Today a collection of business lobby groups have started an advertising campaign calling on voters to make an election issue of their election wish list: a company tax cut, ‘flexible’ industrial relations policies and less ‘red-tape’.
Before I’m accused of being ‘anti-business’, let me just state right here that I’m not anti-business. Businesses are great. They are run by innovative, entrepreneurial, risk-taking people who we should respect and admire. People invest their own money in businesses which then hire people, giving those people a chance to contribute to the success of the business, and to earn a living doing so. For the most part, employers treat their employees respectfully and give them fair and just entitlements and compensation for the work they do. But the thing is, as great as individual businesses are, they can’t be left in charge of Australia. Or, to put this more clearly, they can’t use their political arm, the Liberal Party, to control our society, or our economy, or anything really. This is why:
Individual businesses want their employees to be highly skilled, well-educated and productive, but they don’t want to pay tax to ensure everyone else’s businesses have access to highly skilled, well-educated and productive employees.
Individual businesses want their employees to be healthy so they can turn up to work every day. But they don’t want to pay tax to ensure a universal health system helps their employees be healthy enough to turn up to work.
Individual businesses want infrastructure available to help them make money, such as quality roads, well maintained sewerage and electrical systems and police and fire crews available if they ever need them, but they don’t want to pay tax to ensure this infrastructure is available.
Individual business don’t want environmental protection regulation, or worker’s safety protection, or laws about how they should keep food from going off and poisoning people, or anything they throw in the red-tape basket and constantly try to get rid of. But they also don’t want the consequences of not following these laws and regulations, such as when the environment is no longer a safe and habitable place for them to make money, or when they are sued because one of their workers is hurt or killed through unsafe work practices, or if someone is poisoned by their food.
Individual businesses need their customers to earn enough money to be customers. They need people who work on weekends to earn penalty rates so they can afford to consume stuff. They want everyone to earn enough money to have choices in the market place, to be able to buy insurance, to buy a new car, to get the latest iPhone, to have a sandwich from the local shop for lunch, to go to the movies and go out to dinner afterwards. They want a prosperous society, but many don’t want to maintain the wages of their own employees to ensure this prosperity is widespread. Many campaign against award wages, penalty rates and even the minimum wage. Many resent the entitlements that provide consumers with the time off to actually enjoy their lives, go on holidays (where they spend money), have time off to have children (children arrive with a lot of consumer spending), to renovate their homes (Bunnings does well). They expect their workers to work on casual wages, with no paid holidays or they expect salaried workers to work overtime without extra-compensation, which eats into the worker’s life and their enjoyment of their life and ultimately, their ability to consume from businesses.
I understand that individual businesses just want to make as much profit as they can, whether it be for themselves, or their shareholders, and this makes them very one-eyed and driven, some would say, blinkered, in their quest for this single-minded goal. But this individual drive to make as much profit as possible, whilst they complain about paying tax, while mostly actively work to reduce or avoid tax, when they fight against award wages, penalty rates, minimum wage and workers entitlements, when they campaign against business regulation, when they claim education and healthcare is an expense which is hurting the economy rather than helping, and when they claim a tax-cut for businesses is good for everyone, when really they know it’s only good for business owners and shareholders, they’re letting their own selfish vested-interests ruin everybody else’s prosperity, AND, and this is the crux of the matter, their own prosperity in the process. Put simply, their selfishness is bad for themselves along with everyone else.
That is why they should never be in charge of the country, and a smart country would never ever elect their representatives, the Liberal Party.