Download a .pdf of SPC News July 2018.
This issue of SPC News offers three views on inequality.
John Menadue writes robustly that the class war is real and being waged by the rich. Rosalind Dixon responds to Richard Denniss, agreeing that there are many problems with neoliberalism, but distinguishing this from well-functioning markets. And Bruce Duncan takes a close look at Pope Francis’s strongly-held views on inequality, and responds to some of his critics.
Former Australian Ambassador to Israel, Peter Rodgers, sees no hope for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. And Caesar D’Mello discusses problems with the just war tradition, and reports on requests from Pax Christi International for the Pope to write an encyclical on nonviolence as a force for peace. We conclude with the launch of Anthony Maher’s Faith and the Political in the Post-Secular Age.
Upper income earners will be the biggest beneficiaries over the next seven years of recent tax cuts. Average total earnings for employees are about $62,000 a year. Moving to a flat marginal tax rate of 32.5% for annual incomes ranging from a low $41,000 to a high of $200,000 is a massive attack on our progressive taxation system. It favours the wealthy decisively at a time when we are seeing disturbing decreases in equality.
To defend this largesse for the wealthy, Malcolm Turnbull tells us that the Coalition “believes in aspiration”. He tells us that the tax changes are “good for working families”. That is privilege speaking. It is not good for most families, and aspiration is not peculiar to the wealthy friends he serves. We all want to improve and do better. And aspirations are not just about increased money. They include relationships and life essentials like clean air, clean water, liveable cities, and a healthy planet. They also include aspirations – indeed rights we all have for ourselves and our families – for equal access to good education, good health care, and good housing. We are citizens, not just taxpayers.
Writing in The Conversation, Rosalind Dixon responds to Richard Denniss’s Quarterly Essay Dead right: How neoliberalism ate itself and what comes next, arguing that correcting problems with neoliberalism does not mean giving up the benefits of socially responsible markets.
“Being pro-market is not the same as being pro-business. In many areas, the pendulum has swung too far toward business, rather than to markets, and thus inadequate regulation of private contractors and firms that pollute and fail to pay taxes in Australia.”
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With the two-state solution in the morgue, governments around the globe will need to consider anew the unpalatable realities of this long-running conflict.
Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, warned in mid-2017 that, if Israel kept control of the area from the Mediterranean to the river Jordan, “it would become inevitably – that’s the key word, inevitably – either non-Jewish or non-democratic”. If Palestinians in an annexed West Bank were given full rights, Israel would quickly become “a bi-national state with an Arab majority and civil war”. Israel’s current path, he described as a “slippery slope toward apartheid”.
Pope Francis has been relentless in his critique, indeed denunciation, of abuses in the international economy which are responsible for the Global Financial Crisis and its continuing unresolved consequences. He refers especially the growing inequality which he sees in Italy and much of Europe, destabilising governments and encouraging extreme nationalist movements.
He blames growing inequality and poverty in large part on major financial and transnational corporations and powerful special interests. These, he says, cloak their policies in an ideology that free markets will operate most efficiently with minimal regulation, thus giving little weight to moral issues of distribution or social consequences.
SPC Forum with Caesar D’Mello
Recently returned from a meeting in France of Pax Christi International, Caesar D’Mello reported at the SPC Forum on 21 June on how Church and other networks are questioning the effectiveness of ‘just war’ thinking, and endorsing non-violent ‘just peace’ methods for promoting human rights, social change, and sustainable peace-making.
Launch of Anthony Maher (ed) Faith & the Political in the Post-Secular Age at Catholic Theological College East Melbourne 18 June 2018.
Maher sees neoliberalism as an economic form of fundamentalism, with its exaggerated belief in free markets promoting the rights of individuals against notions of the common good. He considers that neoliberalism “largely precipitated the global financial crisis” (35). He recalls Pope Paul VI’s critique of “economic liberalism” resulting in the tyranny of money, when a “privileged minority” exercises its power over the impoverished majority.
Maher looks to the “little narratives” in diverse cultural traditions, through which the voiceless can be heard and a consensus gradually built “around universal ethical norms of justice”.
Monday nights 6-9pm
30 July-29 October
Second Semester 2018
Enrolments 25 June-12 July 2018
This 12-week unit at Yarra Theological Union within the University of Divinity, under the title Equity & Sustainability, examines the convergence between Pope Francis and the program of the SDGs.
Pope Francis worked closely with designers of the SDGs to help align the moral energies of the churches and world religions with efforts to overcome the challenges of global inequality and threats to the environment, especially from climate change.
SPC Video Selections
The bipartisan approach to refugees & asylum seekers in Australia
This video of Phil Glendenning interviewed in the office of Social Policy Connections in 2011 shows just how little Australia has improved its care for asylum seekers and refugees. Thanks to Matthew Howard for this short arrangement in the Common Home series for World Refugee Day 20 June 2018. Phil is still Director of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education in Sydney, and President of the Refugee Council of Australia.
Let’s welcome, protect, promote, and integrate refugees, as Pope Francis is asking us.