Friday 29 December 2017

Whither Inequality?

Inequality (size and functional: labour shares) has been a matter of increasing interest for a while. The work of Thomas Piketty and associates, popularised in the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street global movement, only added impetus to that trend.

Incidentally, living in a capitalist world, one would have thought that concern not only reasonable, but obviously so. After all, the question of who gets what seems clearly vital.

Saturday 23 December 2017

The Season of Hope?


So this is Christmas, as the old song says.

There are objectively more horrifying, devastating, heart-crushing images, to be sure. In a real sense, however, the sheer revulsion this image produces gives it a deserved claim to notoriety.

That photo shows the mouth of a 32 year-old citizen of the richest, most prosperous and democratic capitalist nation ever: humanity's self-appointed beacon to success and freedom. Presumably, it's a recent photo.

As far as I can tell, that man has no name. At least I haven't seen it anywhere (a matter of confidentiality, I suppose). He is one in 41 million Americans living in poverty. (See also)

How did we get to that situation?


There are probably way too many answers. One, however, is relevant here: lack of solidarity. The idea that one looks after oneself and the devil take the hindmost.

409 Australian working families will be having a difficult Christmas this year. They are fighting for their rights and, by extension, for ours. They are our brothers and sisters, they are family.

Perhaps it's too late for our American brother, but it may not be too late for those Aussie workers.

If you can chip in, please do. Tell them that you care and you are with them. Tell them that there's hope in unity.

Merry Christmas.

Monday 11 December 2017

Capitalism for Dummies: Slavery and Taxes.

It's been two years since Adele Ferguson and Sarah Danckert (Fairfax Media), plus a Four Corners team (ABC News), exposed the wage-theft practices entrenched in 7-Eleven Australia and affecting foreign workers, largely on 457 and student visas (the kind of courses advertised overseas as "permanent residence courses": you, the sales pitch goes, pay to get a beautician qualification, say, and -- welcome to the capitalist paradise Down Under! -- you get a resident visa).

In the intervening years a string of similar cases came to light, affecting not only 457 and study visa holders but also working holiday tourists (aka backpackers). It wasn't just 7-Eleven either: small and big businesses in all sorts of industries were involved. Nor it was just a matter of bosses stealing wages: often female foreign workers were being sexually harassed or abused or even forced into prostitution.

Monday 4 December 2017

Capitalism for Dummies.

Or Everything you Always Wanted to Know About the Turnbull Booby Trap Masquerading as Banking Royal Commission but Were Afraid to Ask.

Everybody who is somebody in politics, business, finance, and economics journalism in Australia has written about the Turnbull Royal Commission. This is a list gathered by All-Knowing Google. There you'll find the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Saturday 2 December 2017

Banking Royal Commission or Anti-Union Witch-Hunt?

In my last post I wrote that I was skeptical about the Turnbull royal commission on banking and I thought I was being a sophisticated, savvy bloke. Nothing can surprise me, I thought.

God, I was mistaken. In reality, I was being awfully naive.