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Day to Day Politics: Class warfare coming to a polling booth near you.

Sunday 23 July 2017

Part one

Listening to the Prime Minister addressing the Liberal Party’s NSW State Conference on Saturday he constantly referred to conservative ideology that it was a party that supported individuals. He is of course correct. Liberals have always supported individuals who have rather than those who have not. Labor does that.

Incidentally, the main topic for the conference was whether members should have more say in the pre-selection of candidates. A non-issue you would think but fireworks seem set to fly from those who currently have that power.

On the previous night Labor Leader Bill Shorten was giving a ”scene-setter” speech in Melbourne. A speech unapologetically about inequality and its effect on Australians.

The Turnbull government, he charges, is “accelerating inequality” and that “kills hope”.

It bore all the classic Sanders-Corbyn socialist trademarks that those in Britain and America have become used to.

Undoubtedly Australians will be given a stark choice at the next election. Despite the fact that low tax, pro business, pro growth, drip down economic polices are not working that’s what the conservatives will be offering at the next election.

Bill Shorten in comparison is saying “enough of all that”. We are in favor of a strengthened social safety net funded by higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

While insisting he is an optimist about everything this week Turnbull could be heard above the Treasurer warning that household budgets could be further strained, meaning borrowers should be ”prudent” about their indebtedness.

When one is as rich as Turnbull it’s easy to be an optimist but his government is sure to get the blame for the coming power increases and the threat of higher mortgage rates. They are likely to produce a large cohort of pessimists that are more likely to support Labor.

Unashamedly, Shorten has become an enthusiast of the distributive manifestos of Bernie Sanders in the US and Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn.

On the one hand Shorten is moving with the times, letting go of past capitalistic assumptions that are no longer working with a promise to address a two-class tax system where the rich are openly avoiding tax like its their birthright.

On the other hand Turnbull plans to give them all a tax break. That’s hard to sell to an electorate that is feeling the heat of cost of living rises and flat wages growth. I know what side of that argument I’d prefer to be on.

Part two

So, leading up to the next election you will hear the cries from the right about class warfare. About envy.

What the hell is this class warfare? I would have thought that there was less class distinction in Australia than in most countries. We do however have an attitude known as ”them and us” syndrome. This phrase speaks of the wealthy who are privileged beyond conscience and then, we’ll there’s us.

The battlers with aspirations to also be wealthy (and I am assuming that class pre supposes wealth) but with the common sense to know that not everyone can be.

Although if you are one of them of course (the wealthy) it does afford you a better class of education, of medical treatment and access to the law. In fact it gives you distinct societal advantages. Like tax havens, tax avoidance and superannuation discounts not available to us. Oh and I forgot negative gearing.

In the United States they worship the ”Great American Dream”. That being that in the land of the free anyone can aspire to be rich. And the poor actually believe it.

The constitution tells them so. So the dream is perpetuated on an unsuspecting population who support the wealthy because the dream will happen to them some day. Some say it is thus called because you have to be asleep to dream it. In Australia we are more circumspect.

The term ”Class Warfare” originates from the USA and was a favorite form of attack by Fox News and the Republicans against President Obama and Democrats in general. Like most things that have a basis in the worship of wealth and privilege the right in Australia adopt the same negative position. Fox News also uses the term ”War on wealth” in their efforts to support wealth as a national goal. Everyone should aspire to be rich even if everyone cannot.

Who is waging this so-called war? I don’t see the middle and lower classes up in arms over their treatment. But I do see the wealthy and the super rich getting cranky every time there is a threat to their privilege. Or at the suggestion that they should contribute more to the public coffers.

In fact never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen about their economic self-righteousness. They are ably supported by the Murdoch press who invariably perpetuate and use the phrase ”Class Warfare” in a manner that suggests the lower and middle classes and particularly the Labor Party are at war with the rich. But ask yourself who is doing all the complaining. It’s the wealthiest it’s ”them” not ”us”.

When for the first time Australian mining companies campaigned against a government effectively telling them how much tax they were prepared to pay, the media and the companies said they were playing the class warfare card. Such is the power of wealth that Gina Rinehart, Twiggy Forrest and Clive Palmer got away with it.

The fact that the minerals belong to all of us seemed unimportant to them. They don’t seem to understand the concept of fairness. There is them, and us.

When Wayne Swann, a few years ago,makes a speech encouraging an equitable share of the country’s wealth he was accused of engaging in class warfare. Even newspapers like the Herald Sun who pitch to a common man demographic pander to the class of rich without hesitation. Perhaps it’s because they are owned by one of the world’s wealthiest men. Ironic isn’t it.

Let’s look at the GST for example. It burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life— clothing, rent, heating, power etc. The middle and lower classes pay more GST than the rich but I don’t see them in open warfare because of it. Goodness once the rich had to pay a luxury tax of 33% on their BMWs. Now it’s 10%.

Media commentary research shows that the Murdoch press is the major contributor to this supposed idea of class warfare. The Financial Review has recently run 10 articles on this theme. The Daily Telegraph 21 and The Australian 77. Add to that a few disgruntled Labor hacks that couldn’t get their own way and you can identify who is leading the chorus. But us, well we seem to be leaderless.

When the wealthiest in the land have for years virtually been practicing tax avoidance the MSM portrays it as an attack on the wealthy. It’s class warfare they shout. However, when the coalition plan to cut the rebate for low-income earners (mainly women) and take away the school expenses subsidies the war becomes a one-sided impasse. Yes the rich are in a class of their own. And their success is judged on the size and value of their assets. A poor measure by any standard.

Even when it’s suggested that equality of education is a noble pursuit, and the right of every child and people like Christopher Pyne see it as class warfare it’s a disgrace. Yes, he once ludicrously described Gonski as such.

It appears to be a very one-sided war. When a person like Pyne suggested that the implementation of Gonski would be practicing class warfare. Its easy to see who is actually practicing it. Them elitist bastards, not us.

When the Labor government tried to reduce the cost of private health insurance and the then Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton called it class warfare that’s also a disgrace.

Piers Ackerman once described the governments closing of the much rorted Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme as class warfare. So the war it seems is only being waged against those who are wealthy and can afford it.

Poor buggers. I’m tempted to donate 10% of my pension if they are doing it that hard. Gosh where I live you can wait three years for a filling.

So this ”Class War” would appear to be a Clayton’s one at best. Only one side is fighting it. It’s them not us. And it’s very hard to get through to a class who believes that what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is negotiable. They want excesses that come with wealth and then they want some more. As for us, we don’t confuse what we want with what we need.

You can be assured of one thing: When the opposition and MSM refer to class warfare they are simply saying ”they are trying to take something from us and it’s not fair”. And remember that the poor will be looked after by the drip down effect of our wealth. My arse it will! It never has before.

My thought for the day.

“It’s very hard to get through to a class who believes that what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is negotiable”.



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  1. Harquebus

    “Don’t forget the golden rule.” — King from the Wizard of Id.
    “What’s the golden rule?” — Serf from the Wizard of Id.
    “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.” — Minstrel from the Wizard of Id.

  2. James Cook

    Excellent work John. More ammunition to use against my Neo-con mate. [Yes, he’s a mate. We argue vigorously over politics but we’ve been friends for 60 years. We still manage to keep it civil.]

  3. Freethinker

    I like to see what (in private) Chris Bowen think about Shorten speech
    This is what Bowen believe in 2015: “I would like to see the corporate tax rate come down over time. I have previously said the nation should be aiming for a 25 per cent corporate tax rate,”
    In 2016:
    LEIGH SALES: In your own book you said it’s a Labor thing to have the ambition of reducing company tax because it promotes investment, creates jobs and drives growth.
    CHRIS BOWEN: And I’ve consistently said in a perfect world when the budget could afford it, of course lower tax is better than higher tax.

  4. stephengb2014

    Weell said Mr Lord.

    Fteethinker – Chris Bowen will be spitting chips – its time he recognised that he might aligned to the wrong political Party, he spruiks classical economics, which is used by the trickle down crew. Perhaps Bowen needs to sit in the naughty corner untill we can get Professor Stephanie Kelton to put him straight.

  5. Martin Trama

    Well written John. It is always the ones crying class warefare from Labir while perpetuating the war themselved.

  6. Jagger

    As Warren Buffet said ” there’s class welfare alright but it’s my side, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning”.

  7. Terry2

    One of the big challenges we are facing, particularly in developed economies , is the coordinated push by corporations to legislatively and thus legitimately have governments cut company taxes so that they can in their words remain competitive in world markets.

    Trump is pushing for a corporate tax rate of 15% which would place the USA into the category of what we used to call a taxhaven. If the Congress allow this to pass it will undoubtedly suck in vast amounts of capital into the US and give that economy a growth spurt but at the expense of the rest of the world’s economies who inevitably will have to follow suit and China cannot be expected to take this lying down.

    Social services and community infrastructure will then inevitably devolve to the private sector as governments simply won’t have the revenue and, of course, the private sector will only invest where a profit is guaranteed: education, healthcare, roads, infrastructure, power generation and distribution, telecommunications etc will all become the exclusive province of private corporations should they choose to invest and if the returns are guaranteed.

    We already know that company tax non-collections are the major causes of the already worsening Australian economy.

    The 2015 Parliamentary Budget Office report shows company tax receipts for 2014-15 at $68.0 billion. The 2017 report shows this at $68.0 billion for 2016-17 also. So, company profits were the same both years ? But we know they are not. The Bureau of Statistics showed that company profits just for the first quarter of 2017 are 28.4% higher than the same period in 2015. We are just collecting less from corporations.

    While company tax collections are declining, taxes on wages and salaries are increasing. In 2015, tax receipts from wage and salary earners were $177.0 billion, or 50.4% of total tax receipts. In 2017, tax receipts from wage and salary earners were up to $194.0 billion, or 51.5% of total tax receipts. Company tax declined from 19.4% to 18.0%.

    Clearly we can’t continue slugging wage and salary earners to meet a greater percentage of government expenditure and with more company tax reductions promised by the Turnbull government later this year, things are not looking good and we just have to face up to a reduction in services in critical areas.

  8. wam

    Dear Lord, It is just a slogan developed from the marx days of the peasants(to which we are rapidly returning).

    Sadly, slogans work and are usually difficult to counter. The answer, to twits like me, is simple, when a lib uses the term ask ‘it’ what ‘it’ means by class and what is its class.
    the conversation defines class as:
    The five observable (or “objective”) classes in Australian society can be described as:

    an established affluent class (14% of the sample);

    an emergent affluent class (11%);

    a mobile middle class (25%);

    an established middle class (25%); and

    an established working class (25%).

    A far cry from my day when class was obvious we had the (your excellent term, Lord) ‘effluent’ class, the white singlets and the blue singlets.

    This government is adding an ‘aged’ class enough of whom may be ‘slogan-proofed’ to fight?

    In a war when “Only one side is fighting it.” only one side wins. Unless they are arrogant enough to implode.

    ps Lord how about the trump understanding of ‘pardon’ Why didn’t nixon and clinton think of that??

    Loved the freudian slip by sean spicer when he resigned because ‘too many cooks in the kitchen. Clearly, the appointment of scaramucci who would stick his nose into sean’s kitchen cooking trump’s stories.

  9. Adam As Dusty

    ‘There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’
    Warren Buffett

  10. Pressman

    True jim, on an annual basis, suicide is only behind lung cancer as the leading cause of early death (ie. death more than a decade before the average of 83yrs). Now why is that? In a sympathetic society surely the suicide rate would drop to close to zero? We live in a very unsympathetic environment that’s killing many and sending shock waves throughout the community everyday. Acceptance of ‘trickle-down’ economics is poison, not a salve.
    For a community to thrive we need to put first thing first – people, not profits. Get rid of the LNP.

  11. Mark Needham

    Truth. “The sun is shining”

    The whole truth. ” The sun is shining somewhere above the clouds. I can’t see it, through, the rain and cloud.”

    Political Truth. “If you need the sun to shine, I can do that. If it is not shining, then it is some one else’s fault.”

    Old fiction writer,
    Mark Needham

  12. Zoltan Balint

    Reason it is hard to get through to the majority that there is growing inequality is because no matter how poor the middle class is they are thankful of what they have and thus consider themselves as part of the rich under attack. This is because they know there are people, somewhere out there, that have less. The LNP would like to reduce the middle class and force them into the lower class but they have to control this so they do not lose support. The upper class needs the lower class for cheep labor. They know that the lower class is the one that will fight amongst themselves for the crums but the middle class will fight them since the middle class believes they are almost upper class.

  13. townsvilleblog

    Australia has a choice in the next election, either continue with this horrid mean Turnbull government or change the government to Liberal Lite Shorten’s Labor Party, for me personally the lesser of two evils rule applies. We need a complete redistribution of wealth in this nation and the world if we are all to avoid being cast into the role of serfs.

  14. kerri

    I see it more as a caste system. You are born into a socio-economic group and that’s where you stay.
    That is why they make home ownership impossible. Further education too expensive. And if you do undertake further ed we will hobble you with loan repayments for life to punish you for daring to rise above your station. Indigenous Australians are left to die by many and varied means and no hope of escaping the punitive treatment of those in power. Those who have sunk into homelessness or drug addiction ate left to simply go away or die as punishment for their failure to be born into a rich family. As Jane Caro said of Gina Rinehart “born into the lucky sperm club”.
    What galls me is that many of these wealthy politicians were not born wealthy and yet seem to be saying
    “I worked bloody hard to get here and you are not welcome so sod off!”

  15. Jaquix

    Just watched Barrie Cassidy on Insiders interview Bill Shorten. Barrie was rude, interrupted rudely, and didnt mention Bills name at the end when he thanked him. He could barely look Bill in the eye. (speaks volumes about Cassidy’s allegances?), But Bill Shorten absolutely shone, in my opinion. He wasnt rattled, he knew what he had to say and he said it. Grinned when asked a question rudely and had the perfect answer. A very much more polished performer than he was 2 years ago. I loved the bit where Cassidy asked “Do you resent the wealthy?” Shorten answered in effect that he did not, respected them for doing well, but that they were very well able to look after themselves. He added “They are not the reason I get out of bed in the morning”. Compared to a waffle laden spin session that Turnbull would give, he was a refreshing change.

  16. paul walter

    Cassidy is a dead thing, a skeletal claw reaching out from the swamp to drag someone down with it.

  17. Clem stubbs

    Like this very much down to the nitty gritty I feel social media is having an effect on politics

  18. silkworm

    Last year, when Leigh Sales asked Bill Shorten if he supported full employment, he said yes, but when asked what level of unemployment this meant, he hesitated, then said “4%.” That was very disappointing.

  19. Terry2

    Full employment is where all who are able and willing to work are employed. Shorten is correct, 4% is for all practical purposes, full employment, if it got much lower we would have real inflationary problems in the economy.

  20. Zoltan Balint

    3 or 4 % is the expected with people wanting to change job either because they want someting better or moving house, new people entering the market or being fired.

  21. wam

    well. Lord, wonder if there is any doubt about the insider hopalong with the white hat and horse?

    Billy’s performance today shows he and labor need to develop a strategy to answer those journalists whose attack is straight from the liberal manifesto. As for his timing wow just shift from a malton scrap and plebiscite to a 4 year term why not capitalise a plebiscite without a binding result is a WASTE.

    Hopalong was extra awful, today and the panel was its usual libs are good(ish?) and labor stinks.

    ps spot on clem fake abounds and the libs are definitely masters of fake.

  22. Karen Smith

    What we need is an organisation headed by a person of good moral compass who will actually do what is best for this country and the people. Not what is good for them and their mates. Propping up large corporations and asking the little man to should the bulk of the responsibility is disgusting but that is how WE allow ourselves to be treated. The elitists are running the show, just in case you missed the memo.

    There is no truth in the media. We have no independent watch dogs making sure that everything and everyone is above board. The LNP always make sure that no one can be looked in to. Labour runs with it because heck why not. Democracy is a bullshit word thrown around so that people think it exists. Idiots and the rich vote for rich idiots (the LNP) and then they go off and do whatever pleases them and not for the good of the populous or the country.

    I have no idea who to vote for they are all rotten to the core in one way or another. They all have a single minded agenda which is never balanced in favour of the country or it’s people. I am not willing to swallow any more bullshit and rhetoric.

    by the way, if we had an unemployment rate of 4% that would be a frikkin miracle. That would mean that there is only 4% of the country who are either too frikkin lazy to get of there arse and work or they are not capable of working ( the two are the same sometimes).
    My 2 cents.

  23. margcal

    “the wealthy who are privileged beyond conscience” … this is a brilliant description

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