Ante eulogy for a political pornographer

By Paul Smith In anticipation of the day when John Howard shuffles off…

Inglorious Inertia: The Albanese Government and Julian Assange

The sham that is the Assange affair, a scandal of monumental proportions…

Victorian MLC Moira Deeming: the pretty face of…

“I can’t wait until I’m legally able to hunt you down.” This curse…

Science & Technology Australia welcomes National Reconstruction Fund

Science & Technology Australia Media Release The nation’s peak body representing 115,000 Australian…

Calculated Exoneration: Command Responsibility and War Crimes in…

Being the scapegoat of tribal lore cast out with the heavy weight…

The Voice: Remember When The Liberals Were Still…

At the moment we're witnessing the Liberal Party at their absurd best.…

Nazis on our streets: don't judge protesters by…

On some level, it is straightforward for a Neo-Nazi protest to be…

Whither Constitutional Change?

Within a very short space of time, we are going to be…


Tag Archives: Neo-Liberalism

Australian and Global Political Subversion, Global Corporatism and Neo-Liberalism

Is Australia on its way to becoming a plutocracy? Andreas Bimba investigates and discovers that the answer is a frightening ‘yes’.

The neo-conservatives in the Australian Liberal, National and Labor (yes Labor) parties are not just more right wing than before, they through their actions rather than their words appear to be disciples of the Institute of Public Affairs and other nests of this poisonous ideology such as the Tea Party in the US. I suspect that these people are on the balance of probabilities trying to subvert our democracies with many parallels with the methods used by a rather famous Austrian in Germany many years ago.

This ideology can be called global corporatism or neo-liberalism, it doesn‘t sound as scary as communism or fascism but give it some more time and we may see. It‘s a lot more than being just about economics, I suspect it‘s actually also about political subversion of the worlds democracies and even many of its dictatorships.

How could this be true and why would these people do such a thing? After all many nice old grannies would love to have Tony Abbott as a pet.

Just think if all the world‘s nations were all neutered so that laws that benefited citizens could no longer be passed. Does this sound like the current US Senate and Congress to you? This means that corporations are then FREE to accumulate wealth and do as they please unencumbered by taxation, regulations, red or green tape, any courts, labour laws, environment protection laws, international laws, high wage costs or international institutions like the UN and the international court of justice and indeed any laws. Total freedom or corporate nirvana? Gee I would vote for that, freedom is good and even more freedom is gooder or something like that and besides everyone knows socialism is the root of all evil. Rupert keeps telling me this so it must be true, I think, oh that hurt, no more thinking just do what he says, yeah that‘s it and God bless Ame…

US President Barak Obama and his current Democrat government as well as a small number of brave politicians may be the last remnants of genuine democracy (i.e. for the benefit of the people) at the national level in the United States but don‘t forget that this government also fears the power of the corporations which probably explains why they are also pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and are also still promoting neo-liberalism economics at least half heartedly.

The United States is well on the way to becoming a plutocracy but countries like Australia are not far behind. In the US, politics has become so warped that proponents of governments acting in the best interests of the people, compliance with the constitution and for the correct functioning of the democratic system of government, are derided perversely as socialists or even communists. If anything it is those that pull the levers behind the Tea Party movement that are trying to subvert democracy in the US (& globally) and implement the fundamentally undemocratic and totalitarian ideology of global corporatism.

I suppose the logical end point of this perverted political subversion is something like a more capitalist version of George Orwell‘s 1984 or Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World. A particularly horrible world that even it‘s proponents will eventually live and die miserably in.

The fossil fuel industry is probably the main driver behind this suspected political world wide coup d‘etat for an obvious reason. They no doubt think that they stand to lose a lot of money if CO2 emissions are effectively curtailed to prevent catastrophic climate change and they are right only up to a point in time; as it is the Earth that will stop them in the end and destroy their wealth in any case if they can‘t be restrained.

I‘m interested to know on which planet those behind this suspected insanity of unconstrained burning of fossil fuels intend to live if they are allowed to wreck this planets eco system? The financial wealth of the fossil fuel corporations will also in the end come to nothing if they do succeed in their apparent perverse aim of burning all the world‘s fossil fuel reserves. The human species is indeed the most dangerous and destructive of all but we simply cannot allow this to come to pass.

Not all corporations are evil like much of the current fossil fuel industry, most are actually quite ethical and are just acting in their own best interests as indeed they should. Why pay taxes when the tax laws are so designed that you no longer need to pay tax by using a little imagination?

The rule of law has not yet been subverted in Australia, but Queensland under former Premier Campbell Newman got close and Tony Abbott and his less obvious friends like Bill Shorten, yes Shorten, are working around that problem at this very moment.

Current examples of steps (either in part or totally) that have been undertaken or proposed by either the Liberal and National Party conservative coalition and the Australian Labor Party while in government to strengthen the march toward global corporatism in Australia are: the free trade agreements; the dogmatic and blind promotion of total world free trade and globalisation regardless of contrary economic evidence; the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); the anti-terrorism (also read anti-environmentalist and anti-citizens rights laws); the ever increasing capacity and scope of state security bodies to spy on, arrest and detain citizens that have not actually broken any laws; the attempts to prevent access by citizens to a truthful, independent and relevant media (cuts to the ABC, attempts to destroy Fairfax, access only to media pulp, infotainment and partisan political propaganda from Rupert and friends); the attempts to destroy the freedom of the internet; restriction of the use of social networking such as facebook and twitter by broadly defined so called enemies of the state; the demonisation of labour unions and tough laws designed to neuter them; selective policing and law enforcement for example environmentalists are beaten and thrown in jail while those responsible for major financial fraud usually escape sanction; the use of scapegoats and the exploitation of fears, demonisation and bigotry such as we have witnessed concerning refugees arriving by boat and also against muslims, welfare recipients and even scientists that believe in evolution (again that famous Austrian also did the same but with a different range of scapegoats) and the bribing/lobbying of politicians, public officials and political parties.

So what do we as concerned citizens do? Firstly hold our politicians to account. Never vote for those that conspire against us. Fight to seperate our politicians from the corrupting influence of money and corporate power. Fight for the independence of, and for truth in, the mass media. Assist with the development and growth of political parties with integrity such as the Australian Greens. Get active and above all, vote only for parties that have integrity.

Currently citizens throughout the world are behaving like confused scared sheep and are foolishly letting the wolves feed us with their lies, scare and intimidate us and rule over us.

In the US, the wolves (promoters of global corporatism) current front organisation is the Tea Party movement. The lies, half truths and worst of all logic reversals (eg. say you support freedom while subverting democracy) of the Tea Party movement must be exposed and this movement must be driven into oblivion.

Unlike the Tea Party movement I truly believe (rather than pretend to believe) in individual liberty, the private enterprise system, prudent management of budget deficits, low taxes, the minimisation of government mismanagement, the minimisation of corporate mismanagement and value for money for government services as well as free education and a comprehensive social welfare/medical/aged care system but I don‘t believe in policies that act only to benefit the most affluent and that discard human beings like municipal waste nor do I believe in global corporatism, neo-liberalism, total globalisation, the unconstrained burning of fossil fuels and the subversion of our free media, right to privacy, freedom of speech, thought and expression, subversion of our democracies and of our institutions.

US Senators and Congressmen could also learn the novel idea that they should always act in the best interests of citizens in their electorates and of citizens of the nation and not external entities like corporations and lobbies.

For those countries like Australia where the independent rule of law still applies and the mechanisms of democracy still more or less operate, it should be relatively easy to chase the wolves (promoters of global corporatism) out of our lives if and when the electorate chooses to exercise its power. For countries that currently have political dictatorships the struggle will in most cases unfortunately be more bloody and difficult.

In regard to international trade; total free trade or total globalisation is not the answer nor is strong trade protectionism, high tariff walls and isolationism. The former generally leads to extinction while the latter generally leads to stagnation and inefficiency. The answer like for most things is something in between and is a matter of getting the balance right. For countries like Australia that have relatively high wages; moderate tariffs can be used when necessary to enable the survival of highly automated manufacturers such as the white goods industry or the automotive industry, that face intense competition from high technology and low wage competitors located in China and Thailand for example. Perhaps these nations won‘t object to the application of some economically balanced Yin and Yang philosophy, after all they practice this approach themselves.

Moderate trade protection should ideally not be designed to prevent international competition but to limit market penetration to a predefined level that still allows worthy local suppliers of goods and services to survive. This actually creates a level playing field for local suppliers of goods and services in the face of very tough foreign competition. This approach is nothing new and an example is the Swedish truck manufacturing industry which is able to manufacture in Sweden and export globally despite relatively high labour costs.

Not all sectors require trade protection. In Australia examples that can survive due to product complexity, local R&D and innovation are the medical devices industry and the pharmaceuticals industry. Other sectors of the Australian economy that can survive without trade protection or substantial subsidies due to natural advantages and high levels of productivity are the mining and bulk agricultural commodity sectors and parts of the building materials manufacturing industry. In addition much of the economy such as construction, government services, education, health and aged care are not significantly affected by foreign competition.

Some thought needs to be given to the possibility of excessive and unrestrained competition through the use of the internet. Current examples are the use of call centres that provide corporate customer support in Australia by using english speaking providers located in India and the Philipines. Information based professions such as engineering, architecture, accounting, some medical services, software programming, IT support and similar can be provided for customers in Australia by much lower cost but technically competent developing world suppliers. Again a balanced regulated approach will probably produce the best outcomes rather than blanket bans or just leaving it to a greed dominated market.

Australia has not done a good job with developing a good national industrial policy environment for the development of industry with the exception of the urgent period of economic development necessitated by the onset of the second world war and the immediate post war period. Craig Milne of the Australian Productivity Council has written many excellent articles on this subject and his conclusions are equally valid for the new sustainable economy. As a consequence of poor national industrial policy settings the value adding manufacturing and associated services sectors of the Australian economy has not developed to anywhere near its potential and in fact it has been deliberately set up to fail by neo-liberal politicians like former Treasurer and Prime Minister John Howard. Subsequent governments have all followed the same destructive industrial policy settings but in the case of the automotive industry they have lowered the pain level for the industry by the haphazard application of government grants which unfortunately resulted in an increase in public resentment.

One can learn a lot from how other countries, also with relatively high labour costs, such as Japan, Germany, Singapore and the Scandinavian countries have achieved great success in the area of value adding manufacture and associated services in the face of tough competition from low wage and high technology economies. In these countries all levers of government such as higher education, research institutions, trade protection where necessary, loan assistance and direct investment, targeted regulation, tax exemptions, strategic planning, strategic purchasing and so on are used to assist and build pillar industry sectors. This type of support initially costs money but it is returned to the economy and to tax payers many times over through extra employment, national economic expansion and ultimately increased tax revenue as well as avoidance of wasteful social support for the unemployed. These expanded or new industries then form the productive income generating core of these aformentioned nations economies that can then be used to support essential government services such as education, health, welfare, pensions and defence.

Suitable pillar industries for Australia are renewable energy, renewable fuels for transport, mining, agriculture, building materials, housing, construction and urban development, municipal and public works, environmental protection and management, education, health and aged care, niche ship building, aviation services and aircraft production, trains/trams/buses/trucks, public transport, automotive, white goods, defence equipment and support, processed foods, fibre, paper and forest products, minerals processing, steel, aluminium and other metal production, plastics and petrochemical, tourism, retailing, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, machinery manufacture, some consumer products, some clothing and footwear, electronics and computing, the arts, film, media, music and entertainment and many more. These pillar industries must constantly innovate and where appopriate spin off new businesses and new areas of economic activity. In the not too distant future Australia should be short of suitably qualified workers as Japan is now.

In Japan the Ministry of Economic Trade and Industry (METI) is a highly successful example of the coordinating body that implements this type of approach. Swedish born Professor Goran Roos who now works for the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne has written extensively on this subject.

Socialism is not the optimum economic system but nor is unregulated capitalism. Again balance is the answer and a mixed public and private economy will produce the best outcomes for citizens, the nation as a whole and also for corporations as the consumer market size and diversity for goods and services is maximised. Again the Australian Greens core philosophies of balance, compassion, justice, individual freedom and consensus will deliver the best outcomes.

About the author: Andreas Bimba is a mechanical engineer and former employee of Toyota Australia‘s manufacturing operations in Melbourne and a member of the Australian Greens. This article does not necessarily reflect the current policies and views of the Australian Greens.

 677 total views

What a State demands, what a citizen gives, and what Abbott and Hockey simply don’t understand

“The State has a responsibility to its citizens,” writes Dr Strobe Driver in this guest article. But does the current government recognise this? All indications suggest not.

Recent history and the dreaded ‘age of entitlement’ mantra

The rhetoric from the Abbott-Hockey mantra of the ‘age of entitlement’ appears to be getting more manic as a viewing of the ABC’s Parliament Question Time will attest; and as other Coalition ministers join the fray. Moreover, the reinforcement that it is getting due to the persistency of the mantra heralds that somehow, some way, we had this ‘entitlement’ bestowed upon us by the liberal-democratic nation-state. This is however, not the case and as much as Abbott would have the populace of Australia leave his mantra unquestioned, there is much more to the where ‘entitlement’ debate. Of course, and as can be expected by a Conservative neo-liberal government, the mantra quickly shifts focus to some within the State not being ‘deserving’ of the care of the nation-state. In order to suggest the opposite of the Abbott-Hockey mantra and that in fact Australians duly deserve their ‘entitlement,’ requires a balance needing to be struck in the argument. One that shows the population actually worked for its fair share of the so-called ‘entitlement.’

First of all, however, the imbalance in light of current political machinations regarding who is deserving and who is not, can easily be observed in two examples: aged pensioners are the deserving recipients of welfare; and the unser-30s are not. To be sure, the reason why pensioners have been targeted as the most ‘deserving’ one can assume is they will form a significant voting bloc at the next election. A reasoning for the under-30s being targeted is they are prone to being selective about employment; and possibly not wanting to work at all. As patently false as this may with regarding the under-30s, the Conservatives have convinced themselves it is true and have set about turning the information into a ‘fact.’

Why the under-30s are being ostracised in this way is difficult to understand as from the perspectives of chronological, structural, functional and in particular fiscal, they will be the ones that underpin the future pensions and lifestyles of the very ministers – Abbott, Hockey, Cormann, Andrews, Robb, and Abetz – who are driving the mantra. This forces any observer to question whether they understand the way in which economies-of-scale actually operate, and/or whether they are simply so slavish to the neo-liberal agenda per se, that nothing else is able to penetrate their idealised version of the way an economy should operate.

Furthermore, by punishing these people in such a way is to suggest that the under-30s are ‘on their own,’ which in and of itself collides with their fellow ex-treasurer’s (Peter Costello) ideal that a woman should have ‘one child, for mum, one for dad and one for the country’ which has as its undertone that the country values an individual’s worth (if only for their ‘future of Australia’ populating capabilities). Here we are some twenty years on and those same children that were born in the mid-1990s are about to get their ‘reward’ for being under-30. Although it is a germane observation, there is something that should nevertheless be mentioned: it is the under- (and people in their) 30s that have the majority of the children.

Whilst the above has dealt only with certain groups in society it is important at this point to expand on the notional understanding of what the State ‘is’ and what it ‘wants,’ and who supports ‘it’ as an entity. The State as an entity is interested, via its ruling elite, in its own existence and wellbeing. This is and remains, a continuum. Where does it get its well-being and ongoing existence from? The answer is its people. More to the point, the population-geography mix of a State is able to shed some light on how the State manages its populace and of course, some do a better job than others: Sri Lanka does an appalling job and Sweden does an excellent one.

Other nation-states aside there is the matter of Australia and how it manages its people and it is timely to talk about the nation-state in general, in order to come to understand how much it has demanded of a given populace. In placing what the nation-state has demanded will offer a ‘balance’ and counter the ‘entitlement’ argument that the Abbott-Hockey mantra invokes. The following is an historical précis of how the nation-state came into existence and why a citizen – in this case one living in the nation-state of Australia – should demand his/her entitlement regardless of his/her position on the socio-economic ladder; and regardless of what ‘entitlement’ the Abbott-Hockey team thinks an individual is ‘worth.’

The beginning of the nation-state

In 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia (TofW) came into being after Western Europe (as it is now called) was laid waste from the Sixty Years War. It was decided amongst the political elite that bordered-regions were needed so that defined geographical territories – what is now called the nation-state – should exist in order to create sovereign realms. In doing this there would no longer be accidental straying into the territory of another, and therefore hostile responses would be minimised because of this understanding. Borders would remain permanent and due to core agreements there would be less frictions and less wars. The TofW would achieve peace, or in the case of an actual war taking place, it would allow for a ‘just war’ to be the answer to any quarrels, and this would reside in either defending a given territory and the expulsion of an intruder; or it could also allow for an invasion into the intruder’s territory in order to establish a greater peace – exiting the territory when the problems were over was also required. Powerful nations now refer to this as an ‘exit strategy.’

Needless to say, there have been many, many wars since the inception of the TofW, however what we are interested in here is how did those wars, whether they were invasions or defence-driven, manage to take place? The short succinct answer to this question is sovereign nation-states used their populations as battering rams against each other–this still is the case regardless of whether the nation-state should have ‘matured’ beyond this paradigm. A major outcome of the scenario alluded to here is that the ruling elite of the ‘State’ were in the process of building their realm usurped clans, groups, tribes and many other peoples, and in doing so forced homogeneity onto all within their particular realm. In simpler terms, the State drew in domestic peoples and took over the role a clan elder would encounter in his/her role in the group. The State then made the people/s that had been usurped its ‘citizens.’ In this process of state-building the State gave ‘entitlements’ to their people in order to keep them loyal, fed and happy lest they need them in a crisis; and lest they rebel should their basic needs not be met.

Of course, it is an arid argument and a moot point to understand that some did a much better job than others (and this applies equally in contemporary times). England for instance, from about 1750 until 1919 excelled at this particular ‘model’ of ‘state-building’ to the point of making England into a world power: pax-Britannica. During, and before this time others were also exceptional at this as well, Spain, Portugal and France to name only a few.The British achieved status whilst the elite began to care for their people, and the people in turn incrementally began to offer loyalty, labour and encouragement. The United State of America also achieved this for their Anglo-settlers, via the twin grips of manifest destiny and patriotism. Of course this was also achieved, sometimes to a much greater degree than in England by countries such as Sweden, Finland, France and Denmark.

International politics aside, it is timely to ask what do Abbott and Hockey want from their populace? It is not too long a bow to draw to say that the Conservatives want loyalty, obedience and a strong sense of nationalism from (and for) Australia’s populace. What they appear to not understand is, that it requires an effort on the part of the State to keep these desired traits in the populace in place. The way in which a government can achieve this is either through brute force which is a delicate balance as the civilian population will rebel at the slightest hesitation of a ruler’s power, or to actually reward citizens for their loyalty and patriotism. When viewed from the perspective of the people of a State these ‘entitlements’ could and should be seen of as, ‘repayments’: a reward for being loyal to the ‘model’ that influences and controls their lives on a day-to-day basis, and one that the ruling elite continually force upon them.

Australia: 2014

The upshot of the above when seen from a different perspective is to suggest that the State under Abbott, Hockey and Andrews has no, or at the very least a declining, duty-of-care to some of its citizens – in this case the under-30s. The under-30s are not in need of care by the State as they are essentially capable of living on nothing and can find their own way in life without the input of the State. What is more, the shift of an ‘entitlement’ to somehow becoming a handout from the State for ‘no reason’ – even though one could argue it is the fault of the State in not creating enough jobs – is to observe that the Abbott-Hockey mantra has redefined ‘entitlement’ to ‘privilege’. Hence if there is any fiscal input into an under-30s life then it will be seen of as a ‘gift’ and not something State ‘should’ do, in other words the State will choose whether a person is of worth and if the under-30s do not conform to the (increasingly) rigid and draconian State-driven elements (such as ‘get a job or else’) in place they will be fiscally expunged from the State’s care. This is a shocking turnaround for a developed nation-state such as Australia; of a liberal-democratic country; and of a supposed egalitarian nation-state.

The future: a possible scenario

Let’s move to the future and assume that Australia reaches a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region and that a war with China/Indonesia/Russia (one or as a combination) is imminent. Who would fight this war of the future? Surely it will be the under-30s? The ones who the State thought were not deserving of care under the Abbott-Hockey-Andrews mandate. If a crisis of this magnitude happened – and it is important to note here, that the Asia-Pacific will be the next geo-strategic flashpoint – the State would without doubt, call upon the under-30s to show their loyalty, join the fight and embrace the needs/requirements of the nation-state of Australia. However, the State would be indulging in an acute double-standard if the Abbott-Hockey-Andrews fiscal and safety-net austerity were allowed to continue, as it has told them that as a part of the population – those in their late-teens and throughout their 20s–they are not worth the duty-of-care of the State. Perhaps pensioners can be called upon to join the fight? As loyal as pensioners’ may be to the State, their ability to fight a war is obviously nonsensical, so it stands to reason the young will be called upon – as has been the case in all wars.

Regardless of whether the above were to take place is a moot point as what is important is the argument that all Australians are worth being cared for equally, and that it is in fact the duty of the State. The frightening aspect of the Abbott-Hockey mantra is the divisiveness and separation it will cause in the community, and if the abysmal treatment of the under-30s is allowed to take place, it may produce a lost generation that has no hope and no trust in the State. Indeed, in a worst-case scenario the under-30s may decide they have no obligation to defend it as it has not cared for them. Would this ever happen in Australia?

Take a look at Spain or Greece for an insight into what a State can do in showing it simply doesn’t care about its young; and punishes them with austerity measures regardless of the fact that it was not the young who were responsible. The mess their political elders got them into is of their own making and was not caused by the young, and moreover, the elders have reneged on their ongoing responsibilities to their young. A shameful reflection on expecting the young adults to absorb the neglect of the State through punishment and in doing so shun what the liberal-democratic State has historically and incrementally encouraged: a high duty-of-care for its citizens. If borrowing money to care for the young is the cost of a civil and prosperous, well-educated society then it is worth it, as the ramifications of austerity are horrendous, from which it will take decades for Australia to recover.

The State has a responsibility to its citizens as it demands so much from them, and it will continue to do so. It’s time the political elite understood this and were aware that loyalty comes from giving and not from taking away. The nation-state of Australia may well need the people it is punishing today, to fight a war tomorrow.

This article was first published on Geo-Strategic Orbit and has been reproduced with permission.

Related article:

People ‘cost too much’: the Abbott Government and Neoliberalism


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 1,418 total views,  2 views today

People ‘cost too much’: the Abbott Government and Neoliberalism

Image from

Image from

Where will our Conservative government take this country, if allowed to do so? Dr Strobe Driver turns to America for an insight – and possibly the answer.

What to do, what to do . . .

The current non-acceptance of the 2014 Budget by the Australian population—which in turn has been reinforced by the majority of state government premiers—does not bode well for the future of the Coalition as a unified force in politics. Perhaps what is worse for the Abbott Government is it comes on the back of the debacle by Attorney-General Brandis and the proposed changes to racial vilification laws. The seeding of dissent in a party is usually political death as the Australian population witnessed under the Rudd-Gillard years, and Brandis’s byproxy non-acceptance that Australia in now a multicultural country, (some of whom these ‘other’ cultures live in the seats of Liberal Party members) may be a bitter political truth for many a person wanting the ‘good old days’ of ‘Anglo-only’ Imperialism back. Nevertheless, wanting those days back does not reshape the reality that multiculturalism is here to stay. Moreover, the same blithe attitude that was exhibited to those objecting to the changing of the law, now appears to be exhibited towards those that expect honesty from their politicians with equally dismissive statements. The treatment of dismissing people out of hand in terms of delivering a ‘this is what you get, take it or leave it’ attitude smacks of a ‘born-to-rule’ attitude, one which has as its undertone that ‘we’ (the Conservatives) will not be questioned by those that know less. This is a dangerous though not unexpected path for Abbott’s Conservatives to do down. A broader perspective than the decisions of the 2014 Budget need to be addressed in order to find out how this attitude has become manifest.

Free education and healthcare are the cornerstones of Western liberal-democracies, at least those that follow the Western European style of democracy (a style of democracy that the United States of America willfully abandoned many years ago), and it was essentially borne out of many historical precepts. For the purpose of this article however, two instances to articulate where welfare ‘came from’ are the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent demands from the population—this is where unionism also sprang from—to be cared for so they could work for the industrialists; and the wage-earning individual could pay taxes which equaled mutual prosperity. The aftermath of the horrors of the Second World War also placed demands on Western liberal-democratic governments as those returning home insisted the State—which they had sacrificed so much for—help re-join their shattered lives. From this there was a maturity of populations, as populaces realised that the State in fact had demanded (and continued to demand) so much from them in terms of taxes, labour, loyalty, citizenship and even death in defence of the system (through the wholesale drafting of the population in world wars), is to mention only a few demands the State placed on its citizenry. We can now turn to what has happened to America and the way in which it has gone on to influence the world and in doing so influenced Australian politics, in particular the Liberal Party in Australia. Whilst the US has in general a shocking and despicable system of healthcare, one which can only be held up and praised by the most wealthy and hardened industrial capitalists and/or people whose judgement is deeply affected by lobby groups, as the poor are simply disregarded. A cursory Google search of Wisconsin’s history of medical care toward there citizenry is a shocking read to anyone wanting to be informed about adequate healthcare for the poor, particularly under the current governor. America, however, does have free education for some as it does healthcare: those that have served in the military. The benefits one gets during and after service are life-long and generous and what’s more this has the offshoot of building an ongoing military–never having a shortage of recruits. Starving the general population of generous benefits and giving them to the military will always draw in a stream of new recruits as it is seamlessly coupled to an assumption that a posting to a war zone is unlikely; and if that happens the war is eminently survivable. Of course there are other ways of ensuring a vibrant military and having a well-cared for population (examples being Switzerland and Finland) however, this is not the neo-liberal way.

Back to the point of free education and excellent healthcare, Prime Minister Abbott seems to not understand that after WWII those that fought demanded a high standard of free healthcare, not dissimilar to what he expressed would happen under a Coalition Government prior to the last election. And there is the other issue of those baby-boomers that were the children of those who fought and died for their country, they too were inculcated by their (sometimes widowed) parents about what to expect from the government in terms of benefits and moreover, the State should do the ‘heavy lifting’ on their part. More to the point the baby-boomers have grandchildren now and this is perhaps the point which seems to be fundamentally lost on a Conservative and intellectually stultified Front Bench. Telling a baby-boomer (even if he/she was faithful enough to vote for the Coalition in the first place) that their grandchildren will not be able to see a doctor for free is, and will be, a very dangerous political move. However dangerous it is, it is shaping up to be trumped by Abbott’s commitment to the US-style neo-liberal system. Including but not restricted to the cutting of all welfare; a disdain for those that cannot work; the Howard-style belief that private enterprise is able to deliver and care for the public much more efficiently than a dedicated public service; and the commitment to create a two-tier Australia along the lines of the American model. An assured outcome is that of having a working-poor that underpin the wealth of the elite. How does this work? One need not look far to see the system which the Abbott Government wants in action with regard to how a two-tier Australia will ‘work.’ Whilst this is moving away from healthcare it nevertheless offers evidence. A good example of the two-tier system is that of Walmart employees in the US having to have their wages topped-up (read: a welfare payment from the government to move their wage into the category of a ‘living’ one), and this is due to their minimum wage being so pitifully low that although they work five-plus days a week, their wage remains so abjectly moribund that the government has to contribute to their well-being through a top-up—the two-tier system in action. The advantage, however, for companies who use this model is that they are able to claim that people have a job and therefore ‘dignity’; and a ‘better’ place in society. Regardless of the disdain a company such as Walmart shows to their workers and of the executive being resentful about paying any sort of respectable wage—as has been the case shown in recent times by some mining entrepreneurs and other industrialists in Australia—the true ‘worth’ for companies in having employees is the political leverage they obtain; and the power that it brings. Threats of a future offshore location of a business is enough for governments to be panicked—especially Conservatives—into adopting the ‘too-high minimum wage’ mantra. The truth of having a minimum wage so low, as per the American model, is that it in turn needs to be topped-up by government (read: taxpayer) funds. A further insight this offers is it displays the near-absolute contempt a company such as Walmart has for not just their own employees but all American taxpayers–further highlighting their slavish dedication to the Industrial Capitalist system. One could also go on to question where the morality is in taking money from other taxpayers in order to sustain a billion-dollar company’s network of employees, but that is beyond the remit of this article and has been exposed in the aforementioned. The American model comes into stark relief as the Conservative Abbott Government begins to push harder and harder on welfare recipients and works toward bringing in a neo-liberal agenda. What is also of interest here, however, is what if Australians reject the Liberal Party’s neo-liberal agenda; and in doing so see the American model for what it truly represents? What to do, what to do?

Assuming the Abbott Government keeps taking negative hits from their neo-liberal policy, not unlike those that led to the systemic decline and then decimation at the polls for the Thatcher Government in Britain during the very beginning of the 1990s—the Poll Tax being the ‘bridge too far’ to save the Tories, the Abbott Government too will be faced, if the polls continue on a downward trend, with the dilemma of either replacing or politically resuscitating their leader. Of course, they will not be able to depose Abbott due to the ramifications it would have in the political sphere of their unrelenting criticism of Labor; and the unseating of an elected member of parliament, and leader of the country. Therefore, resuscitation will be their only real answer. The other problem for the government will be the Coalition as a political entity will be faced with what it represents to the public: the domain of aging, elitist, out-of-touch (mostly) white males. A point one could argue that was symbolically driven home by the punitive treatment of under-30s in the election. High profile senators—and a possible leader of the future amongst them—Abetz, Andrews, Hockey, Truss, Dutton, Robb, Pyne, Brandis, will be pushed to do something as Abbott’s credibility declines and this will bring about an inconvenient realisation which will need to be considered: the under-30s are the grandchildren of the baby-boomers. Thus, giving credence to the argument that the Coalition-the Thatcherism-aspects of simply not understand inter-connectivity elements within society. Thatcherism reigns supreme. The Coalition’s belief in the neo-liberal mantra that Thatcher instilled (or at least attempted to) that ‘there is no such thing as society, only individuals’ ultimately means they do not understand, or deliberately ignore that there is an inter-reliance within society and this attitude is rusted-on. Within this paradigm fail the Conservative Abbott government also fails to understand that grandparents’ actually love their grandchildren and are committed to what’s best for them. Neoliberalism has blinded the Abbott government to their Western European-societal roots, in which it is the actual duty of the State to care for its citizens. Once again what to do, what to do? The Coalition has two choices, to ride out the punitive measures of the Budget and hope that the Australian people—come the next election—will forgive them for their dalliance into the Americanisation of Australian society, or they will continue to push hard and eventually tell the Australian people it’s time they gave up on Western European societal norms because they ‘cost too much’. If the ‘costs too much’ scenario is successfully implemented and the shift toward the individualistic Americanisation of Australian society is successful, there will be no turning back.

To be sure, the ethics and morality of how a person and/or people have come to ‘cost too much’ is far beyond the template of this essay, suffice to say that Abbott who is highly-educated in theology should be at the forefront when it comes to care and wellbeing of the Australian people. Notwithstanding, convincing pensioners however, who will be in need of the most care that they should fend for themselves and that hospitals, (of which most are an arm of the State), will be reticent for them to attend their emergency wards because they’ll be too crowded by people using them as substitute for their General Practitioner will be a game-changer for pensioners. Yet again, this offers the premise that the Coalition is addicted to the neoliberal ‘American model’ of society utterly and completely. This said however, one does need to ask how a Front Bench which has such an array of deeply-religious God-fearing people on it could possibly resort to such Dickensian treatment of the poor and underprivileged. It must be that they do believe and it is present in their rhetoric, that they know best and that they have the highest moral/ethical values but in turn have a low application of these principles when delivery of care to their populace is required. Everything about health (and education) is ‘too costly’ even if the Federal government is the eventual beneficiary of an intellectually robust and healthy nation.

Should the American (insurance-industry driven) model is embraced it will mean a two-tier health system which will eventually exclude the poor, low-class and the elderly, and if the new education principles are adopted it will also be a two-tiered system. Eventually being only for the ‘deserving’ (read: wealthy) people, essentially those that have a lesser chance of going to prison. This amounts to both education and health being reserved for privileged, upper-middle class (mostly) white people. There is a distinct correlation to the Abbott Front Bench and inter-connectivity in this scenario too.

This article was first published on Geo-Strategic Orbit and has been reproduced with permission.


 2,489 total views

The march of neo-liberalism

image What is the Abbott Government doing wrong? Many could argue long and hard over that question, but in this guest article Andreas Bimba points to their strong neo-liberalism as one of their main failings.

In December 2012 Toyota announced the opening of its new engine plant at Toyota Australia’s centralised manufacturing operations in Altona, a western suburb of Melbourne. This was a little more than a year ago. Although times were tough then with a historically high Australian dollar, a fragmented market, almost no trade protection and only moderate government co-investment (to partially compensate for relatively high Australian wages), Toyota must still have seen a future for the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.

These external negative factors have not really changed from one year ago. If anything, the Australian dollar has fallen so conditions should in reality be better.

What is different is the attitude of the current Federal Government, with their hardened attitude of the government’s primary economic advisory body, the Productivity Commission. The Productivity Commission recently recommended that all government support for the Australian automotive industry cease by 2020. This is effectively a decision that declared an Australian automotive manufacturing industry is not welcome past 2020 and that the government’s key advisers want the industry to, simply, close down.

The Abbott Government has politically moved to the right much more than any previous national government. Philosophically they could be described as neo-liberals who promote small government, minimal government intervention in the economy, free trade, globalisation and free flow of capital to the most profitable sectors of the economy. This philosophy currently has wide support in the community, especially from people who work hard, face a high cost of living and resent governments taxing them excessively and wasting that money on unnecessary social services or corporate welfare.

As the inevitable consequences of this ‘dry’ economic philosophy become better known, public support will fall and in fact it is already unlikely the LNP Coalition will win the next federal election in late 2016, even with most of the Australian commercial media being heavily biased towards them.

The neo-liberal philosophy is, however, an overly simplistic and failed economic philosophy. No one, not even China or India follow this philosophy, nor does the United States even though its business leaders often claim to be free traders but the world is well aware of the local, state and national government support US industry receives.

In a country like Australia with a relatively high living standard, the concept of total free trade will inevitable mean a race to the bottom. Firstly, most of the manufacturing industry will disappear, but it will not stop there and eventually much of the service sector will also be transferred to lower cost foreign providers. The internet provides easy trade for information based industries such as accountancy, education, engineering, architecture, IT support and so on. Even work that must be performed in Australia such as construction, food harvesting, plant operators and maintenance services are now often performed by non-resident workers allowed into the country with temporary visas such as the 457 visa.

The only sectors of the Australian economy likely to prosper in such an environment are the bulk minerals/resources industry and the bulk agricultural commodity export industry. Neither of these sectors employ many Australians. The inevitable end result of neo-liberalism is unemployment for most, and fabulous wealth for a few. The classic third world banana republic.

When Toyota closes down its Australian manufacturing operations, this means about 90 per cent of the components and other supporting businesses will go as well. Probably about 40,000 direct jobs, mostly in Victoria and South Australia, as well as some in New South Wales and Queensland. An estimated three times that number will go in the wider economy as the economic demand for goods and services of those auto manufacturing businesses and their employees will subside substantially. Probably as many as 160,000 jobs will go.

As the manufacturing industry will continue to contract under neo-liberalism the service sector of the economy will also shrink and unemployment is going to be much more than it otherwise would have been. If, however, the Abbott Government is frustrated at every step of the way, the level of economic destruction may be lessened.

With China switching to renewable and nuclear power and also transforming its economy across the board to an advanced sustainable economy, it is inevitable that the demand and price for mineral resources will fall substantially. Australia will suffer badly in such a downturn with such a narrowly focused economy.

The global atmospheric CO2 limit that has been set to avoid catastrophic climate change will inevitably lead to a collapse of the coal industry and possibly much of the gas industry in the short to medium term. This is another factor our current government fails to acknowledge. Much of the associated unserviceable loans will fall onto the major Australian banks, the government, and the Australian taxpayer.

The alternative economic approach to neo-liberalism of balanced trade protection which allows a larger and more equitable mixed economy with a healthy manufacturing, service and resource export economy is essential for Australia’s future prosperity. This approach provides a ‘level playing field’ for Australian businesses but does not remove national or international competition.

So with a Labor Government likely to be returned in late 2016 that is most likely to support a balanced trade protection philosophy, why did Toyota announce the closure of its Australian manufacturing operations for late 2017? Will Toyota change its mind about closure of its Australian manufacturing operations after the expected Labor victory in late 2016? I and a few million other Australians certainly hope so.


 2,962 total views