Restoring societal values that make a better future for allMar 8, 2023
Can we really believe that the power structurers of human societies in 2023 are setting policies and programs that are doing the best for our future?
Last year, Australia’s list of serious issues and experiences were acute and costly: major environmental disaster problems, the continuing pandemics, international tensions affecting trade and possible wars, and tense population and political differences. Few seemed to be confident of those in power, so they lost the election. However, their replacements are left with serious economic problems and debts, some risks of numbers and tensions about issues like the Voice, increasing inequities and some serious political differences about human nature.
We need to address the present frameworks and models of policy agendas, because the current residues of the past three decades have left messes. If we want to do this, we must fix the flawed beliefs that underpin the bizarre failing paradigm mess that has undermined democracy with too much self interest and too little connectivity and fairness. What does democracy have to offer to voters? A concern about their wellbeing and non commercialized needs.
We are not bred to be customers awaiting a bargain, but contributors to the commons. We also share the dependency burdens, and are not just bribed for votes. These are the right ways of governing. We need to restore the social aspects of human societies so we connect and respect others needing fairness, feelings, loyalty and other modes of belonging.
We need to go back to citizenship, the mix of rights and obligations which were identified as the essential democratic status for humanities’ present and future possibilities. We need to stop being defined as customers, as trading is not a fair relationship.
I wrote this section above on 13 January 2023, in an attempt to deal with the ‘news’ that the Premier had worn a Nazi uniform to his 21st birthday party! This accusation reminded me of my interest in the reason for the rise of fascisms in the 30’s, as trust of democracies failed voters because of the effects of the depression and because governments failed to offer support. Were we on the same path now, with updated modes of democratic distrust, and as the over emphases on greed, money and power has led political parties to cut welfare and public spending in many nations, including locally? Neoliberal policies of economic markets now serve the self-interested customers, limiting social spending so the wealthy are not supporting those in financial deficits. Therefore, many voters distrust those policy makers, mainly the macho imbued view that only GDP counts as the base of dominant value systems.
The loss of the post WW2 social contract is now leaving voters distrustful of the fairness of the policy makers that represent them. This change is not recent but stems from the above paradigm shift!
We need to consider the need to restore a social contract for fair support of voters and others who need to see their elected representatives are prepared to allocate funds to public and communal care programs in health, community care and other essential social services. The decades of sales of public utilities and privatisation of children’s and aged care services have damaged voter/citizen trust and goodwill.
Much of what has been deleted from public domains show up in the problems of Indigenous services, welfare, health and care programs that have been privatised or under-funded. Also these are the areas that are very dependent on underpaid and volunteer women’s work. We need to upgrade their value, funding and planning.
The Voice, if hopefully passed will adjust the failures of first nation progress. The current limited proposal will offer, for the first time Constitution protected advisors with access to those in power to ensure they are aware and briefed effectively of urgent needs.
The roles of feminist equity and needs of other disadvantaged groups will need enhancement to achieve fairness by addressing the dominance of male values in the unfair limits of GDP and macho monetised values. These need to be part of a social contract that ensures elected attention to aspects of cultural recognition and ethics of care. Such omissions that are now not recognised and funded as part of more civil societies are evident in the distrust in many frail democracies and in the rise of dictators. The social contract must include fixing unfair gaps that are not market based and poor services. The gender pay gap would therefore be taken seriously. Data in the next section shows we can afford a decent level of spending to ensure we meet the criteria of a fair go.
Evidence of our rich country status shows we can afford it
Australia’s 2020 tax-to-GDP ratio ranked it 30th out of 38 OECD countries in terms of the tax-to GDP ratio. France has the highest tax burden as a percentage of GDP, at 46.2%. Denmark (46%), Belgium (44.6%), Sweden (44%), and Finland (43.3%) also have very high tax-to GDP ratios. Kuwait has the lowest tax burdens as a percentage of GDP, at 1.4%. Australia Tax revenue: % of GDP was reported at 31.4% in Jun 2022. This records an increase from the previous number of 30.0 % for Mar 2022.
So, we are low taxed and wealthy and can afford better fairness policies, but the current macho policies of market models are failing to fix our social and financial inequities.
The above are not new issues; most show a long history of imposed/ neglected disadvantage
I recently discovered on my computer my earlier failures to reduce the ill effects of the paradigm shifts to market models in the 1980’s. 24 years later, my critique remains correct, we still need to fix growing trust deficits that earlier cuts to societal fairness have created.
As this week was my 85th Birthday, I decided to update my continued pitch for restoring the governance that is crucial to rebuild voter trust of fair democracies!
(NB I was born in 1938 in Vienna to Jewish parent, so have had my childhood shaped as a refugee. I was curious as a young child what had caused my family to be stateless, as other people were not! I became a sociologist and a feminist in search of the reasons that civilised nations could become uncivilised politically. So, these ideas, presented above, have had a long maturation.)
Eva Cox 1938 -….2023…….?