How Murdoch cares for the underprivileged

April 8, 2015
Media billionaire Rupert Murdoch wants handouts for the rich to alleviate poverty.

At a G20 meeting last October, Rupert Murdoch surprised some with a speech that criticised world leaders for, as it was described in his Australian newspaper, “their policies [that] have caused a ‘massive shift’ in societies to benefit the super-rich with a legacy of social polarisation”.

In particular, Murdoch criticised youth unemployment: “The unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 25 is 13%, which sounds awful until I remember that in the eurozone that number is 23%, and it is twice as high in places like Spain and Greece, and parts of France and Italy.

“This is especially troubling, this lack of opportunity for the next generation, and the inevitable social and political upheavals to come.”

Murdoch’s solutions to this inequality were, however, less surprising — getting rid of government regulations on business and cutting corporate taxes.

Essentially, the solution to inequality is to give more money to the wealthy.

This is bizarrely irrational but unfortunately not new. Policies such as this were once pursued under the banner of “trickle-down economics”.

Trying to spin policies that hand out money to the wealthy to make them sound like benefits for the poor by throwing around the term “trickle-down economics” has now largely fallen into disuse. As income inequality spectacularly widened under policies promoted using that label, the term became something of a joke.

The term fell into disuse, but the policies didn’t. Murdoch’s Fox News has instead tried to popularise the term “job creators”. Policies that might make the wealthy pay more tax or remove benefits from the wealthy are shrilly howled down as attacking the job creators. The wealthy create jobs so we have to give them more money to benefit the poor and unemployed.

Murdoch’s speech did highlight one policy that genuinely could help address inequality — corporate tax avoidance. He urged leaders to tackle “global companies not paying their taxes in the countries where they make huge profits”.

In particular he pointed out “Google harvests nearly $1 billion annually in Australia … without paying either sales tax or corporate tax”.

In other news, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on April 6 that “Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the US has siphoned off $4.5 billion of cash and shares from his Australian media businesses in the past two years, virtually tax free”.

In a series of mostly paper transactions, a new $2 company was set up over News’ network of Australian companies, shares were issued and exchanged between the Australian entities and News Corporation in New York and then billions of dollars transferred from Australia to New York were classified as “return of capital” rather than dividends.

The fact that the feigned concern for those less well-off by the corporate elite and its media is nothing but spin and hypocrisy would not surprise readers of Green Left Weekly. Exposing the profits-before-all-else ideology behind the pronouncements of the elite is part of GLW’s weekly work.

Unfortunately, hypocrisy pays better than the truth. GLW has no corporate backers to rely on, no offshore bank accounts and no money to put in them if it did. GLWrelies solely on the backing of its readers.

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