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Apr 16, 2013

The slippery and convenient concept of 'class warfare'

"Class warfare" is a confected term sprayed about across the nation's newspapers of late to shut down policy debate. But funny how it only applies to the rich ...


At times, it’s easier tracking what’s not “class warfare” than what is.

You’d be well aware the government’s proposal to require people earning over $100,000 per year from retirement savings to pay 15% on the amount over that threshold is “class warfare”, according to both the opposition (Mathias Cormann) and the commentariat (Robert Gottliebsen). Even Simon Crean, self-anointed guardian of the consensual, Kumbaya-singing Hawke-Keating era, thinks the government’s super changes are “class warfare”. And Treasurer Wayne Swan’s criticism of mining magnates engaged in campaigning against the government, too, was called class warfare, including by sources that were anonymous at the time but that now look very much like the miners’ former friend-at-court, former resources minister Martin Ferguson.

But you need to be aware that “class warfare” is far broader than that. For example, the mining super profits tax was “class war”, according to Andrew Forrest, (although Business Spectator’s Stephen Bartholomeusz disagreed and thought it was a “civil war“).

There’s class warfare everywhere in education. Christopher Pyne claimed in 2008 that asking publicly funded private schools to reveal financial details was class warfare. The schoolkids’ bonus was, according to Pyne, also class warfare. The Gonski Report itself, according to right-wing education activist Kevin Donnelly, was class war. The Fair Work Act, too, is class warfare, according to Ken “independent contracting” Phillips, and it is destroying the mining boom.

Trying to reduce the cost of the private health insurance rebate is also class warfare, said Peter Dutton.  Attempts to close the massively rorted Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme were declared by noted pharmaceutical expert Piers Akerman to be class warfare.

Even mentioning that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott hailed from north of the Harbour in Sydney was, according to The Australian‘s journalists, class warfare.

What journalists, commentators and politicians are referring to when they say “class warfare” is actually “attacks on the wealthy”, although “class warfare” sounds better — and we’ll get to that. Not to mention that “class war” traditionally has meant mass slaughter, rather than asking high-income earners to pay the same tax as low-income earners. Few commentators have called the Coalition’s plan to scrap the Low Income Superannuation Contribution “class war”, despite being targeted at people on incomes below $37,000. Few have termed the government’s shift of single parents onto Newstart “class warfare”, despite being targeted at some of the lowest income earners in the country.  And no one has called the government’s refusal to countenance a lift in Newstart, which even peak business bodies have called for, “class warfare”.

“But more to the point, it delegitimises any debate about government policies when the benefits disproportionately flow to the powerful and wealthy …”

The flexible and nebulous character of the term reflects its confected nature. And despite the Kevin Rudd camp embracing it in internal exile, a quick count of media commentary shows who’s doing the confecting: since the beginning of 2012, Smh.com.au has run seven articles that discussed the government’s “class warfare” and “class war”, in addition to reporting of the use of the term by Coalition and Labor figures and other contributors to public debate. The Australian Financial Review, a reliable critic of Labor under its current management, has run 10 articles that discuss “class war”, aside from reportage, in that period. The Daily Telegraph has run 21 pieces on “class war” during that time. And The Australian has run 77.

Use of the phrase peaked during both The Telegraph and The Australian’s 2012 budget coverage, even before Tony Abbott used the phrase in his budget reply, although as we now know, Abbott consulted with Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker about his paper’s coverage on budget night. But it’s had a resurgence in March and April this year.

The co-ordinated use of the term by the Coalition and some editors is a tactic borrowed from the Republicans in the US. As early as a few weeks after President Barack Obama was inaugurated, he was being targeted for “class war” policies by the Right in the US, and mainstream media outlets were reflecting its use. It’s since become a staple of both Fox News coverage and GOP talking points that Obama is engaged in “class war”, not to mention socialism, communism and a “war on wealth”.

The reason the term is so appealing to critics of the government, both those without and, like Martin Ferguson and Simon Crean, those within, is because it comes loaded with negative connotations. To accuse someone of class war is to suggest a rigid ideologue, someone motivated not by the national interest but by mere jealousy toward those more hard-working/intelligent/business-minded than party apparatchiks, even if a Gina Rinehart inherited the bulk of her wealth and then enjoyed the accident of an historical boom in Chinese demand.

But more to the point, it delegitimises any debate about government policies when the benefits disproportionately flow to the powerful and wealthy in a way that never happens in debate about government policies that benefit the poor. There is something bracing and rigorous about the demand that welfare recipients feel the discipline of the market rather than enjoy the support of the taxpayer; in contrast, it is “sickening class warfare” to wonder why superannuation tax concessions costing billions flow to high-income earners who will never go on the age pension.

The term thus serves a purpose. Whenever “class warfare” is invoked, you can be sure that disproportionate or unjustified benefits for high-income earners or large corporations are under threat, benefits they would prefer to keep hidden.


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81 thoughts on “The slippery and convenient concept of ‘class warfare’

  1. Achmed

    The superannuation change has been well misrepresented to the point that 46% are unhappy that less than 1% will be paying more tax. And yet as stated by Bernard there is little commentary about the Abbott plan to attck the lowest income workers by removing the $500 a year contribution.

    As Bernard says….any move against the wealthy is class war.

    But any move against the poorest is fiscal responsibility

  2. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    Middleclass welfare, particularly the billions that are transferred annually in the form of private school subsidies and the private health rebate, to those already privileged is little more than theft from those taxpayers unable to take part.
    It was Margaret Thatcher who said that middleclass welfare is an insane extravagance driven by a selfish, self destructive ideology. Those who advocate this form of welfare trot out ‘choice’ as a screen that allows the stealing to hide behind an ideological cloak.
    That is the theft from ordinary folk, the real casualties in this war, trying raise a family on a $50000 income.

  3. Saugoof

    It’s this year’s “Un-Australian”….

  4. Jimmy

    Saugoof – I am pretty sure I have seen an article describing “class warfare” as “unaustralian”!

    I find it amazing that papers like the HS and Tele who pitch themselves at the battler are constantly defending the wealthy and against cutting back any form of middle class welfare (although I get the impression that once the libs get in they will be all slashing and burning anything they can get their hands on.

    Yesterday the Sun actually had an article saying how the benefits of the mining boom had been wasted but then laid the blame squarely at Wayne Swans feet despite all the damage being done by the Howard govt (plus the 2007 tax cuts promised by both sides).

  5. drovers cat

    perhaps the use of ‘class warfare’ should invoke a separate version of Godwin’s Law

  6. soglad

    I’m quite ready to vote for anybody willing to take some class war back to the rich parasites* and Coalition voting idiots who back them against their own interest.

    * The second word purposely excludes those wealthy who actually make their money work in the economy and don’t cry poor when they pay tax according to their footprint. They exist.

  7. bluepoppy

    It is as you have observed a tactic to cut down debate whether it be about disparity or government’s kowtowing to the big end of town. Much easier to bring out the ‘class warfare’ or ‘tall poppy’ diversion to avoid addressing some really important issues. At least there is Occupy to cut through some of the bull.

  8. Jimmy

    Blue poppy – if you are relying on occupy to make a change you will be disappointed – nobody even remembers them any more.

  9. Jimmy

    Blue poppy – if you are rel ying on occupy to make a change you will be disappointed – nobody even remembers them any more.

  10. klewso

    But aren’t the poor a sub-class so they don’t matter?
    It’s only when the wealthy are having their welfare looked at, that it turns into “class warfare” – like your fairy media-father playing with ‘is pumpkins?
    That’s just from what I read between the lines of the Limited News we get?

  11. David Coles

    There is nothing more Australian than a good class war. What a pity we aren’t having one. The budget would be back in surplus in no time if we seriously cleaned out the largesse that Howard visited on the rich end of the society.

  12. Daniel Maurice

    Bernard: “…Not to mention that “class war” traditionally has meant mass slaughter, rather than asking high-income earners to pay the same tax as low-income earners”.

    The top 1% of taxpayers pay 10% of all income tax. The top 10% of taxpayers pay 50% of all income tax. The bottom 10% of taxpayers pay 1% of all income tax. I’m sure high-income earners would love to “pay the same tax” as low-income earners as you claim they should.

  13. Jimmy

    Daniel Maurice – Nice figures – now can you give them some context by supplying the amount of income earned by the percentages you supplied – also how much the top income earners have been able to reduce their income by through the use of trusts and contributions into super etc

  14. Jimmy

    Daniel Maurice – Nice figures – now can you give them some context by suppl ying the amount of income earned by the percentages you suppl ied – also how much the top income earners have been able to reduce their income by through the use of trusts and contributions into super etc

  15. klewso

    How much does a loaf of bread cost, or the rent?

  16. Jimmy

    Daniel Maurice – Also a lot of the measures the ALP has brought in aren’t aimed at the top 1% or 10% but those earning over $150k a year and were still getting govt assistance. Those who are rich enough to be looking after themselves and earning more than double the average income.

  17. mr monkeyboy

    Eat the poor!

  18. Paddy Forsayeth

    Daniel Maurice cannot fool us with his stupid sleigh of hand. The rich do not pay anything like the rate of personal income tax that the rest of us do. Its plain BS which, when examined closely, is meant to cover up the obscene greed which characterises the rich. If the rich paid their proper tax rate they would not be so rich.Its astounding that the likes of Clive Palmer can look you in the eye and assert he ‘earns’ as much as 36000 millionaires or 360000 workers on $100000 p.a. Last year in the UK the top 18 billionaires paid Eu 17.6 million, i.e. 0.1% tax. Daniel, I simply don’t believe you.

  19. Rohan

    Class Warfare is the new Political Correctness.

  20. Gratton Wilson

    “Work Choices” was real class warfare. Lack of public transport is class warfare. Money spent on weapons of aggression is class warfare. Putting illiterate children in prison is class warfare. Poker machines in poor suberbs is class warfare. Subsidised golf, cricket, tennis, horse and motor racing facilities is class warfare. The grandeur, pomp and ceremony of religious institutions is class warfare.

  21. Achmed

    Daniel Maurice – they would the millionaies like Tinkler whose “taxable income” last year was under $10,000.

    Or going back sometime Alan Bond in his heyday was “earning” so little his daughter was eleigible for Austudy.

  22. Holden Back

    “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    ― Warren Buffett


    If even half of the nonsense Abbot spouts about Labor where actually true, I’d be a much happier commie.


    Er, Abbot and the Media, rather.


    Present company excluded, Mr Keane.

  26. Jimmy

    Achmed – I had to laugh when Tinkler was claiming he only received money “at the discretion of his wife” because his wife was the trustee of the trust all his money was held in.

  27. Achmed

    Could this be an arrangment of convenience to prevent creditors getting their money from him if he was declared “bankrupt”? He has “no” money, its all with the wife

  28. Peter Fuller

    Jimmy & Achmed,
    His reputation doesn’t suggest that NT is the sort of bloke you’d characterise as hen-pecked, but I guess the “ball and chain” has ordered him to give up his hobby of owning and breeding race-horses.

  29. Achmed

    Peter – I don’t think my comment inimated he was “hen-pecked”. More about shielding his wealth from the creditors by not having any money of his “own” and placing it in the “care’ of his wife who is not a part owner/partner etc in the business

  30. Damien McBain

    “Class Warfare” is just one of many pieces carefully constructed emotional political rhetoric. Still, its use (even in the negative) seems very effective at bring you dopey Trot’s out in droves.
    If there were no high income earners there would be no Australia because the low income earners pay very little tax. All we’d be left with is a hole full of poker and cigarette vending machines and a big drive through bottleshop attached to a tote.

  31. Andybob

    I propose a cap on total government benefits and concessions. Let’s say something like $150,000. After that amount you are no longer entitled to a benefit or tax concession you might otherwise receive.

    Or is that class warfare ?

  32. Achmed

    Damien – and if there were no low income workers who would work in factories etc of the wealthy?

    I have no problem with wealthy people – good on them. But to perpetuate the lie that they provide the “tax” backbone of the Govt is just reinforcing the wealthy deserve more than the poor rhetoric from the right wing media and Liberal suchophants

  33. Jimmy

    Damien McBain – Who says we don’t want high income earners? My only objection is that we have high income earners who constantly talk of how hard it is to make ends meet while demanding govt assistance and dodging paying tax.

    Look at the article and see some of the things that have been classified as “class warfare” basically anything that has better targeted govt spending so that those who need it most get it and those who can fend for themselves don’t somehow get’s classified as class warfare when in reality it is just the way a society should function.

  34. freddy mac

    these tax arrangements which benefit the wealthy is what australians want, this is what australians vote for.

    let them eat cake.

  35. Achmed

    Look at Abbott’s Parental Plan. He will tax business an extra 2% to pay for to begin with while at the same time ranting about the tax regimes of the current Govy…hypocrisy springs to mind.

    The policy would allow Rhineheart, the Tinklers, the Turnbulls, the Palmers, Murdochs etc to claim $75,000 for 6 months. While the stay at home Mum gets zip

  36. shepherdmarilyn

    And the Tele has the poor writing in to protect the rich while they fail to notice they are being screwed.

  37. Sharkie

    Ahh Class warfare, the robbing of peter to pay gina.
    It’s amazing how many useful middle class and working poor idiots the mega rich have managed to garner in support of their class war on the poor.
    Australia is now just like the USA, where the lower middle class think they are about to become millionaires, if only the government would, “get off their back”, “cut the red tape”, and “stop taxing the average joe til he bleeds”.
    Wake up bogans, the only thing that stops you getting right royally screwed is government regulation and public services.

  38. Achmed

    shepherdmarilyn – as it shown by the way the Liberals and the right wing media have “informed” the masses of the superannuation changes. They have continued the “attack on the ordinary Aussie taxpayer superannuation” mis-truth ad nauseum.

    If they told the real truth – that tax is paid on superannuation earnings above $100,000 and that tthe first $100,000 was still tax free and that the system is indexed. (It not a tax to be paid if you have only $100,000 in super.) So as the years go by that first $100,000 that no tax is paid on increases. If you have $1 million in superannuation your super fund would need to return more that 10% in a year before you would have to pay tax.

    I have a problem understanding why people would rather see Abbott attack the lowest wage earners, mainly women, part-time workers and under-employed by removing the $500 contribution

  39. Mark from Melbourne

    Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of logic to it but it has definitely taken over from “big new tax” as Lib/Nats’ favorite drum to beat. And the media seem to be happy to join in…

  40. TheFamousEccles

    What amuses me is that anyone questioning the norm and musing about how good it would be if taxation was levied equitably is labled a “trot”. C’mon you rightard, surely you can do better than that? Or maybe you cannot, surely fabricating numbers and “playing the man” can’t have drained you of all your creative bile?

  41. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Taking action to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share is, of course, class warfare. Whilst removing concessions or benefits for the low paid is, no doubt, social justice, according to the Abbott way of thinking

    The poor don’t deserve any help; so it is justifiable to remove any concessions. I wonder how Abbott explains his thinking to Cardinal Pell, or is he a kindred spirit?

  42. Mike Smith

    It’s 100,000 earned, not capital, of Super returns, not overall income. Just how much capital are we looking at for those figures? Current cash rate, about 4-5 million? Hmmm.

  43. Sharkie

    “class war” reminds me of the new “freedom of speech” paradigm. Does anyone else remember when “freedom of speech” meant the right to criticise the government and other powerful institutions without retribution? Now (thanks to the shock jocks and right wing hack columnists) “freedom of speech” simply means the right to vilify minorities and engage in racist behaviour without some do-gooder calling you an ar8ehole.

  44. Mike Smith

    @Pedantic: I think Abbott would sue for defamation for that comparison with Pell.

  45. David Hand

    This whole debate has Wayne Swan’s inept politiking all over it like a rash. Bernard, I’ve got to give you credit about your skillful portraying of the issue with him somehow invisible. You could have mentioned his essay in the Monthly in March 2012 headed, “The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia” in which he unloaded on Reinhart, Forrest and Palmer, 3 Australians whose billions are absolutely tied up in huge wealth-creating ventures employing thousands of workers and generating a large slice of our GDP. But of course, you didn’t.

    Paddy, some simple arithmetic for you mate. A 0.1% tax on a billionaire’s $1b is a wealth tax, not an income tax.

  46. David Hand

    Ah, you did mention Swan.
    I missed it because you treated him as the victim.

  47. Harry Rogers

    Personally I think the tax paid in Aiustralia is reasonably fair. The complexity of it is ludicrous and every time a government touches it it adds another 100 pages of complexity.

    The greedy will always want more money and the poor will always cry poor.

    The biggest problem with government is the allocation of resources. Surely there must be a limit to the number of departments it can create and number of people that can be on government largesse.

    It appears not as every time we have a new government within 12 months the size has continued to escalate.

    I dont expect this to be fixed as the human condition is pretty much innate.

  48. Steve777

    This might be an example of class warfare: “Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has issued a stern rebuke to those jealous of the wealthy: start working harder and cut down on drinking, smoking and socialising.”

    (The Australian, 30/8/2012)

  49. Steve777

    As Bernard Keane says, invoking ‘class warfare’ is intended to shut down debate. In days gone by, calling someone else a ‘communist’ was used for the same purpose and there are lots of other empty terms of abuse that could be and are employed. The analog in the playground would be calling someone a ‘poopy head’ and it is just as meaningful.

    In the case of Super, right wing commentators need to justify why someone with $100,000 in income should pay no tax, while an employee on $70,000 a year for a 40 hour week pays about 20% of their income in tax. Similar considerations apply to private schools, private health and any amount of government benefits and concessions to which the financially well off feel entitled.

  50. bluepoppy

    I’m not relying on anybody but you cannot dismiss the effect Occupy has made on perceptions as relate to this article. Whether it will lead to real change on it’s own no-one can say. Change usually involves a number of simultaneous influences and I reckon Occupy is one in a group of significant factors – Wikileaks another and the GFC just to name two

  51. westral

    Class warfare is a term used when taxation benefits or concessions are removed form the very well off, it is never a term used when benefits are removed from those who earn the leasat.

  52. Ian

    If there is class warfare going on, and I’m sure there is, then the winners are clearly the top 1%. Inequality has been on the rise in Australia for decades and governments (both Labor and Liberal) have been paying far more attention to those at the top than the bottom.

    This is no surprise really since they have been bought and paid for by the corporations.

  53. Achmed

    Sept 2012
    Mrs Rinehart’s speech: “The evidence is inarguable that Australia is becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export-oriented business.

    “Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/worlds-media-pan-rineharts-2-a-day-african-miner-comments-20120906-25fpq.html#ixzz2QcIreTKN

  54. Andybob

    I am fiscally prudent
    You support middle class welfare
    He engages in class warfare

  55. Stevo the Working Twistie

    The massive, gorilla-sized question in the room is not whether “class warfare” exists, but whether it is a good thing or bad. If you take a long-term look at western society, it has ALWAYS been about class and either blurring or obliterating the lines between them. And the good news for the “lower classes” is that we are actually winning. If you are in a median wage job in 2013, you are about 1000% better off than your “classmate” of 100 years ago. Yes, there is still poverty, injustice and iniquity, and yes, sometimes a backward step is taken, but on the whole the “lower classes” have been doing quite nicely thank-you-very-much these past few hundred years.

  56. Gocomsys

    As a nation we have now have a clear choice on the 14.Sepetember.

    “Murdochracy” or “Democracy”

    Ask yourself:

    Have Murdoch and his mates made up your mind how to vote?

  57. Hamis Hill

    Since high wages result in greater savings and a consequent reduction in the interest which can be demanded on loans, capitalists (as a class) have an interest to deceive and oppress the public (another class) using all means at their disposal to have governments intervene in their favour.
    I think Adam Smith, and not Karl Marx, was the first political economist.
    But nobody is his student these days more to the benefit of the capitalist class also known as the “idle rich”.
    Not exactly the casualties of this war.
    To complain about this mutual anatagonism is like whining about the law of gravity, it is literally written in stone and can’t be changed, short of total annihilation of all involved.
    To be philosophical.

  58. Paddy Forsayeth

    Sure David but a tax nonetheless. What is the difference? I’m sorry but you’ve lost me. I thought we were talking about the rich paying an equivalent amount of tax as we do. I’ve no doubt that the tax system allows many permutations but in the end the rich DON’T PAY TAX!

  59. Achmed

    David – i think in a round about way you provide the reasons for a fairer tax system
    – “tied up in huge wealth-creating ventures”

    just that the wealth should not be shared with the workers who enable the creation of that wealth

  60. CML

    A very good article, Bernard. I would like to see the Tobin tax introduced – the 0.01% tax on the movement of money – which would be very difficult for the “upper class” to argue with. It would also raise a lot of money for government to get on with providing the essential services we all demand. Of course it would need to be introduced on a global scale, but now that we have the G20, I live in hope!

  61. supermundane

    George Monbiot in the Guardian recently had this to say:

    So the age-old question comes knocking: why does the decent majority allow itself to be governed by a brutal, antisocial minority? Part of the reason is that the minority controls the story…large numbers (including many who depend on it) have been persuaded that most recipients of social security are feckless, profligate fraudsters. Despite everything that has happened over the last two years, Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and the other media barons still seem to be running the country. Their relentless propaganda, using exceptional and shocking cases to characterise an entire social class, remains highly effective. Divide and rule is as potent as it has ever been.

    But I’ve come to believe that there’s also something deeper at work: that most of the world’s people live with the legacy of slavery. Even in a nominal democracy like the United Kingdom, most people were more or less in bondage until little more than a century ago: on near-starvation wages, fired at will, threatened with extreme punishment if they dissented, forbidden to vote. They lived in great and justified fear of authority, and the fear has persisted, passed down across the five or six generations that separate us and reinforced now by renewed insecurity, snowballing inequality, partisan policing.

  62. supermundane

    Frankly Australia is in dire need a some class warfare and a good dose of consciousness-raising about the long and hard fought battles by successive generations of working class men and women to acquire the rights that people take for granted today and which would be unwound at the first opportunity. Blood was shed and lives were lost over and those who seek to monopolise the world’s resources; who believe that the world is their rightful property and that your labour also belongs to them haven’t forgotten the near unfettered dominance they once had over it all. They are conscious of their class and they work together in solidarity. They conduct class warfare on a daily basis, not least through the myths they perpetuate about themselves and the weakest in society particularly through the media.

    When we buy in to their self-serving myths – that their success within what is a rigged system arises solely from their genius, determination and hard-work, and equally importantly when we tacitly accept the world and everything in it can be framed and recast recast as private property we are defnding their place at the top of this rigged and anti-human system.

    Those who accumulate and hoard the greatest wealth – however decent and community-minded they might be and however accepting of of the obligation to contribute their share in taxes – have invariably accumulated their wealth through successfully externalising the costs, rent-seeking (rather unproductive wealth accumulation and appropriating surplus labour.

    Until we begin to realise that while the fruits of our labour belong to us (that produced with your own time, effort and skill) the land, water, seed, genes, animals, air and of course people be commons then we cannot hope to challenge a system that brutalises the planet and all life on it. We need to understand that governments weren’t established by the weakest and imposed upon the strongest. The rise of governments coincided with the land enclosures (theft of the commons) and that states came into being to protect – violently if necessary – claims to property and surplus labour. The welfare-state arose only when it looks like the proles would unite and rebel. Now that the threat has subsides the welfare-state can be rolled back.

  63. Peter Kington

    The term “class warfare” has another benefit for Conservative politicians and conservative media companies, not mentioned in Keane’s excellent article.

    It is actually a dog-whistle term that is designed to register with the aspirational voter. It is a fear-driven expression.

    Aspirational voters are those voters who do not identify with the traditional ‘class’ structure we have in this country or who have grown up as ‘working class’, but through education and other forms of social mobility would now NOT identify as such.

    The premise of the ‘class warfare’ moniker is this: “gee, if the government’s prepared to go after the rich, then people like me might be next” and, by extension, “the rich can afford to pay a bit more, but not me – I’ve got school fees to pay, mouths to feed, wages and super to pay etc….”.

    So, by way of irony, the real class warfare actually comes out of the mouths of those who purport to reject it and it is frustrating that so few in our media, with the exception of Keane, fail to see this and report it for what it is – cheap and nasty politics.

  64. Hamis Hill

    Part of the deception and oppression of the public has been the suppression and distortion of the Philosopher of Society who gave the world the term “The Idle Rich”.
    The “Idle Rich” are those who do not offer up their time and effort to make a living.
    They have enough money to live off the interest.
    As wealth and money in the general society increase, the idle rich lose income as borrowing decreases.
    They have an interest then, to deceive and oppress the public, and this, in Australia, takes the form of increasing the debt carried by the public.
    Mortgages, student loans, the credit card society.
    During the terms of the Howard governments private mortgage debt increased by one trillion dollars, much of it enabled by middle-class welfare.
    The “Idle Rich” then have an interest, having oppressed such people with debt, to also deceive them that their debt is wealth.
    Howard’s battlers and aspirationals spent most of their time chattering about their housing prices always going up, unaware and unconcerned that these rises were facilitated by the lending policies of the true owners of the property, only to increase the overall loan repayments.
    Sixty percent of their income is/was spent on interest, depriving other sectors of the economy of their spending.
    Because ” a dwelling house, as such, adds nothing to the income of its inhabitants”, the mortgagees must find their repayments outside their “investment”.
    That class of society, described as “The Idle Rich”, killed the goose that laid the golden egg overseas as their victims/mortgage slaves failed to maintain their house repayments causing the GFC.
    The “Idle Rich” in Australia, having deceived and oppressed their mortgage slaves, using the MSM to effect, are about to kill their golden geese with unsustainable debt when their preferred Prime Minister ushers in a regime of austerity, focussed not on private debt but government debt, which in the conservative governed Eastern states is already causing job losses and falling property prices, all the hall marks of a recession.
    The boom will bust and the GFC will visit Australia.
    It is too late to turn the lemmings around.

  65. Achmed

    CML – the tax would need to be applied to deposits and withdrawals. This would assist in reducing the “black” money where people pay for services etc in cash and the cash is not deposited.

    I have read about this tax system, many years ago, and from memory it would raise more than the current system

  66. Jimmy

    Blue Poppy – “Change usually involves a number of simultaneous influences and I reckon Occupy is one in a group of significant factors – Wikileaks another and the GFC just to name two” I’ll give you the GFC, Wikileaks is very much overblown and Assange’s attitude is making him less relevant and Occupy had a good summer but are no longer in the public mind.

  67. GF50

    Great article Bernard succinct and TRUE! Love the LNP apologists trying to falsify the facts, and being shot down by their own argument!
    Rise up serfs and demand Democracy and decency, remember the Eureka Stockade.

  68. kraken

    Golly gosh…who would have guessed? You mean its just a construct to demonize any attempt at getting some equity into the system. Maggie would be proud of them….

  69. klewso

    Isn’t class warfare “(private school) class warfare”?

  70. Ronson Dalby

    Mr Monkeyboy @18

    “Eat the poor!”

    “Kill poor to fix budget, writes lobbyist with Liberal links”


  71. Karen

    High income earners pay less tax as a percentage of income than low income earners. Whenever there are attempts to change this, “class warfare”, “communism” and “socialism” gets trotted out. It sucks.

    And, yeah, there is class warfare with the rich winning it hands down every bloody time – gee,the seriously rich don’t even pay tax – they just take the dosh out of the country and stash it in places like the Canary Islands.

  72. Karen

    @CML – here, here for the Tobin tax – when Brown tried flying that kite in Britain, it was quietly ignored..

  73. Ian

    @Stevo, ” If you are in a median wage job in 2013, you are about 1000% better off than your “classmate” of 100 years ago.”

    Really? And are you suggesting that the top 1% are any less better off than their peers of a 100 years ago?”

    Are you suggesting that the top 1% are alone responsible for the 1000% rise in material wellbeing of the rest of us? Did the 99% not play a part in their own improved circumstances? Did governments and rule of law not do so? What about future generations whose share of natural resources we have expropriated (and the poor b*gg*rs don’t even get to vote on it)?

    I think you will find that the rise in material well being of the top 1% has far outstripped that of the median.

  74. Matt Petersen

    It is not Class warfare or a war on wealth. I think it is more the challenging of one ideology upon another. When labour and greens attack the conservative and wealthy it is class warfare, just as if the Liberals went after the unions and welfare.

    Clashes ideology are what makes politics, Politics.

  75. Hunt Ian

    “class warfare”, it has such a ring to it. Bernard’s research on how many times it has been used by Murdoch’s loss making flagship and by his propaganda machine for fixing the anomaly in the 2010 election shows that Murdoch has taste only for class warfare while the rich are winning. Poor Damien McBain stumbles into thinking there would no Australia without high income earners , since low income earners pay so little tax. Dear, oh dear. trusts, tax havens and all the rest are forgotten and low income earners seem to exclude the great middle, who are mostly low income earners compared with the top 10%. People earning above the great middle would not simply disappear or be turned into people who earn middle incomes. So Australia would survive, if only state and federal governments taxed at the level of Germany–that notorious have of “dumb trots”–which takes 36% of GNP, and it would probably muddle along as it does now with tax at 26% of GNP.

    David Hand dips his usual oar in too, by noting how the billions inherited by Gina are deployed by managers and workers to earn a lot of income, as though Gina had anything to do with how her inherited billions earn a lot of money. If Gina put all her money in a trust and the trustees exercised their discretion to pay her nothing, the billions now owned by the trust would go on earning but Gina would not continue to grab the limelight and would not get headlines for scolding the poor on how they should give up everything Gina enjoys and just work hard.

    What’s so bad about class war? A one sided war with the rich winning is not good for the poor or those in the great middle. Perhaps it is time to make it a two-sided and more fair war, so that while the MSM might continue to ignore Tony’s attack on super concessions for the poor, other voices could be heard, so long as the first condition for getting heard is not that you are already rich.

  76. Ian


    I think it is both a class warfare and an ideological divide but it really is between the Greens and some tiny parties on the one side and Labor and Liberal on the other. This is so in spite of the Greens agreeing to “support” Labor after the last election in return for some concessions like on climate change legislation. In the end Labor reluctantly pushed through some practically useless legislation on climate change and reneged on much of the rest of the stuff it had agreed to with the Greens and independents.

    This Labor/Liberal thing is more like some factional squabble than anything of substance. The Liberals do their best to be even more austere, more mean and more pro the 1% than Labor. That’s all.

  77. Ian

    Thanks Paul,

    Another gem from that genius Chomsky.

  78. Daryl...

    What a horrible little hate riddled group this is. Envious of anybody with the backbone and drive to better their position in life. Even Hawke/Keating now draw attacks from these extremists.

    It has never been the job of the Aussie govt. to rid you of all life’s problems. Toughen up princesses.

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