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Why our politicians suck

Our politicians have sold our country out from under the feet of the citizenry. We are no longer even the primary audience that our politicians are worried about. Policies are now crafted to be suitable to the Murdoch and Fairfax organisations and the big end of town. Exclusively. Common sense does not matter. Nor do Aussie citizens.

So our politicians keep recycling the same old failed policies because they are not allowed to propose anything that might impact negatively on big business. If they do they will lose their job. So the citizenry no longer control our own country. Obvious and appropriate policies simply cannot be mentioned for fear of a backlash in the press.

Most Aussies know that:

  • You cannot solve unemployment by bashing the unemployed.
  • You cannot make housing more affordable by propping up the housing market.
  • You cannot reduce CO2 emissions by paying businesses.
  • You cannot fix the budget deficit by taxing the poor.
  • You cannot reduce our trade deficit by reducing company tax.
  • You cannot make the poor better off by making sure that the rich are better off.

Yet all of these nonsensical proposals remain at the core of our politics. This is because these are the only policies that the press and big business will allow to be discussed. And unfortunately this is likely to continue for as long as our country is ruled by big media and big business.

The solutions to most of our problems are obvious, apparent, and relatively easy to implement. A primary school child could work out a viable answer to most.

  • If you want to fix unemployment then you need to increase the number of full time jobs available and increase the support available for those who are unemployed.
  • If you want to make housing more affordable then the housing market has to be treated as a housing market rather than as an investment vehicle.
  • If you want to reduce CO2 emissions then you ban companies from emitting too much CO2.
  • If you want to reduce the budget deficit then you increase taxes on the well-off and on big business.
  • If you want to reduce the trade deficit then you tax multinational companies in a way in which they are obliged to pay at least as much tax as domestic companies.
  • Finally: if you want to make the poor better off then you abandon using economics as a guide for how to run our country.

It is this last point that is the most significant.

Our ruling elite have decided that we live in an economy: not a society. Economism is now the only language talked by our press and our politicians. Even though it is totally nonsensical to treat our society as being just an economy, and to propose that anything that is good for the economy is good for the society; this remains the default setting for our politicians and press.

Why? Because as soon as a politician joins a political party then they are obliged to swear an oath to protect the interests of the 1% exclusively. Politicians see their entry into politics as being an entrée into becoming a part of the 1%. They understand that our country is being run for and on behalf of the rich so they understand that it is in their best interests to simply become one of the rich.

Of course many in the press would likely label me as being an alarmist but this is mainly because they are being paid by rich corporations to label me as an alarmist. All that any reader need do to assure themselves that my observations are correct is pick up a newspaper and flick through it. The only ‘solutions’ that are ever proposed or considered in our press are those solutions that are acceptable to the rich. Not the obvious ones. Not the solutions that are proposed by academics or non-economists. Or primary school kids. The answers are there. The problem is that they cannot be discussed in our country.

If a proposition is raised that might run counter to the interests of big business then the person proposing the measure will instantly be branded as being a ‘socialist’ or a ‘communist’. Or they will be called ‘naïve’ or a ‘dreamer’. Regardless of how sensible the proposal or how ludicrous the ‘solutions’ currently being embraced. The only answers that will ever be considered are those that are acceptable to rich people and rich corporations.

For example: we have watched successive governments spend all of their time and effort over the last two decades talking about reducing our deficit. Instead of increasing revenue by taxing the top 10% of earners and businesses our press and politicians have focussed exclusively on gutting the services provided to the other 90% of the population. This is simply insane.

For the majority of the time our country has been in existence we have had no trouble in funding services for the majority. Upon our founding it was decided that we would ensure that nobody got too rich or too poor. But twenty years ago our politicians decided that we had to allow rich people to accumulate as much money as they wanted so we had to limit the amount of tax we levied on them. This has led to the nonsensical proposition that the only way that we can fund the required services for the majority is to tax the poorest in our society ever more heavily whilst allowing the top 10% to triple their income.

We have watched the price of houses in our country skyrocket to the point where we all know that when this bubble bursts it will destroy hundreds of thousands of lives. However what is the response of our politicians?

They have watched a bubble grow that has reduced the living standards of most Australians, enriched a few investors at the expense of the majority, and has ensured that the inequities in our society have been growing rapidly. Yet our politicians have decided that they have to keep the bubble inflated and growing. They are apparently reassured when they note that house prices keep inflating? In other words the needs of ‘the economy’ outweigh the needs of the average citizen. The future be damned!

Most of our politicians simply refuse to even acknowledge that the housing bubble will ever burst. They refuse to acknowledge that they have totally destroyed the housing market in our land just so as to service the needs of the property owning class and the banks. When the bubble does burst then the majority of the population will be struggling to survive a massive recession yet the rich will be happy. They can simply move overseas if it gets to difficult. Most of our politicians will be receiving a guaranteed pension that will be sufficient for them to live a very comfortable life so they are unconcerned. However hundreds of thousands of Aussies will suffer horrendously for many years.

It is difficult to see any way out of the current predicament. The feedback loop between the press and our politicians seems to be impossible to break. Even the silliest and the most heartless of ideas will not only be supported but will be extrapolated upon and celebrated.

When our politicians propose that the best way to reduce unemployment is to bash the unemployed harder – our press simply suggests new and exciting ways to increase the pressure on these most vulnerable citizens.

When our politicians propose to reduce services because they have reduced the taxes paid by the rich to the point where the government is going broke – our press suggests that perhaps the government should actually strip away ever more and more services because that will obviously be good for our society.

Where are the individuals in our press who are arguing on behalf of the working class? When was the last time you saw heard a journalist propose that taxes need to be increased? When was the last time you heard a politician say that our housing market is ludicrously overpriced and that the cost of houses has to fall by 70% just to get in line with the average in other countries?

When our housing bubble does burst it will cause a massive recession. Every economist in the world outside of Australia has been making this observation for quite a while (although our press does not seem to report this). Our banks are being shorted on international markets because nobody with eyes to see and a memory thinks that the housing bubble in Australia can last much longer (although our press does not seem to report this).

However there is a faint silver lining to the absolute certainty that Australia is headed for rocky financial times. Perhaps we might see foreign corporations divest themselves of their media interests and we might see our own press owned and operated by Australian citizens rather than foreign businesses? Perhaps we might see taxes raised on those who can afford to pay more taxes? Perhaps we might see our politicians start governing a society on behalf of Australians instead of running an economy on behalf of big business?

Perhaps …

 

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27 comments

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  1. Carol Taylor

    James, excellent and precise observations. I note that the LNP is becoming increasingly shrill in it’s support of maintaining the status quo of elitism. This elitist way of operating in on the cusp of being unsustainable because there is nowhere left to cut, prune or as Tony Abbott put it ‘stop the waste’ (when there was none). The only remaining options before facing the inevitable, that it’s the upper class welfare and handouts which is unsustainable is to attempt to demonise yet another group of vulnerable people (eg carers who are under 18yrs) with the aim being to drag a few dollars off such people.

  2. Stephen Brailey

    An excellent example of common sense expressed in prose…lord above what a novel proposal, someone should alert the press?! The media/press throughout its existence has rarely been the beacon of truth they paint themselves more of a dog leaping at the behest of wealthy and powerful interests. But the curent situation where seemingly feeble, morally corrupt politicians blatantly lie over and over again and never held accountable is beyond anything I imagined possible!

  3. Miriam English

    And to think that not long ago Australia had the highest rate of home ownership in the world! Now you have to be very well-off to afford a house. I think most houses now are bought on the never-never as part of a weird ponzi scheme squeezing ever more money from those who can least afford it.

    The really sick part is that when it all comes crashing down the politicians will cry crocodile tears at it all being so unexpected and rush to help the poor dear billionaires by handing them massive bundles of money as a “bail-out”. Many people will lose their homes and the damn homes will sit empty and idle. Other than that, nothing will change. The press will snarl that it’s all the fault of the people who over-burdened themselves with mortgages and the new homeowners who didn’t see the imminent collapse coming. The politicians and the press will join in belittling these people all the more and renew their attacks on the poor.

    In the words of Creedence Clearwater Revival, “I see a bad moon rising. I see trouble on the way.”

  4. Christian Marx

    Nothing less than a revolution will stop the twin cancers of big business and mainstream media. The capitalists system has got to go. It causes nothing but war, poverty, massive inequality, and corrupts democracy.

  5. Möbius Ecko

    Below is a current example of how this L-NP government is handing over the role of government to big business, in this case it’s Defence contracting.

    Senior engineering and technical public servants working in Defence have gone on strike for one week over what it says is the handing of their responsibilities to contractors without any oversight or scrutiny. In major Navy projects worth billions there are next to no government engineers, technicians or architects in the process, it’s been given to the contractors to handle.

    And how are the contractors handling it?

    In just one example they are using a contracted engineer at $500,000pa for a job an APS was doing at $130,000pa.

    You now have to wonder how many millions these big mostly foreign Defence companies are ripping the Australian taxpayers off for.

    For a government that goes on and on about a debt crisis and the need to slash spending it sure is wasting huge amounts ever since it got into power. But then again this has nothing to do with a manufactured debt crisis, a debt that in large part is of their own making, but everything to do with shifting public money from one less well off and powerless sector to an already very wealthy and powerful one.

    This ably illustrates everything that is wrong the L-NP and their very flawed philosophy. It also ably illustrates how since getting into power they have stuffed up just about everything they have touched or are going to touch.

    And of course it’s Labor’s fault.

  6. z

    Most Aussies know that:

    You cannot solve unemployment by bashing the unemployed.
    You cannot make housing more affordable by propping up the housing market.
    You cannot reduce CO2 emissions by paying businesses.
    You cannot fix the budget deficit by taxing the poor.
    You cannot reduce our trade deficit by reducing company tax.
    You cannot make the poor better off by making sure that the rich are better off.

    but, most Aussies can do nothing if there are “cannots” just happening

  7. Michael Taylor

    I thought similarly after the PwC report was released, Mobius. Christian Porter used the report to attack the unemployed. The first thing I thought was “Why did they have to contract PwC in the first place?” I worked in the department that analysed Centrelink data, where any number of people could have produced the report that the government probably paid PwC millions to analyse. We used to produce similar reports on a monthly basis. Piece of cake. I’m guessing that the ‘findings’ were already determined beforehand, and all PwC had to do was neatly fill in the pieces.

    How does the old saying go? “Never order an enquiry until you first know what the outcome will be”.

  8. Mike Stasse

    For the majority of the time our country has been in existence we have had no trouble in funding services for the majority.

    YES BUT………… for the past 150 years we have been able to have unfettered growth off the back of ever cheaper and ever more abundant fossil fuels containing ever growing amounts of surplus energy. This is now finished. We are at Limits to growth, as predicted over forty years ago. We need a total reboot.

    The elites are actually desperately scraping the bottom of the barrel……

  9. Möbius Ecko

    Migs it will be the same for the Gonski report that the education minister Simon Birmingham used to state the entire system is corrupt and will be disbanded to be replaced by his own.

    For absolute certainty the system that Birmingham will offer the States will be one where the Federal Government through him has total control. It will not be in anyway an independent fairness based model.

    This is something this government has been doing ever since it got power. Bit by bit investing more power into the individual minister. It was highlighted yesterday over the Liberal’s corruption with Queensland Water Holdings where they attempted to blame the Queensland Labor government for letting the contracts to Liberal Party members but it turned out Barnaby Joyce had the sole final say.

    Yes that’s right, yet another Liberal Party corruption scandal giving millions of tax payers money to the boys, but one that has mostly gone under the radar so far. If this was Labor it would have been bold and loud headlines across the MSM.

  10. Allan Richardson

    And what a statement from the eminent Professor Ed Wilson, one of the foremost biodiversity experts in the world, and who was mostly non-political.

  11. Harquebus

    A pretty good article.

    There are no viable solutions coming from the political and elite classes.
    Reducing populations would solve the unemployment and housing problems. We also wouldn’t need to borrow vast amounts to build more energy guzzling infrastructure. Reducing them substantially will reduce pollution and put less strain on natural resources and the environment.

    As Mike Stasse stated, we have reached the limits to growth. If one looks deep enough, most problems result from the quest to provide growth at any cost and not for no actual benefit but, to our detriment.

    Is the current system and hierarchy worth saving? What the hell for and for who? So those that have screwed us all along can continue our butt ache?

    The current system is unsustainable, everyone knows it, no one is doing anything about it. It is going to crash and is probably the only thing that can save the environment and lower CO2 emissions.

    Overshoot is behind us. Who are you going to steal from when shop shelves are bare?

  12. Sam Greene

    Brilliant yet simple . If every politician was to put in writing their opinion on the six main points . OOPS ,sorry I got carried away there for a moment .

  13. Leep

    the article was good and made one wish it was not so, but I wish you would take the risk and call a spade a spade the politicians who have that philosophy are liberal national party instead of making out that all politicians are of the same mindset. The labor political philosophy is in general in direct contrast to the LNP so would you please make your writings more specific instead of tarring all politicians with same brush.

  14. Miriam English

    Harquebus, beginning with “reducing populations” as your solution makes everybody’s eyes glaze over (except perhaps potential mass murderers). And you’re wrong. The problem is not actually growth.

    There are two main problems:

    1. The growth of waste. We use more than 90% more resources (including energy) than we need for a luxurious lifestyle. We continually grow this as if it accomplishes something positive, when it’s actually destroying our world.

    2. Inequity. By making a miniscule number of people obscenely rich and the rest live in poverty we guarantee high population growth. The only reliable and publicly acceptable way to reduce population growth is by increasing the standard of living of everybody so that poverty is eliminated.

    We can grow our economy without limit if we concentrate on culture rather than physical possessions. My computer doesn’t use any more resources whether it holds one piece of music or a thousand songs. It’s no heavier when it contains ten thousand books instead of one. The imagination is an essentially unlimited thing.

    We need to limit physical resource and energy use. That’s actually very simple. We’ve had the technology for both for some time. We’re just not using it. Governments used to pass laws requiring vehicles to get a certain level of fuel efficiency, or to make refrigerators and washing machines carry energy efficiency ratings. We need more of that. Unfortunately we’ve left it very late. But if we actually try instead of giving up we could really make some genuine changes… even at this late stage. We could even avoid disaster.

  15. Miriam English

    Unfortunately Labor are all too often just as bad as the LNP. Labor have okayed the Adani coal mine in QLD. Labor have reneged on the promised moratorium on fracking in NT. Labor are preventing an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) into politicians. Labor have sided with the LNP more often than they’ve tried to stop the the awful LNP legislation (60% vs 40%).

    Labor used to be much, much better (in my opinion) and still have the potential to be much better again. Unfortunately the powerbrokers in the party appear to have sold out to big money. Maybe that will change. I certainly hope so. There are lots of wonderful people in the Labor movement. Sadly the party is sick at the moment, so James’ article does apply to Labor as well… and a great many other politicians too. Of course there are some honest politicians — some of them in Labor (likely some in the LNP too), but on the whole our politicians suck… badly.

  16. RPerssons

    Just a thought. George Christianson threatening to quit over back packer tax. Says Australians wont work picking fruit etc. Well those on unemployment should be given a level playing field and have the same rate of tax as back packers to do same job. Might find some willing to do what was traditional years ago. Cane cutting in the north then fruit picking Nsw. Yes they would spend all their wages in Australia.

  17. Harquebus

    I hear you Miriam.
    We’ve had this argument before.
    Agree wholeheartedly with your second.

    “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” — Mark Twain

    Avagoodwun.

  18. Alan Baird

    I agree Harquebus. We continue to put the squeeze on earth and I can’t see ANY chance of reversing the obscene inequity. The big end of town will peddle influence over both sides and THEIR horses will never be too frightened. Hoi polloi will be kept ignorant by the media of the same Big End. Growth will continue to be a messy business and only a tiny minority will ever question its inexorable… er… growth? Even now, economists consider things are fine if the population goes up and the GDP rises even if Joe Average treads water… for decades, as in USA. Right now Joe’s getting annoyed about Muslims and Mexicans and is likely to vote for the guy who’ll cruel his chances of paying for his next medical intervention. He thinks that’s great. One doesn’t HAVE to be stupid but it does assist considerably. I find cynicism helps. Never expect too much from your elected representatives and that way you won’t be disappointed.
    Quote: A.Buzo: Definition of “disillusionment”: the party you voted for becomes government.

  19. Harquebus

    Mike.
    That was a good link. I found lots of other good stuff on that site.
    Thanks

  20. JEANETTE

    At 71I have just returned from travelling solo to 5 countries in 5 weeks, not in a fancy cruise ship, perish the thought, or any other means of luxury travel, rather by bus and train. In the workforce for 50 years paid debt and taxes this was my thank you to me. Speaking rough French a little German, greetings in Turkish I had many a long conversation with local people at restaurants, train stations etc. The fears of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is on everyone’s mind, lack of a clear future etc, in Turkey, the coup who really orchestrated this, the press played this on and on, for what reason? The horror that all is not right in Turkey by the press here and abroad has done a lot of damage to the tourist economy, therefore eroding confidence. I walked to restaurants at night in Instanbul, Nice, and Berlin, heavily populated cities and not once did I have any fear. However, what did bring to mind on many occasion was the small mindness of Australians. It can be as humane as the Turkish treatment of their stray cats and dogs,the camps for refugees on their border. Did you know that not 1$ has been paid by the US or other countries who promised financial assistance to Turkey for doing this, did you know that just prior to the Turkish coup 2 British warships were placed at Cyprus, (check your own history of Cypress) CIA agents were in Istanbul, do you not think that the US had a hand in the murder of the wedding guests? Why to split Syria into 3 and economic control of oil over the Saudis.

    There is a much bigger picture going on here, we have had successive weak governments who jump to the call of the US…poor us when China is our biggest trading partner. Why was there a Brexit because the Eurozone is manipulated by the wealthy, and non tax paying coys., making people work for less wages by bringing in foreign workers. I was on a bus in Germany, a Hungarian bus and driver, a Passenger Liaison woman from some Balkan country. When I asked did they live in Germany, no, the bus driver at the end of the trip had to drive 1000 kms back to Hungary, when I queried why they were working in Germany, they replied it was a job.. These 2 people were not paid a wage for their services, they relied solely on the tips from passengers. Now I am aware that this happens on tourist ships but the widespread implications are that this is coming to a town/city near you.

    457 visas are here as everyone is aware, to drive down wages, no need to union bash, bring in underpaid labour. This further erodes the opportunities for the unemployed, the underemployed young and old. In many areas funding for Tafe has stopped, uni fees will mean only the elite will have this opportunity, creating further a class of less skilled even if the ability is greater than a rich dullard, who ultimately receives a Director’s renumeration based on no skill. This is the real squeeze, the real agenda of the rich, a new world order.
    Consecutive Australian governments have been hostage to big business, it’s time! It’s more than time to demand real change, how do you get that! First start with your local MP, have a go at them, don’t be nice, demand change.

    Maybe

    The rich have to pay more, Taxed on Wealth not Income, a mansion in Toorak is pretty hard to avoid, ha! Put in Granny’s name? Tax Granny
    Change the 4 Pillar structure for the Banks. Beyond the parent bank they should have no other interests in any other bank or building society.
    Investigation into the Banking System from teller to investment coys, insurance coy manipulation
    Investigation into commissions received by all coys. from insurance coys. Did you know that about half your premium is commission. Insure only with a company who can name their underwriter. Many people my age throw their money away to “insurance agencies”.
    Change the funding structure of employment coys. They have to be more accountable.
    Increase funding for Renewables, tax the polluters. Oh yes that will put up electricity more….well your children do not need a TV in their bedroom, have 1 TV, you don’t need a massive house with a swimming pool, it’s over red rover! Turn off the lights, close the doors when the heater/air con is on.

    Without thinking outside the square, demanding change then all the whining in the world will change nought.

  21. Miriam English

    Great comment, Jeanette!!!

  22. Kaye Lee

    “a rich dullard”

    I am reminded of the first interview I saw where Kerry Packer unveiled James to the world. It was tragic.

    And if you wonder why James gets such a free run in the media, an example,….

    “Karl Stefanovic is understood to have moved out of the family home in recent weeks and is ­believed to be staying at close mate James Packer’s Bondi apartment.”

    Hell even the federal police refuse to investigate his involvement in the Macau casino bribery scandal.

    Ros Packer, James’ mum, gave the Liberals $580,000 in 2012-13, beating most corporate donations to the party and dwarfing all other personal donors.

    Has anyone noticed how quickly Barangaroo was planned, approved and built on Sydney Harbour foreshore? And isn’t it fortuitous that the casinos are omitted from NSW lockout zones, enjoy exemptions from smoke-free laws, the ‘Three Strike’ liquor licence scheme and violent venues list.

    In August last year, NSW Liberal Party president Chris Downy resigned to take up a senior executive role with The Star casino in Pyrmont.

    Mr Downy, a former NSW minister for sport and racing, tendered his resignation three years after he was appointed. He became general manager, corporate affairs, at The Star, a position which could involve lobbying the NSW Coalition government.

    He is the second figure associated with the NSW Coalition government to take such a position after Rod Bruce, chief of staff to former deputy NSW premier Andrew Stoner, went to work for its owner, Echo Entertainment, in December 2013.

    News of the appointment comes as The Star gears up to go into battle with billionaire James Packer for a share of the lucrative Asian high roller gambling market in Sydney.

    Mr Packer’s company, Crown Resorts, has been granted a licence to run a high roller casino – officially referred to as a restricted gambling facility due to an absence of poker machines – at Barangaroo from November 2019.

    The authorities have expressed concern about money laundering….

    I could go on, and on, and on…

  23. bossa

    “Politicians see their entry into politics as being an entrée into becoming a part of the 1%. They understand that our country is being run for and on behalf of the rich so they understand that it is in their best interests to simply become one of the rich.”

    No truer words were ever said. We are being screwed by people who are looking to join the ranks of those doing the main screwing.

  24. bossa

    @ Kaye Lee

    Let’s not overlook Andrew Robb. These ‘liberals’ are nothing short of criminals and we are allowing them to get away with it.

  25. Harquebus

    What’s Mark Vale doing these days?

    “The Hon. Mark Vaile AO — Chairman
    Independent Non-Executive Director”
    http://www.whitehavencoal.com.au/about_us/board_of_directors.cfm

    “The poor don’t work hard enough because they are paid too much, and the rich don’t work hard enough because they are not paid enough.” — Galbraith

  26. Freethinker

    Nothing to be proud about our politicians.
    I am happy about this news:

    Australia fails in attempt to block Timor-Leste maritime boundary case
    “Timor-Leste will have its case against Australia over a disputed maritime boundary heard by the permanent court of arbitration in the Hague after the court rejected Australia’s claim that the court had no jurisdiction………
    But Australia says a 2006 temporary revenue sharing agreement (known as CMats) that divides the revenues – significantly in Timor-Leste’s favour, it argues – is valid, and should be honoured.

    Timor-Leste argues that treaty should be scrapped because, six years after it was signed, it was revealed Australia had bugged the Timor-Leste government’s cabinet room, with listening devices implanted by Australian Security Intelligence Service agents pretending to be aid workers renovating the office.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/26/australia-fails-in-attempt-to-block-timor-leste-maritime-boundary-case

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