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Values Based Capitalism: The Imperative of Defining Commitment to the Social Market

By Denis Bright

Editorial insiders at The Weekend Australian (28-29 January 2023) have telegraphed their displeasure at Jim Chalmer’s appeal for a commitment to Values-Based Capitalism as the clarion-call across the Labor Movement and the wider Australian society. The full text of Jim Chalmers’ essay is available online from The Monthly which offers one free article each month to interested readers.

This social market concept of Values-Based Capitalism was embedded into political values within the broader Australian Labor Movement over the generations. It was shared across the political spectrum in Roosevelt’s New Deal Programme (1933-45) and in the promotion of post-1945 recovery in Continental Europe after a decade of far-right totalitarianism and warfare.

Even conservative leaders like Germany’s Konrad Adenauer were strong supports of an active role for the state in economic and social development during the Cold War era.

Tensions have always existed within the broader Australian Labor Movement by a failure to define cross-factional Labor goals quite precisely.

Political values from the late Robert Menzies in his commitment to The Forgotten People stand in juxtaposition to social market values. Commitments to The Forgotten People evolved from radio talks which commenced on 22 May 1942 just before large Japanese submarines maneuvered off the Central Coast near Sydney to launch a float plane for aerial reconnaissance of Sydney Harbour prior to attacks by six two-man midget submarines on 31 May-1 June 1942 (John Perryman for the Australian Navy).

With the death of John Curtin on 5 July 1945 and the defeat of Ben Chifley at the 1949 elections, it was Robert Menzies commitment to The Forgotten People which became the mainstream capitalist values in post-war Australia. A fuller discussion of the concept of The Forgotten People is available online from the Menzies Institute with a commitment to hard-working middle-class people as the core support base for both the Liberal Party and post-war reconstruction. In practice, post-war Liberal leaders were far more pragmatic about policy agendas than this rhetoric suggested. The Banking Act 1959 achieved a degree of control over the financial system which would horrify the editorial department of The Australian today.

An Exaggerated Commitment to The Forgotten People

 

Labor’s definition of social market values for the future Labor Movement is a most welcome initiative from Jim Chalmers. Many potential heartland Labor supporters have drifted to the political wilderness since neoliberalism strengthened its hold over Australian politics in the post-1996 era through complete political apathy or a degree of tolerance with the populist rhetoric from the National Party and far-right parties. A segment of regional voters delivers informal votes or fail to enroll to vote after leaving high school.

This political alienation comes at a time when editorial insiders at The Australian lecture readers on a redefinition of market capitalism with a commitment to the values of corporate insiders from the top end of town to encode the values of political insiders controlling the many arms of the News Corp network.

It is a challenge to the contemporary social market agenda when the various arms of News Corp have such an atrocious record of legalized tax avoidance. Crikey summarized the situation over two years ago (11 December 2020):

Tax dodging News Corp continues to rip Australia off and is subsidised by taxpayers to do so.

News Corp retains its crown as a champion tax rorter, yet again paying next to nothing in tax despite billions in revenue.

Next time you see a News Corp employee or contributor, or a News Corp editorial, opining about fiscal policy in Australia, or how tax revenue should be spent, or how the economy should be run, there’s a simple question to bear in mind.

How much tax has the foreign-owned Coalition propaganda arm paid in tax in Australia in the five years to 2018-19? During that time News Australia Holdings has earned more than $360 million in profits from nearly $13.1 billion in revenue.

The answer, of course, is zero. It hasn’t paid a single cent in tax.

The epidemic of legalized tax avoidance receives regular updates from The Guardian, the Fairfax Press and ABC news networks. Since the change of government on 21 May, reporting of tax avoidance from ABC news networks have become more daring. However, News Corp is often below the full glare of reports because it is a US-based company on which members of the Murdoch family and their associates have a high concentration on the Board. (Market Scanner):

 

As with most top of the town US firms, shareholding in News Corp is strongly skewed to investment management firms who control the shareholdings across the military industrial complexes:

 

Major Shareholders in News Corp

T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. (Investment Management) 68,910,214 18.0%
The Vanguard Group, Inc. 53,787,128 14.1%
Independent Franchise Partners LLP 27,337,033 7.15%
SSgA Funds Management, Inc. 17,052,916 4.46%
Yacktman Asset Management LP 16,516,443 4.32%
Southeastern Asset Management, Inc. 16,054,798 4.20%
Burgundy Asset Management Ltd. 12,903,449 3.37%
Dodge & Cox 10,880,223 2.85%
Hotchkis & Wiley Capital Management LLC 10,008,673 2.62%
BlackRock Fund Advisors 9,266,334 2.42%

 

The largest firms in the US Military Industrial Complexes come from similar financial stables. Lockheed Martin claims to be producing 10 per cent of global armaments in the name of democratic freedom for export to the most gullible or opportunistic political stalwarts of the US Global Alliance.

General Dynamics is the major builder of US nuclear submarine along with the British firm BAE Systems which is the largest exporter of defence products to Europe and the world. US investment firms are prominent as major shareholders in BAE Systems with its defence and digital security arms that serve the global NATO network.

 

 

As a privileged media network, real estate and mass entertainment corporation, News Corp lectures Australians on the value of more high technology defence equipment without contributing to the purchase of this equipment through appropriate tax payments.

Contrary to the faith of editorial insiders at The Australian in neoliberal market capitalism, Jim Chalmers calls for a real change agenda in mainstream economic policy. After four major recessions since the early 1980s, the current inflationary problems, the challenge from global warming and species extinction, the COVID 19-health crises and the revival of strategic global tensions, Jim Chalmers warns Australians about compulsive addiction to neoliberalism as the contemporary cure-all that is still the political flavour for our times at the editorial department of The Australian.

Jim Chalmer’s call for a return to values-capitalism is in the long traditions of the Labor Movement which brought a majority reformist government to Australia as early as 1910 and again in 1914. As it approached the unsuccessful 1913 election campaign, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher noted the government’s record in setting up the Commonwealth Bank, plans for the transcontinental Commonwealth Railway, commitment fair wages and modest initiatives in social welfare such as old age pensions and maternity allowances. These initiatives were of course offset by commitment to the White Australia Policy, exaggerated loyalty to the British Empire and failure to recognize indigenous heritage.

In the absence of a contemporary definition of Labor values beyond rhetorical pragmatism, Labor’s primary vote has taken a dive particularly in Queensland and regional NSW where populism from the National Party on the far right and the Greens on the Left has its toll. Federally, Queensland is left with just five out of thirty federal seats and four out of twelve senate positions.

In the future, The Australian will of course continue to call for more shrill neoliberalism. Jim Chalmer’s essay will assist the Labor movement to encode values which are actually reincarnations of old traditions which predate those ANZAC traditions which were so important in re-defining LNP values in the post-1996 era with professional assistance from News Corp and the vast array of data collection on Australian society through YouGov and other opinion polling agencies which are released selectively by the Murdoch press.

Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.

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19 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    The bludging parasitical liars of the Merde Dogs media muckery have been worsening over time, renting suitable scribblers, dribblers, babblers, blithering bestials of savagery and primitive hunnishness, all to corrupt, deprave, coerce, propagandise, infect and sway the masses to their own fatal self destructive path. USA vanity, egofixation and stupidity does not just start or stop with, say, a Trump, for that maniacal cowpat is a dummy front for aggressive supremacist triumphal rubbish, attracting huge numbers of votes from the deficient and deluded. Desperate cornering is going on, beyond a poker player’s bluff, for the end is a target somewhere for thermonuclear destrucion and terminal damage. I wonder if at least one SS-23 is aimed at Rupert personally. He deserves that flattery.

  2. Mia

    Jim Chalmers has great political insights. He is loyal to the concerns of Logan City in Brisbane and this confronts some corporate insiders from multinational firms and fast food outlets with a tarnished record of legalized tax avoidance.

  3. Leila

    Let’s make democratic discussion topical again. Thanks Denis for your topical article

  4. Stephen S

    “Our bushfire policies changed so much faster than our economic ones”. Never did Reformin’ Jim speak truer words.

    How did his October Budget actually respond to the stark message of fire, flood and pandemic? He didn’t lay a glove on Australia’s notoriously light-touch regime of taxes and levies on resource extraction. He actually did nothing about the entrenched and commonly illegal logging and land clearing. Worst, he pushed immigration to an astonishing 235,000. But now admits he meant 300,000. All perfectly fine with the LibGreenTeal Party and Jim’s powerful “stakeholders”.

    Like Jim’s Wellbeing Framework, his Values Based Capitalism is neoliberalism in Ru Paul drag. Down here in the bleachers, I just see the same old – ridiculous levels of population growth, new record levels of the “export” education boondoggle, the usual incentives for urban sprawl and housing speculation, and rivers of barely-taxed resource exports.

    Don’t get me wrong, we’re a rich country. Treasury can fudge the Wellbeing. But, as Costello Nine has twigged, the top 1-10% has nothing to fear from Jim. Voters want low immigration, but are gaslighted instead. All-powerful Treasury steamrolls Auntie Tanya’s weak Climate & Environment desk. Bowen’s “43% emissions reduction” fibs about habitat and land-clearing.

  5. Stella

    Thanks for an interesting and well- researched article.

  6. Indigo

    Jim Chalmers-a latter day Paul Keating in the long traditions of making the Labor Party more relevant to our times after all those crises since the dismissal of Gough Whitlam to the joy of the Murdoch press in 1975.

  7. Social Justice

    Jim Chalmer’s redfinition of Labor’s economic goals should assist with Labor’s primary vote at the NSW elections in both houses of parliament.

  8. rubio@central coast

    Quite daring of our Treasurer to make this personal statement on national economic policy but an essential commitment to the revival of labor’s frotunes. The tolerance of those controlling Labor insiders will be tested but their attempts at setting our economic agendas has been woeful.

  9. Jim

    Stephen S, “Voters want low immigration”, presumably because many Aussie voters want a roof over their heads. How is an 300,000 extra renters going to pan out in an already over-heated and under-supplied market? I’d like to hear an answer from Jim on that topic. Typical Labor, always the populists with the unions and their list of preferred policies. I hope they are a one term wonder.

  10. Harry Lime

    Stephen S,entertaining comment,with which I have to agree.Neoliberalism in a safari suit.

  11. Terence Mills

    We all know that News Corporation (Newscorp) is an American company having vacated Australian shores many years ago and now has its registered head office in the very small US state of Delaware along with close to a million other corporate entities : there are more companies incorporated in Delaware than there are people — 945,326 to 897,934.

    In fact, most major US corporations are bunkered in Delaware including not only Newscorp but American Airlines, Apple, Google, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway, Cargill, Coca-Cola, Ford, General Electric, JPMorgan Chase, Wal-Mart, Exxon, Chevron and Rio Tinto.

    Guess what, they don’t go there for the climate !

    Delaware is a tax haven, allowing corporations to legally shift revenues and profits from the places where the money is earned to Delaware where it is free of the inconvenience of having to pay tax : very popular with shareholders !!
    In fact, were a major corporation to not incorporate in a place like Delaware, it is quite possible they would face a class action from shareholders for not acting in their best interests.

    It’s known as the Delaware Loophole and it robs other US states and countries throughout the world of legitimate tax revenue and it increases the tax burden on those who do not take advantage of this loophole.

    PS : Joe Biden, prior to becoming US President was a Senator for Delaware.

  12. Michael Taylor

    In an ideal world we would be screaming out for immigrants.

    Over the last ten years the retirement from the workforce of baby boomers exceeded the number of people entering the job market. Most of those retirees had minimal super and are now on the age pension, which puts pressure on the federal government’s funds.

    This would be relieved if there were more workers paying income tax. We need more workers, and these could have been sourced from migrants.

    That, of course, is in an ideal world. It is currently far from ideal.

    Many services in my area are suffering because they can’t get workers. Don’t ask me why they can’t, but it has coincided with the pandemic, so there’s a hint.

    Speaking of jobs for migrants, when Rudd was PM he introduced “Work ready” programs for migrants. This included having migrants undertake classes from job-hunting skills to trade skills. Abbott abolished them, surprise surprise.

  13. Indigo

    Great comment Terence Mills. News Corp successfully chases the marketing dollar with its pay television streaming services in partnership with Telstra. Australians cannot get enough of Foxtel which is streamed into two-thirds of households. Even though the Foxtel Group is a registered company in Australia, there is no mention of its taxation contribution.

  14. Tessa_M

    Why are Australians afraid of responsible government intervention?

  15. James

    Jim Chalmers- Acting in the progressive spirit of the 2032 Olympics and preparing Australia for a more sustainable future

  16. rubio@central coast

    Jim Chalmers is merely articulating traditional Labor values. There is nothing very radical about his ideas.

    The values espoused by The Australian editorial last weekend and ongoing news coverage are the radical far-right alternatives of commitment to the worst corporate values and militarism.

    Perhaps the editorial elites want Australia to become the Israel of the Pacific-steering countries like Indonesia away from non-alignment.

    Australia needs a new media style with more funding of the ABC and SBS networks. That’s our best avenue for national security in a stable ASEAN Region which was once divided by the Vietnam War and other Cold War agendas.

  17. Terence Mills

    I should have mentioned in my above post that there is an international move to try and ensure that corporations pay a minimum of 15% tax :

    “Most of the world’s nations have signed up to a historic deal to ensure big companies pay a fairer share of tax.

    A hundred and thirty six countries agreed to enforce a corporate tax rate of at least 15% and a fairer system of taxing profits where they are earned.

    It follows concern that multinational companies are re-routing their profits through low tax jurisdictions”.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58847328

  18. GL

    You can always rely on Rupert’s spewscrap bend the truth a wee bit in yet another in a long line of now hoary tired bullshit “outrage” pieces. Who is outraged? Annabelle Sussan and other assorted right wing nutjobs. Strangely, I haven’t heard any outcries and outrage at Albo attending the tennis in my perambulations around Launceston. I’ve heard not a peep.

    https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/anthony-albanese-under-fire-for-spending-more-time-at-australian-open-than-in-alice-springs/news-story/031f89bf05133c3ee57cae5000c2f525

  19. Stephengb

    I admit I have as yet read the essay (the Monthly publish it ‘free’ as long as you give them your email address, not that they would sell that on to advertisers !) Besides NOT ANOTHER BLOODY PASSWORD.

    MEANWHILE I have read several commentaries, all of whom seem to be telling me that we are going back to the Hawke Keating values. Now let me see, Hawke favoured restricting strikes, and individual bargaining, both which are failed Neoliberal Agenda. AND Keating, well he championed privatisation and dare Insay it PPP, Private, Public Projects, just like the sell of f of the Commonwealth bank, the Dergulation of airlines, the numerous Toll ways, privatisation of utilities, transport, air and maritime Ports, the “recession we had too have” and 19% interest rates.

    Sounds to me to be a revitalisation of the Neiliberal Ideological Agenda.

    Leopards do not change their spots and once a neoliberal always a neoliberal.

    I said it before and now the media is catching on that chalmers is angling for PM.

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