Getting the big picture

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Just how important small things are to the big picture can be demonstrated by Rudi Guliani’s experience. When he took over as Mayor of New York, Rudi Guiliani had the job in front of him. The big Apple had become a dangerous place to live and work as crime seemed out of control, much like the situation now present in Melbourne with African youth violence and crime.

New York police are appointed by the City, so Guiliani set them about getting tough on minor crimes that might otherwise be passed over as not worthy of too much attention, but which made NY a less attractive place – graffiti, vandalism, fare hopping, etc. What he found was that those committing the minor crimes were also guilty of much larger crimes. Dealing with the small stuff ultimately led to control of much bigger crimes and the result is better, though not perfect, livability in NY.

Personal level

Raising children from birth to 18 years (when they are considered by law to be adult) can seem like a long and onerous stretch on a day to day basis. The pace seems to pick up once they enter high school. A real challenge is balancing the need to address daily behaviour issues with the big picture expectation of a productive, civilized adult turning out at 18 years ready to assume responsibility for his/her life.

In the small scale of family, poor behaviour of the indulged and over-affirmed child is tolerated. In the bigger picture of life, competition with peers may find abilities wanting, resilience absent and behaviour rebuked as the community challenges the young adult to grow up to own responsibility for their decisions in life. Similarly, when poor conduct goes unchecked in a small child, when respect for others and property is dismissed, when there is no expectation of gratitude or manners, the whole community loses out and prospects for the child are diminished until such time as ‘life’ teaches differently.

We have learned that giving into screen and phone use early, even relying on devices to placate and occupy a child can too readily lend to enduring negative physical, social and behavioural patterns. Withdrawal from co-dependencies that produce the same high as any drug, raises the spectre of mental turmoil that would not be wished on anybody.

How the big picture can easily get out of hand is clearly illustrated in mismanagement of African youth gangs in Victoria. Any criticism of burglary, property destruction, personal violence and theft is considered by elites as racist. Youth have been emboldened, misinterpreting racial tolerance as weakness, as they flaunt their ‘untouchable’ status amongst unwilling ‘white trash’ resident victims. What should have been nipped in the bud at first signs, has become a major social, economic and political issue.

Political level

Despite around 26 years of economic growth in Australia many households struggle to pay the electricity bill on time. This is a huge issue for ordinary people for whom wage growth has not kept up with costs.

In the big picture, power and fuel supply and pricing have been captured by national and international elites bent more on profit and redistribution than service. Under nearly two decades of “green” regulation, prices have been pushed up and reliability reduced as investment in “renewables” made investment unattractive for more assured coal or gas fired power. From having a major national comparative advantage of the cheapest fuel on the planet, we have become the country with the most expensive. It costs us all dearly every day in many ways.

Once reason ruled; now it’s some global Gaia to which we are compelled to pay homage. We have been inveigled to sign up to saving the planet through the Paris Accord when so many of us find it hard to bin our take-away packaging, if road-side litter is any indication. In reality it has turned out to be a global financial transfer scheme from responsible countries to the irresponsible.

All this big picture stuff is determined by the “lanyard brigade” – the bureaucrats, politicians and NGOs (non-government organisations) – who strut the world, spend taxpayer dollars, rub shoulders with other elites in talkfests to decide what’s best for we ‘deplorables’, who, of course, must pay.

It was not always so. The United Nations was started by a war-weary world, keen to prevent another outbreak of hostilities. Who would have envisaged that within a few decades the simple concept would become such a grand amoeba of bureaucracy that has grown and spread, along with the cost, in direct proportion to how ineffectual and biased it has become. Yet history repeats itself in the European Union: unelected bureaucrats, left, green and politically correct, seek to lecture and impose how nation states should behave and who should pay. Brexit shows that when ordinary people find their voice, votes can change circumstances, to reclaim control in our own backyard.


One of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome is the might and power of bureaucracy, which has become accountable primarily to itself, rather than the taxpayer and customer who funds the internal largesse. I’m not talking about the front line nurses, doctors, police, firemen and defence personnel serving us dutifully in all places near and far. I mean the back office bureaucrats, whose numbers and benefits swell, thanks to the strength of misleading political messages and the power of public sector unions. Did those of us casting our valuable vote at the last Queensland election do so on a self-indulgent emotional, reactionary level  ‘to teach someone a lesson’, without looking at the big picture of ballooning debt ($80 billion and rising) and bureaucracy (over 20,000 more)?


Those who have read my book Becoming realise how important context is in making sound decisions. Sometimes while attending to our immediate necessities, it is helpful to envision them in the context of our family, state and nation, to see how our actions or inaction will achieve the best long-term outcome.

Firm discipline early in a child’s life, however much objected to, offers the best hope of raising a productive adult in the big picture of life.

Financial discipline early in a government may mean reducing the bureaucracy in the short term, leaving front-line workers to do their job, at the same time as minimizing costs to the taxpayer, as well as future debt burden.

Disposing of our own rubbish properly represents better care for the planet than high octane travel around the globe by the lanyard brigade to stitch us up with meaningless obligations at great cost that will make no difference to climate change, global warming or whatever the current brand may be.

Take time occasionally to get the big picture on the small things.

3 thoughts on “Getting the big picture

  1. Kay Fuller

    Great blog Paula – liked the “Big Pucture” and “context”. – you better run for office /. See you soon

  2. Lyn Ambrose

    I agree Paula. It’s all about discipline across all areas of our personal lives and firm discipline being exercised by our governments and bureaucracies. Draw a circle and out “discipline” at the centre. Success and happiness would then radiate from the centre. Another great blog.

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