By Dr Donna McDonald, School of Human Services and Social Work
Tuesday’s Budget is, of course, predictably dreadful and we’ve all got our own pithy analyses.
Hockey’s budget is the child of a melancholic hound-dog in the spirit of “We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan, “before the year is out”, and the cold meanness of Ebenezer Scrooge (but without any prospects of redemption). The Federal Budget is merely an accountant’s cash-flow sheet: squaring the columns of cash-in on one side and cash-out neatly on the other side. You can almost hear the scratching of the blue biro and see the spill of whiteout in the school-boyish anxiety to achieve this.
It is not an economic budget set to a national vision in the spirit of Hawke (remember the Accord? the social wage?), or Keating (oh, for the Placido Domingo of Aussie politics to come back!) or even Howard (lame though his “vision” for “a comfortable Australia” was, at least it was a vision, even if clouded and myopic).
Hockey has no vision. Just the inane frenzied pursuit of a balanced cheque book.
However, many Australians – including serious commentators – think Hockey is on the money. They are buying into his narrative of squaring away the debt like a fussy housekeeper.
This is because we all are constricted in our understanding of the changes taking place in 21st century economics – particularly the economics of democratic capitalism. We are still puzzling over the gaps between the various 20th century philosophical approaches to the economy and our present lived experiences.
So, this is why I’m taking the time to share this Guardian article by John Quiggin with you … discussing the “massive moral failure” of the Budget and introducing Thomas Piketty, with his entirely radically new approach to understanding wealth, income, economics and democratic capitalism.
We need new tools for understanding the impoverishment of the imaginations of our present crop of politicians – they are in thrall to out-dated ideas. In a way, they are victims too (but I’m not advocating charity towards them).
I hope you enjoy reading the article: it’s worth taking the time (about 5 to 7 minutes; more if you click on the Piketty link), and I predict we’ll all be hearing a lot more about Piketty’s work (and the responses to it) in the coming years.