One night not long ago a friend of mine came to visit. The time was nearly nine, and he was coming directly from work.
We talked about his kids, his church and his work. The kids were fine, he had heard a good sermon at church reminding us to trust God to see us through our difficulties and it was their busy time at his work. He is a removalist and the months of December and January come with the shuffling of Defence and government employees in preparation for the new year, so there is plenty of work on. Come February the work slows down and so, therefore, does the money to casuals. He told us he would be away the coming weekend, moving some teachers out to Roma, roughly five hours from his home. He intimated his wife was unhappy about this but it couldn’t be helped.
He told me they were finding it difficult to absorb the rising cost of living, with electricity prices rising 25% that year among other expenses. He asked ‘is that legal, can’t the government do something?’ and ‘There’s not a lot of money for the average joe.’ He said he would have to have a look around for a new job if the company he was working for did not offer him permanent employment in the near future. Soon after sitting down he said his goodbyes and took himself home.
There is nothing remarkable about this story. It is the lot of millions of stoic Australians that are resigned to insecurity and hand to mouth living. They live one event away from financial crisis in a state of constant tension about a financial position they know not how to improve. My mate told me that a fellow he had moved suggested he look into investing in apartments in Spain. There is a glut of dwellings on the market thanks to the financial arrangements in that country and they are selling them to foreigners because the locals, 25% of whom are unemployed, can’t afford them.
If one steps back and surveys Australia’s economic landscape they might describe it thus. On the one side we have a skilled, energetic people, world class infrastructure and advanced industry, a mammoth surplus which can’t be bought by the domestic population and can’t be sold abroad due to an inability to compete on prices in that arena. We are secure indefinitely in terms of our real wealth capacity to provide health and dignity to our people owing to our low population and vast natural resources.
On the other side of the coin the situation is grim. We are host to 4 of the 10 most profitable, concentrated banks in the world. Their assets run into the trillions of dollars and their yearly profits into the tens of billions. We have a population, desiring small property, yoked with the debt represented by the aforementioned bank assets and struggling in an environment of high prices, increasing unemployment and financial insecurity. We have a government that has increased the national debt ceiling from 58 billion in 2007 to 500 billion in 2014, 85% of which is owed to foreign lenders who will demand their interest slice in taxes which will be paid by people like my friend. We are resource rich but money poor, an unhappy circumstance that apparently justifies a monstrous buy up of real wealth by foreigners on a scale seen only in chaotic and corrupt nations in the developing world. We labour under one of the heaviest tax programs in the world which has the double barrel effect of hiking prices and sapping incomes.
Our obvious real wealth does not set the tone of our nation. Our deficits and debts, private and national, do. Every day we are told we can’t do things because there is no money.
Here are the choices. We continue as we are, believing what we are told, that finance reflects the real wealth of our nation, that we are poor and in debt and the only way out of our problems is more debt, more sales of assets, more foreign ownership, less security. We continue to believe that the only way to run an economy is on the basis of debt lent with pleasure by an international banking plutocracy that claims ownership of the nation’s credit at the expense of the countryside and its people.
Or we make the issue of credit responsible to the electorate. We consider ourselves share holders in this productive enterprise called Australia and we demand that the wealth of the enterprise be distributed to the shareholders and not the moneylenders. Be assured this does not mean an attack on private ownership anywhere. The results of the plan will be to extend real ownership of property which would be the bulwark against financial insecurity and the resulting coercion. Credit will be distributed relative to the production of the community, producers would be assured a secure home market for their goods and consumers will have access to production through the mechanisms of stable prices and sufficient purchasing power. Leisure will be gradually extended with the likely effect of strengthening families and communities. The interference of remote government and finance will become increasingly irrelevant and intolerable.
I refer you to the writings and speeches of Major C.H. Douglas for the plan that will, by cause and effect, bring about some breathing space for my deserving friend.