As we enter the analysis period of the election, it’s time to face the harsh reality. If there is one aspect of this election outcome that is crystal clear, it is that both major parties missed out on addressing the one issue that drove one in four to vote for minor parties and independent candidates.
That one issue was: inequality. Whatever the politicians were saying, there was nothing in the detail that suggested any interest in correcting the appalling imbalance that currently exists between the haves and the have-nots.
On one side, we have the middle and lower class, who have the least scope to drive spending, and on the other, the ones who dangle political leaders like puppets on a string; the highly protected, dominating wealthy who hide behind the all-powerful collective pseudonym we know as “the markets.”
Politicians have been conditioned to pay close attention to the markets. They are reminded constantly by those who bankroll them, not to upset the markets.
Everyone is conditioned to consider what the markets will think. We must do what the markets say. If we upset the markets, we are told, we are risking the very foundation of capitalism.
What a load of bollocks.
In terms of national fiscal management, there is a falsehood that permeates both sides of politics and the mainstream media today. It is the idea that a budget surplus is proof of good policy, a belief that has no basis in economics.
This falsehood is now considered to be an infallible doctrine, one that must be followed to the letter, or forever carry the consequences of credit downgrades, unsustainable debt levels and a reputation for poor fiscal responsibility.
All of which is rubbish. When that falsehood is allowed to dominate the argument for austerity over stimulus, it not only holds our nation back, but deprives the average working Australian of their share of the nation’s wealth.
That falsehood comes from “the markets”.
The lessons of the GFC have been ignored. It was the excessive greed of the investment bankers of Wall Street that brought the world to its knees.
For that, they were exposed for the criminals that they were and rewarded with bailouts that enabled them to continue doing what they do best: ruin peoples’ lives.
While millions suffered losing their homes, their jobs, their families and many, their lives, greedy bankers were given the means and the all-clear, to carry on.
This was the result of politicians giving unwavering support for the markets. This was the result of politicians ignoring the needs of the people and pandering to their masters.
There is none among us today, who can say we are better for the experience of the GFC, because we are not. Except those who caused it. Once again they have been let off with no more than a wrap on the knuckles.
But there are signs that the people have had enough. Trump, Brexit, this Australian election and doubtless other examples gone unreported, there are signs the people are saying, “a pox on all their houses.”
The stone has been dislodged and is collecting the moss as it rolls. People are waking up. The difficulty they face is expressing themselves in ways that hit home. At the moment, social media is their voice and elections are their best weapon.
It was, perhaps, best illustrated in a Facebook discussion this week, around the election of Pauline Hanson to the senate. Emotions were pretty strong in the post-election wrap and as one would expect, not much of it was complimentary to Miss Hanson.
One comment, however, looked beyond the simplicity of the senate result to reflect on the much deeper problem of inequality. If comments like this are ignored by government, we will see a continuation and proliferation of minor party and independent support in future elections.
The author is Francesca Agosti, and this is what she wrote:
“(Pauline Hanson) is a reflection of the worldview of many Australians. Racist, xenophobic, fearful, intolerant, superior, self-entitled, and full of hatred for anything that isn’t WASP. She reflects a certain view in this country, a popular view in fact, and this is why she was successful in garnering the third highest primary vote in this election. Scary stuff, but a reflection of the white supremacist colonial racist underbelly of this country that is not so hidden any more. The racists are coming out of the woodwork to proudly ‘reclaim’ their country. And the fact that people are so disillusioned with the general state of play, the loss of jobs, high cost of living, housing unaffordability, the erosion of health and education services, greater instability in the Middle East and Europe, the looming threat of climate change, the rampant greed that is fuelling social inequality and redistributing wealth to the already affluent, all these things are empowering people like Hanson to rise to the top of the heap again, like flotsam and jetsam. She is a reflection of the general malaise and feeling of uneasiness that people have in a world that is slowly imploding while our leaders fiddle around in their underpants.”
The social, cultural and economic malaise we find ourselves in today, the malaise that drives people to support and vote for candidates outside the major parties, is real and deserves far more attention than either Liberal or Labor gave it.
If political parties continue to pander to the markets and ignore what is happening under their very noses, they will suffer the consequences. The message is simple; the people are speaking. Ignore them at your peril.
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