What does ‘snapback’ mean?
Our political system is in crisis because our government fails to speak with any clarity on issues that concern us.
Last week’s Essential Report asked people about their expectations of what would happen to the economy following the coronavirus situation:
“Half of the people (51%) think the coronavirus will impact the economy for up to a year, with slow growth following. A further 29% believe the impact will be even more devastating, with long-lasting impact and recession.
Younger people aged 18-34 are a little more optimistic, with 16% thinking the economy will recover within 2-3 months (compared to 9% of those aged 55+).”
The now retired Senator and Scottish warhorse Doug Cameron tweeted:
Murdoch rags are portraying Morrison as a great leader in a time of crisis.
Give me a break!
He is taking Treasury advice, reluctantly abandoning Coalition dogma and neoliberalism.
SnapBack will reinforce trickle down, small govt, inequality and tax cuts for the privileged
— Doug Cameron (@DougCameron51) April 6, 2020
Cameron’s words in there brevity contain the sting of truth and the bark of foolhardiness.
Only a government bereft of any political nouse would believe that it were possible to, as Cameron said, abandon its own dogma, snap its fingers and return to the political settings of early January 2020.
I know I’m stepping on my previous words here but please be patient. In a short space of time the government (1) doubled the benefit payed to those out of work, and (2) spent $130 million on unconditional wage subsidies with the dole queue likely to remain lengthy for a long, long, time.
For the first time in my life the issue of peoples’ health became the government’s top priority.
The answers to the question from Essential poll show a remarkable naivety by the young with the other half of the people just as gullible.
That said, what of the born to rule party who think they are best to manage the economy? The party who, before COVID-19, was almost certain to take us into a recession waving a white flag.
But no party is recession proof.
Wikipedia tells us that Paul Keating’s recession – the one we had to have – saw 11% unemployment.
The young of today wont know what hit them. Youth unemployment reached 17%; inflation and interest rates soared, and financial institutions collapsed.
I was in business at the time and paying 19% interest on a large overdraft.
Having ticked up the biggest budget deficit in postwar history, and recognising that at some time it will have to be paid back the Prime Minister intends to go ahead with the already legislated tax cuts for the well off. Greg Jericho wrote last week it’s a form of “snapback” austerity – meaning cuts to services will be inflicted on the less well-off. He went on to say that:
“And yet, despite the coronavirus shredding all projections made even just three months ago, the government remains firm in its view that it will deliver its tax cuts – cuts which were not even costed when they were legislated, and which now are based on scenarios of pure fantasy.”
Having now dipped his toe in the waters of flexible ideology why doesn’t the Prime Minister just put a blanket ban on subsidies (unless proven to be in the common good) and the taxation loophole doors that are always revolving for the rich and privileged.
As I said in my previous piece, this crisis could be the catalyst for change.
“Snapback” won’t snapback easily. Having seen the value of our public health system and the part private hospitals play in it pressure will be on the government to fund it better. Or organise it better.
We have also witnessed the intrinsic value of essential workers including nurses, cleaners, aged care workers, child carers and home delivery drivers. Their value must be adequately recognised and recompensed.
Pause and think; should be the mantra, develop ideas look at different ways of doing things, dismiss nothing? A moment of tranquillity that brings creativity, stillness, thoughtfulness and change is a precious one.
We, together with our politicians need to stop and ask ourselves what a society is and what are the aspirations and desires of it. Surely they must be better that what we have now.
They put their ideology aside to help fix the problem. Why not prolong it with ideological forgetfulness.
Now that the government has accepted the science of the coronavirus they should totality accept the science of climate change and recognise that we must all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health.
So why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet and do something substantial to lower our emissions as a matter of urgency?
But having said that, one can picture the deniers of climate change arranging their forces to attack those who believe and don’t want it to become worse than what it is.
Now is not the time – “they will say afresh” and the same old story will be repeated.
We must at all cost resist them.
Those of us game enough to display our naked idealism see a much different world than the unregulated one of capitalism and the far right.
Never confuse what you want with what you need.
We see a society where the common good works hand in hand with regulated capitalism. Where caveats are placed on policies so that fairness, kindness and the colour green is evident. A society where ample time is given to the children we have conceived to raise the citizens of tomorrow.
We must have time that balances work, rest and play. We must plan ahead free of the dogma of greed is good and free of past errors.
As I see it, the simplistic message of “snapback” suggests that governments are only ever reactive institutions instead of, as far as is possible, being proactive.
This must be reversed.
Hugh Mackay, writing for The Conversation puts it this way:
“But pandemics are such a potent sign of our interconnectedness and interdependency, they remind us that sustainable communities depend on a steady supply of compassion to nurture them. Longer term, major disruptions like this one tend to bring out the best in us, so we are entitled to hope for some overdue corrections to our mad materialism and our unhealthy individualism.”
Scott Morrison said “snapback” means, more or less, that we have to get back to where we were before.
Surely he doesn’t mean experiencing the rorts, the corruption, the daily incompetence and the appalling lies … then forget it.
When we emerge from our confinement the worst possible thing would be that the “snapback” principle simply reinforces a conservative view of a world that has long past us by. Let us hope that it is not the destination the leader wants to take us.
My thought for the day
We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence.
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