Bullshit Jobs!

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Rossleigh is a writer, director and teacher. As a writer, his plays include “The Charles Manson Variety Hour”, “Pastiche”, “Snap!”, “That’s Me In The Distance”, “48 Hours (without Eddie Murphy)”, and “A King of Infinite Space”. His acting credits include “Pinor Noir Noir” for “Short and Sweet” and carrying the coffin in “The Slap”. His ten minutes play, “Y” won the 2013 Crash Test Drama Final. He has recently joined the Australian Arts Party.

Bullshit Jobs!

In “Utopia for Realists”, Rutger Bregman reminds us about the New York garbage strike of 1968, and then compares it to the bank strike in Ireland. Basically, it took six months to resolve the bank strike, and while there were certainly difficulties, people found a way to operate and they generally worked out alternative credit systems like writing cheques. Strangely though, while the Irish were able to soldier on for half a year, the New Yorkers found it rather harder to deal with rotting trash; in spite of Mayor Lindsay insisting that the strike was illegal and he wouldn’t give in on principle, the strike lasted less than a fortnight.

Being a “garbo” may not have the status of being a bank manager, but it’s pretty clear which one we notice when they’re not working.

Bregman goes on to mention Dave Graeber and the whole nature of “bullshit jobs”. He points out that there are large number of people who are working at things that we just don’t need. Ok, the person working there needs to have a job, but if we reduced the number of telemarketers, how long would it be before you said before you said, “Gee, nobody’s rung me in the middle of dinner to discuss funeral insurance”?

There are all sorts of jobs which may actually make a difference. Doubling the number of health workers – as opposed to hospital administrators – could make a noticeable difference and cut down waiting times. Increasing the number of people answering the phone at Centrelink would free up thousands of lost hours for the people waiting on the line. More counsellors and support staff in schools may be a factor in helping to prevent problems later on. I’m sure that you can add to the list.

However, we have a strangely perverse way of rewarding people where many of the well-paid jobs involve activities that only involve moving money from one person’s bank account to another. Short-term trading on money markets, for example, as well as many of the day-to-day share transactions on the stock exchange. How the value of Telstra can fluctuate by a few percent over a week with no announcements or even rumours makes no sense to me, but as with all shares, movements up and down are primarily based on speculating about future movements. Yet many of the people doing things like this will be more substantially rewarded than a Nobel prize winner.

Just as Scott Morrison is trying to divide debt into “bad” debt and “we can make big announcements and not have anyone ask how we’re going to pay for it” debt, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the world can survive with people working fewer hours than ever before and it’s time to start restructuring the economy so that we don’t simply have the “I’m overworked” and “Get off your backside, you lazy bludger” categories. While we’ve all had fun with the Liberals “jobs and growth” mantra, it may be time to actually question whether we’ve reached a point in human history where we need to consider what jobs are necessary and, if the jobs isn’t absolutely necessary, is it still worth doing? Maybe it’s time we sat back and asked why Keynes vision of people working a fifteen hour week thanks to technology hasn’t come to pass, and why it’s considered a good thing to aim for growth and for people to work longer and harder, rather than saying with a little bit of reorganisation, there’d be more opportunity for the unemployed and some of the workers would have more time to smell the roses.

Or even grow them!

Attack On The ANZACs Must Be Condemned!

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Hot on the heels of Yassmin Abdel-Magied and her refusal to adopt Australian values, another shocking ANZAC day moment has been brought to my attention. Yassmin, for those of you who haven’t heard, posted on Facebook the following comment: “Lest We Forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)”. This comment is so disrespectful that it’s been repeated hundreds of times by the media so that we can all hear how disrespectful it was. Of course, not only did Yassmin fail to appreciate the offence her comment would cause, but once this was drawn to her attention she did something that nobody embracing the values of this country would do: She apologised and took down the post.

But, it’s not her that I wanted to talk about. And it’s not even Labor MP, Anne Aly, who apparently only laid a wreath at one Anzac day ceremony and was justly castigated for refusing to lay a wreath at another one.

No, I want to draw your attention to a dreadful attack by people on our Anzacs. Apparently, on 25th April, 1915, our forces were innocently minding their own business and defending freedom on the Turkish coast when a group of terrorists attacked them. Now, thanks to political correctness, I can’t tell you what religion the people attacking our poor soldiers were. Well that, and the fact that I don’t know. But I think I can probably guess, and if I have a guess, it’ll be a damn good one, because I won’t know that I’m wrong until someone produces some empirical evidence. Whatever, thanks to that dreadful 18C, I can’t say what I’m thinking and that’s just wrong because everyone should be allowed to speak their mind.

Unless, of course, it’s something that contradicts Australian values. Freedom of speech only means the freedom to say things that support Australia and Australians and Anzac Day. Our diggers didn’t go and fight so that people could say “Lest we forget” and add something political. After all, there was nothing political about what they were doing, so on Anzac Day we should remember that it’s the one sacred day of the year where we remember and mourn those who sacrificied themselves for their country. And on November 11th, we mourn… Mmm… Well, I suppose we don’t mourn the Anzacs again because they’ve already had their day and even Jesus only gets one day a year for mourning, so I suppose that we mourn that the war ended and how that prevented even more of our soldiers from being given the chance to do something heroic. And these two days are sacred and to talk about anything else on such days is disrespectful.

P.S. Speaking of disrespectful, someone brought this terrible poem by some guy called Rudyard Kipling. This Kipling guy uses the phrase, “Lest we forget” and makes no reference at all to Anzac Day. Some may try to excuse him by arguing that he wrote it in the nineteenth century, but I don’t think that excuses him!

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word-
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

Update On Peter Dutton… And Apology From Me!

The other day, I wrote a satirical piece where I suggested that Peter Dutton would claim that it was an operational matter and he wouldn’t be able to release any information about his sources for contradicting all those on Manus who disagreed with his version of events.

Today he announced that it was “classified”.

Therefore, I must humbly beg your forgiveness. It wasn’t because it was an “operational matter”. It’s because it was classified. Apparently, you can release classified information as long as you don’t say who told you. This will be a great precedent in any trial involving the leaking of state secrets.

As an aside, I must also say that I’m appalled that the ABC is suggesting that Muslim woman whose name I can’t remember and, besides, it isn’t important, was making comments in her own time and they haven’t deported her yet!

Geez.

Don’t they realise that the diggers fought and died trying to keep the country free so people would be allowed to say what they liked, and I’m sure that they’d all support me when I say that anybody who doesn’t say the right thing has forfeited the right to free speech?

I mean, free speech has its limits. It was meant for people who agree with me, not for every Tom, Dick and Harry! And certainly not for a woman with a name like Jassimin or Fatima or Soula or whatever it is… Her name’s not the important bit. It’s the fact that it’s not something easily remember that makes me doubly angry. I mean, if we’re going to open our hearts to people like her, then the least they can do is show a bit of subservience! We’ve already had enough trouble with women who have an opinion – that’s why we had to deport Germaine Greer!

If we allow people like whatshername to say things like “Lest We Forget” and add a few other things on ANZAC day, what’s next? We’ll have people saying things like the guy who shot the Archduke and started World War One was a terrorist and we shouldn’t have gone to war to support his country.

And nobody would ever want that…

When Malcolm comes back from his meeting with Trump to announce his support for whatever war we’re going to be involved in, I’m prepared to back him all the way!

Even if the reasons for going are “classified”!

Shots Fired After Malcolm Asks Peter To Come Into His Office…

A five year old boy passed on the record of conversation between the Prime Minister and Peter Dutton. While some are claiming that this is inaccurate, my sources tell me that it’s completely accurate and anyone who is saying something different doesn’t have the facts. I have the facts, and they’re not alternate facts they’re actual facts according to people who’ve told me that this is what happened and anybody saying anything different shouldn’t be taken too seriously because I have senior people and I once knew someone who lived in Canberra. In fact, I have relatives in Canberra and they haven’t told me that this is a complete fabrication. Neither have they denied that there was a five year old boy in the room with Malcom and Peter. The five year old boy is the one who took notes and it’s from these notes that I have pieced together the conversation between them.

Malcolm: Ah Peter, I want to ask you about the recent disturbance on Insiders. You repeated your claim that a 5-year-old boy was led away by three asylum seekers and that caused the mood to elevate quite quickly. Now, that’s not true, is it?

Peter: Of course, it is true.

Malcom: It’s not true.

Peter: It is true. It’s perfectly true that I made that claim.

Malcolm: But the claim itself isn’t true. Who gave you this information?

Peter: Can’t remember.

Malcolm: You can’t remember. That’s not good enough.

Peter: Well, it worked for Arthur.

Malcolm: But just about everybody who’s speaking publicly is denying it. How are you going to back up your claim?

Peter: Easy. We’ll say that the true version is an operational matter and, as such, nobody is allowed to say anything about it and it’s only those without actual information can speak to the media because to tell anybody what’s happening breaks several laws.

Malcolm: Do you really think anyone would buy that?

Peter: It’s worked so far.

Malcolm: I’m sorry, I just can’t let you go on as Immigration Minister.

Peter: Oh, you’re stepping down so I can be PM?

Malcolm: No. You were a disaster as Health Minister and if anybody took the time to examine your record, they’d realise you were even worse in your current role…

Peter: Well, I might as well be PM then…

Malcolm: I’m not going to make you PM.

Peter: I’ve heard you don’t want the job any more.

Malcolm: Who told you that? Of course I still want the job!

Peter: Not according to my information. My sources say you couldn’t possibly be doing this badly unless it was a deliberate attempt to get dumped so you could go on world cruise with Lucy.

Malcolm: That’s just not true.

Peter: Now, who are you going to believe? Me, or some Twitter version.

Malcolm: Twitter version? What are you on about?

Peter: Hang on… Oh, I’m getting a text. It says that you’ve sacked me.

Malcolm: No, I didn’t.

Peter: I’m calling a press conference where I tell everybody that you’ve lost the confidence of the Party and I’m throwing my support behind a spill but I won’t be standing.

Malcolm: You’re what?

Peter: That’s what the text says.

Malcolm: But you’ve been doing the numbers for the past six months.

Peter: Yes… I’m a bit confused about that one. Oh, the text says that when Tony stands, I’ll have a change of heart and offer myself as the moderate candidate for the good of the party.

Malcolm: Who’s this text from?

Peter: My source on Manus.

Malcolm: Your source on Manus?

Peter: Yeah, the one who’s in Canberra counting the numbers.

Malcolm: Your Manus source is in Canberra?

Peter: Yeah, well, you wouldn’t expect anyone who’s actually on the island to have any idea of what was going on, would you?

Malcolm: Peter, I’d really like you to stay on us Immigration Minister.

Peter: But what will I say at the press conference?

Malcolm: You don’t need to say anything. You don’t even need to have a press conference. I’m not sacking you.

Peter: Ok, I’ll just say something about how you have my full support and that I have no intention of challenging you.

Malcolm: You bastard! You know that’s exactly how I launched my challenge.

At this point the notes stop because the five year old taking them decided that he needed a nap.

The Biggest Problem With Labor’s Negative Gearing Policy

Looking at the register of pecuniary interests, one can’t help but notice the number of politicians with more than one property. Actually, when you look at the number of properties, it’s tempting to suggest that were they all required to divest themselves of all real estate investments, then that’d go more than halfway toward solving the “supply” problem that the Liberals suggest is the reason for high prices.

Of course, to suggest that it’s all a supply problem overlooks the demand side of the equation. Ever since non-landholders were granted the vote a couple of centuries back, the poor have grown more demanding and now most of them seem to think that they require houses, even in the more temperate areas of Australia. Thankfully, there are some who are content to be homeless even if they make the streets untidy. Personally, I think our Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce (doesn’t sound so absurd if you say, US President Donald Trump!) hit the nail on the head when he suggested that people should quit their jobs and move to his electorate so that they could afford a house… Assuming that they could get another job in an area where unemployment is so high.

But I didn’t start writing because I had a solution to the problem. Like the Liberals, I think it’s enough to point out Bill’s shortcomings… (Mm, Shorten’s Shortcomings! I may be able to sell them that one. They seem to have run out clever catch-phrases lately. I mean, “clean coal” is an oxymoron and makes about as much sense as “dry water” or “right-wing think tank”. They haven’t had anything like “jobs and growth” or “Innovation rules, ok” for over a year!)

The big problem with the policy Labor took to the last election is that only allowing negative gearing on new construction is that it would bring down the price of houses. And this won’t help affordability. Why not? Well, it just won’t. Have I done any economic modelling? There’s no need for economic modelling because it’ll either just confirm what I already know, or else it won’t have taken into consideration other factors like the fact that it doesn’t confirm the assumptions that I started with.

If housing prices come down, then the value of the politicians’ property portfolio would drop by millions of dollars. And they’d feel poor, making them vulnerable to corruption. So by keeping property values high, then we’re helping to ensure the integrity of the Parliament. In fact, recently some politicians suggested that by giving people access to their superannuation, we could help push prices even higher and therefore our MPs would have even less incentive to accept a bribe.

But really the problem is now solved. The crackdown on 457 visas means that no longer will we have goat farmers, blacksmiths and various other occupations coming over and buying up all our houses so that they can use them to strike their spouses, practise female circumcision and deny their families Australian values.

Hopefully this doesn’t cause too much of drop in demand. I’d hate anything to reduce the wealth of our politicians, but I guess, if that were to happen, Malcolm would have a solution. If not, I’m sure Tony would have an idea he’d be happy to share.

Peter Dutton And His Imaginary Five Year Old Friend

Mr Dutton told Sky News today that the mood on the island had been tense following an alleged incident “where three asylum seekers were alleged to be leading a local five-year-old boy back toward the facility”.
“There was concern about why the boy was being led or for what purpose he was being led away back in the regional processing centre,” Mr Dutton said.
“I think it’s fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly. I think some of the local residents were quite angry about this particular incident and another alleged sexual assault.”

ABC Online

In an exclusive interview, the Minister Responsible for Incarceration, Mr Peter Plod, revealed that he had no information about what caused the shooting incident but he was happy to speculate and spread nasty innuendo.

AIMN: Good morning, Mr Plod.
Plod: Good morning.
AIMN: What’s the latest information about the incident on Manus?
Plod: Well, I understand that several asylum seekers were filmed throwing a child into the ocean.
AIMN: Really?
Plod: Yes, apparently there’s a video.
AIMN: And you’ve seen the video?
Plod: No, but I’m told by a very reliable source that it exists and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that these people throw children into the sea…
AIMN: But just yesterday you were implying that this was related to an alleged sexual assault?
Plod: Yes, I stand by that as well.
AIMN: But the PNG police have said that nothing of the sort occurred, that a ten-year-old boy had been taken into the centre because he was asking for food and there was no allegation of sexual assault.
Plod: I’m not going to comment on an ongoing investigation by the PNG police.
AIMN: But it doesn’t sound like they’re investigating anything.
Plod: No, Look the point is that these people in the centre aren’t very nice people. Otherwise why would the armed forces be shooting at them?
AIMN: Well you couldn’t have unarmed forces shooting at them…
Plod: What? Or, no the point is that it was defence personnel who launched the attack. That surely tells you that it was deserved.
AIMN: So you’re suggesting that any time asylum seekers are attacked it’s their own fault.
Plod: Illegal immigrants.
AIMN: What?
Plod: They’re illegal immigrants. People who come to Australia by boat are illegal immigrants…
AIMN: But they never made it to Australia.
Plod: No but they intended to. Just like they had intentions with that five-year-old boy…
AIMN: But the incident with the boy appears to be a complete fabrication.
Plod: You’re overlooking the video.
AIMN: There’s a video of a five-year-old boy being led into the centre.
Plod: No there’s a video of these people throwing children in the water. I just told you about a minute ago.
AIMN: Who has it?
Plod: Peter Reith, I’m told, and I don’t want to be bothering him now, because he’s not well.
AIMN: So let’s get this straight. You’re no longer claiming that a five-year-old boy being led away and linking that to some alleged sexual assault?
Plod: That’s not what I said… I never claimed that at all. You’re trying to put words into my mouth!
AIMN: So, what did you claim?
Plod: I merely confirmed that there was a definite rumour and that shots were fired and it was probably something to do with that alleged sexual assault and some kid being led away and all those children in the water. Whatever, they’re not the sort of people who should be allowed to stay.
AIMN: On Manus Island or here?
Plod: So I don’t follow.
AIMN: Never mind. If I can just move on to the citizenship test. Let’s take the English skills test. How good does your English have to be? Like, for example, would Matthias Cormann pass?
Plod: That’s really offensive. Making fun of someone just because he has a little bit of an accent.
AIMN: I wasn’t making fun of him. It was a genuine question. I just wondered if people had a thick accent like that, would they pass the test?
Plod: Oh. In that case, no. It’s far too foreign.
AIMN: And some of the questions on the front page of the paper yesterday… Are they really the sort of thing you’ll be asking?
Plod: Give me an example.
AIMN: “Under what circumstances is it appropriate to prohibit girls from education?”
Plod: Great question.
AIMN: Is the answer, “When they can’t afford their HECS debt”?
Plod: Umm….
AIMN: Here’s another: “While it is illegal to use violence in public, under what circumstances can you strike your partner in the privacy of your home?”
Plod: Ok.
AIMN: So. What’s the answer?
Plod: Ah… I don’t have the answers. I just helped out with a few of the questions. We didn’t have to supply answers. That’s up to the applicants.
AIMN: So the answer isn’t, “If you are the leader of a political party in (REMOVED FOR LEGAL REASONS AND BECAUSE IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO AND IT WAS ALL HUSHED UP)”
Plod: That’s an outrageous thing to say! You’re just repeating unsubstantiated rumours. I bet you wouldn’t do that if it were a Labor guy.
AIMN: So you have a problem with someone repeating unsubstantiated rumours. Now that’s ironic.
Plod: What is?
AIMN: Ok, back to question. What if someone wrote, “You are allowed to strike your partner if he’s coming at you with a knife”?
Plod: Look, I’m not going to give the answers. This is the government’s way of ensuring that we get the right sort of people gaining citizenship.
AIMN: Yeah, but it’s too late to exclude Abbott’s parents.
Plod: Pity that… Don’t write that down. Write: Tony was a great PM, he just had trouble explaining things to people, and it was a shame but when his poll numbers dropped that low he to go. Emphaise the bit about poll numbers, but don’t say anything directly about Malcolm’s being just as bad. And say that we all should remeber that Tony really loved Australia and he had great ideas about what the country should be like.
AIMN: And what did he think the country should be like?
Plod: Well, more like England really, with knights and dames and lots and lots of English people.
AIMN: So when do you think we’ll get to see this video?
Plod: What video?
AIMN: The children being thrown into the sea.
Plod: Oh, that’s an on-water matter. It’s classified. But you can trust us. We wouldn’t make something like that up.
AIMN: Thanks, Mr Plod.
Plod: And thanks for not asking me about any leadership challenge.
AIMN: Yes, it would be, wouldn’t it?
Plod: What?
AIMN: A challenge. Leadership, I mean.
Plod: I don’t understand.
AIMN: QED.

Why Theresa May Called An Early Election And How Tony Abbott Is Helping Turnbull

When I heard that Theresa May had called an election for June 12, I thought, “Well, that’s one way of avoiding all the mess of Brexit. Get voted out!” However, all the news stories I’ve read seem to suggest that she’s expected to win. It’s a strategy to give herself a mandate for Brexit, they said. The Labour vote is down, they said. Some even suggested that it was a clever move.

Well, I don’t know much about British politics, but if I want to succeed as a hard-hitting opinion piece writer, I can’t let total ignorance stop me from commenting. After all, if only the well-informed commented then the whole standard of political discourse would be improved and then there’d be no room for Barnaby Joyce. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents worth… Or should that be tuppence, giving I’m writing about Britain?

In spite of Brexit and the election of Trump, most commentators seem to be behaving as though these things are entirely predictable. And, if we have a good hard look at what May is arguing, we discover that – even though they had a vote about leaving the EU – the British PM feels that she needs another election in order to give her a mandate. Of course, they’ve already passed the legislation and put the wheels in motion and triggered Article 50 and announced that there’s no going back. However, she just needs a bit of reassurance. No, they’ll still go ahead, no matter what, but she doesn’t feel that her seventeen seat majority is enough and she’d like it extended so that she can say how much everyone is behind Brexit.

Except that a lot of people aren’t. Even some of those who voted against it were doing so as a protest, but when they won, it all became a bit real for them. And now that UKIP, Boris Johnson, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all have demonstrated that while they campaigned with all the passion of a dog chasing a car, once the car pulled over, they didn’t seem to have any ideas about what to do, apart from continuing to bark until someone put them back in their kennel.

And given that there’s a strong expectation that May will win, the danger of yet another protest vote leading to a surprise result remains a real possibility. It seems that there are only three possibilities: 1. May loses the election badly and the whole process is in chaos while Labour works out exactly what they’ll do; 2. May needs the support of other parties to form government, meaning that she has less authority to make decisions; 3. May is returned with a working majority, which even if she increases the number of seats, she’s effectively in the same position she’s in now, except she can say that she has a mandate to do what she’s already done!

It’s always worth remembering that while ninety percent of everything is predictable, that’s what lulls us into a false sense of security and causes us to miss the fact that the other ten percent is unpredictable and therefore always likely to catch us by surprise.

Now take Tony Abbott, for example. Various Liberals are making the same suggestion that was made to that shepherd whose sheep were making too much noise: “Why don’t you shut the flock up!” However, I don’t see Tony as doing much damage at all. Every time he opens his mouth, we’re reminded of exactly how out of touch with reality he actually is. True, Turnbull may be two-faced, duplicitous, arrogant, out-of-touch, manipulative and prepared to do anything in order to stay PM, but at least he gives the impression that he has some grip on reality. Comparatively speaking, that is.

And, of course, Abbott’s five point plan for fixing up the government made Turnbull’s announcement on 457 visas look impressive by comparison. Turnbull managed to get through the whole thing without blaming Labor for not changing it sooner… Possibly because then the question of why it’s taken them four years before they’ve actually got around to taking off such things as Cinema Manager, Park Ranger or Amusement Centre Manager from the list. Ok, I know that many of the changes are largely cosmetic and that there’s still a heap of jobs on the list where we don’t actually need overseas workers, but could you imagine, Tony ever making an announcement without telling us why it was someone else’s fault?

Tony’s five point plan, for those of you who missed it, consisted of attacking renewables (they shouldn’t get subsidies – only fossil fuels provide jobs), cutting spending so that our grandkids don’t have debt (mind you, they’ll have a bucketload of delayed infrastructure they’ll have to pay for), reforming the Senate (ok, we just did it, but we need to keep doing it until only Liberals can be elected), cutting immigration (we don’t want people like his parents coming here) and getting rid of the Human Rights Commission (because it’s part of the “nanny” state and Tony obviously hated his grandmother!)

So after Tony’s little outburst, I see a bump in the polls for Malcolm. Of course, I could be wrong. There’s always the possibility that Malcolm may actually make the mistake of showing us one of those excruciating moments where he tries to look all human and relaxed by having a beer. That never plays well. And, of course, his version of “All the way with LBJ” where he goes “I’m a chump for Donald Trump” may get him into trouble.

Whatever, it’s all very predictable. Apart from the bits that aren’t. And if I could work them out, I’d have it made!

Turnbull And Flexibility

You’ll notice in the video, Mr Turnbull making his position on penalty rates very… ah, clear. Well, that is to say…ah, we’re in no doubt that he supports…flexibility. Turnbull on penalty rates

And we can sure of his support for flexibility because if there’s one thing we can say about his time as PM, it’s how flexible he’s been. If being a contortionist was an Olympic sport, he’d be a gold medal chance. He supports the Republic, not until the Queen dies; he’s all for marriage equality but only after we have a plebiscite and then he’ll allow a vote in Parliament; he supports action on climate change, but nothing that would affect anyone’s business interests; he doesn’t support subsidising renewables because the market should decide, but wouldn’t it be just peachy to lend that big coal money a billion dollars interest free; he supports saying whatever you need to say to get elected, but wants the Federal Police called in because “Mediscare” was a fraud!

So it was pleasing to hear him talk about flexibility. Now I know that some of you will think that’s just a euphemism for “how can we screw workers even more?”, but I’m sure that you’ll find that flexibility is a two-way street. For example, in return for giving up their penalty rates, some workers will get to work more hours. Or, after telling their boss that they need to have a day off to look after a sick child, some workers will find that their employer is so understanding that he tells them not to come in again and that they can spend the rest of their life as a stay-at-home parent.

Yes, flexibility. It – and innovation – is the way of the future. And in return for all that flexibility, the workers will have jobs and the economy will have growth and the Liberals will be able to pay down all that debt just like they promised… Which wasn’t a lie, because they fully intended to have the Budget back in surplus but they didn’t realise that their plan had a few holes in it. I know some of you have rather unkindly suggested that they had no plan, but they had a very clear one:

Get elected, hope that the economy improves because the adults are back in charge, cut spending on anything that they couldn’t link to defence and sell Medibank Private, Australia Post and the ABC. Any suggestion that they wanted to privatise Medicare was just a Labor lie, in spite of Mr Turnbull’s response in February, 2016, to a question in Parliament about the government’s intention to privatise aspects of Medicare:

“What we are looking at, as we look at in every area, is improving the delivery of government services … looking at ways to take the health and aged care payment system into the 21st century. This is about making it simpler and faster for patients to be able to transact with Medicare, to get the services they are entitled to.”

Yep, no privatisation there. That’s not how privatisation works. Privatisation is where the government tells you that they’re incapable of running something efficiently because they’re not really all that good. They then cut the funding to prove how badly they’re running it. When people are fed up, they sell it to a private company, who make a couple of changes before putting up the price and making heaps of money through cutting the services. In return for their massive profits, the private company makes an altruistic donation to some organisation committed to public service, such as the Liberal Party.

Flexibility, it’s even more important than innovation!

Hot On The Heels Of Cadbury, We Discuss An Even Bigger Scandal!

Senator Hanson’s recent call for us boycott Cadbury’s because of an old photo of a man holding up Halal certification and some Cadbury’s chocolates has left me slightly outraged. I mean, I know that I should be supporting the jobs of Aussie workers at Cadbury but when someone has a certificate to show that their Easter eggs contain no animal products, I know that I should just forget all about buying Australian and get my eggs from wherever those delicious Lindt ones are made.

Pandering to the politically correct, just so they can sell more Easter eggs to Muslims, because I’m sure that they must be a big market at Easter is as bad as the halal wine I read about a couple of years ago.

But then I discovered from a very reliable source – Barry down at the pub – that there was en even bigger scandal. I had a bit of a headache so along with the drinks I asked the guy at the bar if I could have a glass of water.

“Water!” exclaimed Barry who was sitting at the bar.

“I just want it to take a couple of aspirin, then I’ll have my chardie like all good socialists,” I explained.

“No, mate,” he said, “don’t you know?”

“Know what?”

“We’re all boycotting water in here. We’ve discovered that it’s halal.”

“Really?”

“Yep. 100% halal. You won’t catch me drinking water any more.”

I was tempted to point out that I’d never caught Barry drinking water. “Right then,” I told him, “no more water for me… Does that include washing? I mean, we’re still using the water.”

Barry considered. He clearly hadn’t thought about it. “Mm, I think halal only refers to stuff you eat…”

“And flushing,” I added. “Do we have to stop flushing our toilets until they clear up this whole halal thing?”

“Flushing is fine,” declared Barry authoritatively.

“Great. I mean, I could go without drinking water but…”

“Look, we’ve contacted Pauline and we expect that she’ll fix it and any day now we’ll get back to good old Aussie water.”

“How are they going to do that?”

“We had a bit of a brainstorm the other night and Gazza suggested adding roadkill at the treatment plant.”

“Does that make it non-halal?”

“Too bloody right it does!”

“What about the hygiene factor?”

Barry looked at me like I was stupid, so I took my drinks – minus the water – back to my table. I still had a bit of a headache, so my explanation of why water didn’t pass the pub test was a bit garbled.

“Whatever,” I told my friends, “Pauline’s onto it, so I imagine she’ll fix it a few days, just like she did with the Great Barrier Reef. Remember how she and her mate went swimming and showed us that it was just fine!”

Then someone asked if the water she was swimming in was halal too, and, if so, should she be swimming it.

It was a good point. But I guess she may not have realised. I mean, not even Malcolm Roberts knows everything. I haven’t had that confirmed with empirical evidence, but it seems probable, even if he disagrees.

What If Malcolm And Scott Had Been In Charge During The GFC!

8

People have trouble switching from the micro to the macro when it comes to a whole range of things, and in particular economics.

On the micro level, the recent proposal to allow people to access their superannuation to buy a home has a superficial appeal. And, Chris Bowen made a terrible blunder when he said that if couples could access $40,000 from their super, then that would just add $40,000 to the cost of houses. He overlooked that it’s the deposit that the money goes to, so if a couple have an extra $40,000 then, assuming a twenty percent deposit, they may be able to borrow another $200,000!

But hey, isn’t it in their long-term interests to have a home now, because, well, their access to super is a long time off and even then, won’t they be better off if they own their home. The short answer is possibly, but so much depends on unknown variables, I’m sure that it’d be better to let super do what super was meant to do and to find another solution to help those poor first home buyers.

However, the proposal has appeal to two groups of people: many of those trying to buy their first home and to the Coalition government. The former because they’d be happy with anything that helped them now because nobody under forty even thinks about super and isn’t retirement going to be banned anyway? The latter because it gives the appearance of action while delaying any consequences or action to sometime in the future. Snowy 2.0, anyone?

And after thinking about Malcolm’s “let’s solve the current energy problems by announcing a feasibility study” and Scott’s “let’s solve the potential housing bubble by inflating with more air”, I thought back to Labor’s handling of the GFC. Of course, the Liberals don’t want to acknowledge that we avoided recession. No, even though at the time they said that, Labor was going too hard, too early and there’d be nothing left for when we were actually in recession, they quickly adjusted this to accusations that Labor didn’t need to stimulate the economy at all because we didn’t go into recession. You know the sort of argument, why did you build the levy bank so high, when the water didn’t even spill over the top.

Anyway, I started to wonder how the current mob would have handled the GFC… (This is where we go into the dream sequence!)

* * *

2008 in a mythical Australia. Press conference. Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison stand by the podium.

Malcolm: Good afternoon. Now recently we’ve had a lot of ideas floated about how we best handle the recent financial collapse in the USA. I’m here today to tell you that we’ve decided that what we’ve considered all the ideas that were on the table yesterday and decided that most of them shouldn’t have been put on the table, so had someone clean them away. We will not be changing the personal tax rates. And, owing to a hostile senate, the idea of leasing the Great Barrier Reef to the Chinese for 99 years has been shelved.
But we need to take action. Strong, decisive action. And that’s what we’ll be doing.
(MALCOLM NODS. HE STOPS SPEAKING.)

Reporter 1: And what action will that be?

Malcolm: It’ll be strong. And it will be decisive. And it will protect jobs.

Reporter 1: Yes, but specifically.

Malcolm: Now, I don’t want to get into the specifics at this stage, but let me just say that we’ve been working hard on this and I think you’ll find that Scott Morrison will have more to say in the coming days. Scott?

Scott: Yes, we’re looking at cutting taxes to major companies in order to encourage investment, but we’ll release the detail in the coming weeks.

Reporter 2: But how will cutting taxes help? I mean, that’ll only help the profitable companies and isn’t the concern that very few will actually make a profit.

Scott: No, the concern is that when the crisis hits Australia, there’ll be no investment, so by cutting taxes we’ll be encouraging investment.

Reporter 1: But who’ll want to invest in companies that don’t make a profit?

Scott: That’s why we want to cut taxes. That way companies will be able to keep employees on and that’ll protect jobs

Reporter 1: Not if they’re not making a profit, because they won’t pay tax anyway…

Scott: What’s your question?

Reporter 1: Can you respond to how cutting taxes helps companies not making a profit?

Scott: There’ll be more detail in the upcoming mini-Budget.

Reporter 3: And when will that be released.

Scott: As soon as we’ve finalised the details…

Reporter 3: Details about what? What is it exactly that you’ll be releasing?

Scott: Our response, obviously. What else would we be releasing?

Reporter 2: But what exactly is your response?

Malcolm: If I could just butt in here, our response, as I’ve already said is STRONG and DECISIVE.

Reporter 2: But exactly what are you going to do?

Scott: I’m sorry but we’re not going to comment on operational matters.

Reporter 3: What about Labor’s idea of giving everyone a handout of $900?

Scott: People’ll just waste by spending it!

Reporter 3: Isn’t that the idea? Stimulating the economy.

Scott: We’d rather do something more substantial.

Reporter 2: Like infrastructure projects?

Scott: No. Absolutely not! This is a time of crisis. This isn’t the time to be spending money. We should be looking at ways to save money, like cutting back on services.

Reporter 3: But won’t that make things worse?

Malcolm: Sorry, but Scott and I need to go and work on the final details of our plan, which is a strong one and a decisive one. And it’s different to Labor’s so it has to be good. Thank you!

* * *

Yes, I know, it’s totally unbelievable…
As if the reporters would question Malcolm and Scott that hard!

Fonex, One Nation, The Australian Newspaper and Other Absurdities.

Owar guvenment iz torking to Britush pollytishun and skools minista, Nick Gibb, about fonnex. Apearently, in Britun, kids ar givun a test on may dup werds to see wich of them dozent undastand fonnex…

Ok, I’ll stop now. If you’re interested in what’s wrong with the British model, there’s a link at the bottom of the page. But I’d just like to make two points before I leave the absurdity of Australia buying this program from Britain and move onto even more absurd things:

1. Most of the spelling mistakes that I’ve come across are actually students spelling things phonetically.
2. Schools already teach phonics. I’m yet to speak to a primary teacher who says that they’re school doesn’t teach kids to sound out words. However, it’s just one (or should that be wun?) strategy in the process of teaching reading.

However, I realise what a topsy-turvy world we now live in by looking at the front page of today’s “The Australian”. I didn’t read the whole article because there’s a limit to how much you can read before the person in the newsagency asks if you intend to buy it, but I was taken by the way they framed Bill Shorten as being “isolated” in his opposition to the Adani project. Apparently unions are for it, councils are for it, local people are for it, kangaroos are for it and only Bill Shorten opposes it!

Which would be something that surprises a lot of you! Because you thought that you opposed it too! However, my reading of Bill’s comments suggested that he wasn’t opposed to the mine, just “lending” Adani the billion to build the railway, interest free.

“The Australian” also had a companion piece on the front page – which I didn’t read, because I may have been asked to buy the paper and my wife doesn’t like me swearing in public… or in private, for that matter, but hey, fuck it, when someone suggests you buy anything that helps out Rupert “Burns” Murdoch, what else can you do but utter obscenities? Anyway, the heading was enough: “Shorten Resorts To Left-wing Fanaticism”.

Now, let’s just slow this down for any One Nation supporters who may have seen their name in title and  strayed here. Bill Shorten is opposed to giving a loan to a company to help it out and thinks that it should be able to raise its own finances in the market and that’s now left-wing. Yep, refusing to subsidise companies is fine if they’re into renewable energy. Reducing money for the CSIRO is ok, because they should be commercially viable, but Mr Adani, hey, he’s just fine by us and we should give him anything he wants. Water, yep, native title, gone, you need a billion as a loan, fine, just pay it back when you can, what else can we do for you, back-rub? Oh, right, you want your back scratched and in return, you’ll scratch ours at some future time when coal has removed the caste system in India…

Bill Shorten, Adam Smith, Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics, with their left-wing fanaticism are just destroying the joint…

And speaking of left wing fanatics, have you heard One Nation’s threat on the ABC?

Pauline’s blames the ABC over her trip to Afghanistan being cancelled, Malcolm Roberts thinks the ABC are an affront to democracy, and Senator Burston informs us: “I’ve contacted Mathias Cormann and said One Nation wants the ABC funding reduced by $600 million over the forward estimates. If they’re not forthcoming in reducing funding to the ABC as part of their budget repair we’ll have to seriously consider what budget repair options… that the Liberal Party puts forward. It’s about time we apply a little bit of pressure on the government to do something about the left-wing, Marxist ABC.”

Which, of course, puts the government in a bit of a dilemma. They could cut funds to the ABC and say they were always going to do it. But that wouldn’t stop One Nation trumpeting their ability to bark orders at the Turnbull (or whoever’s PM by Budget Time), and trying the same trick on all sorts of weird policies. Or they can say no to them and try to negotiate with the other senators. Or they could even negotiate with Labor. But, of course, that would be impossible because, while you need to take into account the views of the party that got about four percent of the vote, you can just ignore the party that got a higher number of votes than the Liberals themselves. (I’m not including the Nations, in that figure, but even if I did, the point is still valid)

It’ll be interesting to see how that one plays out. Will the government stand up to One Nation or take the Turnbull option and just pretend like they’re still in charge?

Link to Phonics Article

Are We Going To Underwrite Adani – Since When Did We Become Socialist?

Ok, I was going to write about Trump’s attack on Syria and my confusion that some of the same people who were worried that Trump would react emotionally and attack another country are now applauding his actions because he reacted emotionally to the footage of the gas attack. And then I realised that I’d have hundreds of comments telling that it wasn’t Assad who launched the attack and then the comments would be filled with different conspiracy theories and I’d get a headache because I’d end up asking someone who said that prefered Trump to Hillary because at least he wasn’t responsible for bombing other countries now sees it as ok, while simultaneously accusing me of blindly swallowing everything I read…

Which sort of brings me to Adani…

Now, I know that some of you will tell us that Adani will bring jobs to Queensland and unemployment is high and people really need a job and if you don’t see that you’re no better than one of those “greenie vigilantes” trying to use the court system to test whether anything their doing is against the law. As The Australian told us: “After the 2015 meeting, Mr Adani said he had pressed Mr Turnbull to legislate to stop environmental groups delaying the project in the courts. The Abbott government’s attempt to amend the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to stop “vigilante” activists was stymied in the Senate a month before Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister.”

This use of the courts is, of course, just a delaying tactic because it’s not going to stop the mine. If anything is found to be against the law, then it’s a relatively simple matter to bring in legislation to change things. Take the proposed changes to native title, for example.

And I know that the Coalition’s statements on energy – apart from the oxymoronic nature of the idea of vigilantes using the courts – sounds to some of you like:

“We’re going to build a meth lab! It’s going to bring heaps of money in and it’ll create employment…”
“Shouldn’t we be trying to get people off drugs like ice?”
“No, no, it’s going to be part of our drug mix for the forseeable future and we intend to make cleaner ice than other countries so it’s really helping to improve the health of your average addict!”
“But ice is one of the worst drugs!”
“Now, now, we need to be agnostic about drugs. The most important thing is ensuring that supply isn’t interrupted and that we keep costs down!”

So when it was discovered – or alleged, let’s not be too cavalier with our words here – that Adani’s Abbot Point port had a coal spill which caused contamination, Adani was quick to point out that they were acting, quote, “within the requirements of the temporary emissions licence”, it’s caused a few of those green vigilantes to worry about a whole range of things… Like Adani being offered unlimited access to water for its mine. So when Adani doesn’t employ anyone, shifts the money to its Cayman Islands account and tells us all that it’s going to sell the water back to Queensland, will we be told that it’s acting within the requirements of its contract?

However, the thing that I find most puzzling is the idea that we need to find nearly a billion dollars for a dodgy company to ensure that they build a mine for a product – coal – that may not have a long-term future. Imagine what a boost to jobs in Northern Queensland if they instead just simply gave an interest-free loan of a million dollars to a thousand Queenslanders who wanted to start up a business. Granted, some of them would go broke, but they’d have provided a lot more employment than Adani in the meantime!

But of course, I am overlooking that we’re not doing this for the money. It’s not really about making a profit; it’s about being altruistic. As Malcolm Turnbull wrote in today’s paper: “Its (India’s) economic takeoff is lifting millions out of poverty, transforming the country into the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with forecasted growth of 7.5 per cent in 2017.” And Barnaby Joyce was also on radio telling us about how we needed to give Adani the billion for the railway line because it’s needed for the deal to go ahead. He, too, was talking about the millions in India being “lifted” out of poverty… Lifted? Doesn’t that make them leaners, if they need to be lifted? Anyway, it’s just about helping out our Indian neighbours. It’s a humanitarian act.

We’re such philanthropists. Makes one wonder why we keep cutting foreign aid.

Vale John Clarke

John Clarke, comedian and satirist, has died suddenly.
From Fred Dagg to Farnarkling to his recent Clarke and Dawe interviews, Clarke has always helped us see the absurdity of politics and kept us laughing. His wit and intelligence will be sorely missed. As this flashback to 2007 shows, he had the capacity to remind us of what the politicians would rather we forgot.

Vale John Clarke!

Mark Latham Complains That Too Many People Who Voted Against Him In 2004 Still Have The Vote!

Fresh from his sacking, Mark Latham has taken to social media to complain that nobody gives bitter white, anti-gay idiots the attention that they deserve.

“There a far too many people in the media who aren’t exactly like me,” opined Latham. “And not only that, heaps of them voted for John Howard, just because he pandered to so many left wing causes. Ok, he didn’t apologise to the Stolen Generation, but he never came out and said that he was glad about it. Typical bloody lefty bullshit. As for things like children overboard, if I’d been PM, I’d have gone there and thrown them overboard myself. It’s time for straight, white men to take back Australia and send those so-called indigenous people back where they belong!”

Mr Latham then announced his intention to continue his crusade to reclaim Australia, as well as reclaiming the word “reclaim” from the “Reclaim Australia” group who he described as a bunch of wimps who didn’t go far enough. “I want a society populated by real men. None of these feminists or gay people. In fact, if I didn’t need someone to make the coffee and wash up, I’d demand that the country was just me and Ross Cameron and the rest of you piss off somewhere else.”

Mr Latham was then observed disappearing up his own rectum.

When asked about Mr Latham’s latest outburst, one bystander replied, “Who cares?”, while another asked, “Who’s Mark Latham? Was he on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here?

Does Education Need “The Godfather” – Social Norms And Market Norms?

Two Quotes from The Godfather:

Bonasera: Let them suffer then, as she suffers. How much shall I pay you?

Don Corleone: [shakes his head ruefully] Bonasera, Bonasera. What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, then that scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.

Bonasera: Be my friend. Godfather.

[The Don shrugs, Bonasera bows toward the Don and kisses the Don’s hand.]

Don Corleone: Good. Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.

Bonasera: Grazie, Godfather.

* * *

Michael: Sonny …

Sonny: You’re taking this very personal. Tom, this is business and this man is taking it very personal.

Michael: Where does it say that you can’t kill a cop?

Tom Hagen: C’mon, Mikey!

Michael: I’m talking about a cop that’s mixed up in drugs. I’m talking about a dishonest cop…a crooked cop who got mixed up in the rackets and got what was coming to him. That’s a terrific story. And we’ve got newspaper people on the payroll, right, Tom? They might like a story like that.

Tom Hagen: They might, they just might.

Michael: It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.

* * *

Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1

You’re at a party. You announce your intention to ring a taxi. You than ring. It arrives and takes you to you destination, where the driver asks you for the fare. It’s approximately $26 which is fifty cents more than the last time you took a taxi from the same house.

Scenario 2

You’re at the same party. You announce your intention to ring a taxi. One of the guests you know hears you and says that he’s going soon and he’ll be happy to drive you. You arrive at your destination and the person driving you says, “That’ll be $15”.

Which scenario makes you more annoyed?

Chances are that it’s the second scenario which you find more disturbing because while you were expecting a financial transaction in the first, the second takes you by surprise. In the first case the extra money is mildly annoying, but in the second case, because you were expecting to pay nothing, you’re likely to find it outrageous even though you’re at least ten dollars better off than if you’d taken the taxi.

In “Predictably Irrational”, Dan Ariely talks about social norms and market norms. In social situations, we’re often prepared to help our and do things for no immediate payback. If you ask someone to help you carry something to your car, you’re unlikely to offer them payment or – The Godfather, notwithstanding – expect them to tell you that you now owe them a favour which they’ll one day collect. However, when a someone who runs a removalist business asks you to help him shift boxes and furniture, you’d normally expect payment.

Now, imagine an employee – let’s call him Trevor – approaches the boss and tells them that he needs to leave early because his daughter’s school has just phoned and informed him that she’s sick. The boss tells him that’s fine but he’ll have to put it in as sick leave. Is the boss being fair?

Let’s imagine that Trevor is a teacher. Would your expectation change if Trevor tells the principal that he won’t be able to attend the staff meeting because his child has suddenly been taken ill? To take it one step further, what if he announces that he’s missing the staff meeting because his partner is unavailable and he needs to miss the last twenty minutes of his class in order to pick up his children from school at 3-15 pm? Or what if someone announced that they won’t be able to attend any after school meetings or make morning briefing due to their need to pick up their children?

While some of you may consider it reasonable to dock Trevor’s pay in each situation, I suspect that some people would have thought it wrong to penalise Trevor for missing a staff meeting when an emergency came up, but very few would consider it reasonable for him to miss all meetings in order to pick up the children or to miss his class without it being taken off his leave entitlements.

The big difference in how you perceive the situation will probably depend on whether you see the school as operating as part of a social norm or a market norm. While it’s obvious that a teacher is being paid, and is therefore expected to be present as part of the market norm, there are many occasions when social norms operate within a school. Apart from things like running classes out of scheduled times or volunteering to help out on various activities, teachers form social relationships with their colleagues and help each other out, not because of their salary, but because they see themselves as part of a group or sub-group within the school. When the chairs need to be stacked, some people will offer to help out. When going to get a coffee, some will ask if anyone else wants one. When the sets need to be painted for a school production, some will offer to help. They’ll be helpful, not because they see it something they’re paid to do, but because it’s part of the social norms of the school.

Of course, it’s when the line gets blurry that the trouble arises. While few people would think that a principal should just ignore someone missing their classes to pick up a sick child, many teachers would see missing the staff meeting as different because it doesn’t require extra work from anyone else and they can always read the minutes later. Yes, it’s part of the working week, but did the principal really have to be such a tight-arse as to take an hour off Trevor’s sick leave. After all, wasn’t Trevor here all day Saturday helping out with the working bee? It’s just not fair. I don’t see why we should do anything that’s not in our contract, if the administration is going to be like that!

It can be argued that the sick child situation is relatively clear: Trevor is expected to attend staff meetings and unless the expectation is that anyone is allowed to simply apologise and miss them, then he’s missing part of the school day. However, there are a number of situations where the teachers are fluctuating between the two norms.

Consider the following and think about how you’d deal with each of the situations:

Jim steps over the line with his jokes during a Maths meeting, and you object. Later someone says to you “Hey, we don’t want to be all politically correct about it, do we, because, well, Jim’s a really good bloke and there’s no need to make a formal complaint, I’ll have a word to him, ok?”

Tina loses her temper in the English meeting and swears at you because you said that the work that Tina prepared on the text was too complicated and you won’t be using it in your class. Tina later tells everyone that she just can’t work with you and she won’t attend any meetings if you’re there.

You thank Sarah in the staff meeting for her help with a recent event and you present her with a bottle of wine. You’re later told that Natalie, who also helped with the project, feels unappreciated and ignored.

Danny, who’s recently had a relationship breakup, has been arriving late and looking like he’s slept in his clothes. As you have the office near his first class, some days you’ve been covering his class till he arrives.

Hayley has asked you to stay behind and supervise the deb ball practice. It’s fairly easy because a group of people come in and run the whole thing. You take the chance to do some marking. Two weeks later, she asks you to do it again. You say yes. Then somebody tells you that she gets a payment for organising the deb ball.

Think about how you responded to each case. Did you respond according to a social norm or a market norm? Did this vary depending on the situation? Consider how it would have been different if you’d used the other one.

Do you think you would have responded differently depending on whether you were a teacher on contract, a teacher with a position of responsibility, or a member of the principal team?

Of course, different members of the school community will see the circumstances in which they work differently and this has the potential to cause irresolvable conflict, because the different participants aren’t operating from the same assumptions.

For teachers and administrators who see the school as primarily something that exists through a social norm, the subtext goes something like: “We give you payment so that you have the opportunity to come here and do what you love, but we all know that the salary is just incidental”. However, for those who see it primarily through a market norm, then there’s a core set of expectations and, while it’s inevitable that they’ll occasionally be caught up by social norms, their subtext revolves around, “Hang on, I didn’t sign up for this and it’s not in my job description!”

This is not to disparage the second group. In the real world, people will often fluctuate between the two mindsets, depending on who’s asking and what’s being expected. Indeed, if teachers don’t occasionally pull back and embrace the attitude of the second group from time to time, then they run the risk of being totally exploited. The point, however, is to recognise the different mindsets and to ask if the problem isn’t really a clash of norms rather than something more complicated.

Obviously, ideas such as performance pay for teachers belongs with people who think of schools as operating under market norms, yet anyone who’s read most of the research on motivation will know that money as an incentive is only effective in a limited number of circumstances. Performance pay is like asking people to help you weed your garden for free, while the person next to them is being paid.

The best schools will be the ones where positive social expectations dictate people’s behaviour, so the difficult question is how to ensure these without making members of staff feel exploited. It’s a difficult question, but one worth asking.