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.