LABOR’S UGLY crusade against success and enterprise took an equally ugly turn on Tuesday, as ex-Treasurer and self-important toad Wayne Swan entered the mix; Swan’s — like the “ancient, ugly, trusty crony” in Burns’ Tam O’Shanter — is an insidious voice, with no right to preach economic virtue. Even so, one ALP policy will set up “the rich” it so hates over ordinary workers and families. One day — hopefully before 2 July — that penny will drop.
As a third generation Australian from an ancient Glaswegian family (and one, after its arrival in Australia in the late 1800s, that was most enterprising), it pleases and amuses me to liken Bill Shorten and Wayne D. (for “dickhead”) Swan to Tam O’Shanter and Souter Johnny from the Robbie Burns poem entitled in the name of the former; no insinuation of excessive drunkenness is inherent in this allusion, of course, but the intrepid Labor pair are so aimless, brainless and downright dangerous that figurative parallels with Burns’ characters are not only compelling, but irresistible.
Perhaps at some time a more exhaustive exploration of the relevance of Robert Burns to Labor’s dastardly duo would be highly amusing indeed, but for now, readers will have to content themselves with sharing the work itself through the link provided.
I begin thus this morning because the unrelenting rhetoric of Labor’s ridiculous, hatred-fuelled (and potentially economy-killing) crusade to screw business, “the rich” (whoever they are) and other enemies of the ALP’s neo-socialist and flat Earth world view is now bordering on the truly farcical, with Swan’s dramatic entry to the election campaign to bolster Shorten’s attack on those who generate wealth and opportunity in this country stinking of puerile undergraduate politics and serving no purpose other than the dubious self-aggrandisement that a bit of undeserved press attention might permit him to feel he has achieved.
Labor is fond, like the rest of the global Left — to the point of outright confrontation with anyone who is white, of Anglo-Saxon background, and Protestant (and male to boot) — of reminding people that Australia is a country of migrants any time it seeks to defend not just high immigration (which rose to record levels under the supposedly racist conservative Howard government) but also to justify the importation into this country of unauthorised arrivals from dubious backgrounds, whose bona fides are never properly checked or established, at tremendous financial cost to the taxpayer and in some cases at high social costs as pockets of violence and cultural anathema to Western values take root.
And no, we’re not having a debate on immigration policy today.
But having arrogated to itself ownership of this cherry-picked aspect of Australian history, it conveniently ignores the other great Australian tradition: the inclination to “have a go,” to engage in enterprise, and merchant adventurism: it is not without reason that small business is described as the “backbone” of the country, but for all its emphasis on those elements of our past that suit its increasingly illiberal, increasingly socialist policy fancies, the ALP simply couldn’t care less about businesses, the business community, or the culture of enterprise itself.
Other than to tax the buggery out of it, of course.
On Monday, we included an article from The Australian that featured former Queensland ALP Treasurer Keith de Lacy describing Shorten Labor as anti-business, and the party’s tax policies as the most anti-business program ever taken by federal Labor to an election; yesterday key ALP figures more than returned fire, ripping into de Lacy on the basis of the executive career he pursued after leaving the Queensland Parliament and accusing him of being a mouthpiece and a patsy for the corporate sector he had had the temerity to join.
Going into business after politics and actually being good at it — as one-time ACTU chief and senior ALP identity Martin Ferguson would attest — is the ALP’s equivalent of a capital offence these days, it would seem.
But if you’re from the ALP nowadays and you expect to succeed, it’s an article of faith that no monetary good can ever be doled out to the hated forces of capital — the business sector — whether it be modest adjustments to penalty rates, cuts to corporate tax scales, or any other incentives or advantages designed to stimulate their growth and encourage them to hire more workers.
Instead, “modern” Labor talks about the gross annual turnover of major corporations (shock, horror) and uses these numbers to argue that corporate Australia is all but shirking its taxation obligations completely: if a company turns over $1bn every year, the ALP under Shorten is uninterested that its outgoings might be $975 million and that it consequently is assessed on the remaining $25m to determine its company tax obligations: it turns over a billion dollars per year, so the fact it only (legitimately) pays about $7.5m in tax it an absolute outrage to Shorten and his goons.
It’s an argument designed to provoke envy and rage among the resentful have-nots that a company “making” so much money pays so little when the reality is that if it paid tax on its total turnover, it would probably take no longer than one full financial year for that enterprise to go broke and be liquidated — throwing however many employees it had on its books onto the street.
This is Economics 101, Shorten style: present irreconcilable paradoxes as the rationale for “policy” settings, and once sufficient numbers of the gullible and the stupid have fallen for it, skip off quietly to a new ruse (like negative gearing, for example) to gather further additional votes from a different cohort of the gullible and the stupid.
Enter — like the jerking of the proverbial chain in a lavatory — the sanctimonious, pious, self-important economic vandal Wayne Swan, whose useful political career (if there was ever anything “useful” about it) came to a shuddering halt somewhere in the middle of an unbroken run of budget deficits as Treasurer, despite no fewer than 600 solemn pledges (some delivered in tandem with then-PM Julia Gillard) to restore the federal budget to balance, and a comprehensive fiddle to artificially produce one in 2012-13 that still fell a woeful $18bn short and which would shame even the most hardened criminal con artist.
It’s little surprise that with a track record like his, Shorten finds a sudden philosophical soulmate in the form of the member for Lilley.
Yet the notorious tweet that placed Swan at the centre of a shitstorm on Tuesday was leapt all over by people with no obvious sympathy for Shorten’s divide-and-conquer approach to wringing enough votes to win office out of what Labor believes is a gullible electorate; on Twitter — easily the social media forum most densely populated by the sycophants and bullies of the Left — it came as something of a surprise to see the overwhelming condemnation Swan attracted: with very little of the usual rent-a-crowd back-up such fatuous remarks are usually able to rely upon.
“The working people are the 85% of people not in trade unions,” wrote one; “the ALP only represent (sic) the other 15%. Pack of socialist pricks.” “Still having a love affair with Marxist utopia of Sodom and Gomorrah,” rejoined a second. “Businesses earn money, government takes some of that money. Government plans to take less of it = a gift? You’re a bright one,” chided a third.
Making it easier for business to hire people is not a “class war,” and reining in Australia’s uncompetitive regime of business taxes — already among the highest in the Western world, and higher than the plethora of European basket cases Shorten Labor seems desperate to emulate — hardly puts jobs at risk, nor compromises the capacity of business to pay wages.
Then again, the ALP-Trades Hall model of business relations met its inevitable end in the car industry in 2014: shovelling billions of dollars in government subsidies out (not a gift, apparently) to clear the way for unions to extort “enterprise” agreements out of companies that elevate wage growth far beyond increases in the cost of living and price their workers out of their markets: and, ultimately, that kill off industries altogether.
It is noteworthy that Shorten has made it starkly clear that unions will again be central to any government the ALP forms — arguably more so than even under Gillard — and it will be fascinating to see how this dynamic plays out if Labor wins in four weeks’ time.
But the unreasoning and unthinking (and downright brainless) attempts to link everything to Health and Education — which Labor is really interested in only to pander to the heavily unionised workforces that exist in those verticals — must at some point stop registering with even the most easily influenced voters, who Labor clearly thinks would swallow the state takeover of every business in the country if only some health/education slant could be put on the act to somehow make it appear palatable.
Yes, it’s as bad as that.
And if there’s one good reason I’ve diverted down the path of Scottish poetry today, it’s the deluded, imbecilic and laughable drunken hallucination Tam experiences on his way home, with warlocks and witches and naked wenches: the fairy stories Labor figures like Swan and Shorten tell about evil Liberals starving workers to fatten the coffers of business are that ridiculous, and in any case, anyone who can read and is inclined to do a little digging can easily discover just how hypocritical — and baseless — Labor’s posturing as the champion of the oppressed really is.
Remember that other “rort” of “the rich?” The one Labor says it will end to stop ordinary workers propping up the investment strategies of “rich” investors? Never mind 75% of property investors earn less than $80k per annum, and never mind that 90% of them have just one or two investment properties to their name: these people can hardly be described as “the rich,” but this is beside the point.
Buried in Labor’s own website sit three key lines in its negative gearing policy that, if enacted, will permanently skew the residential property industry toward those with the most money and the greatest capacity to carry losses on investments forward indefinitely: and rather than me simply spelling it out, readers should perhaps have a chat to their local real estate agent, or a financial planner, so there can be no accusation that this column has provided biased advice.
That snapshot is directly from the page in question on the ALP’s site, and I have highlighted the section of its negative gearing policy synopsis that makes an absolute mockery of the divisive, class hatred fuelled rhetoric that underpins almost all of Labor’s election communications.
There is no more a concern for “the little guy” in anything the ALP says than the time-honoured ruse of telling one group of people one thing whilst burying an assurance to the rest somewhere else that everything — to use a cliché — will be all right.
Wheeling Swan out to belt the can and vilify business certainly puts him to work at a task he has demonstrated over long years that he is adept at, but it’s just another prong to the old Labor strategy of power at any price, saying whatever to whomever is necessary to achieve it, and with an arrant disregard for the consequences of its actions once that objective has been realised.
A bawdy fairy story like Tam O’Shanter has more credibility than anything Labor has offered up in the course of this election campaign, and more credibility than Shorten and Swan to a greater degree than most.
But the snapshot from the Labor website is no fairy story (and if the web page disappears, the pictographic record of it obviously won’t). Yet again, it shows Labor has no authority or right to preach and lecture on economic virtue, for it has none. Yet again, it reveals Shorten and his cronies as liars: to the Australian public, if not this time to their caucus colleagues. And yet again, it should inspire fear in anyone contemplating voting for them over whether anything Shorten says is remotely grounded in reality, let alone to be believed.
Against this backdrop, Swan fits right in, and it isn’t hard to see why Shorten — as one bullshit artist to another — has seemingly co-opted the failed former Treasurer back into the election frontline.
But unlike the loose women and plentiful spirit that fuelled the rampage of Tam O’Shanter, the intoxicating liquor Shorten and Swan are peddling is snake oil: and the warnings of catastrophe — ignored by the hero in the Burns piece — are portents Australian voters should dismiss at their peril.