If last week’s Q&A panellist Grace Collier is simplistic enough to think the unemployment problem would be solved by those looking for work simply starting their own businesses, why was she on the program in the first place?
If her comments were meant to be taken seriously, what does that tell us about the integrity of the ABC and the Q&A program itself? After all, it’s not the first time so called experts have appeared and made themselves and the program look inadequate.
Mass unemployment, such as we are experiencing today, is a macroeconomic failure at government level. It is a failure of fiscal and/or monetary policy. What it tells us is, that government spending is failing to generate sufficient demand to create the correct level of employment.
Officially, there are 713,300 people unemployed as at September 2016. That is 5.6% of the workforce and sadly, just the tip of the iceberg. In August 2016, there were 1.0814 million underemployed persons or 9.1 per cent of the labour force. Total underutilisation of the workforce (unemployment and underemployment) stood at 14.7 per cent.
In seasonally-adjusted terms, 82.3 per cent of the net jobs created in Australia in the last 12 months have been part-time. In the financial year 2014-15 (latest data) there were only 21,000 net new businesses created in Australia.
Those businesses were essentially new retail outlets, tradespeople sub-contracting and some entrepreneurial ventures destined to fail in the passing of time.
All of this reflects just part of the problem. Those who are employed, who have families, mortgages and credit card debt, the backbone of the country, have no leverage to spend any more. They are conserving. All of which when combined, tells us that private spending is contracting.
When the domestic private sector reduces spending, demand falls, companies lower output and people lose their jobs. It’s not rocket science.
There is little hope for anyone starting a business in an environment where private spending is contracting. An industrial relations expert such as Grace Collier should know that.
She should know that the only remedy for that is increased government spending.
However, it was her subsequent comments on the Q&A program last Monday that need to be unpacked. She said, “The Government does not owe… You know, nobody has an entitlement to a job. Society doesn’t owe you a job. The Government can’t get you a job. The Government shouldn’t have to get you a job. There’s no such thing as Government money. There’s your money and my money.”
What utter rubbish!
Any government that absolved itself of the responsibility of providing jobs would be delinquent in the extreme. Any government that can’t provide jobs for its citizens is delinquent in the execution of its responsibilities.
Whether those jobs are government jobs or come from the private sector or are the product of the entrepreneur, it is the government’s responsibility to create the conditions where those jobs materialise. To suggest otherwise demonstrates sheer ignorance.
On her comments about money, if it is not government money, then from whence did it come? The government is the currency issuer. Of course it’s government money. All money is government money. Even when banks create loans out of thin air, they do so under licence from government.
Which brings us back to the ABC and Q&A. Notwithstanding some excellent discussions that have taken place over the years, Q&A will always be judged by its worst. This was one of its worst.
It needs to ask itself, is it a genuine forum fit for public purpose, or just a ratings’ seeker condescending to the lowest common denominator. That is what last Monday’s program looked like.