Swan Sings Bruce

Aug 1, 2012

Who knew? Wayne Swan hearts Bruce Springsteen. But, the main point here: Swan is singing the right tune.

The poor folks at the Fin Review are wringing their hands over Swan’s new digs at the wealthy and the powerful (subscription needed) :

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan will ramp up his verbal attacks on Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest today by accusing them of using their wealth to treat the courts, Parliament, and the media as personal playthings.

In a speech lauding the political messages of US rock star Bruce Springsteen, Mr Swan will argue the billionaires have run “blatantly self-interested” campaigns since he accused them in March of threatening Australia’s “fair go” ethos.

“One tycoon is using his money to challenge the principle of fair taxation through electioneering; a second is using his money to challenge it through the courts; and a third is using her money to challenge it by undermining independent journalism,” Mr Swan will say.

The comments are likely to reignite debate about whether the Gillard government is more focused on wealth distribution than wealth creation, and suggest Mr Swan is worried about the party’s loss of its traditional working class support base.

What we love about this is that the journalist, not surprisingly, doesn’t bother to observe — because he isn’t capable of either grasping this fact or isn’t free to actually write it — that Swan is right on the money. The Palmer-Reinhart-Forrest trio, along with other extremely wealthy people, do not care about the future of the country. As I pointed out yesterday, this is a matter of priorities: do you want to make the country healthy, prosperous for all and fair, or, as one mining baron has just done, are you more interested in buying an exclusive home in Singapore.

Instead, it is an entirely false, if predictable, premise to counterpose, as the Fin Review writer does, “Wealth distribution” and “wealth creation”. I could write a treatise on this (for example, pointing out how putting more money in peoples’ hands through wealth distribution creates more wealth by giving people the ability to purchase goods) but let’s just consider one point I made last week: investing in the National Disability Insurance Scheme–which requires public funds investment, which, by definition, is wealth distribution — actually will create billions of dollars MORE in wealth over the coming decades. So, actually, economically, factually, wealth distribution creates more wealth.

I hope Swan keeps singing this tune. The Prime Minister, I think, made a real impression on the public with her steadfast defense of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and her staring down of recalcitrant state premiers who didn’t particularly think much of looking after the rights of the disabled. People want to hear truths that connect with what they see happening. Admittedly, sometimes the electoral benefits might either be slow to catch up or do not align right away. But, I think voters reward people who are truthful and courageous.

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