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Where to From Here?

Australian Egalitarianism Under Threat

Where to From Here? by Fred Argy
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‘A fascinating treatment of the ultimate Aussie benchmark—what is a fair go?'
Reverend Tim Costello, Executive Director, Urban Seed

Australians pride themselves on being a classless society where everyone is equal. But are we? Egalitarianism is very much at the centre of public policy debate in Australia today. Many of the most pertinent issues of our time - unemployment, quality of life, public debt, welfare, health, housing, education, the regional divide and the changing balance of power in the workplace - are essentially about distribution and social priorities.

However, there is no mistaking that Australia is in the throes of a major revaluation of its egalitarian values. Successive governments, both Liberal and Labor, have been steadily forging new social norms and turning their backs on many old values once considered untouchable. And the outlook is more of the same. Australia's economic and social gap is widening and its egalitarian foundations are under threat.

Why is this happening? Is it right to ‘blame' economists or are cultural, social and political forces more important? Is it an unavoidable consequence of economic liberal reform and globalisation? Has welfare spending become ineffective or even counter-productive? Is it a result of changing community values? Or of political leadership and opinion management? At the end of the day what do the effects of the adoption of less egalitarian policies mean for Australia and what are our options for the future?

In this concise analysis, Fred Argy clarifies the underlying cultural, moral and philosophical forces responsible for the changing face of egalitarianism, and outlines an ambitious, but economically and politically viable, social reform agenda for the future.

This book is for anyone interested in social and political issues and is a valuable resource for students of economics, commerce, political science, and sociology.
Allen & Unwin; April 2003
223 pages; ISBN 9781741150988
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Title: Where to From Here?
Author: Fred Argy