JIM COOMBS: “Class Warfare” – Bring it On !

Jun 28, 2018

CEDA survey “Community Pulse 2018 – Economic Disconnect” perhaps tells us what we already know: The vast majority feel that they have got less than a fair share of our years of growth, and our working conditions have worsened, and they are right.

It really should come as no surprise, as the share of the nations income goes disproportionately to the rich, while the poor get less. Working conditions for the majority are more onerous and protections for workers have been progressively removed in the drive for ‘productivity’ and profits for the few. Given that our leaders clearly don’t read serious economics, they should be directed to Tony Judt’s eminently readable “Ill fares the Land”, which shows the decline in our civilisation in the period of “neo-liberal” capitalism, from a serious historian’s point of view.

The now clearly incorrect doctrine that unfettered capitalism works for the enrichment and benefit of all, has been shown for the nonsense that it is. Let the profit seekers/entrepreneurs have their head and all will be well. Well, it hasn’t been. We should have been a wake-up once we translated entrepreneur: it means : middle-man, one who comes between parties to a transaction, taking from both sides (without adding value to the transaction).

We could add Thomas Picketty and our own John Quiggin to the politician’s bedtime reading, and for those with nerves of steel, Slavoj Zizek, whose “Living In The End Times” is challenging reading.

The CEDA survey shows that we know the neo-liberal dogma has not worked, but it won’t say why. The survey confirms polls over the last few decades which show that the majority (think 80%) would rather have a more equitable distribution of income, proper free services like health, housing and education rather than a tax cut, if that were genuinely on offer. If the opposition had any nerve that is what they would say in reply.

The very idea that everything can be reduced to the level of a commodity (conveniently allowing some rent taker to appropriate a fee) must be wrong.

That the wealthy few, who have the levers of the economy at their beck and call, should have the colossal cheek to accuse the dispossessed of “class warfare” when we protest at the gross disparity of share of the national wealth, is breathtaking. If it’s class warfare they want, then that is what they should get.

The absurdity of the current debates over energy, banking and telecommunications is that through a devotion to markets, numerous “competitors’ have been created through privatisation, to create more rent-takers to do the entrepreneurial thing, that is, become middle men taking from producer and customer alike, for no useful product. If there were one (natural) monopoly for energy, the idea that we have to depend on ‘the market’ to determine what should be done, would disappear and proper economic decisions based on best use of resources would take place, without any middle men getting in the way. Anyone can see that the plethora of energy vendors, must, by their number alone, be grossly inefficient and benefit only the rent-takers. So it is the unnecessary imposition of the market model that is the problem, and clearly failing as the solution.

So the CEDA survey shows that ordinary “working family” (ghastly expression) Australians are realising that the “trickle-down” benefits of the neo-liberal  economic dogma are virtually non-existent, and we’d all prefer better services and less giveaways to the already rich, some “beyond the wildest dreams of avarice” (love that expression !)

Jim Coombs is a nearly retired magistrtate and graduated in Economics before the Friedmanites took over the economics faculties.

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