The Carbon Tax debate in Australia has in many ways echoed a previous campaign which saw bricks and mortar stores lamenting overseas online retailers. The latest has been the laughably hypocritical ad campaign from Gerry Harvey insisting that if you’re not buying Australian made, you’re being unAustralian. This, from a man who sells a remarkably large amount of non-Australian made products in his own stores. There’s computers from Taiwan, there’s TVs from Japan, there’s all number of goods from China, and so on and so forth. But apparently, we can only buy them if we wish to be unAustralian.
This brings me to a simple point that I’m noticing now about conservative politics in Australia – something which has spread from the cancerous and vitriolic conservative politics in the United States:
Conservative politics is increasingly about the very rich convincing the very poor that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
This, to use a blunt expression, is a load of shit.
What’s truly disturbing is that conservative politics – the purdue for the most part of the extremely rich – is making a mockery of the poor by encouraging them to collectively vote for and support policies that will at best leave them no better off, by offering short term gain with longer term loss.
It sort of goes like this:
Dear Poor Person,
We, an insanely rich company, object to being slugged with an additional 5% tax.
So we’ve lobbied the government to give you a 2% income tax drop this year.
(PS: Next year, interest rates will rise because of the long-term damage to the economy caused by us not paying our fair share. You may lose your house in the process. So glad you’re cool with that!)
Oh, and here’s a “thankyou” endorsement from some celebrity for what we’ve just said. We’ve just paid them more for the endorsement than you’ll get paid in 30 years.
Nothing was more insidiously representative of this than the American healthcare debate. These conservative pushes regularly succeed because they appeal to individual notions of acceptable greed. That is, they convince people that by supporting the policies, they themselves will be better off. The healthcare debate saw the socially irresponsible argument of “why should I care if my neighbour gets sick?” as a core defence of the status quo. Short term greed, long term fail.
That’s the same status quo that recently, for instance, had a man rob a bank for a dollar just so he could get healthcare in prison.
And it’s the same line of thinking which, for instance, has led to the situation where 95% of Americans are getting poorer every year:
The top 1% of US households receive nearly as much income each year as the value of Germany’s GDP; and they receive more income than all other nations’ GDP (individually, not cumulatively) but the GDPs of Japan, China, and the US.
The financial wealth of the top 1% exceeds the value of the entire GDP of the EU (the world’s largest GDP in aggregate).
Moreover, the top 1% could lose 90% of their financial wealth and still collectively have more wealth than all but each of the world’s top eight GDPs (US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Brazil, and Italy).
That’s frighteningly bad. Yet to call it out as extreme greed, I’ll undoubtedly be called a socialist. And likely by the very poor people I think are being abused by the system.
I’m a middle income earner. Between owning (trans: paying off) a house in one state, and renting in another, and various purchases over the years, I have enough debt that you’d think I’d be eager for any tax cut I can get. But let’s be honest – I’m a member of society, and in return for the protections and the services that society provides me, I ought to, from both a basic obligation and a moral sense of duty, pay “my fair share”.
What galls me is that others think they shouldn’t have to pay their fair share.
Instead, they convince the people who are far worse off than I that they have their best interests at heart, and in doing so bully cowardly governments (and dangle carrots to sycophantic governments) that it’s their way or the highway.
That highway is increasingly full of potholes.
Potholes of neglect. The sort of potholes that can only come from a lack of investment, because funds are going to the wrong people, from the wrong people.
Because the rich have helicopters – fuck the road, they don’t need it.
It’s time the poor people realised they do.