Aug 1, 2018

The facts cannot be more obvious, so when will us smarties tell the world: “The neo-liberal (what the hell does that mean) idea of unrestrained “business” and minimal government, i.e., no regulation of shonks, see banks, insurance companies, labour hire firms, gambling enterprises, franchise swindlers, Uber et al sucking off at the margin, does not work for the majority of our people, in particular the poor, the weak and the old, while making those shonks “rich beyond the wildest dreams of avarice”.

So what does it take? Guts. My father used to have a quote framed on his desk from Oliver Cromwell, “I beseech thee, in the bowels of Christ (I found that bit funny, as a child), to think that you may be mistaken.” The ideology of Hayek and Friedman has proved to be just that and not borne out by the results. Take a lesson or two in Economic History, read what the effect of John Maynard Keynes was on the belated recovery from the “classical economics” that caused the Great Depression. Consider the success of Rudd and Swan in averting the GFC by a Keynesian government intervention, even the money spent on pink bats!

This is no hand-wringing call by what D H Lawrence delightfully called “Willy Wet-Legs”, this is a demand that we should impose reason and sanity. Those of us who know, or ought to, have to act now or we will have more of the Donald Trump, Peter Dutton type leaders, blaming anyone but themselves for the impending disaster that they have been complicit, through ignorance, if one is charitable, or naked ambition, more likely, in bringing upon us.

The task of government, as I have said before, is not just, “Jobs and Growth”, it is protecting the citizens from poverty, illness and ignorance, and providing a fair share of the nation’s wealth to all (God help us, we are one of the richest nations in the world and we have homeless people sleeping in the streets. Do we have no morals or sense of proportion?), and regulate all economic activity to ensure honesty and probity, and to remove profit-making activities which are injurious to the people. Government can and does restrict the sale of poisons, so too with social poisons like internet and pokie gambling. But it has to get back on the job,

We all really know that, so what next? MAN (or WOMAN) UP. We have to say “ No more turning a blind eye to the bull shit being trotted out to justify short-term profit taking. The only “economic question” should be, “Is that worth doing, for the country, the consumer, and the environment? Anything that pollutes the environment should be subject to the closest scrutiny. Renewable energy should be the first choice, for the sake of future generations, who must not be forsaken for a few jobs today in FNQ. (who could reasonably conclude otherwise!).

Dare I say we live in a world where the majority live more poorly than we do, that what we regard as “normal”, flushing toilets and running water (let alone hot and cold), are only for the rich. We should look ourselves in the mirror each day and remember to care for eachother, and all the people of the world before any consideration of personal advantage. Put down that glass of Pinot, and think!

Jim Coombs is a nearly retired magistrate and a Keynesian economist.

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