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John Passant

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April 2014
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If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Saturday’s socialist speak out

In the face of impending brutal Budget attacks on pensioners (35% of whom live below the poverty line),  the disabled, the unemployed, other poor people and the working class (including many public servants facing the sack,) all the Labor Opposition can talk about is making it easier for bosses to join the party.

In the same week Joe Hockey, the Treasurer, was foreshadowing savage spending cuts, his Prime Minister Tony Abbott was announcing a $24 billion acquisition of the Joint Strike Force F-35, a flying lemon.

$24 billion for war, nothing for pensioners.

Of course the Budget crisis is confected.The Australian government’s debt as a percentage of GDP is about ten percent (some of it added to by this Government in its 7 months in power).  Ten percent is nothing. Most OECD countries have debt to GDP ratios over 50 percent and some, like the US, approaching 100 percent.

By OECD standards, Australia’s government spending as a percentage of GDP is low – above Turkey and Mexico but on a par with the US and Ireland.   Our tax take as a percentage of GDP is also very low compared to most other countries. In essence Australia is a low spending and taxing country.

Even if as Hockey argues Government debt will blow out by $300 billion over the next ten years there is a simple way to address that. Tax the rich.

For example a one percent wealth tax on the top ten percent of wealth-holders would raise, on my back of the envelope calculations, $30 billion a year.

The fact that Hockey won’t tax the rich but instead will attack the poor and workers shows that the Budget crisis is cover for the transfer of even more of the wealth workers create to the bosses.

In part this is an attempt to restore profit rates, or pre-empt a decline in Australian profit rates in anticipation of the Chinese economy slowing down even further. It is also a recognition that with global profit rates declining Australia’s artificially high profit rate, propped up by banks and mining companies, cannot last.

It is an admission both that the Great Recession will reach Australia’s shores soon enough and that there is no recovery in sight globally.

Meanwhile Eric Abetz, the Minister for ruling class war against workers, has floated the idea of increasing the working week for public servants, without an increase in pay.  Australians already work some of the longest hours in the OECD, with the average week about 44 hours compared to the mandated week of 38 hours. Much of that extra time is unpaid, and that free labour is worth about $110 billion a year (or just under ten percent of GDP) to the bosses.

So the bosses are burning us out with longer hours at work, and now this government, like Labor before it, will extend the pension age. So they want us to work longer during the working day and longer during our lifetimes.

Why? Marx identified lengthening the working day as one ruling class response to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and Australia’s long working day may along with our links to China explain why we weathered the GFC storm better than many other countries.  Of course there are only so many hours in a day, and overworked, stressed, grumpy and depressed workers aren’t necessarily that productive.

A working class response would be to campaign for a 35 hour week (something the quick off the mark Australian Council of Trade Unions first raised in 1957, only 57 years ago). Given that it is the bosses who have pocketed almost all of the productivity gains of the last decade, a 30 hour week should now be on the agenda of the trade unions. So too should a retirement age of 60, and not at the below poverty levels of the pension, but on a living age, the average wage.

Oh cry the naysayers, just as they always do whenever any gain for the working class is mooted, how can we afford it?  Well, there has been a consistent shift of wealth and income to the rich over the last 3 decades, ever since Hawke and Keating introduced neoliberalism into Australia. All workers would be doing is recouping some of the extra that has gone to the bosses over that time.

The bosses have grown fat on our labour.  It is time we put them on a diet with a 30 hour week and retirement on the average wage at 60 for us.  Maybe they’d have to cut back on their Grange a bit.  Or god forbid pay a little more tax, which for many would be the totally new experience of actually paying tax.

Next Thursday is May Day and the trade unions are paying a lot more attention to the day, organising May Day marches across Australia to remind workers and bosses that the working class still exists and that what is has won in the past has only been won in struggle against the bosses. It is a lesson well worth remembering today and putting into practice again.  Only class struggle can stop Abbott and the bosses (and the Labor Party in power) making life worse for us.

In China a 3 week strike by between 40,000 and 60,000 workers at Yue Yuen Industrial shoe factories in Dongguan, the biggest shoe factory in the world, has rocked companies like Nike and Adidas and the Chinese ruling class.  If there is hope it lies in the Chinese proles.

In Palestine the two main political parties have joined hands and the apartheid regime in Israel has gone bananas, using this as an excuse to abandon ‘peace’ talks. The talks are a charade. Israel has no intention of making peace with the people it is committing genocide against and has been since 1948. Its goal is to drive the Palestinians from their lands, or subjugate them in the Israeli state. Only a democratic and secular state of Palestine, open to all who want to live there, can succeed in bringing peace.

The ridiculous legal action attempting to silence Jake Lynch, an academic at Sydney University, for following Boycott, Divestment and Sanction calls and not supporting an academic from an Israeli institution is backfiring.  It is spreading the word about BDS and winning more supporters. Already the legal case against Jake is falling apart with the judge making various orders against the ‘complainant’.

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To have your say or see what others are saying hits the comments link under the heading. Like all posts on this blog comments close after seven days.



Comment from Jim Brash
Time April 27, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Just a few points: The any government can find the money for the things it and its primary rulers want to. Its always easiest to attack the poor, the working class, & the layers directly above it. The tax codes the world over as well as most laws were written with the protection of the interests of the ruling class in mind. The state which does have some level of autonomy and functional independence from the ruling class, but will only use it in favor of the masses when the status quo or “normalcy” is threatened. As long as the USA remains Israel’s benefactor, protector, and chief enabler, Australia’s rulers will continue to go along to get along. Finally, I think its going to take a progressive government like Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, or Ecuador bringing motion to have sanctions levied against Israel for human rights violations in a meeting of non aligned nations and having Brazil’s or Argentina’s support behind it, would propel the BDS movement forward.

Comment from Ross
Time April 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Yep the profits of our share markets and the Banks are underpinned by money printing.( quantitative easing) They know it will with a big crash stealing money from the masses yet again.

This next crash will be bigger than the Great Depression because of the growth of toxic derivatives, no Glass Steagall act and a banking system that has absolute power over our Govts.

The Glass Steagall Act was implemented during the Great Depression to separate investment banks gambling in derivatives from Commercial and retail banking. Bill Clinton in 1998 repealed the Glass Steagall Act. We did not need this Act in the 1930’s because the Govt Commonwealth Bank controlled the banking system. Now APRA controls our private banking system and is only answerable to the private central bank of International Settlements. We have no protection from our banks.

As a depositor in any bank you are considered to be an unsecured lender and will be the last to be paid if your bank goes down.

The Global unrest in China, Europe and the USA is giving our elites motivation to escape us via WW3.

Problems in the Ukraine were contrived by the West because Putin was standing up to their New World Order.

Make no mistake WW3 is very near and even Malcolm Fraser had an article in the Herald to this effect.

Vladmir Putin is not a person to back down in any conflict and the West is led by obsessive compulsive psychopaths who want power at any cost.

Comment from Ross
Time April 27, 2014 at 7:01 pm

We need to abolish the GST and put a 1% tobin tax on all financial transactions. Our bankers off sheet derivative transactions are worth $21 trillion. A 1% tax on this alone would bring in $210 billion in tax.

There would be no need for income tax. The GST with its input credits allows big business to rort the system. Have a small turnover tax and there will be little rorting.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time April 28, 2014 at 11:23 am

A Tobin Tax is the most practicable way to maintain our capitalist welfare state for now and into the next generation. So I support taxing foreign transactions as most are already made by computers and so must be easily monitored if adequate laws and resources are delivered.

But what then?