Jim Chalmers’ essay is a disjointed capitalist thought bubble with no substance
These ideas were broadly grouped under the umbrella of “supply-side progressivism.” It’s about using the best characteristics of the markets to pursue progressive goals. She champions economic growth as an enabler, something that is embraced, not just tolerated (or repressed, as the de-growthers on the left want).
I would love to read how an Australian Treasurer is taking on these ideas. Unfortunately we didn’t get that The month. Rather, we got a disjointed assortment of capitalist kumbaya thought bubbles — the kind of ideas you might expect from a group of virtuous CEOs attending a wellness retreat.
The leftists should be the most contemptible of all. The Treasurer’s big new idea of government partnering with the private sector is about the most neoliberal imaginable.
Instead of standing up and fighting for the government to actually do something, the Treasurer wants the banks to fix social disadvantages. Instead of taking the hard way to reform land-use and planning rules and the tax treatment of housing, the Treasurer wants superfunds to build more homes.
Of the many legacies of the neoliberal era, arguably the most destructive was the proliferation of mixed markets that have become dominant in Australia’s critical industries. None of the childcare, employment services, or private health insurance markets function effectively — and all three involve private companies providing services that would otherwise be provided by the state.
Enlightened liberalism recognizes that there are some jobs for the government and others for the private sector – that government-private company holding hands often results in terrible services at obscene prices. Where is the thought leadership in this central failure of neoliberalism?
I suspect the real reason the Treasurer is so committed to “impact investing” is the same reason he was so keen on off-budget spending before the election. You can say the right things and appear to be solving big problems while avoiding the financial and political costs of change.
Off-budget funds for clean energy, housing, industrial development, you name it, have politicians committing massive amounts of dollars at negligible fiscal costs. The problem is that they don’t matter much in practice. As rewarding as it may be, all the impact investing in the world isn’t really going to solve our big social problems. The government must act for this.
Government power does not lie in providing credit or partnering with super funds. The power of government lies in actually doing things. In “resource allocation”, as an economist would say. Imposition (or repeal) of regulations, taxation and expenses, provision of services. The challenge is figuring out when this is necessary and when it isn’t.
The difficult point that the treasurer is in is that things are difficult to do. And politically explosive. Unfortunately, his essay gives me little confidence that he understands what is being asked of him.
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https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/treasurer-s-essay-is-an-incoherent-assortment-of-kumbaya-capitalist-thought-bubbles-20230201-p5ch0o.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_politics_federal Jim Chalmers’ essay is a disjointed capitalist thought bubble with no substance