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Issue #1909      March 30, 2020

Editorial

THE FRAGILITY OF CAPITALISM REVEALED

Last week, the government announced a second stimulus package – worth $66 bn, on top of the $17.6 bn – as well as $100 bn in other emergency measures to prevent against a credit freeze. In this package, recipients of jobseeker, youth allowance jobseeker, parenting payment, farm household allowance, and special benefit will see their benefits essentially doubled. Sole traders and the self-employed are also eligible. For those who won’t receive the $550-a-fortnight Coronavirus supplement, such as veterans and other income support recipients, a second one-off $750 payment will be made available.

Those “in financial stress” will have tax-free access to their superannuation, with $10,000 available in this financial year and a further $10,000 available in the next. Those who are eligible for access include all the above welfare recipients as well as sole-traders.

The government also announced a “coronavirus SME guarantee scheme” designed to help small and medium businesses.

The Morrison government’s announcement of a second stimulus package so soon after the first is an exceptionally peculiar action for a conservative government to take. We could chalk up the government’s policies as a response to the highly unusual situation we find ourselves in. However, if this was the case, where was this kind of action during the bushfire crisis? Rather than an act of benevolence, these moves do not reveal a compassionate government but rather one that is attempting to mask the fragility of capitalism.

It hasn’t even been a month since the “social distancing” period begun and Australia is already the worse for wear. Businesses are failing, causing mass redundancies, particular those in casual employment; supermarket shelves are bare, not because of shortages, but because of their supply model; the daily increase of COVID-19 cases has put our health sector under stress, with more doctors and hospital beds urgently required.

Let us not be mistaken. These are not new problems, but old ones that have always existed. The working-class, who have always had precarious employment and financial stability, are the foundation of our economy. They’ve always been neglected, living day-to-day, with inadequate allowances that keep them in perpetual poverty. Now a tsunami threatens this unstable foundation, washing away with it the house that stands on it.

The Coalition knows this. In order to prevent our proverbial house from being washed away, the government is attempting to act quickly, hoping to avoid an impending economic collapse.

However, it’s much too late, regardless of how the economy looks after the Coronvirus pandemic is over. The holes in our system have been revealed. If jobseeker payments were already adequate, why do recipients require a sudden, time-fixed boost to their allowance? If there isn’t a housing shortage, why are renters all of a sudden protected? If we have an adequate health system, why are their shortages of medical health professionals and medical equipment?

Questions like these need an answer, and the answer is clear: Capitalism is not the solution. It is a system where monopolies rule, creating wealth disparity. A system that only invests where profits can be made, not in people. A system that benefits a minority of wealthy capitalists at the expense of the poor.

This system won’t last because it is unsustainable. A socialist system prioritises the working-class, not profits. The working-class is not merely the foundation in a socialist system; they are the entire structure.

Next article – VALE SHEILA SUTTNER

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