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"Furthermore, Africans want to work and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day.”
September 5, 2012 3:57 AM   Subscribe

One week after telling Australian workers that they too can be millionaires if they spend more time working and less time smoking, drinking and socialising and for a lowering of the minimum wage, Australian iron ore billionaire Gina Rinehart (Previously) has released a video repeating her calls for a special economic zone for Northern Australia with fewer regulations and lower taxes. Some have noticed that she also seems okay with paying African workers $2 a day. She makes $2 million an hour. Her video has been derided by the Government, but the Liberal Party believe her idea for a Special Economic Zone is worth exploring.
posted by Mezentian (120 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ooh, a Special Economic Zone! I love it! Just guarantee that it receives absolutely no public funds whatsoever (including electricity, water, police, etc.). And then maybe build a 50-foot barbed-wire-topped wall around it, just to be on the safe side. With those provisos, I'm 100% in favor of the idea.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:03 AM on September 5, 2012 [36 favorites]


Sssh Mezentian, don't post Joe Hockey links to international websites. He is our secret shame.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:05 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This woman is a foul cancer upon the earth.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:14 AM on September 5, 2012 [36 favorites]


Okay. I'll nix the Cubby Station post for tomorrow. That had Joe and Barnaby. A hattrick of shame.

(I won't mention the third item).
posted by Mezentian at 4:15 AM on September 5, 2012


Indeed, but it is nice to see politicians across the spectrum give her ideas a public shoeing, rather than cringing and kowtowing.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:15 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here we are, working to improve the economic and social well being for those living on $2 a day and then we have gazillionaires sending us back to square one.
posted by infini at 4:15 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


SEZs are the holes from which liberal democracy will eventually bleed to death. Being undercut by slave-labour hellholes and tax havens? Build your own! After all, nobody has burgled my house since I set it on fire.
posted by WPW at 4:16 AM on September 5, 2012 [42 favorites]


Furthermore, Africans want to work and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day.”

So... what is she referring to with the word "it" in this sentence?
posted by infini at 4:16 AM on September 5, 2012


Africa, I suppose. She refers to West Africa in the bit immediately prior. I'm betting this was ghost written (almost all her statements are), and then she made adjustments.
The transcription may also not be 100% accurate, grammatically.

Bonus: Specuial Economic Zones. Because laws are for the weak.
posted by Mezentian at 4:20 AM on September 5, 2012


It's not a terrible tactic: try to wedge the Coalition in to supporting your unashamedly self-interested policies by dressing them up as an attack on Labor. If nothing else, watching Abbott and Hockey try to ignore this is amusing.
posted by kithrater at 4:20 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Rinehart is greedy and undeniably, but smart. If China's economy falters and demand for metals and minerals falls, Australia is in some bother. She's laying the groundwork for an economic slowdown. That way, when demand falters but Australia is still expensive as hell, the "natural" solution is to cut costs by having lower taxes and fewer regulations - particularly around carbon.

She's getting a public kicking but she also knows that in the back room there will be plenty of politicians ready to make their careers on being "good for the economy" and "good for trade with China" when the economic pain comes, demand drops and it starts getting serious media air time*.

*From independent big media conglomerates like, say, Fairfax.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:22 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw that story the other day on Twitter, and was left with a burning, righteous fury and nowhere to put it (not wanting to blot my own blog with a response).

But to keep it civil... at the very least, it is staggering that someone in her position can't see the enormous competitive advantage in money-making that one gets from inheriting a mining company from your rich father just before a once-in-a-lifetime mining boom.

Still, at least she has no compunction about bankrupting her own children because she has a problem with the behaviour of people who stand to inherit their parents' enormous wealth. (Um.)

I nominate one square mile in the middle of Western Australia for Gina's special economic zone, with no roads in or out and a flight exclusion zone above it. To be valid only if she lives there, in an enormous Scrooge McDuck money bin.
posted by rory at 4:29 AM on September 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Worth remembering that this is a woman so clearly evil, that even though she is so rich that she could never possibly want for anything ever again, she took the time to screw her own children out of the trust fund set up for them by their grandfather.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:30 AM on September 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


Great and recent 4 Corners on Rinehart: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/06/20/3529598.htm
posted by jmccw at 4:30 AM on September 5, 2012


Damn it, Rory! Great minds, I guess.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:31 AM on September 5, 2012


Fortunately the Australian Constitution, particularly sections 92 and 99, makes it very difficult to set up a "special economic zone" over "northern Queensland, northern West[ern] Australia and the Northern Territory". I suppose the Abbott dystopian junta likely to take power next year could make one just in the NT, but that would kind of miss the point.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:38 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally I've taken her words to heart, and intend to spend less time drinking and socialising, and more time inheriting money.

(After that, I'll probably get bored, try to buy up the media, and then have some tantrums, but I haven't really decided)
posted by pompomtom at 4:45 AM on September 5, 2012 [38 favorites]


Lowering the minimum wage will make people rich! (Well, some people.)
posted by DU at 4:47 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


First of all, this woman has about as much charm as an inflight passenger announcement. And if she says "quote" or "endquote" one more time I'll probably shoot myself in the face. Plus whoever produced this video and had this obese lady stand up and sway from one side to the other for 10 minutes is a complete moron. Towards the end you can hear her voice crack and you're just waiting for her to kick the bucket.

But I honestly don't understand why she's being crucified for these particular comments. She's talking about labor arbitrage which is a very real problem and yet another shitty result of global deregulation. She's not saying Australians should be paid less, but in the open market, they will not be able to compete with African wages. And since when is paying a foreigner $2/day not the Australian way to do business? Is there some nuance here that I, as an American, don't fully understand? I mean, what the fuck are the Americans doing in China, India and the Middle East?
posted by phaedon at 4:47 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


She could take a lesson from the Tatas who also began with an iron ore company.
posted by infini at 4:54 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's not saying Australians should be paid less,

Yes, she is. It's in the first link: "Mrs Rinehart also suggests the government should lower the minimum wage of $606.40 per week and cut taxes to stimulate employment".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I mean, what the fuck are the Americans doing in China, India and the Middle East?

Good question.
posted by infini at 4:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, she wants Australians to be paid less. Well sort of - she knows that Australians won't work for two bucks a day, so she's also been campaigning to import foreign workers who would be willing to accept shitty conditions on a 'special' visa. I assume the only people who'd agree to this are people who are currently working in shitty conditions in a war zone, and would appreciate not being shot at while they do their jobs.

I think people working in Australia (and everywhere!) deserve to be paid a fair wage for their work, whether they're here temporarily or not, whether they're used to shitty conditions elsewhere or not. She resents every dollar spent on the labour needed to run her mines. Being the richest woman in the world isn't enough for her, she sees a chance to make even more money by competing with people who run sweatshops and use slave labour. As MuffinMan says, she's preparing for the end of the mining boom which has to happen eventually and might lead to her making money at a less-impressive rate without actually leaving her in a difficult financial position.

A Thousand Baited Hooks, can you elaborate on how our constitution prevents her sweatshop zone from being created? It'd be a relief to know it's not possible. Rinehart is Australia's 1% almost all by herself, and she's not wrong to believe that the ones with the money dictate the laws.
posted by harriet vane at 5:19 AM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted; as always, let's not do the wishing-violence-on-somebody thing. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 5:19 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


She's not saying Australians should be paid less,

Yes, she is.


Of course it's the one link I didn't check. I watched the entire video and read everything else. There, she never directly advocates the position that Australians should be paid less. She just talks about Africans getting paid $2/day. I read it as her explaining why Australia will be uncompetitive in the future.

Plus I'm not an economist so I don't know if lowering the minimum wage would actually stimulate employment. I mean if this is a tenable position - experts please chime in - then I think it's an interesting thought. At least she is couching her greed in policies that are good for Australia. But like I said, I'm probably missing the forest for the trees.

Anyway I am not a fan of the deregulation of the global market. If having to compete with desolate African countries with little to no infrastructure means taking away public services from your own countrymen and cutting their wages, well, let's just say the rich are in a much better position to accept that compromise. The rest is politics.

I mean, look at the EU for fuck's sake, it's the same situation. In one decade, Greece has gone country that was sort of meh to being blasted back to the Stone Age. Aussies need to stop drinking and smoking? Greeks need to get off their fat frappe-drinking asses. If anyone thinks they are approaching a solution over there, you must be kidding. They are letting their own citizens bleed to death. It's unbelievable.
posted by phaedon at 5:25 AM on September 5, 2012


She's such a caricature its just amazing. Don't worry though. Iron Ore declining will take care of her.

She's T. Boone Pickens without the impish "look at the balls on him/her" charm.
posted by JPD at 5:25 AM on September 5, 2012


David Lazarus contributed this satisfyingly acerbic column on Rinehart to the Los Angeles Times a few days ago.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:26 AM on September 5, 2012


But I honestly don't understand why she's being crucified for these particular comments.

When somebody whose chief qualification for their job and sole reason for their incredible wealth are "heiress" or "heir" starts talking about how the poor should just stop being so lazy, they deserve every atom of shit that gets flung in their direction, and much much more.
posted by mhoye at 5:31 AM on September 5, 2012 [58 favorites]


This woman is simply objectionable. She has her share and she's damned if everyone else's suffering will cause it to drop even 1%.
posted by arcticseal at 5:36 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, she wants Australians to be paid less. Well sort of - she knows that Australians won't work for two bucks a day, so she's also been campaigning to import foreign workers who would be willing to accept shitty conditions on a 'special' visa.

So, ideally, she wants Australians to not be paid at all.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:38 AM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Don't worry though. Iron Ore declining will take care of her.

Sadly, I think having $20 billion means never having to worry about anything, ever.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:38 AM on September 5, 2012


Sadly, I think having $20 billion means never having to worry about anything, ever.

She doesn't actually have $20-30 billion.
She certainly has more money than she needs, but a lot of that is theoretical money.
If iron ore prices crash, the the value of her leases crash, and if she can't make up the difference on high quality coal from Queensland (is the Qld Government building her a rail line yet?), man, she is down billions in a paper loss.

BILLIONS LOST!
posted by Mezentian at 5:42 AM on September 5, 2012


A Thousand Baited Hooks, can you elaborate on how our constitution prevents her sweatshop zone from being created? It'd be a relief to know it's not possible.

Well, I haven't thought about it in too much depth but I think section 99 (which stops the Commonwealth giving preferential treatment to States or parts of States in laws or trade, commerce or revenue (tax)) and section 92 (which more or less makes the whole country a free trade area and stops barriers to the movement of people across State borders) would, together, make it pretty hard to set up a special economic zone based on modified tax laws and trade status.

There might be ways around these problems, like setting up a special zone just in the Northern Territory (where, arguably, neither ss92 or 99 apply as it's not a State) or by getting Western Australia and Queensland to collude with the Commonwealth, but it would be really hard to get right and the current High Court would take great pleasure in picking it apart. Not going to happen anytime soon.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:42 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Plus I'm not an economist so I don't know if lowering the minimum wage would actually stimulate employment. I mean if this is a tenable position - experts please chime in - then I think it's an interesting thought. At least she is couching her greed in policies that are good for Australia. But like I said, I'm probably missing the forest for the trees.

Her policies would most likely not be good for Australia. Race to the bottom policies are in the same league as trickle down economics: thinly veiled arguments for self-enrichment at the expense of the nation as a whole.

But, her message is not aimed at the current Labor Government. This is part of a broader movement within the right-wing to try and strong-arm Abbott in to taking a stance on industrial relations, which he has so far avoided like the plague. Because this faction of the right is feeling emboldened, convinced that the next election will result in a Coalition landslide, they are making their desires known within the Coalition.

She's such a caricature its just amazing.

We actually have worse - Clive Palmer.
posted by kithrater at 5:42 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Lowering the minimum wage will make people rich! (Well, some people.)

How about this: lowering the minimum wage will give some people jobs.

The minimum wage tells employers that it'll cost them more to hire people. When you raise the cost of doing something, people do less of it. Thus, a higher minimum wage leads to less employment.

I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.

A classic article, relevant here: "In Praise of Cheap Labor" by Paul Krugman.
posted by John Cohen at 5:44 AM on September 5, 2012


Realistically, Australia is far too expensive. It's caused by a currency with a very, very high valuation. Australian friends of mine make ~$18 an hour working in cafes and shops. It's not unrealistic to recognise that if demand for minerals slows, Australia won't be in great place economically.

I'd imagine that if the currency value fell, much of the problem would sort itself out. 2007 wages were fairly equal across the G8 countries - what's changed is that bank collapses have skewed currency values significantly without wages or cost of living reflecting that. At the former $3 to the GBP, $18/hour is pretty much the UK minimum wage. At $1.50/GBP, it's twice that.

Australia has a huge struggle to compete on anything labour related. They *need* to do something.
posted by leo_r at 5:46 AM on September 5, 2012


Saying that, the woman seems like an absolute dick with no real understanding of what life is like for those who didn't have the fortune of inheriting a multi billion dollar empire.
posted by leo_r at 5:46 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.

This is such a cheap caricature that I'm honestly embarrassed for you
posted by ominous_paws at 5:51 AM on September 5, 2012 [56 favorites]


Sadly, I think having $20 billion means never having to worry about anything, ever.

This is why revolutions were invented.
posted by mhoye at 5:53 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


John Cohen, I hear what you're saying and I skimmed that Krugman article, but this is not a country in overt recession and excessive unemployment; and nor is a 3rd world country. It's mid-boom (and we can argue about underlying data and stability of course) so the way I see you frame it is to simply cede power from the worker to the industrialists whereas I see no national or social benefit from instituting such an arrangement. The wages are a reflection of the market.
posted by peacay at 5:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


A classic article, relevant here: "In Praise of Cheap Labor" by Paul Krugman.

I don't see how an article that outlines the disadvantages of pushing for developing countries with high unemployment to introduce labour protections and workplace safety standards comparable with those of developed countries has any relevance to the situation in Australia.
posted by kithrater at 5:59 AM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I guess she has learned the lesson of the great American experiment where we imported African labor and paid them nothing. $2 a day is positively regal in comparison.
posted by Renoroc at 6:00 AM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.

Fortunately Australia has reached a level of civilisation where this is not considered a form of cruelty.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:01 AM on September 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.

A classic article, relevant here: "In Praise of Cheap Labor" by Paul Krugman.


witness the mendacity of the American libertarian. the answer to this little riddle, is that libertarians don't actually think in terms of "cruelty" or "kindness" but profit and loss. the idea that an economic policy would be cruel and therefore objectionable is just a way of mocking those who think moral relations are more important than economic ones... oh and within a society, a decrease in general wages means a decrease in general consumption which means less demand for goods and services within the australian economy and ultimately less demand for jobs.

you can read krugman on this: Would cutting the minimum wage raise employment?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:01 AM on September 5, 2012 [21 favorites]


Oh yes, good idea, let's set up a zone in the north of the country where people don't have the full rights and protections of the law, that's always worked well before.
posted by notionoriety at 6:04 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money ....

How about if we only stop companies, not people?
posted by benito.strauss at 6:05 AM on September 5, 2012


Pays African workers $2 per day....
"Behind ever great fortune is a great crime" - Balzac.
posted by Flood at 6:08 AM on September 5, 2012


Australia has a huge struggle to compete on anything labour related. They *need* to do something.

if Australia has such a big problem competing on anything labour-related, why is our unemployment rate so much lower than pretty much every comparable country? Even in the non-mining boom states. Tasmanians will complain about their high unemployment rate, but relative to what one might find in the US or UK we're riding sweet.

And I'd also like to know who the hell Gina is paying that minimum wage to, that she wants to decrease.

But, no, keep putting her on the TV, so Wayne Swan can tear her a new arsehole and it can be made starkly clear to the voters whose side the tories are on.
posted by Jimbob at 6:17 AM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


A lie to say, "O my mountain has coal veins and beds to dig. 500 men with axes and they all dig for me."
posted by mrgrimm at 6:19 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have a decent social safety net in Australia, so our citizens aren't willing to work for slave wages. That's what Rinehart is complaining about, that she can't find people desperate enough to accept her terms in a "voluntary transaction". So rather than negotiate with citizens in good faith, she's hoping to get the government to change the rules of the game. There's cruelty here, but it's not coming from the government insisting on a minimum wage.

As always, libertarians assume that the wealthy and corporations will abide by the rules of a free market, but the evidence shows that they hate it and will do whatever they can to distort it.

The mining boom has been good for Australia, but farming and the service industry account for more of our GDP and employment. We don't have to be held to ransom by heiresses as if we're living in a weird repeat of the 19th century.
posted by harriet vane at 6:23 AM on September 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


Well, I haven't thought about it in too much depth but I think section 99 (which stops the Commonwealth giving preferential treatment to States or parts of States in laws or trade, commerce or revenue (tax)) and section 92 (which more or less makes the whole country a free trade area and stops barriers to the movement of people across State borders) would, together, make it pretty hard to set up a special economic zone based on modified tax laws and trade status.

Section 51(ii) also creates problems. There was some thought given to this kind of thing when the original mining tax, the RSPT, was being considered.
posted by kithrater at 6:24 AM on September 5, 2012


But, no, keep putting her on the TV, so Wayne Swan can tear her a new arsehole and it can be made starkly clear to the voters whose side the tories are on.

Yeah, if you wanted to run a false flag operation to reveal the repulsive true nature of the mining industry and the people who run it, it's hard to think of a better figurehead than Gina "the sweat of your toil tastes like nectar to me" "the only good worker is one who has nowhere else to run" "who ate all the pies made of human meat" Rinehart.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:26 AM on September 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


The minimum wage tells employers that it'll cost them more to hire people. When you raise the cost of doing something, people do less of it. Thus, a higher minimum wage leads to less employment.

I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.


Doesn't really apply to what Rinehart is trying to do. The problem she's trying to solve isn't a lack of demand for labor, but rather excess demand. Wages in the mining regions have absolutely skyrocketed, making her returns on capital lower than than she would like them to be, although they are still far higher then at almost any point in history. So basically she's greedy. If/When Iron Ore demand declines (Along with a whole other patch of minerals) you'll see mean reversion in wages.

BTW - anyone know which mines she gets royalties from?
posted by JPD at 6:27 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This woman is a foul cancer upon the earth.

I've begun to think that wealth itself is a cancer. Not metaphorical. An actual cancer. It seems to behave exactly like one.
posted by srboisvert at 6:30 AM on September 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


BTW - anyone know which mines she gets royalties from?

She is the owner of Hancock Prospecting: the wiki article has some information on its mining interests.
posted by kithrater at 6:32 AM on September 5, 2012


A fun Iron Ore Graph

Four Biggest Bubbles

(Its overstating the case as Iron Ore is still somewhat reflective of the marginal cost of production, but still an amusing graph)
posted by JPD at 6:34 AM on September 5, 2012


More on the bubble

China threatens to burst Australia's iron ore bubble
posted by infini at 6:40 AM on September 5, 2012


unfortunately her biggest asset - royalties from Hope Downs - is actually sort of lower end of the cost curve project. The only hope is that she pulls quite a big royalty stream out of it, and if prices decline I'd assume that would shrink at a faster rate.
posted by JPD at 6:41 AM on September 5, 2012


Can't we just give her Somalia?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:59 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.

Play this out. Employee agrees to work for a pittance, because a pittance is more than zero. Employer turns around and tells all of his non-pittance earning employees that the market for their services is now a pittance. Employees who don't agree to a pay cut get fired, and employer hires replacements for a pittance. Repeat until serfdom.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:02 AM on September 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


Can't we just give her Somalia?

Australian accused of funding private Somali army
posted by infini at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's refreshing to see that in some parts of the world, billionaires get called out across the board for spewing this kind of bullshit. Here in the USA, they get congressional seats, deference by the media, and a big chunk of support from the very people they aim to screw.
posted by Rykey at 7:05 AM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


schoolgirl report: "I think it's cruel to tell someone who is willing to do a job for a certain amount of money, and has found someone else who's willing to let them do that job for that exact amount of money, that they're not allowed to go through with that voluntary transaction. This makes everyone concerned worse off.

Play this out. Employee agrees to work for a pittance, because a pittance is more than zero. Employer turns around and tells all of his non-pittance earning employees that the market for their services is now a pittance. Employees who don't agree to a pay cut get fired, and employer hires replacements for a pittance. Repeat until serfdom.
"

Yes but! Rational Actors! Free Market Working As It Should! Enlightened Self-Interest!

If the libertarians and the free market fundamentalists really wanted to put their money where their mouths are, they'd be working to abolish all border controls and allow labour to move as freely as capital. But somehow that never plays all that well.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:11 AM on September 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


Billionaire to government: desperate people will work for low wages, so here's the deal: I'll provide the low wages and you provide the desperation.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:16 AM on September 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


The minimum wage tells employers that it'll cost them more to hire people. When you raise the cost of doing something, people do less of it. Thus, a higher minimum wage leads to less employment.

I have never once in my life heard an employer go "you know we can afford to hire more people but we have no work for them but we'll do it anyway".
posted by Talez at 7:24 AM on September 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


When you raise the cost of doing something, people do less of it. Thus, a higher minimum wage leads to less employment.

And, yet, escalating executive pay never seems to result in fewer executives.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:38 AM on September 5, 2012 [42 favorites]


A LOT of managerial and executive jobs could and should be outsourced. You think they don't have meeting rooms and donuts in Mumbai?
posted by thelonius at 7:42 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


And, yet, escalating executive pay never seems to result in fewer executives.

It did in my old company!
posted by MuffinMan at 7:50 AM on September 5, 2012


She makes $2 million an hour.

Is there no willing worker who will do her job for $1 million an hour?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:54 AM on September 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


Lowering the minimum wage only makes sense if a significant portion of your employees are working for minimum wage, and you can't afford to hire anyone else (aka profits are zero), even though thousands of people are out of work.

I'd be willing to be that it's the exact opposite situation in the mining industry.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


A LOT of managerial and executive jobs could and should be outsourced. You think they don't have meeting rooms and donuts in Mumbai?
But this just buys into the lie that outsourcing is about efficiency. It's patently not about efficiency. It's a means of control, by which the boss class cuts costs, drives down conditions, and intimidates the rest of its shrinking labour force through the implication, "you could be next." Outsourcing's role in the actual world as an instrument of power explains why it never, oddly enough, gets applied to the powerful.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:55 AM on September 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


If someone has a timebomb handcuffed to their wrist and that person is willing to take the voluntary action to chop their hand off to get away from the bomb, I don't see what the problem is.
posted by the jam at 7:56 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Employees who don't agree to a pay cut get fired, and employer hires replacements for a pittance. Repeat until serfdom.

The problem with the debates like these is that the most elementary points get repeated back and forth over and over again, in some agonizing Groundhog Debate.

The obvious rebuttal to the idea of employees who don't agree to a pay cut getting fired is that not everyone is going to be willing to be employed for a pittance. That's what supply and demand is. The greater the demand for labor relative to supply, the more employers have to pay.

In theory, then, a minimum wage creates unemployment -- by forcing employers to pay people more than they otherwise would have, they employ fewer people than they otherwise would have.

Now some empirical work says: minimum wage laws don't create nearly as much unemployment as might be expected. Why might that be? Is it because other perks and benefits to workers are being cut instead of the visible wage? Is it because of deviations from free market conditions? What might those conditions be?

And how much extra unemployment does raising the minimum wage cause vs. the increase it creates in quality of life for the workers who do get employed? Does raising the minimum wage increase economic growth in the long run somehow? What other factors are at issue?

That's what needs to be discussed.
posted by shivohum at 8:04 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


by forcing employers to pay people more than they otherwise would have, they employ fewer people than they otherwise would have.

Perhaps. Or they take smaller profits, or economize elsewhere, or y'know, innovate, or...

You see, what you're saying is constantly put forward as a truism and most people just accept it, but it's a simplistic closed-box zero-sum formulation that pretends that a business is a laboratory experiment confined to a bench: only theoretically connected with reality.

It's the same as the "lower taxes create jobs" -- the idea being that when a business owner has more money in his pocket he hires people with it. And the fact is, lower taxes at least as often results in more profit taking, and reduces reinvestment -- reinvestment being a way to protect value from the taxman -- which in turn reduces jobs. So let's not just keep using the same uselessly simplistic arithmetic and pretending we're getting down to brass tacks, okay?
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:12 AM on September 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


too bad she's not from america, she could have her rhetorical engineers dive the left's idea dumpsters and appropriate the concept of "american exceptionalism" to say that our problems with outsourcing and wanting to be paid more than a pittance, and especially more than "africans", is greedy, selfish, and probably racist. toss in some "sustainability" stuff about how we'll just use that money to wreck the environment, and you got yourself a game plan.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:13 AM on September 5, 2012


Minimum wages move workers around: if there is a job for $5 an hour, a young unskilled man might do it, but it wouldn't be worth it for a higher-skilled woman with children because most of her extra income would go in childcare costs. At $8 an hour it's worth it for the skilled woman, who "takes the job away" from the unskilled young man. So more women re-entering the work force, more inactive young men. The effects on employment are less striking, but still negative. You may still regard them all as justified: I increasingly think that redistributive policy is better directed to taxpayer-funded social goods (healthcare, education, well-targeted education and retraining) rather than intervention in wages. But I'm very unsure.

Spain had an enormous, free-market boom from construction. Young people were tempted out of school at sixteen into well-paid construction jobs. When the crash came they were suddenly uneducated and unemployable. It would be good to set up some policies to address this scenario now in Australia. I'm not convinced these are the right policies, though!
posted by alasdair at 8:34 AM on September 5, 2012


The obvious rebuttal to the idea of employees who don't agree to a pay cut getting fired is that not everyone is going to be willing to be employed for a pittance. That's what supply and demand is. The greater the demand for labor relative to supply, the more employers have to pay.

But this isn't an obvious rebuttal, because there is a power disparity between employer and employee. The key problem is the term "willing". The employer can tell the employees they will be paid a pittance. The employees often have little realistic choice for other work, and unlike capital labor can't easily just move. If your town's major employer says it's cutting wages, your choices may be to take it or starve on the street.

This "[t]hat's what supply and demand is" is a libertarian fantasy. The reality is that workers are often in no position to deal with employers, that there aren't any real choices, and that "willingness" doesn't matter because the alternative to working for a pittance is the street.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:01 AM on September 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


For a good exploration of the power disparity between employers and employees, check out this Crooked Timber seminar on libertarians and coercion at work.

Basically, they argue that libertarians get very agitated when it comes to state coercion, but are almost completely silent or very disingenuous on the subject of workplace coercion.

This article is particularly interesting because it has a number of real-world examples of things that employers actually do do to bully and exploit employees. Factual reporting and examples of this kind are, in my opinion, more substantial evidence on the side of "employers have more power than employees" than any amount of armchair, best-case, idealising theory. Better to correct abuses that actually exist than fantasize about ones that may exist.

Gina Rinehart reminds me of the almost comically obtuse and resentful Houndsworth in the Lucky Ducky cartoons, convinced that the poor are somehow profiting at his expense even when he is making out like a bandit. See here, for example.
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:10 AM on September 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


Employers very rarely make hiring decisions based on the minimum wage. They only hire new employees when their current staffing level is insufficient to meet the demand for their product or service. If their current workforce is adequately meeting demand, why would a decrease in minimum wage cause them to hire an unneeded, superfluous employee?
If their company is in a market that sells directly or indirectly to the masses, then a decrease in minimum wage will cause their customers and potential customers to have less money, and will actually lower demand for their product or service, leading to layoffs and an overall decrease in employment.
posted by rocket88 at 9:17 AM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]



I feel bad for her.

If someone were to hand me a million dollars tomorrow, I'd be pleased as punch, and I would ride that out for decades, maybe even longer. Hell, the thought of writing a check to pay for a car makes me giggle like a school girl.

She's got billions and that's not enough.

She has to make sure everyone else is poor so, not only can she make more billions, but so she can be richer in comparison. It's no coincidence her only observable emotion seems to be disgust.

Give her all the money she wants. When the poor thing is laying on her death bed of 2000 thread sheets, wondering why she feels so empty looking upon her life and never once experienced the joy of a simple hug from a loved one, at least she'll have the solace of saying "Hey, I got a really high score in something."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:31 AM on September 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Increasing wages and reducing the number of hours of employment available may have minimal effect on employment if it reduces the need to work more than one job.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:32 AM on September 5, 2012


That's the problem with Australia's resources boom having made it into a resource-extraction economy. Such economies have no place for a prosperous middle class (it's not they who buy iron ore, and once it's over in China, Australian consumers' demand for Chinese goods has negligible effect on Chinese demand for iron ore), let alone civil society, a creative class, or a healthy public sphere. In fact, all these things are drains on profit; an optimally efficient pure resource-extraction economy would look more like pre-revolutionary Russia than any modern society, with a tiny ruling elite and a large labour army of serfs, with the mechanisms to extract as much productivity from them for as little cost as possible.

This isn't lost on the rest of the mining-lobby-founded Australian Right: some on its fringes openly hold up Chile's Pinochet regime as a model to follow.
posted by acb at 9:57 AM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, part of the libertarian "voluntary agreement" fantasy where workers will just go elsewhere if they dislike wages or employment conditions is that workers are not some fungible mass. Here, we're talking about mining work, not highly skilled labor.

What are the choices for these workers if their employer decides to give them a pittance? Other employers in their mining towns that are totally dependent on the mining company, employers that can no longer afford to hire anyone because the workers can't afford to buy from them anymore? Will the miners magically pick up their lives and move to Sydney or Melbourne and find mining work their at wages they find acceptable?

And not only are we talking about low-skilled labor, we're specifically discussing low-skilled immigrant labor, people who due to their status already have extremely limited employment options.

It just boggles my mind how any thinking person who has lived for a moment in the real world can spout this libertarian nonsense.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:59 AM on September 5, 2012


I'm not sure what kind of minimal-tech, very-low-wage mining operation manned by impoverished migrant labour Rinehart dreams about, but currently the Australian mining industry is actively recruiting US military veterans for well-paid skilled hi-tech jobs
posted by Bwithh at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2012


So if a company lowers wages (setting aside all the reasons this is fantasy) workers can just go elsewhere. Great. Lowering the minimum wage, though, isn't one company dropping wages. If everyone's paying minimum wage (for the jobs you're qualified to do) and minimum wage falls, it's not like you can just go elsewhere. They're paying less now, too.
posted by Dysk at 11:02 AM on September 5, 2012


Also, and I can't believe I forgot to point this out earlier, but these are the same African workers currently striking (and being gunned down) for a pay rise? The bottom will be reached somewhere. We may even be seeing it now, short of multinationals deliberately relocating to recently finished war zones purely to capitalise on the desperation of the people there.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:11 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a history student, I've studied the world before there was a minimum wage.

There was just as much unemployment (at times more, at times less, because of the business cycles), but there were more starving and malnourished children. If you think the minimum wage is a bad idea, ask yourself: do you really want to live in the 19th century? Do you really want your kids to grow up in a society where Dickensian-factory jobs were the really well paid ones? Because those satanic mills still paid better than agricultural labour.

Or do you want to live in a world more like that of the mid-twentieth century, after unionization and minimum wage laws had improved working conditions? And, incidentally, raised living standards to the point where people could afford to consume more, benefiting the whole of the economy.
posted by jb at 12:11 PM on September 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


(That comment really isn't meant for anyone in this thread in particular, but for the idiots around the world who don't seem to know anything about the history of labour, like the subject of the FPP.)
posted by jb at 12:12 PM on September 5, 2012


It just boggles my mind how any thinking person who has lived for a moment in the real world can spout this libertarian nonsense.

I believe that it takes a complete lack of empathy. Rather than see other human beings as real people with lives, families, and dreams, Libertarians seem to view them as but cogs in the machine, worker bees with no needs other than to fulfill their allotted days on earth with the maximum amount of work product for their employers
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:28 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


My conclusion from threads like these is that libertarians are awful, despicable human beings, using "human beings" in the loosest possible sense. From top to bottom, from rich to poor.
posted by maxwelton at 12:38 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


My conclusion from threads like these is that libertarians are awful, despicable human beings, using "human beings" in the loosest possible sense. From top to bottom, from rich to poor.

As counterpoint, I present Joe Dejacque and Pete Kropotkin.

I'd call myself a libertarian, though I certainly don't identify with most American libertarians (I don't support private property or gun ownership rights) and I register as P&F.

I am not an awful, despicable human being, though that is like my opinion man.

/libertarian
posted by mrgrimm at 12:53 PM on September 5, 2012


Your employees are my customers. My employees are your customers. The wages that I spend on employees are spent in your establishment, you pay them wages, and they spend those wages with me. The money circulates. Higher minimum wages are to some extent offset by inflation, and this can be held in check by governmental taxation and spending on public works.

Rinehart gained her money by sheer luck. She is as entitled to the proceeds of her good fortune as she is to the proceeds of her hard work (assuming she had ever worked hard at anything), however she clearly mistakes one for the other.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:00 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not an awful, despicable human being, though that is like my opinion man.

Would you say a person has to die in a ditch if they didn't buy health insurance or couldn't pay for care?
posted by Talez at 1:09 PM on September 5, 2012


Would you say a person has to die in a ditch if they didn't buy health insurance or couldn't pay for care?

Oh, be fair. He might say a person has to rely on the charity of the wealthy!
posted by Jimbob at 1:43 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


John Cohen's *almost* been picked on enough, but I can't resist offering a different perspective on the same issue.

"Voluntary agreements" in the economic sphere are almost always contracts -- sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit -- and in point of fact such contracts have the state as a silent third party, because in the event of a contract dispute it is the state that will be called in to clear things up and *enforce* that contract.

Contract enforcement requires the state to dedicate some of its resources, and thus it is fair for the state to consider whether or not a particular contract or family of contract types is in fact worth the cost in resources it'd take to properly enforce.

Assuming an efficient-enough market -- which is par for the course on this topic -- low wages voluntarily agreed to are an indicator that the work being performed is of low value (indeed, of not much more value than the wages...). This makes it entirely reasonable, in principle, for the state to decide that below some cutoff it's just not worth enforcing such employment agreements.

I offer it as a consideration independent of the fairness consideration and the economic impacts consideration.

As for the actual article: one wonders what this woman is thinking about when she makes such statements, and what she imagines she will gain from making them. It's hard to see her as motivated by anything other than personal gain, and yet these statements seem so unlikely to further that cause there must be something else afoot, but what?
posted by hoople at 2:05 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Plus I'm not an economist so I don't know if lowering the minimum wage would actually stimulate employment.

I'm not an economist, either, and neither is the ten-year-old kid next door, but even he knows this is a dumb argument. As is the similar argument that lowering taxes would spur "job creators" to create jobs.

Those factors are nothing next to demand for goods and services. If you have a low demand for services, no one wants to buy your widget, then you don't hire. But if you have a high demand for services, then guess what? You hire! Taxes and minimum wage don't enter into it.
posted by zardoz at 2:11 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Would you say a person has to die in a ditch if they didn't buy health insurance or couldn't pay for care?

Of course not.

I would give her the right to die in the ditch if she really wanted to, though.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2012


It's hard to see her as motivated by anything other than personal gain, and yet these statements seem so unlikely to further that cause there must be something else afoot, but what?

I assume she's hoping for a US-style outcome - you know, where poor people vote against their own self-interest and support the Republican party because after all, one day they will probably be rich and will deserve all those tax cuts! If so, she's completely misreading the Australian egalitarian mindset, which isn't surprising given reinforced ivory tower in which she lives.
posted by Jimbob at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2012


isnt noam chomsky like a libertarian

also the south park guys
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:55 PM on September 5, 2012


Woah, woah, folks, we're getting two definitions of "libertarian" mixed up. The classic, original use of the word, which is still in use outside the US, means libertarian socialism of various stripes- anarchism. The use of the word that stems to about the 50s and is in use almost solely in the US means "libertarian" capitalism, an incredibly harsh, inhuman doctrine which has no values or principles in common with what somebody who's going to cite the great Peter Kropotkin means when they say "libertarian".
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:41 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course not.

I would give her the right to die in the ditch if she really wanted to, though.


Have some cojones. Don't beat around the bush. Stand up for what you believe in and be proud! What makes her "want" to die in a ditch? Her lack of ability to earn the money? Spending money on anything other than absolute bare essentials before health insurance or healthcare? Help me out here!

also the south park guys

The South Park guys seem to be libertarian in the sense that their shtick is everyone's political convictions are stupid. Despite the fact that their shtick looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, Parker has gone on record that he might be a goose and everyone should stop assuming he's a duck.
posted by Talez at 3:46 PM on September 5, 2012


we're getting two definitions of "libertarian" mixed up

Libertarians and propertarians.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:17 PM on September 5, 2012


Rinehart is establishing a 50000 AUD prize for any mining promoter who is especially aggressive defending the industry against “far left or non-understanding media attacks”
posted by JPD at 4:32 PM on September 5, 2012


She's not saying Australians should be paid less, but in the open market, they will not be able to compete with African wages.

This actually matters less than you think - and the reason why is one of the reasons why lowering minimum wage is generally not a good economic move for a country.

The majority of consumption and economica activity in a country is domestic. It's always domestic. Because you can't hire a plumber in China to fix your toilet, and services are generally a much bigger slice of economies than people think. The tv may have come from China, but when it hit the shore it was delivered to a warehouse, couriered to a shop, sold by someone - all domestically.

This of course runs directly what most media and politicians both left and right like to talk about. Far more scary to think of vicious yellow hordes taking jobs, economy in doldrums etc etc.

Because most consumption is domestic, lowering the minimum wage means that people have less money to spend, domestically, and thus exerts a depressionary effect on local economies. This is not to say that raising the minimum wage sky high is a perfect solution but lowering it is almost never an unalloyed good, in my opinion.

Case in point, there's been a lot of discussion - and evidence - here locally at the moment about our unemployment benefit. Many years ago now, the government decided to link it to general inflation, whereas old age pension was linked to the average male wage. Obviously, the latter is higher than general inflation and as a consequence there is a widening gulf between the two benefits, and in real terms the unemployment benefit has been shrinking. It has shrunk so far now that it represents an irrefutable inhibitor for job-seekers. They don't have the money for the things that succesful job-seeking requires, and have to spend copious amounts of time dealing with their poverty instead of looking for work.

Ironically, effectively lowering the unemployment benefit has proved a greater disincentive for job seeking, than getting a pittance is an incentive to get a job asap. The ostensible purpose of keeping the benefit low - to save money - is self-defeating.

Sidenote: Fascinating, I don't think I've ever heard anyone on or near the minimum wage advocating for a reduction of it. It's almost like the people supporting it are the ones who will never be directly affected by it. Or something.
posted by smoke at 6:03 PM on September 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


My conclusion from threads like these is that libertarians are awful, despicable human beings, using "human beings" in the loosest possible sense. From top to bottom, from rich to poor.
maxwelton

For the libertarians of the von Mises/Rothbard strain (not to mention the different but still awful Randroids) yes, this is the correct conclusion. They are awful, despicable creatures preaching, as Pope Guilty put it, an incredibly harsh, inhuman doctrine that is guaranteed to do nothing but take everything we consider bad about modern society (the poor being ground underfoot, justice being bought and sold, workers reduced to worthless cogs to be used and discarded at a whim) and enshrine it as the ultimate goal, presented in a wrapper of "liberty" the use of which is so cynical and duplicitous it's sickening.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:18 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did someone mention Pinochet?
You take that back! The Hancock Family has NO CONNECTION with dictators. NONE!
I realise that this is a Sins of the Father situation, but Gina was by his side for most of his life until Rose came along. That's where her values came from.
posted by Mezentian at 7:09 PM on September 5, 2012


She could take a lesson from the Tatas who also began with an iron ore company.

It's nice that the Tatas give money to charities, but it would be even nicer if they didn't take away the tiny perks - like the paltry $50 grocery gift card at xmas - from their incredibly hard working steel labourers. It would also be nice if they spent some of that money making their steel plants safe, with machinery that doesn't break down every 10 minutes. Year after year the labourers are made to feel less and less valuable, and to fear the loss of their jobs more and more, all the while Tata brings in more profits than ever before. No, all these obscenely wealthy business owners are dicks who don't know the price of bread, some of them just hide it better than others.
posted by zarah at 7:38 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's hard to see her as motivated by anything other than personal gain, and yet these statements seem so unlikely to further that cause there must be something else afoot, but what?

I do wonder about that. Is she *that* tone deaf? Am I underestimating the financial and electoral ignorance of the Liberal Party? She can make big donations, but she's still just one vote.

And anyone who admires Lang Hancock as much as Gina does can bite my shiny metal arse. My dad has emphysema because as a kid he played in the streets of Wittenoom, his mum sweeping the industrial dust out of the house while his dad worked the asbestos mine there without adequate safety gear (died of lung cancer before I was born). That's Lang's fault, and a lot of West Australians still remember that.
posted by harriet vane at 9:47 PM on September 5, 2012


You can take my word for this (or not), but Gina is not well liked among her employees. And never has been. This has made her paranoid (moreso) to the point where she has someone employed (anecdotally) to scour all incoming and outgoing e-mails (allegedly).

Anecdotally, people who should like her, don't seem to like her much. When she hoisted herself on the truck at the Axe The Tax rally there were a hell of a lot of people behind her who had suggested she not do that.

She is also far, far to the right of the Liberal party who need a degree of populism. Gina doesn't understand populism.

My dad has emphysema because as a kid he played in the streets of Wittenoom

The asbestos story this week has made me very, very sad.
Given what has happened this week I have been spending a lot of time in the past few days wondering about our house. Because I have smashed more holes than I can count into what I have discovered this week might be white asbestos.
posted by Mezentian at 10:17 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can take my word for this (or not), but Gina is not well liked among her employees.

This is my shocked face.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:52 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mezentian, please do get your house checked out. Having asbestos around isn't a guarantee you'll get sick from it, but it'd be good to know for certain if it's present so you can take precautions. Plus smashing holes into houses is super-fun, if you haven't got asbestos then you'll have many years of smashy enjoyment ahead of you!
posted by harriet vane at 11:20 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]




"You can punch Gina in the head - just once - or go back in time and kill Hitler."
"..."
"Well?"
"I'M THINKING!"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:44 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of the comments here are rooted in ignorance of Australia's current situation. We have quite low unemployment, and employers like Rhinehart are paying $100,000 for truck drivers - obviously not out of generosity.
The high pay in the (quite highly skilled) mining industry is a reflection of the inability of the currently unemployed people to get jobs there, because they can't or won't move, or, more usually in my experience, don't have the skills to work in the industry.
Mining is incredibly procedural, with intricate safety requirements and considerable requirements for literacy and numeracy as well as manual dexterity. These guys and girls aren't swinging picks, they are piloting 30 ton drill sets and 50 ton dump trucks. Or setting dynamite or running crushing machines.
All this in the arse end of the country, where prices for everything are high and non-work opportunities for culture and entertainment are limited.
Dropping the minimum wage will do nothing to help staff mines more cheaply, as they can't find enough workers at the current high pay.
The remaining unemployed in Oz need help to find a job, by upskilling and training and perhaps targetted programs to stimulate growth in industries we can compete in even with a high cost base.
There is no opportunity for us to compete with Africans on $2 a day, except we have some resource deposits (let's tax them, hey? They can't fly off shore) and the intellectual capacity of our people.
posted by bystander at 2:01 AM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


zarah, may I have cites please? Or are you referring to Corus employees in the UK with access to NHS and other services, as opposed to their work in Bihar, one of the poorest and least developed parts of India?
posted by infini at 2:35 AM on September 6, 2012


I love a silly meme, but most of the "Scumbag Gina" ones doing the rounds are just making fun of her appearance so I'm not going to link to them. I can't re-find the good one of the African kid dancing with "Gina Rinehart's not my mum" on it though.
posted by harriet vane at 4:00 AM on September 6, 2012


re:asbestos: My sister happened to be at home during the day a bit ago and noticed some contractors just pulling out asbestos from the house next door and putting it in a skip on the road - no safety measures at all. When she went to talk to them (I think to start with she was horrified on their behalf) they told her they didn't know the owner and couldn't get in touch with him (with a healthy tone of get the hell out, busybody)...so she called the skip company who said they'd refuse to pick up the skip and goddamit they'd already talked to this guy about asbestos, and she called the local council as well. Unfortunately that ended with the asbestos just sitting out on the yard next to hers until I presume the council dealt with it. Super weird story - we couldn't figure out why the contractors would ever sign up for that.
posted by jacalata at 4:07 AM on September 6, 2012


It's nice that the Tatas give money to charities, but it would be even nicer if they didn't take away the tiny perks - like the paltry $50 grocery gift card at xmas - from their incredibly hard working steel labourers. It would also be nice if they spent some of that money making their steel plants safe, with machinery that doesn't break down every 10 minutes. Year after year the labourers are made to feel less and less valuable, and to fear the loss of their jobs more and more, all the while Tata brings in more profits than ever before. No, all these obscenely wealthy business owners are dicks who don't know the price of bread, some of them just hide it better than others.

To be clear, Tata Sons "is the promoter of all key Tata companies and holds the bulk of shareholding in these companies". Up the chain, two charitable trusts own about 66% of Tata Sons. So, Tatas don't just "give money to charities". Tatas are essentially owned by charities.

I don't know where you get your safety figures on Tata Steel from, but I have been unable to find any information that creates that sort of impression.

Not that I have anything to do with Tatas. As an Indian, I am just baffled that someone has such an impression of Tatas. Being Rich Assholes is not something that Tatas have ever been accused of AFAIK.
posted by vidur at 7:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The really funny thing about the "cost of doing business in Australia is too high" argument is that it's kind of correct, but mostly a result of the mining boom. Her argument is largely that she is a victim of her own (and the mining sector's generally) own 'success'. Poor didims.

Meanwhile, those of us over here in the resource poor states are getting a bit sick of the two-speed economy, and populist Western Australian gripes about not getting their 'fair share' of Federal tax disbursements back to the States (read: for the first time since Federation NSW and Victorian taxpayers are no longer subsidising their infrastructure and social services)
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:04 AM on September 7, 2012


To be fair complaints about the "fair share of Federal tax disbursements" go back to Federation.
And there are some legitimate issues over revenue sharing.

Of course, that's always going to be the case when the smaller states are the most populated.

Just be pleased that the Royalties For Regions thing hasn't become Federal Policy.
Oh, but would there not be cats among winged animals if the Nationals went after that one?
posted by Mezentian at 2:21 AM on September 7, 2012


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