Wednesday 27 July 2011

Strange Salary Surveys

So, here we go again:

"ALMOST two-thirds of large companies are considering hiring staff from overseas to overcome skills shortages, according to a recent national salary survey by the Australian Institute of Management." (See here)

It may be just a detail, but doesn't it sound unusual to the reader that a salary survey should reveal hiring intentions, discriminated by origin? More on this at the end.

Anyway, the idea is that Australian labour demand exceeds supply for construction and engineering, sales and marketing and manufacturing/trades, nurses, childcare workers, cooks, hairdressers and butchers, at the professional and technical level.

If demand exceeds supply, one is told, prices should rise as a matter of course, until markets clear. In the labour market, employers compete with each other, via higher wages/salaries, to attract scarce workers. That's the way of the market, isn't it?

Not in the Australian labour market, it seems, according to Mr. Garry Brack, CEO of the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries (formerly known by the more apt name of Employers First):

" 'As the resources sector continued to expand, the construction industry in particular would suffer increased difficulties in filling jobs because of the higher wages offered by mining companies', he said".

That is, the construction industry cannot compete against the higher wages offered by the mining industry, and so wages cannot go up: bring up extra workers. Isn't that a curious statement for a free-market devotee?

First a little detour: how many additional workers will the mining industry require?

"Wilhelm Harnisch, the chief executive of Master Builders Australia, agreed [my comment: with Mr. Brack], calculating that in the next five to 10 years, the mining sector would recruit an extra 60,000 to 80,000 workers, and those from the construction industry were a natural fit."

In other words: the mining industry would require between 6,000 and 16,000 additional workers a year to fill new positions, plus an unspecified number to replace retiring baby boomers, as Mr. Harnisch mentions somewhere else.

The astute reader might have a question, partially answered by Mr. Harnisch: what kind of impact that labour demand would have on the building industry?

" 'With a building workforce of a million, it will certainly hit us hard,' Mr Harnisch said. 'It will not be as catastrophic as some are saying, but [it] is a concern'."

I don't know how hard it would hit them or how much of a concern it should be, as Mr. Harnisch seems to be talking about 0.6% to 1.6% of the building industry's workforce. But I certainly agree that it shouldn't be much of a catastrophe at all.

Now, back to the main theme: with an underutilization rate of 12% (as of May 2011, according to ABS 6202.0), shouldn't employers find more profitable to increase labour supply, through traineeships and apprenticeships?

This is what Mr. Malcolm Tulloch, state secretary of the CFMEU, believes:

" 'Companies don't commit to providing resources to train Australian school leavers,' he said. 'There has been a neglect in this [area] for well over a decade and now Australia is feeling the pinch'."

But, the reader might object, a trade unionist would say that, wouldn't he?

And the reader would be right, of course. However, interestingly, in this Mr. Harnisch agrees with Mr. Tulloch:

"Of equal concern was the structural shortage within the industry, he [my comment: Mr. Harnisch] said, as (...) the dropout rate among apprentices continues to be as high as 50%.
"Mr Harnisch said low starting wages, unmet expectations of school leavers and poor training were behind the dropout rate."
[Emphasis added]

So, let's gather the scattered pieces:
  1. Demand exceeds supply for construction and engineering.
  2. Building industry cannot compete with mining on wages.
  3. Building industry concerned about labour shortage.
But apprentice and trainee wages didn't increase... Is it me or something isn't right?

And there you have it: the Australian labour market does not clear by prices/wages rising until scarce supply increases to match an elevated but decreasing demand.

The Australian labour market, it seems, clears by supply matching demand, while prices/wages remain low: supply increases until it matches demand. And the additional supply does not come from within Australia.

This explains why a salary survey shows that Australian employers intend to hire overseas workers.


30-07-11. The lines written in blue were suggested by reader K-PUT and greatly improve the understanding of the text. Thanks K-PUT!

Monday 25 July 2011

Norway: Let's Try with Images

So, let's try with images, as it appears fellow lefties had a lot of difficulty understanding my warning.

The footage below shows Prof. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber's climate change presentation in Melbourne, last week, being interrupted by an opponent to the idea of anthropogenic climate change:

This is how I interpret the scene:

  1. The display of the "carbon-free noose" constitutes a symbolic threat to Prof. Schellnhuber.
  2. The person making the threat must be considerably radicalized to take that step.

I don't know Schellnhuber's politics. From his Wikipedia entry, I couldn't glean anything. For all I know, he could be entirely disinterested in politics, be an ultra-conservative or a liberal, a Fabian socialist or a Marxist.

However, in this link, he is being accused by the noose-holding man of being a "Green Fascist" and a "British agent".

The first conclusion I draw from the episode is that there's probably just a little step between a symbolic and an actual physical threat.

I suppose it takes some really radicalized people to carry out a physical aggression. But as the video shows, there are some people considerably radicalized already, although perhaps, hopefully, not radicalized enough. This is my second conclusion.

My third conclusion is that Schellnhuber's real political beliefs are not relevant to a potential aggressor; his position on the climate change/carbon tax debate is all it takes

Does it mean he is under imminent danger? I don't know; hopefully not.

Should he change his views, whatever they are, just because some people are angry at him? That's not for me to answer.

The only thing I can say with certainty is this: in my view, he should be careful.

Now, exercise a little imagination: put yourself in the role of presenter; change the topic of the presentation, from climate change to multiculturalism (which you support); and change the accusation, from "Green Fascist" and "British agent" to "cultural" Marxist.

After these imaginary changes, does the resulting scene differ in any meaningful way from the scene above?

Now imagine you heard for the first time about this last weekend's events in Oslo, Norway.

Whatever subtle changes, they appear only after Anders B. Breivik and are for the worse: threats are no longer necessarily symbolic, and we do know that there are people radicalized enough to carry out physical threats.

And your real political beliefs mean shit: if you support multiculturalism, you are a "cultural" Marxist. Full stop. In fact, you are a "cultural" Marxist even if you actually are a "capitalist globalist", for Christ's sake!

Whoever is to blame for this situation, for the purposes here it's immaterial: if you spoke in favor of multiculturalism, you are a potential target.

True, Australia is not Norway post-Breivik. But Norway wasn't Norway post-Breivik one month ago, either.

I close my case.


If the reader is a lefty, and wants my advice, it's simple: don't fool yourself into the sense of false safety reflected in the newspapers.

However, what you make of the above is up to you.

Sunday 24 July 2011

The Beast and Norway

"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them." (Rev 11:7)

I hesitated before writing this post.

I have other things to do, which for one reason or another I never manage to finish.

Further, it's a gruesome and sensitive subject. I am loath to trample on the tragedy of good people living at the other side of the world and I ask them their forgiveness, if this post in any measure adds to their pain.

But I can't keep silence on this matter.

Let me state this in advance: I am an agnostic.

The Beast of Revelations exists. It walks among us and it poisons our souls.

It's infinitely more powerful than any man and it's immortal, because it's not made of flesh. If anything, the Beast is worse than anything the Bible tells us, because, unlike its biblical counterpart, the Beast is real, not the product of a mystical mind.

And it has many faces. This is one of its faces:

He made war against them, he overcame and killed them.

A middle-class Norwegian, 32 year old Anders Behring Breivik described himself as economically liberal, revolutionary cultural conservative, former member of the Progress Party (largely anti-tax movement, supporting downsizing of bureaucracy and increased market economy), which he left when his viewpoints became more extreme

I can't vouch for the reliability of the YouTube video [*] purported to be the manifesto of  Anders Behring Breivik (aka Andrew Berwick) and of a so-called Knights Templar movement, as it starts with a Legal Disclaimer.

Assuming said video legitimate, it identifies some malignant and mysterious entities called "cultural Marxists" as the persecutors of conservatives and nationalists and, for some unexplained reason, sponsors of the Islamic colonization of Europe (aka multiculturalism).

It goes to some length to identify who these "cultural Marxists" are:
  1. "Marxists,
  2. "Suicidal humanists, and
  3. "Capitalist globalists".

It also pinpoints some institutions as strongholds of Marxism/"Cultural Marxism": "A Marxist United Nations" ("already a Muslim controlled organization") and the BBC:

It also expresses with regret:
"No executions, persecutions or mass deportations of Marxists to the Soviet Union was (sic) ever initiated in Europe, which has proven, in retrospect to be fatal for our continent."

In its Part 4 the video proposes to correct this situation, before starting their crusade against Islam:

"Before we can start our Crusade... we must do our duty by decimating cultural Marxism".

It is in this context that the ruthless murder of 92 innocent people (mostly kids) must be seen.

Are these just the ramblings and doings of an isolated madman, as suggested by the media?

It's possible. I sincerely hope the media is right on this.

However, the video also states in its Part 4:

"The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, referred to as the Knights Templar, was re-founded in April 2002 in London (...) KT acts as a War Crimes Tribunal through its independent and self-sustaining single-cell network of Justiciar Templars whose purpose is to target category A and category B multiculturalist/cultural Marxist traitors (...) 12 conservative revolutionary delegates from 10 European countries, France, the UK (England), Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Greece, Spain, Russia and Serbia attended the founding meeting."

We should heed these words as a warning, even as we hope they are not true.

If you listen carefully, you will hear the Beast's voice on the radio and TV; if you pay attention to what you read in Internet forums, blogs and printed media, you will find similar ideas.

For the Beast, the real one, is made of a supernatural substance: ideas. And in Australia, politicians of both main parties, shock jocks, and paid hacks from think-tanks, often speak these words, even if they are not fully aware of it (and often, I wonder if that's the case).

Decency, justice, solidarity, equality, freedom, peace, all the things the Left stands for, are losing the battle of ideas.

As I finish this, night has fallen over Sydney. It's a dark and cold night.

It's ominously appropriate.


[*] I will not post the links to the video or to the PDF manifesto, as I consider them rubbish and immoral. Any readers vitally interested can find them by themselves.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Images From Syria

I will add no comment, you be the judge:

"Uploaded by AlJazeeraEnglish on Jul 1, 2011

"Activists in Syria are claiming the largest turnout yet against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and that 11 people were killed at the hands of security forces.

"The deaths occured in Homs, Damascus and Latakia on Friday, activists say.

"Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from Damascus, the Syrian capital, on how Fridays prompt a host of demonstrations, both for and against the president."

"Published on Jun 24, 2011 by AFP

"Pro-democracy protests in Syria passed their one hundredth day this week. 
"Demonstrations against the rule of Bashar al-Assad began on 15th March. The resultant crackdown by Syrian security forces has left more than 1300 people dead - and despite calls by Assad for 'national dialogue', the protests show no signs of stopping."

Sunday 10 July 2011

NotW News

Whaddaya know? Everybody and their dog are talking about Mr. Murdoch's fall from grace.

I hear UK PM Mr. Cameron might be turning his back on Mr. Murdoch; opposition leader Mr. Miliband is calling for prosecutions and such.

And now, The Guardian, in an opinion piece on the subject, contains the following (emphasis added):
"Meanwhile, US law may enter the fray. A former Labour cabinet minister has alerted attention to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes an American company (News Corp) liable for colossal fines if any employee bribes a foreign official (the Met police) even if no one at head office knew. What's more, any whistleblower inside the company (sacked News of the World reporters), stands to win a percentage of that fine if they report acts of bribery."
Kind of ironic, really: isn't self-interest what makes capitalism tick?


Tuesday, 12/07/2011. The SMH reproduces a Telegraph, London piece, signed by Christopher Hope: "Heir Apparent Could be Charged in US and Britain".

Among other things, this piece states:

"The US Foreign Corrupt Practices (FCP) Act makes it a crime for US companies to offer corrupt payments to foreign officials. If the allegations of payments to police officers totalling more than £100,000 ($149,000) are proven, Mr Murdoch might face a US prosecution and the News Corp empire might face a bill of more than $90 million.
"In Britain, Mr
[James] Murdoch's admission that he made out of court settlements to victims of phone hacking could leave him vulnerable to prosecution under anti-snooping legislation.
"Alan Johnson, a Labour MP who served as home secretary under Gordon Brown, suggested that Mr Murdoch could be charged under the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act, which covers the 'criminal liability of directors'."