how they would get by if their electronic aids weren’t available. No wonder they want the government to run their lives, they’re incapable of doing it themselves. I guess if they had to the would but it’s easier to let someone else make the decisions.

  29. candy

    Perhaps her son or grandchildren gave her the GPS and told her all she needed to do was do what it said and she’d be okay.
    So she just followed instructions because they told her the computer is always right.

  30. Up The Workers!

    Wonky GPS?

    Wayne Swan took over an economy $78 billion in SURPLUS, and said that he could IMPROVE it!

    He has so far driven it about $270 billion in the opposite direction and is still going like a bat out of hell.

    We would all have been better off if we’d stuck with Costello’s ‘Melways’.

  31. rob

    The GPS situation is a very serious one that is probably the largest vulnerability in a country like Australia. Turn off the ATM and EFTPOS systems for a week and see what happens. We will look little different to a low income country not middle like say Thailand but low like say a poor province in India.

    What does one have to do with the other? Anyway I remember society functioning perfectly well without any of these things.

  32. hammygar

    I’m convinced this story is apocryphal. Someone’s manufacturing an analogy – some typical right-wing deception.

  33. JC


    Knock it off. It’s getting well worn now.

  34. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    GPS in my new car has an irritating little man who keeps saying ‘you are over the speed limit’.

    I asked Da Hairy Ape to kill him stone dead (there must be a code somewhere), but he won’t. He just says listen and learn, Lizzie. Ha – and this coming from Speedy Gonzales himself.

    I will enrol in an electronics course just to find that little GPS guy and ace him. Or easier, maybe make eyes at the nice man at the dealer delivery place and he will fix him for me.

    Someone should tamper with Gillard’s GPS. Put a restraining voice into it.

  35. Myrrdin Seren


    As this is a thread that mentions Europe and government, I hope this is a good a place as any to post a link to one of Richard North’s interesting pieces this week.

    The background is as follows.

    British Eurosceptics are getting pounded around the head by the governing class with the assertion that, if Britain leaves the EU but stays in the European Economic Area trading bloc, they will suffer all the regulation but none of the inputs – supposedly like Norway ‘endures’.

    North has finally fleshed out his counterargument that, as giant a regulation sausage machine as the EU is, it is often rolling out regulations agreed at higher international forums that nation states still retain input on.

    It is a long piece ( = about 5 pages ) but well worth the read.

    Here are just a handful of the international regulatory bodies he mentions – and to which Australia will obviously be aligning its regulations and legislation to as well:

    UN FAO
    IPCC ( not a mis-type, read the article )

    and on and on and on.

  36. Borisgodunov

    Politicians are usually a bunch of university “educated”clowns who couldnt get a real job,but have a very exagerated opinion of their own ability,in other words smartarses,They feel they know everything and are full of”ideas”,when the great plans crash,as they always do,they blame everyone else.When they are thrown out of their cushy”job” ,they are mostly unemployable and have to existon thehandsome pensions they voted for themselves.Surelywe can find a better way? abolishing political partiescand funding(bribes) .

  37. Louis Hissink

    I think Voltaire said it – the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship with frequent assassinations.

  38. Steve D

    I had a little drift early this evening at the traffic lights

    Beware – Lizzie drifts through intersections! 😛

  39. hammygar

    an irritating little man who keeps saying ‘you are over the speed limit’.

    Silly complaint. I bet he doesn’t fine you.

  40. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Silly complaint. I bet he doesn’t fine you.

    We’d be broke if he did, Hammy.

    Funnily enough, when I come to think of it, he sounds an awful lot like you.
    A limited brain, monotone, and a severely restricted range of conversation.

  41. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Myrrdin, that article has a frightening list of regulations – some of them possibly necessary, but many I suspect not, made at EU level but with ‘input’ from other ‘international’ regulatory bodies. Norway seems to do alright, thus the argument is – could a more independent Britain do any worse than it does right now regarding EU directives? If the argument over the nature of the British sausage is any example the UK doesn’t seem to have big clout with the EU anyway, regardless of whether they ‘input’ or not.

  42. ken n

    Useful metaphor, but I’ll bet the story is a myth.
    It does not pass the sniff test.

  43. Myrrdin Seren

    Hi Lizzie

    could a more independent Britain do any worse than it does right now ?

    No small question and a huge spectrum of opinion.

    For example, there is this one in today’s Oz, where the author states:

    Britain, as French officials repeatedly point out, has managed to shape the EU more in its own mould than the persistent national distress with this debate would imply.

    Well, Britain has managed to stay out of the euro disaster AND provides a big tranche of the EU budget, so presumably has some influence.

    But if you follow some of North’s other commentary about the loss of much British industry due to EU regulation – most especially the absurd energy policies – well. I would be taking French officials’ jaded view on Britain and the EC with a huge grain of salt.

    North and his co-author Christopher Booker have pointed out that a lot of the original ‘movers’ on the EU were French and Germans from both sides of the Rhine around Lorraine and the Ruhr – who had seen the armies go stomping back-and-forth in 1870 and 1914, and wanted to find a way to prevent recurrence.

    They got a huge boost in the post-WW2 reconstruction, as everyone danced around to ensure there would never be a Fourth Reich.

    From the perspective of the anglophone sceptic, instead of hamstringing German ambition, it seems a lot of effort of the EUrocrats now involves taking Britain back down about four pegs, and emptying the Treasury for good measure.

    Long memories, some folk seem to still have a chip on their shoulders about Horatio Nelson and the Duke of Wellington ?

    The enthusiastic assent of most of the British political class to becoming mere regional administrators in the ever-rolling plan to abolish the European nation states is baffling.

  44. JC


    You have the wrong car. I have a very seductive Irish female telling me what to do.

  45. nilk

    I don’t have a GPS and couldn’t think of anything worse. At one stage, I had street directories for four states and used them all.

    Plotting our your trip is nearly as much fun as the getting there.

    It probably helps that I don’t suffer from FND* and seem to have a knack for maps.

    *FND = Female Navigational Disorder.

  46. BM

    Someone should tamper with Gillard’s GPS. Put a restraining voice into it.


    Can you imagine a GPS with Gillard’s voice?

    “At the next indersekshun, turn left.”

    “You have lost your way. Increase speed and keep moving forward.”

    “There will be no Google Maps in a vehicle I lead.”

    /shudders violently

  47. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    JC, this pompous Hammy-type guy came with the package.

    However, if you think I would let the Hairy Irish Ape have a ‘seductive Irish female’ whispering sweet directions in his ear (he does drive my car sometimes), then you know nothing of the green-eyed jealousy bug. Mrs. JC must be a true angel.

    Without adequate reason, I suffer from that bug at times – the polite and ‘submissively womanly’ female (as the ideal that Japanese men desire) was the third voice in our Japanese hire car and sent HIA into enough of a spin for my liking. Fortunately, his car’s GPS has a briskly robust chappy instructing.

    Pity me, Nilk, for I also suffer from FND. Guess I am just an oestrogenic mess.

  48. .

    I want a crass American like the Sham-Wow! guy egging me on to advanced levels of road rage.

  49. Myrrdin Seren

    Further to the above – a neat coincidence.

    Daniel Hannan – who clearly is no fan of the EU, posts this little observation:

    Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Euro-liberals, is developing an obsession with the British. He really doesn’t like us. And, as you can tell from the applause and laughter in the chamber, nor do many MEPs. It has recently become fashionable, in all the political groups, to sneer at the United Kingdom.

    In the above clip, the former Belgian PM pours his contempt upon a speech which he hasn’t yet heard: the one David Cameron is due to deliver on Friday. It is enough for him to know that the speech will be made by the British leader.

    He tells us that we – or at least the 80 per cent of us who want powers back from Brussels – are “stupid”. Yet, oddly, he doesn’t want us to leave.

    Perhaps the answer – is note to Belgium: ‘the next time some big power plans to use your country as a doormat invasion route – deal with it yourselves’ ??

  50. Jannie

    Perhaps the answer – is note to Belgium: ‘the next time some big power plans to use your country as a doormat invasion route – deal with it yourselves’ ??

    Its not ‘big power’ invasion that they are experiencing. The invaders are arrriving without weapons and are still being subsidised and nurtured by the erstwhile defenders. The occupation will become evident when they replace the Napoleonic legal tradition with Sharia.

  51. kae

    Sniff test?

    In recent years a couple of foreign tourists in Aus followed the instructions of their GPS (known in my family as “the Dash Lady”) and drove into the ocean (Moreton Bay).

    They could SEE the sea, but they just followed the instructions.

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