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John Passant

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March 2012



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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)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



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.

To see what others are saying or to have your say on these or any other issues hit the comments button. Like all posts on this blog, comments closed after seven days.



Comment from Jolly
Time March 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm

“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”
Nothing new, John. We did that to our Aboriginal brothers & sisters, too. There is something scribbled in the deep recesses of our white brain-stem to fear the dark man! Fear, like all other base emotions, rise from the human brain stem. Illogical fear is a primordial emotion. Unless one has developed mentally, through education, and rational thinking, we humans tend to remain in our base level re our emotions. I personally know of people who devote themselves to Christ but abhor coloured/black people. I wonder if they know that Jesus is a Middle Eastern Jew (ie a brown man, ie a coloured man). Perhaps when he walked along the banks of Galilee in mid summer heat, he may have been tanned enough to qualify as a ‘black man’. Well, we fear all that we fear! Ha ha ha. Damn fools we are.

Comment from dl
Time March 25, 2012 at 12:36 am

Regarding the mining tax, I’ve had a personal about turn on it. Australia, like any other country that finds itself with a large amount of valuable resources in its land, will eventually make moves to place a tax on it. Much as Norway did with StatOil, or Saudi arabia with Saudi Aramco . Mining is a good that is inherently immobile and with a high inelasticity of demand, and this makes it ripe for the proverbial picking. It will happen eventually, and I would love to see investment on stuff like health, education and Aboriginal welfare when it does. Also, establish a national wealth fund, so we don’t end up as merely a more functional version of Nauru when the mining boom ends.

Most commentary that I’ve encountered, purporting that a mining tax will ‘destroy jobs’ has been based on risibly bad reasoning. For example, I read one article in The Australian that stated to the effect that if we place a mining tax on minerals in Australia, companies will just move to places where extraction costs are cheaper, such as Nigeria of Mongolia, to give 2 examples. Its hard to even respond to statements that are this asinine.

On another note, the killing of Trayvon Martin by(half Peruvian and very Hispanic looking guy) George Zimmerman is an interesting, though of course tragic, story. More details have emerged in the week or so since it since it occured (I forget how long ago.) I think the situation is much more nuanced than the simple narrative of “white racist kills innocent black kid’ that the media has spun. I can expoun upon this if anyone should take umbrage at this remark.
By the way, this paper on the arab spring and cultural institutions is extroadinarily interesting, and has been making rounds throughout the blogosphere. Here’s the pdf

Comment from Chris Warren
Time March 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Class Struggle On the Boil

Marxist classes are classes of revenue, not classes based on the level of revenue. As retail profits fall, capitalists try to maintain profits by attacking the working class because it receives wages. Capital gets profits from wages, therefore capitalists attack workers.

The reason capitalist profits fall, in part is unfair competition but more seriously is due to the over-accumulation of capital.

As this was amply demonstrated on Saturday on the ABC program “Inside Business” at:

Here the classic Marxist theory is laid out in fine style. Capitalist lobbyist Ed Prendergast, small-caps fund manager at Pengana Capital says:

1) we have too much Capital (ie shops)
2) we need more sales because the rate of profit falls
3) but we can cut wages to protect ourselves, and
4) to get this we need a change in government.

This is what you get under capitalism.

Comment from Russell Pollard
Time March 27, 2012 at 5:01 am

Thanks John for your fine comments on the demise of social democracy symbolised with the sad funeral of Margaret Whitlam. I found myself agreeing without reservation.

It’s not that pre-Whitlam Labor had it all right but they dared to assert the idea that we are all vested in this country that called upon all of its sons to attend the Second World War. Of course we had to move past much of the hurt that came home after that war, and learn to think anew about people we had just learned to despise as “Nips” and to turn around and trade with them and to make room for New Australians and all the rest of it. But the politics was about how we best build our common future, and so the liberal democratic thinking began in earnest.

Even the Liberals believed in jobs for Australians and maintained support for Australian institutions.

Evatt and Calwell and many who served in Whitlam’s cabinet would have been aghast as Hawke-Keating Labor sent jobs off shore without so much as a backward glance all in the name global competitiveness and free trade a combinations they would once agreed was best called unfettered capitalism.

The demise of social democracy truly did begin in the murky cauldron of Keating’s take on rationalist economics and his concoction of j-curves and necessary recessions while resting our fates on the fours pillars of Australian banking – all busily stalking their countless overdue credit card holders using armies of cheap off shore telemarketers who really have no business holding the private details of the customers of Australian banks.

But the great sadness is that the Labor Party of old cannot be revived any more than the Liberal Party of old can ever find its feet again as long as the rationalist economics that is trotted out by those who use it to support their own advantage continues to be in the ascendancy.

I found it chilling to see the much loathed Senator Newman smiling like an Australian Barbara Bush at her son Campbell taking his rightful place IN CHARGE where he can teach those who lack his can do attitude where their place really should be.

The sooner a new alliance forms of people who value the right of Australians to work and to be rewarded for it, to employ fairly as they build their own businesses and to be rewarded for it [which is generally not the same as buying into a franchise] and who value a shared and environmentally caring future, the sooner we will have a basis for a resurgence in social democracy. The new and innovative economic thinking and modelling that needs to be understood and promoted for this to all happen is not all that far fetched and is slowly gaining academic strength in the west.

The trouble is that the people who’ve benefited from having their noses in the communal trough for decades at a time for some reason have no sense of personal greed or the shame that should accompany it.

Some would call my insistence that they stop sending our wealth and most of the profits from it offshore nothing but envy. Well they’re dead right about the envy, but they’re wrong if they think it stops there. I am embarrassed for them being the greedy self-serving fools that they are, as they mistake their personal financial success and the public space it buys them for some form of intellectual prowess, and I am disgusted to the point of genuine nausea that they are prepared to rob future generations of Australians of their birthright, as in my opinon, they steal a massively bigger one for themselves and their own families. I may be judging them harshly but history will judge them far more harshly as the inglorious wealth squatter, robber barons that they are.

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