ABBOTT AND THE COALITION: SOCIAL CONTRACT BE DAMNED – IT’S IDEOLOGY UBER ALLES!

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THE PUBLIC GOOD!

Well the banker says he’s broke and the merchant stop and smoke

But they forget that its the farmer that feeds them all.

It would put them to the test if the farmer took a rest.

And they’d know that its the farmer who feeds them all.’

– Ry Cooder. ‘The taxes on the farmer feeds us all’.

It may come as a surprise for those who live in the cities but believe it or not, the food which you eat doesn’t actually come from the supermarket!

It comes from people willing to sweat it out on the land.

People who are prepared to wrestle Mother Nature for her bounties for which she is happy to provide – but never without a struggle.

People, who with quiet pride accept both triumph and tragedy.

People who understand the duality of Nature; both breathtakingly beautiful while at the same time pitiless and ‘red in tooth and claw.’

People who often live in isolation but have a strong sense of  community – for that is the only way they can survive.

They and their kin, the manufacturers, are the twin pillars on which modern civilization is built.

They provide both the sustenance and strength of a society as a whole.

They provide the energy which drives the wheel of capitalism.

To deliberately undermine one or the other or both, is to to loose the death watch beetle on that society.

The statements by Treasurer Joe Hockey to drought stricken farmers that they should not expect aid from the government but “should speak to the people that they owe money to as a starting point” and that “the age of entitlement is over – the age of personal responsibility has began” revealed  a willingness to abjure the responsibilities  of government in a manner that an 18th century French aristocrat would have applauded.

In 1762, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote of the social contract between the populace and the government. Rousseau argued that both had a responsibility to the welfare of a nation as a whole.

For the populace, it was a an obligation to support the government in times of trouble such as invasion or natural disaster.

For governments, it was an obligation to make laws and formulate policies which would ensure the well-being of the general populace.

 While Rousseau’s notion of democracy differed from what is accepted as ‘modern democracy’ (Rousseau argued that monarchs be elected by citizenry but were prevented from making laws as that fell to the duty of government), his philosophy of ‘social contract’ has underpinned liberal democracies for more than two centuries.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, there have been few nations with a stronger sense of the social contract than Australia, particularly post WWII Australia which saw successive  governments commitment to full employment, a strong primary and secondary industrial sector protected by tariff, and a social safety net which included health and education, all of which produced an ongoing strong economy until the 1990s when the mainstay of the social contract – full employment- was abandoned in favor of ‘supply side’ economics and its focus on the ‘free market’.

Hockey’s statement which came hard on the heels of the government’s refusal to bail out the SPC cannery in Victoria, is a further example of a government so crazed by an idee fix on the logical conclusion of ‘free marketeering’ – laissez-faire capitalism,  that it is hell-bent on destroying the very foundations of Australia as a modern industrialized nation.

In their utter determination to create a ‘free market’ economy, the Abbott government is prepared to crucify not only the last fruit preserving industry in Australia but a large section of those at the nucleus of the food chain as well.

Coupled with the dismantling of tariff barriers while ignoring the fact that other countries, particularly those in Asia still maintain theirs, the Coalition continues to strike hammer blows against the ‘social contract’.

The fact that the flow on effects from these policies will further weaken the economy and drive it into recession and then depression, with an accompanying rising crime rate and social unrest seems to have escaped the exponents of ‘supply side’ economics notice.

For the Coalition under Abbott’s leadership, it’s ideology uber alles and the social contract be damned.

8 Comments

  1. We are entering unknown territory. Never before has any Australian Government shown itself so utterly careless of the good of the people. We might say, in fact, of The Public Good!
    P.S. Ry Cooder? – YESSSSssssss…

    Reply

      1. “How can a poor man” is the treat in store for those who listen to this great interview with Professor Stephanie Kelton on Modern Monetary Theory.

        http://harryshearer.com/transcript-stephanie-kelton-interview/

        The social contract sadly seems to be a thing of the past.

        We’ve gone from having policy aimed at ensuring full-employment to policy that seeks to use the unemployed as a buffer-stock against inflation.

        From “kindness” to “cruelty” in a generation.

        5% of the workforce now has to suffer want so that the “cashed-up” can sleep at night and not get overly worried their hard-earned might be losing value.

        There are more effective and more humane ways to do this but the one that inflicts the most pain seems to best fit, ideologically.

        Great essay, as usual, Edward. And great to see The Post’s new flag fluttering in the breeze.

      2. Thanks for the kind words John, and thanks for the link.
        Kelton is one of the best voices in support of Modern Monetary Theory along with Randy Wray, Mike Norman, and Australia’s Bill Mitchell.
        I urge all regular readers of The Post to investigate what Kelton has to say especially in the light of Hockey’s announcement this morning that Australian government instrumentalities are up for sale!
        Harry Shearer comes across as an intelligent interviewer and readers may recognize him as one of the regular voices of The Simpons as well as the bass player in the movie ‘This is Spinal Tap’,

  2. If you’d call it an ideology to ensure that the rich get richer and to hell with everyone else, then I’d agree that the Abbott government has one. The way I see it, their motivating force is arrogance. They have no idea how the other half lives. The other half, in fact, is beneath contempt, and not worth bothering about.
    I’m all for personal responsibility. Should be more of it, starting at the top. If you take on the job as PM, it becomes your personal responsibility to give due consideration to every sector of the community. If you’re not prepared to see it that way, don’t take the job.
    SPC also has a responsibility. If we as taxpayers are bailing them out, then they need to take appropriate measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But selling Australia to foreign interests isn’t it. They way they’re going, the Australian PM will be a token puppet manipulated by offshore interests.

    Reply

    1. I appreciate your feedback Helen. Yes, without a doubt the Abbott government has an agenda to ensure the rich get richer and utter contempt for for those on the lower rungs of the ladder. The SPC question is a thorny issue. Do you on one hand bail-out a company which is part of a multi-national conglomerate and whose CEO pays himself 7.million p.a. or do you subsidize a company which is the only remaining fruit preserving industry in Australia and therefore saving not only the workers but the community which supports them? I go for the latter. Perhaps I should add another point. It’s not the taxpayer who is subsidizing them in the sense that the money is coming out of yours and my pocket – it comes out of the government’s pockets and governments such as Australia and others have what is known as ‘sovereignty’ over their own currency. This means they can and do create money at a keystroke. This also means that the government can never run out of money nor can it save out of its own currency. Govt deficit is not ‘debt’ in the sense of personal or household debt. Deficits are in fact an outlow of money into the economy and taxes are the inflow. Therefore the Abbott government can easily ‘bail out’ SPC and the community with it (over 3000 people directly or indirectly employed by SPC.) The reasons that they refusing to do so is ideological, not financial. Here again, we see the willingness of this government to abjurate their social contract in the same manner they did with Holden and Ford.
      The following link may be helpful if you want to check the validity of my argument. The link is an American site but the same principle applies to Australia. 🙂 🙂
      http://www.snowcow.com/society/federal-budget-not-like-household-budget/

      http://www.snowcow.com/society/we-save-when-the-government-spends/

      Reply

  3. Much as I hate the neo-liberal nonsense of Abbot, if people are not willing to buy Australian products it is not up to the Australian taxpayer to subsidise private companies. If private companies are not making money they should be allowed to fail. If it is a great concern to the Australian public, these primary producers should be nationalised.

    Reply

    1. Mmm… It’s a delicate balance Nick. In small towns/communities, subsidy helps keep the company afloat and the population in work and therefore ensuring money is spent into the economy. This is also in the governments interest due to the fact that all monies spent eventually return to the government through taxation.

      Reply

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