May 24, 2012

Shared understanding is what’s missing in productivity debate

"Productivity" is starting to sound a little "gourmet" -- a word that means very different things to different people, writes Jo-anne Schofield, executive director of policy network Catalyst Australia.

“Productivity” is starting to sound a little “gourmet” — a word that means very different things to different people. But unlike the spiced-up kitchen combat of master chefs, the productivity battleground has assumed a predictable flavour, and seems to serve up the same old meal.

This week saw two new entries into the debate — Fair Work Australia’s vice-president Graeme Watson, and celebrity unionist Paul Howes. While Watson directed his attention to the “adversarial relations architecture” of Fair Work Australia, which he claimed was propped up by too many union appointments to that body, Howes urged big business to end their fantasies about a “peasant workforce” of cheap, disposable labour. While Watson sees the productivity problem as structural, Howes settles on ideology.

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One thought on “Shared understanding is what’s missing in productivity debate

  1. Hamis Hill

    Adam Smith’s assertion that high wages in turn create a demand for labour
    saving devices is a productivity principle unheard of by the
    commentariat.The alternative, slave societies of ancient Greece and Rome
    while having the intellectual capacity to produce labour saving devices
    instead relied on unproductive slave labour. So it follows that the low –
    wage push for more productivity is, less productive, in so far as it avoids
    the use of labor saving devices. This is the moronic policy direction of
    the soon to be re-enacted “Work Choices ” legislation, a precursor of
    the inevitable “Abbott Depression” which will do a great deal to advance
    productivity won’t it?A clue to the low wages push is the subsequent
    high interest caused by the lack of savings possible in a low wage
    economy and the scarcity and higher cost of money. Strange how
    rewards to capital have no impact on productivity while wage costs do.
    An educated citizenry, according to Adam Smith, could easily see
    through “the interested complaint of faction” the faction in this case of
    productivity having an interest in high interest rates.
    Hence an interest in this action to reduce education spending etc,etc.
    From the Age og enlightenment to the Age of Darkness.
    Mediocracy is excellence to the mediocre and the debate will remain so
    while ever the medicre experts dominating it remain George Bernard
    Shaw’s “specialist idiots”.

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