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Forever, we have been told by right wing governments that we don’t need government. All we need is an employer willing to take care of us and everything else falls into place. This of course was a lie, and everyone is now finding that out for ourselves. A thread👇🏻
The myth of the benevolent employer is the rock they built neoliberalism on. The myth goes like this: if you’re worthy, a gracious employer will take you under their wing and provide you a livelihood, but only if you do what you’re told, stay in your box and don’t join your union
You’re also told tax is bad because it damages this benevolent employer. If he/she has to pay more tax, you risk being told he/she can no longer afford to hire you! Your labour in this equation is a cost to their business, just like tax - too much cost and you’re unemployed.
Of course the actual motivation of right wing govts is to reduce taxation to gift more profits to their mates - to shareholders - not to look after workers. But lots of people never saw this connection. They really believed they should be opposing tax to save their own jobs.
Next chapter of the story is that by opposing taxation, right wing neoliberal governments also opposed public goods. The less tax paid, the less govt funds available, the more cutting they do. Rinse, repeat. Austerity is not for the people, it’s for the shareholders.
These right wing governments would often claim they were working in the interests of the nation in ‘building a stronger economy by keeping government lean’ - lean means small, and small means unfunded and ineffectual. What they meant was they wanted government ineffectual.
Do you all remember during the bushfire crisis - like right in the middle of it - when Barnaby Joyce said he wanted government out of people’s lives? We all said he was mad. No, he was just being honest. Drunk people have no frontal lobe.
This project by right wing governments to reduce tax, cut services, fire public servants and therefore make government ineffectual has also resulted in something else - a massive movement of people who believe government - the institution of government - is wasteful and redundant
These are the people who sit next to you at the pub and say ‘all politicians lie - don’t trust any of them’. Groups like the Greens also propagate the idea that government is the problem by constantly calling all politicians ‘the bastards’ who have to be ‘kept honest’.
The result of all this is that people keep voting for right wing governments because they really believe that right wing governments run lean, are more efficient, manage the economy better, and therefore will better secure their jobs.
The majority also do not believe that big government is a good thing, because they think the ‘bigger’ the government, the more ‘interference’ in the economy - when their employer says no to taxation, they see government as the reason they’re not getting a pay rise or news jobs.
So, whenever Labor types like me have been trying to defend the roll of the public service, to defend the importance of taxation, to encourage people to collectively work for better outcomes from their employers (join your union!), we have, forever, been told we have no clue.
That is, until our generation experienced our first war: Covid 19. It’s impossible to quantify the impact this shock has had on politics rule of thumbs. But I’ll tell you one thing - nothing will ever be the same again. Every political conversation has now changed.
One perfect example is the obsession with surplus - right wingers have held onto this obsession, backed up with media orthodoxy that it represented good economic management - and they’ll now have to give that up.
Right wingers will also have to give up privatisation. Did you know SA govt run pathology services had chemicals stockpiled that have allowed SA to lead the nation for per-capita Covid 19 testing? SA govt have been threatening to privatise SA Pathology. That won’t happen now.
Right wingers are also going to have to stop telling people they’re unemployed because they’re lazy. We’ve all seen that unemployment is the result of a lack of jobs, not a lack of trying to get a job. When businesses close their doors, people don’t have jobs. Simple.
Right wingers will also have to stop defunding healthcare services, and properly fund hospitals - we might not need the full capacity of a well funded hospital every day, but when there is a health crisis we depend on them being there! Public hospitals save lives. Fund them.
Right wingers like to say they’re tough on borders, but look at the ineptitude of both Federal and NSW governments - they can’t even stop a plague filled cruise ship! They literally don’t have the capacity.
There are thousands of examples just like this. Stuart Robert saying ‘my bad’ at Centrelink crashing is the perfect representation of what has happened to the Australian government. They are not prepared. They are incapable.
Remember during bushfire crisis when Morrison also wasn’t effectual, and NSW govt had cut fire service funding and everyone for about a week said ‘we need effective govt to look after the public?’. Bushfires impacted thousands, Covid 19 impacted everyone. Nothing the same again.
So, in summary, while we suffer the pandemic crisis, we are also changing. Nothing will be the same again, including our relationship to our government. We have learned, as a society, we need govt, we need effective and competent govt. Not just in the bad times, but alway. End.
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