I hope you’re right. The prospect of Monbiot’s Totalitarian Capitalism seems all too real to me at the moment.
I’m currently listening to Friendly Fascism, by Bertrand Gross. It was written before Reagan was elected, first published in 1980, and the author notes in the introduction that the first publisher to have accepted it was closed down by its parent company a week or so before publication. (Not enough cash-flow was the excuse.)
I have been considering posting a review in the off-topic parts of this community, as it has some fascinating insights into where the US has been heading - and leading the rest of the world.
Essentially, we might call ourselves a democracy but on issues of real importance none of our major parties is willing to counter the ‘real rulers’ of capitalism. We are stuck between a choice of lizards.
For insights into how we got where we are, I recommend Democracy in Chains. Its focus is the US, but the impacts are global.
And a more recent contribution from a former governor of the Reserve Bank:
Which, unless I miss my guess, is precisely as our overlords want it. Divide and rule.
Precisely. Get people worried about migrants, refugees, or ‘others’, and they will ignore the ways in which their ‘democracy’ is actually a duopoly that votes the same way on important (as opposed to publicised) issues.
This is why Machiavelli is worth reading - he lifts the drape.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Reliance on Market Forces is really just the privileged organising things so they can avoid paying their fair share. Hence the push for lower taxes on them and their businesses.
and something a bit more philosophical:
In a nutshell:
“As I’ve got older and wiser, however, I’ve realised that, though economic inefficiency has nothing to recommend it, efficiency isn’t the only worthwhile goal of public policy, and there are often times when other objectives should take priority.”
Like, perhaps, people? Just putting it out there, along with something I stated in another thread about the unemployment ‘benefit’ having stayed the same for twenty-one years. In fact, if I count back that takes us to 1997 - one year into the Howard government!
We have government ministers who say “it’s fine - I could live on that”… but don’t show us how, without their own home and family networks. Unemployment is partly dictated by government policy, and could be much lower than the ‘official’ one person in twenty who is currently unemployed (the definition leaves out many more).
Australia is an incredibly rich country, per this article in the SMH:
Our problem is that this wealth is very unevenly spread, and no recent government has done anything to change that. As the article states, median wealth is $US191,453, while mean wealth (which the writer confuses as ‘average’) is $US411,060. That is, half minus one of all Australians have less than $US191,453, but a few at the top have an awful lot more than $US411,060.
Of course, we could leave tax policy to PwC and other stalwarts of ‘the establishment’, which recommends abolishing the tax-free threshold entirely:
One might suggest that an alternative is to close some of the loopholes that PwC helps its clients to use in avoiding or evading tax. Maybe look at trusts, more progressive tax rates… who knows, even negative gearing? (Oops - it appears that article’s author is ahead of me.)
We as a country are the third-lowest taxed per GDP in the OECD, after the US and Switzerland, but I don’t think too many Australians want to live like people in the US - yet consecutive governments are leading us there.
When my wife and I went on holiday to the US in 1996, we were shocked to see beggars in the streets of major cities - especially San Francisco. Now, there is regularly one person or another at our small local suburban shopping centre seeking help to pay for accommodation and/or food! I don’t remember being asked whether this was okay with me, and I certainly do not think any Australian should have to find themselves in such a situation.
We need to pay more taxes. We need more progressive taxation. We need less opportunities for tax avoidance and evasion. We need a government that actually fulfils the needs of the people who elected it, rather than those that paid for the campaign - or who run their own campaigns via newspapers or radio. We need to have a voice on ‘free’ ‘trade’ agreements our government enters into on our behalf before they are signed.
And we need to get rid of corporate welfare, wherever it may be found.
Edit: I just read a summary of Buchanan’s Nobel Memorial Prize-winning book. It sounds perfectly designed for the modern conservative movement, and less than considerate of individual needs.
Edit 2: There is an interesting, and sometimes amusing, 16 page review/attempted demolition of Democracy in Chains, published by… the Cato Institute (i.e. one of the supporters of Buchanan’s ideas).
Mises has published a somewhat less considered hit-piece.
MacLean’s book did have impacts, like kicking an anthill. As there seems to be some interest, here’s another article, in which MacLean is interviewed:
The OECD about to publish their outlook until 2060 for world material growth. There is a teaser here by Gittins. He reports they are taking the view that world GDP will quadruple but material requirements will only double. They are predicting some decoupling, hopefully they are right, because that scenario will be difficult enough, Quadruple growth in material requirements would render all predictions null because shortages would then be eating into both population growth and per capita GDP growth in the poorer countries. Malthusian constraints may yet happen and it won’t be pretty.
The report will not be public for another month. What is the bet our fearless leaders will totally ignore it?
Unfortunately we rely on government too much to drive change, and the solutions of government has to fit into the policy mix government is used to (or allowed to do under the constitution).
There are many examples of government intervention in the market which has resulted in unforeseen or undesirable outcomes.
Governments, through policy and regulation, have changed the structure of the market making the market more restrictive and compliant to these policies and regulations. This stifles innovation and alternative trains of thought.
While many alternatives to the government narrative could be potentially drive a worse outcome in some circumstances, there will be some that will potentially lead to better outcomes for all.
Apparently as a betting nation we are world leaders at loosing?
No need to place any bets on this one!
On topic perhaps, “ignorance is Bliss”, and poor judgment more prevalent than we might like, however we still like to have a go and somethings do turn out for the better in the end, despite the odds.
On that @phb has made a great synopsis.
There are also cases where government has failed its duties, with foreseeable outcomes. The Banking Royal Commission comes to mind.
It’s a question of where the line is drawn. Extremes fail. Consequences of extreme Capitalism are no more agreeable than those of extreme Socialism.
In a Democracy, there’s no escape. We elect the government. We’re therefor responsible for the narrative.
An interesting twist:
(a) We have a product (Australian Standards) created for the public good and for the benefit of Australian businesses;
(b) The product is created for the Australian people by a not-for-profit agency (Standards Australia) with extensive voluntary expertise and support contributed by a host of professionals;
(c ) The product can only come to the market through a private company with monopoly distribution rights.