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Bad Foundations, Bad Economy

A house with bad foundations is a bad house. I don’t care how nice the hedge is out the front, I don’t care if it has air-conditioning, polished floorboards or, for that matter, an industrial-sized $6,000 toaster. If the foundations haven’t been built solidly, everything on top of those foundations is bad and liable to fall down at any minute. I don’t want to live in a house with bad foundations.

This example shows the nonsensical myth that underpins political commentary, and in turn, voter perception, and is spouted around the place like Gospel with no-one questioning its very premise. This myth was once again trotted out by John Hewson this week when he compared the Liberal’s ‘jobs and growth’ slogan with Labor’s ‘we’ll put people first’. Hewson wrote ‘Perceptions about the two major political parties are well entrenched in the electorate psyche. The Liberal/National Coalition is consistently seen in the polls as “better economic managers”, while the ALP is consistently seen as “better to manage education and health”.’

This statement is based on a myth. It’s a myth which Labor needs to get much better at countering. The myth is that there is a choice: either you can have a government who cares about the economy, or a government who cares about people. Labor needs to emphatically argue that you can’t have one without the other.

There is, in fact, no choice. Either you spend on health and education and other social initiatives which benefit people, and in turn reap the rewards in an economic sense. Or you slash and burn spending on health and education and other social initiatives which benefit people, and see the economy come crashing down into a smouldering heap. THERE IS NO CHOICE!

Let’s look at it another way. The economy is just a collection of people. It’s not a big machine in the sky which we need to bow down to and sacrifice lambs on and feed with gold bullions and hope that it likes us to it doesn’t punish us and kill off our money. The economy is us.

I will take this one step further and say there is no such thing as a community AND an economy, sitting side by side as two siloes of concern in our lives. That’s like saying ‘I have a job’ and ‘I have a family’ and these two lives don’t interact at all and live in separate realities and have no relation to each other. The economy, and the society, and the community, is just a collection of people interacting, and is all one THING. If you don’t look after all of it, all of it will suffer. If you cut off the arm and let the body bleed out until it can no longer survive, the whole thing is dead. If the people in this thing, in this economy, society, community, market place, money-making world, whatever you want to call it, if in this world people haven’t had their health, education, infrastructure, wages, technology, environment looked after, the economy is going to suffer.

I’m not sure how I can make it any more simple, except to say that there really is no choice. Education is not an aside, a nice thing to have. Healthcare is not a cost which we have to bear, with its consequences having no impact on the ability of people to maintain economic growth.

So every time you hear someone say ‘I vote Liberal because they’ll look after the economy’, think of my house example and remember, this voter might be interested in hanging pretty curtains in the bedrooms but if at the same time they’re skimping on the materials for strong foundations, the whole house is going to fall over. Please don’t vote for an unliveable house. THERE IS NO CHOICE!

 

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19 comments

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  1. kathysutherland2013

    Absolutely! Without secure foundations (health, education, welfare) the house is not stable, however pretty its curtains or imposing its facade. The economy is a tool to help the community – to provide those services ( like health & education) that keep the foundations strong. Lets not confuse this aspect of the economy with the showy parts, like the curtains. The economy is not an end in itself, and should be judged, if we have to do any judging, on how it is serving our community, not on how the figures stack up.

  2. Juanita Hardy (@Pikiran2ku)

    Absolutely true. ALP needs to constantly plug the economic benefits of good health and education, that they’re a vital investment not an indulgence. As you pointed out, the people are the society, the economy, the productivity, and if the people are not up to it none of those things will thrive or, in this competitive and changing world, even survive. Also, we’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world and if we can’t afford to sustain decent health and education systems, how is that other less wealthy nations can?
    PS.I retweeted this article and mispelt your surname, Vic. Sorry!

  3. Arthur Plottier

    IMO until the economists and politicians do not stop be obsessed with GDP, growth and deficits we will never get out of these vicious circle.
    It is time to start measuring the state of the country and the world for that matter using the Genuine Progress Indicator.
    Globally we are going trough a low growth and it will stay like this (with the exception of few countries) until our governments and oppositions realize that at one stage growth will stop and development will take over.
    Deficit, if it is controlled and investment used targeting development, will be reduced until 0.
    If we keep going with the present policies the economic, health and education gap between the rich and the poor will continue to increase.

  4. Carol Taylor

    Well said Victoria, and as for “looking after the economy”, it leads to the assumption that everyone has a $ value as pertains to their “value to the economy”. Therefore father has AAA rating as he contributes to “the economy” but poor old granny and people with disabilities they are a burden on “the economy”. Lifters and Leaners. Drains on “the economy”. Those who should be rewarded and those who should not.

  5. Jack Russell

    Another way of saying it:

    When a government’s PRIORITY is to run a balanced economy FOR ALL CITIZENS because it’s GOOD for everyone – both socially AND commercially – then the only choice at this election is between a government that has a proven long-term track record for providing that balance, or one that hasn’t.

    For me it’s clear – the ALP – by a mile.

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    Good house foundations begin with a good plan.

  7. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    True again Victoria. Everything the LNP do is short term gain, long term pain. They are the sugar fix party.

    BTW – I’m noticing Government security ads creeping onto AIM. This isn’t anything to do with AIM (other than the fact that they are signed up to Google’s Adsense), but it is clear that the government and/or its agencies, are targeting news sites. AIM should very rightly be flattered! And the more people click on them, the quicker the budget is spent. Sure, it is a waste of our taxpayer money, but every time a little bit of budget is used up, the less the chance of it being seen by a person that might be swayed…

  8. amarkone

    Alleluia Sister, spot on. I am just updating a graph of Hours Worked each month/each year to be presented again on AIMN and without a shadow of a doubt it shows exactly how Labor has out performed the Liberals when it comes to Economic Management. The trouble is today, we (well not me) listen to too many ‘blowhards’ in the media who don’t know jack shit about economics but crap on with all the usual tripe and terminology especially in the micro economics arena. The truth is that it comes down to how many hours are worked monthly, this determines how much money is available in the market place to buy ‘widgets’ produced by manufacturers plus it determines the total income tax receipts available to the government and basically the health of the overall economy. If anybody starts dribbling out jargon and clap trap it means they have not got a clue, example……just listen to Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann and you will see what I mean.

  9. Vixstar

    We need a lie/crap detector strapped on all LNP and Rupert cronies when it reaches overload the thing could just explode, problem solved
    Great article I just wish everyone could read it, I have just brought my last Sydney Morning Herald it was littered with dribble from the Liberals they are parasites sucking taxpayers dry. I still can’t fathom why people vote for them, they are saying barnyard is great for standing up and saying what he thinks, he’s a pathetic excuse for a man. Please vote Labor Bil

  10. cartoonmick

    Ah,,,,, but I DO have a choice.

    I can either vote for the mob who take from the poor and give to the rich, or

    I can vote for the other mob.

    A no-brainer really

    It’s 2 years since I did this cartoon on the budget crisis, and now it’s coming true . . . . .

    Editorial / Political

    Cheers
    Mick

  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    An article that reflects all sane voters’ views from the Greens, Labor, Progressive Micro Parties and sane Independents.

    Health and Education are unarguably cornerstones of a vibrant socio-economic system. So too are Science, Welfare and Compassion. I don’t doubt Labor’s preparedness to work hard for Science but I’m still skeptical of their dedication to Welfare and Compassion unless they start proving otherwise.

    Nonetheless, I will NOT be voting for the LNP Degenerates.

    I will be voting for the Greens No.1 and Labor No.2 in the House of Reps and a Progressive mixture of Greens, Progressive Micro Parties and sane Independents in the Senate with maybe (if there’s room) 1 or 2 Labor Senators if they have earnt their keep!

    Footnote: I will continue to hand out HTV for BOTH the Greens AND Labor because I want to see a formidable Alliance form between them and the other Progressives.

  12. Andreas Bimba

    CoalminingfrackingcorporatedonationsgraftcorruptionlegislationforsalegovernmentnotforthepeoplebutforyouknowwhodeductionsforthewealthyoffshoredetentionbalancedbudgetseconomicstagnationunemploymentglobalisationFTAswitheveryoneprivatisationsneoliberalismcorporatedominationleaveittothemarkettheyknowbestmanufacturingdestructioncronycapitalismsmallthinkingnovisioncommercebeforeanimalslittleforeignaidextravagantdefenceprojectsspyingoncitizensoppressivepolicingcorruptmassmediacuttheabcjobsbeforenatureporkbeforeelectionslotsofmoneyforelections=LNP=ALP

    Tired of all this, there is only one meaningful choice.

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes,

    you’re right Andreas.

    The Lib/Lab Dinosaurs should shut up and listen.

    If neither can remove themselves from Neoliberalism, then WE, the Australian People will remove ourselves from Neoliberalism.

  14. johnlward010

    This sad mob of small minded shop keepers, would never have built the Snowy Mountains Scheme or the ANU at the same time.
    When the Labor party under Chifley took the long term view, Menzies chose to rant about the expense, yet was happy to open them up, for the glory after he became PM.
    Now is the time to borrow money and turn the Burdekin River and look to irrigate the inland; keeping money in Australia.

    Every $1million we send overseas to buy things we should build here, each mill exports, about 40 jobs with it.
    Bob flaming Menzies stopped the CSIRO from working on computers, when we were one of the leaders in that field, and told the teams of scientists to work out how to make ‘it’ rain.
    During the first world war Menzies joined the Melbourne University Regiment as an Officer, because he could serve without going overseas. When the time came to send the Officers overseas because of the high casualty rate, he resigned his commission declaring ‘my brain is too valuable to waste on the battlefield’.

    When the first world war broke out, our Constitution forbade the armed forces to fight overseas, they were meant to defend Australia. The Parliament declared the Empire was in peril and called for Volunteers to form the Australian imperial Forces. At the end of that conflict we had Five divisions fighting as a singly force under Australian Command.
    Menzies of course, became a big noise in the failed conscription movement,but eventually conscripted my generation and the Vietnam Veterans.

    Menzies was always devoted to Mother England in fact he ensured, that the flag ACT of 1954, that the Union Jack was available as a right to any Australian resident to fly it in preference to and in a superior position ahead of the National Flag. That changed in 1968 when the British objected to our war ships having their navy Ensign in our (Menzies) Vietnam War. So we quickly created the White Ensign you see today.

    This cringeworthy behaviour was no more apparent than in the first months of world war two, when both Menzies and Churchill decided to send the Second Australian Imperial Force’s Eighth Division to Malaya to protect Singapore. The Sixth Division defeated the Italian Army in Libya and Menzies agreed with Churchill to send that division split in halves to Greece and Crete where they were made POW’s by overwhelming numbers of Nazis.

    Our Ninth Division fought Two famous battles that became the turning point of the war at Tobruk And El Alamein.
    The seventh Division fought against the French Foreign Legion in Syria and then were rushed back to Java and Timor and when they got off the ships they found their weapons and ammo was coming in the next convoy. They therefore joined the Eighth Division as prisoners of the Japanese.
    If Menzies had been working for Mr Hitler he would have earned an Iron Cross with Diamond Clusters.

    The Ninth finally came back to join the reserve CMF (Chocolate Soldiers who had held the Japanese) on the Kokoda track in New Guinea to then Push the Nips back. They were the One Division that formed our last fighting force left standing out of Four divisions from the second war.

    The Ninth Division survived Menzies and the only thing that saved them from defeat and Churchill’s order to sail north to Malaya and the japs, was the ALP’s PM John Curtain ordered the fleet to return to Australia and we looked to the American for protection and away from Churchill who was prepared to leave Australia to the Imperial Japanese Army, to be ‘regained after the war in Europe was won’.

    Don’t let the Liberals tell you what god like leader, Menzies was , he was a Tamperer and a small minded egotist, who only cared for himself and saw the men he sent to die, as the Scum of the Earth. With the advent Cold War and the post world war intelligence agencies of Britain, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia forming a collaboration known as ‘the five eyes’. Australia, has been told how to think ever since. So Australia had to take our share of Nazi fanatics out of the wreckage of Germany, to bring their knowledge and skills to the task of defeating Communism. The influence of this hidden body of war-criminals in our intelligence community and political class still resonates in attitudes and influence that were once foreign to our culture.

    By 1950 we still had German Italian and Japanese prisoners in custody and Menzies let the Germans stay who wanted to, Italians went home and most applied to come back. The Japs went home and we thought they would be our enemies, deep in our hearts forever. Nazis and Japs were hated universally, for their cruelty, the people that hated them are mostly dead, a handful forgave, the baby boomers were protected from the horror of war, until the fathers succumbed to PTSD.

    Menzies surrounded himself with people who were lacking in the smarts to topple him. They are the people who could simply not accept that democracy requires the rejected party, in opposition, to respect the will of the people’s judgement and prepare for the next election while holding the government to account; but not dying in a ditch before they let any legislation pass without creating the cess-pit we have witnessed over the last sixty odd years.
    The Liberals sing the same bloody song every time they get kicked out by the people and this is why we have a ‘Saw Tooth’ economic graph to contemplate and no hope for a big Australia, because the people we elect have for seventy years have been stuck with the legacy of the Fat Blow Hard, where the players are now so boring and narrow coming, as they do from university through head office or an electorate office and turn out to be educated idiots with no ambition for or love of country, Just being there is enough.

    Malcolm is behaving as if he is the rebirth of the fat controller.

  15. Andreas Bimba

    The fat controller will soon be a very flat controller of not very much because the big train of pissed off voters is heading his way.
    Into the dustbin of history with you Malcolm and your gang of total rubbish, just like one term Campbell Newman and his team of the same . Does Shorty deserve the job? no. Will he get the job? yes. Will we have gained something from the election. Not much. Got to love the two party system.

  16. Jexpat

    Suffice to say, an economy is a bit more than a collection of people.

    I’m not sure that article even gets a pass, much less a credit.

  17. amarkone

    Shit, my dad, God rest his soul, has risen from the dead and written this piece under the name of ‘johnlward010’. Thank you John for reminding me that my fantastic dad shaped my thinking and it is very much along the lines that you have written.

  18. townsvilleblog

    As someone who apparently should not be rewarded as I am disabled mentally and psychically I have to say Victoria you hit the nail on the head every-time you write . I agree that the economy/community/ etc is all just different names for the one item. The LNP have cut $80 bn to the States for health and education, and it can be clearly seen at my local hospital, under-staffing and long waiting times to see specialists. I’ll be voting Labor this time for the first time in 12 years and I sincerely hope they win for the sake of “all” Australian “people.”

  19. abbienoiraude

    I am determined to learn what this ‘Economics’ gig is all about. This “debt and deficit disaster” diatribe and the ‘living within your means’ really means! Is the ‘household budget and debt like the Country’s budget and debt’ actually true?
    Well look here.

    Thanks Victoria for your piece that opens to the ‘sea’ a plethora of information including the video below;

    Watch and learn; Conservatives are absolutely leading the People up the garden path to lies and obfuscations.

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