| Rich whingers dominate Australian politics | MR Online

Rich whingers dominate Australian politics

Originally published: Red Flag on February 24, 2024 (more by Red Flag)  |

The media never tire of wheeling out stories about young people, workers, the unemployed—basically anyone not from the moneyed classes—being lazy, entitled brats who, if not treated with a stern hand by the authorities, will bring society to ruin.

But when it comes to being lazy and entitled, the rich and powerful are by far the biggest offenders.

The response to the new “right to disconnect” law, which was approved by parliament on 12 February and will come into effect next year, illustrates the point. The law is hardly radical. It merely provides the weakest of backstops for what should already be the norm: that employees don’t have to do work-related things like answer phone calls or emails from their boss outside of the hours they are actually paid for.

Did this stop the usual suspects from crying blue murder? Of course not.

Sky News host and Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt was among those decrying the new law, which he described as “a perfect sign of Australia’s decline” and a reflection of “this something for nothing culture that we’re developing”. Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox was also put into a spin, threatening, in response to the new law, that businesses “are indicating that flexibilities in workplaces such as leaving early to pick up the kids or going to the dentist will be cut back”.

If anyone is the lazy, entitled brat in this situation, it’s the boss, not the worker. They’re the ones demanding they get something (someone else’s labour) for nothing.

It’s like a toddler’s tantrum. The message from Willox is that if you don’t let your boss harangue you at any time of the day or night—whenever the mood strikes them—and do some work for free, you should expect them to stamp their feet, scream and do whatever they can to make your life a misery

It’s been the same, too, with Labor’s proposed changes to the Stage 3 tax cuts. Those in the very top income brackets are now going to get only ten extra lollipops instead of the original twelve, while the extras will be distributed among those on lower incomes, who will now get two or three extra lollipops instead of the original one or none.

This change, while not going nearly far enough, makes things a little fairer. But try telling that to the rich whingers whose large stock of extra lollipops is going to suffer a very slight cut. Taking candy from a baby is easy. Taking candy from the big babies of Australia’s rich and powerful is very hard.

When Labor’s tax changes were announced in January, Liberal Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor described them as representing a “war on aspiration”. “It’s absolutely extraordinary”, he told Sky News,

because if you’re not rewarding people for investing, taking risks, building businesses, creating jobs, paying taxes, then they simply won’t do it. This is what Labor doesn’t understand.

No doubt Taylor intended this as a defence of the rich. When you unpack it though, it’s not complimentary at all.

Research released last year by the Australia Institute, a public policy think tank, found that, in the decade from 2009, the top 10 percent of Australian income earners pocketed 93 percent of the wealth created by economic growth. In the years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, that trend has continued. According to an Oxfam report on global inequality released in January, the total wealth of Australia’s 47 richest billionaires increased by 70 percent, or $120 billion, between 2020 and 2023.

Considering the windfall Australia’s richest have been enjoying, Taylor’s claim that there will be no more incentives for them to work and invest if a few thousand dollars are shaved off their tax cut makes them seem like, well, big babies. If the government dares to stem the flow of wealth and privileges accruing to Australia’s richest people even a little, then you’ll have an almighty tantrum on your hands.

When the topic is big babies, we’d be remiss for not mentioning what in recent Australian history has arguably been the most tanti-prone cohort of all: property investors. No-one is more coddled in Australia today than the 630,000 or so people who, according to Australian Taxation Office data, own two or more investment properties. Not only do these people receive the entirely unearned windfall flowing from sky high rents and constantly rising house prices, but they are also the beneficiaries of various extremely generous tax concessions.

According to an analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office, released by the Greens last year, the total cost of property tax deductions and the capital gains tax discount was about $39 billion a year and will total $524 billion over the next decade.

This is many times more than Labor is planning to spend on the construction of new social housing under the Housing Australia Future Fund. And the bulk of the money is flowing to the richest 10 percent of Australians.

Handouts to big babies have helped turn the housing system into a giant money-sucking machine funnelling wealth from the bottom rungs of society to the top—from renters and working-class mortgage holders to property investors and the big banks.

Heaven forbid that anyone should suggest that this completely unfair system should be changed even a bit. The government must continue to shovel wealth into the gaping maw of the investor class—or else!

Australia’s richest people are by far the country’s biggest whingers. Their extreme sensitivity to the suggestion that not everything should go their way warrants the label conservatives love to apply to supposedly lazy and entitled young people: snowflakes.

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