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,
Would your banker lie to you?
Well, if you banked with Lehman Brothers, then the answer’s ‘Too bloody right’.
If you bank with anybody else and you’re a grown up, then you pretty much know the answer..
Anyway, the Australian Bankers Association (ABA) is out and about busily, though ineptly and somewhat belatedly, defending Mathias Cormann’s proposed legislation watering down consumer protections from naughty financial advisers.
Basically, its position is that the existing legislation – er, that would be the one that’s as we speak doing an excellent job of helping protect our retirement savings , yeah, that one – is very complicated.
From there, it argues two points.
First, that the legislation is so complicated that, quote, “only people involved in it can understand it.”
And this is a bad thing, how?
Getting electricity to my house 24/7 is complicated and only understood by those involved in it too. But we have these beings called ‘Electrical Engineers’ who are involved and who do understand it.
And lo, my lights come on with boring regularity when I throw the switch.
Operating a commercial airliner is complicated, but there are these dudes up front who have the knowledge.
As long as they understand it, we’re cool.
So, the ABA’s first argument is, oh, what’s the technical term I’m looking for?
Right, ‘Idiotic’, that’s the one.
ABA’s second assertion is that,because of this complexity, eventually only rich people will be able to afford financial advice.
Yeah, like airfares are going up because of the complexity of operating an Airbus. $99 return Sydney/Gold Coast anyone?
Industry funds, who’ve mostly always operated on the basis of customers paying an hourly rate for advice, with trailing commissions being passed on to the consumer, seem to have no problems affordably understanding and complying with the legislation
And the vast majority of Industry Fund customers are working folk. After all, these funds were started off by unions.
What’s more, for the most part, Industry Funds out perform Bank owned funds.
So, in answer to my question, would your banker lie to you? I don’t know specifically,
But I can safely say, their association will work damned hard to mislead you.
And that’s got to tell you something.
Fresh from his all encompassing failure at the G20, Tony Abbott, along with his trusty sidekick Andrew Robb, promptly announced an FTA with China.
Except, it wasn’t. It was a Statement of Intent.
Tricky things, statements of intent. I intend to win the lottery some time. There’s one right there. And you can see what it’s worth.
But let’s pretend that there really is a China/Australia FTA on the way.
Time to kick back and enjoy the goodies soon to flow our way, right?
Er, not so much.
Turns out FTA’s are a mixed… I was going to say ‘blessing’ but I think I’ll just leave it at mixed.
Take probably the world’s most famous FTA, NAFTA, North America Free Trade Agreement, set up in 1994.
The Economic Policy Institute identified that, by 2010, the US had lost net 682,900 jobs as factories in the US closed and moved to low labor wage Mexico.
But that’s great for Mexico, right?
Again, not so much.
Over one million Mexican farmers were put out of work by subsidized corn sold to Mexico by giant, automated US farms.
So both the Americans and the Mexicans lost jobs in the same deal.
It’s almost mystical when you think about it.
A great many of those uneducated farmers with no job prospects in Mexico moved north, becoming illegal, low priced workers in US cities, further driving down US wages.
So, who benefited from NAFTA? Well, you’ll be astonished to hear that US corporations did.
US manufacturers cut billions off their wages bills while keeping domestic product prices pretty much the same.
Another bunch of corporates made billions selling corn cheap to Mexicans, but subsidized by US taxpayers.
Are we having fun yet?
Well, who got hurt by NAFTA?
I’m sure you’ll be equally astonished to hear that both US and Mexican workers were hammered. To this day, neither group has recovered the ground lost under the agreement.
Back to our little affair. Andrew Robb says fourteen projects worth potentially 20 Billion have been inked. Yeah, right.
See, that’s another tricky word, ‘potentially’. They might also be potentially worth three dollars and fifty cents.
It’s quite clear that Chinese workers will be allowed to come to Australia to work.
With the NAFTA experience in mind, would you call me cynical if I asked, And this will benefit Australians, how?
See there are two golden rules when it comes to negotiating FTAs:
First, governments negotiate hardest on issues about which they’ve copped the most lobbying.
And who does most of the lobbying in Canberra? Riiiggght!
Second, Free Trade Agreements are never actually free. Governments, even those with competent negotiators, have to give up on about as many issues as they win.
So which issues do governments give in on? Exactly! Those about which they haven’t been lobbied.
And how much Canberra lobbying did you do last week? Yeah, me neither.
Seeing a pattern here?
However, there are some things about the forthcoming Australia/China FTA about which we can be entirely confident.
One is that Australian corporations will do wonderfully well out of it.
The second thing is that another group of Australians will end up pretty much like the Mexican workers.
I’ll leave you to figure out which group that’ll be.
Along with most other Aussies, I’ve been thinking about Gough Whitlam since he finally fell off his perch.
Nearly everybody’s had something good to say about him – even those on the other side… except for Christopher Pyne, but what can you expect?
And everybody’s had a say about what, aside from being about nine feet tall, made Gough stand out from the crowd.
For my money, Gough was completely different from every Prime Minister who came after him in one mightily important way.
He clearly articulated a grand vision for us as a society.
Those who followed him fall into two categories.
A few, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard, had visions for us as an economy, but not for us as a people.
Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. Malcolm Fraser did try to make us more compassionate to refugees, and Howard had a tiny, largely unarticulated vision for us as time warping back to the Fifties.
The rest, by which I principally mean Abbott, have no vision for us at all. Only a bunch of ideologies which collectively form a weirdly shaped hole, into which he and his thugs intend to push until we fit, neatly if not comfortably.
But Gough looked out to the temporal horizon and imagined a nation just, fair, confident of itself, smart, looking the rest of the world in the eye; with values rooted in education; a society of which the arts were an integral part.
And here’s the thing: that vision is as valid today as it ever was. It’s just as relevant, just as important and just as well worth pursing as when Gough spoke of it.
The question is, are we tall enough to run with it.
Somewhere, waiting in the wings, is there a leader willing to pick up the baton that Gough reluctantly laid down?
It’s hard to imagine a vision bigger or more appealing than the one he outlined for us..
It wasn’t his physique that made us think Gough was nine feet tall; it was that vision.
Tea Party members, in fact the right in general in the US, are having just the teeeeeniest bit of bother deciding what they want, big or small government.
Now, for those of you who’ve watched the poor dears doing the small government cha cha for years may be surprised to hear this.
In an interesting piece of research, the Pew Institute asked a large group of Republicans, both Tea Partiers and some who still retained a vestige of sanity, whether they preferred big or small government.
Almost all clamored for small. Well, no surprises there.
Sometime later, the researchers asked the same group of people a great long list of questions, including:
- Should government be responsible for food safety?
- Should government be responsible for infrastructure like roads and bridges?
- Should government provide a safety net for those unable to fully take care of themselves?
- Should government be responsible for fighting terrorism?
- Should government keep medications affordable?
- Should government keep our society safe?
- Should there be a government Centre for Disease Control?
- Should the be a Dept of Defense, or NASA, or Dept of Veteran’s Affairs?
- and many more along the same lines.
Low and behold, more than 80% of the people who seemed to be having wet dreams at the idea of minuscule or even nonexistent government, answered yes to most of the questions.
It doesn’t take an intellectual giant to figure out that any government capable of doing all this stuff, is going to be a fair size. In fact, it’ll probably look pretty much like the government they’ve got.
They weren’t entirely inconsistent though. Nearly all the Tea Partiers and Republicans hated the Environmental Protection Agency and the and the IRS.
Well nobody loves tax gatherers.
When Democrats were asked the same questions, they, as one would expect, virtually all answered yes to most questions.
So, it turns out that everybody likes the IDEA of small government; they just don’t want it to interfere with the services they enjoy.
Turning our attention back to our beloved Oz, this all begs the question of what might be the implications for us.
So here’s something to ponder on: What if the swingers, (voters, I mean, not the other kind), liked what Abbott had to say in opposition, drank deep from the well of Liberal GI Juice on polling day, but now are less than keen on what the crazies we voted in are doing to us.
Would explain a thing or three, doncha think?