Beware false idols - especially when they are talking politics

By Neil Patrick

After Russell Brand got a lot of airtime last week with his comments about the economy in an interview with Jeremy Paxman on the BBC, it got me wondering about how other folk from the world of entertainment were commenting on society and politics.

And I didn’t have far to look. It seems that the economy is becoming the new rock and roll for a whole heap of entertainment folk.
Russell Brand

Here’s a piece from Henry Rollins where he puts forward his opinion that many of the economic problems in the US could be solved with more education and more health provision.

And it's very entertaining. But it’s nonsense.

But it’s such a shame that’s it’s nonsense. I happen to like Henry Rollins. He’s a man of many great talents. He has made some awesome music, he’s a brilliant poet and speaker and he’s a really funny guy too when he chooses to take on that persona.

But he’s not got a clue about economics or government. Sure, he’s really passionate. He’s a powerful speaker and I want to believe him, I really do. But he’s just so wrong. And this is where he ends up in the same camp as Russell Brand, who is also so fired up, he looks like he might explode at any moment.

But this is a very engaging talk as I’m sure you’ll agree:

So why do I think Henry is wrong? He’s wrong in just the same way that Russell Brand was wrong.

The US, the UK and Europe have a big set of problems right now. We all know that. We don’t need to be told that we are in a really bad place economically and socially. We don’t need to be told that our governments are failing us.

But we don’t need people who are professional entertainers telling us how to fix things. Okay, our politicians haven’t got a clue either, but a career in entertainment doesn't exactly equip you with a good set of leadership skills for a crisis situation.

Ironically, it’s politicians who have mastered oratory and argument rather than policy and leadership that got us into this mess in the first place.

What we need is people who are competent to lead. People who don’t put self interest first. People who can inspire us to support tough decisions about hard choices. And people we can trust.

The entertainers engage us. They know how to inspire us. And as masters of engagement they can put forward their views in a passionate and superficially convincing way.

But that doesn't mean they are right. And it doesn't mean they have the faintest clue what they are talking about.

So to quote The Who who knew a thing or two about rock and roll, ‘Meet the new boss…same as the old boss'.

Now there’s a cautionary lyric if ever I heard one.

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