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Monday Message Board

August 3rd, 2009

Its time once again for Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. Alice
    August 14th, 2009 at 19:35 | #1

    I dont know how I turned blue (probably from shock at Jarrah’s denialism).

  2. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 14th, 2009 at 19:40 | #2

    Alice, stats for 2002 reveal over 40 000 taxpayer’s were identified as having been caught up in “tax avoidance schemes” in Australia and this is still a major headache for the Federal government especially in weeding out businesses caught up in supplying tax minimisation and avoidance schemes.

  3. Alice
    August 14th, 2009 at 19:51 | #3

    I agree Moshie – the ATO head is great at the moment – he is working on it.

    But Moshie – for all the liberal extremist experimenters out there (Jarrah and Andy to name two but there are more) I only have one thing to say. The liberals in this country have BUCKLEYS of getting voted back in on these kind of free market ideologies. They have burned the voters too hard where it hurts – in their hip pockets (workchoices and a flexible tenuously employed under employed labour force).

    Good luck with an early election over ETS guys is all I have to say. They have not got a hope. The politics of freedom and “choice” (ha ha) have gone too far and they are out (old fashioned, obsolete, unpopular) and I will put $50 here and now on it. Change is upon us and its change for reason and sense and balance in economic policy. I welcome it. Its overdue.

  4. August 14th, 2009 at 20:02 | #4

    “and your brain is dead Andy…dead!”

    How did you put it? Ah, that’s right – no need to be rude. :-)

    Let’s backtrack a bit. I first chimed in when you made the preposterous claim that the rich do not shoulder the burden of government taxation. I disputed this, gave some evidence to that effect. You (and MoSH) inexplicably tried to counter by showing that I was right. You then proceeded to claim that because the richest people are paying less as a percentage of the total tax take, that it somehow backed up your argument, when in fact it changes the discussion to one about inequality trends. Hilariously, that attempt backfired drastically, since it shows that the percentage has barely moved for 25 years, during the period of ideological supremacy of your bête noire, liberalisation. That this fact seriously undermines your claims has been studiously ignored by your good self, despite my kindness in pointing it out.

    To be continued tomorrow, as it’s Friday night and I have places to be.

  5. Donald Oats
    August 14th, 2009 at 20:08 | #5

    I did a quick read of this arvo’s posts and saw claims of flawed thinking, making things up, nonsense, etc; and, I thought I should be in this too!

    Item 1: Biggest Loser (aka Me): You all know about the stimulus cheque, and how even dead people got it. I didn’t qualify! I didn’t have any tax to pay in the previous financial year, so the ATO said “Bad luck son, you don’t qualify!” Presumably I should have been dead for tax reasons, in order to qualify…

    Item 2: Of course if I wasn’t sooo lazy, I could sleuth this out, but instead I’ll pose it as a question. How is the CPI calculated, as it relates to basic shopping goods, you know like coco pops, Bundaberg ginger beer and other daily essentials? Do they use the unit price? My coco pops packet has suffered noticable compression recently, lopping the top off the 800gm packet to become – for roughly the same price – 750gm – but wait, there’s more er less – now 735gm!!! Who’d've thunk it??

    Unfortunately, during the same time period my size and weight have altered in scary synchronicity at an inversely proportional rate as the coco pop debacle.

    So, seriously, how is inflation currently calculated?

  6. August 14th, 2009 at 20:20 | #6

    Alice,
    …and Jarrah’s argument is that the total tax take overall has risen enormously by any measure. So the total revenue is much larger, yet, in your words, we cannot “run decent public transport – and … build the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
    The problem here should be obvious – you are confusing two completely unrelated ideas – the disparity of the taxation burden (a revenue concept) and what the government can spend (expenditure).
    I am sure you would not be doing this intentionally as it would be dishonest to do so, but now this has been pointed out I trust you will stop. :)
    .
    To be intellectually honest, you must concede that your prognostications on public transport and the Snowy Mountains relate only to the total tax take – i.e. what funds are available to actually spend on things. This is (I hope you will agree as it is easy to demonstrate) many, many times larger now than in the 1950s. To be logical you would have to lament what we are actually spending money on now (i.e. predominately social welfare and healthcare) rather than the “fairness” of the distribution of taxation revenue.
    So – where do you want to cut to afford a Snowy Mountains Scheme, Alice – health? Social security? Where?

  7. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 15th, 2009 at 08:27 | #7

    John, the Rudd govenment should ignore the Opposition pleas for more assistance be given to the heavy-polluting aluminium industry as part of its deal to pass the Government’s renewable energy bill and instead give them the bird.

  8. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 15th, 2009 at 08:42 | #8

    John, today it has been reported that there is a push for a capital gains tax to be implemented on the upper crust’s wealth and tax theorists say the family home should be subject to same capital gains tax. How can anyone say no?

  9. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 10:32 | #9

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Of course the tax take has increased Andrew – so has the population. I note today they are thinking of sticking a wealth taxon houses above 2 million. Thats a start but it needs to go further than that in terms of improving equity in our tax system thanks to three decades of ridiculous low taxes for all under liberalism. The wealthy have gotten away with blue murder….swapping luxury houses every few years after their designers have done them up and all of it tax free..add that to the income tax reductions they have (under your views Andrew). I hope you will stop the denial re the growing in inequality in Australia also Andy…but I have little faith that you will. You persist with foolish ideas underlying which is the idea of trickle down. It isnt happening. It has trickled up – all the way.

  10. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 10:35 | #10

    @Donald Oats
    Don – who’d have thunk it? That rings a bell!!

  11. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 12:05 | #11

    Andy,
    Im having another look at these tax figures.
    In 1950 total income tax collected by the ATO from individuals represented 17% of total taxable income of individuals.

    In 1970 it represents 17% still.
    In 1980 it represents 21%.
    In 1990 it represents 22%.
    In 2005 its 24.5%.

    You are right total tax as a percentage of taxable income is rising for individuals and welfare is rising…maybe, just maybe because real employment for 35 hours a week and real jobs arent being created sufficiently by the private sector in this country.

    Look to unemployment and compare 1950 and 1970 with now because thats when unemployment started ratcheting up….lets start there. The age of de-regulation and trickle down arrived upon us after the 1970s.

    Its always going to be a bitter pill to have to do something about this …and governments have increasingly fiddled the unemployment number.

    Its now a nonsense number. For every school leaver who leaves next year and doesnt get a job , they muct do “trainin” (cheap tacky meaningless “trainin” is likely to be provided by private sector orgs here) before they can claim unemployment benefits but hey presto – once they are “in trainin” they arent counted as unemployed.

    What a crock that number really is. They just removed an entire generation of school leavers from its clutches.

    In reality its likely a lot higher when you consider underemployment casualisation etc.

    And both of you act shocked that welfare is higher????

    Now at a certain point, the liberals cannot go on demanding more tax cuts and greater de-regulation BECAUSE at a certain point there is a tradeoff. You want the freedom for industries to merge, consolidate and become mega suppliers but its at a loss to small business and employment.

    Why would CC Amatil hire many people when it can produce half of South East Asia’s bottled drinks demand in one robot factory.

    But we let them have freedom (theyve had it and run with it) Andy and its at a loss of jobs. Now why dont we ask CCAmatil if it pays any income tax here? Probably very little. But does it create jobs? Hardly. Would ten drinks companies have served our economy better? Would 200 farms have served our economy better than one large grazing company earning mega profits and paying not much tax? Would 8 supermarket chains be serving our economy better than two mega firms?Each time this concentration is permitted to continue in the name of de-regulation and lack of intervention Andy (and Jarrah) jobs are lost and people go on welfare and the unemployment rate climbs and welfare climbs.

    And, more pertintently has the government turned to the taxing of individuals more precisely BECAUSE it is less able to tax firms because they can freely shift their income elsewhere. Has de-regulation ad globalisation enabled firms to avoid tax (as well as the wealthy?).

    Is there a hole in the bucket such that ordinary Joe is paying more personal income tax to cover leaks?

    Neither of you two have any solution to the problem of rising welfare except to abandon people to starvation and homelessness is my guess and then sit back and proclaim “oh well – they have a motivation problem” when they dont – they have a tough labour market problem and an underproducing economy problem.

    Proceeding along your line of thinking (shrink the govt, pay less taxes) effectively castes those lost jobs and welfare recipients into the too hard basket.

    In 1950 unemployment was 1%. Today it is much much higher. Now you create jobs and you will cut welfare and THEN you will be able to cut taxes but you cut taxes now and it will be like pouring oil on to the fire…it will make us a 3rd world economy. It is a beggar they neighbour attitude.

    What is really needed is to raise income taxes, especially on the wealthier income earners and firms who have had some substantial reductions (one third of their percentage share since 1950), and invest in public infrastructure and create jobs and the sooner the better.

    You need to stop whinging about the government and income taxes and start thinking big and laterally, both of you.

  12. August 15th, 2009 at 12:23 | #12

    “re the growing in inequality in Australia”

    Alice, it’s important to specify which inequality you’re talking about for it to have any validity as a statement, let alone an argument.

    I just pulled Stillwell’s ‘Who Gets What?’ off the shelf again, and according to his figures (taken from the ABS), the Gini coefficient of inequality (equivalised disposable household income) has gone from 0.302 in 1994-5 to 0.294 in 2003-4 (the latest data available before publishing). The P90/P10 ratio has gone from 3.77 in 1994-5 to 3.70 in 2003-4. The share of total income for the lowest quintile went from 7.9% to 8.2% during the same period, while the share for the highest quintile went from 37.8% to 37.4%.

    That is, on three different measures, income inequality has fallen.

    Given it’s now 5 years later, I don’t want to overstate my case, but it’s highly suggestive, don’t you think? As suggestive as the 25 years of static tax burden I referred to earlier.

    Inequality in asset wealth has increased a great deal in recent years, but that’s less a feature of the taxation system and more to do with overly-cheap credit, housing policy, booming sharemarkets, and a host of other factors. It’s also the class of wealth that has been hit hardest by the GFC, so inequality there will have fallen from its peak, though I don’t know by how much.

  13. August 15th, 2009 at 12:48 | #13

    “Look to unemployment and compare 1950 and 1970 with now because thats when unemployment started ratcheting up….lets start there. The age of de-regulation and trickle down arrived upon us after the 1970s.”

    Your implication is clear, but I suggest you read up on Whitlam, wage (and tax!) hikes, the global recession of the early ’70s, stagflation, etc, etc.

    I also note that you’ve changed the subject again.

  14. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 13:08 | #14

    I suggest you read up on the changes to the tax regime implemented by the Fraser Govt in the tax year ended 1976 Jarrah.
    Whitalm found himself awash in tax income due to the inflation – and the suddenness but this was an INTERNATIONAL phenomenon not unique to Australia hence blaming it on wage increases (a local event) shows lack of understanding of the real drivers which originated in the US. The insidious changes to the tax system came in with Fraser and notably GDP growth slowed by half in the second half of the 1970s and unemployment reached the new wondrous NAIRU of double that of the early seventies and never got back down (never). Blaming it on Whitlam is weak jarrah and you are not looking at the right government. If you want a scapegoat – try Howard’s role as Treasurer back then and the role of conservative governments (and I wont excuse Hawke or Keating either who came later but swallowed the same liberalist lines).

  15. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 13:15 | #15

    @Jarrah
    Jarrah you read figures ending in 2003 from 1994??? get the bigger picture and look from 1975 on. Do some work. There are many different forms of income and I will look at your article but do some real long term analysis here. In terms of taxable income the Gini has gone from .27 to .38 in 2005. Risen by a third – greater inequality. And you want to show a 7 year comparison in a “equivalised” family income. Im not surprised with Howards middle class welfare but it isnt indicative of overall equality – no way Jarrah.

  16. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 14:18 | #16

    @Jarrah
    Also Jarrah – I refer you to Saunders who notes “equivalent income approach assumes resources are shared among household members according to their needs, an assumption that has been criticised by those who argue that intra household resource sharing reflects power relations that are heavily influenced by gender.”
    Saunders also finds – the mean income in the top quintile of annual income increases by six fold over the mean income in the bottom quintile between 1995 and 1999 and that, although mean incomes were rising during the period inequality has increased since the mid 1990s, particularly under the Howard Govt. This is confirmed by ABS analysis. Table 3 and commentary underneath.
    http://www.sprc.unsw.edu.au/dp/DP130.pdf

    Add that to the increase in equality after the 1980s and what we really have is a rising trend of inequality in Australia (the numerous studies since the 1980s patchwork together to produce the same result…..a rising trend of inequality – may suggest since the 1980s – I would suggest the triggers and the policies underlying this started in the mid 1970s with the Fraser Govt and liberalist views that were not unique to conservative governments, by any means.

    And now we do have a problem with a spurious unemployment figure. Utterly spurious.

  17. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 14:35 | #17

    The most obvious pattern that emerges from the myriad of equality studies done over the past three to four decades in summary Jarrah is this….the rich got much richer. Liberalist policies rewarded top income earners. The great boom before the GFC far and away accrued to the already rich. The tax changes we have had…far and away rewarded the already rich. The richest deciles far and away got MUCH richer since the mid 1970s while all others gained marginally here and there.
    That cant go on. It is not a real boom if only one class substantially benefits as the top income earners have. It was and it is a growing disparity over a long time trend, and that is now reflecting adversely in the unemployment figures, the rising youth unemployment, and the welfare figures.
    I call a spade a spade Jarrah and its a spade that liberalist trickle down theories should get to work and bury themselves with.
    The rising tide lifts all boats analogy is a sham. The rising tide lifted one boat mainly and that was the largest most expensive cruiser. Other boats have been sunk in its wash.

  18. Donald Oats
    August 15th, 2009 at 16:46 | #18

    And then there is the factor of who was employed – or more to the point, what gender dominated employment in the 50s, 70s, 80s, and now? The single income family could buy a 3 bedroom house on a small multiple of AWE, back in the 50s, 70s (until the “troubles”, anyway), but the deal ended with the demise of flares (a particular item of denim clothing best left forgotten on a rack in the local op-shop).

    A single income family is no longer representative – except where divorce or a some bloke doing a runner is concerned. That small multiple is a wee bit larger now.

    Anyone got actual figures or stats on this sort of thing?

  19. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 17:07 | #19

    Don in 1970 35% of taxable income earners were female. In 1980 it was 37.65%. In 1990 it was 43%. In 1998 (thats as far as I go) it was 44.6% of total taxable income earners. Between those years females increased at an average of 2.48% a year over prior year numbers, whilst males only increased by 1.03% a year (have to allow for population increases but its clear women working sufficient to earn taxable income has increased more ie double % each year relative to men).

  20. Alice
    August 15th, 2009 at 17:22 | #20

    And Don – I will bet my bottom dollar its because in real terms we have gone backwards. It did only take one income to buy a home pre 1970s. One income. Personally Im a late boomer and in some ways I (being honest) am sick to death of doing two (no three) jobs, and my husband doing one and half, to keep one bank at bay and being judged at work as if I only have one job. Bloody bank debt is gone at last with a lot of hard work from both of us – but I fear for my kids and rightly so.
    I dont think that increase in female numbers was always borne by “choice” Don – as liberals would have us swallow – more likely necessity. Same reason people are doing the family thing less these days. Cant afford it – not “choice” – just necessity.

  21. Ernestine Gross
    August 15th, 2009 at 22:19 | #21

    Alice, who introduced this fabulous instrument – called workplace agreements – to increase managerial power to redistribute income upward to managers?

  22. Ian Gould
    August 16th, 2009 at 01:02 | #22

    Alice, and of course at all costs we must ignore any qualitative difference in housing between the 1970′s and the present and we must also ignore the possibility that other items of consumption expenditure have icnreased in the interim.

    After all, if we didn’t make those simple assumptions, the eminent truth that millienia of Phallcocratic Gaea-rape by the capitalist oppressors are about to be ended by your elevation as Marxist/feminist Goddess/dominatrix might not be sufficiently obvious to the groundlings.

  23. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 07:30 | #23

    @Ernestine Gross
    IT was Jonhn Winston Howard and Costello had a lot to do with it as well, and I wouldnt mind betting “work choices”(ha ha – should be called employer choices) redistributed income away from women as well Ernestine.

    Oh and Ian Gould – you flatter me as ever, but I dont know enough about Marx to comment, to be frank. Feminist Goddess Dominatrix might be OK with me though.

  24. August 16th, 2009 at 10:46 | #24

    As usual, though Alice – you miss the main point. Housing now is a lot better than it was in the 1970s and we choose to consume much else. There are also a lot more people in our cities than there was back then. All of these combine to make housing more expensive. To try to make a case that living standards have gone down (as you do) you would need to eliminate these factors. I very much doubt you could sustain your argument if you did that – but I will not expect you to do the actual work to prove it, merely to make more unfounded arguments repeating these points. I have challenged you to do this many times before and you have always come up short.

  25. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 11:25 | #25

    Andrew – correct me if I am wrong but when housing has gone up as much as it has (and petrol, and travel expenses, and groceries bla bla) THEN living standards do actually go down Andrew because more of income is spent paying for living expenses (Oh DOH Andy and you have come up short yourself a few times……including on this point!). Housing is not better either Andy. Compare anything built after the 1970s – lots of 1970s units have concrete cancer yet smaller rise unit blocks from the 1920s, 1930s etc were double brick and pretty solid. Lots of stuff being built now is fast, rendered and cracks after a few years (units). Plus squeezier size, lower ceilings, poor soundproofing, rip off management deals etc. Most people know they are paying more for less space, less quality (units Im referring to).
    Im just amazed that you keep deluding yourself that “people are better off…and the world is all rosy”. Ill give you this Andy, you are nothing if not an eternal optimist.

  26. Ernestine Gross
    August 16th, 2009 at 11:36 | #26

    Alice, how is it that the removal of ‘work choices’ did not result in a removal of workplace agreements?

    My memory may be faulty but it tells me workplace agreements were introduced in or before 1995. If so, who introduced these instruments?

  27. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 12:34 | #27

    I think you are right Ernestine. I didnt read your question properly. We had enterprise agreements before workchoices and these are a form of workplace agreement. It possibly relates to

    This is what I do have Ernestine
    Workplace Relations Amendment (Australian Workplace Agreements Procedures) Bill 2000
    “The purpose of this Bill is to encourage the spread and use of Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) by reducing some procedures. AWAs were introduced under the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendment Act (WROLA) in 1996.

    The aim of the Bill is to make the procedures concerning the scrutiny and filing of these agreements easier, and to clarify operation and termination procedures. The Bill also expands the role and responsibilities of the Employment Advocate (EA) who reviews AWAs and files them.

    Looks like 1996 Ernestine?

    Id like to know why the removal of workchoices didnt result in AWAs going as well. I suspect they didnt completely remove it Ernestine.

  28. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 12:47 | #28

    Ernestine – I do have this.
    On 19 March 2008, a bill was passed in the Senate that prevented new AWAs from being made, and set up provisions for workers to be transferred from AWAs into intermediate agreements.[18]

    Hmmm Ernestine – it would seem it mainly prevents new agreements being made. But what, I wonder are the ‘Intermediate agreements.” This was the media take

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/19/2193974.htm

    but what are these ‘intermediate agreements’???

    Thats what I would like to know.

  29. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 16th, 2009 at 13:04 | #29

    Ernestine Gross, I take it you mean the conceptual development of devolution in authority and other reforms emanating from the Public Service Reform Act 1984 which brought changes to Australia’s IR system and the workplace.

  30. Ernestine Gross
    August 16th, 2009 at 15:19 | #30

    Alice and M.o.S.H., thank you for your replies. I owe an apology. I made a mistake in line one. I had in mind enterprise agreements but I wrote workplace agreements. The former evolved into the AWAs and, if I remember correctly, AWAs belong to a policy named ‘work choices’ and some changes have been made to the work choice policy and now we have an intermediate policy named, ‘intermediate agreements’.

    M.o.S.H., you are right, my primary interest is in the conceptual developments IR reforms. Thank you for the reference to the Public Service Reform Act 1984.

  31. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 16:42 | #31

    @Ernestine Gross
    That puts in square in Labor land after 1980 (the Labor Govts that swallowed the too liberal views IMHO Ernestine…was it a compromise that ultimatly went wrong… and of course the Coalition just couldnt wait to extend it to its core belief that “labour” should be fully flexible (repressed and rights stripped away) and employers would end up having the lions share of power and choice.

  32. August 16th, 2009 at 16:44 | #32

    Alice,
    You appear to have a serious survivor bias in your argument – but bias is what I expect. Most of the houses built in the 1970s (and for that matter earlier) that were of poor build quality have been bowled over for new houses to be put in their place. Ergo, you do not see much of the rubbish housing that was built in the 1920s – you only see the nice houses in the good suburbs. The average working man’s cottage of the 1950s, for example, was not built of “double brick and pretty solid”, the norm was weatherboard (frequently of asbestos) with a tin roof. Try building that today and local government would have your hide. OH & S would also laugh at you.
    As I have also said before (and you ignored) compare a recent Holden Commodore or Ford Falcon to their equivalent in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s equivalent. I can guarantee you they are cheaper now (as a proportion of wages) and much, much better. TVs, radios, food etc. etc. etc. are also much better and cheaper as a proportion of AWOTE.
    Of course, that is inconvenient to your argument, so feel free to ignore it as you have before.

  33. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 18:39 | #33

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Oh but of course you ignore the price of housing also Andrew dont you? The elephant in the room and in your argument.

    You know and I know if there was a serious interest rate rise our property market could be a bloodbath with the average mortgage values now. Just as the banks ended up owning a much larger take of the wool clip after the financial crisis of the 1890s I dont suppose you would object to banks owning a much larger percentage of our housing market either. Isnt that what you would call the creative destruction of the market Andy? You want to talk about some homes (the fibros or weatherboards – and I might say a lot of weatherboards still stand where I grew up so I dont have tunnel vision towards good suburbs Andrew. No 1970s and before houses have not been “bulldozed” -not to the extent you suggest. As for OHS – I thought that would be on your deregulation hit list wouldnt it Andy (are you suggesting OH and S has brought better quality housing??)

    Cars are cheaper. They crumple more in accidents though and are designed that a small ding will set you back by thousands for repairs (gone are the rubber bumper bars). So are radios cheaper Andy – but who listens to the radio? and dozens more imports are cheaper, especially older technologies, Andrew but we all know imports are a leakage anyway and many household appliances are being put together with cheap componentry – so they should be cheaper.

    I admit some of your argument (the fibros with tin roofs) but you dont take into account quality or old technologies but even you cannot ignore the elephant and that is the cost of the roof over ones head.

  34. August 16th, 2009 at 18:58 | #34

    Dear me, Alice. You show ignorance of many fields in this comment. For example – the reason cars crumple is to reduce impact force in an accident. If it is a choice between dying (as I would have in an 1968 Falcon) or living with a hefty repair bill (as I am much, much more likely to do in a new Falcon) I know which I would choose. If I choose to die then I can always get one second hand.
    Radios are cheaper – and I listen to one every single day in my car. Perhaps you have yours turned off as you do not like all this new fangled “FM” stuff that our grandparents did not listen to.
    Good to see you recognised that asbestos fibro housing actually existed – I thought from your previous comment that you thought that all housing built in the 1920s (back when valve driven wirelesses were rare and very, very expensive) had been brick and tile. Perhaps you prefer housing that was made of deadly materials, was cold in winter and hot in summer, cost a fortune to heat and had no cooling at all and was built on a quarter acre. Two bedrooms, a sleepout and a laundry and toilet outside was good enough for our parents so it should be good enough for us, hey?
    Face it, Alice. Everything that goes into the house is much cheaper and much, much better these days. The houses are much better. We can afford to build them much better. they cost more as a percentage of our wages only because we choose to have a lot more in them.
    The only real issue is land prices – and that is the only thing that the market cannot provide much more of – as the supply of land close to a city is fixed. It has been partially dealt with by reducing block size and building more medium and high density housing. This has the side benefit of improving the viability of public transport.
    Almost everything we could possibly buy is now cheaper (in wage terms) than it was even 50 years ago – and most are cheaper now (in the same terms) than they were 10 years ago. Deal with it.

  35. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 19:14 | #35

    Dont you “dear me” Andy – you sound like schoolteacher…Il have to call ABOM. As for whats on the radio……..instant press button computer put together muzsick.
    You gen doesnt know what music is Andy, in fact a lot of you still listen to 60s and 70s boomers music. Go on admit it! In some ways I preferred it when houses were smaller – it was good excuse to go meet the neighbours and get out of the house. Now people live in cocoons and many are lucky if they even know their neighbours. It started with those revolting US sitcoms that taught people that if they didnt have a spa a cuppacinno machine a caesarstone benchtop a massive floor to ceiling tiled bathroom they just werent cutting it? Overconsumption Andy. Cheaper just means more landfill and a throwaway mentality. Waste it because its there.

    You liberals mistake price for the be all and end all Andy and it just isnt. The price is not god, that we should live by it.

  36. ABOM
    August 16th, 2009 at 20:07 | #36

    Alice, if you want further ammo on the deteriorating quality of production in housing (and food, and virtually everything else) get your hands on Michael Rowbotham’s The Grip of Death:

    http://www.cfoss.com/grip.html

    Andy won’t survive hits from this text.

  37. Alice
    August 16th, 2009 at 20:08 | #37

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Andy – none of the price falls on those cheap imports you mention goes anywhere near the price rise of mortgages = net loss in real terms…

  38. August 16th, 2009 at 21:25 | #38

    @Ernestine Gross , you’re wrong with regard to IR in a couple of ways.

    Enterprise agreements didn’t ‘evolve’ into AWAs, and AWAs weren’t introduced with WorkChoices. AWAs were very different to EAs. An EA is still a collective agreement, while an AWA was supposed to be an individual one. They often weren’t, of course – a standardised AWA stripping conditions was offered to workers en masse. And AWAs were introduced in the first round of Howard’s IR changes, in 1996, IIRC, with the assistance of the Democrats (who passed this in the Senate). WorkChoices came later, and its main problem was that the first iteration of AWAs had a ‘no disadvantage’ test; you couldn’t be worse off on balance with an AWA as compared to the relevant award (although I don’t think that applied to a comparison with the relevant EA), and WorkChoices removed this ‘no disadvantage’ test.

  39. Donald Oats
    August 16th, 2009 at 23:15 | #39

    Weatherboard houses and the like were not built all over the land. I have lived in several South Australian towns (Adelaide is just a big town :-) , Murray Bridge, Mount Gambier) and visited dozens more. Stone – good Mount Gambier limestone as one example – is found in many of the older homes built pre-70s. Sweeping verandahs and high pitched roof were common features. But the big thing, the thing that made these properties intrinsically better than a modern Mawson Lakes eyesore, was the block of land with its almond, plum, apple and orange trees, tomatoes and carrots, beans and the like. Backyard cricket with enough room to have two wickets set up. Common block sizes were approx 780sq metres, and 1400sq metres.

    On the other hand, in the present, every Xmas at Mawson Lakes there is some poor kid wondering how the heck to set up their Totem Tennis present – the instructions start off with In your backyard place the totem pole in the ground with at least 3 metres clear around it.

    Not everything in the good ol’ days was worse than now.

  40. Ernestine Gross
    August 17th, 2009 at 08:56 | #40

    Alister @ 38, thank you for the clarification of detail. It may well be that in some cases the distinction between ‘collective agreement’ and ‘individual agreement’ matters, although the instances where ‘individual agreements’ do not involve a ‘collection of interests’ would exclude the corporate sector.

    If I may pick your knowledg base a bit more: Would you agree that it was the introduction of Enterprise Agreements which was the crucial change in the institutional environment because the basic unit of analysis was no longer pay and conditions for a particular type of work done (a proxi for the economic notion of ‘a commodity’) but ‘the enterprise’ – a legal entity?

  41. August 17th, 2009 at 11:52 | #41

    So, Alice – you are basing your whole argument – lock stock and barrel – on the price of housing? Everything? If I were able to show that housing prices (as a proportion of wages) were actually lower now than they were then, then you would concede that you were in fact wrong and that things are better now? Is that the case?

  42. Alice
    August 17th, 2009 at 13:14 | #42

    @Andrew Reynolds
    If you are going to show me some data collated by the Commonwealth bank Andrew – dont even think about it….

    You find me some housing data that uses the Ontario measure which is internationally recognised, and includes a benchmark where those people below the 40th percentile of a distribution of household income is incurring housing related costs in excess of 39% of their gross household income. That is a very different measure to those commonly cited in the media (and why wouldnt the Commonwealth bank push the latter ? Its business is selling loans).
    Get some OECD stats Andrew. Like OECD economic outlooks (issue 2, 2005) which, showed Australia’s housing was overvalued in 2004 by 51.8% compared to the UK of 32.8%.

    Then read this

    http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/housing/pubs/housing/national_housing_supply/Documents/chap5.htm

    I dont want any bank / real estate institute studies thanks. They both have a vested interest in keeping people buying.

  43. August 17th, 2009 at 18:41 | #43

    @Ernestine Gross, I think the introduction of EAs was a crucial change. Thinking about it briefly, while a basic notion of equity is equal work for equal pay, the award system can allow for this (which was one of my problems with WorkChoices – it deliberately undermined equal work for equal pay). EAs allow for variation based on the notion that work isn’t intrinsically equal between enterprises. But there have been other changes to industrial relations that are important as well. On solely the institutional level, then EAs were a major change, and perhaps the major change. But I don’t think it’s required to focus on the institution and IR. Other systemic changes would also be important, and I’m not sure that it’s helpful to focus on just one of the changes in IR.

  44. August 17th, 2009 at 19:49 | #44

    Alice – could you answer the question please? Do you base your entire case on the housing element?

  45. Alice
    August 17th, 2009 at 20:26 | #45

    Give me whatever you have git then Andy!

  46. Alice
    August 17th, 2009 at 20:26 | #46

    got that is

  47. Alice
    August 17th, 2009 at 20:27 | #47

    stats Andy – give me your stats – this will be interesting!

  48. Ernestine Gross
    August 17th, 2009 at 20:31 | #48

    Alister @ 43, page 7, again thank you for your reply. Yes, ‘equal work for equal pay’ is an element in the basic notion of equity, as I understand it, and awards within a centralised wage fixing system is, in principle, consistent with this idea.

    A crucial problem with enterprise agreements is that a constraint on management is relaxed. That is, management is no longer forced to act competitively in the labour market by having to take prices (awards) as given. I am not advocating a return to the exact system of centralised wage determination but for a version thereof.

    Collective bargaining (ie union representation) is not resolving this problem because the ‘bargaining’ takes place on an enterprise level. In some situations, individually negotiated contracts (eg in the professions) may even be better than collective bargaining(because one has one boss rather than two possibly equallly unqualified representatives – the IR staff of ‘the employer’ and the union representative of ‘the employee’).

    So, ‘work choices’ may be dead but the more fundamental problem remains.

    Of course, not all the economic problems have been caused by the introduction of enterprise agreements and the abolishion of this corporatist instrument will not solve all the economic problems. That much I certainly can agree with.

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