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Capitalism fails to deliver for new millennium

AUSTRALIA must find a third way because capitalism and socialism are failing the country says Monash University International Centre for Management in Government senior research fellow Race Matthews.

Dr Matthews said a distributionist third way must be sought in which all people share in the wealth of a nation.

The basis of distributionism is the belief that a just social order can only be achieved through a more widespread distribution of property.

Figures from the University of New South Wales’ ATAX group show the wealth trickle down theory is flawed.

Business Review Weekly figures show the top 1,000 business in Australia growing their revenue by 7.9 per cent in 1997-98 while cutting job growth by 1.4 per cent.

Dr Matthews was addressing the GK Chesteron Society of WA recently in which he also launched his book Jobs of our own: building the stakeholder society.

Chesterton was the father of Distributionism during the 1930s.

Dr Matthews believes neither the welfare state nor the unfettered market economy is capable of dealing with Australia’s problem of unemployment and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

“If we define the economic middle class as being households with incomes between $22,000 and $72,000 (in 1991-92 terms), then the middle class has shrunk from 65 per cent of households in 1976 to 40 per cent of households in 1992,” he said.

“The new poverty and the new inequality cry out for remedies and solutions which so far have not figured on the agendas of either government or opposition parties.”

Dr Matthews said three key components of distributionism would address Australia’s problems.

Firstly, measures need to be taken to ensure “small businesses are not crushed by larger ones”.

Secondly, the government should try to protect the family farm, as an essential fabric of Australian society.

“Thirdly, workers should have some ownership of their workplaces and receive the proceeds of their labour,” Dr Matthews said.

He argued this could be achieved by an increase in employee share ownership plans.

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