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

unemployed professionals « Previous | |Next »
July 21, 2009

The newspapers are saying that the global economic recession won't be that bad, unemployment will not be severe in Australia, China's economic growth will ensure Australia's prosperity and Australia is on the road to recovery. So let us dig up more coal, build the new infrastructure to transport the coal more efficiently, ship it quick to China, and keep using coal to power the economic engine to produce unlimited growth and limitless freedom.

The other face of the economic recession is not the denial that the ecological crisis (eg., the Murray-Darling Basin and climate heating) has become the most distinctive expression of the crisis of capitalism and modernity. It is also a new situation wherein some laid off workers in Australia — professional and technical as well as industrial — are refusing to engage in wage and salary labour that does not meet the standard of a living wage.

As Stanley Aronowitz points out in Situations this trend is not being squarely looked in the eye. These people are not the working poor suffering from lack of skills, drug addiction and just plain laziness., which are the main historical ascriptions by politicians and many mainstream journalists of why men of prime working age refuse to take available jobs in the paid workforce.

For the most part these men were either long-time employees of large manufacturing corporations or highly skilled professionals including journalists. They are not willing to settle for low-paid employment (driving taxis) which, for men over fifty, is about all the work that is available.

These men, who have dropped out of the paid labor force, are a growing segment that is refusing to work, at least given their options. For these men in their prime of career life, they survive on their separation packages taking out second and third mortgages on their homes, drain their pensions and savings, depend on their wives’ income and accept occasional short-term work to keep their heads above water.

If they were prepared to go quietly into the night from paid work, many become web designers, photographers researchers, musicians, blogging etc---the world of self-determined work. This is a different kind of world to the world of communication and information of the new media, where the quantity of information and data has multiplied at
a geometric rate. The former provides possibilities for enriching lived experience, enlarging the new social spaces that have emerged with the internet and digital technology and producing new new languages in which to express lived experience.

The world market in information, data and news is characterised by the replacement of meaning by signs, the shift from positive knowledge to information, the replacement of philosophy by technology in that the technological fix becomes a substitute for critical reflection. The global media, reflecting the new social hierarchies where access to data bases and the internet, becomes a marker of whether you count and the knowledge contained therein defines what political and economic knowledge is. Hence the desire of media corporations such as News Ltd to gain control of the internet.

The new digital spaces that we are in the process of producing in the creative economy need to be defended from being appropriated by the media corporations opposed to 'the free'.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:10 AM | | Comments (5)


"...refusing to engage" in low paid work.
Not really.
It's no prob driving taxis, altho amongst my fraternity it's said that since the qualification for driving cabs climbed from Masters to post-Doctoral level, this work has been, like all other types of work, largely out of reach.
No, just joking.
But the notion that unemployed people "refuse" anything like a fair job; beyond the absolute worst of conditions, is a bit below the belt...
You can guess am a tad sensitive to questions relating to the "undeserving" poor, from above, even tho am currently relatively safe, trapped on that ledge that is the Disability pension.
Time to write down another point on my "gratitude page"!
Actually above is fairly right, for some fortunate of us- those of us who had good parents and teachers who taught us how to enjoy books, music, nature etc and were able to discover, sometimes the hard way, that welfare is survivable if you've got past the need to pay out on drink, gambling, drugs, consumerism, tabloid media etc, to to "live" reasonably, within one's means.
But yes, it still grates, at times...
And no, many of us do NOT want the likes of that later-day Dickensian Ralph Nickleby, Rupert Murdoch and his ilk; the chief authors of our down falls apart from ourselves, to take control of the new spaces we were given as fob -offs by our contemptuous masters, when they thought these were valueless, before we demonstrated that we could could make them workable for our own sanity.
Which antagonises them because we are now outside of their control and not paying out to the control freak rent seekers, as they would (otherwise), quite mercilessly, have the situation.

You say:

But the notion that unemployed people "refuse" anything like a fair job; beyond the absolute worst of conditions, is a bit below the belt...

It wasn't unemployed people in general --unemployment is layered and there are many different kinds of people out of paid work.

I was referring to older professionals who have been recently laid off and don't want to work as cleaners. They try to use their skills and education in other ways rather than take low paid jobs.

many older industrial (blue collar) workers from the last recession ended up on disability pension. Manufacturing industries closed down and many did not retrain.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson keeps insisting that Australia, had ample resources of cheap coal (and gas) to meet its energy needs. Coal is Australia's future.

Speaking of unemployment, any one catch that loosely related "Insight" episode on SBS last night, involving the offshore studenting rort/racket?
A new generation of (this time young Asian) suckers being done over by a rigged system.
Not all of these young people were all that attractive, with their naivity and verging on pompous sense of victimhood/entitlement; but most unattractive were those venal legions of Australian refugees from a Dickens novel exploiting the new arrivals come down in the last rain shower, on everything from visas to defective educational standards at private "colleges" to slum housing and robbery with violence. Oddly enough, the coppers came out of it more sympathetically than many of the other protagonists.
Note, NO politician had the guts to front the show, which I thought was bloody shameful.

Also on SBS, the Howard doco and the ultimate technocrat, as isolated from the experience of his subjects as the guy at
Langley pushing a button that detonates a bomb ten thousand miles away- Peter Costello.
And Keating, not much better.