In a previous post I correctly predicted a brutally neoliberal budget that would impose austerity on the Australian economy in a way that recalls the sort of austerity measures imposed on nations in genuine debt crises like Greece, Ireland or Spain. The catastrophic failure of other political parties to counter the blatant lies sold to the public about a fictional debt crisis through the Murdoch-owed media was breathtakingly woeful to behold. Greece has a debt to GDP ratio of 175%, whereas that of Australia is the best in the OECD. I quote:
Australia has the lowest debt (measured by Gross Financial Liabilities) in the OECD. In 2013, Australia’s Debt to GDP ratio was 34.4 %, Germany was 80.9 %, the UK at 111.6 %, USA at 106.5 % and the OECD average was 112.0 %.
In a way, although there is evidence that they flinched just a little before plunging in the knife*, the Abbott-Hockey budget was in many way still everything expected of it, with the brunt of the burden of expenditure cuts bourn by those most vulnerable and least able to afford it. Gone is the age when Henry Ford once insisted on a decent minimal wage, given that if the masses were not decently paid they would be unable to afford to buy his cars—en masse. Where, one wonders, does the money paid by a welfare beneficiary for a loaf of bread go? It goes to the outlet that sells it, the baker who bakes it: both parts of the Australian economic infrastructure. Give tax breaks to multinationals corporation, as the government has done, and the money is more likely to “disappear” out of the Australian economy. Nor in the face of the GFC did capital flinch at accepting bale-outs for their mistakes: corporate welfare, where tax collected from the average person is given to corporations who preach the evils of government monetary intervention.
Alas, the neoliberal dogma of the trickle-down effect, used to justify making the rich richer and the poor poorer, simply does not lead to a better or more just society at all, let alone a more affluent one. In future, either we will all be capitalist lords or serfs—assuming we are not there already. As the aristocracy blamed the alleged innately lowly “stock” of serfs to argue the pointlessness of liberating them or giving them opportunities, so too are a growing number of people trapped in the poverty cycle dependent on welfare, but where their allegedly innate laziness and lack of enterprise is used to justify cutting ever more brutally from their welfare payments. Far from it, the disparity between rich and poor today is increasingly reaching proportions resembling the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries:
The disparity in remuneration between average workers and CEO’s stood at around thirty to one in 1970. It now is well above three hundred to one and in the case of MacDonalds about 1200 to one.
The corporate aristocracy rules over nations using the Murdoch news empire to spread its propaganda. The petty anaesthetising amusements manufactured by the pop culture industry, including mass spectator sports and reality TV, serves as the new opiate of the masses. The Murdochs and Rineharts of the world rule as a new capitalist aristocracy, who live in gaudy palaces resembling that of Versailles. They virtually own the government, which, as everything under capitalism, is up for sale—just like any other commodity in neoliberal economics. Parliamentarians in the age of constitutional monarchy did more to stand up to the powers exerted by monarchs than political parties today. Once again, Oliver Twist goes hungry when he dares to plead “please Sir, may I have some more?” Those wretches on welfare are just too greedy, after all.
This is why the metaphor of the “out-of-touch cigar chomping capitalist” used by Bill Shorten to describe the Liberals is already out of date in that it recalls the rich industrialists of the early to mid twentieth century.
Things have gotten much worse than that today, for the figure of the rich, cigar chomping industrialist is already too modern, and too progressive to describe our age. Rather, levels of income inequality have regressed to the point that the metaphor of the peruked aristocrat is far more apt to describe our age. If inequality continues to grow at this rate, one wonders if it is only a matter of time before not only the fashion for the peruke, but that for the guillotine will also see its revival as proletarian outrage turns to violence. For now, though, what rich rewards awaiteth their obedience to the capitalist aristocracy? Knighthood, of course! Arise Sir Joe. Arise Sir Tony. Thou hast carried out thy duty to thy Masters well:
* It has been pointed out that there are some Keynesian infrastructure building elements to the budget of a kind diametrically opposed to strict neoliberalism. This suggests that the government lacked the courage to fully make good with their extreme neoliberalist rhetoric with universally lower taxes and no government-driven infrastructure stimulus whatsoever. If they had the stomach for it, they would have certainly achieved the neoliberal dream of exposing Australia to the international recession that the extraordinary Rudd government Keynesian stimulus saved it from. In the neoliberal dogma, to intervene against the capitalist “self-regulating” natural order in this interventionist manner is evil. However much neoliberals yearn for such ideological puritanism, to actually plunge the knife in by casting Australia straight into the abyss of recession is something even the Liberals have flinched from fully carrying out. So some Keynesian infrastructure stimulus elements managed to creep in. The result is a budget ideologically neither fish nor fowl. Yet, once the mining boom fades, the Liberals may still see their wish fulfilled, as the more discreet jack-knife they have plunged in ultimately has the same effect, since the 22 year recession-free run of the Australian economy has to come to end at some time. As the song about Mack the Knife goes, when Mack the pro hitman strikes with his jack-knife, it is clean without messy splatter. But one must beware what one wishes for, as sometimes this is the greatest possible of nightmares. Once the mining boom ends, Abbott will likely get that wish he flinched at the spectre of. For Tony Abbott seems to live under the delusion that the prosperity of the Howard years had something to do with Howard neoliberalist spending cuts and staunch fiscal discipline. The truth is that the mining boom allowed them to buy themselves into three terms of government, by spending freely like drunken sailors.