Neoliberalism is in its death throes around the world.
Increased globalization has led to a massive offshoring of jobs. Compounding this problem is the casualization of the workforce and increasing part-time work. Full-time jobs are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
The weakening of unions has also contributed to flat-lining wage increases and poor working conditions.
As Karl Marx once posited, if the majority have limited income, then they have no money to spend in the economy. This is now starting to affect Australia, with retail figures continuing to flat-line.
Privatization has also eaten into peoples’ wealth. Utility bills continue to skyrocket, leaving little in the way of spending power on luxuries and non-essential items.
What is to be done? Is it time that Australia began a move away from the Neoliberal, capitalist model? What would this new model look like in the future? Below are some possible scenarios.
State Owned Utilities
Privatization has been a dismal failure in Australia.
It is high time that all utilities and essential services were put back into public ownership. The Commonwealth Employment Service was one such institution that was extremely effective in getting people back to work. They worked for the benefit of the people they were serving and not faceless shareholders and greedy CEOs. Real jobs were to be found, not just job agencies looking for advertising space, or to get clients on their books for jobs. (What jobs?)
Government Created Industry
With unemployment and underemployment at approximately 20%, it is clear that private enterprise has failed in creating more jobs. What is needed is a huge investment in creating employment. This has been successful in the past from post WW2 until the 1980s. By rolling out government funded initiatives, we can create jobs and help stop the poverty trap.
The elites want mass unemployment as it drives down labour prices. When people are desperate they are forced to work for very poor wages. A robust government-owned system will eliminate unemployment and provide the infrastructure for community-owned systems, such as the old Commonwealth Employment Service and the once great TAFE system. Privatization has ensured the complete decimation of services and allowed parasitic private operates to provide shoddy, almost non-existent service and make off like bandits.
Fossil fuels have been proven to be one of the major causes of man-made global warming.
Lobbyists for these companies must be exposed and removed from government influence. We as a nation need to transform ourselves into a solar/ wind power energy nation. This, combined with battery technology for every household will eventually ensure almost zero reliance on the grid. It is also much cheaper for the consumer in the long run. Compare such a system to the current energy system, which has fixed costs rising as much as 15-20% a year!
Universal Basic Income
With the increasing casualization of jobs, globalization and the erosion of jobs via technology, perhaps it is time to implement a Universal Basic Income. If governments can no longer guarantee high levels of employment, this could be the next logical step to ensure people do not fall below the poverty line. The current unemployment benefits system is estimated to be $160 below the poverty line a week!
This is just not adequate, and it either needs to be raised to a minimum of $400 a week or a UBI of an equal amount introduced. With a UBI, we could do away with the parasitic job agencies. They don’t appear to be doing their job of finding people work, so why not scrap them altogether?
Dismantling/Decreasing the Relevance of the Mainstream media.
Mainstream media is the single biggest impediment to Australia’s democracy. All our commercial media is owned by very wealthy capitalists, with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and intent on deceiving and dividing the populace over racial, religious, cultural and class lines. Increasingly the ABC is also under attack from a hard right government and all the IPA/LNP apparatchiks infesting its organization at every level.
While commercial media is increasingly being exposed for the shameful propaganda that it is, many are still under the strangle/hold of its iron grip. It seems that it is easier to hate the other, rather than question the legitimacy of the system. What is to be done?
Firstly, alternative media is beginning to encroach on the information gatekeepers. With tens of thousands of progressive pages on Facebook, hundreds of thousands on Twitter and many serious journalists now ditching the mainstream and working for excellent pages such as The AIMN, New Matilda, and Independent Australia, the word is beginning to get out. Real investigative journalism is now available cheaply and instantly. No corporate gatekeepers protecting the wealth of the establishment, but passionate citizen journalists exposing the lies of our sick corporate system.
Forming Collective Workplaces
This is not going to be easy, but it must be implemented if people are to be truly free of huge corporations. The entire structure of a company could be democratized and all who work in said company get a share in its profits. Any surplus is placed into a fund and put back into the business and the local community.
Utilize the Ancient Greek Parliamentary Practice of Direct Democracy.
The difference being that all citizens can vote and have a direct say in the running of the country. (In ancient Greece only adult men could vote) banning all those who lobby for big business for ten years.
Strengthening the Power of Unions
Ultimately our ridiculously low rates of pay and conditions is the direct result of the decreasing power of unions in Australia and around the world. Casualization and underemployment are out of control. Workers have no bargaining power anymore. The current LNP government has lead a full frontal assault on unions.
End the Property Ponzi Scheme
Shelter is a human right and should not be a commodity. End negative gearing completely and ban outright any ownership of residential and business real estate for non-citizens. Also ban any non-Australian citizen from buying up our farmland. Invest in government subsidized properties for the poor.
This is the kind of vision we must start to formulate if were are to survive as a robust, egalitarian society. Every Western society is in the grip of the deathly Neoliberal paradigm. Only the people can save us from a dystopian collapse. Turn off your television, and get active and begin to educated others on the dangers of the current trajectory of free market capitalism. The future will be created by you!
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 page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.
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