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Left focus

February 14th, 2009
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With the sudden collapse of the main ideas of the political right, the need for debate and discussion over social democratic and socialist ideas has become much more urgent.

One new venue for this is Left Focus, a blog that has been set up by longtime reader Tristan Ewins, with the aim of being open to a variety of left perspectives. The announcement says:

A new forum of the broad left. Contributions from around the world – and from the webmaster’s home in Australia – are welcome. We welcome Green, socialist, social-democratic, left liberal, and libertarian left perspectives.

All interested parties are welcome to visit and comment on the posts…

The webmaster will be publishing his work gradually through the site – but maybe you would like to contribute too?

Posts of good quality and of interest to a broadleft audience will be considered.

Anyone wanting to post contributions can write to Tristan Ewins at: [email protected]

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  1. rog
    February 14th, 2009 at 21:37 | #1

    I’m not sure what “ideas of the right” have collapsed; if the link provided is indicative of “the ideas of the left” then property insurance is to be replaced by State welfare and national broadband; I dont follow the argument

  2. February 15th, 2009 at 09:47 | #2

    Rog: what I suggest is that – for those identified as being in poverty – and thus having been unable to afford insurance – that then the state should intervene. It is a matter of compassion and decency…

    I also suggest you try reading all the other entries on the blog – as there are a broad variety is issues covered…

    Everyone can comment – so long as there is no flaming or trolling… And those contributing in a constructive way to debate on the broad left are welcome to contact me wth proposals…

    and re: broadband…

    To begin with, it will drive productivity, and will improve our quality of life.

    Furthermore, higher speeds will open up the prospect of real-time streaming in High Definition…It would open to way to an information technology and entertainment revolution…

    Finally – such programs will take a while to prepare… We need short term stimulus – such as Labor has passed – to bouy the economy for the time being…

    But investment in broadband will also drive jobs creation into the future…

    Hope that makes things a bit clearer. :-)

  3. jquiggin
    February 15th, 2009 at 10:26 | #3

    “I’m not sure what “ideas of the right” have collapsed”

    My series on refuted economic doctrines should help a bit here.

  4. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 15th, 2009 at 15:46 | #4

    John, over the years the left has been instrumental through ‘collective action’ in bringing about many positive changes to our society for which we now take for granted. And whilst the Coalition were totally against Rudd’s $42 Billion stimulus package, it seems the only difference between a socialist and a Liberal these days is a few billion dollars.

  5. February 15th, 2009 at 18:43 | #5

    Michael,

    re: differences between socialists and Liberals… (not small ‘l’…)

    Actually, in dollar terms the difference between Labor and the Libs is about $20 billion… But the cash payments – as opposed to tax cuts – quest – is once of social justice…

    Tax cuts as envisaged by Turnbull would deliver billions to the wealthy…But flat payments are greater in relative/proportionate terms for the underprivileged…

    That said – Labor’s handouts were not progressive enough… And Tanner’s commitment to hold taxes down is questionable…

    Assuming the recession lasts years…Assuming the commodities boom never returns to its prior glory… Assuming that reliance on Company Tax is simply not sustainable any longer – then we need change… (we need to restructure the tax system)

    One important difference between – say – my position, and the Conservatives – is that I want a much more progressive tax and welfare mix. This means expanding the tax base, the welfare state, the social wage – to provide first clas community and public education, health, aged care…

    As a liberal and a socialist – I also believe in a participatory public sphere – including subsidies to support media diversification…and break the power of the media monopolies…

    Also – I believe in socialised infrastructure and a democratic mixed economy… This includes democratic forms of economic organisation: co-operatives, mutual societies…

    And it also means fostering public players in competitive markets – to counter oligopoly – but also to return dividends to the people – and fulfil a social purpose beyond share value maximisation…

    Finally – I believe in an environmentally sustainable economy – and in making tough decisions now to make the shift…

    Were the choice mine, I would create a public authority to conduct research into developing electric/hybrid technology – including necessary infrastructure…

    And indeed – if the decision were mine I would have public investment into these industries – to force the pace of change…

    I could go on to include my views on economic democracy… I mention this, I think, in one of the discussions we’re having at ‘Left Focus’ – but I think I’ve said enough to show that there is still quite a significant difference between my ‘liberal socialist’ position – and that of a ‘classic economic liberal’

    Michael – you’re welcome to take this debate to Left Focus too if you like…

  6. rog
    February 15th, 2009 at 21:50 | #6

    “Assuming the recession lasts years” is to assume that the present handouts are not sufficient and future handouts unsustainable in the face of falling tax revenue.

  7. February 16th, 2009 at 11:29 | #7

    Rog – to clarify – Right now it seems possible the recession could drag on – and there will be hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in Australia alone…

    On the other hand, there are many who will be relatively untouched… And under such circumstances social solidarity is perfectly affordable – and fair.

    Assuming a rise in all full single pensions to 30% of Male Average Total Weekly Earnings, and substanital investment in public housing – for our most vulnerable…the worst extremes may be avoided…

    Another good idea – proposed by the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Society – is an $80/week supplement to the most vulnerable pensioners….

    Ken Davidson writes in ‘The Age’ today that the stimulus needed to be about twice as much as the $42 billion which was committed…

    I’d be interested in opinions here – I am thinking about mentioning it in my own blog…

    And also Tanner’s commitment to hold taxes down…and limit new expenditure to ’2%’…

    (can this possibly be sustainable in the long term – esp if Company Tax receipts never return to their prior heights?)

    Next weekend I’m considering ‘taking a page out of John’s book’ and starting a thread for discussion of anything readers are interested in… Hopefully see you there…

  8. Michael of Summer Hill
    February 18th, 2009 at 17:30 | #8

    John, if I may reply to Tristan Ewins by saying you raise a lot of issues but in reference to the flat tax such as the GST or VAT it is a discriminatory tax and benefits only those well off. With respect to Labor’s $42 Billion stimulus and Turnbull’s position the difference is very small. However there is a big difference between Turnbull’s position to that of the neo-conservatives who would rather see Australia go into recession. For this very reason many would view Turnbull’s policies more in tune with Labor rather than that of the neo-conservatives.

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