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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Working into the grave

Will Australian workers be better off under John Howard's proposed industrial relations changes? George Simon thinks not. I tend to agree.

17 Comments:

Blogger Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

'The poor object to being governed badly, while the rich object to being governed at all.'
-G. K. Chesterton

John Kenneth Galbraith is well aware of the oxymoron - how the rich don't work because they have too little money, while the poor don't work because they have too much. Another John, Button, pressed all his ironical buttons when he suggested that the rich need more money as an incentive and the poor need less money as an incentive...

Over time, the task of making a living and raising a family tends to exert a steady rightward pull on the politics of most every angry young man and woman. This might be why today's left has so few old lions in comparison to the right, and why Victor Navasky, current publisher and longtime editor of the Nation, is so important Unconventional wisdom: misadventures in publishing

Saturday, June 11, 2005 5:55:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

The left has so few old lions? Mmm, not sure about that. Many of them have been debunked (Castro, Stalin, Che etc.) but many still exist. For me, the writers and activists remain inspiring, from Michael Albert to Chomsky, the list goes on and on...
As for politics, mmm, perhaps less options. Jozef, how about some of old Eastern Europe freedom fighters?

Saturday, June 11, 2005 6:00:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

I reckon Simon is wrong when he claims that, come July 1, 'every Australian worker' will wake up with the realisation that they have been dudded.

Most of them have been on individual contracts, workplace agreements or casualised through agencies for a long time anyway and while the 'reforms' will intensify the downwards pressure on their wages and conditions its not really much of a change to what has already been happening since the late 1970s.

The Howard government's latest 'reforms' are not so much about further beating down wages and conditions as they are about entrenching the ones that already exist - thanks mostly to the taming of the union movement that happened primarily under Hawke and Keating.

Saturday, June 11, 2005 6:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Shabadoo! said...

Could someone explain just what is so awful about the changes to IR law? I mean, first of all, what the hell business of it is of the state to decide how much workers should be paid? (In the words of philosopher Ty Webb, "What is this, Russia? No, no, I didn't think so.")

Secondly, ask anyone who's actually managed or is managing a business in Australia: there are far too many drop-kicks and bludgers out there who are pulling down otherwise good companies, and need to be weeded out. Yet unions and other legal protections mean that these people can continue to harm their fellow workers and their employers.

Saturday, June 11, 2005 6:34:00 pm  
Blogger Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

Antony my link above is filled with irony as is this one below:

Good news from Iraq: skylights installed in Fallujah schools!

Saturday, June 11, 2005 9:45:00 pm  
Anonymous joe2 said...

shabadoo,have you ever looked into the mirror? You might find that your judgements are creepy.
One day ,you might find it happens to you. Maybe the young libs will shun you.

You are the sought of person I would not wish to work for under any circumstances and presume you do not have a business. Nobody would work for you.

Sunday, June 12, 2005 5:46:00 pm  
Anonymous jenny c said...

Joe2, you are an example of why the left are struggling these days. Much like the author of this blog, you choose to ignore the opportunities to launch a solid argument and decide upon name calling instead.

Shabadoo wrote:
Could someone explain just what is so awful about the changes to IR law? I mean, first of all, what the hell business of it is of the state to decide how much workers should be paid?

And, instead of mentioning facts you choose derision. You had the opportunity to mention that it is the government's role to protect its citizens and its workers and one way it can do this is by ensuring minimum pay levels and working conditions, thereby simultaneously guaranteeing a certain amount of income through tax which is how the government can get money from industry.

You could have mentioned the numerous employers through history who exploited their workers through forcing them to compete for jobs in times of high unemployment by working for less money than the next guy.

Instead you took the opportunity to try to make yourself feel better by making somebody else feel worse. This, I have to tell you, is the technique used by bullies. A bully is the sort (note the spelling) of person who exploits their workers. Perhaps you should also glance in the mirror occaisionally.

Monday, June 13, 2005 2:09:00 am  
Anonymous shabadoo! said...

Thanks, Jenny C; every time I start to try and engage an argument around here, out comes either the insult book or the sniffy 'I-know-better-than-you / you're-too-stupid-to-understand' response that is endemic to the Left. (Gosh, and people wonder why the ALP keeps getting trounced by voters).

I disagree with your argument on many points (a minimum wage is OK; setting wages for specific jobs is not in my book - similarly, the end point of all this shouldn't be just to enrich the government). Nevertheless, Jenny C, you're a class act.

In any case, I've worked in enough small to mid-size organisations, and now manage one, to know the real damage one person with a fierce entitlement complex who knows firing him is more trouble than its worth can do.

Monday, June 13, 2005 9:36:00 am  
Anonymous jenny c said...

Shabadoo, thanks for the compliment, wrong though you may be about some things.

Yes, one person can cause far too much trouble and management does tend to defend with offence. The aim would be to gain the workers' trust. In a situation where management and workers can get along realising that that they are all part of the same organisation and all working towards the same goal, the sooner mutual respect will conquer financial differences.

That being said, and humans being humans, good luck to everyone but the fighting will continue.

And that seems to be the perfect time to point out that the 'I-know-better-than-you / you're-too-stupid-to-understand' response is not limited to the left. The paranoia on both sides breeds the most hateful contempt.

Monday, June 13, 2005 2:12:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

"Much like the author of this blog, you choose to ignore the opportunities to launch a solid argument and decide upon name calling instead."

Whereas suggesting that IR policy should be predicated on the belief that Australian workers (and, implicitly, not Australian managers) are 'dropkicks and bludgers' is a well though out and reasonable debating point, eh jenny c?

If Shabadoo! wants his posts to be addressed seriously and with respect he might try actually making some that are serious and respectful.

A serious response might be to point out that Australian business managers and entrepreneurs are quite poor by international standards while Australian workers are relatively highly skilled and put in long hours - so it sure doesn't make much sense to give the weak link in the IR equation even more control over the process.

But do you really think Shabadoo! wants to hear that? Or would he prefer to defend his ideological assumptions with analytical gems like 'dropkicks' and 'bludgers'?

Monday, June 13, 2005 3:47:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thank you Michael.
Until we get past the left and right divide, name calling etc, cultural warriors, I'll just keep on yawning.

Monday, June 13, 2005 8:28:00 pm  
Anonymous shabadoo! said...

Gee, Ant, can't wait for you to get over the name-calling...

Monday, June 13, 2005 8:52:00 pm  
Anonymous jenny c said...

Michael, I think you misunderstand my point. (I expect that of Antony but reading your comments I was hoping for a bit more).

Shabadoo wrote:
there are far too many drop-kicks and bludgers out there who are pulling down otherwise good companies

As bigotted as it seems, this is still his opinion regarding the issue. The role of those who disagree with him (and in case you couldn't tell, I am one) is to address this issue and his bias.

Instead Joe2 wrote:
You are the sought of person I would not wish to work for under any circumstances and presume you do not have a business. Nobody would work for you.

This is far from constructive and serves no purpose other than for Joe2 to feel superior. Good luck to him.

The fact is that I have heard Shabadoo's arguments, with very similar wording, on too many episodes of ACA and Today Tonight. To disregard them as insignificant because of a lack of eloquence is to turn your back on an attacker because they are armed only with a stick.

It is the more dangerous option. Every critic deserves a respectful rebuttal despite the construction of their argument.

Antony, meanwhile, prefers to stay on the sidelines because this is how he plays his game. He prefers to make controversy rather than work towards a solution because without the controversy he would be out of a job.

ps My comments have been picked up on the sealfur blog.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 11:07:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

Excuse my lack of nuance, jenny c, but whether shabadoo!'s opinions are his own or something regurgitated from tabloid television I still fail to see why his name calling and vilification of an entire class of Australians is a rational argument while joe2's suggestions that his arguments are creepy and no-one would work for him is vilification.

But perhaps we are working from different dictionaries. The link you post provides an illustration.

"I don't know where your bias comes from but the mere fact of its existence shows that you know a lot more about showboating and getting your name published than you do about actual journalism.

People like you give a wonderful profession a terrible name.
"

Perhaps you would like to refer us all to the references which define Antony's addressing of Dershowitz's ideas and arguments as 'put-downs and name calling' and your own responses to Antony as an upstanding example of 'counterpoint'.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 2:24:00 pm  
Anonymous jenny c said...

Michael,
You want examples? How about these from Antony?
Oh, I forgot, Jews can't commit oppression, that's only for the Arabs...
and
Dershowitz? Bigot. There, accept that.
and don't forget
"The Case for Israel" is a book for people who like to be told that Israel is the Middle East's only democracy that behaves humanely towards the Palestinians. Let them live with these delusions.

Now, granted, my arguments were heated in the exerpt on SealFur, but if you want an example of counterpoint, what about this from above:

Yes, one person can cause far too much trouble and management does tend to defend with offence. The aim would be to gain the workers' trust. In a situation where management and workers can get along realising that that they are all part of the same organisation and all working towards the same goal, the sooner mutual respect will conquer financial differences.

The difference, you will find is that Joe2, with an inability to argue based on the case itself, reverts to personal attacks on the character of his opponent while Shabadoo has merely voiced his opinion on the matter, albeit with vulgarities.

Do you have a problem with his comments regarding the working class? Then defend their rights with arguments. That is my point. He called them bludgers and drop-kicks? Then prove why they are not. Explain that they are hard-working people who are highly skilled and undervalued. Explain that this scenario can cause problems in the workplace because of a lack of satisfaction or reward gained from work. Explain that you understand there are trouble-makers who can ruin it for everyone but the basic idea behind a union is to protect its members from exploitation. Explain that management in most companies sees their workers as cattle rather than skilled labour. Explain to him that his attitude is exactly the reason why there will never be an answer as long as the workers are regarded as bludging drop-kicks and management are considered money-grabbing tight-arses.

Explanations form an argument. Personal attacks are an empty offensive strategy. That is the difference.

Reactionary tactics will only serve to prolong misunderstanding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 5:33:00 pm  
Anonymous joe2 said...

I have been taking a good look at myself and appreciate the fine mediation. Jenny c, has been particularly helpful, in my rehabilitation.

My presumptions about Shabadoo were cruel and ill-founded. Based completely on imagination and type-casting.

To be really honest, I love the lack of fair dismissal rules that are imminent. Drop kicks and bludgers are dragging companies and Australia down.

I wouldn't want to work for any business that didn't like me. My objections to working for money are rediculous. I could "work for the dole", in a voluntary capacity, for a major hardware company.

Somebody I know, is already doing it and it is called a "traineeship".

Have I recanted enough?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 6:26:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

Hmm, so now your "arguments" are "heated", but Antony's "comments and put-downs do nothing but stifle debate".

There's a word for someone who holds others up to standards they decline to apply to themselves, jenny c, but as you seem to have a thing about name calling I will refrain from mentioning it.

And why on earth should I or anyone else descend to shabadoo!'s level by discussing IR laws in terms of whether Australian workers are drop kicks or bludgers?
The words are so subjective as to be almost meaningless - so he can always slip away from any contrary arguments via redefinition - and it degrades debate to precisely the sort of name calling that you crusade against.

But in any case, I think you are seriously misreading the nature of debate in public forums (e.g. blogs) if you think its about converting your opponent to your point of view. Have you listened to a session of parliament lately?

The chances of Antony, joe2 or anyone else using reasoned argument to convert shabadoo! into an egalitarian fan of Australian workers is about the same as that of Gerard Henderson becoming a communist after listening to a Clash song.

These sorts of debates are more about shifting the uncommitted lurkers than preaching to opponents or allies. And given the sort of success the Right has had with insults in recent decades - with many people now scared to express any human compassion at all for fear of being labelled a 'do-gooder', a 'bleeding heart', 'politically correct' or (*gasp*) a 'liberal' - why is turning their own methods against them such a major tactical error?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 11:21:00 pm  

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