Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Capital and equality

Just recently I read an article by a well respected commentator who said that basically the only way to regain equality in capitalist states is to have a war.  Thanks to my shoddy memory, I cannot for the life of me remember who that was, but the comment really hit home. 

Thomas Picketty, the French economist who wrote "Capitalism in the 21st Century" alluded to the same phenomenon:  wars reset the economic playing field. 

So here we are well into the 21st century and is seems that the wealth of nations is being siphoned up to the rich faster and faster, with the collusion of governments.  One can look at various articles and  reports about the vast inequality of wealth in  most developed and developing countries, and a similar picture emerges.  The top 10% owen 90% of everything.  It's like the end game of a global monopoly contest. 

Now, here in benighted Oz, we have the  current  "conservative" government pushing for more tax breaks for the corporations and the wealthy at the  expense of the poor, who are being punished for their condition more and more.  And this, folks, is normal behaviour from those who have. 

Recent studies in the United States, particularly after the massive tax break the Rethuglicans gave to their supporters, indicate that despite the rhetoric about investment into infrastructure and new jobs, most of the tax break dollars went into dividends for the shareholders and stock buy-backs. 

Here in Oz we have had a similar pledge by our corporate moguls that in order to keep competitive, they need to be taxed less, and funds would be available for more capital investment into infrastructure and jobs.  Guess what?  Nada. 

The neo-conservatives, neo-liberals, economic rationalists of this world/nation are still at it even though, according to commentators like Guy Rundle and Bernard Keane of  Crikey, it's all a sham.  New-liberalism is "...a rotting corpse" polluting the body politic. 

So it seems we have a bit of a challenge if we really want to get a more level playing field:  do we do it by  taxation, or do we do it by war? 

Taxation is the safer option.  War, in this time, is unthinkable.  But considering the old aphorism: "nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the public" may have it right. 

It's the great dog whistle.  "Look over there", where there is racism, terrorism, overall bigotry and human stupidity, against the ever present spectre of rampant greed sucking up all the goods.  One thing about  the conservatives, they really know how to  do this well.  Rustle up the hate so they can continue  to earn big bucks. 

But it may, just may, come back to haunt them. 

Here's a poem I wrote about this: 

So, does a business ledger have a soul? 
And does a massive profit make us whole?
Or, does a loss then make us even less
Than who we are?  Ah, I can only guess,
For values in our land are based on gold. 
We humans are worth less – or so we’re told –
Than what in life we manage to obtain; 
The merit in our lives is based on gain. 
Now Greed – once vice – is held a worthy aim,
No matter that we’re called to kill and maim
To win a war and take the widow’s mite. 
And starving millions hidden from our sight
Bear witness to our arrogance and pride:
From Nemesis to come we cannot hide.  

And to finish  off this rant, here's the latest  from our cartoonist-laureate: Michael Leunig.

  'till next time, folks.