Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Never mind the property bubble, feel the width

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.






29 comments:

  1. Truth.
    And, from what I have seen I too warm to Bernie Sanders MUCH more than the other contenders.

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    1. EC, he is a quite a fascinating bloke, from a humble background in the tenements of the Lower East Side.

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  2. Low wage is the problem in many countries,,. in Europe, too

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    1. Gosia, maybe not so bad in Western Europe countries.

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  3. It's bad here. In Portland, housing prices have drastically increased, causing developers to buy low income apartment complexes to develop and flip into high rent structures, forcing out the low wage workers, which are many here. Half all workers in the northwest make under $20 per hour but here we have to pay our own health insurance, premuims, deductibles and copays and the conservatives want no government help with medical insurance and have vowed to reverse Obamacare, if elected, (Affordable Care Act). And with the rise in housing costs, now filtering out all along the I5 corridor, the low wage jobs don't cut it so the bills can be paid. Yet huge fights arise at any mention of raising minimum wage or even requiring sick leave. The poor farmers is all we hear about, having to pay their labor a fair wage or sick leave. No vacation time for most jobs here. Vacation time people get is when they're laid off, which is lots of people lots of the time. No money though.

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    1. In my opinion, reversing Obamacare would be a big mistake.

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    2. That is terribly sad Strayer. I understand this manner of the rich taking away even more from the poor is partly what Sanders wants to overturn. That is to re-balance the system.

      River, while I don't know a lot about Obamacare, it is far from what is really needed, that is a decent health system funded from taxes.

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    3. I thought that's what Obamacare was or at least headed in that direction.

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    4. It what I hoped too, but it seemed it is more about subsidised private health insurance.

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  4. Unionise brothers and sisters! Yes!

    Australia is a parliamentary democracy where no-one can overturn the will of the people, as expressed through their politicians lead by the prime minister. This is to maintain parliamentary sovereignty and responsible government!

    The USA, on the other hand, is run by the legislators-politicians in parliament (congress) but can be over turned by the executive (president). How extraordinary checks and balances are.

    Thus US presidents and Australian Prime Ministers cannot be compared at all. If we want to compare the executive authority in the US with any office in British countries, it would have to be with a Governor General on steroids.

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    1. "...no-one can overturn the will of the people..."
      Really??
      What about all those referendums over the years where 'the people' clearly stated what they preferred and the government of the time ignored the results and did what they wanted.

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    2. Hels, yes, really our Prime Ministerial position is quite different to the US Presidential position. Our political system as a whole is so different.

      River, I am not sure which referendums you mean. I am not a supporter of government by referendum. We elect a government for better or worse, to govern for us.

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    3. Yes and when a government wants to do something, they hold a public referendum so the people can have their say, but then if the people disagree with what the government wants to do, they are often ignored. I can't cite any examples as I forget those things quickly, not caring enough.

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  5. Anonymous9:52 am

    Hels, I think Tony Abbott is on steroids, particularly as he thinks he would have won this year's election and is stirring up trouble from the backbench. I foresee the second coming of 'Rudd' all over again.
    Regarding workers, unionism in Australia seems to be on the nose with young employees who miss out on work related benefits and entitlements because they are working part time or on short term contracts. A union offers some protection from employers doing their best to screw you over. The one I hate the most is giving them work experience but not paying them because it's work experience. Talk about slave labour. - Ian

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    1. Ian, I hope I am correct in saying Abbott will never get another chance. People were more ambivalent about Rudd when he ousted. They are not about Abbott. I don't disagree with work experience in theory, that is when it is for school students to try out certain jobs, but not once someone is out in the big world looking for a job. Unpaid internship stinks.

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  6. Hilary Clinton is a Republican in Democrat's clothing... Sanders is, I think, a chance for real change but I don't think he's going to have the opportunity to demonstrate that. If Trump wins the Republican nomination, as he bids fair to do, then Clinton... if nominated by the Democrats... will lose.

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    1. Cranky, Sander is not even barely a chance be is a viable alternative for people to choose, except they won't directly. You have called the result of the election as I now think Trump will win the primaries. Honestly though, could Trump be any worse than any other Republican. He will still be a relatively impotent President and the reality of being in government will hit him soon enough. His policies? Who would know what they are?

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  7. I didn't have a clue as to what the basic wage was these days, being retired has it's benefits.
    One has to live according to wages.

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    1. Margaret, most people do live within their wages, but we can still argue about if the lowest wage is too low or too high. Not arguable is people being underpaid and cheated.

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  8. I could get back on my soapbox and make speeches about dams and pipelines bring water to arid areas from flood areas, so the rest of the country could be developed and have people living there to take the strain off the cities, but there doesn't seem to be much point. Politicians seem to think everyone wants to live along the coastline and just lately it seems they want to close down SA altogether. There's rumours our SA electricity costs will be rising, making it the most expensive in the world. Heard it on TV last night.

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    1. River, maybe it is the set up costs of sustainable generated electricity, as SA leads Australia in solar power, I think. Do it privately if you wish, but what is your power bill? Supply charge and then cents per kilowatt?

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    2. I think supply charge and cents per kilowatt might vary depending on which company you are with. I signed up with Alinta and I've just looked at my most recent bill and there's a tariff description which has an "anytime usage-step 1" and an"anytime usage-step 2", then the supply charge for the 92 billing days was $62.77; previous bill was for 94 days and $68.
      I don't know how many cents per kilowatt, the bill doesn't say, but it does tell me my average daily cost which is higher in winter as heating costs more than cooling and the clothes dryer gets used then too. My winter bill, from June to September was very nearly $500 and I'm a single person in a small flat! I could cut that by using the microwave instead of the stove and oven I suppose, but the food just doesn't taste as god when I haven't smelled it cooking.

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    3. Ok, our supply charge is pretty close to $1 per day. Our tarrif is around 22 cents per kilowatt hour.

      Your bill is outrageous. It was not a really cold winter. Our similar bill was $480, discounted a little as R is a pensioner but significantly by paying on time, ending up as $350. We also run a dishwasher daily that heats its own water. Our summer has been coolish, so not too much air con use.

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  9. I can only say that apparently in all countries it's the same. Belgium is a specialist in strikes, but that doesn't change anything !

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    1. Gattina, strikes are best avoided but sometimes they are the only way that workers can protect themselves.

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  10. The other day I amused myself with the Liberal/conservative ideal of there being no social welfare whatsoever. They hate it so much that it boils over on radio stations like 3AW in Melbourne and on TV shows like Current Affair. They just don't believe in it. You're right about the population mess, most of this country is desert. I don't agree about referendums, they stopped conscription in the first world war, and stopped that pig Menzies banning the communist party.
    No government likes referendums. It's easy to see why.

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    1. RH, that is one referendum I do approve of, and the one that tried to ban the communist party. But would the laws have been passed if they were brought to parliament in the normal way? Perhaps not, if the opposition was strong.

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    2. I'd have to research it but I think a referendum was necessary in both cases because of the Constitution. You'd approve also of the 1967 referendum giving aborigines full citizenship and voting rights.

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