Saturday, 11 March 2017

Maslow and Marketism

Marketism is defined by Wikipedia as – “a loose aggregation of beliefs that generally oppose government and favour private enterprise in the form of free-as-in-unregulated market principles”.

Sounds about right….

Let’s have a look at the effect of Marketism on two national sectors, both of which have been newsworthy of late. I’m referring to housing and energy.

Housing has become very expensive, reaching the point where for many young people, the dream of owning a home in one of the state capitals is a fantasy. This article from the domain website illustrates it pretty well.

The housing market over the decades has morphed from a service to people starting a family and looking for somewhere to live, to a safe investment option. In the process, prices have skyrocketed. The functional relationship between shelter and investment has always been uneasy. Now it is completely out of kilter.

We have heard a great deal recently about both the rising costs of energy (especially electricity and gas) and the threat to future supplies. Blame is attributed to either a move towards renewable energy supply, or “gold plating” of infrastructure, depending on the politics of those making the case for one over the other.

I can vividly remember paying less than $200 per quarter for electricity when we had a family of six consumers, and comparing that with the $600 plus per quarter we’re paying now with three people in the house.

The source of our power (coal fired generators) hasn’t changed, which rules out blaming renewables. What was different back in the day of the $200 power bills was that electricity generation was publicly owned and was described as a service (a utility) and not a market.

Again, back in the day when we bought our first home in a state capital (which cost, from memory, $24000) the word “market” wasn’t used to describe housing, or if used, was in the lexicon of Real Estate agents, not your average punter.

So the language, the perception, and the understanding of the reality of establishing the foundations of a stable and comfortable life in this land of Oz has fundamentally changed. We are to see housing and energy now as functions of a market, aspects of life to be bought and sold, and if possible, from which to derive profit.

That’s crazy. It doesn’t work, and people suffer. Didn’t that bloke called Maslow describe a hierarchy in which the most basic (bottom) rungs comprised food, shelter and security? Electricity and housing are vital components of these.

He didn’t describe them as a market - he saw them as basic human needs. He knew what he was talking about. Neither did he discuss greed, simple uncomplicated soul that he was.

He would be spinning in his grave…..

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