I'll preface this by noting I had an appalling slow trip home from work this evening and I was a bit cross.
Generally, Western countries can't compete in manufacturing with low wage second and third world countries. I don't like the terms second and third world, but they are convenient as they are generally used. With high automation of processes, we can compete and we have the skills to do that, but that doesn't give many people a job.
Australia may or may not be a good example of the Western world, but our present economy is built around servicing an increasing population, firstly by providing housing and then services. While the miserly Australian basic wage is barely enough to live on, employers far and wide are not paying the appropriate pay to service workers through devious means. $17.29 is not much per hour, around $660 per week. This figure should come for a full working week with all benefits, maybe ten days sick leave, long service leave, maybe three months after 15 years, four weeks annual leave, a super contribution of around 10% of that figure and penalty rates when working unsociable hours. If you are a part time employee, this will be given pro rata. Part timers usually have set hours. If you are a casual employee, you will get a higher rate of pay to compensate you for the lack of the above benefits.
Australian business would of course like to get rid of all of the above and just have a very low hourly pay without benefits. The Liberal Party, which is not very liberal, thinks along the same lines. Today I observed some garden workers today slogging it out for hours in the hot sun. I hope they are getting well paid. They should be, compared to someone in an airconditioned office tapping away at a keyboard.
Yesterday I listened to a podcast about the US presidential hopeful for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders. In Australia, think of all this primary nonsense that is happening in the US as party preselection and here it is done on a small scale at a local electorate party level. The party then elects who can run as Prime Minister in an election. By golly, I liked what I heard about Bernie Sanders. He confesses to being a socialist and is not someone who wants to work from the inside but wants to revolutionise the American system. No one could argue with him that the extremes between poverty and wealth are big problems. His fellow contender as Democratic presidential candidate is Hilary Clinton, a person who is very experienced and works within the system. Would it not be great if a President could be elected in the US who could shake the country to its very core? US presidents, like Australian Prime Ministers only have so much power though. Still, it would be interesting if Sanders was elected. He sounds like a thoroughly decent and honourable bloke.
Gosh, I did drift off my original point. Yes, Australia survives by the Ponzi scheme of increasing its population. This is not sustainable. In the last twenty years, this increasing population has significantly impacted on our lifestyles. The ability to move around our large city by what ever means has become a miserable experience. Our travel times are so much longer and less comfortable. Lordy, our trains and trams have had seats removed so more people can fit in. Our services are not even close to keeping up. Do you have a problem with a service? Call the company and sit in a long phone queue or be dealt with by an overseas call centre where you can't really understand the person at the other end because of their accent.
I am on the way to old age and it won't be a huge worry for me, apart from occasional annoyance, but what is the future for Australia? This country too has an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. I can only say to my fellow Australians, as workers, you must unionise and as citizens, you must constantly protest and complain about injustices and what is wrong in this country. Never a truer truth was told than the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The squeaky wheel must be what is right.