I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE SCOMO
If you haven’t seen the latest edition of Sammy J’s coaching series on the Federal Election, you are missing something special. It is the best piece of political satire I have seen in a long time. The political scientist, Philip Mirowski, once described the fact we are all neoliberals now. The framing of economic discussion over the last thirty years has removed our ability to consider solutions outside the market. You are Scomo, I am Scomo, Je suis Scomo. Sammy explains.
ITA ON ABC BIAS
This week, Ita Buttrose, the new ABC chairwoman, acknowledged that bias exists in the ABC. She stated the people guilty of this moral failure are probably not aware of it. What does she mean? Are there not enough women on The Drum? Are there too many Christians on its art programs? Do we need more gay representation, generally? What she is really saying is code for right wing and neoliberal perspectives.
The ABC’s economic analysis is already straight neoliberal with its commitment to surpluses. I suspect Leigh Sales gets a bonus every time she uses the word. What Ita means is that it is not neoliberal enough. The former Channel 9, Channel 10 and women’s mag editor can be sure to bring the ABC into line with commercial TV standards. This means the business friendly budget will have a very good friend in the ABC. We are all Scomo. Je suis Como.
ALBO GETS THE NOD FROM BUSINESS
The heads of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia are both happy with the initial signs of change coming from Labor. James Pearson is pleased the “confected conflict” is behind us and that recent Albanese comments are an opportunity to “reset the relationship”. Jennifer Westacott celebrated the support of both sides for a “pro-growth agenda”.
To this Albo explained that Labor supported pro-growth because jobs are this great party’s “first, second and third priority”. Both parties are open to challenge on this. A broader Labor narrative that challenged the economic orthodoxy of balanced budgets might have made it. Australia once had a full employment policy. It ran from 1942-74. Anyone who wanted a job could have one. It only ended because business resented matching decent public sector wages and conditions. Here is the history of this period as told by Dr Victor Quirk.
IS ALBO PROLIX?
Bomber Beasley was once accused of this failing and told Australians “to get used to it”. Two terms as Opposition leader gave us more time to decide that Kim was a bit of a windbag. This might also be Albo’s problem. He called his first press conference when he became the new Labor Opposition leader. He seemed to think that was reason enough to stand in front of a camera for five minutes and spice nonsense with platitudes. Not good enough. He needs to work on a compelling narrative though his party’s move to the right is unlikely to provide it. No move right needed for Albo. Despite the left monicker, Anthony has always been a market believer. His support for the new airport bringing planes to the Blue Mountains stand as proof.
ROBOTIC FRUIT PICKER PRESENTS POLITICAL DILEMMA
If the development of fruit picking robots expands to other fruit varieties this could both solve problems and create new ones. Pay and conditions make fruit picking one of the country’s least desirable job options. So we should celebrate innovations like this. Yet, it creates an economic and political problem. The political problem is that politicians will no longer be able to punch away at the lazy unemployed. This claim is often made when potential workers show reluctance to leave family and community to work on the other side of the country. The second problem that automation causes is that robots don’t buy. The person who invents the robot that can mimick a customer would soon be the top of the Forbes 100.
CREMORNE GOING CHEAP
A chef and a schoolteacher have snatched a two bedroom unit at the bargain price of $1.018 million. Hope the chef has a good EBA because the cut in penalty rates won’t help. Meanwhile, bank assets have risen by 8% with the great news that Labor and young home owners have been beaten back. Thank goodness the Liberal Party has made our economy safe for speculators and other spivs.
BILLIONAIRE CELEBRATES HARD WORK
Whatever a rich lister is, Con Makris is one. He listed as 69th on the AFR’s rich list for 2009. There seem to be no figures since then but he appears to be going pretty well. Makris is another celebrating the beating back of Labor’s needy and desperate from gated communities of privilege. With Shorten’s failure, we have avoided a period of uncertainty which would have “removed incentives for people to work hard and get ahead”. “The quiet confidence and steadiness” that a Morrison Government gives us cannot be overestimated, Con explains. This perspective was reinforced by his Greek heritage and Greece’s experiment with faux socialists Syriza. Thankfully, that economy and its people are now prey to the gentle mercies of ECB technocrats. Let them eat whatever they can find.
WE NEED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SPEND?
All I know about John Kehoe is that he is a journalist for our competitor, the Australian Financial Review. John has written an extremely long article in this week’s Saturday AFR about the Reserve Bank’s struggle to kick the economy along. The Reserve is worried about unemployment as it should be. Not sure they are worried enough but that puts them way in front of other public figures such as our politicians. Kehoe discusses raising and dropping inflation targets, calls by the RBA for spending on infrastructure and the importance of surpluses. The article is full of supporing quotes from the usual economic orthodoxists.
In short, the RBA is screaming for the Federal Government to increase spending. Cutting interest rates with a chainsaw is unlikely to have any economic impact especially considering our current level of private debt. There is nothing in this for the unemployed. 5.2% is not full employment and an additional 8-9% underemployed emphasises this point.
YOUR TIPS and OBSERVATIONS
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