Productivity and WorkChoices:

Phil Davey writes: Re: “Searching for truth on productivity among IR spin” (yesterday, item 2) Thank you Bernard Keane for having a grip on reality regarding the confected national “debate” on productivity. Our corporate titans are indeed pushing for IR reform, saying this is needed in order to boost productivity.

However it is undeniable that skills is the number one driver of productivity in any economy. This inconvenient truth should be thrown in the business lobbies faces whenever they bleat on about productivity.

For it is these very same corporate titans who in the last 10-15 years have comprehensively abrogated any responsibilities they once had to train young Australian’s. Their preferred model is to socialise the cost of training whilst simultaneously banging on about skills shortages and bringing in ever greater numbers of malleable, lower paid foreign 457 workers. This phenomenon is most obvious in the resources sector.

My only wish is that our corporate elite develop some capacity for self awareness, they seem oblivious to how contemptable and absurd their position really is. It constantly amazes me that they can get away with the claim that cutting overtime rates or shortening tea breaks will somehow boost productivity, whilst in the next breath shutting down opportunities for training that would actually drive a boost in productivity. Extraordinary.

Beryce Nelson writes: WorkChoices lasted a lot longer than two years — for the majority of employees whose companies made them go on to contracts or risk losing their job (the threat was real and stated) the government gave an extension of those initial arrangements until 2012. The workplace inequity continues for many skilled and semi-skilled employees across the country. Check the facts. A lot of people are living with the stark reality of unfair employment conditions every day.

Dr Lee Boldeman writes: Regarding your article today about productivity growth have a look at the series of papers we did in NOIE and then the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts regarding the influence of ICT on productivity growth. We challenged and undermined the Productivity Commission’s claims that increased productivity growth in the 1990s was due to microeconomic reform. Their claim was driven by their ideological bias. It was not —  it was due to investment in ICT and the associated changes in business practice.

Our view was supported by a number of leading productivity experts. I have not followed the debate since then but slower growth subsequently may have been due to a tailing off in those benefits as well as to the massive increase in investment in mining and infrastructure. In any event these stats are highly sus because they are based on the national accounts, themselves open to question, and their inability to measure real welfare improvements.

Gavin Greenoak writes: When graphs or data are shown in scientific papers, for which a belief is sought in the conclusions interpreted from results, then these graphs usually appear in a  “results” section following that of “materials and methods”. It is when conclusions surprise or arouse contention that the materials and methods must bear the fiercest scrutiny. I can understand that such careful elaborations are not possible in daily news pages, but it would be good to see a line or two referencing the independent reviewer(s) of data and conclusions presented.

Don’t blame Obama

Niall Clugston writes: Re: “A pretty grim set of numbers” (yesterday, editorial). I don’t see how Obama can be blamed for the American wages stagnation illustrated by the graph in Wednesday’s editorial. The dramatic falling off of wages growth from 1980 coincided with election of the Republican hero, Ronald Reagan. This was associated with the global ascendancy of the Thatcherite New Right and the decline of union power.  American workers have never recovered.

For that matter Obama can’t be blamed for the GFC. The criticism of Obama should be that, for all the audacity of hype, he represents change you can’t notice. Will he reverse 30 years of Reaganomics?  No, he won’t!

Keith Binns writes: In reference to your leader yesterday, can we have an article on why that occurred? My uinderstanding is that it was deliberate manipulation of the economy and taxes etc by the very rich, but I thought that it started with Reagan.

Howard’s way

KJ Lewis writes: Funny interview with John Howard and his “selective memory”  last night — interesting there wasn’t more “research” done before with his track record (on selectivity of facts to suit his “history”), that might have seemed a prerequisite?

Funny too, watching — wondering how a Labor or Green might have gotten away with employing that sort of “fire/stone-walling”, “answering the question he wanted asked, rather than the one asked”, and the exhibition of good humour that tactic seemed to elicit, like a chuckle and a smile, from Jones?

An election tip

Peter Angelico writes: What odds that the election will be held Saturday April 14, 2012? Ah yes, the irony, exactly 100 years to the day since the original set of deckchairs got shuffled!

Peter Fray

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