Labor’s three choices

It seems to me that Labor has three choices for dealing with the Greens:

  • what would work but I hope they don’t do;
  • what I’d hope they do, but would require a total readjustment of their approach to politics; and
  • what they’re doing now, which will just give the next election to the conservatives.

Starting with the latter. The ALP can smear the Greens whilst simultaneously working with them to pass legislation. The Prime Minister can call the Greens every name under the sun, and then absorb those criticisms for her own party by linking it with those she’s just portrayed as lunatics. She can give the Liberals a massive free kick by presenting herself as either a liar, who doesn’t believe what she’s saying; or someone who is selling out Australia to people she calls extremists.

It’s an utterly moronic strategy, and if Gillard keeps it up, she’s very likely to put Tony Abbott in government. She might drag some Labor voters back from the Greens (although quite possibly encourage more to defect to the Greens), but the devastating overall effect will be to send more Labor voters to the Liberals.

The second option is the principled one. It recognises that Labor can’t simultaneously appeal to both those on its right and those on its left – not without being two-faced and tricky and really representing neither. So this option would involve the ALP choosing to represent what it seems to see as its core constituency – lower to middle-class economic moderates, I guess: whoever those people in the party are who are appalled by the actual left – and working to wrest them back from the Liberals, whilst leaving its lefty base to continue its move to the Greens. It would require Labor to reconcile itself to being a genuinely democratic, but somewhat smaller party, that would then form coalition governments with the Greens. It would no longer have to tie itself in knots trying to appeal to fundamentally opposed voters – the Greens could advocate for one lot, and it could advocate for the other. It’s kind of the Liberals v Nationals situation: the Liberals let the Nationals represent the country voters while it gets on with the task of representing big business. The balance of power in the Coalition varies depending on support from each party’s voters – country voters, in a good year, can ensure they get a much bigger say in what the Coalition advocates than, say, the Liberals’ moderates, who don’t have their own party.

Sadly, however, this will never happen. In reality, Labor wants a majority in its own right, and doesn’t really mind whether it actually represents any particular voters or not. It wants power with as few checks as possible. It hopes it can continue to drag a wide net of voters to reluctantly support it as “not as bad as the Liberals”, many of whom it can then ignore. It will only take this option when forced to – by lefties continuing to vote Greens.

So that leaves the third option, and it’s one I hope Labor doesn’t take. This is the John Howard vs One Nation option. What you do, is you portray the smaller party as total nutcases. You take every extreme position any member holds or has held, and you go to town. You’re bigger, the media will help. You tear them to pieces. You put them last on your ballots. You ignore all their fairly mainstream progressive policies, and exaggerate the minor and more easily demonised ones. You take Niki Savva’s advice and put them absolutely last.

And, simultaneously, while you’re bashing them loudly and publicly, you adopt one or two of their more palatable policies, to win their voters back. That ten to fifteen percent of the population is supporting the Greens because they’re offering them at least something progressive, that they’re simply not getting from the ALP. So, if you’re the ALP, you tear strips off the Greens but then, at the conference later this year, you endorse marriage equality and, say, a full public dental health care plan. Point is, you give the progressive Greens voters a reason to come back to you – now that their party is destroyed. To conservative voters you have chops as the party that destroyed those EXTREME GREENS. (The Australian would even call it being “principled”.) To lefties, well, they might accept the trade-off of their party for a small number of their policies being implemented.

That option doesn’t appeal to me at all, because it’s taken more than twenty, thirty years to build the Greens up to this point and I don’t particularly fancy the left having to start all over again. Nor do I trust that, without the Greens on its left shoulder, the ALP would do anything else for progressives for a very long time.

It’s essentially the same thing a big supermarket chain does to squash the little one that’s sprung up to compete with it on price. It takes on some of the qualities that attracted the shoppers – cheaper prices, better service – until the competitor is no more. Then it jacks everything up again and treats everyone with contempt until someone is foolhardy enough to try again, knowing what the end result will always be.

It’s the same in politics – which, let’s be honest, has even more significant barriers to entry than the most newcomer-unfriendly commercial field. You don’t have to give the punters much to undercut the competitor, and it’s a long time between challengers, but that’s the way to crush them and end the threat.

The point is, that it works. Oh, it works alright. (God help the lot of us.)

25 responses to “Labor’s three choices

  1. It did work for Howard with One Nation but perhaps there are crucial differences between The genesis of One Nation and that of the Greens. With One Nation which appeared quite suddenly and grew fast I think there was a strong protest vote. Conservative Coalition voters, predominantly middle aged or elderly, dismayed because of a perceived deterioration in the state of society under the Coalition, liked the fact that Hanson publicly represented their fear of ‘the other’ (gays, unemployed, refugees, drug users, indigenous Australians). When reassured by Howard’s adoption of some of their gripes and having thought again because of his government’s negative characterization of One Nation (as you correctly point out) they happily returned to the fold.

    I find it difficult to assess the relative effectiveness of Howard’s axe job on ‘One Nation’ against the obvious flakiness of the leadership which quickly became obvious to all as drivers of the destruction of ‘One Nation’. Did Howard do them in, did they do themselves in, or was it a bit of both?

    Contrast this with the growth of The Greens. A slow build up over thirty years based on a stranglehold on the progressive youth vote and a steady drift of progressive Labor voters away from the ALP. Young voters inclined to vote progressively are entering the electorate with no historical affiliations to the ALP. This was not the base of support for ‘One Nation’. It would never occur to them to place their vote for other than the Greens. This is a growing constituency whose commitment will only be strengthened by the poll-driven insincerity of many of Labor’s policy initiatives and public statements and their inability to effectively address the crises of these times.

    Labor luminaries eternally overlooking their unattractiveness to young voters like to attribute their steady increase to disaffected progressive Labor voters parking their vote as a message to the ALP, and assume that these votes will return once the Party gets around to addressing the issues concerning these ‘Men and women of Australia’. As a member of this group, forty years a Labor voter who has shifted to the Greens, I suggest their assessment of their dwindling baby boomer vote is rubbish. It reveals contempt for this group that they assume can be bought with token gestures. It is redolent with the values free commitment to ‘whatever it takes’ that has brought the ALP to this position in the first place.

    For me the decision was not lightly taken. As a lifelong social democrat it involved plenty of thinking and reading but now that the point has been reached and I have moved my vote to a party that clearly stands for those things I find important I can’t imagine going back. Why would anyone who values their vote above and beyond the impact it can have on the contents of their hip-pocket do this?

    They ALP ‘wise’ people also seem to think that policy shortcomings are the only reason for disaffected progressives jumping ship. I suggest it is at least as strongly driven by the rancid state of the internal workings of the Party as reflected in their dwindling membership. Of around 45,000 ‘members’ nationwide I read that less than half are real active members. The rest apparently are phantoms (the result of branch stackings) or inactive. Reveiew after review recommends action but none is ever taken. This time will be no different.

    If the Federal government adopts your third strategy, the one you fear I predict the impact will only be to harden the attitudes of the progressive young voters who are the actual backbone of the growth of the Greens. Further I reckon that of the progressive ‘elderly’ ALP voters, as many will be turned off by the disingenuous strategizing this will entail as will be persuaded to keep the faith.

    So don’t despair. Negative spin and a bit more of ‘whatever it takes’ from the Party who extinguished the light on the hill might slow the growth of the Greens, but I don’t think it will destroy them. However I believe there are other threats to Australia’s only progressive party. They will struggle to gain lower house seats around Australia consonant with the strength of their vote, as the major parties pursue preference swaps against them. Also they may struggle to retain coherence in the post Bob Brown era which can’t be more than a term away now can it? As evidenced by that dill Lee Rhiannon there is still a steady trickle of candidates with the political nous of the average house brick willing and able to feed copy to the conservative media. One or two more of her ilk could do severe damage to the Party.

  2. The problem with your last idea here is that I think most of the disaffected Labor voters who’ve shifted to the Greens haven’t done it because the ALP lacks the policies they want but are disgusted at the policies they do have. I don’t see the ALP giving up their disastrous approach to asylum seekers and immigration any time soon, despite them never being able to out-tough the Tories. It’s policies like this that have caused the shift to the Greens, not the lack of policies like marriage equality.

  3. Splatterbottom

    The proposition that Labor would willingly allow supporters to drift to the Greens is illogical. Labor is driven by opportunists bent on attaining and retaining power. They don’t seem to care much what they have to say or do to get into power. The less support they have, the less likely they are to achieve power. They are certainly not going to adopt a policy that significantly increases the power of the Greens. What you are proposing is that Labor becomes a means of harnessing the middle ground to achieve the Greens ends. The present Green/ALP coalition is a small sample of the influence the Greens will have and it is already destroying Labor’s credibility. Going further down that track is not going to help Labor, although it would further empower the Greens

    The Greens supporters consist of environmentalist activists, the old hard left looking to re-brand after the fall of the communist dictatorships and alienated major-party types looking for a new home. By hammering the old hard left and adopting other Greens policies (Jeremy’s option 2) Labor can hope to draw members of the other two categories from the Greens. That is probably their game. It will leave the Greens with the hard left and environmentalists who are not prepared to compromise their positions.

    The appropriate response from the Greens is to attract more Labor voters by sidelining the hard left and moderating their policies or at least prioritising and promoting their more moderate policies. The Greens have a bit of momentum and Labor is trying to white-ant it. That is perfectly rational on their part. The Greens must determine whether they are better off ditching the hard left element, and how far they are prepared to go to convince ordinary voters that their core values are compatible with those of the electorate. This is a great opportunity because nobody likes the major parties much.

  4. “sidelining the hard left”

    Problem is that it’s not clear what you mean by that. If you mean that the Greens should abandon pushing for better public funding of services at the expense of tax cuts, for example, or that they should abandon social progressive policies like marriage equality, then, um, no. They shouldn’t do that. That’s a large part of their support. (It’s why I support them, for example.)

  5. “(It’s why I support them, for example.)”

    Same here, and for most other Green voters I know personally. My wife, she’s middle of the road, she votes Green because of their progressive policies. Neither of us are ‘Greenies’ I consider myself a Socialist, I’m not sure if that’s ‘hard left’ but I’m not too bothered if I am.

    “what they’re doing now, which will just give the next election to the conservatives.”

    Yes. And it really worries me if it’s an Abbott lead Govt, not so much if it’s Turnbull (hell, with Turnbull they might be more progressive than the ALP. 😉 )

  6. Splatterbottom

    Sidelining the hard left:

    1. Step away from the crazies – the anti-Israel BSD issue; support for fringe causes like the S11 demo; don’t rush to blame the Qld floods on coal mining; don’t jump on the new Flannery/Gaia bandwagon (if anyone is tempted).

    2. Don’t create divisive categories like ‘sustainable economics’. It’s just economics. I don’t know what the ‘sustainable’ adds, but it sounds like code for back to the stone age. Argue the merits of specific cases and choose the battles to fight. People can much better understand gradual improvement of the existing system. Creating new categories may seem like good marketing and it may help the faithful feel like they are involved in radical change, but it also sets up an identifiable category to be targeted by opponents. It is easier to deride ‘sustainable economics’ than a specific new health program.

    3. Stick with marriage equality. Most Australians already support it, and opponents make themselves look silly as they try to explain their indefensible position.

    4. Show support for small business and private enterprise. If the Greens believe that they are an essential component in the Green vision, that they are necessary to create wealth and jobs to support other measures, the Greens should be saying so very loudly. You hear very little of this from the Green talking heads. Save the rhetoric for the exploitative and anti-competitive businesses that really do screw consumers. People will be grateful for effective legislation against corporate market abuse. That should also open up areas for competition and be seen as opening the way for small business. Having old commos on the front line is easy meat for opponents who like to tar the Greens as anti-private enterprise and still hung up on the socialist utopia.

  7. “The Greens supporters consist of environmentalist activists, the old hard left looking to re-brand after the fall of the communist dictatorships and alienated major-party types looking for a new home. ”

    And whilst Nero fiddles planet Earth burns. What unmitigated, unadulterated, absolute bollocks. You really can’t make this stuff up.

    SB I know you probably get a good hearing around the water cooler where you work, you probably have a few supporters, but really? Communists? I really would like some of the stuff that your modern day conservative is injecting into his veins.

    The reason the true left is abandoning the Labor party has got five fifths of seven eighths of F A with the old guard looking for a new home, or a few people worried the polar bears just might disappear in our life time. Or the left having a better understanding of the Palestinian/Israel conflict than you obviously do.

    The Labor party has been on the nose since R. Hawke took the job on as P.M and it has not recovered since.(Pangea ring any bells?) (A little reading of Tom Urens biography reveals much, as does Pilgers A secret country) The Labor party is about as Labor as Maggie Thatcher. I could go on about the cuts to the health service, social service, supporting your faux wars, the subtle attack on it’s roots, the union movement, the list goes on, on, on, and onnnnnn.

    This started longgggggg before Gillard came to power, and she on cue is going to hand power over to a right wing cracka jack that is going to make Maggie Thatcher, look like a social worker.

    The irony is, the pseudo left is going to help her do just that.

  8. Splatterbottom

    Lynot: “I know you probably get a good hearing around the water cooler where you work”

    Lynot this blog is my water-cooler.

    As to the ALP, the party has changed over time. Kim Beasley Sr famously remarked that it was once populated by the cream of the working class but was now infested with the dregs of the middle class. The difference between the ALP and the Greens is that the latter was never populated by the cream of the working class.

    In fact the intellectual elite now detest the working class. The contempt of the elites is dripping from every sentence of David Williamson’s account of his travels among them. Can you believe that his fellow cruise-ship passengers “didn’t seem to be discussing Proust”? Just imagine how he suffered on that voyage from heel!

    Nowadays the intellectual elite are more likely to refer to the noble working class as ‘bogans’ or ‘rednecks’.

    By the way it is no accident that Hawke was the longest serving Labor PM. His government, with Keating as Treasurer was one of the best the country has seen as opposed to, say, Whitlam’s rag-tag team of commies, crooks and incompetents.

  9. ” Whitlam’s rag-tag team of commies, crooks and incompetents.”

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph hang out the flag, apart from the above, I for what it’s worth actually agree with you.

    Gillard at this very moment should be working out the severance pay for her maids and Jenkins the butler, she is done, stick a fondue fork in her. The latest rumours of cuts to medical research should they be true, will be the last nail in the coffin. However, contrary to what you may believe, most of the disillusioned will flock not to the right, but to my beloved Greens. Unfortunately it will be some time before we can form a government, not in my life time much the pity.

  10. Splatterbottom

    Lynot: “contrary to what you may believe, most of the disillusioned will flock not to the right,”

    You may be correct, but what happened in the NSW election then?

  11. “You may be correct, but what happened in the NSW election then?”

    Don’t know! Why did George Bush get voted in twice? Will Cameron get a second term? Probably not. Politics is a strange business and what is regarded as a “Lay down misere” doesn’t always follow.

    But I do know this, the Greens or a party of similar ideology call them what you will, will in time be running government. Man or conservatives cannot stop it. The socialist utopian dream you on the right are always waxing lyrical about, was never ever envisaged by any sane person on the left, just a sustainable economic system that takes care of all and not the chosen few.

    I don’t need a lecture about human nature, but I do have eyes, the planet is being raped, pillaged, over populated, polluted, and we are drowning in our own body fluids. Most conservatives I know haven’t travelled much further than their own crapper to take a dump. They think the sterile world they live in, is the same every where. I have been to places where it is pleasant just to have the water smell of just urine, and not shite as well.Where people take a shit outside their neighbours door because theirs is already covered.

    End of utopian socialist rant.

  12. Splatterbottom

    Lynot: “But I do know this, the Greens or a party of similar ideology call them what you will, will in time be running government. “

    People aren’t that stupid. Have you listened to Lee Rhiannon? She is a revolting (barely) human being.

    “a sustainable economic system”

    What is that exactly?

  13. “People aren’t that stupid. Have you listened to Lee Rhiannon? She is a revolting (barely) human being.”

    You reckon? The fact is, people are that stupid. The electorate voted in not once but twice the biggest buffoon in political history, a one George Bush. The media in Australia decides who will govern it and the plebes soak up the daily diatribes of our so called journalists, and vote accordingly. We can’t and wont even think for ourselves.

    We have MOST of the worlds bona fide scientists telling us there is a problem with the climate Houston, and what do we get from the right? A load of un-scientific twaddle, peddled by people who couldn’t find their own arse holes with both hands, and again the plebes are beginning to buy it.

    You reckon we are not stupid?

    A sustainable economy is an economy that will last the rest of the time the planet is here before it is engulfed by the sun. We have best part used up the oil reserves in a hundred years, the seas are being fished out by a ever increasing rapacious population, and your mob wont be happy until they have encased this planet in concrete, and cut down the last tree standing. What are our great grand children going to do?

    At least the Greens have some semblance of an idea but conservatives Well! More growth old bean that’ll cure everything. Well I’m sorry SB the chickens are slowly but surely coming home to roost. Your ideology has reached its used by date.

  14. Splatterbottom

    Lynot: “You reckon we are not stupid?”

    No. Quite the opposite.

    So how does your ‘sustainable economy’ sustain itself?

  15. “So how does your ‘sustainable economy’ sustain itself?”

    Simple my dear Watson, need not greed. End of.

  16. Splatterbottom

    Yep, Lynot that always works. Tell me who is going to decide what constitutes need and greed?

  17. “Yep, Lynot that always works. Tell me who is going to decide what constitutes need and greed?”

    Oh I don’t know, will I do? Or we could ask some poor bastard waiting for a hip replacement, whilst he’s/she’s reading about some mother buying a painting, when said money could be used for a hospital wing.

    We could go over to Iraq and ask a local if he minds me spending my money to drop bombs on him and his family, when it could be used to help him build a nice new crapper. I mean, the list of people who could decide is probably endless.

    With one exception we wouldn’t ask you, George Bush, Maggie Thatcher, John Howard, Tony Blair, Berlusconi, or any of the other benevolent leaders I could mention.

    But today Yep! I’ll decide, no worries.

  18. jordanrastrick

    SBs 1-4 above are spot on.

    The libs have already been outflanked to the right once in recent history; they put a stop to that business by means of dog whistling, but they’re now in an akward position where they’re starting, internally, to listen to their own tune. The populist right elements are becoming ascendant, and that might win them votes in some key electorates but its got to be damaging their brand in others.

    So my dream would be to outflank them to the left. A more libertarian party that’s not quite as nutty-Ayn-Rand-worshipy as say the LDP – with an agenda of tax and welfare reform (that’s rationalist but not punatively populist), labour market reform, pro-immigration, positive toward the environment, generally socially progressive, strongly distancing oneself from the crazy-right – could easily put some heat on the moderate wing (that ol doctor’s husband vote….)

  19. narcoticmusing

    Just get rid of greed huh Lynot? Could that be any more unrealistic? No wonder the Right think sustainable economics is crazy and completely disregards inherent human nature. There are many established legal mechanisms to curtail self-interest (think Canada’s obsession with fiduciaries) but is this necessarily a good thing when it translates to just more litigation within contractual arrangemetns? (or the even more unjust situation arising in the UK of ‘unjust enrichment’)

    Oh I don’t know, will I do? Or we could ask some poor bastard waiting for a hip replacement, whilst he’s/she’s reading about some mother buying a painting, when said money could be used for a hospital wing.

    It is so not that simple Lynot. For one, based on your policy, arts would never get funded while there was ever a hospital that wanted money. Hospitals are bottomless pits – demand never ceases for them – give them more capacity and it is instantly consumed.

    And the hip replacement? That is argueably not ‘need’ but greed. Before you bite my head off about the poor old nanna in pain; yes I agree she should be able to get her hip replaced. But too often we see this poor old lady on the news acting as if her hip not being replaced is evidence the entire health system is broken and more ‘waiting list’ bullshit (remember time on waiting list is proportional to need – so if you are waiting years, it means it isn’t that bad compared to the person ahead of you). The reality that there is no waiting list for acutal people in need is lost on everyone. There is no waiting list for emergencies – they are people in need. Everyone else just wants care – and should be able to get it – but lets face it, the person complaining about waiting ‘years’ for a hip replacement? What about saving up a little bit each week and buying it – if it was such a desperate issue, why wait years? Get a loan. Go fund it. I say this, not because I don’t believe in unviersal health care, but because it is rarely someone without any means at all that the news put on TV to say ‘poor old granny’. There is no mention of self-responsibility or anything like that in health debates; just ‘government should pay up’.

    So then, based on your example, the ‘needy’ are those who want [insert service here, for eg. surgery] that they could argueably fund themselves or just wait for, but the media have dredged up sympathy for? Anyway, that was just one example of where need vs greed is not that straight forward. I’m a lefty and I disagree with your examples; so SB’s point is very valid.

    Do we leave it to the Government to decide? Really? I certainly wouldn’t trust the two current federal big powers to decide who is needy and whose just greedy… oh wait, the job is already done, apparently it is the ‘dole bludgers’ who are greedy. Here I was thinking they were needy. But hey, at least they’ve decided who is needy and who isn’t (middle class = needy, dole bludgers = greedy); I’m just not sure it will provide the sustainable economy you spoke of.

    Ergo, not so simple.

  20. jordanrastrick

    Just get rid of greed huh Lynot? Could that be any more unrealistic?

    No, its about as unrealistic as they get. As evidenced, for example, by the fact that most of the fiercly anti-greed socialists who comment around here almost certainly live on far more than the mean global per capita income (about $10,000 p.a.), as evidenced by their English literacy, Australian residency, internet access, etc. And yet who here will move to a cheaper suburb, give up all food and drink except a nutritionally complete subsistence diet (say 95% of the time home-cooked rice, lentils, peas and water), give up their TV, their car, their mobile phone and their computer, and donate all the result savings from reduced consumption to one of the many billion less fortunate souls on Earth?

    Anyone? No?

    Then if you can’t even overcome your own greed enough to give up most of your obscence wealth for the sake of starving children, how can you possibly expect an economic system and society to be created where self-interest is absent?

    I ask this seriously, by the way. If you oppose the modern political consensus that even the Greens subscribe to – a market system where people create wealth out of self-interest and some of it is progressively taxed to help the less fortunate – please explain how we get to the Communist (or for that matter Ayn Randian, if your coming from the other direction) utopia, given the evidence of your own psychology let alone that of others.

  21. “Ergo, not so simple.”

    Ergo, 1. you are not of the left. 2. Spare me any lectures on human nature, or what is simple or not. Your comment ref the hip replacement is more akin to something you would hear in the old Melbourne club.

    Of course SB was right when he told me the left that’s the new pseudo left, that’s you by the way, would treat me with the utter contempt. But of course he is right, my examples at the lower end of the simple position. is where the true left has gone wrong.

    If you don’t believe in the fundamentals of what a true lefty is all about, than why pronounce to the world you are one, when you are clearly not.

    Your comment about funding in the arts is a hoot, why should I fund the arts that cannot stand on their own merit? This is the typical thinking of the new trendy left. ” If I like the ballet than you should you working class yob”

    I believe in the free enterprise system, God knows I’ve done alright out of it. My complaint is, the wealth that is created in society from it, is not going to the areas most needed. If you think its fine for a government to waste millions of dollars on some fact finding mission, checking out the sewer system in Venice from a Gondola being serenaded by some swarthy looking character whilst quaffing down a top little number and nice cheese, I don’t.

    Or if you don’t mind some fat gutted politician sunning him/her self on a beach counting coconuts in some terrible place like Tahiti. I don’t. I don’t like the fact our leader of the opposition goes on bike race, beach carnival showing off his emaciated body to all and sundry, and me picking up the tab. I don’t like our tourist P.M. flying around the globe, embarrassing us with her phony accent.Nothing to do with economics I know, I thought I’d just throw that in, a bit like some of your comments.

    By the way, a sustainable economy means, you cut down one tree you plant six, you build cars that don’t need a tacked on service station to run. You don’t sell off the last ton of iron ore to the highest bidder. Simple really…

  22. narcoticmusing

    Lynot, you are being far too defensive. I was curious as to how you see it working. I thought your examples didn’t explain it so I questioned them. There was no reason to go on some attack run. I will attempt to address your concerns without the same animosity.

    My hip replacement comment was simply trying to challenge you to provide a better example or at least point out that ‘need’ vs ‘greed’ is a subjective measure. It is not always simple to determine.

    Your examples were flawed and appeared to be based on being fooled by the media’s constant misrepresentation of issues, with the example being the health system. This is why I talked about the health system, not because it was irrelevant to economics, but because it was your example of how sustainable economics might work.

    I am a big believer in, and actively advocate for, re-distribution of wealth and free health care for all, but I am also aware of where the current system is at and what else is out there. I am aware of reality and don’t try to pretend reality is something it is not. I am aware of the manipulation of the media that tries to gain sympathy for something to use as a political cricket bat to smack people with until they too think it is some huge issue. I could give examples of this, but I dare not sway from anything specifically relevant.

    Your attempt to insult me by claiming I’m not left enough for you was amusing. I normally don’t affiliate myself with either ‘side’, but most of my values and beliefs tend to fall on the left. I determine my position without reference to a political ‘side’ – I don’t submit my views to the left for approval. I form my own view. Sometimes I will agree with you, sometimes I won’t. It is all part of having my own mind. That I didn’t disagree with you, rather, I questioned your examples, made your aggressive response so surprising.

    I agree the free enterprise system isn’t redistributing wealth well enough – so I was questioning how it could be done better. Our current Governments don’t have the balls or know-how. I wouldn’t trust them to decide. So the question remains, who would decide between need and greed? If it were you, I’d disagree with your evaluation of ‘needy’ based on your examples (which is all I have to base it on atm). If it were me, you might disagree with my evaluation of ‘needy’ vs ‘greedy’. To me, ‘want’ is not ‘need’… and there is some grey in-between. I’m sure we’d have some overlap of what we both agree is ‘needy’.

    The rest of your post was just about waste and corruption – I’m not sure how that was to further your argument. All economies/governments/ businesses are better without this; it is not a concept unique to sustainable economics.

  23. narcoticmusing

    Jordan – While I understand where you are coming from, I don’t think the arguement that people in Western countries that earn more than the global average are somehow hypocritcal is rationale. I costs a lot more to live in Australia than in the nations you spoke of, so the earnings do not need to be equal. Perhaps you are referring to some level of equivalance?

    I also believe there are other ways people can contribute rather than just giving up all of their wealth, and many of those ways (such as donating time) require some of the items you listed (such as a home PC).

    Nevertheless, I would be interested in the views of people who visit this site as to the differences between say sustainable economics and communism? We will never abolish personal property ownership and as such self interest is necessary; but if we were to improve re-distribution of wealth, what mechanism could we use? Should we simply increase the imposition of the fiduciary as Canada has done (to curtail self interest), or should it be done via some other regulatory or taxation mechanism? Other ideas?

  24. “That I didn’t disagree with you, rather, I questioned your examples, made your aggressive response so surprising.”

    Are you having a laugh? My comment about the hip replacement or any other replacement for that matter, or indeed the not too subtle threats to our social welfare system by a so called “Left” progressive government, I would have thought a glaring example of why the Labor party is going to get the arse at the next election. Ergo. They are not a dinkum Labor party, which is becoming clearer with each mealy mouthed statement from our tourist P.M.

    Your comments in relation to the above, I reiterate are more akin to what you would hear in the old Melbourne club, or at a board meeting of some of our largest company’s. It may have escaped your notice, wealth distribution has, and although far from where I would like to see it, improved dramatically in the last forty years. Not by I might add, the largess of conservative governments or for that matter our faux Labor governments, or by Australian corporations. The changes have fallen squarely on the union movement and other social welfare organisations who work tirelessly to lobby individual members of parliament.

    Being a lefty, if it is not about the betterment of society looking after individuals who can’t look after themselves, having a logical response to drug problems or all the other myriad of problems that plague us as a society. Having a sustainable economic system, that lasts until after next Sunday, then what the hell is it for? We might as well all vote the same, it would save a fortune right there.

  25. jordanrastrick

    Jordan – While I understand where you are coming from, I don’t think the arguement that people in Western countries that earn more than the global average are somehow hypocritcal is rationale. I costs a lot more to live in Australia than in the nations you spoke of, so the earnings do not need to be equal. Perhaps you are referring to some level of equivalance?

    Even if you adjust for these factors, I’d expect all the people commenting here to be materially wealthier than the average person on the planet.

    By any reasonable measure of economic well being – income, PPP-adjusted income, log of PPP-adjusted income, discretionary income (after food and shelter), proportion of income spent on “luxuries”, life expectancy at birth, etc etc etc, anyone living in Australia who is well off enough to be commenting regularly on a political blog (and thus is almost certainly not, for instance, homeless) is way ahead of most inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, or South America.

    That’s why my examples were specifically chosen to be instances of things that most posters here could probably sacrifice and redirect the resources to buy a great deal of food for starving children (for instance).

    Now I have no problems with people enjoying the good fortune of being born in a prosperous nation like Australia, nor do I think its hypocritical in the least to call for a more equitable distribution of global wealth (which is something I firmly believe in myself) whilst yourself being wealthy.

    But most people you meet in somewhere like Australia calling for the creation of economic systems “not based on greed” seem to be slightly oblivious to the fact that they are as it happens most of the way to the top of the pyramid; that the $120,000 hip replacement to give them a more comfortable old-age could instead restore the eyesight of most blind people in a mid-sized third world city. Any truly equitable system of global wealth distribution would call for a massive transfer from the Australian health system (for instance) into foreign aid. If you can’t be ungreedy enough to give up even the greater excesses of your own wealth for the sake of the poor, it always seems a stretch to propose an entirely hypotheical, unspecified system where everyone else in the world gives up theirs.

    I also believe there are other ways people can contribute rather than just giving up all of their wealth, and many of those ways (such as donating time) require some of the items you listed (such as a home PC).

    Sure. I think the founders of Google or the inventors of mobile phones have done more to help the long term well-being of most people in the world, rich but especially poor, than any thousand well-meaning charity workers.

    But market driven technological innovation creates wealth out of a mixture of self-interested and altruistic motives, so it seems excluded if we throw greed out of the window entirely. Its not good enough to cure HIV – you also have to give the resulting billion dollar cheque away entirely, to be truly not greedy.

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