Saturday’s socialist speak out
The funeral of Margaret Whitlam and the pantheon of ageing and current Labor leaders who attended marks a symbolic burying of social democracy in Australia, although in reality the death happened long ago under Hawke and Keating.
Zombie Social Democracy has continued more recently under Rudd and Gillard and, to mix metaphors, working class people will stab another stake into its heart in Queensland today with the defeat of the Bligh Government. Polls show support for Labor there at 28 percent, while in the absence of a class based left wing alternative, the Liberal National Party has been the beneficiary with its share of the primary vote at around 50 percent.
While working class people are burying Labor in Queensland, Gough, old and frail, was burying his wife Margaret. Gough was on the right reaches of the Labor Party. He is only a ‘left wing’ hero because his role – to modernise Australian capitalism after 23 years of neglect – also meant some improvements to social spending and to living standards.
However the real improvement in living standards was a consequence of the the mass industrial campaigns of the late 60s and early 70s.
Whitlam’s election has to be seen as the tail end of the radicalisation of society, a radicalisation that met and did not challenge the reality of capitalism and the global slump that began to develop in the 70s as a consequence of a fall in profit rates across the developed world, ending the long war boom built on the permanent arms economy.
That slump destroyed the Whitlam government.
Now the last scions of that family are passing into history but the election of the Hawke Government in 1983 more clearly signified their political death, but not their mythological re-birth.
‘The older I get the better I was.’
Meanwhile, social democracy in action (or should that be inaction?) had a victory of sorts with the passage of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
This minor (miner?) tax will have no deleterious impact on jobs or investment. Investment in the mining industry is going gangbusters and will increase markedly over the next few years.
As to jobs, we need to remember that mining employs less than 2 percent of workers. The mining bosses sacked 15 percent of their workforce during the GFC.
The piddling amount raised by the MRRT will be redistributed to all of capital through tax cuts for business (if they pass the Senate) and infrastructure spending. The Superannuation Guarantee increase isn’t going to be paid out of this – that was always a lie – but out of our wages. The MRRT money will go to cover the shortfall in revenue that occurs because of switching our salaries into concessionally taxed super and the fall in revenue from the cut in our wages income.
The Resource Super Profits Tax would have applied to all minerals; the MRRT applies to coal and iron ore only. The number of companies to be taxed has fallen from 2500 to 320.
The revenue loss as a result of the MRRT backdown is estimated by the Greens at $100 billion over ten years. You could do a lot of things with $100 bn. Establish Denticare, address aboriginal disadvantage, improve public schools, hospitals and transport, begin to really address climate change, just for starters.
And of course if it is good enough to tax the economic rent (super profits) of miners why not all super profits? Banks and supermarkets come to mind. There would be billions there too.
In the United States the murder of Trayvon Martin for being black exposes once again the systemic racism of that society. They kill innocents abroad; they kill innocents at home.
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