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The Rise of Mammon

By Bob Rafto

In the 1960s and 70s there was such a thing as the American and Australian dream, things were good, in America nappy valleys accompanied with home ownership and big cars sprouted all over the country. and similarly the same experience was felt in Australia.

We had Medicare, free education, free TAFE and free university degrees that most of the current LNP members were beneficiaries of. Jobs were easy to get, and if one happened to be on the dole it was only for a very short period which I can personally attest to and later on I started 3 businesses on a shoestring.

Then came the 1980s along with Reagan espousing Trickle Down Economics and this theory was also taken up by Thatcher. Australia to an extent managed to avoid most of this theory until Howard came along and started privatising whatever he could but to his credit gave back some of the loot to the middle class.

Central to the Trickle Down Economics is the Laffer curve and at some point in this curve is the magic number of what the tax rate should be and since no one can determine the rate the corporations have taken onto themselves to be zero and subsequently have squirrelled away trillions of tax dollars in tax havens. And maybe Trickle Down economics may work if the corporations paid their fair share of tax.

And possibly what exacerbated the wrecking of economies with tax avoidance was the movie Wall St, and Michael Douglas’ character Gordon Gekko with his famous slogan ‘greed is good’, and since then major corporations went into overdrive saying that their shareholders are demanding record profits every year.

Mammon/ˈmæmən in the New Testament of the Bible is commonly thought to mean money or material wealth and is associated with the greedy pursuit of gain. Jesus used the term mammon, “You cannot serve both God and mammon,” as a reference to Caesar, because it was Caesar who claimed on his tax coin he was a god. According to Jesus, Caesar was mammon, “god of money.”

Our leaders may not call themselves God or have their mug shots on coins but they sure in Hell are complicit in feeding the unbridled greed of the corporations at the expense of the lower and middle classes.

On July 28, 2009, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone cited Gekko’s ‘greed is good’ slogan in a speech to the Italian senate, saying that the free market had been replaced by a greed market, and also blamed such a mentality for the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

One thing only that I agree with Tim Wilson is his statement from his maiden speech; “I have never understood why we tax people more than companies … It fosters perverse incentives for the wealthy to redirect energy to minimising tax rather than growing profits.”

‘We’ll all be rooned’ unless the corporations are reigned in.


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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I would hate to live with Michael Douglas’ character’s legacy of “Greed is good”. Understandably, it is not Douglas’ fault in real life.

    His father, Kirk Douglas, was one of those strong US film industry types during McCarthyism to stand against bullies like John Wayne, who thought his American cowboy image entitled him to predominance.

    Watch ‘Sparticus’, which was made in this period in spite of pressure from the early neoliberals of the film industry, like Wayne, who was just another bully.

    ‘Sparticus’ is worthwhile for studying [as best as we can] for how people’s hearts and minds can be gained to help with causes that will help their and our combined efforts against corporatisation, which in the modern world, equates to the brutal expansion of the Roman Empire of 2,000 years ago.

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well yes, bobrafto,

    that stinks.

    TARGET Apple directly …

    … and show how their success is assisted by tax avoidance.

    I mean to say, how many other more reputable organisations would have succeeded as Apple has, if they had CHEATED, like Apple has?

  3. Matters Not

    bobrafto, from your link:

    Apple is one of several big American tech companies that have been criticized for keeping much of their cash in foreign subsidiaries. Google (GOOGL, Tech30), Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30)and Cisco (CSCO, Tech30) have also come under fire for this.

    But If Apple moved this cash back to the U.S., it would face a massive tax bill.

    A massive tax bill if they actually became ‘real’? Really? The sad truth is that all the companies listed above are (in the main) behaving ‘legally’. So what’s the problem, one might ask?

    Maybe, just maybe, it might be about a ‘sovereign’ nation like Australia exercising ‘sovereignty’ and changing the legal arrangements. But maybe, just maybe, our claimed ‘sovereignty’ is but a ‘fig leaf’? Best reserved for ‘fighting’ against ‘refugees’ and other powerless people.

    And so it goes.

  4. wam

    wow free uni not in the 60s bob that was whitlam ooops medicare that was whitlam oops the 60s that was menzies diligently marching on the spot to mcarthyism.
    Kirk Douglas was paying my father only a small fraction of what his salary would have been had he not been blacklisted,” said Melissa Trumbo. “Producers got terrific deals back then when they hired blacklisted writers—great scripts for very little money.”

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ok wam,

    so even the ethereal film industry needs to be broken down into who screwed whom.

    Let’s study it, so we don’t perpertuate the bastards.

  6. bobrafto


    I do list the 70’s as well.

  7. bobrafto

    Matters Not

    Let me make an assumption and I could be horribly wrong.

    I assume this round robin tax evasion was initiated in the US and undoubtedly the lawfulness of the tax evasion was tested in court and I would say that the judges who handed down the decision were under instruction from their political masters or were bought by the corporation to bring down a ruling in favour of the corporation.

    And this case was used as a precedent by jurisdictions around the world.

    And the pollies here call it a loop hole that needs to be closed but I don’t see any pollie doing anything about it.

  8. Anomander

    Oh you guys are always picking on the helpless, hapless corporations who are at the mercy of those ever demanding shareholders who force them to operate in the deregulated markets they instructed the government to create and are acting purely within the letter of the laws they bribed the politicians to write.

    They aren’t the problem – just ask anyone in this government.

    No, the real problems rest much closer to home:

    First-u are those despicable welfare sponges – those lazy, shiftless bastards trying to raise a family and survive on less per fortnight than our the politicians claim for staying overnight in Canberra.

    And the bloody thoughtless carers – those selfish pricks who give up their any hope of a reliable job, education, and a future to provide care and support for disabled or elderly family members, rather than imposing an additional burden on the nursing home or health sector.

    What about the feckless servicemen to were used as pawns in a pointless and illegal wars over oil and gas – sent overseas to engage in military combat against a guerrilla force – traumatised by IEDs and friendly-fire, ill-prepared to engage in a guerrilla action against an enemy prepared to inflict civilian casualties on their own people, only for them to be sent home with PTSD and other physical and psychological afflictions and effectively abandoned by their own government.

    Or the shonky disabled, the disadvantaged and the worthless unemployed battling to compete against 11 other job-seekers for every advertised potion, who face a casualised and insecure environment where collectivism is demonised, where training and education that was once free, now imposes a lifetime debt burden, or those over 45 who face ageism and discrimination on a daily basis because they are ‘past their prime’ and unemployable but can’t retire until they hit their 70’s – faced with a market that demands only desperate young people willing to work unpaid internships for free or on zero-hour contracts, competing against imported foreign workers.

    And those frightening foreign refugees who chose to pack-up their families and abandon their careers and possessions fleeing death and torture in war-ravaged nations or oppressive regimes, created by Western invasions or puppet governments, and under the auspices of internationally ratified conventions – these people desperately sought sanctuary and safety in a nation that confidently pronounced itself as good, honest and welcoming, only to find that that same country was willing to expend tens of billions of dollars imprisoning and them for no other reason than political chest-beating.

    Or the homeless. many of whom have psychological disorders and medical problems, who live in parks and cars, or worst of all – sleeping in the doorways of expensive corporate office towers, making all those people wearing their Armani suits or their post-gym overpriced ‘active wear’ feel very uncomfortable, as they arrive venture into work with their double-shot chai latte soy espresso and quinoa bran muffin.

    And don’t get me started on those evil old pensioners who slaved away their entire lives and never once shirked paying their taxes on the promise that the government would look after them in retirement, only to now find themselves living in well below the poverty line, unable to pay the rent, let alone the ever increasing utility and insurance bills and who often go without food or heating.

    So, before you go blaming the honest, hardworking, multinational corporations who are only trying to make a modest living for their executives and to put away a few trillion dollars for a rainy day – have a close look at home and see who the real culprits are.

  9. bobrafto

    And that is exactly why pressure should be brought on the LNP to close the loop hole and if we just sit by waiting for it to happen we will be waiting just like the investigation into the Peter Slipper case, it’s never ending.

  10. David

    When the secret TPP comes into force, corporations will have all the benefits of individuals, without the responsibilities. Many corporations are preparing for this by establishing a CSR profile. Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate conscience, corporate citizenship or responsible business) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. I can imagine a time when corporations claim that their CSR is meeting all of their tax obligations. Expect to see more Infomercials about how corporations are improving the quality of life, supporting clubs, associations and other spin doctoring.

  11. Hotspringer

    You are wrong, Bob Rafto, Reagonomics/Thatcherism came to Australia with Hawke and Keating, not Howard. I grant you that the little gerbil and his heirs and successors took the fallacy ad absurdum.

  12. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Anomander @ 11.42 pm last night.

  13. stephengb2014

    Yes Hotspringer, it was Hawke Keating who started the privatisation and the swing to the neoliberal agenda. They also severly curtailed the right to strike, so severly that the corporate neolberal idiology has run amuck since.

    Spot on Anomander I have to copy that – can I post it – to see the reactions on Facebook ?

  14. Andreas Bimba

    Haven’t we had rule by the corporations through the duopoly for a few decades now? Even in the more distant past the wealthy always had a bigger say but with democracy the greater number of ‘unwashed’ restored some balance. In the mid 70’s the world’s capital controlling elite said no to socialism, the welfare state, representative democracy, environmental protection and similar and so they invented neo-liberalism, monetarism, powerful lobbying and domination of the mass media. We now have a pseudo democracy and a corporate dictatorship nearly everywhere in the formerly democratic world. The ALP is just waiting for its turn to stick its snout in the feeding trough of corporate money. The ALP needs a Corbyn or a Sanders but as that’s not looking likely the ethical minor parties and independents must step up.

  15. Marilyn R

    I really don’t care who started it because I know both parties are guilty. I want it to stop! I want to see my grandchildren grow up with the opportunities that I had. I want back the Australia of which I was so proud. In the Australia that I grew up with everyone who was prepared to get in and have a go would be able to succeed. Healthcare should not be a profit making business and carers actually save the government billions. Or is the next step to dump the elderly, disabled, chronically sick and poor onto the streets to fend for themselves. Be very careful of the hate-filled propaganda enabled by the government because that is the road taken by Hitler. Look at Syria! Haven’t we had enough of war and hate. Ask – who profits or stands to profit from this?

  16. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Andreas and Marilyn R.

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