Everyone knew it all along. Now the hard evidence is in. Coles and Woolworths have been price gouging and made big increases to their profit margins by doing this. Some would suggest this is a form of theft.
Richard D Wolff is a Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, and previously from Yale University and a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris at the Sorbonne (France). Today he is a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City, and teacher Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Here, Wolff writes (Economy for All 18 May 2023) about the continuing delusion of that school of economics and policy makers obsessed with the market as the solver of all economic problems. He Calls the most extreme of these fundamentalists. But he also points out the contradiction between preaching the virtues of free trade, while turning towards protectionism and government handouts to corporations. The reality is that the market is a mechanism for rationing and does not meet the needs of society.
New Parliamentary Budget Office costings on the Stage Three Tax Cuts, which had been requested by the Greens, has revealed that the cost is rising and now sits at $20 billion for the first year (2024), and will increase each financial year to $42 billion in 2033-34. This is a total of $313 billion, and it is likely to end up costing even more.
Any decent and caring human being should be moved to anger and turn their back on anyone who promotes this obscenity.
The numbers speak for themselves. They reveal how much that small group at the top of the income pyramid is taking, and how little everyone else is getting in the face of an ongoing rise in the cost of living. Those in the middle get small shift in the tax margins, and what they gain is a sop that will soon be taken over by inflation. The share of national income will keep on flowing outwards. Those on annual incomes less than $45,000 get nothing. The screws will continue to tighten on government expenditure on services that benefit the majority.
Pocketing the money are those with incomes over $180,000 a year. Most of this will go to a much smaller group of billionaires. The much larger group in the middle-income range will be given a sop through modest marginal tax bracket adjustments. Not big enough to deliver any real change, and this will soon be eaten away by inflation. Those with an income below 45,000 a year will get absolutely nothing.
It’s those down the pyramid who will be paying the cost to line the pockets of those at the top of it, through the taxes they pay, and in the absence of services that could otherwise have been provided with this money.
For example, the money could have been used to lift those living below the poverty line and for the creation of affordable housing to address the rising cost of living crisis. Everyone should be up in arms over this failure.
While there is discontent over it, the lid has till now stopped this form boiling over. This lid is the political bipartisanship pushing it through.
The Coalition parties are supposed to stand up for the wealthy and Labor for working class Australians. It’s not quite like this in the real world. Political life within the framework of the existing political institutions demands those who seek to be the government to seek patronage in terms of dollar donations, entry into networks of power, and a positive media profile. There is always a price to be paid for patronage.
Labor differs with its base in the unions and community sector. It is from here that internal pressure to change direction is coming from and lining up with the rising expectations of Australia.
Working the other way are the realities of the political system and its associated bipartisanship on this question.
Political expediency and the unquestioning ideological hold of neoliberalism provides the rational that insists responsible government is about looking after the wealthiest to keep the economy sound, despite of its ongoing failure in practice. If it had worked, we wouldn’t have the problems that we have. The other part of this ideology is that any other approach is delegitimised. The neoliberal ideology must go.
Last but not least is the ethical question. In a caring society we look after each other. Each contributes according to their own capacity in return for benefits. There is nothing wrong with suggesting that those who are in the best position should contribute a little more. The choice is tied to whether we strive towards to be a caring society or continue on the same path.
As for the claim that moving in the opposite direction will hurt the economy. This is rubbish. Action that will facilitate participation and increase activity, means a far better chance of investment where it’s needed, and more likely to create jobs boost the economy.
On the eve of the federal budget, a great deal is being made of the expected $15 billion surplus, something that hasn’t been seen for 15 years. How can this be when the demands on the government’s responsibilities are rising, along with the gap between this and the revenue coming in? More on this later. Continue reading Will tonight’s budget bring gain or pain?→
The cost of Australia’s new military expenditure is much more than most of us think. Attention is on the AUKUS submarine program. It doesn’t stop here though.
But let’s start with the submarines. We were told that they would cost $368 billion. They didn’t tell us that an extra $122 billion have been committed. This means that the expectation of escalating costs has already been factored in. The estimated real cost is up to $490 billion, and this is only the current estimate. The cost could go higher still. Continue reading The military expenditure blowout does not serve Australia’s interests→
The much publicised case of fox News v Dominion Voting Systems in the United States has been settled outside the court for a payment of $US787.5 million. Fox News, and this means Rupert Murdoch have escaped punishment for spreading the lies that Donald Trump really won the 2020 presidential election and that this was due to massive electoral fraud. Continue reading Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News escapes facing justice in the United States→
Despite the release of Labor’s own report calling on a substantial lift to Jobseeker and Youth allowance payments, the Albanese government seems to be in no mood to listen. The report calls for a boost in rental assistance, and it argues that there must be a change in thinking of the definition of full employment. It currently refers to anyone who has worker an hour in the week of the used unemployment survey. Continue reading Government report calls for increasing Jobseeker and Youth Allowance→