Posts tagged ‘economics’

Melbourne's Property Development Crisis

Like many people, I think, I have an instinctive contempt for property developers.

It’s not that I object to new apartment buildings, per se. There do seem to be a lot of people in Melbourne who think that three million was the perfect population size for our city, and since as far as they’re concerned we were “full” at that point, we should continue to have a housing …

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Liked “If Australia was more democratic, would its economic policies be better?”

Original post found at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-11/if-australia-was-more-democratic-would-its-economic-policies-imp/100060786

Was a bit nonplussed about the beginning of this article which holds up Ancient Athens as a model of democracy (it’s not like women or the large slave population got to participate in that, after all) but after that it gets better. It makes the point that:

Australia’s economic policy settings are controlled by a small group of elites drawn from politics and the bureaucracy and ‘independent’ bodies such as the Reserve Bank.

The priorities of this elite are completely out of step with the interests of the majority; as the article points out, they have presided quite deliberately over a steep rise in wealth inequality and feel no shame about the existence of poverty, which they could eliminate overnight if they wanted to.

It goes on to ask, But what if Australians had the opportunity to vote on individual policies, like the Athenians? How would we, the majority, structure our economy? I mean, this is the power that real socialism aims to put in our hands. But even without acknowledging that, I feel like this article does a good job pointing out that if power was actually in the hands of the masses, we could make our lives so much better. And the fact that they’re not demonstrates, as this article does acknowledge, that Australia is not very democratic after all. Which is a rare thing to see admitted in a mainstream outlet like the ABC!

Bookmarked “The Myth of the Barter Economy”

Original post found at: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/barter-society-myth/471051/

Introductory economics textbooks and widespread assumptions say that before the existence of money, people barterered with one another, but actually there’s no evidence that this ever occurred. The only barter economies that we know of existing, existed between people who had previously used money but had this come into short supply (as when the Roman Empire collapsed).

Instead, societies which have never used money tend to do a couple of different things: either stockpile supplies at a community level and distribute them fairly, or operate a “gift economy”, where everyone shares things with others as they need them, with the expectation that when you are the needy one, people will do the same. In gift economies there’s no score-keeping; it’s not like “owing a debt” or “calling in a favour”, it’s really about sharing freely.

So why has the “barter myth” become so prominent? The article argues that it’s really about justifying the underpinnings of capitalism, i.e. that everything is a commodity with an underlying value and that if you can’t trade at market prices, you don’t deserve the resources you need to live – and that this is a natural, universal truth that every society in human history has adhered to. You might note that this is not an assumption made by any of the societies that had never used money that we actually know existed – so the prioritisation of “trade value” ahead of human life and dignity is in fact a deliberate choice, not the natural law capitalists would prefer us to believe it is.

Liked “The Fight for Free Time Is a Feminist Issue”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/03/free-time-overwork-feminism-caregiving-workers-rights/

Caregiving is indispensable to society. Without it, “the economy” as it is typically conceived, would cease to exist. The labor of health care workers, hospice aids, and day care and childcare workers, has allowed more of us to stay alive this past year and go to work.


Fraser isn’t the first to recognize this tendency. By demanding “wages for housework,” socialist feminists in the 1970s sought not only pay for their labor in the home, but to call attention to the fact that the entire capitalist economy was free-riding on the backs of homemakers, the vast majority of whom were women. If, as was often suggested, the economy could not afford to pay for housework, the demand for wages doubled as a demand for a new kind of economy that either valued care work or abolished its necessity. As Kathi Weeks argued, “it was a reformist project with revolutionary aspirations.”

Good, if introductory, piece tying together a couple of different ways that care work is dismissed and undervalued.

Liked “Economics professor Ross Garnaut says Australia voluntarily keeps hundreds of thousands unemployed”

Original post found at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-25/ross-garnaut-economists-unemployment-rba-government-critique/13186724

[Garnaut] says [the federal government and Reserve Bank's] decision to 'allow' hundreds of thousands of Australians to languish in unemployment in recent years, to suppress wages and inflation, as part of the country's broader economic policy settings, has immiserated people and cost the economy hundreds of billions dollars in lost economic activity.

In his new book, Reset: Restoring Australia after the pandemic recession, Professor Garnaut says our policymakers should drop that policy and return Australia to having genuine full employment.

I like the part at the end where he supports a universal basic income, too. If the target rate is this “NAIRU”, and the NAIRU is higher than zero, all these people who are unemployed solely to prop up capitalism need to live in dignity.

Bookmarked “The Fake Debate Over a Minimum Wage”

Original post found at: https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/23/the-fake-debate-over-a-minimum-wage/

While it’s always good to argue for increases to the minimum wage, I feel like this article misses the most obvious “pro-small business” argument for increasing it: low-income workers are almost certain to spend any wage increases they get, with much of that spending going straight to the very retailers and hospitality businesses that like shooting themselves in the foot by short-sightedly opposing wage increases…

Bookmarked “Workers Should Take Back Control of Their Pension Funds”

Original post found at: https://jacobinmag.com/2021/02/australia-superannuation-democratize-funds/

This is a good article about Australia’s superannuation system, and summarises pretty well all the reasons I’m so contemptuous of it (even though it’s not the conclusion of the article that you should have contempt for it). Super is neoliberal garbage, and makes the state indifferent to poverty among elderly people because they just go, “Sounds like your problem for not saving enough super.” Then you have people like Paul Keating, arguing that anyone who draws on any public resources in their old age is a drain on the public purse who should cede their whole estates to the state on their deaths to “repay their debt”, like welfare and public healthcare are conditional loans instead of absolute entitlements fought for and won by generations of workers… ugggggh

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.