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Protest confusion

I WAS amused to read the rantings of the latest protest movement in a bright green flyer that was being handed at the bus drivers strike meetings by people holding copies of Socialist Worker.

The so-called M1 Alliance has borrowed heavily from last year’s successful S11 (September 11) protest in Melbourne which hampered the efforts of global leaders to divide the world up over a few glasses of chardonnay.

The M1 flyer was pushing for a blockade of the stock exchange on May 1, explaining its very flawed strategy in a few garbled paragraphs which basically outline how little these people know about the workings of an economy they would so like to wreck.

As a West Australian living on the fringe of world markets, I have some sympathy for anyone who fights against centralisation of power and the marginalisation of some parts of the community.

Perhaps it is the method of attacking the problem with which I disagree. WA is renowned for getting on with the job and overcoming obstacles placed in its way due to geography.

Merely protesting about a changing world and wishing things were like they were in the good old days won’t help anyone these days.

And this is where M1 comes in. According to M1, the Australian Stock Exchange represents the worst aspects of capitalism in Australia with “environment wreckers like BHP and union-busters like stevedore Chris Corrigan’s Lang Corporation”.

M1 suggests a few speculators can wreck thousands of peoples’ livelihoods with the press of a computer key and that only 6 per cent of share market money reach productive investment.

And, of course, there is the money side of things where the thousands of small transactions which amount to regular trade are lumped together into “an obscene $1.5 billion” — as if someone walks away with that amount of money from the ASX every day.

Neatly tagged “casino capitalism” is not perfect but it would be nice if protestors tried to grasp a few fundamentals.

While they bandy about unsubstantiated figures dressed up as fact, they ignore the stiff regulation of the ASX, the public attention given to the activities of listed companies and the way markets work to truly value companies.

Share market values are based on assets, management, current earnings and potential growth.

The better a company’s share value, the easier it is for it to raise more capital to grow its business and create jobs for its employees and wealth for its shareholders.

And who are these new owners, the ones we call shareholders? Increasingly, they are mums and dads, who through superannuation will be a lot better off than if they just paid off their house until retirement.

Finally, what is the point of blockading the ASX? It is not as if anyone goes there any more.

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