1. Growth in inequality is a real and present danger
ABC RN excellent Rear Vision program took a look at the growth of economic inequality in modern times.
Actually they gave us the full history. Inequality started with settled societies and property ownership. It reached a peak during the Roman Empire, but suffered a remarkable setback during the Black Death in the 14th century. In simple terms capital and property survived but the workers died in large numbers making labour scarce and expensive.
Capital gradually restored its position, with inequality accelerating during industrialisation, to reach a peak before World War I when in England 1% owned 70% of everything. However, the workers were looked after during the war to contribute to the war effort. The big shift came with the reconstruction effort after WW II when education, health and infrastructure were funded by rationally high taxes, up to 90% for the rich, even in the USA. Economic growth was also strong during the next 25 years.
From 1980 on, starting with the Reagan and Thatcher ‘reforms’, the trend has been strongly in the direction of greater inequality. For the bottom half of workers in the USA they earn exactly the same now as the earned in 1980 – on average $16,000 pa.
Look to South America if you want to see the future. Gated communities, also in the US and fences up to eight stories high for the rich to keep out the thieves.
Ultimately infrastructure starts to fail, society fractures and there is no longer any sense of the common good.
Meanwhile it is open to politicians to take corrective action if they are game. Shorten has been talking about the inequality problem and Labor is signalling a ‘much more aggressive approach to raising the minimum wage’. However, I doubt we’ll see seriously taxing the rich.
2. SA election
The SA election is off and running, with Antony Green’s ABC site here. In his election preview Green explains why it is almost impossible for Labor to win outright. Last time they won when the Libs got 53% of the vote by virtue of an Indy and a Lib defector. History is against a fifth Labor term, there has been a redistribution and the entry of Xenophon will shake things up. Still, you would think that Xenophon would support a minority Labor government if it ends up ahead of the Libs, and Xenophon is likely to take more off the Libs than Labor.
Electricity prices and policy are front and centre, about which I’ll say more elsewhere.
3. Clive Palmer is back
I’m not sure whether Clive Palmer is entirely delusional, but he’s going to have a crack at the next Federal election with his party running in all seats. He says:
- “Since I left Parliament I have experienced the frustration and helplessness that all Australians experience with the major political parties,’’ Mr Palmer said in the statement.
“It’s time for Australia to reset its agenda for economic growth and prosperity.
“The full weight of the federal government has been improperly mobilised against me and my employees.
“(Prime Minister Malcolm) Turnbull and (Opposition Leader Bill) Shorten don’t care about our future generation and seek to deprive rather than provide opportunities for young Australians.”
First time around he attracted a considerable protest vote after what we thought was the demise of One Nation. There are more protest parties in the field now and I suspect people are done with Clive.
First Adani was going lock in investors by the end of December 2017, then it was end of March, now they say they’ll need more time.
Patricia Karvelas sometimes seems a bit thick, not listening to what is said. So her interview with Athony Albanese is couched Is Labor sitting on the fence when it comes to Adani?
Albanese made it perfectly clear that there was no residual issue about whether the mine should be approved. It had already been approved – twice. Albo made it clear that Labor would not revisit the approval if it came to government, nor would it change the environmental legislation under which it was approved.
He said that Labor had always said that the mine should only go ahead if there was private sector funding, which looks increasingly unlikely. He said the Queensland Labor had shifted its position to align with Federal Labor before the last Queensland election.
Labor still supports the coal mining industry, but it is purely hypothetical to ponder whether they would have approved the Adani mine if they had been in government. Shorten is talking up “environmental concerns” and:
- Mr Shorten, after a series of public forums in Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton this week, said there needed to be “a plan for jobs that just doesn’t rely on a billionaire multinational coal company coming in with this very controversial project that has a lot of detractors”.
5. Trump says he’ll act on guns
The Florida school shooting event has gone off script. Usually by this time the country is moving on in the sad recognition that legislators will talk plenty, and pray, but do nothing. Students in particular, but families and others are starting what looks like a protest movement which may endure until there is change.
The latest is that not one but Four sheriff’s deputies hid during Florida school shooting.
6. Barnaby Joyce saga
I’ll say a bit more tonight, but meanwhile please feel free to continue commenting on the existing thread. Meanwhile there is the important question of why Barnaby needed a tea towel in filming associated with the Fairfax interview that was meant to normalise the whole situation, when there were no dishes to be seen.