Inequality: Why Australia must not follow the US

Inequality: Why Australia must not follow the US

An interesting read on social inequality and why we need to make sure there is equal opportunity for all.


Oh yes. Unfortunately I cannot recall the article, but I read recently (maybe a month ago) that analysis reveals an world-wide antithetical trend between top-paid top executives and the returns actually achieved by their respective organisations. In layman language: “the more you pay them more often than not the less you get out of them.”

If I find the article again I’ll link it here.

If the new policies pass in Congress PPAU will have amassed a big list of budget savings:

  • Abolition of pharmaceutical patents (saving near to $4 billion/year on the PBS)
  • Massive simplification of tax and welfare (saving $5 billion/year in admin costs)
  • Ending the war on drugs (several billion/year - depending what estimates you use)
  • Withdrawal of taxpayer subsidy to private schools (multibillions per year)
  • Abolition of taxpayer-funded chaplains ($1 billion over 4 years)
  • Capping fuel tax credits (a lot, hard to say how much)
  • Withdrawal of taxpayer subsidy to private health insurers ($4 billion/year)
  • Long-term reduction in pension costs (by far the biggest chunk of welfare spending) through improved incentives for superannuation
  • Cancellation of first home buyer grants (which will no longer be necessary once stamp duty & negative gearing are gone)

We need to pop the myth that the only way to fix the budget is to punch holes in the social safety net. This is the government’s line and its (so far) been sadly uncontested by any fact-based rebuttal from anyone. The side which opposes following the US model needs to do better. Maybe PPAU can set an example.

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Stiglitz was also on Q&A on monday night, worth a watch on iview if you’re interested in this stuff.

He made a very good point at one stage (hinted at in this article), one which I hadn’t heard before in the budget debate, regarding relative performance of universities between the US and Australia. Despite the fact that US universities dominate world rankings, because they are so exclusionary, overall student performance is well below the OECD average - educational inequality is high.

For this reason he was critical of the Abbott government’s moves towards university regulation. There’s an article about it here too.

In the same vein, John Quiggin points out that
’Adjusted for population, Australian students are about ten times as likely as Americans to attend a (world) top 50 university.'
His point being that the Ivy League universities in the U.S. really educate only the 1%, whereas the G8 universities in Australia are mass enrolment institutions.

I was recently listening to question time regarding the comparison between paid education in the England and free education in Scotland. The member mentioned that it was thriving in England with numbers however was stagnating in Scotland and by some how used this as a reference to why a US education based system is great for Australia. Firstly, I think that there are different cultural issues to take into consideration and that the education system in the US is largely about building student debt to such a rate where students wont be able to pay it back and universities have made a business out of it… And they’ve even said if anything happens to them whilst during their education the bills are directly passed onto their families, don’t quote me directly I’m paraphrasing from memory. I still have to watch the documentary based on it called ‘Ivory Tower’ that talks about it in more detail.