Above: Hawke's policies of 'Consensus' and 'the Accords' were popular vote winners - But not all of those policies' long term ramifications were positive
What follows are another series of letters - sent by myself (Tristan Ewins) to The Age, The Herald Sun, and QandA over the past few months. Again: none were published.
Dr Tristan Ewins
Jessica Irvine (‘The Age’, 24/7) argues advancing women’s interests and the economy involves making men feel “less confident” and to “sense…their…limitations”. She sees men’s competitiveness and over-confidence as shutting women out, helping precipitate disasters like the Global Financial Crisis. Women’s and men’s learned behaviour may be a factor: so long as we don’t resort to ‘attributing a bad essence’. But perhaps more importantly capitalism involves instability, waste, crisis, painful ‘corrections’. Is the ascent of women to positions of power within capitalism an answer to this? Or is it a problem with the dynamics and resultant priorities of the capitalist system itself? It is right to elevate women’s position in the labour market, public life, in sport – with the aim of ‘flux’ around the point of equality. If our principle is equality, though, we should also be concerned with the decline of men’s participation and performance in education. Also, for most women, labour market regulation and social wage enhancement could be more substantial than ‘a woman in the US Federal Reserve’. That is: “lift up” and respect ‘traditional women’s vocations’ in nursing, aged care, retail, hospitality, tourism, teaching, cleaning, child-care. We need solidarity between women and men to ‘lift us all up’, and not leave anyone behind.
Social research by the ‘McKrindle Group’ (Herald-Sun, early August 2016) observes increasing inequality between Australians. The top 20% have 12 times the income of the bottom 20%. And the top 20% have 71 times the wealth of the bottom 20%. There are many causes. The impact of labour market deregulation on the lower end. Threadbare, punitive welfare. A weaker labour movement. Prevalence of part-time, insecure work. Retirements are pushed back until 70 ; and for some the intensity of work increases to increase profits, and expand markets and purchasing power - which prolongs the viability of capitalism. Outcomes we get from labour markets and the inheritance of private wealth are not always fair. Some skilled workers (eg: aged care nurses, child care workers) are exploited because private labour markets cannot sustain more without government subsidy. Some do unpleasant work, perhaps with unsocial hours. (eg: cleaners) – But this is not factored in where ‘demand and supply’ for skills rules. This unfairness shows why we need a ‘social wage’, ‘social insurance’ and welfare state – financed through progressive taxes. And also labour market regulation and labour union rights - to prevent unfair outcomes. Hence the centrality of the principle: “from each according to ability, to each according to need”.