By Christian Marx
Right now, here in Australia we are facing the biggest job crisis since at least the Great Depression of the early 1930s. The COVID-19 virus is the final straw that has broken the camel’s back. The ugly truth is that we have had three decades of rampant globalization via the weakening of import tariffs and the complete offshoring of manufacturing, and now even the service industry.
Try getting technical advice for an electrical product here in Australia. You have more chance of getting a job! (And that is saying something). Almost all technical advice comes from places as exotic as India, or as far away as Manila in the Philippines. These poor buggers get paid about one fifth of what an Australian worker would. Corporations love to exploit cheap labour!
This current morally bankrupt government has no intention of creating jobs. It suits their neoliberal dogma to keep the masses desperate for an ever-dwindling amount of jobs. This of course benefits their donor class. The millionaires and in some cases, billionaires need people desperate as this creates willingness to work for poor remuneration and increasingly precarious conditions.
The usual jackals in the media howl down any raise in Newstart for fear of upsetting their puppet master in New York, and the LNP`s grand plan for a brave new world. This author finds it unconscionable that in the middle of a near depression with nearly 14% out of work, or almost two million Australian adults jobless!
In the middle of a job’s crises to pair back the temporarily-raised Newstart and JobKeeper programme is economic suicide. The poorest tend to spend any money they are given, namely on rent, food and essential items. This money then goes straight back into the economy.
Instead, what do these reprobates do? They give more tax cuts to the upper-middle-class and the very rich. This money is unlikely to be put back into the economy. Rather, it will end up in shares, trust funds or some other investment.
The only way to get this country back on its feet economically is via a New Deal jobs programme and robust social safety nets for those who have fallen on hard times. In fact, even that bastion of capitalism, America embarked on their own ‘New Deal‘ under Roosevelt in 1933.
America was on the brink of collapse due to the stock market crash and the greed of the capitalist class of 1929.
Private capital had no stomach for creating jobs and large projects that benefitted the populace as there was no profit to be made in the short term, and they were unwilling to spend what was needed to kick-start the economy. History is now repeating throughout much of the Western world!
This new deal consists of three key goals: Relief from the harshness of unemployment and poverty, re-starting the economy, and reforming the corrupted financial system (which caused the depression in the first place).
Neoliberal capitalism was already failing badly before COVID-19. Now it has totally collapsed. Only the very rich and their cronies in media and government benefit from this hard-right dogma. Neoliberal capitalism is all about transferring public institutions into private, for profit hands. We have seen how disastrous this has been across a whole range of services.
One of the greatest failures is the bloated, for profit job agencies, which do bugger all to find people jobs while pocketing huge subsidies from the government. This system is financed to fail. Contrast this to the wonderful Commonwealth Employment Service which was run not for profit and was excellent at placing workers into jobs.
Under a New Deal we can create 100% employment and provide full-time jobs for all those who need it. There is plenty of work to be done! Infrastructure and community service is crying out for more help! Added to this is to create a robust social safety net to at least above the poverty line. $500 per week indexed to average wage increases would be a good figure.
Nobody needs to be in poverty in a country as rich as Australia. This is just a political decision to favour a small number of business scions and power brokers in the media. In fact, we had one of the best social security systems in the world in the 20th century, and we didn`t collapse into insolvency!
Which brings me to another great myth that needs to be smashed. The lie perpetuated by sock puppets in the mainstream media, and sadly even lately by the ABC! The bulldust that financing social programs and raising unemployment benefits will create more debt. This is garbage, and the politicians know this.
A sovereign nation that owns and controls its own public Federal Reserve cannot go into debt to itself. Money can be created and be allocated to where it is needed. Yes, it is true that we need to keep an eye on inflation, but this is what federal taxes are for. Taxes provide a break on runaway inflation by taking some money out of the system.
State taxes do operate on a different level to federal taxes however. Federal tax just takes this money out of the system… however state taxes are used to fund important public works such as infrastructure etc. I believe that Modern Monetary Theory is the way of the future and will free us from the ideological nonsense of neoliberal capitalism, which has proven to be an absolute basket case in every major Western nation!
In summing up, the only way out of poverty and joblessness is for the public sector to work again and to regulate the worst excesses of private capital… which even pre COVID-19 had driven us to the point of extreme hardship, transferring wealth to the very rich, while making it harder for every day folks to survive let alone thrive. Scandinavian countries are an excellent example of what could be achieved with the political will. So far, the only major party that has touched on creating a New deal is the Greens, who are advocating a Green New Deal.
Under this radical new approach, we could eliminate poverty, create an abundance of well-paying jobs, and in turn kick start a very moribund economy. Be bold and be visionary, people! We can do this if we embrace Modern Monetary Theory. Of course that would mean the wealthy job creators would have to compete with the public sector and provide decent wages, full-time jobs, and good conditions… which is exactly what they have been avoiding for the past 30 plus years!
Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information site: Don`t Look At This Page.
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