In the past few weeks it has become fashionable among Aus.Pol bloggers to slip into the size 12 hob-nailed dancing pumps and flail away at Tony Abbott and the Coalition like a member of Riverdance on speed.
All well and good. In the face of the venomous bile spewed by many right leaning bloggers, not to mention the MSM over the past six months; the Post would argue that a healthy dose of Schadenfreude is certainly not out of place.
When your legs tire however, you might spare a thought to an issue that has become the elephant in the room that neither the ALP or the NLP wants to discuss – unemployment.
Let’s face it, nobody gives a monkey’s toss about unemployment or the unemployed – until they become one of the unemployed themselves.
Then it’s too late. You join the invisible army. You’ve become the one of five people who are applying for every job, and one in four of you is over 50 years of age.
Unless you are between the ages of 25 to 40 and have experience in your chosen occupation, be it profession or vocation, and unless you are very lucky, the chances are that you’ll remain in the ranks indefinitely or at the very best, underutilized in a part-time or casual job.
The application of free market economics demands a permanent pool of unemployed of between 5.4 and 5.5% in order to offset ‘stagflation’ (too much money for too few services)
According the Australian Bureau of Statistics, full time employment has dropped, while part-time low paid employment is rising. This means that full time jobs in the middle income and higher income bracket are being ‘hollowed out’.
If this trend continues, aggregate demand will drop, consumer demand will shrink and more importantly for the government, the tax base will shrink and force a greater drain on welfare and social service payments as more and more people are forced into hardship and poverty.
With the official unemployment figures at 5.7% and steadily climbing, and the real figure much higher, the elephant is quietly and steadily growing.
This is not by accident. This is not mismanagement of the labour force or budgetary bungling. This is deliberate, and it is growing out of control.
Yet neither the government nor the Coalition want to face the need to address the problem. This is no surprise on the side of the Coalition who are dedicated to the principles of free market economics come hell or high water.
If market forces create a huge pool of underutilized or unemployed, all the better for multi-national’s to dictate wages, terms and conditions.
Skill shortage? No problem! Bring in workers on 457 visas – they do what they’re told and they don’t ask for breaks.
On the ALP’s side, repeat all of the above but colour it ‘lite’.
Both sides of politics have a fixation with surplus when common sense and good economic management dictates a deficit, and Bowen’s pledge to return to budget surplus by 2016, and that the Carbon Tax will be replaced by an ETS funded largely through cuts to the public service, simply means that the economy will strangle at a slightly slower pace.
At present, the only party willing to bring about change and a shift away from neo-liberal economics are The Greens with their policies geared toward raising unemployment benefits, restoring the single parent allowance to its previous levels, and imposing a 50% tax on those whose incomes exceed one million dollars per year.
While these measures are nowhere near enough for what is needed, such as a large stimulus package that includes the ‘Job Guarantee’ – at least its a start.
While issues such as the environment and asylum seekers are also important, unemployment and under-utilization must also be addressed with the same urgency before the elephant in the room grows so large that it tramples us all.