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Weekend reflections

March 24th, 2006

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. March 24th, 2006 at 20:02 | #1

    Today The Sydney Morning Herald made reference to research into hidden, or unrecognised, unemployment. I thought that this might be an appropriate strater for some weekend reflections.

    The Workplace Relations Minister who must know everything about union activity in offices, factories, farms and other places of employment is apparently not interested in the real amount of unemployment. Politiically it makes sense that the unemployed and underemployed fall beneath the radar screen.

    Our new-fangled IR system with American characteristics and controlled by volumes of ministerial discretion, includes I understand the added attraction to employers, for example such as Haliburton, of the importing of cheap labor to drive down wages.

    I hope the two departments will be able to work things out, and that Australian citizens too old, too sick, too unemployable, or some other undesirable attribute may end up in the ready-made detention centres.

    I also see that the Communications Minister has decided to replace the staff-elected director on the ABC Board with a government appointee and on the basis, as I understand, that this is consistent with modern management practice.

    I suppose in the first instance it is a long way to the next election. Secondly, I suppose that what happens to anybody else, in an ideally individualistic society, does not really matter anyway. Thirdly the obligation to explain and argue policy is redundant and unnecessary when spin will do the job so much more effectively.

  2. still working it out
    March 25th, 2006 at 10:45 | #2

    I would like to see a of a more realistic measure of the unemployment rate for the last 20 years or so. Its obvious that the current measure does not pick up on structural changes such as the increase in part time work and casualised staff who are only employed on an as needed basis. And there seem to be some official dodges as well, such as the large number of people who might previously have been counted as unemployed that have been moved to the disability pension.

    We keep hearing about record low unemployment, but I just don’t buy it. Jobs are not very hard to come by, but they are not extremely easy to get either. And a lot of people are working in very low quality jobs with no bargaining power on wages and conditions which does not indicate an extremely strong labour market to me.

  3. observa
    March 25th, 2006 at 11:12 | #3

    No under/unemployment in this sector
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,18592701-1246,00.html?from=rss
    although there are some very real, rather than worrywort problems, now and in the immediate future it seems. Clearly too, it is not the political flavour of governments which is as the heart of the problem. Timely and measured response to this issue will probably make or break those govts you would think.

  4. observa
    March 25th, 2006 at 11:18 | #4

    Mr Birch… ‘ will stay in SA and “take up opportunities in the private sector”, largely around health and justice consulting.’

    Now there’s an employment growth sector tip for all you underemployed low bargaining wage slaves.

  5. March 25th, 2006 at 12:43 | #5

    I am sure there are people who spend their whole professional lives working on the problem of creating real models of employment. I do wish they were more forward in their discoveries – a good Lambertish blog on the topic would do wonders.

    It would be terrific to see a dynamic model of real employment, that correctly identified the actual numbers of unemployed, and the underemployed ( a word used frequently in relation to third world employment problems but not headlined here), and the various terms of employment.

    Timelined against changes in the larger economy, it would be fascinating. They would include our various wars, containerisation, the rise and fall of factory industry, the role of women in the workforce, the changing tariff regimes, the removal of employment terms that paid redundancy etc, the rise and rise of the personal computer..

    There’s a wonderful multimedia project. But as you say, it depends on accurate figures.

  6. observa
    March 25th, 2006 at 13:14 | #6

    Too many interesting tidbits to worry about the smorgasbord David
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/23/opinion/23britz.html?ex=1143781200&en=93dac5ba192a7f44&ei=5070&emc=eta1
    Where have all the girlie men gone?

  7. Katz
    March 25th, 2006 at 14:54 | #7

    “Where have all the girlie men gone?”

    Where indeed Observa?

    According to a recent US poll women are getting over their infatuation for GWB. There are some clues in this that may help to answer your question,

    http://www.knoxstudio.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=BUSHPOLL-03-22-06&cat=AN

    “The gender gap is back.

    “Just 30 percent of women approve of President Bush’s job performance, according to the latest Scripps Howard/Ohio University survey of 1,007 adult residents of the United States. The poll found that 44 percent of men approved of him. Overall, Bush’s approval rating was 37 percent.

    “The gender gap is significantly larger than in previous polls. In fact, women were largely credited for Bush’s re-election in 2004 when they rallied to him in significant numbers during a time of war and national uncertainty.

    “But as the war in Iraq has entered its fourth year and has taken the lives of more than 2,300 U.S. troops, women have become more disenchanted with Bush.”

    This is an interesting result because it suggests that US women were not significantly more pacifistic than their menfolk.

    Rather, it could be argued, US women are simply passing a vote of no confidence in the incompetency of the bellicosity of the Bush Clique and the military under their command.

    In short, US women are expressing their frustration at men who swagger about, talk big, but when push comes to shove, can’t cut the mustard.

    American females’ dissatisfaction with the results of combat must be terribly deflating for the type of US male whose sense of self-worth, even potency, is bound up in his military prowess.

    So, Observa, American womanhood may have an answer to your question as to the whereabouts of America’s girlie men: they’d say that lots of these girlie men are faffing about ineffectually with their big military toys.

  8. observa
    March 25th, 2006 at 15:30 | #8

    “The poll is also useful in identifying groups most solidly opposed to Bush. Only 7 percent of black women said they approve of Bush’s performance, one of the worst rates for any major population group.
    The president is especially unpopular among single parents. The survey interviewed 27 black single mothers, not one of whom said she approves of Bush’s job in office.”

    That explains it then Katz. Bush has taken away all their potential husbands (I think?)

  9. Katz
    March 25th, 2006 at 15:51 | #9

    Not likely Observa,

    More likely is the fact that single mothers have had more experience with feckless and unreliable men, hence their greater sensitivity to and intolerance of Bush’s shortcomings.

  10. observa
    March 25th, 2006 at 16:13 | #10

    ‘This is an interesting result because it suggests that US women were not significantly more pacifistic than their menfolk.
    Rather, it could be argued, US women are simply passing a vote of no confidence in the incompetency of the bellicosity of the Bush Clique and the military under their command.’

    There might be another explanation too Katz. Women have generally supported the left progressive, Blairite BOL doctrine for Iraq (and Afghanistan), rejecting the ‘monkey country’ theory, never far below the surface of Bush’s critics over Iraq. They reiterated this stance in elections for Bush, Blair and Howard, despite the obvious overselling of WMD. Essentially the aims were seen as noble and seemed to be answering the dreaded question- It’s nurture not nature that holds the key to decent civil society. With insurgency/sectarian killings continuing unabated, they may now be having serious doubts. That’s not to say that they don’t think it was worth asking the question in Iraq and Afghanistan, when there was the motive to do so, but increasingly more and more punters think they know the answer. Our leadership may also concur with their judgement at this very moment, but of course they must present the firm, stay the course, exterior for obvious reasons. Such is life at the top.

    If this is the correct analysis of the polls, then of course the Cold War sulking, conservative, anti-US left has won a small pyrrhic victory. Western liberal democracies may be coming round to the monkey country view of the ME. Not exactly fertile ground for the resurgence of the left I would have thought. Still it would be grounds for a change of leadership and strategic tack, but then convenient retirements are on the cards anyway. That’s the beauty of democracy.

  11. observa
    March 25th, 2006 at 16:17 | #11

    “That’s the beauty of democracy.” ….well perhaps only ours eh Katz?

  12. Katz
    March 25th, 2006 at 17:04 | #12

    Your argument doesn’t hold water Observa.

    If women were more committed to the “nurture” side of the argument then they’d be more resilient in their support of the COW mission. If your argument were correct, then men should be more anti-Bush than women. (Unless of course you subscribe to the proposition that women are more acute than men at reading the actual thinking of the Bush Clique, i.e., that American women are more perceptive than American men.)

    I don’t pretend to speak for the Left, but even if your assertions about the popularity of the simian theory of ME ethnology were true, it wouldn’t be the first time that the Left has confronted the “untermenschen” argument.

    Turned out rather badly for its most recent proponents, as I recall.

  13. March 25th, 2006 at 23:07 | #13

    Observa, it’s only squeamish bowdlerising girlie men who spell titbits “tidbits” – thereby drawing attention to the very thing they want to conceal.

  14. March 26th, 2006 at 23:02 | #14

    Is everything ok with Antony Lowenstein? He hasn’t been spamming weekend threads!

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