6 July 2020
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There is a possible explanation for this odd behavior of possibly misguided, pissed off voters. Here's what I think.

Is there an economic reason we're pissed off to vote Hanson?

Peter Switzer
14 July 2016

By Peter Switzer

Why are we so pissed off that we think it’s a good idea to vote in Jacqui Lambie, Pauline Hanson, Derryn Hinch and even Nick Xenophon? And why are the Poms so pissed off that they opted for Brexit?

And what about the Yanks seriously considering Donald Trump?

In places where the Aussies, the Poms, the Yanks and even the Europeans sick of the EU don’t go (i.e. trendy cafes, poncey dinner parties and the like), there is a possible explanation for this odd behavior of possibly misguided, pissed off voters.

Yep, it’s being frustrated at neo-liberalism. Of course, the great unwashed or pissed off, who are frustrated with modern life, would actually be even more pissed off, if the smarties, who think they understand their problem, actually used a term like neo-liberalism!

By the way, it’s not a new term and has been around, in all timely significance, since the 1930s.

Investopedia simplifies neoliberalism to a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. Any politician who believes the market can sort out our economic and even our social problems better than politicians and their sidekicks (the public service) can be tagged neo-liberalists.

Of course, they could be realists who think pollies and public servants don’t have a great record, so they simply don’t trust them. These same people could be really disappointed with the private sector and I guess we could lump banks, supermarkets, cheap airlines, telcos, energy companies and some other ‘must-use’ businesses into this class.

But those who think our weirdness in voting for Pauline, Donald and no Europeans (in the case of the Poms) is a rejection of neo-liberalism could be intellectually pissed off types, who like to think they know better than the huge number of pissed off people who might say “bollocks” to neo-liberalism.

This latter group are pissed off because they hate political correctness which is largely imposed on them by the intellectually pissed off types!

In the Australian, the UK and US cases, where weird voting has, or might soon happen, there is an anti-Muslim/refugee tone. Pauline Hanson wants a Royal Commission into Islam. The Poms didn’t want a Syrian conga line across The Channel (like we saw in Germany) and Trump wants to ban Muslims and Mexicans.

There is a racist tone to their pitches to voters and in a democracy there could easily be 10% of people who think we’re too soft on immigration. Tony Abbott proved it when he became PM in 2013, where “stop the boats” was an important part of his war cry.

But he also ran with “stop the mining tax” and “stop the carbon tax.” And yep, pissed off Aussies voted for him in a landslide. That was not a anti-neo-liberalism vote. No, it was something else.

You see, the ABC-types who I call my friends and those who read newspapers such as the SMH, The Age and The Guardian Australia, might debate the backlash of voters against neo-liberalism, but those people also hate those sorts of know-it-all people.

I listen to conservative radio stations because I work for some of them and there are a lot of people who like Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, Steve Price and the like.

At nights, when those suspicious of neo-liberalism are watching the ABC or doing something even more annoying to the people who are pissed off such as reading a book, these people enjoy the whinging about the ABC bias, the carbon threat lie, the open arms to refugees and all the caring issues that Greens supporters are famous for.

I think there are middle class Australians pissed off at slow wages rises but when I hear about this, there doesn’t seem to be anyone noting how the real wages of home loan borrowers has been improved by record low interest rates.

I do remember paying 17% for a home loan, selling a car and taking a bus to work to make ends meet when I had young kids and my wife — a lawyer — stayed home to look after them.

These were times of different values and choices around debt. In those days, we didn’t have credit card madness but we didn’t have new cars, Zara-cheap clothes, flights to Europe for $1000 return and there were no smartphones with the many deals they deliver to make life more affordable.

And older people died earlier so young people could buy homes in suburbs that young people nowadays can’t get into, unless they’re prepared to become a New Yorker in an apartment.

But older people are pissed off that they’re seen as home hoarders, when they’ve just been made lucky by some property booms that only make up for their pathetically low super balances because compulsory super came in only in 1992 and wasn’t always 9.5%.

I think the current high level of pissed-off-ness comes from the GFC.

The economic world has changed for a while and we’re in a slow grinding higher cycle, where we’ve been rescued by central banks throwing money at the problem. But what we all forget is that we’re living through the alternative for a Great Depression.

If interest rates weren’t negative and central banks weren’t blowing out their money supplies, we could have seen 20% unemployment in the US and 15% here in Australia.

That’s when a lot of people would’ve been really pissed off in losing their jobs, their houses and even their families. If you don't believe me, have a look at this video of “Brother can you spare a dime.” 

Yep, a lot of people are pissed off, but a lot of people still voted for the two major parties. Clearly, there are those who are annoyed about free market solutions to life’s problems, but young people hating older people with a great property portfolio is a jealous thing. Aussies hating Islam is a racist/religious/social intolerance thing, or an anti-government solution thing.

The reality is we always have pissed off people, but I think the hangover effects of the GFC of low wages rises and governments having to watch their spending because of Moody’s and other debt ratings agencies, has really got under some people’s skins.

The interesting alternative to a world dominated by the private sector is a world dominated by the public sector — politicians and the public service — and I reckon most of us, even the not-so-pissed-off group of Aussies, would get pissed off if we reverted back to a 1970s Australia.

Then there were lots of government services from Qantas to the CBA to Telecom, which became Telstra, but the tax rates were unbelievable.

In 1975 someone on more than $40,000 paid $21,200 up to $40,000 and 65 cents on every dollar earnt after that!

If we kill neo-liberalism policies and bring in a 65% top tax rate, that would really piss off a lot more Aussies!

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