WHO ARE STIRLING GRIFF AND REX PATRICK?
You’re going to hear a lot about this duo in the next three years. Unless Pauline Hanson gets over her sulk at being jilted for Clive, these two Centre Alliance radicals will hold the balance of power in the Senate. You thought the Senate would save us again. No, we will have to rely on the sensitivity and compassion of a Young and Rubicam marketer and a former Liberal staffer, electronics technician and submariner. The Liberal Party’s only other hope is Jacquie Lambie and based on her election night threats I’d be sticking with Rex and Griffo, if I were Scotty. It all looks pretty rosy for Scomo and his team with initial indications that these two Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon’s NXT) members will pass all three stages of the tax cuts. With salary increases for our politicians passing this week, what is there to complain about?
BARRIE THE INSIDER
There was a tremendous outpouring of love for the ABC’s Insiders host, Barrie Cassidy today. The former Hawke press secretary from 1986 to 1991, left the program today after 18 years. The politically bipartisan affection shown to Barrie was remarkable. Josh Frydenberg, Bob Hawke, John Howard, Christopher Pyne, Richard Marles, Bill Shorten and Jenny Macklin competed with even more journalists in celebrating this period of Barrie’s career. They described him as craggy, authentic, intelligent, incisive and more. I don’t know about you but I don’t find much to celebrate in this comfy relationship between our politicians and journalists. For them, it seems this is more of a game as they switch like chameleons between roles as politicians, staffers, consultants, lobbyists, journalists, business touts, board members, bureaucrats and backslappers.
I do think of our politicians as enemies. They may not be when they start out but by the time the party tribalism works them over and their egos grow into the job they are lost to the community. There is James Cockburn’s test: Is your hatred pure? What this question is asking is are you really trying to DO anything or have you realised it is all too hard; the pay’s good so let’s settle in for the ride. I don’t know whether Barrie hated anyone. We know he was much loved. We also know he didn’t explain to us or seek to discuss what a surplus or a deficit is. Our political class must have loved that too.
BILL MITCHELL CHALLENGES MMT CRITICS
“[T]he institutional literature makes it very clear that ‘markets’ are legal constructs which are given meaning and operational structure by the legislative fiat of the state. ”
You’re a hope of understanding this as long as you haven’t had your mind poisoned by neoclassical economics. In the article that holds this quote, Bill Mitchell describes how much work goes into making sure we don’t understand this. All the celebrity economists and commentators recite the same script. Yet, in the USA there is growing discussion that governments are not impotent. In England, the debate is more muted but the Labour Party’s rank and file embraced Bill’s message even if the leaders didn’t. In Australia…NOTHING. Our media is so concentrated and business friendly that the ABC is the only hope. Sadly, Auntie for all its left wing identity politics zealotry, is dead neoliberal in its discussion of economics and business. That is how you keep your job.
Bill Mitchell is one of originators of approach to macroeconomics called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)
ROSS GITTINS MISSES THE POINT
There is nothing unusual there but it is noteworthy that he has done it again. This is an interesting quote from the Herald’s “accountant in resident” yesterday.
“It suggests Frydenberg’s boast of having achieved budget surpluses in the coming four financial years – and Labor’s boast that its surpluses would be bigger – are little more than wishful thinking, manufactured by a politicised Treasury”, said Ross.
To anyone who knows what is going on, expanding surpluses are not a boast. They are ridiculous. At this time, why would we want the Federal Government to take more money OUT of the economy than it puts in. That is what a surplus does. Yet, we need fiscal expansion. The Reserve Bank head knows that but frames his call in terms of infrastructure spending. Good, we’ll have that but we need something immediate. The sort of spending that a full employment program based on a Job Guarantee might achieve.
Our economy is already flat. The Reserve Bank’s interest rate changes won’t do anything for demand. It seems that only the business and finance sectors are happy. They’ve had a couple of big wins in recent months. Time to pull out the party hats with the recommendations of the Banking and Finance Royal Commission and the return of a friendly Liberal Government. A Yulefest Christmas for “the big end of town”.
UBER WORKERS ARE NOT EMPLOYEES
That may be true but they don’t have real jobs either. The Fair Work Commission has just come down with its decision that people working for organisations like UBER are not employees. The official Fair Work site states: “For such a relationship to exist, the courts have determined that there must be, at a minimum, an obligation for an employee to perform work when it is demanded by the employer.” Although in making the decision the qualification is made that this decision ONLY relates to UBER, it is certain to have implications for other players in the gig economy. We should be clear that these are very poor substitutes for what was once considered a real job in this country. Organisations such as UBER are preying on people’s desperation. This is a system failure. Nothing less.
The answer to providing increased wages and a decent standard of living is the Job Guarantee. Such a solution would have been a perfect counter to the jobs dilemma that faced Labor in Queensland. Why do we have to settle for destructive mining jobs. Our leaders have to really want to solve the problem. Not simply put on a performance to the public and pretend they care. There is the problem. Look at the condition of people on NewStart. If they care, it is not enough.
LUXURY IS BACK
This is much anticipated event for me. The Australian Financial Review’s latest edition of “Luxury” is out. The last issue’s focus was on jewellery. This time it is clothes. The editor Lauren Sams made some interesting observations: “Clothing is often written off as inconsequential, frivolous at best but there is real force in what we wear”. I know that our family have never considered clothing inconsequential. Particularly in chilly Katoomba. Lauren loves its “unifying effect and its ability to set one apart from the pack”. Somewhere the unifying bit seems to have been lost there. We also meet a woman who is an “outlier” who has become the “ultimate insider” at the same time. This young fellow sums things up pretty well.