Rachel Maddow on the daily madness

Let's hear it for the 'leader' of the free world.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhtc-jVgUSA&feature=youtu.beAnd just to…

Mosques, Museums and Politics: The Fate of Hagia…

When the caustic Evelyn Waugh visited the majestic sixth century creation of…

COVID-19: Where was it born: China, the United…

Continued from: COVID-19: Where was it born: China, the United States or…

We live in shadowy times and white men…

As a man who is but months away from turning 80 I…

An open letter to Scott Morrison, PM

Mr Morrison,Do you realise how much better off you are than the…

The Hypocrisies of Recognition: The Supreme Court, Native…

The Supreme Court of the United States has barely had time to…

Bedtime Stories #1

I stare into time’s eyes … She stares back at me. Actually,…

JAGGED #4

Follows on from JAGGED #3Chapter 11: I believe you. I hear you.…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: jobs and growth

Jobs And Grr… Sorry, I meant to say Jobs and Gr…

Sorry, that was meant to be “growth” in the title but for some reason “growth” just stopped, and I think we all know the reason why it’s so hard to have any sort of gr…

Gro…

G-G-r-r-o…

Oh dear, it just won’t appear.

Anyway, I think we know the reason. It’s because of you.

Well, you all complained. You all ridiculed them about “Jobs And Growth”, so it’s your fault that the last quarter didn’t have any growth. It ran away because it didn’t like have to appear after “jobs” all the time. It couldn’t put up with the humiliation any more.

After all, it can’t be Scott Morrison’s fault that we don’t have “jobs and growth”. Couldn’t be. Ok, ok, maybe it’s not totally your fault. Actually when I think about it, like everything else, it’s Labor’s fault for blocking those company tax cuts. Now, I know Tony said that they were going to be a “no excuses” government, but this isn’t an excuse, it’s a reason. Besides, Tony’s not the Prime Minister any more…

Well, not at the time of writing, anyway, but if that changes before I hit publish then the rumours about him not launching a challenge until Malcolm’s approval rating goes so low that installing Ivan Milat as leader would give the Liberals a boost were wrong.

So, after giving the matter consideration, I think that we can safely say that the lack of growth can be put down to Labor’s decision to block the company tax cuts because reducing the government revenue from profitable companies would encourage all those unprofitable companies who pay little or no tax and the economy would get a boost somehow. I mean, remember the boost cutting the mining tax gave to the miners! Look at how cutting the carbon tax has the economy growing in a way not seen since the GFC!

And speaking of the carbon tax, thank goodness the Minister for Saving And Wrecking The Environment, Mr Frydenberg was able to clear up the confusion about an emissions scheme. Apparently when he said:”We know that there’s been a large number of bodies that have recommended an emissions intensity scheme, which is effectively a baseline and credit scheme, we’ll look at that,” he meant that they’ll view it, shake their heads, before announcing that they can’t consider it because not only is it the most cheap and effective way of reducing emissions but they can’t consider it because it was never on the table, unlike so many of the things that were on the table earlier in the year like the GST or the states having their own income tax. By “look at it”, many of those institutions peddling fake news like the ABC and Fairfax tried to imply that “look at” means the same thing as “consider”, in much the same way that they tried to imply that when Abbott said that he and Labor were identical on Gonski that it meant that they would both implement it, when Abbott merely meant that they had the same election policy. Really! Next they’ll be trying to ask us to believe that the jobs from the “jobs and gr…” slogan were meant to be jobs for people already living in Australia, which is the sort of xenophonic, racist nonsense that Labor and their union mates try to push…

Of course, if One Nation say exactly the same thing we should listen to them because they received nearly five percent of the vote in some states and you can’t ignore with people scoring that many votes in a democracy. In fact, you’re even allowed to disagree with them… but only after acknowledging that they have a point and maybe it is time that we replaced the High Court with the judges from “Masterchef”.

Anyway, it’s good to know that young Josh has come out and explained that on Monday he was misquoting himself when he talked about an energy intensity scheme and as our fearless leader, Malcolm Turnbull pointed out, there was nothing about an emissions intensity scheme in the review and that Josh Frydenberg was clearly being confused with someone who speaks on behalf of the Liberal Party when only Cory Bernardi is authorised to announce policy without checking with anybody on planet Earth.

Money makes the world go round … which is why we had a flat earth before it was invented!

OK, Dr. Joanne Howe’s report on the China Free Trade Agreement is brilliant and extremely accurate. No, I haven’t actually read it, but not reading it didn’t stop Mr Turnbull from dismissing it or Andrew Robb as describing it as  “not worth the paper it’s written on”. One doesn’t need to read something to dismiss it. Think Christopher Pyne’s proud declaration that he hadn’t read “The Gonski Report”.

I may actually get around to reading the report on the Chinese Free Trade Agreement. After all, I read just about everything. I even read the Liberal’s “Real Solutions” booklet which was mainly full of problems. In fact, it can be summarised by simply stating that the fundamental problem is that we have a Labor Government being run by a woman, whatsmore!) and the solution is to vote us in. As Tony and Joe used to say ad infinitum, “We have a plan”, and when that wore thin they developed it a bit further and said it was for “Jobs and Growth”.  When it became clear that it was their own jobs and growth that they were talking about, even their own party realised that it was time for a change.

Anyway, I was reading the Fairfax Fluff this morning and apart from an opinion piece stating that it was only Muslim young people who were joining IS which completely ignores a couple of non-Muslim boys who went and joined, I was most taken with the editorial, “Trans-Pacific trade deal has tremendous potential”.

It began with an economics lesson:

“The fundamental reality driving economics, politics and public policy is scarcity – there are unlimited wants but limited means.”

So far, so Year Eleven Economics. Of course, the trouble with this truism is that, like all truisms, it often moves from the indisputable part to a justification of what the speaker actually wants.

Not everyone gets what they wants, so you’ll just have to compromise and go and see the movie I want to watch!”

Or to use a more recent example.

“There are limited means in the economy so the well-off can’t afford to pay any more tax on their superannuation, but you need to cut your penalty rates so that businesses can work 24/7, just like 7/11!”

Similarly, the editorial jumped from this economics lesson to the rather interesting proposition:

“Most of the industrialised world has come to the conclusion that open markets provide the best outcomes for the biggest number of people.”

Now this is an interesting statement for a number of reasons. The first being that it excludes the non-industrialised world, but still has the qualifier, “most”.

However, it’s when we start to think about this in terms of the generalisation that we realise that it’s not just full of qualifiers, but a bald-faced lie. Granted that they are primarily talking about free trade between countries. Nevertheless, even the TPP doesn’t completely open the markets between countries, it just makes them slightly freer. And, as has been pointed out so many times, it makes corporations so much freer to sue governments when their profits are threatened.

Of course, the idea of “the best outcomes for the biggest number of people” is an interesting concept in itself. Slaughtering everyone in Florida and distributing their wealth equally to the people of Cambodia would also provide the best outcome for “the biggest number of people” but there are all sorts of moral and ethical issues as to why this isn’t a good idea.

But it’s the whole idea of how we perceive economics that most intrigues me. Like this particular editorial has done, we reduce it to a simple concept and then jump from that concept – whether it’s true or simply a belief – to make a whole lot of judgement calls which often move so far away from the concept that we don’t realise the journey we’ve been taken on.

We’re persistently told that free markets are the best by governments who insist – often quite correctly – on a whole range of restrictions. Why can’t I sell alcohol to ten year olds? Why can’t I start my own pharmacy and dispense medicine without all the red tape of requiring a prescription for certain medications? Guns, I’m not allowed to sell them from the back of my car. In fact, why can’t I turn my house into a nightclub and pump out loud music till the wee hours of the morning?

There’s a whole range of restrictions that we all consider reasonable before we even start to look at the ones about which there could be an argument for “freer markets”. (OK, when I say “all”, I’m ignoring David Leyonhjelm whose views seem a bit extreme when compared to moderates like Abbott and Trump).

For years we’ve been removing tariffs and eliminating subsidies in certain industries. The idea is that it’s the “best outcome for the biggest number of people”. This may well be true.

But I have a few truisms of my own. And one of them is when someone says, “Trust me, and don’t listen anything that’s questioning what I want to do, because I don’t”, it’s time to to ask for the evidence.

And when the government’s own modelling suggests that the China Free Trade Agreement will only bring about 6,000 extra jobs, claims made by Mr Robb seem a little far fetched.

Yeah, trust me. Don’t listen to those unions. They’re just racist and they’re concerned that Chinese workers will improve the prosperity of this country so much that people will realise that the unions never did anything for the workers of this country.

 

It’s all about the jobs, bout the jobs, no trouble

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have been at pains to tell us it’s all about “jobs and growth”.  Now that we have “a number” the economies of the world will be saved.  But how do we intend to reach this magical figure of “2% growth above what is expected”?

The government’s action plan has listed five “key commitments” to underpin its pledge.

The first key commitment to expanding economic activity is infrastructure spending, including its “asset recycling initiative” – encouraging state governments to privatise assets and then plough the proceeds into new projects.

Considering we are selling the profitable Medibank Private to invest in railways for dubious Indian coal mining ventures, this seems an avenue to privatising profits and socialising losses.  No doubt some Liberal Party donors will do well out of it.

“Employment welfare reforms” is ranked as the No 2 commitment, and notes that the changes will “strengthen participation and activation strategies”.

By cutting payments entirely to some unemployed and requiring jobseekers to search for more jobs to qualify for payments, the government argues it will spur the unemployed to look for work rather than live on welfare, thereby boosting economic activity.

But that boost can only come if there are jobs for the unemployed to get and there seems little in the way of a plan to create jobs beyond “axe the tax” and “build some roads”.

Anglicare Australia commissioned a report called “Beyond Supply and Demand” which rubbished the Abbott government’s treatment of the long-term unemployed, calling for a “life first” rather than a “work first” approach to end joblessness.

Anglicare executive director Roland Manderson said

“It’s a problem if the public debate hinges on an assumption that people can just try harder and get work, that’s not true.  What is true is that people can get work and develop really great work but you need to put that investment in at the front end.  The problem with the ‘earn or learn’ (budget measure) is it makes the assumption that any training will do the trick. It’s disempowering to train people who might find work for a short time, but then are out of work again because they haven’t worked through their life barriers.”

Labor assistant treasury spokesman Andrew Leigh said cuts to welfare payments such as   the unemployment benefit, family tax benefits and the pension would act to suppress economic growth.

“If you produce a budget that reduces the income of the poor, it has an impact on consumer demand because they spend everything they’ve got,” he said.  “That will detract from economic growth.”

The other key commitments are “cutting red tape”, “contributing to global trade liberalisation” and “creating self-reliant industries”.

If one thing came out of the many millions spent on inquiries into the Home Insulation Program, it was to underline the dangers of “cutting red tape” and oversight.

The most obvious result of this commitment is to fast track development and mining approvals without regard to environmental impacts, and to remove rights of appeal.

The detail of the China Free Trade Agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding to be more accurate, is yet to be released so it is difficult to assess its impact but one concession we made was to allow Chinese companies to bring in their own workers.  I’m not sure how selling our assets to foreign companies who send their profits back home and who employ foreign workers will actually boost our economy.

Andrew Robb also admitted that Treasury has not done modelling on the overall impact of this agreement and he does not know how it will affect our balance of trade.

The commitment to “create self-reliant industries” seems to fly in the face of Abbott’s staunch resistance to reducing fossil fuel subsidies.  And how does Newman’s Galilee railway and Hunt’s Emissions Reduction Fund fit into that plan?

As was forcibly pointed out over the weekend, renewable energy is an industry of the future, but rather than taking advantage of the billions available for investment in this area, Abbott seems determined to kill off this industry and the tens of thousands of jobs that go with it, presumably because it offers competition to those humanitarian coal producers and users.

Which seems strange as the Coalition’s plan for more jobs is based on improving productivity and competitiveness.

Across the globe, mining productivity has declined by 20 per cent over the past seven years, despite the push for increased output, and declining market conditions.

Efficiency in the Australian mining industry has received a stern rebuke from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), rated as one of the least productive regions in the world.

The damning report ‘Mining for Efficiency’ states that Australia is the second least productive mining region in the world, with Africa taking the wooden spoon, and North America beating Australia on all classes of equipment.

The report claims there is an inherent conflict between the productivity plans of the mining boom which were based on increased volumes, and plans based on cost reduction which are now coming to the fore of business strategy.

Despite claims by industry lobby groups that high wages in Australia will impact on our competitiveness, results actually show “significant divergences” between mines in close proximity chasing the same minerals under the same industrial relations conditions.

Equipment and the way it is used is a key focus of the report, which shows that productivity differences between the best and worst performing mines are stark, with some of the best practice outputs coming in at more than 100 per cent greater than the median performers.

“The popular tagline of the mining sector is that the miners are serious about productivity,” PwC states.

“We suggest that most are reducing costs and increasing volumes but there are precious few with legitimate claims to improving core productivity in their open cut operations.”

Comments in the report echoed the new fashion for cost reduction employed by the major miners who continue to sell off ‘non-core’ assets, such as BHP Billiton had done earlier this year with Nickelwest operations.

“Miners are banking the first available dividend, selling or segregating mines deemed too hard to fix and tempering expectations of further productivity gains by citing a combination of labour laws, high costs, regulatory hold ups and mine configuration constraints,” Lumley said.

And then this morning, we are hit with the news that the axe has fallen again at Australia’s research agency, the CSIRO, with another 75 researchers retrenched across the organisation’s future manufacturing, agriculture and digital productivity programs.

All three affected areas belong to the CSIRO’s flagship “impact science” division, set up in 2003, which aims to partner with universities and the private sector to bring “large scale and mission directed science” to bear on major national priorities.

Future manufacturing research will be hardest hit, losing up to 45 full-time positions, including in advanced fibres, biomedical manufacturing and high-performance metals.

Among the work to which future manufacturing research scientists have contributed is state-of-the-art ceramic body armour for Australian soldiers, the southern hemisphere’s first Arcam additive manufacturing facility, which enables 3D printing of metals, and a spray-on topcoat for aircraft.

But this shouldn’t surprise us from a government who thinks coal is the industry of the future and a Treasurer who thinks that climate change is “absolutely not” an impediment to economic growth

Scroll Up