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The Forum > Article Comments > Does Australia have a 'political crisis'? > Comments

Does Australia have a 'political crisis'? : Comments

By Don Aitkin, published 3/2/2015

One cause is that our politics is almost completely adversarial, and another is that the electorate does not understand the realities of our political economy. We have become too used to annually increasing wealth.

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Don, any theory is only as good as the facts it is based on.

I think the problem with your article is that it assumes that society is a decision-making entity, and that government is a kind of device by which society decides what's best for society. These assumptions are, at best, factually dubious.

Treating "society" as a decision-making entity is problematic if it doesn't define who are the individuals who comprise this alleged decision-making entity. And it ignores the fact that, while they may have certain interests in common which can be furthered in a mutually beneficial way, they also can and do have interests in conflict which can be settled in a zero-sum antagonistic way: hence all species of statism especially socialism.

The idea that government is society's consensual decision-making device ignores the above conflict of interest. It also ignores the fact that governments do not originate as general good-optimising mechanisms, but as the private property of coercive monopolist property-expropriators - kings. The addition of democratic mechanisms doesn't change this fundamentally coercive and property-expropriating defining characteristic of governments. In fact, government is overwhelmingly not engaged in furthering interests which all 'society' have in common, but in enabling some to live at the expense of others, based on legalised force, threats and deceptive conduct.

Once we correct for the factual errors in the usual assumptions about government, we would expect to see that democratic politics is an anti-social process by which the politicians foment and facilitate legalised unprincipled plunder by the people of their neighbours, or any group they can demonise. We would expect to see an adversary process by which political entrepreneurs provoke conflicts between groups in society, which the state then enters to settle in its own favour, and that of whatever political favourites the politicians are siding with.

Now that's got explaining power, hasn't it?

I think looking to see why politicians don't exert "leadership" at their own personal cost to act in a principled way for the common good is a vain exercise, because it's based on a fundamentally mistaken assumption about what government is.
Posted by Jardine K. Jardine, Tuesday, 3 February 2015 10:28:17 AM
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The LNP has a political crisis, with their born to rule attitude. A very one sided approach to the public. Their big business agenda and donít worry about the rest policies.

There is further crisis talks going on now, this could be the time when directions change from south to north. Turnbull, bishop, who knows. And then a bi-election why not.
Posted by 579, Tuesday, 3 February 2015 12:42:56 PM
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Don, you complain about the electorate not understanding the realities of the political economy, but what you're written indicates that nor do you! With improving technology we SHOULD be used to annually increasing wealth!

<<I do think that there has been a marked reluctance by the ALP, the Parliament and the mass media to accept that the six-year Labor Government spent far too much, and that it committed future governments to a continuation of that spending. >>
Then you're out of touch! The mass media have been banging on about it for years, but they're wrong; unemployment's still way too high, and inflation has remained low. From that we can reasonably conclude that either the RBA set interest rates too high or the government spent too little. Or both.

<<The Greeks are congratulating themselves on the election of a government that is going to stand up for Greeks against the perfidious Germans and other Europeans who lent them lots of money, and want it paid back. No! say the Greeks, you're wealthy, so you can afford to wipe off our debt. >>
There's a to more to it than that: Greece surrendered its financial sovereignty to the ECB, but now Greece is in trouble the ECB base refused to help and the assistance that Greece got was conditional on austerity measures that ruined the Greek economy. And rather than trying to avoid a default at all costs, they insisted Greece default (calling it a haircut) further damaging Greece's credit rating.

There is an obvious solution for Greece: the ECB should buy up all the ten year bonds that Greece issues in the next five years, on condition that any default would result in expulsion from the Eurozone.

But Australia is not Greece; we've retained our financial sovereignty. We do not need to borrow from overseas, and (unlike the 1920s and 1970s) our interest rates are set to control inflation. With interest rates at record lows, there's really no reason to whinge about our interest bill.
Posted by Aidan, Tuesday, 3 February 2015 12:52:38 PM
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Aiden, the reason the Greek economy is in the poo is that for years, the Greeks have regarded the paying of taxes as something to be avoided at all costs, and now they are paying the penalty. Their new government isn't going to get them out of the poo either.

David
Posted by VK3AUU, Tuesday, 3 February 2015 1:33:21 PM
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Don,

Thank you for your article and insight.

One perspective worth considering is that Australia has, in some respects, a healthy 'political crisis'. What I mean by this is that Australians are more politically savvy today compared to yesteryear. There is no longer that voter allegiance to a particular political party as there once was.

In this day and age, the Australian voter is not going to accept as gospel any political party's reform agenda unless it has, for example, clearly articulated the benefits and costs associated with the reform, and any financial burdens are dispersed fairly across the socio-economic groups.

This has been one of the current Federal Government's greatest failings.As part of the Government's debt and deficit reduction strategy, particularly in social services, education and in health, the public perception is that the Government is targeting the lower socio-economic groups to carry more of the financial burden. Australians see through this and will not support reform which appears overly biased toward one group over another.

I do not believe the majority of Australians are against reform or are unwilling to make a sacrifice for the longer term betterment of our economy and society. But it needs to be the right type of reform in which the benefits and burdens are distributed fairly. The Labor Party tend to be better at this aspect compared to the Coalition.
Posted by Dino Cesta - View From The Obelisk, Tuesday, 3 February 2015 2:09:34 PM
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Dino, I don't know about political savvy, but Australians certainly don't have any economic savvy. When are we collectively going to realize that the days of wine and roses have passed and it is time to pull our belts in. The piper has to be paid and because of the downturn in coal and iron prices taxes are going to need increasing to just balance the books, let alone claw back the deficit.

David
Posted by VK3AUU, Wednesday, 4 February 2015 7:43:36 AM
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