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Race to the bottom

July 29th, 2010

I restarted the blog so I could comment on the election, but I’ve found it too depressing to do much. The major parties are engaged in a race to the bottom in every respect, announcing silly focus-group-driven policies and appealing to the worst instincts of the electorate. The mass media have encouraged this, obsessing over trivial scandals and personality issues and disregarding our real economic and social problems. The only serious hope for progress on policy is the Greens but they remain marginalised. I’ll try to offer some discussion of the Greens policies on various issues but at this point, I think, there is little reason to follow the main campaign.

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  1. Fran Barlow
    July 30th, 2010 at 12:45 | #1

    @Jim Rose

    How I would do it would be as follows:

    1. two year prior to required time from pool of persons willing to be a local candidate:

    a) generate randomised shortlist (say 20)
    b) exclude those with evident conflicts of interest, criminal records, dead, no longer interested/available etc
    c) top up pool as needed
    d) identify skills needed for various parts of policy formation the candidate is interested in;
    e) provide professional training modules so that policy ideas can be refined and developed
    f) provide support for candidate to develop and circulate initial set of key ideas for policy and to gather and acquire feedback
    g) Supply candidate with personal assistant(s) to manage dialog with public, publicise his/her policies
    h) Supply candidate with a stipend not less than his or her average taxable income over the past 12 months or average full-time earnings, whichever was the greater up to a maximum of twice AFTWE.

    After 1 year, candidates report on professional progress and redraft 10 areas of policy for web-based deliberative voting at secure site. Over 1 week, electors log-in and rate both the significance of the policies in their value system and their support for the policies as outlined. Each significance rating would be out of a total pool. Thus, if someone thought that “economic management” was the most important of the issues specified by the candidate and rated that as 45% of their vote, the other 9 issues could only amount to 55% combined. An algorithm would then score that elector’s candidate rating. Those who had served once before might get a slight weighting.

    At the end, the findings would be published, candidates ranked and interviewed and allowed to respond. Some might wish to alter their opinions and message, and of course, they would continue to get professional training for their future roles.

    About 1 month before the successful candidates were to take up their roles, the process described above would be repeated. Again the candidates would be scored, the two ratings summed and each candidate given pro-rata chances based on their standing in a random lotto-like selection. The candidates would be drawn out with the first successful and the others ranked. In the event one was ejected from parliament for any reason, then the first alternate would step in. When the parliament ended, the complete pool would be sent away, thanked for service and allowed to draw the stipend for a further two years tax free, so as to transition them back into regular private life.

    Ultimately, this is how the parliament would be composed.

    Direct democracy would be used to devise national plans. At the start of each year, the previous national 4-year plan, would be either affirmed or amended. If it was amended, then the plan as amended would be put to the public for affirmation. At any point in the life of the parliament the support of 10% of the public for an amendment would compel a debate on the measure, and if this was rejected, the proposers could put this to a national vote. If the measure was voted down, then neither that measure nor any substantively similar measure could be put again for 2 years. If accepted, the national plan would be amended.

    In all cases, the parliament’s task would be to work to realise the national plan through tis programs.

    Direct democracy could cause the removal from parliament of any person. In the event that 10% of the public sought removal of a particular person or persons, a recall plebiscite would be held, and if successful that person would be replaced by his or her first alternate. In the absence of proven criminal misconduct, the person would retain their stipend.

    That is how I would do this. I have no doubt that in such a system, we would get a whole range of people, including a great many like Bob Brown, and even if a given parliament were a little light on greens, direct democracy would do an end run around the logjam of those opposing worthwhile policy. The public could force matters onto the agenda. No party could run the parliament or wedge any other party, holding an issue hostage to partisan advantage. Over time, we would have an engaged and informed voter pool who believed their opinions were relevant, because even those who had failed would have been trained and become more aware of the demands of the role. Political parties could influence the composition of the parliament only by popularising ideas and persuading people to rate candidates in this way, which is of course exactly what political parties are supposed to do (as opposed to being vehicles for arbitrating state and private privileges).

    In the end, parliament would become a place where you could hope to write to members and get sensible responses, rather than cant and where rather than one tribe feeling it had lost, everyone would have to try and work out what the result meant, based on the likely alliances over various issues. We would all have to stop focusing on the trivial and tribal and start focusing on the issues.

    Gosh … now there’s a troubling thought.

  2. Jim Rose
    July 30th, 2010 at 13:40 | #2

    @Fran Barlow
    wasn’t the very purpose of the ALP from 1901, when it was initially one of several parties, and the greens, to as you say about, “holding an issue hostage to partisan advantage” because of the intensity of what those parties believed and their importance of their agendas to the wider society, once they had enough time to persuade the rest of the public of this.

    The purpose of political parties is to popularise ideas and then present a slate of pre-screened candidates committed to delivering on these ideas, to controlling each other to ensure they stay staunch, and have a defined and published world-view or ideology on what they will do when various contingencies arise. A market for assurances arises through political brand-name capital.

    Rudd is out because he destroyed his political brand-name capital by betraying the voters on signature issues. A conviction politician is one who has invested is so much brand-name capital that they know they are finished if they change their views. People vote for them because they know what they will get. When the brand is betrayed, voters punish this unfaithfulness severely – execute one, educate a thousand.

    The labour parties in Oz, NZ, and UK were forming governments a few years or decade or so after getting their first MPs elected. They had to prove themselves on the opposition benches and in prior fields of public service such as the unions and then win out at elections against other world views.

    Much in the design of constitutions is about slowing the impassioned majority down. James Madison’s main worry was that: “In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger.”

    More later when I have a chance to give a considered response to your thoughtful posting.

  3. Fran Barlow
    July 30th, 2010 at 14:02 | #3

    @Jim Rose

    wasn’t the very purpose of the ALP from 1901, when it was initially one of several parties, and the greens, to as you say about, “holding an issue hostage to partisan advantage

    Now it is the opposite though. Consider this, these days, despite the fact that probably 65% favour an early exit from Afghanistan, neither party can afford to look “soft” and risk voters concerned about “national security” in marginal seats, so both parties adopt nearly identical policies, swear their respect for the job the troops are doing and utterly prevent anything like an examination of the usefulness of the occupation. Indeed, Abboott, fore reasons that have nothing to do with the wisdom of the move, is proposing more troops.

    One could cite other examples. On any issue in which a moral panic can be raised, regardless of the merits of the issue or the popular support for it, not only will neither party campaign for it — neither party will even permit a discussion that can lead anywhere. How that encourages people to pay attention to substantive issues and do their civic duty is hard to see.

    Of course, unless one puts a value on people caring about governance or notions of informed consent and legitimate mandate then that’s not a bug, but a feature.

  4. July 30th, 2010 at 14:11 | #4

    Fran,
    Issues:
    a) generate randomised shortlist (say 20)
    Controls would have to be in place, but no problem here.
    b) exclude those with evident conflicts of interest, criminal records, dead, no longer interested/available etc
    How will you define “evident conflicts of interest? Those that are evident to who, exactly?
    c) top up pool as needed
    Controls would have to be in place, but no problem here.
    d) identify skills needed for various parts of policy formation the candidate is interested in;
    Who would do this identification – for example, if the person was interested in climate science, would everyone be happy if MacIntyre did the identification?
    e) provide professional training modules so that policy ideas can be refined and developed
    Similar problem as with (d) – who does this?
    f) provide support for candidate to develop and circulate initial set of key ideas for policy and to gather and acquire feedback
    Similar problem as with (d) – who does this?
    g) Supply candidate with personal assistant(s) to manage dialog with public, publicise his/her policies
    Similar problem as with (d) – who does this?
    h) Supply candidate with a stipend not less than his or her average taxable income over the past 12 months or average full-time earnings, whichever was the greater up to a maximum of twice AFTWE.
    So – the well qualified that earn more than this would be effectively taking a pay cut to do this sort of work? You will end up with a lot of well-qualified people who may refuse to serve for financial reasons.

  5. Fran Barlow
    July 30th, 2010 at 15:08 | #5

    AR asked:

    How will you define “evident conflicts of interest? Those that are evident to who, exactly?

    If someone, for argument’s sake, earns substantial income from acting on behalf of a commercial interest e.g. as a lobbyist for some large pharmaceutical or energy or defence supplying company, that might be pertinent. In many cases, providing that the interest was on the record and he or she recused from issues directly germane, this might be allowed through. Perhaps a suitable judicial officer could consider these things and report on them to the Speaker.

    Who would do this identification – for example, if the person was interested in climate science, would everyone be happy if MacIntyre did the identification?

    It would be purely professional. Steven MacIntyre wouldn’t qualify because he has no relevant professional qualifications. That aside, a person would specify the areass in which they were especially interested — and if it included climate policy (not science because parliament is about policy rather than the science per se) then courses in the relevant fields bearing upon policy would be offered. Some of these would include a grounding of course in the basic corpus of the science and of course the argumentation, including that put by such as MacIntyre.

    Of course, a parliamentarian is going to need to know his or her way around adminstrative process, matters of ethics and due dligence, learn about the key stakeholders in a variety of areas, the scope of legislative power and so forth.

    This would best be done by people working for the parliament who would seek out suitable training providers and professionals to undertake the work and negotiate with the candidate over how this might be best done. After all, in the end, what we want is to give each candidate the best shot at being cjhosen and then if he or she is, effective as an MP.

    So – the well qualified that earn more than this would be effectively taking a pay cut to do this sort of work? You will end up with a lot of well-qualified people who may refuse to serve for financial reasons.

    Serving in parliament is supposed to be a public service — a civic donation, rather than a gravy train. If some of the highly privileged don’t see it as worth their while, I’m OK with that. It is from such people we get most ethical problems, and which most engender the low standing of MPs. Right now we have a parliament dominated by people who are lawyers or have business connections. As we have seen, that hasn’t worked out very well at all. They feel much closer to “Big Filth” rather than working people. And realistically, could it be otherwise as presently configured? Hardly.

    Having people who are honest and competent and who know this is not going to be a career for them — that all or most of their satisfaction will come from having done a good job — seems a much better public policy framework than having arrogant business-frendly carreerists run the show, even if they do have 20 IQ points and ten years more experience in the field than the people who get chosen.

    I don’t want mistakes — even honest ones — but I prefer that risk to things I know are simply the product of the pursuit of reckless self-interest. I think it much more likely that the parliament that would emerge from the process I’ve described would rapidly correct errors before they became costly, because amongst all of them, andf the public at large, there would be a vehicle for raising problems and offering alternative solutions that couild be considered on its merits.

    Right now, that’s simply not possible. A minister can’t admit a mistake without detroying her/his career and perhaps damaging her/his party’s fortunes at the polls. So the tendency is to cover up or deny all objections, to pretend black is white and to spin and dissemble in public. A minister can’t say: You know what … I never thought of that, but this actually that sounds like a better idea … on the other hand, this might be worth considering too because [...]

    Anyone who did that would be damned as a clueless dimwit and as increasing business uncertainty. Frankly though, I’d find that refreshing, if the person in question seemed to be genuinely and robustly working through the issues and being honest about whwere he or she was with it.

  6. Fran Barlow
    July 30th, 2010 at 15:19 | #6

    Once more on MacIntyre

    If the candidate had an interest in the mining business and wanted, for example, to develop a state-based mining sector, and the retired mining executive MacIntyre were willing to develop a training program to fully inform the candidate of the challenges involved in an Australian context, then he might well have something useful to offer. Of course, that would be something the candidate him or herself would negotiate with the relevant public officer.

  7. Jim Rose
    July 30th, 2010 at 16:14 | #7

    @Fran Barlow
    A thought experiment
    Instead of 65% in favour an early exit from Afghanistan, suppose 65% is in favour tougher border protection, would the role of their elected representatives be to be ambassadors for the same 65% of their electorates or to be representatives offering their best judgments on how to run the affairs of a nation as Edmund Burke has argued for the latter.

  8. Fran Barlow
    July 30th, 2010 at 16:40 | #8

    @Jim Rose

    Instead of 65% in favour an early exit from Afghanistan, suppose 65% is in favour of tougher border protection, would the role of their elected representatives be to be ambassadors for the same 65% …

    In such circumstances I imagine that something very much like 65% of the parliament would be in favour of “tougher border protection”, whatever that meant. there would be something about it in the National Plan. One thing is certain though, the issue would not be about how given political parties messaged a relative handful ignorant xenophobes in marginal electorates.

    Instead, those that favoured tougher border protection would have to explain what it meant, not just in theory but in practice. Those that found it objectionable on any basis could stand up and say so and try to rally the public behind their position. None of those would fear speaking from their conscience because 100% of them would know that this was their one and only shot at serving the country. At the end of the discussion, we really would have had a national conversation in which people made up their minds what they wanted and proposals would have been put and won or put and lost.

    And at the end of the parliament all would depart, replaced with new folks who could, if the saw fit, resume hostilities on the issue. Parliament really would be about debating the big issues and getting everyone to have their say.

  9. July 30th, 2010 at 16:52 | #9

    Fran,
    So if someone expressed an interest in economics, would it be Quiggin or Kates that would get to set the education – or would you put both of them in, together with representatives of social credit, Marxism and other non-fashionable schools? Or would you trust a judicial officer to make the call?

  10. July 30th, 2010 at 18:33 | #10

    @Andrew Reynolds

    So if someone expressed an interest in economics …

    If someone who was underqualified in considering economic policy, in their opinion they might well take a university course in the areas of economics best suited to making up their cognitive deficits. They would consult with the public officer who would work out an education plan for them. If a course run by PrQ were available and he was the person best suited to their academic needs, that course might well be chosen.

    It’s important to note though that although the candidate would be wise to accept some guidance on these matters, in the end, the choice of properyl accredited programs would be up to him or her and subject to what was available at that time. The purpose of the program would not be to nudge candidates in a particular direction, as you seem to be implying, but to allow the candidates to acquire the knowlkedge and skills they felt they needed to make the best candidacy and the best of their time, should they survive sortition.

  11. Jill Rush
    July 30th, 2010 at 23:53 | #11

    “The mass media have encouraged this, obsessing over trivial scandals and personality issues and disregarding our real economic and social problems. ” The sexism in the treatment of Julia Gillard is something that is truly grotesque.

    Quite right Prof Q. The press coverage has been very different with articles rarely revealing policies but serving them up in precis form if at all to the readers and viewers. For instance the water announcements yesterday and today are both unclear.

    In the past there would have been considered analysis of the policy whereas now there is analysis of the secret coded messages of who says or doesn’t say what.

    This is not a new trend but it does seem that now it is entrenched to the point where an Abbott government is no longer unthinkable – merely because he has said very little but been photographed with children a lot.

  12. Tony Abbott for PM
    July 31st, 2010 at 10:24 | #12

    Please, the only progress the Green’s offer is a one way ticket to living standards equivalent to those of the third world.

  13. Ernestine Gross
    July 31st, 2010 at 10:49 | #13

    Tony Abbott for PM :Please, the only progress the Green’s offer is a one way ticket to living standards equivalent to those of the third world.

    You are wrong because, even if what you say about the Greens would contain a grain of truth, which I don’t say it does, they would be too late in offering ‘a one way ticket to living standards equivalent to those of the third world’ because the master minds of the GFC and those who confuse short term accounting profits with sustainable economic development have issued this ticket a long time ago. Have a look at the data on the thread on Who has gained from the inequality boom? This data indicates that the so-called developed world is approaching conditions that characterise many countries in the so-called ‘third world’. Incidentially, there is only 1 world.

    In case it is not clear to you, my post is not aimed at defending the Greens but rather at objecting to silly scare mongering.

    Who knows, the real Tony Abbott may not even like your nonsense.

  14. Alice
    July 31st, 2010 at 10:53 | #14

    @Tony Abbott for PM
    The liberals workchoices would have given most of us a one way ticket to living standards equivalent to those of the third world, whilst the captains of industry were permitted to luxuriate in excess as a reward for their powers of innovation and considerable donation prowess.

    What makes you think the Liberals in Australia have changed their core philosophies TAPM?

    Im giving the greens my vote because they are the only honest party in the country… they dont take donations and because Rupert Murdochs media shouldnt decide the countrys’ government. My vote is a vote against the strong political interfence (and bullying) by the media in Australia.

  15. Jim Rose
    July 31st, 2010 at 12:26 | #15

    @Fran Barlow
    I do not see why your reforms are needed when it is so easy to get elected to parliament and it is easiest for single issue parties.

    There are independents in the federal houses and in state parliaments and Nick Xenophone and Brian Harradine got quotas in their own right. Others got seats through preferences or influenced who did get elected.

    Tasmanians reject political parties in their legislative council with rarely more than two ALP members. The liberals did not even contest seats until recently. Local government is often the path for Tassie MLCs.

    The last and most powerful piece of political information we all see before we vote is the same.

    The ballot paper which contains the candidates’ names and parties that endorses them as sound and trustworthy vehicles for what a voter might want to change, keep and do.

    Citizens band together to form a political party around a common world-view.

    The defining act of parties is endorsing standard bearers at elections that best represent the ideologies and policies for which the party elicits voter support.

    Parties invest great resources into making their party names distinct and trusted brand names for certain approaches to governance.

    The ALP, Liberal Party and country party were quickly into government in various ways a few years after their founding. The Australian democrats and greens quickly won seats too.

    Even someone as ignorant, inept and unable to work with others such as Hanson won over a dozen seats in various parliaments for her rabble, and some of these lingered on past the next election as bad infections sometimes do.

    Antony Green used 2007 NSW senate results to the predicte election of Patrice Newell for the Climate Change Coalition if there had been a double dissolution in 2010.

  16. Jim Rose
    July 31st, 2010 at 16:24 | #16

    @Ernestine Gross
    Gender analysis! Gender analysis! Where is your gender analysis?

    Editing for relevance, you say “Have a look at the data on the thread on who has gained from the inequality boom? This data indicates that the so-called developed world is approaching conditions that characterise many countries in the so-called ‘third world’.”

    Gender will always be a difference in analysis, and most of all in the presentation of social and economic trends.

    The gender gap in employment, earnings, and occupations closed massively since the death throws of the good old days of the old left, the new left and the left over left, which is when Australia was briefly under Whitlam, but mostly under Menzies.

    Women have entered the labour market in unprecedented numbers into better and better paid jobs and career since the good old days ended 4 to 5 decades ago.

    Working women did not increase their labour force participation and earnings by taking more from a fixed pool of jobs and work to be done that men had previously reserved for each other and sent the displaced men to take their places back in the kitchen. Male employment rates held up with complicated ups and downs in earnings due to skill-biased technical change.

    Economic inequality has been on a roller coaster ride during the past century due to slowdowns and speedups in the demand and supply of skills. Demand has also increasing for low-paid in-person service occupations pushing up employment and the wages of low-skilled workers – see the work of David Autor.

    Australia’s gender wage gap of 17% for full-time workers is just below the OECD average of 17.6%. see http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/the-gender-wage-gap-around-the-world/

    New Zealand’s gender wage for full-time workers is second lowest in the OECD area at 10%. Obviously, the spawn of Rogernomics, labour market deregulation and low rates of union membership. Imagine how much smaller the NZ gender gap would have been if there had been no Rogernomics, no labour market deregulation and high rates of union membership? That is the question.

    p.s in measuring the quantity and quality of life, did you take into account increasing life expectancies around the globe as evidence of an inequality boom.

  17. Ernestine Gross
    July 31st, 2010 at 18:09 | #17

    @Jim Rose

    I didn’t know that you also post under the name of ‘Tony Abbott for PM’ or are you only this commenter’s assistant. Take this as a rhetorical question which does not require a reply.

    As for gender analysis, I am absolutely bored with this topic. My grandmother would be bored with it too, if she would still be alive; she was an equal during her life-time. If you continue with this gender analysis side-track, I’ll post in defence of men – well some of them – or I’ll ignore your gender analysis stuff altogether. Such are my Baysian expectations about HR-men who analyse ‘gender issues’ that I can tell you right away I have nothing good to say about them at all.

    I do know that historically females in the upper echelons of the income and wealth distribution haven’t had a big problem with gender inequality. It is the lower segments where women have a tough time, with or without gender analysis. So the overall important point is that of JQ’s post.

    You are obviously searching for other ‘inequalities’ than that which is the topic of the thread. Here are some:
    The size of houses differ
    The shoe sizes of people differ
    The hight of people differ
    The weight of people differ
    The life expectancy of people differ
    The size of noses differ among people
    etc. etc.

    But, the topic of this thread is income inequality. And, it is an important topic in Economics (other than intellectuals who qualify for v. Hayek’s notion – second-hand dealers in ideas).

  18. Alice
    July 31st, 2010 at 18:15 | #18

    @Jim Rose
    The gender gap has barely closed in 30 years JR. Where is your stats or should we take it as a given because “you say so.”
    Its still there…gender gap..alove and kicking. No one in any industrial employer sector wants to pay for child raising. Same as its ever been.
    It usually falls on Mum.

  19. Jim Rose
    July 31st, 2010 at 18:30 | #19

    @Alice

    see http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Chapter8002008

    on australian social trends of women.

    “In 1982, women aged 18-64 years received 31% of all income received by men and women in this age group. By 2005-06 this share had increased to 38%. Nearly all of the increase in women’s share of total income occurred in the 13 years from 1982 to 1995-96, while in the decade to 2005-06 women’s share of total income changed little”

    labour force participation increased from 48% in 1982 to 61% in 1995, and to 67% in 2005.

  20. Alice
    July 31st, 2010 at 18:39 | #20

    @Jim Rose
    So JR – there is still a gender gap huh? One hundred, two hundred years later when many women are now working??
    Be thankful for small mercies…is that it? 31% is absolutely jack JR when it should be 50%.

  21. Jim Rose
    July 31st, 2010 at 19:25 | #21

    @Alice
    you said “The gender gap has barely closed in 30 years”

    you are not gracious in error

  22. Jim Rose
    July 31st, 2010 at 21:21 | #22

    @Ernestine Gross
    Those on the Left seem to pride themselves on believing that they have the facts and better arguments on their side and they almost take glee in pointing out that the Right, its moral turpitude aside, is wrong on what policies make society a better place.

    Gender analysis is uncomfortable for you because it would require you to admit rapid and substantial economic and social progress for one-half of the population all around the world and much of that progress was in the decades when the hated neoliberalism was on the rise in developed and under-developed countries.

    At bottom, your response was to devalue and disempower one-half of the population. Social democrats are supposed to be about ensuring all people have the tools of freedom, opportunity and advancement. You should celebrate advances – instead you grumble.

  23. Ernestine Gross
    July 31st, 2010 at 21:40 | #23

    @Jim Rose

    And you should stop writing your presumptions about other people as if they were facts. It is simple, Jim Rose. I find your posts exceedingly boring. So please stop addressing your posts to me. Thank you.

  24. Jill Rush
    August 1st, 2010 at 00:17 | #24

    So Jim Rose #22 there had been an increase of a few percentage points when the workplace relations still recognised equal value for equal work. It was this principal which was starting to be implemented in 2006-07 so the impact wouldn’t show up in the figures you quote. However let me give you a hint it was lower than the proportion the year before. This is why Tony Abbott keeps having cook offs. He wants women to forget that under the Liberal government legislation women would be and were worse off.

  25. Alice
    August 1st, 2010 at 08:38 | #25

    @Jim Rose
    Jim Rose – to correct your obvious misunderstanding on the gender gap – The following years and numbers show one gender gap ut an important one. The actual income reported to the ATO comparing the difference between the female percentage share of physical presence in total taxpayers and their percentage share of aggregate ATO actual income. The percentage amounts show the difference between their presence as taxpayers and the percentage of aggregate income they command.
    If there was no gender gap each percentage amount would be zero.

    It has not changed at all since 1976. The gender gap is alive and well and still with us forty years after women’s liberation (and two hundred years after settlement).

    1976
    1977
    1978
    1979
    1980
    1981
    1982
    1983
    1984
    1985
    1986
    1987
    1988
    1989
    1990
    1991
    1992
    1993
    1994
    1995
    1996
    1997
    1998

    7.77%
    7.24%
    6.90%
    7.33%
    7.64%
    7.96%
    7.78%
    7.62%
    8.11%
    8.40%
    8.30%
    8.41%
    8.38%
    8.20%
    7.89%
    5.99%
    7.86%
    7.71%
    7.00%
    7.67%
    7.78%
    7.89%
    7.75%

  26. Alice
    August 1st, 2010 at 08:46 | #26

    Jim Rose – if you are wondering what happened post 1998 (the John Howard years). The female statistics were not able to be ascertained as the ATO ceased reporting certain female statistics.

    This is convenient to governments who are not committed to reducing gender inequalities.

    So JR your comment that the “gender gap” has fallen since the 1970s isnt verifiable because you have no statistics at all to back such a claim. Hence I will put it straight into the “mythology” basket.

    The ATO may have resumed reporting certain female statistics now – I dont know. But “missing” female statistics are nothing new in history either.

    Apparently no females ever worked in the goldfields in the 1850s/60s.

  27. Jim Rose
    August 1st, 2010 at 10:23 | #27

    @Ernestine Gross

    more that happy to accept that you are not a social democrat

  28. Jim Rose
    August 1st, 2010 at 11:47 | #28

    @Alice
    You say that “So JR your comment that the “gender gap” has fallen since the 1970s isnt verifiable because you have no statistics at all to back such a claim.”

    My statistics shwoing a major increase in women’s share of total income start at the end of the 1970s – 1982 to be precise. Here is more:

    • 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, 1998: “In 1954 women made up 23% of those employed. By 1998 their share had increased to 43%. Much of the increase has come from women with families working in part-time jobs.”

    • 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, 1995: “Much of the difference between men’s and women’s earnings can be explained by the different hours that they work and the sorts of jobs that they do.”

    • 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, 2001: In 1982, 33% of all income was received by women. By 1999-2000, this had increased to 38%. This growth was mainly the result of the increase in the proportion of women working.

    It is possible that the gender wage gap widened in the 1970s in the death throws of the social democratic good old days. Apparently, the Menzies era is the social democratic dreamtime.

    Indeed, the gender wage gap did widen in, for example, the USA from 1950 to the end of the 1970s after 60 years of solid progress – there is a large literature on this.

    The gender wage gap in the USA started closing again rapidly from the start of the 1980s with the onset of the darkest years of neoliberalism. If the gap had continued to widened, I am sure that Reagan would have been blamed exclusively.

    The reason for the widening of the U.S gender wage gap in the decades up to 1980 is large numbers of women entering or re-entering the work force with relative little work experience so they started in entry level jobs with lower pay. This compositional effect reduced the average wage of women.

    The gender wage gap started to close again and rapidly in the 1980s because of the much greater average work experience of working women and the greater educational qualifications of female first-time entrants.

    The wage gap is better explained by the asymmetric marriage premium. Getting married helps men’s income and makes women worse of because of career interruptions and child rearing. Women tend to anticipate this in the educational, occupational and job choices to mitigate the effects.

  29. Alice
    August 1st, 2010 at 13:50 | #29

    Jr

    You cannot express the gender gap in terms of absolute increases in women’s physical workforce participation as you have with your 4102.0 stats above. The gender income gap must necessarily be expressed in percentage terms which take into account percentage increases in female workforce participation over time as I provided you at post 25.

    Of course we would expect women’s percentage increases in total share of income to accompany their percentage physical workforce participation increases.

    This is not a gender gap.

    A gender gap exists when womens physical participation percentage climbs but it still exceeds the percentage climb in their share of income…as I provided you with above for aggregate income reported to the ATO. One important aspect of those numbers is the sheer immensity of the data source (all reported ATO individual taxpayers annually). The ABS stats are based on a much smaller surveyed sample size extrapolated for a start. However, Im sure the ABS has superior gender gaps statistics available to you than those you refer to above.

    The difference cannot be explained by the work they do alone. Yes women work more part time and lower paid jobs but so do many young people. However, if it were the case that differences in work patterns explain all – then the gender gap for full time female workers in Australia is even higher as you yourself noted at 17.5%.

    The key point I make is that the gender gap as referred to in my post above has not decreased since the 1970s . Its still a mans world and women should be very careful who they give their votes to. Women’s issues have very much fallen from the policy radar since the 1970s and 1980s as well. I would even suggest under John Howards conservative leadership, women’s concerns actually took a major retrograde step but no major advances came out of the Hawke / Keating years either. I see nothing encouraging in current conservative party politics. Childcare costs are prohibitive, childraising time is ignored and women suffer major career interruptions as is obvious by the rather large gender superannuation gap.

  30. Jim Rose
    August 1st, 2010 at 15:54 | #30

    @Alice
    Do women earn what men earn in a similar job with similar education and experience? What is your source?

    Is there a gender wage gap between unmarried women and unmarried men? Is it as large as between married men and married women?

    Do more men than women graduate from university these days?

    Marriage and motherhood can explain a large portion of the gender pay gap.

    There is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles.

    For example, comparing the U.S. wage gap between women and men ages 35-43 who have never married and never had a child, there is a small observed gap in favor of women, which becomes insignificant after accounting for differences in skills and job and workplace characteristics. See 2005 NBER working paper “What Do Wage Differentials Tell Us about Labor Market Discrimination?” by June O’Neill.

    How can these unmarried women be earning more than unmarried men in a man’s world, as you claimed it is.

  31. Alice
    August 1st, 2010 at 16:08 | #31

    @Jim Rose
    Seems to me the gap you claim became “insignificant” JR. Perhaps one demographic has realised equality. Overall there is still a long way to go….unmarrieds who dont have children…. yet.

    I mentioned this as a major factor in the gender gap. There is no recognition for the national service that is the activity of raising children (per Menzies own words). Its not a “lifestyle choice”. Its not a “luxury”. Its not choosing a “home entertainment system”. Its a necessity for governments and business and the economy.

    If we cant afford the decision to pair and have children then things are truly grim. One child is fine, given overpopulation IMHO, but a generation with “none” may well prove a disaster to all those in retirement.

    Balance is the business as usual.

  32. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 1st, 2010 at 16:45 | #32

    Alice, ABS figures released on 20 May 2010 show that the gender pay gap has now widened to 18%.

  33. Alice
    August 1st, 2010 at 17:06 | #33

    Yes well Moshie – we have to put up with the mythologists in here dont we?
    I dont think the gender gap is really on any leader’s mind in this country – same as it ever was – we need to move to Sweden for that.

    Should be but it isnt….Its been downplayed for two decades and retrograded by JH ( like living in the fifties but without a union for protection of your man). In fact the historical record of any advance on gender inequalities is pretty abysmal in Australia. Its a blokey sort of country. Even the office for the status of women became dominated by Julie Bishop types (office for women of status). Nice liberal girls who do what they are told and think what they are told.

    Take the minimum wage legislation way back at the turn of the century. In one case a woman was deemed to be worth “two thirds of a man” in a particular occupation (how many occupations was that the case?). How long did that last?

    Only about 50 years. Every time they increased the minimum wage – the poor woman got two thirds of the increase…..

    She was better off in the late 1800s with a small core of domestic helpers instead of the 1960s going off to work with the wondrous labour saving devices (vacuum cleaners and washing machines instead of domestic help) supposedly to help the domestic goddess…

    Now – no domestic help, labour saving devices aplenty but someone still has to push, load or unload them and work in an office till 6pm as well as do the pick up / drop off run for the kids (alas few labour saving devices will auto run the kids around).

    Its no picnic and its income impairing into the long run, but its one thats completely off the policy radar. Have not heard sight nor sign of female gender gap / superannuation gap concerns in this election campaign despite the spectacular crash of Eddy Groves along with a lot of families work stability no doubt.

  34. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 1st, 2010 at 17:12 | #34

    Alice, even worse is the superannuation gender gap whereby in 2007 the average superannuation balance for men was $87,589 compared to $52,272 for women.

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