Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Labour market policy 101 - victimise the most vulnerable

From Paul Norton's letter to the Fairfax press - published in Larvatus Prodeo today:
The Federal Government’s response to the National Welfare Rights Network’s call for an increase in the unemployment benefit is, predictably, to reject this call on the grounds that the best way to help the unemployed is to help them to find work. This is humbug, for two reasons.

The first is that the unemployed are hindered, rather than helped, in their job seeking efforts by things such as undernourishment, lack of medical care, poor mental health, bad teeth, underspending on clothes and grooming, and unstable housing situations, which are all predictable consequences of having to live on the current level of unemployment benefit.

The second is that the Federal Treasurer is on record as claiming that an unemployment rate of 4.75 per cent – that is, about 500,000 people on the dole – is “consistent with full employment”.

The result is that the unemployed are currently being crucified between two metaphorical thieves which have robbed modern Labor of its intellectual and moral fibre – on one side, economic policy orthodoxy based on neoliberal dogma concerning the supposed “non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment”, and on the other, tabloid and focus group mythology about “dole bludgers”.
I also liked this contribution by 'Huggybunny' at comment #8 to Paul's post:
When I started work the unemployment rate was about 1%, Menzies was in power and all the “reffos” were working two shifts. You could walk out the gate of one factory and into the gate of the next and change jobs in five minutes.
Now you need an email account, a CV, a resume and a degree in Horde(Horse?)Management as well as some smart clothes. Nice tits and teeth help if you are a female.
Oh yes it was a brave new world back then, the free market and Capitalism had triumphed over despotism and despair.
It was to be only a matter of time before the socialist revolution took over and we would all be free.
So what have we got?
Despotism rules in most of the globe.
Imperialism runs rampant.
The bees are dying
The fish are dying
The wildlife is dying
The water is polluted
The air is polluted
The climate is on the cusp of thermal runaway.
Sorry Pandora, Ben, Meg and Nell, I will do my best to fix it before I go.

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