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Redefining Capitalism: The Chalmers Prescription


The Australian Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, recently published a 6,000-word essay, entitled “Capitalism after the Crises.” In it, he argues that it is Australia’s mission “to redefine and reform our economy and institutions in ways that make our people and communities more resilient, and our society and democracy stronger as well.”

He advocates for a new, values-based version of capitalism. By this, he means that “our economies need to embed and express more than one notion of value.”

To this end, he argues that his understanding of “capitalism” will seek to achieve the following three objectives:

“First, an orderly energy and climate transition … introducing cleaner, cheaper, more reliable and increasingly renewable energy, and adopting practices and technologies that limit our emissions.

“Second, a more resilient and adaptable economy in the face of climate, geopolitical and cyber risks, unreliable supply chains, and pressures on budgets from an ageing population.

“Third, growth that puts equality and equal opportunity at the centre.”

The essay, though, is an incoherent collection of platitudes. It fails to address the subject matter of its title, and it demonstrates some serious deficiencies in understanding issues of economic importance.

This lack of understanding may well facilitate the adoption of disastrous policies that must be addressed and rectified if “capitalism” is going to survive as Australia’s economic system.

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People shop for fruit and vegetables at Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia, on July 5, 2022. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

In attempting to redefine “capitalism” as something different before or after any crisis, Chalmers revisits an economic system that has been under attack even by Plato and Aristotle.

These ancient philosophers agreed that “some aspects of a specific kind of human flourishing would be harmed by exposure to market forces, a position from which many philosophers, including Marx, certainly drew their theories.”

Indeed, Karl Marx was inspired by these philosophers when he formulated and articulated his calamitous utopian theories which, in turn, spawned the malicious socialist/communist movements we have inherited today.

Uprooting Our Foundations

Websters Dictionary defines “capitalism” simply as a System of individual ownership of capital or wealth.”

Australia’s home-grown Macquarie Dictionary, under the influence of Professor Manning Clark, defines “capitalism” as “a system under which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are in large measure privately owned and directed.” But it contaminates this definition by adding that capitalism is “the concentration of capital in the hands of a few, or the resulting power or influence” and “a system favouring such concentration of wealth.”

Surely, the role of government in a capitalist economy should be to protect the entrepreneurial liberty of people and the ownership of private resources. By contrast, socialism/communism promotes the seductive theory that everybody owns everything.

However, the implementation of a socialist/communist society requires powerful and influential controllers to re-distribute wealth that has been created by motivated and industrious people.

Such re-distribution generally suffers from the law of diminishing returns and unintended consequences. Re-distribution of other people’s wealth often suffers from nepotism, corruption, and cronyism, involving the award of desirable jobs to useful relatives and friends.

Epoch Times Photo
Opposition supporters hold a banner reading “No More Socialism” during a gathering with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, in Caracas, on Feb. 2, 2019. (Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)

The central pillar of the Chalmers Plan is the mirage of replacing the reliable hydrocarbon energy base that has given us the prosperity we enjoy today with fanciful, unreliable energy that is anything but clean behind its smokescreen of deception that has enriched its promoters and is impoverishing us all.

Our economy, which has been built on cheap and abundant hydrocarbon energy, is being undermined by a fear-driven campaign that demonizes a trace gas on which life on Earth depends.

As seen above, Chalmers’s first of its three objectives is “an orderly energy and climate transition … introducing cleaner, cheaper, more reliable and increasingly renewable energy.”

In the words of the hero of an iconic Australian movie, The Castle, “Tell him he’s dreamin’.”

Ignoring the Massive Costs

Preposterously vast and literally out-of-this-world quantities of raw materials would have to be mined and processed to harness intermittent, dilute, unreliable energy sources, rewire the country, produce batteries, and dispose of quantities of toxic waste to replace the efficient and abundant hydrocarbon fuels, coal, oil, and gas.

Apart from investigating the “renewables” industry and its unproductive offshoots, such as the egregiously named “carbon” trading, the Australian government should be addressing a trillion-dollar debt that must be paid out and exploring and developing Australia’s vast, untapped minerals and energy resources.

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This picture shows a conveyor bridge dumping soil and sand removed at another area of the mine in the town of Singleton, in Newcastle, Australia, on Nov. 5, 2021. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Additionally, the government should also revitalize people’s limitless resources of imagination and motivation by comprehensively overhauling a stultifying tax system, which is currently incapable of improving the quality of life for Australians and our trading partners.

However, Chalmers’s essay seeks to crucify the previous Coalition governments by repeatedly referring to the “wasted decade.” The coming decade is shaping up to be worse than “wasted” if we continue to follow the diktats of unelected committees of political poseurs at their annual climate change talkfests, quaintly but accurately, called Conference of Parties.

Some people may find Chalmers’s essay to be inspirational, but it does not address any of the real economic problems of Australia.

It is, essentially, a collection of motherhood statements that lack intellectual rigour and only manage to prove that “capitalism” is in crisis because of disastrous government decisions.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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