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John Passant

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April 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Attack the real bludgers, Gillard

Julia Gillard’s attack on welfare could have come out of the mouth of Tony Abbott so disgusting was it.

Evidently there has been this recent outbreak of mass laziness and Labor ‘won’t pay for someone who can support themselves.’

Let’s leave aside the fact that that is precisely what our tax system does for business and the super rich, channelling tens and tens of billions to them.

We need to put this Gillard attack on the unemployed and disabled into some sort of context.

During the Global Financial Crisis unemployment skyrocketed across the developed world. In many countries it reached double figures. 

Australia’s unemployment rate went from 4.1 percent in August 2008 to 5.9 percent in May and June 2009. It stayed around there for a few months and then began to fall so that today unemployment is 4.9 percent.

These figures don’t tell the whole story. Australia has one of the highest underemployment rates in the OECD. This is the number of people who want to work longer hours but can’t.

During the GFC there was a large increase in the number of people working, or forced to work, less hours. According to the ABS  in ‘May 2010, there were 837,000 underemployed workers and 610,000 unemployed people. The underemployment rate was 7.2% compared with the [then] unemployment rate of 5.2%.’  For the September quarter 2010 there were 733,000 workers underemployed.

In other words the system cannot provide enough jobs or hours for all those who want to work. So what does Gillard do? She attacks those whose work desires capital cannot meet and denigrates them.

There is a worker and skills shortage in some industries. Forcing people into the workforce – including people on disability pensions – frees up some workers to move to those (often remote mining) jobs, or so the Gillard theory seems to go. The aim is also to reduce pressure on wages. More workers looking for work drives down the competition for workers.

Unemployment and underemployment are not caused by individuals. The profit system produces them. It cannot provide adequate jobs for all at a living wage.

Gillard obviously thinks ‘dole bludgers’ – yes that phrase has come back thanks to Gillard’s dog bark against welfare – are an easy political target. All she is doing however is making the rhetoric of the Opposition acceptable on this and a range of other issues.

We live in an unjust society. This is a society where bosses take as their own the profits we create.  Labour creates value, not capital.

The owners of capital are the real bludgers. But Gillard won’t attack them. She is, like the rest of the ALP, their servant.



Comment from Caity
Time April 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

Enjoy reading your posts. I looked for a share button so it could be posted on facebook (which I don’t like but ‘do’) and twitter which is fantastic as a news and educational tool – but didn’t find one. Can I humbly recommend this?

Comment from John
Time April 15, 2011 at 7:30 am

Yes. I post them there too.

Comment from Graham Dooley
Time April 15, 2011 at 8:28 am

John, your strict dichotomous view of the world makes for heavy reading, but I persist. I agree it is truly dreadful politics to kick the unemployed as a supposedly homogeneous group of “lazy” people. I recall high school economics teachers telling me that anything around 5% unemployment was truly miraculous, so I find the obsession with sniffing out any unemployed somehow not trying hard enough to get off the dole a bit pointless. I know people in the job search business who will tell anyone who asks that there are simply not enough skilled unemployed to fill available positions. Not that the unemployed are all unskilled, just not skilled in the right areas (i.e. where the available work is). You think this is a problem whose root cause is the struggle between labour and capital. To me this is as simplistic as the “lazy dole bludger” cliche being rolled out by the major parties to show their target audiences they are more worthy of their vote.

Comment from Graham Dooley
Time April 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm

“Unemployment and underemployment are not caused by individuals. The profit system produces them. It cannot provide adequate jobs for all at a living wage.” Damn that system! Let’s all live in a socialist utopia instead. Yeah, everyone on the same wage whether they work a 16 hour shift or don’t choose to get out of bed at all. Whether they choose to seek education opportunities in fields with skill shortages or not. Whether they are prepared to travel to find work or not. That should work, shouldn’t it? I humbly submit that your whole world view is simplistic and belongs in a time long, long again – if it belongs anywhere.

Comment from Julia’s shame
Time April 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Well espoused John, you’ve nailed it. Shame on Julia Gillard for promoting what I see as cruelty to many vulnerable people, using a seemingly populist policy – is this an attempt to re-create “wedge” politics again? (see Wikipedia – Tampa)

Comment from Ross
Time April 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Australia has a $ 1.4 tillion economy.Each year we have 3% inflation + 3% growth which gives us 6% increase in the money supply. Our old Commonwealth Govt Bank + 4 State owned banks used to create a large % of this new money debt free.Now with the sale of these banks all this money that private banks create in their computers is created as debt,when in the past it was used to build infrastructure debt free or the profits from Govt Banks lessened our taxes.

6% of $ 1.4 trillion is $ 84 billion that we have to pay to private banks plus interest when in fact should be created by Govt Banks debt free.So in going from a debt to a credit, the loss for all Australians is $168 billion pa plus interest.When Keating and Hawke sold off the Commonwealth Bank that was the beginning of true debt slavery.We have no money for basic services, infrastructure, medical etc. $168 billion is over $15,000 pa for every working person plus interest .This is why 2 people work long hours to pay the debt to the private banking system and still cannot afford a home.

So contact your local member and tell them you want a new Govt Bank.Credit Unions cannot create new money via the Fractional Reserve System of Banking.They have to borrow from private banks.

Unless we reverse this debt money system for the creation of new money for growth and inflation, our children do not have a future.The more growth we have here,the more debt we incur.China creates 80% of its’ money via Govt Banks.Private Banks should only be allowed to loan out money that already exists.They can still be viable businesses but not so heavily subsidised.

This is a must see “Secret of Oz” by Bill Still
L Frank Baum in the “Wizard of Oz” had a deep economic meaning for us all ,but we missed it.This documentary by Bill still has won the International Biff award in 2010 for best documantary.Your concept of money and the injustice this debt based monetary system has wrought on humanity,will bring you into an era of new enlightenment.

Comment from Calligula
Time April 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm

“Anything you can do I can do better” Inspirational, wasn’t it John?
Trust you enjoyed the clip included with the concept.
Sometimes these blogs need some colour/humour.
All your work compiling this article.
Best I can tell – an accurate synopsis right down to the last line.
You have friends and colleagues in agreement – confirming what you’ve written.
I note we even have the exception that proves the rule here.
Hi Gra.

I know that if I asked him Mr. Dooley wouldn’t be able to tell me what scares him about equitable distribution of wealth and resources.
It’d be easy to dismiss him as a Hobbsian fundamentalist or something – but by mentioning that he’d probably be back at my pages, barking.

But there is the root of it.
What scares these people so much about the concept of sharing?
Isn’t that (through specialisation and stockpiling resources, etc) the foundation of civilisation?

Can’t they see that civilisation is debased and eventually destroyed when too many exploiters are permitted to go their own way with complete disregard for the ‘hive’?

Do they really expect that the lower castes will keep on slaving from dawn to dark to support their late rising time?

I asked that last ‘cos I reckon that Dooley is a ring-in, a cuckoo.
Whether he’s a dole bludger I don’t care. But I reckon people who carry on that way are not the sort who can be relied upon in any enterprise.

And I reckon that their’s matches the ethics of our politicians

PS – ONYA Ross

Comment from Tony
Time April 16, 2011 at 12:24 am

Dooley: Using your definition of “miracles”, miracles were commonplace pre-1974, just back before neo-liberalism grabbed centre stage. From 1955-76, average unemployment was 2.1%, from 1976-present it was 7%.

Surely you can do better than amateur hour economic analysis? At least do some research before channeling the IPA or CIS.

As for your comments on wage determination, I think you will find that wage differentiation based on skilling may still exist under socialist governance, although it could differ from one worker enterprise to another. The key difference is the rentier “profit bludgers” (to use John’s phrasing) aren’t given a free ride.

By all means be critical, but please do your research.

Between 1954 and 1974, unemployment averaged 1.9 percent, and it only once exceeded 3 percent (in 1961, when a government-initiated credit squeeze caused a recession that almost resulted in the defeat of Australia’s then Liberal government, which ruled from 1949 till 1972). Inflation from 1954 till 1973 averaged 3 percent, and then rose dramatically between 1973 and 1974 as unemployment fell.

This fitted the belief of conventional “Keynesian” economists of the time that there was a trade-off between inflation and unemployment: one cost of a lower unemployment rate, they argued, was a higher rate of inflation.

But then the so-called “stagflationary” breakdown occurred: unemployment and inflation both rose in 1974. Neoclassical economists blamed this on “Keynesian” economic policy, which they argued caused people’s expectations of inflation to rise—thus resulting in demands for higher wages—and OPEC’s oil price hike.

The latter argument is easily refuted by checking the data: inflation took off well before OPEC’s price hike.

The former has some credence as an explanation for the take-off in the inflation rate—workers were factoring in both the bargaining power of low unemployment and a lagged response to rising inflation into their wage demands.

The Neoclassical explanation for why this rise in inflation also coincided with rising unemployment was “Keynesian” policy had kept unemployment below its “Natural” rate, and it was merely returning to this level. This was plausible enough to swing the policy pendulum towards Neoclassical thinking back then, but it looks a lot less plausible with the benefit of hindsight.

Though inflation fell fairly rapidly, and unemployment ultimately fell after several cycles of rising unemployment, over the entire “Neoclassical” period both inflation and unemployment were higher than they were under the “Keynesian” period. So rather than inflation going down and unemployment going up, as neoclassical economists expected, both rose—with unemployment rising substantially. On empirical grounds alone, the neoclassical period was a failure, even before the GFC hit.”

Comment from John
Time April 16, 2011 at 7:58 am

Tony, from the early seventies the tendency of the rate of profit reasserted itself and the ruling class haven’t really been able to restore profit rates to the levels of the 50s and 60s. neoliberalism was the ideological cover for the attacks on workers’ living standards that attempted to restore profit rates.

A bout of Schumpeterian creative destruction might do that but the consequences might be so horrific that the cure kills the patient. Hence the propping up of the banks etc across the world.

My argument is that this stagnation of profit/attacks on workers are systemic and that a better world – of production organised democratically to satisfy human need – is possible.

Comment from GraDool
Time April 16, 2011 at 9:33 am

ho hum, all the usual suspects, Cal (stream of consciousness is all a bit passe mate, try some proper sentence, para construction once in a while, I guarantee you’ll get taken more seriously then), Tony (all those stats and links and cool terms, you did all that for me? I’m flattered) and John (your hearts there of course but the goal is impossibly unrealistic), name me one socialist state where the equitable distribution of capital and labour has worked or is working and then I’ll consider taking all this verbage seriously. Your point about gutless politics is valid but your eternal argument that it’ll all change “come the revolution” is just a bit pedestrian don’t you think? Over to you GD

Comment from Tony
Time April 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

Agreed, John. It is becoming quite apparent our system is so tenuously functional, that something has got to give. Maybe the collapse of millions of Australians retirement savings in super funds will be be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Comment from John
Time April 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

Actually I argue for fighting back now to protect our interests now. That is the urgent task today for workers. Cutting off the flow of profits or stopping business as usual does that. I don’t even mention revolution in this article Graham so how does that fit into your stereotyping of my arguments?

Socialist states? Ah, you mean the Stalinist state capitalist regimes do you? No, they had and have exactly the same problems that capitalism in the West has – overaccumulation, the need to lengthen the waking day, drive workers’ living standards down etc etc.

Socialism is the democratic organisation of production to satisfy human need. The ‘socialist’ states weren’t and aren’t socialist.

Comment from GarDool
Time April 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

Here, I’ll start you off with these:

John, your whole position is starting to look a bit frayed at its edges mate. Nice theory, shame about the reality.

Absolutist arguments are fine in these little alcoves of the web but they bear no relationship to the complexities of reality.

Comment from John
Time April 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

So Wikipedia is your absolutist version of the truth? I prefer analysis. I know lots of groups who are called Christians by others. Does that make them Christians?

See the materialist reality – the lack of democracy, the rule of a tiny elite who decide what is produced, where investment and reinvestment occurs etc. Nothing absolutist about that understanding, other than your use of the term. Nothing frayed around the edges with this approach. It has been a consistent Marxist approach for over 90 years of socialist resistance to Stalinism.

Comment from John
Time April 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

Ah yes, the complexities of reality. Lucky we have such great thinkers to show us this reality. That is especially so of US politicians like Bush and Obama isn’t it and Australian thinkers like Gillard, Rudd and Howard.

Comment from John
Time April 16, 2011 at 11:33 am

Does socialism exist in the world today?

The two souls of socialism

What do we mean by socialism?

Cuba: why stalinism isn’t socialism

Comment from GraDool
Time April 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

There are so many shades of grey, you seem to be living in a black and white world: good vs. evil, capos vs. poor old workers etc. It’s all a bit simplistic and your targets can easily point this out to you, yet you persist with this simplistic world view. Just so obviously pointless.

Comment from John
Time April 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

I’ll stick with my simplistic, absolutist and pointless world view. Nothing black and white about my view. But hey. Stick with your stereotypes and continue to get your analysis from Wikipedia. That should really help you understand the world.

Comment from GraDool
Time April 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I expected that response but it still disappoints. You are obviously not unintelligent and I respect your right to blog about pretty much anything (which it appears you do with a vigor bordering on obsession) but you don’t know much about people outside of your idealogical milieu if you think what you write has any likelihood of engaging a broader audience. This is why at elections the Left do so poorly so regularly (Greens are an aberration in my view, just wait ’til Bob retires and then I expect their appeal will slide). And if you aren’t focused on electoral acceptance then you are just navel gazing – which is your right of course, but that’s all this is. Oh and Tony, your sombre hope that the super system collapses just goes to show how much of a working class friend you are. Good one mate, let ’em starve eh? Yes, that’s good public policy on the run. Back to your books mate.

Comment from Ross
Time April 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Gradool ,you talk of dole bludgers what about the banks bludgers.This is the most subsidised industry on the planet.I’ve explained it all to you so now perhaps you can enter a real debate.

Calligula,John and others NB.You will notice that our inflation rate very methodically follows our growth rates,except when the banks keep rates too low for too long.This has not happened since the late 1980’s.Our system must have inflation in our debt money creation by private banks,otherwise there won’t be enough money in the economy for it to function.I said previously,the more growth we have,the more debt we incur. So to keep money in our econcomy the banks must create inflation but inflation depreciates our currency.It is really counterfeiting.This is why they say inflation of 3-3.5% is acceptable.It is necessary because our increases in GDP are expressed at debt.We don’t own our GDP,the banking system does.It takes possession of our GDP by creating the money that equals it and then loans it back to us as debt.It is like stealing from your neighbour and loaning the money back at interest.

30% of our mortage money gets borrowed from OS.This is why our balance of payments is constantly in deficit.They try to blame it on consumption and the fact we don’t save enough.How can people save when they are taxed so much to service debt? How can anyone save when house prices are so over inflated via the restriction of supply?

Our monetary system is totally stuffed. It is totally unfair puting all the wealth in the hands of a few and it destroys real productivity.

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