I read an article in the Financial Times earlier this week (September 23, 2023) -…
Two items this Wednesday before the music segment. First, we saw the stark ideology of the elites on full display in Sydney yesterday with a property developer demanding the government increase unemployment by 40-50 per cent to show the workers that the employer is boss and redistribute more national income back to profits. For anyone who doubts the relevance of a framework based on underlying class conflict between labour and capital, then this outburst should eliminate those doubts. On the same day, a leading research group in the welfare sector released an update in their series tracing poverty in Australia. It demonstrated a rising incidence of poverty (nearly 20 per cent of the population) and 1 in 6 children living in impoverished conditions. And the profit takers want more of that to enrich (engorge) themselves even further. A shocking indictment of what has gone wrong with this nation.
Property developer demands government push up unemployment by 40-50 per cent
Property developers are the bane of society.
They do very little other than clear land and erect hectares of low quality, energy inefficient housing that is not fit for purpose and undermining the nation’s capacity to meet sustainability goals.
Along the way they typically form rather dubious relationships with local councils (who set zoning rules and approve developments) and there are many examples of brown paper bags of money passing between developers and council officials being exposed.
So I don’t think they occupy the moral high ground in our society.
At a ‘Property Summit’ in Sydney yesterday (September 13, 2023), one such developer waxed lyrical about how government must force a 40-50 per cent rise in unemployment to force workers into submission.
If there was ever any doubt about the on-going class struggle between capital and labour in contemporary society then his analysis of what needs to happen will resolve that doubt.
You can watch the short video – HERE.
This character claimed that:
They have been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years, and we need to see that change … I think the problem that we’ve had is that people decided they didn’t really want to work so much any more through COVID …
We need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump 40-50 per cent …
In my view, we need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around … When there’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them as opposed to the other way around … it’s a dynamic that has to change. We’ve got to kill that attitude.
That has to come through hurting the economy. Which is what the whole global … Governments around the world are trying to increase unemployment to get back to some sort of of normality.
There is definitely massive layoffs … and we are starting to see less arrogance in the labour market and that has to continue because that will cascade across the cost balance.
If we think back to June 2023, when the now Governor of the RBA gave a speech in Newcastle (Australia) where she admitted that the RBA was deliberately seeking to push unemployment up by 140,000 (1 percentage point) to shift the bargaining balance in the labour market, then we can see more of the elites now blatantly disclosing the same agenda – they want more workers in desperate circumstances so they can get their hands of more of the national income.
But while the RBA governor claims the unemployment must rise because it is currently below the Non-Accelerating-Inflation-Rate-of-Unemployment (the NAIRU), the property developer is more crude in his demands.
He wants workers to be brought to heel – to be forced to work harder and be paid less, so that his class can get even more of the national income.
The RBA governor is less crude but equally flawed in her reasoning – which is just a reflection of the fact that she is infested with the New Keynesian macroeconomics.
I gave talks last week in Sydney and yesterday in Melbourne to large groups from the financial markets.
I pointed out that the official line on unemployment is that the NAIRU is 4.5 per cent while the currently unemployment rate is 3.7 per cent.
According to New Keynesian logic, that means that inflation should be accelerating, which is why she claims the unemployment rate has to rise.
But the inflation rate started falling last September and has been systematically declining since.
According to New Keynesian logic, that would lead to the conclusion that the current unemployment rate is above the NAIRU not below it.
And that decline in inflation has been at a time when the unemployment rate has been remarkably stable around 3.5-3.7 per cent.
In other words, even if we believed in the NK logic, we wouldn’t be justified in setting policy in such a way to drive up unemployment.
But, of course, the underlying agenda is that disclosed by the property developer – they just want a greater share of the total income produced.
All the stuff about inflation is just a smokescreen.
I recommend the property developer volunteer to be the first to lose his job and income.
Second in the queue should be the new RBA governor.
The Australian legend – so-called
At school, we studied the book – The Australian Legend – which was published in 1958 and written by Russel Ward, who had produced the work as his doctoral thesis in Australian History at ANU.
It was a work that sought to define what it meant to be an Australian and how those characteristics separated us from other peoples around the world.
It attempted to capture a ‘national identity’ or ‘Australian ethos’.
It was a very influential book and so people tried to think of us as a society where masculinity rules, where the “practical man, rough and ready in his manners” is “taciturn rather than talkative” and had to deal with the challenges of the ‘bush’.
A harsh frontier demanded these characteristics and forged an ‘egalitarianism’ – a sense of fair play and helping our mates through adversary.
Russel Ward was a member of the Communist Party at a time when that was considered dangerous (local McCarthyism and all that).
Workers according to Ward were the exemplar of Australian values and their contest against the elements, the harsh terrain, and the colonial elites.
As an aside, Russel Ward’s association with the Communist Party was used against him by the government of the day – he was black banned for several teaching positions.
The book has been widely criticised – for ignoring the violence against the first-nations people, for ignoring the role of women and for ignoring the fact that most of us are urban and hardly set foot in the ‘outback’ nor ride horses and carry whips.
But if there was any truth in the characterisation at the time of writing, then it has been overtaken by what neoliberalism has done to our society.
People still pretend that Australia is a fair place and that in essence we are egalitarians.
It is a delusion.
Yesterday (September 12, 2023), researchers at Anglicare Australia released the latest in their Australia Fair series of Reports – The Poverty Premium – The High Cost of Poverty in Australia – which provided a shocking insight into how unequal Australia has become.
The latest inflationary pressures have impacted more significantly on the poorest households, given this cohort spends a much higher proportion of their meagre incomes on transport, food and housing than those on higher incomes.
The shocking aspect is that with people relying on cars to get places in our over-developed cities that have not provided proportional access to public transport as the suburbs have sprawled, the increases in petrol costs have meant that many people are unable to afford to travel to access ‘free food’ supplied by welfare agencies.
The Anglicare Report shows that it:
It costs more to be poor. People living on low-incomes often pay more for the same basic goods and essential services than people on higher incomes. There are so many examples. People pay more because they can’t afford to buy in bulk or to shop around. There are price penalties for living in low- socio economic areas or remote communities. The best credit deals are for those with high credit scores and healthy bank balances.
Anglicare call this the:
poverty premium … [which] … can be as high as 127 percent.
They give the example of “someone who is topping up their phone plan with small amounts of data each week could pay 25 percent more than someone on a monthly plan”
The impacts of poverty are diverse:
1. Reduced capacity to travel.
2. People are going without vital medicines for chronic health conditions, which are, in the first place, a reflection of poverty anyway.
3. People cannot take advantage of bulk grocery purchasing opportunities, because they can barely survive day to day.
The Anglicare Report notes:
They prioritise housing first, then electricity, telephone and debt repayments … They make compromises on the expenses that are left, such as transport and food, or by purchasing lower quality or fewer products with whatever money remains. They ration electricity by turning off the heating and cooling. They opt out of insurance which can increase their vulnerability to risk, and lead to catastrophic consequences in the event of a car accident or natural disaster. They may not have an internet connection at home, which can make it harder to find a job, complete homework or study, or connect with friends and family.
But they are careful to point out that the “poverty premium is not the reason people live in poverty.”
The causes are multiple – “low rates of income support, the high costs of housing, and low-waged, insecure jobs continue to be the key drivers.”
This is a nation where unemployment is a significant indicator of poverty.
Not only does unemployment mean lost income but then the government’s income support payments to the jobless are well below the poverty line and the government refuses to redress that situation.
How widespread is this problem?
Well in this so-called ‘fair go’ nation:
… over three million people are living below the poverty line. One in six children are living in poverty, with long-term detrimental impacts on their education, health, wellbeing and future.
The Australian population is currently around 26.3 million, which means that around 18.5 per cent of Australian’s are impoverished and the problem is getting worse.
Anglicare note that:
… average weekly incomes of people in poverty are $304 below the poverty line. This is known as the poverty gap. The poverty gap increased steadily from $168 a week in 1999 to $323 in March 2020, before the Coronavirus supplement provided a temporary reprieve for many families.
Music – An oldie
This is what I have been listening to while working this morning.
I recently moved house.
And the packing boxes are slowly catching up with me and I have slowly been sifting through them.
I went on a major de-cluttering over the last 2 years as part of a concerted effort to reduce possessions.
But my boxes of records went untouched because they mark the stages of my life and are priceless.
So I have been renewing my acquaintance with records that I acquired as a teenager or around then.
So great bands and releases are among them and while some are in compromised condition from a lot of playing in the early days on less than pristine needles they are still very listenable.
In the early days, the LPs were only released in mono.
I also note that the Rolling Stone, one of my favourite R&B bands of all time, are about to release a new album.
The single – Angry – is not to my taste – too much rock and roll.
But there early material was fabulous.
Here is one of the great songs – with guitar riffs and bass lines that are near to perfection as one could get in this type of music.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – was released as a single in June 1965.
The album release was on – Out of Our Heads – which was released in July 1965.
The mainstream radio stations refused to play it on release because they claimed it was too sexual in inference.
It is a three-chord wonder – made complex by the guitar lines and the bass.
The guitar used a fuzz box which were all the rage then.
All us budding guitarists wanted a fuzz box in those days.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2023 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.