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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Reality television « Previous | |Next »
July 26, 2004

Nicolaus Mills' article, 'Television and the Politics of Humiliation' in the Summer edition of Dissent, says that at a time when the election debate over the economy should be about the race to the bottom that is occurring as a result of the outsourcing of middle-class jobs and the growing number of families facing increasing costs for "universal" health care, reality television culture is telling us that empathy has no place in our lives or culture.

An example Mill's mentions is the Survivor programme. In this game show:

"Contestants are placed in an exotic wilderness setting, usually a South Pacific island, with which they and their audience are unfamiliar...the contestants are divided into teams and pitted against each other in challenges, typically canoe races or building a shelter, decided upon in advance by the show's producers. The losing team must send one of its members off the island, and the climax of the show comes when a vote is taken and viewers get to see who has failed to make the right friendships (contestants are encouraged to form alliances with each other) or told the best lies (one contestant tried to win sympathy by claiming that his grandmother had just died). There is no waiting cab for the losers. They are ushered out...into the night...[with] the money shot...built around exclusion."

It is a hard mean competitive world. We have to do what we can (a bit of nip and tuck) to get by and become successful. Losers are elbowed out of the way through the rules of the game.

The same ethos runs through Big Brother and Australian Idol. Life is a performance. In the former show the contestants live with a bunch of strangers, watched by hidden cameras and recorded by tiny microphones.I find it sizzling in a boring way but I could not help note the high degree of surveillance; much higher than the surveillance of the American embassy in Canberra. Big Brother says surveillance is normal and perfectly acceptable.

Maybe Channel Ten will come up with a reality porn show; one based around watching porn on the Internet, with the contestants saying that it's life, not porn.The ethos of this reality show would be that porn is good.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:15 PM | | Comments (1)


Tom Donahue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered a few gems of insight in a recent report on the issue of outsourcing/offshoring jobs.

1) He supports offshoring/outsourcing of quality jobs in the U.S. It helps U.S. businesses remain competitive, more profitable and generates an attractive rate of return.

2) It's a sign he claims of improved productivity and not a movement of jobs overseas.

3) He claims "...that by the year 2010, we will NOT have a shortage of but rather a shortage of workers."


Some people disagree:

* The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA reports together with Forrester Research that over $136 Billion in wages for US white-collar workers will be lost by the year 2015.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics

"In early June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics downwardly revised projections for white-collar job growth for 2002-2003, based on accelerated job migration. The agency reported that seven of the 10 occupations expected to gain the most ground are low-wage occupations that do not require a college degree."


They estimate that over 3.3 million white-collar jobs will be eliminated by the year 2015.

Currently our economy generates 138.3 million jobs. Eliminating 3.3 million jobs adds another 2.4 % to the unemployment rate. Each white-collar IT job generates another 2.3 jobs to a state's economy according to a study by published in the Connecticut Technology Council.

So, a dinner-napkin analysis says eliminating 3.3 million white-collar jobs translates into a real loss of 3.3 million x 3.3 ( 1 white collar + 2.3 related jobs) = 10.89 million jobs or 7.8% of our current employment.

So, let's see, our current UNemployment rate is hovering around 6%. But UNemployment figures only count those who file for unemployment benefits. And with the help of leaders like Tom Donahue, we're going to add another 7.8% to this figure. (Ok, let's be fair, let's say only 5.5% and that takes us easily over 10% unemployment.)


A recession.

All those savings in wage expense may generate some attractive profit margins for the U.S corporations and the resulting (and temporary) boost in their stock prices.'s going to have the money to buy their stocks? After the initial run-up in price from the improved profit margins, I see stock prices dropping as 1) there's no buyers in the US equity markets. 401Ks' and IRAs are liquidated requiring money managers to sell their holdings, driving more downward pressure on stock prices. 2) sales drop as customers experience the decline in service and quality and as household budgets shrink from unemployment.

And who's going to buy the high-end consumer good where all the profit margins exist? Companies who produce and sell high-end, high-margin products favored at one-time by white-collar workers who are now unemployed will be hit particularly hard.

You can't sell a $1000 Dell laptop to an overseas worker who only makes $4.00 an hour. You can't sell SUVs to these same workers. Cavaliers and Novas generate no profit margins for GM.

Dollar General Stores on the other hand will experience their usual spike in price when recessions occur.

Our local economy suffered the loss of manufacturing jobs, customer-service/call center operations moved to India and IT jobs left or were moved. And presto, in moves 3 Dollar General Stores.

Now, granted they're great stores, offer wonderful savings, especially for families facing dire financial challenges. These challenges come from low-wage earners and unemployed trying to support families.

While Multi-National Corporations may benefit from wage expenses saved, our consumer-based economy is going to face some challenges. But that will be after Tom Donahue's term ends as President of Chamber of Commerce.