I accomplished at a very early age. Learning to read with comprehension took a little longer. After that I began to read the subtext with comprehension. A very long way after that I went to law school and learned to read the sub-text of the sub-text with some comprehension. I am sure there are more stages to go through but at least I have reached the point where I now look for certain things.
It is election time so we are now getting the inevitable pieces of 'electoral information' in the letter box. There were two pieces on Monday. Both were identical. One was addressed to me and one was addressed to the senior cat, my father.
Now, this is election time. One of the rules with election material is that it must clearly state which political party it comes from. At first glance however this material looked as if it might have come from the Australian Electoral Commission instead. The AEC is, of course, expected to be apolitical. They do not label material as coming from a political party.
The material concerned applications for postal votes. There was a form included. You can fill out the form if you need a postal vote. Then came the fine print "This material has been produced by "X" using his printing and communications entitlement." "X" is a senator. He belongs to a specific political party. He has included an envelope for the form to be returned to his party, not to the AEC. The envelope is addressed to him by name. It gives him, of a member of his staff, the legal right to open the envelope. They can take down the details you have supplied. Naturally they will. They will then, equally naturally, use it to form yet another data base to target the electorate. The telephone number included is also one for that party. It is not the number for the AEC.
Yesterday there was another communication of a similar nature. This time it quite clearly stated that it came from our sitting member. He is a member of the other major party. The purpose is the same but you are left in no doubt from whence the material comes. This is strictly in keeping with the AEC guidelines and, quite possibly, the Electoral Act. The material from "X" if not actually breaking the rules is sailing very close to the wind indeed.
I have problems with either side farming names in this way. They are both targetting a particularly vulnerable group. Many people who seek postal votes are unable to access a polling booth because of their age or a disability. By no means all of them are travelling businessmen or grey-haired nomads doing the extended tour around Australia by caravan.
I have however much greater problems with anyone failing to inform people to whom they are giving their personal details. Yes it can be argued that people should be careful about this but the material is also designed to deceive.
It also has to be said that many people still have to learn to read with comprehension.