Liberty & Justice, but for All?

There’s been a concerted ideological shift towards what can only be described as Libertarian thinking in contemporary Australian politics, and it worries me greatly, because there aren’t enough people making enough noise about the obvious flaws of the Libertarian political, social and economic model.

Their role for government is so narrow as to guarantee it’s rendered ineffectual. They believe virtually all public resources and infrastructure should be privatised, taxation should be next to nonexistent and that market forces and deregulation will create a glorious hegemonic equilibrium. It’s utter nonsense.

Taxation and government regulation is required for the simple reason that we all share a variety of public resources. We all, or at least the vast majority of us, were born in a hospital and educated in a school, and just a few decades ago, a university that was largely government funded. We like to drive our cars on swept roads and live in communities with maintained parks and gardens, and have access to buses and trains. And if there’s crime in our vicinity we like to know that we can call the police, or a fire; the fire brigade, and that they won’t first ask us to show them our private insurance papers before they try and arrest that burglar or put your burning house out.

What will happen on a social level will be catastrophic; communities will erode and people will become fiercely, violently protective of what is theirs. It is fundamentally selfish to think that this will work. If you think it works, chances are it’s because you’ve lived long enough, worked smart enough or been lucky in the family money sweepstakes to have amassed sufficient capital and so the poverty line is well beneath you. And if you do suffer a terrible accident, or have health issues, or fall into a myriad of other unfortunate circumstances which affect people every day, you know you’ve got the money to pay your bills and get back to it. Well, good for you, but that doesn’t describe you average Australian family. It doesn’t describe a majority of Australians… and it certainly doesn’t describe the majority of Americans, with their draconian health system and exorbitant medical bills.

On another, related subject. Yesterday I was reading some absurd pseudo-tabloid article about the perceived failures of a gradual increase to the minimum wage in some small towns in the USA. Apparently, following the lead of Seattle, who did it first, the minimum wage was raised marginally in certain locations. It was intended to be capped at $15 an hour after four years.

It apparently isn’t working because the owners of the businesses now having to pay their staff an honest wage, like we enjoy here in Australia, are as a consequence cutting back on staff perks, like free meals for hospitality staff. Even things like dental insurance and leave entitlements are being pared back by management. Other industries are just up and moving altogether; taking their means of production to another town where people will work for much less.

For America’s youth, working class families, and people who for a variety of reasons may not be able to work a more skilled job, this attempt to create a more equitable wage is a fantastic step forward. And the reason why it’s not working is because a piecemeal, state-based introduction of the wage defies it’s very purpose: it’s only going to work if it’s nation-wide. Again, like the great working model we have here in Oz (and various other countries, mostly in Europe). But people for some reason can’t see that. The us and them mentality is pervasive.

I honestly don’t know what kind of shape Australia is going to be in if Abbott gets a second term, but you can be certain our political salvation won’t originate in America. It looks like the free western world is devolving into a Darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest.

Oddly enough, my old dusty copy of Chambers twentieth century dictionary ascribes ‘a Darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest’ as the ultimate goal of Satanism.

One thought on “Liberty & Justice, but for All?

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