These days we are treated to a regular outpouring of statistics showing that Australia is a prosperous country. We don’t argue with the evidence, and it can be seen in the conspicuously extravagant lifestyles of some, but it conceals a more significant fact that will have a greater impact in the long term on Australia’s future – if indeed it is to have one.
There is a deep moral malaise chewing away at the heart of our society. The evidence is equally incontrovertible, although Governments tend not to collect the sort of statistics that are indicators of this disease. But it is evident in the emergence of the drug culture, which draws so many of our young people into its destructive clutches, and which, in itself, is a sign of the hopelessness that young people feel about the future. Powerful forces in Australia want to legalise the drug trade and governments, incapable of bringing moral leadership to any issue, hasten to comply.
It is evident in the permanent underclass created by unemployment, whereby people have no hope or prospect of ever finding work, a situation which is destructive to self-esteem and wasteful to the economy. What folly it is to suggest that we are a prosperous country when 20 per cent of our people can’t find full time work, and 40 per cent of our young people cannot find work of any kind.
It is evident in the emergence of the working poor, which includes small businesses, farmers and others who work seven days a week to produce an income which trade unions wouldn’t tolerate for their members.
The crisis of modern culture derives from the abandonment of any moral foundations for our society; the notion that what happens to the individual doesn’t have any effect on the whole; that people can do what they like; that all that matters is looking after number one. It is evident in the statistics showing a declining interest in religious practice, although over seventy per cent of Australia’s population still describe themselves as “Christian”.
The last decent Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Menzies, understood what his successors have failed to understand. When outlining his vision for Australia he had this to say,
“Rising material standards of living in a democracy cannot be adequately attained by a simple process of redistribution of wealth, nor by the creation of a state of affairs whereby we are all employed by, or dependent on, the State. An uncontrolled and unregulated free competitive enterprise would tend to destroy the weak, permanently impoverish the poor, and reduce that dignity of the individual man and woman which it must be the purpose of democracy to create and enhance.”
Since his day, of course, we have seen the emergence of the brave new world of the Frasers, Hawkes, Keatings and Howards. It’s underlying principle is every man for himself and, true to that principle, they themselves, end up multi-millionaires. Wealth has been redistributed, with the gainers being people on the public payroll, of whom there are an ever-increasing number, either directly, or indirectly.
The losers are those who invest in small business, such as farmers, many of whom are sitting on an investment of upwards of half a million to produce an income which does not reach the dole. And to do that they probably work seven days a week for ten or twelve hours a day. This is economic rationalism.
Australia badly needs another Bob Menzies.