Here’s an op ed by Malcolm King in “INDaily: Adelaide’s Independent News”
Adelaide is the 5th largest city in Australia.
It took eight years after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) for the western world to realise that neoliberalism had turned communities into strangers, pauperised the working class and created a corporate business class devoid of ethics.
Since the early 1980s, neoliberalism has been the default economic paradigm of developed nations. Neoliberals believe in free and unfettered trade, deregulation, privatisation, slashing government expenditure and restraining workers’ pay.
They believe competition is the defining characteristic of human nature. Citizens are consumers, not members of a society. The market rules all.
Now the pendulum is swinging back. Not to socialism but to a new form of communalism, as yet nebulous and indistinct.
Those who have done very well out of the neoliberal paradigm call this backlash “populism”. It’s a code word for policies they don’t like but which have the support of the people. . .
There are two main reasons why we have no wage growth in Australia. The first is that economic “trickle down” is a sham. Profits are locked in at the executive level and/or handed out as dividends to select shareholders.
The second is the decline of organised labour. Decades of union bashing by business lobby groups and conservative politicians, have smashed the bargaining power of the vast majority of the workforce. With labour fragmented, it’s easy to refuse pay rises.
Life-long debt has the working poor by the throat. Working and middle class families do not have the savings at call to pay for serious adverse events such as a major operation, high-end dental surgery or car repairs over $1000.
This is especially true if you’re under 35 and trying to buy a house, or facing retirement with minimal superannuation because you’re a woman and worked a string of casual jobs.
The types of economic reform advanced by business lobby groups exacerbate the anger many Australians feel. These “reforms” consisted entirely of proposals designed to improve the bottom line of large companies, rather than deliver long-term economic performance.
Business always talks about “flexibility” in industrial relations but never acknowledges that the only flexibility it is really interested in is the downward variety, which reduces pay and conditions for employees.
The privatisation of public services such as energy, water, public transport, health and prisons, has enabled corporations to charge punitively high fees on essential assets. This is spectacularly true in South Australia. Privatisation beggars future generations of public assets.
Surely the state’s role in the economy needs to be more than as an enabler of private capital?
Neoliberal hawks have excelled at pumping out propaganda, declaring this “dog eat dog” economics to be the political and economic expression of the “natural order”. Much of our media have bought in to this fantasy.
Since when has poverty and hopelessness been a part of the natural order? Society’s central aim – supported by good government – should be to combat and conquer these evils, not compound them.
Journalists test the economic weather by burying themselves in statistics and Gini coefficients. The latter seek to divine rising or falling inequality. As if equality was a tide.
Yet within a 25-kilometre radius of the Adelaide GPO, there’s a storm tearing through the lives of 100,000 unemployed and underemployed men and women, who can’t pay the bills and feed their kids. Journalists need to hit the streets and report.
The mega-rich persuade themselves that they got their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages of inheritance, education and class.
We are told we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before. This is a lie. We are free to choose debt or more debt. Like communism before it, neoliberalism has failed.
The rich and entitled will learn that, in Australia, they will still get their just desserts – but not everyone else’s.
Malcolm King, an Adelaide writer, works in generational change and is a regular InDaily columnist.
Here are some more great articles on Neoliberalism (from the Guardian, the Nation, etc.) https://clearblueskyoutwest.com/2017/08/15/some-great-articles-on-neoliberalism-how-corporatism-took-over-politics-and-made-human-beings-footnotes-on-a-balance-sheet/
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