Divide and rule

I began writing this as a reply to a worker infected by the ideological disease that could be called today’s version of “the socialism of fools”, the name given by German socialists at the end of the 19th Century to the irrational, bigotted and eventually genocidal idea that Jews were to blame for the plight of oppressed and exploited workers.

Today’s “fools” in Australia blame asylum-seekers and refugees, especially those of Muslim faith or who come from the Middle East. Meanwhile, after helping transfer a massive $2.2 trillion from wages to profits an Australian Labor governments is planning to cut company tax rates again at a cost of $3.5 billion to the public purse over the next three years.

* * *

Right-wing politicians (including from the ALP) have systematically sown division among ordinary people in Australia. They have done this to workers, making workplace solidarity pretty close to illegal and they have worked to break down our innate sense of solidarity for the millions of people suffering oppression and war. They are promoting an irrational fear of the tiny proportion of the millions of desperate asylum seekers who are fleeing war and persecution who make it to our shores.

They do this to distract us from the real crimes that they are perpetuating in making the richer minority in our society even richer, by holding down wages and working conditions, and by giving the rich billions of dollars annually in corporate subsidies and tax cuts.

Over the least three and a half decades, Labor and Liberal governments have colluded it a $2.2 trillion transfer of income from ordinary working class to the corporate rich. Corporate profit share of total income in Australia has increased from 16.9% to 27.7% since 1974-75 while wage share has decreased from 62.7% to 54%. In today’s dollars, that is $2.2 trillion shifted to corporate profits.

Top personal income tax rate and company tax rate (1965‑66 to 2007‑08). Source: Treasury "Architecture of Australia's tax and transfer system".

A recent study commissioned by the ACTU found that the wealthiest 20% of Australians own 61% of the
country’s wealth while the poorest 20% own just 1%. “The wealth gap is large and growing”, it concluded.

The 11 Australians who made the Forbes 1000 richest list for 2010 have a total net wealth of $25.7 billion — more than the net wealth of the country’s 800,000 poorest households, according to ABS estimates.

But the greed of the super-rich knows no bounds. Look at the US where the super-rich received a trillion dollars in tax cuts in the previous budget (yes, even under the Obama Administration) while the US government racked up its accumulated debt to US$14.3 trillion. In that country, the richest 1% take a quarter of all income and control 40%

Over the last three decades the tax rate on the richest individuals and on companies in Australia has been reduced yet the super-rich are demanding (and the Gillard government is promising) another cut to the corporate tax rate, from 30% to 29%.

According to Treasury estimates obtained by Greens MP Adam Bandt, this will take an estimated $3.5 billion from the budget over the three years to 2015. If the tax rate cut was only given to small businesses (companies with a turnover of less than $2 million a year) the cost to budget would be just $400 million over the same period. This exposes the pretence by the major paries to be motivated by helping out small business.

While the current corporate tax rate is supposed to be 30% the biggest companies pay accountants and lawyers to avoid and reduce their taxes. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto pay just 13%, while most workers pay 30% or more in effective tax rate. Between 2005 and 2008, more than 40% of big businesses paid no income tax.

We saw the political power of the big mining companies when the former Rudd governments threatened to bring in a mining super-profit tax. Rudd was deposed and the incoming Gillard government quickly did a $60 billion tax give back deal with the big mining companies.

Just 10 years ago nearly 40% of mining profits came back to the public in royalties and taxes now it has been reduced to under 14% while total mining profits have multiplied by more than 10 times. It is literally the biggest corporate rip-off in Australian history!

With this wholesale robbery of our society by the corporate super-rich, it is understandable that the politicians that they have bought off are working hard to distract the ordinary working class people by turning them against asylum seekers, Muslims, etc. It is the old divide and rule strategy.

So the politicians-for-super-rich are doing exactly what we would expect. But we the ordinary people do not have to fall for their dirty, divisive tricks. We don’t have to become their dupes.

With unity and solidarity of the oppressed in this country and around the world we can liberate society from the dictatorship of corporate greed and break down all their repressive institutions (including those propped up with the bigotry and backwardness of feudal religious dogmas).

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