He’s not the Messiah

Features Australia

Chalmers’ post-Whitlam education explains his delusions

Maurice Newman

Getty Images

Maurice Newman

4 March 2023

9:00 AM

‘We can’t expect… people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism until they awaken one day to find they have communism.’ These words are attributed to former Soviet Union president Nikita Khrushchev. It seems the wily old communist knew a thing or two about career politicians and rent-seeking capitalists.

As he predicted, voters in democratic societies have succumbed to ‘creeping socialism’. They have listened to their elected representatives’ promises of greater prosperity and equity for all, grasped subsidies and redistributed taxes, while simultaneously ceding responsibility for their lives to politicians and an expanding army of government officials.

With socialism’s tightening grip, a growing chorus of bullying voices dedicated to censoring language, undermining confidence in the nation’s legitimacy and the virtues of free-market capitalism has held sway. Thanks to near-unanimous support from the media, narratives have substituted for facts. Politically correct agendas have shaped public opinion which, in the courts, has influenced presumptions of innocence. The original intent of laws is being reinterpreted by an ideologically driven judiciary. In schools, global warming dogma, critical race theory and gender fluidity crowd out mathematics, English literature and the history of Western civilisation. The young and, by extension, their parents, learn new prejudices and an intolerance for contrary views.

Enter federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, a product of post-Whitlam ‘progressive’ education. In a recent 6,000-word manifesto, he channels World Economic Forum founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, who advocates ‘stakeholder capitalism’ under which companies will be judged on non-financial, as well as financial, metrics.

Chalmers believes that modern technology must be controlled and sustained for a good society and good lives to flourish. He advocates the transformation of the welfare state into a managerial utopia with the government, in collaboration with superannuation funds, acting as benevolent resource allocator through which technocratic elites will manage all aspects of society.

No doubt those who have been taught they need a benevolent dictator to save them from climate change extinction and capitalist cruelty will see Dr Chalmers as the Messiah. Believers in a free society will not.

Chalmers promises that, ‘Labor will ditch the free-market policy consensus that has steered rich countries over two generations and fashion a values-based economy in partnership with business, unions and community groups. With a new, values-based capitalism for Australia, we can understand something the old thinking neglected: that the problems of government – of whole societies – don’t and shouldn’t permit one simple solution set.’ Use of the term ‘capitalism’ hides the reality that his prescription is fascist.

Moreover, his entire thesis is based on a false premise. Rich countries, including Australia, have been ditching free-market policies since before Dr Chalmers was born. There has been no end to the initiatives adopted to address ‘market failure’, to lift productivity and to achieve greater equity for all. Two generations on, that holy grail is further away than ever. And it’s not just rabid left-wing socialists who are to blame, but so-called centre-right governments, like those of Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

Under their collective administrations and, notwithstanding substantially increased budget allocations to health and education, service delivery has fallen and standards have slipped. Vast amounts of public money have also gone into vanity projects like the NDIS, the NBN, Snowy Hydro 2.0, to desalination plants, and to criminalising corporate law and beefing up regulatory agencies.

A recent Productivity Commission report confirms, few, if any, of the promised social and financial benefits have been delivered. Indeed, economic growth per person over the past decade has slipped to its slowest rate in 60 years, both in terms of GDP per capita and income per person. Wealth for the top 20 per cent of Australians has grown 68 per cent in the past 15 years compared to six per cent for the bottom 20 per cent. Homelessness has jumped 14 per cent in five years. For future generations, a legacy of a trillion dollars of government debt awaits as a monument to past policy failures.

Blind to this evidence, Treasurer Chalmers argues the remedy is even more intervention. Implicit in his thesis is the utopian ideal that a more virtuous capitalist system is possible, motivated by compassion and fellow-feeling.

It sounds seductive, but history is against him. As American journalist, Irving Kristol, observed, ‘In large areas of the world today, there is wealth enough for people to live full and contented lives in socialist equality and fraternity – if only people wanted to. They do not.’

If it was otherwise, the ‘Peoples’ Republic of China would not boast more billionaires than the United States, Germany and India combined and have a wealth gap wider than America’s. Nor after seventy-plus years, would its poverty rate be double democratic, capitalist, India.

Yet Beijing has close connections to the private sector and its businesses pay rapt attention to prevailing political doctrines. They pursue virtuous social projects, often confiscating private savings to fund them. None of this is likely to deflect Dr Chalmers from his course. He wants us to believe he has a special insight which will deliver different results.

Albert Einstein defined such blindness to evidence as insanity. Milton Friedman was unequivocal. He said, ‘A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom, will end up with neither equality nor freedom.’

But for Dr Chalmers this time it’s different. By delivering mass clean energy, developing critical minerals and harnessing major advances in data and technology, Australia will be in good social and economic shape. After all, ‘The old ideology hasn’t served us well.’ Obviously, all Australia needs, is more government and a ‘guided democracy’.

Future generations, condemned to live under some imperious yoke, will one day question why their parents and grandparents had so meekly surrendered to socialism’s creep when their own grandparents and great grandparents had bravely fought two world wars to crush it? Why indeed?

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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