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

IR: softening the market's hard edges « Previous | |Next »
May 5, 2007

John Howard has spent more than a year playing down the extent of voter unease over his workplace laws with a scare campaign about union bosses running the country. Howard, however, knew the unfairness of Workchoices was a major problem for the Coalition in voterland, and that it was losing traction to the ALP on the issue. The ACTU's advertising campaign was effective in tapping into the sense of disquiet over the erosion of working standards.

Geoff Pryor

That disquiet is grounded in the data that shows that 45% of individual agreements stripped away all the award conditions that the Howard Government promised would be protected by law. So Howard had to do something to counter the momentum of the Rudd/Gillard/Combet wagon and ease public anxiety.

He has backed down and introduced a fairness test for new AWA's. If a worker is worse off--as many lower income workers are --then they receive compensation, broadly defined. Will the "fine-tuning" as it is called be enough to ease the anxiety and keep the battler's locked inside the Coalition's tent?

Of course, neo-liberals interpret fairness as a market concept and g for the Australian Financial Review that means having an opportunity to have a job. The expansion of the last five years has been from the resources (China) boom and this has translated into a jobs boom without the crash and burn of inflation, a credit squeeze, a recession and a jobs crash. So the goal of social justice is displaced by the goal of wealth generation.

Hayek argued, social justice is a mirage because to try and promote a just distribution of economic rewards is utterly misguided. As Stephen Macedo says in Hayek's Liberal Legacy:

The reason is that economic rewards are part of a vast unplanned system .No person or entity distributes awards. The pattern of rewards that results from market exchanges is the consequence of innumerable individual decisions, and these results are often quite arbitrary. Success or failure in the market may depend partly on effort, skill, and merit, but they often depend crucially on luck and unforeseeable events, and the actions of other people in far-flung corners of the globe.... No one is responsible for the overall pattern of distribution that the market produces. We must accept the outcome of the market order, moreover, or else risk upsetting a system that on the whole provides the best chance of satisfying people’s expectations overall.

Hayek insists that we must accept and live with the contingency of market outcomes in order to garner the benefits of the market. This acceptance is deeply at odds with the social democratic traditions in Australia, which holds that we can collectively intervene if we choose to do so, through democratic means. These interventions need not, take the form of central socialist planning, but may take the form of more modest efforts to promote universal access to certain basic benefits (such as health care, education, unemployment insurance, housing) and to provide a basic safety net.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:15 AM | | Comments (5)


It's been a week for bitter ironic laughter watching this bunkum develop through a recalcitrant media.
We are going to be rescued by Gentle John from unfair legislation, the culprits reponsible for which we can't possibly recall.
Now we are back to a "fairness test".
If they had been sincere about the "fairness test" they would never have brought in the legislation in the first place since this is the element, gradually constructed into the body of legislation already extant over generations, that they so obsessively and vindictively removed.
BTW, yet again loved 'toon, with poor snivelling sensitive little Tory taken so aback by so ferocious a creature in cage.
The rightful use for the cage would be for the protection of real children from feral scum like Rideout, Heff and Hendy.

Speaking of 'hard edges", the press treatment of the Qantas takeover has baffled me this weekend.
The SMH reckons it has been scuppered; the Oz reckons it's gone ahead.
Any thoughts that might help on what gives?

As I understand it the APA consortium announced that it planned to go ahead with the Quantas bid following a tense 5am turnaround by US billionaire corporate raider Samuel Heyman.This came after the 7pm deadline, and it got the bid over the line.

However, given that the deadline was missed, the Takeovers Panel will need decide how to proceed.

According to The Age:

The takeovers umpire has grounded Airline Partners Australia's (APA) $11.1 billion bid for Qantas, but the private equity consortium is refusing to call it a day.

The consortium is appealing the decision, seeking an urgent review by the panel. Qantas, however, considers that the bid has failed.

one way to broaden the debate around IR, and so avoid getting bogged down in the details, is to situate it within a politics of wellbeing.

Sounds to me more like a "politics of monotonous drilling in the parade ground till we have developed a Stepford-type set up to mass-produce produce servile clones".
But then they have always been into this horseshit about inculcating "discipline" and assitionally, it seems to appeal to something at the very core of their nasty natures.