CURRENT POLITICS - Managing Forrest

Not seeing the Forrest for the twigs

 Income management for two million more recipients of welfare payments. That is the reform (read deform) proposed by paper billionaire Andrew Forrest. The Coalition had commissioned him to investigate indigenous affairs. He has gone way outside that brief.

 Instead of joining the half-hearted disagreement from the ALP, socialists should turn the tables by arguing that Forrest did not go far enough to achieve equality. We should demand income management for billionaires by stripping them of their ill-gotten gains. A marginal tax rate of 95 per cent would be a start. 

 One reaction to that proposal is that it is too extreme ever to get up. If that is so we need to ask why?  In this case, we need to ask why the confiscation of unearned income is ‘too extreme’ but Forest’s call for massive income management can become part of the ‘conversation’?

 A wider point is even more important. The only battle that the Left has won in the past twenty years was Work Choices – a victory for mass action betrayed through parliamentary cretinism. One reason why the Left has been losing is that the Right is no longer afraid to reset the agenda by launching extravagant ambit claims. The ALP limps along behind them or establishes its cred with the Big End of Town by coming up with more efficient ways to be vile.

 The outcome is that the goalposts keep being shifted to the Right. That will continue for as long as the Left fails to take up confiscatory rates of tax on individuals and corporations and the replacement of the Goods and Services Tax with a Financial Services Tax.

 Those reforms would do away with the cravenness of seeming to be ‘fair’ by imposing means tests for social services on high-incomes since they would no longer exist.