Van Dormael (1978: 32) quotes the British Economist John Maynard Keynes in 1941 as saying
‘the secular international problem‘ of maintaining equilibrium in the balance of payments – a problem that ‘had that had never been solved since methods of barter had given way gave way to money and bills of exchange.’
‘To suppose that there is some smoothly functioning automatic mechanism of adjustment which preserves equilibrium if only we trust to methods of Laissez-faire is a doctrinaire delusion which disregards the lessons of historical experience without the support of sound theory.’
Basically the problem with economics is that there is no way of establishing a rate of exchange. What is fair and what is unjust? Who knows? The only alternative seems to be no rules and that as been a disaster. This leaves a situation where human attributes (or lack of them) determine economic policies and outcomes. If the object is create a society that has a soul and acts humanly towards all its peoples then human qualities such as empathy and compassion have to be the guiding principle of economic decision making. If screwing the poor to give to Rupert Murdoch is the aim then Joe Hockey is the man for the job, but don’t suggest for one moment that there is any empathy, compassion or soul involved in Hockey’s policies.
Presenting spending years of mental and physical suffering in a squalid concentration camp with no charges laid and no prospect of release as being the only alternative of crossing the seas in a leaky boat is the act of a totally soulless country. How can a country that rushes to war in a foreign country at the slightest excuse, and without being asked but refuses to give significant aid to help stop Ebola until being forced to by universal condemnation from the rest off the world say it has a soul.
I used to like Australia when it had a soul, the days before Abbott became leader of what used to be the Liberal Party. The days before Kevin Rudd sent refugees of to concentration camps. But those days are gone. Can those days be revived?
The simple answer would be to bury Abbott and his whole front bench down the same hole as Azazel never to be seen again until judgement day, but that would be too simplistic. The problem is that if a despot is deposed what happens then? Is there any alternative? Sadly in Australia at this time I don’t see any viable alternative. Bill shorten seems a reasonable sort of fellow but he is no match for Abbott and he leads a party that has lost it’s soul. A beginning for labour would be to accept that Rudd’s refugee policy was a political move that failed and that it was also inhuman. If Labour reversed its refugee stance and supported speedy onshore process and humane treatment of all peoples it would be a beginning. A little bit of soul is better than no soul. Bill Shorten moving aside for Tanya Plibersek would be a major step forward. Tanya is a lady who seems to have empathy and compassion as well as the ability to stand up to Abbott.
With only about eighteen months to the next election we need to begin rebuilding Australia’s soul now because if the extreme right of the Murdoch/Abbott government becomes entrenched Australia’s soul could pass beyond revival.
Van Dormael, Armand. 1978. Bretton Woods: Birth of a Monetary System. United Kingdom: Holmes &; Meier Publishers.