Contributed by Jim Hayes:
Despite all the platitudes, claims that the fundamentals of the Australian economy are solid, many Australians are finding it harder to make ends meet. In fact, the downward drift has been going on for a long time.
Take these basic points;
- An average household requires two full-time incomes to get by.
- Although we are told that we live in an almost inflation free era, an income of $1000 buys what $100 did in the 1970’s.
- The cost of housing has gone through the roof in recent years.
- The real rate of unemployment continues to rise. This has been estimated at around 12 percent, rather than the official 6 percent, by number of economists and other researchers.
- Australia is de-industrialising and we survive on the overblown finance and service sectors for the time being. But these do not add value and cannot last forever.
- Many are in credit crisis, with little prospect of a change on the horizon.
- Slashing of government services, privatisations and increasing charges have meant a greater burden on most.
This is the reality faced by most people. It should be much better and Australia has the potential to reach great heights. Instead we have to exist under the weight of systemic crisis that has been operating for a long time. For almost 50 years. This has never happened before and for the first time, people are going to retire from work, worse off than their parents.
The most basic problem is that the economy has become thoroughly dominated by big monopoly corporations that have become so powerful that they squeeze out every last drop for themselves.
They operate for their own sectional benefit and not for the good of society. The emphasis is on investing where there is the highest short-term return, whether it harms the healthy operation of the overall economy or not. Hence an emphasis on buying and selling shares, regardless of how the investment is ultimately put to work, speculation on futures markets and real estate and the mining of resources, regardless of the longer-term economic and environmental consequences.
Let’s not forget the monumental scale of tax dodging and money transferring (laundering) that is going on. Money is used to buy political influence, creating an army of compliant politicians and functionaries.
There needs to be a conversation and action to take on this systemic problem. The proposal being put forward here is a call for a democratic economy. This means a titanic shift from the rule of individual greed, to joint effort through cooperation. Everyone should make a contribution and each should be rewarded fairly.
What specific changes would contribute to this?
- The workplace needs to be made democratic so that those who do the work have a decisive voice and are rewarded for their effort fairly.
- Every citizen should contribute and pay taxes that are appropriate to their capacity.
- A program to create genuine jobs is needed and those dependent on Centrelink payments should no longer be treated as third class and provided an income that is adequate to achieve a reasonable standard of living. The current punitive system should be abandoned.Government must intervene as an economic player providing goods and services as is appropriate; provide transparency and democratic management, under the supervision of its clients. Cooperative projects should be supported, and where it is appropriate to do so, enterprise should be nationalised.
- Establish trade relations with the rest of the world that are fair and mutually beneficial for the peoples off the countries concerned.