If you believe the present government regards
unemployment and its younger brother, underemployment, as less important
than a balanced budget, you are probably right. Certainly their
approach to both would suggest as much.
These two forms of an under-utilised workforce are the single most
critical contributor to an unhealthy and potentially lawless community.
They represent an abrogation of a government’s responsibility both
economically and morally.
Unemployment carries a huge cost to a nation’s revenue and its
spending. It also carries a huge cost for the individuals and their
immediate families. There are few areas of an economy that are not
effected by unemployment: health, recreation, manufacturing, production,
distribution, retail and agriculture all feel the effects one way or
The single most important thing a government can do is to ensure its
workforce is fully engaged. Yet, this government is happy to use
unemployment as a tool to achieve its neo liberal economic policies
that, when implemented, are counter-productive to full employment.
Worse still, the government seems to be on a mission to demonise the
unemployed. With a compliant media they are happy to depict them as
lazy, as dole bludgers, as people who refuse to develop work skills, who
lack appropriate qualifications, who are unwilling to travel to find
compliant media (knowingly or unknowingly) are enjoined to use a type
of language that demeans an unemployed person, that blames the victim
rather than addressing the reasons behind retrenchments. The
government’s approach to the unemployed in the May budget underscores
their contempt for those who cannot find a job. They blame the
individual rather than address systemic failures.
Comments from politicians and their obsequious media stooges such as, ‘there are plenty of jobs out there for those willing to look’,
only serve to validate a contempt that masks something far worse: a
deliberate plan to maintain a level of unemployment consistent with
their plan to stifle wage increases and improve the profits of those
their policies are designed to favour.
The proof of this is easy to see.
1) There are approximately 770, 000 persons unemployed and only about
150,000 vacancies advertised. 2) There has been a massive increase of
457 visa’s that bring in overseas workers to fill positions that the
unemployed could satisfy. 3) There are currently no direct local job
creation programs in play. 4) The combined underutilisation of the
workforce is 15% which represents billions of dollars in lost gross
domestic product. The government is doing nothing to address this
This is a betrayal of our country’s human resources and the media are co-conspirators.
the unemployed is easy. It fits nicely into the currency and immediacy
of media reporting. Demonising the government for failing to create jobs
is not so newsworthy and might conflict with other more pressing
Providing incentives for companies to employ certain classes or age
groups is not job creation. It is tokenism of the unworkable kind that
does no more than put unearned money in the pockets of small and medium
size businesses. It is wasteful in the extreme. It panders to supply
side economics; the side doomed to fail.
A public sector job guarantee scheme designed to foster improvements
in social welfare in areas including environmental services, community
and social services, health and education would better serve local
communities, spike retail demand, reduce welfare payments, improve tax
revenues and create a buffer stock of trained human resources ready to
meet future demand by the private sector.
Hospitals, schools, local councils, NGOs, sporting bodies and
community groups all have needs they cannot meet for lack of resources
and budget restraints while highly trained and skilled people on
unemployment benefits sit at home, idle and unproductive.
The economic benefits of a job guarantee scheme particularly in the
area of lower deficits are obvious. The health and social benefits would
lead to lower crime rates, fewer chronic health issues, happier home
life and a plethora of well-being activities arising from a society
contributing to a higher national living standard and greater equality
the University of Newcastle, economics professor and Director of the
Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), Bill Mitchell, has done
the hard work mapping out such a program. Much of the detail has been
completed. The macro plans are there for everyone to see.
But don’t expect right wing conservative parties, who pander to the
will of corporate interests that fund them, to ask him to kick-start an
ailing economy. Their answer is to cut spending, to make life difficult
for the working class, the very people who, if given the opportunity,
would respond to a call to restore our nation’s wealth.
Their answer is to consolidate the existing wealth into the hands of
the elite, the super-rich, the powerful and the influential. Only left
wing parties who work for the benefit of the average Joe will likely
want to implement a full employment program.
But oh, how the media would crucify them in the attempt. Oh, how they
would poison the minds of the public with cries of impending doom and
The super-rich, who are the only ones who would lose out should full
employment become a reality, will use their influence to thwart it at
And it is the super-rich who control the media.