image

Lara Giddings has already urged hard-pressed Tasmanians to spend their savings shopping til they drop. Now Tasmanian retailers have joined in. Next up, no doubt, the TCCI will be encouraging us to do the right thing and prop up the economy by buying stuff.

Giddings’ advice, and that of her free market tail-waggers, is as misguided as it is economically irresponsible.

Consumerism to prop up the Tasmanian economy is short-term, reckless and socially, economically and morally bankrupt.

As the US Congress Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission said in its 2011 report, the GFC was primarily caused by “the widely accepted faith in the self-correcting nature of the markets and the ability of financial institutions to effectively police themselves. More than 30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation by financial institutions… had stripped away key safeguards, which could have helped avoid catastrophe”.

Despite this, Labor, the TCCI and the Liberals continue to tell us that growth, deregulation, the cutting of red and now green tape and the “free market” are what’s best. But they’re dreaming and in a clear state of post-GFC denial.

What these people need for Christmas is a new economic consensus, not business as usual. Shopping local is a very good thing. But there is more to life than consumerism. Growth based on taking stuff from nature, consuming it and throwing it away is no way to run a planet or an economy. But we’re still being told it is and that it’s the only way. It isn’t.

The GFC is the corollary of environmental global collapse: they are symptoms of each other. Growth and attempts to jump-start the economy, globally and in Tassie, will keep hitting nature’s limits until we make our economy truly sustainable. That’s not economic ideology, it’s common sense.

And, here in Tassie, we’ve got leaders telling us to shop til we drop, by way of advertising their total lack of imagination or fear to promote anything other than the discredited economic consensus. They can’t accept that we need to run our economy with people’s wellbeing, sustainability and human interest at its centre.

Yes, we should shop local. But we should also unhitch our economy from the idea that Gross State Product will somehow make us all happy. It won’t. Only an economy run for Tasmanians, putting our real interests first, will.

In September, the Mercury published two supplements called Let’s Make This State Great. Most of the Tasmanians featured were on the right track. If they were running our economy, I reckon we’d be heading in the right direction.

Lara and her free marketeers are stark naked – and it’s not a pretty sight. We need leaders with the courage to tell us some hard truths to put us on a higher path to economic resilience. What better time to start than Christmas?