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May 10, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: down the gurgler

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That muffled gurgling sound you heard last week was either the remains of the government’s economic credibility swirling around the plug-hole, or the strangled sounds of ScoMo and his team attempting to put a positive spin over the disastrous national accounts figures.

Josh Frydenberg insists they are actually good news – proof of the remarkable resilience of a basically sound economy preparing to turn the corner into a rebound the like of which you have never seen. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Irrational optimism, wishful thinking, is an essential part of his job description.

He bases his belief in the silver lining on the idea that the interest rates cuts and the tax bonanza have not yet filtered through, or trickled down, to use the technical term. Just wait for the next quarter – the December accounts will be truly wondrous.

The problem he has missed with his rose-coloured glasses is that we already know that a lot of the tax refunds have had no effect at all – in fact retail sales, which we were assured would boom, actually went backwards in July, when some $3 billion was already shovelled into the pockets of hard-working Australians.

And the punters did not splurge it at Harvey Norman’s – they sensibly paid off some of their mortgages, or more likely have held on to as much of it as they could in the realistic expectation that things would continue to get worse. People are already dipping into what savings they have simply in order to exist. They are hardly in a position to indulge in the spending spree for which Morrison and Frydenberg were hoping.

The hardest of the hard facts our political Pollyannas are strenuously avoiding is that ordinary families and individuals are already in recession

Because the hardest of the hard facts our political Pollyannas are strenuously avoiding is that ordinary families and individuals are already in recession. On a per capita basis – the measure of actual cost of living – we are going backwards. Frydenberg boasts about the record growth of the Australian economy, but for the punters it is all smoke and mirrors.

True, Gross Domestic Product is still inching forward – half a per cent in the last quarter, 1.4 per cent over the year. It is hardly a matter of celebration: as we have been repeatedly reminded, this was the smallest increase in a decade when we were weathering the Global Financial Crisis. But even this paltry figure was an aberration, propped up by the big jump in the price of iron ore and the eagerness of the Chinese to buy it.

Now the price has tanked and the Chinese, for various reasons, are less enthusiastic. The September quarter is likely to see a fall, quite possibly into negative territory. A recession is not out of the question by the beginning of next year.

And what are Morrison and Frydenberg doing to ward it off? Three-fifths of five-eighths of fuck all, and preciously little of that. Their only clear strategy is bluster: a couple of weeks ago we had the absurd situation where business was being lectured on the need to invest and innovate, as if all that was needed was a vigorous pep talk and the moguls would spring into action like startled gazelles.

But why the hell should they? Not only is the government giving them no incentive or direction, there is no indication that our political leaders have the faintest idea what they are doing, let alone that they are devising a coherent plan of action.

They occasionally mutter ominously about headwinds, but then murmur reassuringly that hey, there are some countries doing even worse than we are, so we really have nothing to worry about

They occasionally mutter ominously about headwinds, but then murmur reassuringly that hey, there are some countries doing even worse than we are, so we really have nothing to worry about. And in any case it isn’t their fault: they have been in office for six solid years, but give them a bit more time.

And look at the achievements: record employment growth! Of course it’s a record, because the population is constantly increasing. But in fact employment is only just holding the line; the unemployment rate actually went up last month. And we have actually had a current account surplus – yes, just the one, and see the reservations about iron ore and China above.

But above all, we are delivering a surplus. Surely that will get the masses out dancing in the streets. This is the delusional bubble in which ScoMo and Josh reside. The quest for surplus is now more than a holy grail – it has become an immutable necessity, right up there with religious protection and coal-powered energy.

And because it has become untouchable, the real possibilities for getting out of the economic morass have been unceremoniously discarded.

Stimulus measures for the very poor, such as the victims of Newstart?

Too expensive, and anyway, if they have a go they will get a go – to a paupers grave, perhaps, but those are the breaks. Beefing up infrastructure? We’re doing quite enough of that, thank you – just wait for next year, or the year after that, or perhaps the following decade.

And the point is that none of this is our fault – it’s all about those bloody headwinds, or the international trade war (but don’t mention Donald Trump started them) or the drought (but don’t mention climate change)

And the point is that none of this is our fault – it’s all about those bloody headwinds, or the international trade war (but don’t mention Donald Trump started them) or the drought (but don’t mention climate change), or the states (but don’t mention that that it’s only their spending that it is keeping us precariously in the black) or the Reserve Bank (but ignore the fact that it has been pleading for months with the government to do something, anything, constructive).

And if none of that works, we’ll just blame Anthony Albanese – after all, he is responsible for just about everything. He must be – we in the government certainly aren’t.

Delusional, obviously – but ScoMo is receiving encouragement from the usual impeccable sources in the Murdoch media. The Australian’s economic autocrat, Judith Sloan (She Who Must Be Obeyed), assures us that there is no crisis, no catastrophe – a mishap, perhaps, but it’s only a matter of holding the line, staying the course, muddling through, and eventually the casualties will decrease.

They almost certainly won’t – let’s face it, it hasn’t worked in the past.

But we can put up with a bit of collateral damage in the cause of ideological purity. Of course if those figures had emerged under a Labor government, Sloan and her troops would have been apocalyptic with self-righteous fury. But hey, we have moved on. Why let the facts spoil a good rant?

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11 COMMENTS

  1. “But we can put up with a bit of collateral damage in the cause of ideological purity.”
    That’s it, isn’t it? This lot have a love for ideological purity, e.g. their disdain for that closet Lefty, Malcolm Turnbull, beyond the dreams of most Marxists.

    • Thanks, Mungo. Pithy as ever. (btw, 3/5 of 5/8ths is 3/8ths, so next time you can call a spade a spade!)

      You also did not mention the restriction on the right to protest. So, unless you spend many $000´s & attend a Leideral Fund Raiser you either will not be heard, or otherwise just ignored. Ordinary minions need not apply.

      The Lismore section of Ngara will be talking about our rights to protest:
      “Where to with Protests?” on 26th September at Rous Hotel, Lismore: 6 pm for meal, 7 pm for the pub talk.
      Where to with Protests?
      As we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Terrania Creek Forest protest that protected some of our dwindling rainforest, and as the success of the Bentley anti coal seam gas exploration protest is still clear in our memories, we are seeing more and more draconian anti protest legislation enacted by State and Federal Governments.
      There has been a steady rise in specific anti-protest legislation in Australia over the past five years.
      Australia and its social movements have a long and proud tradition of non-violence, but increased levels of activism associated with climate change; coal mining; unconventional gas extraction; and animal rights has led to a backlash from governments around Australia.
      Whilst this backlash is mostly justified by reference to a dubious rhetorical ‘right’ of businesses to be free from interference from protesters, the reality has been that massive fines, imprisonment and increased police powers have been implemented at the behest of powerful vested interests concerned at the impact of these various forms of activism.
      Australia lacks any constitutional or federally legislated Bill of Rights and so the steady erosion of rights of assembly and protest is occurring in the absence of any enforceable legislative standards.
      What will be the future of activism in the security state of the future?
      Ngara Lismore is hosting a pub talk and discussion session on this important and highly topical subject with the subject presented by our local and well-known activist, academic, and internationally recognised social change trainer, Aidan Ricketts.

      I hope a few people turn up so we can discuss where our Civil Liberties are going.

      • I don’t know about restrictions on protest, protest can go either way. I do know there are a thousand or million restrictions on development in any sense of the word, restrictions the Chinese don’t have which is why they are winning the trade war. At least some like Trump are trying to fight that war, or else we’ll all be better off with backyard carrots and a million made in china solar panels.

  2. Their solution to our economic woes is to punish the poor.
    Saddle the unemployed with a humiliating ‘cashless welfare card’ and drug test those on Newstart. They say they are only trials but in no time they will reach the sunny North Coast, noted haven of those ‘bludging on Newstart’.
    When they issue the card to the pensioner ‘leaners’, thisng will get interesting!

  3. Mungo – I dipped into the bottom of my paltry savings
    many months ago & am in recession. ‘Go figure…’ it
    is a glue & gum economy & the only surplus I’ve got
    is a fly in my soup. Add to that Civil Liberties. There’s
    nothing civil about going to the dogs either… yelp!!!
    We are all waiting & looking for Beckett’s ‘Godot’.

  4. “To win the election, the Liberals will have to run a fierce negative campaign against their opponents”. Alexander Downer, August 19th, 2018 The Australian Financial Review….Labor failed to listen and just turned the other cheek.
    Labor should have responded to the lie “Labor will tax you to death” with this (below) but they were always too dumb!.
    The seven highest TAXING years in the history of our country have ALL been under Liberal governments. The ten highest SPENDING years in the history of our country have ALSO been under Liberal governments. There have been only seven occasions where the tax to GDP ratio has been in excess of 23.5 per cent of GDP and all seven were under the Howard government.

    Gross Debt 2013 Election $273billion (Labor)……now under the Liberals……$540.2 Billion
    Net Debt 2013 Election $175billion (Labor)……now under the Liberals……$342 Billion
    Net Foreign Debt 2013 $824billion (Labor)……….now under the Liberals…….$1.04 Trillion

  5. At any rate, about time we corrected the number system. You extract the zero it means we count in nines. We could like the abs count in fives or return to the romans and count in Xs. What really is the difference between having an apple and not having an apple? One apple common sense suggests, not two. We could also count in sevens or elevens, or fractions. The only reason our digital tech is binary is because we haven’t gone beyond the transistor. This all might mean chaos or there could be the actual number system, the closest to the fact of the universe, which explains the problem of prime numbers. And gets us all away from science as a democracy and politics as yes yes no never maybe why not why not not. Get real guys, dig.

  6. What did we expect from a party that ran an election campaign with one policy. Scomo’s modus operandi is hiding the truth. He did it when reporting on the refugee boats arriving when he was immigration minister and he did it during the election. He even hid all those lovable rogues like Dutton, Cash, Abbetz, Abbott and the highly competent then environmental minister Melissa Price. Morrisson has taken lying and manipulation to a new level and no one calls him out on it. Must be learning a few trick from the evangelical$. And no, picking on drug users on welfare isn’t a big enough smoke screen.

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