For much of Democracy’s history, the party system has worked like this.
Each party adopts a set of values and principles. Conservative parties used to stand for tradition, the status quo and ‘Family values’. (They don’t any more and you can read about that here ).
Here in Australia, the Labor Party’s values revolve around social justice, and strong links to the Labour movement. (Though the latter is becoming less and less the case.)
Historically, the strategies (policies) a party developed to enhance the nation’s future were rooted in those espoused values and principles.
Voters expected that once elected the party would address new problems in ways that worked for the national good, but which would still be rooted in the party’s published values and principles.
We can summarize this historical approach as, “Vote for us and we’ll do what’s best for the nation using solutions underpinned by the values and principles we told you about.”
And then along came the Abbott government with a new paradigm, which goes like this, “We have a set of ideologies and once elected we will, come what may, implement policies that further those ideologies, whether they are good for the nation and its people or not.”
In other words, national well being has become secondary to the furthering of right wing ideology.
Of course, they didn’t tell us about the new paradigm.
Now, if policies that fall out of right wing ideologies benefit the Common Weal, then no problem.
But, as we’re seeing, there’s a humungous problem, because these policies benefit only a tiny minority, far to few to win a single seat even if they were all in the same electorate.
See, right wing ideologies are based on economic theories developed and promoted by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. They’ve been thoroughly discredited.
In fact only three times in the 20th Century were these polices ever tried; Argentina under the Generals, Chile under Pinochet and the UK under Thatcher.
In each case, the result was human misery on varying degrees of a grand scale.
Also interesting to note is that in each case, the countries that tried to make these policies work were run by acknowledged sociopaths. Coincidence? Maybe not.
So Abbott and his cronies are in the unenviable position of being dedicated to ideologies that, aside from being mostly reprehensible, inevitably lead to policies that just don’t work for the vast bulk of voters.
So, what to do?
Well, the only option open to them is to conceal the truth; the term you and I might use is, ‘lie’.
The perfect example is Healthcare. Universal healthcare is a fantastic benefit to all Australians. We’re the envy of the world.
But it runs exactly counter to right wing ideology, that says, “If you give the people something for nothing they’ll lose the incentive to work.” Of course, there’s not a shred of evidence to support this proposition, but that’s the thing about being ideology driven, evidence doesn’t matter.
So, as you might almost expect, with the co-payment debacle we have one lie after another as the government casts about for some story that we might believe.
- The country’s going broke. (An easily disprovable and rather silly lie);
- The money is going to fund Medical Research anyway, (which basically acknowledges that the first lie was, in fact, a lie);
- Then, completely out of left field, it’s all about protecting us from naughty doctors. Who knows what brain fart produced that one?
- Finally, from Susan Ley, “oh, it was about protecting concession holders all along.”
All seen as lies by most Australians, despite the best efforts of the Murdoch… well, I’ll use the word “Press” for want of another term.
In a way, I could almost feel sorry for the poor dears. They simply have no choice but to get up each morning and fib like mad and hope one of them gets traction.
On second thoughts, no, scratch that, there’s no way I could feel sorry for them.
But anyway, now you can see why the Abbott government lies as much as it does. It has to.
The truth is too awful to contemplate.
Back in the 1300s, ‘Awful’ meant ‘To inspire wonder’. Over the centuries, it changed so much it now means something really, really bad. (Hence its common use to describe the Abbott government).
Words’ meanings change over time.
And so it is with the word ‘Conservatism’.
The Mirriam-Webster dictionary gives this as a definition of Conservatism: belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society.
That might have been true… once.
Today the meaning of Conservatism is “Cheap Labour”
Of course, most folk who call themselves Conservatives wouldn’t agree, but that’s partly because many haven’t thought about what the word does mean, in quite a while; and partly because they usually don’t engage in multisyllabic cogitation at the best of times.
And let’s not forget that many of these poor unfortunates have drunk deeply from the glazed plastic bottle of Tony Abbott’s GI juice.
Also, those who’ve hijacked the Conservative movement, Corporations, the IPA, et al, go to considerable lengths to disguise their goal.
Case in point, let’s look at the current federal government’s policies.
First, kill off the union movement. Well that’s fairly obvious. As an ex corporate guy myself, I can say with absolute certainty an individual negotiating with a lawyered up HR department holding all the cards, is always going to end up with less – usually much less.
Second, kill off universal healthcare. In the weird world of modern Conservatism, anything the working class gets for free “disincentivises” them. By the way, and speaking of words, isn’t that a perfectly horrible one? And yet so beloved by Fox News.
Anyway, their theory is if workers have to pay for healthcare – and being humans they will get sick, then they’ll be super “incentivised” to work. (As an aside, the antonym is nearly as bad.)
So they’ll compete harder for available jobs. And remember, below a certain skills level job applicants can only compete with one thing: the level of pay they’re willing to accept.
See? For the Conservatives, getting rid of universal healthcare moves us all a step closer to… cheap labour.
And speaking of skills levels, let’s talk about education.
Corporations are spending vast amounts of money designing production facilities where workers barely need to be able to read to get the job done. In many cases, simple colour codes and symbols are used on production lines so even reading isn’t absolutely necessary.
And what do we find? The Abbott government’s education policy is to massively drive up the cost of advanced education.
Managers and engineers will still be required of course, but because the Conservative plan is to make education so expensive, they’ll ensure that these, relatively fewer but well paid jobs will go to, well, their kind of people.
In the Immigration arena, we see the Abbott government making it easier for employers to import labour, thus increasing the available labour pool, which can only result in reducing the cost of labour.
On taxation, Abbott and Hockey are Trickle Down aficionados. Read here to understand why the technical term for Trickle Down is ‘Garbage”.
Trickle Down assumes that if wealth is poured into the cup at the top, it will overflow and all the cups lower down will eventually catch a few drops. But as Pope Francis rightly put it, what actually happens is that the cup at the top just keeps on getting bigger – forever.
So Trickle Down is a wealth distribution scheme – an upside down Ponzi scheme if you will – designed to:
- make the wealthy wealthier;
- Destroy the middle class; and
- Ensure an endless supply of poor labour willing to take whatever jobs they can get at any price.
Moving right along… to the 2014 budget; a scare campaign based on the giant lie that Australia is hugely in debt. (Our debt/GDP ratio is around 14%, the US around 120%).
Yes, we need an economic restructure to enhance our international competitiveness, but no, we don’t have a financial crisis.
But a scared workforce is a malleable workforce more likely to accept pay and condition reductions.
See? Try it for yourself. Pick any Abbott Government policy and think about it. You’ll soon see that the logical outcome will be… cheap labor.
And that, boys and girls, is the real meaning of Conservatism.
Hey, don’t blame me. I’m a Queenslander too and I’m not thrilled about it either.
But it’s what Campbell Newman thinks we all are.
He must do to try to sell us his magic “Lease-asization” plan.
First he said he was going to privatize public assets.
But it turned out that, mugs though he thinks we are, we got it.
The government gets a big bucket of money straight away while we consumers pay more forever.
Meanwhile the government tells us how good they are as money managers. “Look, we’ve got all this money we’ve suddenly got. We must be great at this economy stuff.”
As an aside, it’s worth pointing out that both Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott are paid more than Obama.
Value? I think not.
A coincidence? Again, I think not.
So, when we collectively spat the dummy, Cammy came up with this leasing caper, which takes economic stupidity to new levels.
With privatization, consumers pay more for two reasons:
- It turns out that private enterprise managers are no better, (and are often worse than), public sector managers. You doubt me? Well, how’s privatized public transport working out for Victorians? How’s privatized Power authorities working out for consumers? … Exactly;
- Private enterprise have this concept called, “Profit”. It’s not a bad thing, but when privatization happens, you and I provide the profit every time we pay a bill, for-ever-bloody-more.
Well, so far so bad.
Now let’s look at the Newman Leasing Master Plan.
First, the leasing period being talked about, 99 years, means the asset is in private hands for about the next four generations. Hands up anyone who seriously thinks any government will ever take it back?
Second, the government doesn’t even get the big bucket of money upfront that a privatization would have provided, – (and it’s always possible – yeah, I know, unlikely, but possible ), that some of that money would’ve been spent on us.
But with leasing they get nothing up front.
Ah, I hear you say, but the corporation that’s leasing has to pay a lease fee.
True. But if that fee is any less than what the enterprise was returning to government pre-lease, then we’ve been ripped off. If it’s any more, then we’ll have to make up the difference by paying more for the service, because – you’ll be surprised to hear – said corporation isn’t going to lose on the deal
And then there’s that pesky profit on top of all that.
Thus under Lease-asization we can expect to see larger bills than we would’ve under privatization.
And somehow, according to Campbell Newman, he’s listened to us and this scenario is – or so he says – better than straight out privatizing.
The thing is, to believe that, somebody in all this just has to be a moron.
And it couldn’t possibly be Campbell Newman and his team of intellectual giants.
So it must be you and me.
As we close the year, Medibank Private’s Privatization, (sounds a bit redundant when I put it like that), is done and dusted, and we stand at the dawn of a new era of low cost healthcare nirvana.
Or maybe not.
In any case, yet again the government has convinced is us that taking an entire business and adding a layer of profit on top of all it’s other costs will somehow result in lower prices for its customers.
Which is more or less like saying that 5 +1 = 4.
History should have taught us by now that in the wonderful world of privatization 5 + 1 generally adds up to about 8.5, but no, just a sniff of an IPO and we convince ourselves that this time it’ll be different. Which is what my alcoholic friend says every time he comes out of detox.
The problem is that in the halls of political power, as Jane Austen so brilliantly said, it’s a universal truth that a government entity in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a private owner.
Well, perhaps she didn’t say it quite like that, but I’m sure it’s what she meant.
Ah, I hear you say, but private enterprises are so much more efficient.
But, as the equally brilliant, George Gershwin said, it ain’t necessarily so.
If I asked you to name some of the most efficient organizations in this country, could you agree that the military and the fire brigades are among them?
If you want to see a picture of effective organization, watch a bunch of Fieries arrive at a conflagration.
And our military are routinely required to do all kinds of unpredictable stuff at a moment’s notice, whether it’s keeping the peace in some hellhole, or rescuing folk after an earthquake. And they always do it well. No strike that, they do it bloody well.
Here I should acknowledge a bias – I spent twenty years in the RAAF.
But you get my point. Publicly held organisations are quite capable of routinely delivering excellence.
On the other hand, if you’re of the view that private enterprises are paragons of efficiency, then I have two words for you – Windows 8. (I’m not sure if that actually is two words, but anyway…)
And exactly how well have consumers done out of Australia’s privatization of electricity generation and supply facilities?
For most of us, electricity bills trigger heart palpitations.
Which brings me back to Medibank Private. Take care not to let the palpitations get out of hand.
Because if health insurance goes the way of electricity supply, and you have a heart attack, chances are you can no longer afford to be insured.
But at least you’ll be okay if your house catches fire.
I’m beginning to think it might be fair for Corporations to pay no tax.
After all, they have huge overheads to pay for that you and I don’t have to bother with.
How often do you hear a corporate helicopter fly over your house? You see so many of them because to avoid using public roads, the Corps use aerial transport.
Or maybe you don’t hear them that often…
When you walk in town, you just can’t avoid the corporation police in their brightly colored uniforms. Oh? You don’t have that problem? Hmm…
That strange sound you hear – or perhaps, don’t hear – in the distance? Well that’s some corporation’s ambulance taking an employee to one of the corporations’ own hospitals.
And those corporation employees… I’m sure you know that they never went to ordinary schools. Each corporation has it’s own school where it educates its future staff, right through to university.
Oh, and another thing about corporate employees. They shop at special corporate stores, where corporate chemists ensure that the food isn’t polluted.
When they get sick they go to corporate doctors to avoid costing Medicare a cent. And they buy their prescription meds at corporate pharmacies so the PBS doesn’t have to subsidize.
And when a corporate factory catches fire, it’s a corporate fire brigade that attends.
And of course, many corporations are in Australia because it’s such a safe country, thanks in no small part to the terrific work each corporation funded army and air force does in defending our island home.
See how the expenses mount up.
Well, they would, if any of this were true. But of course none of it is.
Corporations use each and every one of these public services.
But corporate leaders like Rupert and Gina just think that you and I should be the ones to pay for them and let the corporations use them for free.
And it turns out that the Abbott LNP government pretty much agrees with them,