Worried about those wretched unemployed trapped at home huddled over the one bar heater of Centrelink mercy and societal compassion, confidence ebbing, electricity bill rising, immured in a prison of no opportunities? Look no further. Worried about the moronic earn or learn mantra of the right? Read on.
Worried about the logical contradiction inherent in getting people off the dole and into a deformed and rapidly shrinking labour market? Now let’s not overthink the situation. But please read on. Worried about the racket which has cadres of skilled migrant workers swelling the workforce via corrupt employers fiddling visa requirements. Worry no more. Independent senator Day has come up with a winner. Trade away your rights.
On ABC Radio National, this morning, Day proposed that unemployed people should hop into their local workshops, business enterprises and other places of work and offer themselves to bosses at bargain rates. Yes, in Day’s holler for a collar scheme, workers on the dole could trade away such luxurious fripperies as sick pay and minimum rates in order to secure employment. Stoically enduring the vicissitudes of fate such as the hunger pangs occasioned by not having the funds to buy such luxuries as groceries, or lack of a local workplace, lack of skills, qualifications and experience, new recruits would flood the workforce. Casting aside crippling self-doubt, self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness, the unemployed could strike a bargain rate with bosses by making themselves cheaper than the going rate. It’s a capitalist’s wet dream. The ultimate profit incentive is a compliant work force keen to undercut itself.
Imagine the scene. It is a cold winter morning. You are at home under your doona dreading another day. Then you hear your ABC. A new day dawns for you. Opportunity is knocking. You throw off the doona of dread and self-doubt. You dress yourself in those work clothes you keep neatly pressed at the ready for such occasions. You race out of the door and down the street on your bicycle. In a few minutes you are in job central, those havens of industry and commercial enterprise found without exception in every suburb and regional town across the nation.
You exude confidence. You are assertive. All the old habits of doubt have been extinguished. You stick your head around the door of your local metal foundry and offer your services. There’s a guillotine in there and the workshop has a foundry. Sparks are flying and it is noisy and dirty but you can temper your complete lack of experience with your willingness to cheapen yourself. No doubt in the process, you will be warmly applauded by those workers whose rates you are undercutting. No doubt also that the foreman will welcome the addition of another risky liability to his already barely adept health and safety regime. Dropping tools, downing pencils, dismissing clients with a wave, bosses and forepeople would rise up as one in their welcome, calling across the factory floor, shed or office. What’s that you hear?
Piss off you clown.
Already dubbed by some as “seize the day” and by others as “ups a daisy” the scheme appears a perfect fit in today’s politics so many ways. First it is designed to illustrate what we have always suspected. The answer is always simple. Plain as day. But politicians just won’t see it. Those clowns in Canberra, those bloody unionists and all the rest of them are buggering up the country with their stupid rules and regulations. If they just listened to ordinary people, (and more talkback radio) they would realise that the answer is simple common sense. And the answer is practical. Practical in this case being people doing things rather than, God forbid, thinking, or talking about them.
Arrestingly simple also is the logic. But dazzling as it may appear, the bargain-priced worker of today would quickly find herself under-priced and replaced by the undercutting applicant of tomorrow. Wages would spiral downwards to a new sub sub subsistence levels. Whilst captains of industry would no doubt be cheering, the next logical development would be even more attractive. Job applicants would pay the boss for a job. Of course, lacking funds would mean that schemes would be set up to allow job seekers to borrow the money to buy a job. Christopher Pyne, doubtless, would skip nimbly into the breach to design a HECS type scheme where loans were made available at market rates. Banks would rush to embrace the new opportunity to lend. Bank boffins would outdo each other in packaging and on-selling such debts on the open market. Expect this item on the next G20 agenda.
So well done Bob! Expect Santamaria’s ghost to genuflect in its grave. May captains of industry applaud you. Let the shock jocks fall over themselves to invite you on air. And let us all applaud the jobless as they lift themselves out of sinful self-inflicted idleness into virtuous productivity. Workers of the world divide, you have nothing to lose but your gains – everything you have ever gained. Let our nation seize the Day.