Today it was Amanda Vanstone's turn writing in The Age.
Vanstone starts by saying "All this stupid rich-versus-poor debate does is stir up the politics of envy."
She complains about the media coverage given to the rich and suggests the way to "get some perspective" is to look at tax contributions. Because the top 2 percent of individuals pay 25 percent of the tax we are told we should be "delighted these people have done so well economically."
This, of course, simply ignores the fact that were the distribution of income more equal, then so would be the distribution of tax.
Vanstone then runs the trope that old-style Labor reviled big business, then had a period of embracing it as the source of wealth. But, we are told, "old anti-rich and anti-big-business mantras have crept back into the Labor lexicon." Paul Kelly devotes almost the whole of Triumph and Demise to stating and restating this thesis.
Vanstone then runs the usual guff that the only hope for the poor is for the rich to keep making more money. This is really nothing more nor less than the Randian thesis espoused in Atlas Shrugged, a pernicious book that has had far more influence than it would ever have had if written as a one page economic theory than it has as hundred pages of fairly tortured prose.
This theory - that the rich create jobs - is of course simple rubbish. As the very excellent video below shows what creates jobs is consumers spending money.
Vanstone finishes by passing over the technical reality of increasing inequality and instead focussing on the degree of social mobility in Australia. The un-stated message is that it doesn't matter if you are poor today because you can be rich tomorrow. But as Andrew Leigh notes in his book Battlers and Billionaires research he conducted (with Dan Andrews) in 2009 found evidence that nations with more inequality in the mid-1970s were less socially mobile in the ensuing quarter-century.
That is, as inequality increases the social mobility offered as hope decreases. (Leigh cites other research to back this).
Unfortunately this guff about the politics of envy or class war really plays well with the audience it is intended for - the 'aspirational'. They are sold a proposition that their life can be better but it is the concern with inequality that is holding back their (and this is usually a very personal "their") chance for a better life.
Unfortunately the wider Left just reacts to this stuff with a degree of incredulity - "What you expect us to feel sorry for the rich?" It needs, however, to be more directly critiqued on the fundamentals.
The first is to focus on the fact that increasing inequality has a negative impact on growth. As the video says growth comes from cashed up consumers, not wealthier capitalists.
The second is to remind the rich what a poor underclass means for society, most notably the direct threat to the security of the well off.
These were the factors that motivated true Liberals - from Deakin to Menzies - to embrace the concept of the state as a deliverer of economic and social security, not just national and personal security. This is what differentiated the Australian Liberals from the historic concept. It is why the original Australian Liberals look more like what American conservatives decry as 'liberal' - what we would call social democrats.
Please like my campaign Facebook Page