Why privatise anything where lives are at risk? The executives will always want for themselves the money that should be spent on safety and the sackings that follow this will always endanger lives (consider England’s train crashes after Blair’s privatisations), and I don’t see the point.
No ordinary citizen has ever said, ‘Thank God we privatised Telstra!’ after the many thousands of lost jobs and soaring phone bills. And I don’t see the point.
Why privatise anything? What service improvements do we get from the lotteries, tramways, nursing homes and prisons privatised against the people’s wishes? The money that goes to the shareholders comes out of safety and frequency of service (your call is important to us) and ordinary people die of the difference.
It is possible that privatisation kills people; but, hey, the upside is Alan Joyce gets $1,600 an hour, $13,000 a day, $90,000 a week, $4.7 million a year for saying things are going swimmingly while engines catch on fire.
|Alan Joyce in 2019 – “took home $23.9 million as he reaped the rewards of a long-term incentive plan – which is more than 275 times the full-time average wage and works out to more than $65,000 a day.”|
Ralph Norris at the Commonwealth Bank, by contrast, gets only $563 an hour (multiple times what his government-bureaucrat predecessor got in 1991), but it’s hard to see what he does to earn it.
He puts stress on millions of lives, sure, every time he puts interest rates up but the time he spends deciding this can be measured in minutes per year. And I don’t see the point in paying him this much; one year of his wage, as I keep tiresomely pointing out in my books, could subsidise three small theatre companies for 1,000 years on the interest alone. And I don’t see the point.
Keating’s floating of the dollar has been a whangdoodle of a success too. It means, this week, that hundreds of export businesses, farms in particular, will go broke, and China, which doesn’t float its money, will soon rule the world.
We can’t, like China, say our dollar is worth a useful 78 US cents; no, it’s a disastrous 101 cents, driving our 2013 budget back into deficit, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Except unfloat the dollar, of course, and admit Paul was wrong. And that would never do. Better the people perish than this eloquent drongo confess he made a mistake.
He took off the tariffs too, which meant that instead of us taxpayers getting back 10 cents for every Hong Kong t-shirt we bought, and instead of having a clothing industry that kept employment in country towns and kept those country towns going, we made nothing out of the t-shirts we bought and devastated hundreds of thousands of lives. What a great idea that was.
Can’t have protection, he said. Everyone else does but we won’t. Protectionism was an idea that worked for 5,000 years, but it’s lately failed. Let’s do away with it. Just us, on our own.
Funny how he didn’t see that protection means what it says. We protect ourselves from AIDS with condoms. We protect our shores with navies, armies and air forces.
We protect our children from roving perverts with police and Hinch’s broadcast hate-lists. We protect ourselves from boat people by locking them up in the Adelaide Hills. But protect our jobs and way of life by tariffs? Nah, that’s over.
Losers like Japan, the EU, the US and China do that. We’re over it. Paul Keating says we’re long over it. Who needs jobs in country towns?
…And, oh yes, Keating let in the foreign banks, which meant Australian money didn’t stay here, it went to other countries to pay their executives thousands an hour and put out of work, in tens of thousands, our suburban bank tellers and wreck their families’ lives.
That was a good idea wasn’t it? He was praised for it effusively at the time; world’s greatest treasurer and so on. How wrong they were.
The worst thing he did, though, was sell the Commonwealth Bank. Had it still been a government instrumentality Wayne Swan could have ordered it, this week, to keep its interest rates at 6 per cent.
This would have saved the average family $40 a week. In what way was it helpful that Swanny could not?
The past 10 years has seen the unravelling – as I predicted in my book on economics First Abolish the Customer in 1998 – of the Friedmanite Consensus as more and more businesses go to the wall and mortgages go up and wages down and jobs are lost in tens of thousands and country towns cark it, and Keynesian Common Sense is returning.
If we keep people working, Keynes says, the nation prospers. An idea thought outdated at the time.
But Keating, who doesn’t read books much, won’t admit this. Planes will fall out of the sky because of his innumerate folly but he won’t admit it. He’s as rich as Croesus now, and we can all get stuffed.
And economics for people like him is no longer a mechanical system of pushed levers and cascades of money, it’s a religion: though he slay me yet will I trust him. It’s a kind of willed madness that China, the victor, has opted out of.
And we’re still in it, imagining competition with slaves and selling our farms and our jams and our Berlei Bras to foreigners makes national sense.
And our present Prime Minister, who likes what she’s heard of Paul Keating’s ideas and thinks Bob Katter a fool, doesn’t get it either.
She’s in the religion that’s killing us all.
And it’s a pity.
Bob Ellis’s last two books on Australian politics, One Hundred Days of Summer and Suddenly, Last Winter, are in bookshops now.