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I’ve been watching the minions of the left have conniptions about the proposed changes to the way that Job seekers are expected to show their willingness to find work. On one hand you have the Government suggesting that the Unemployed should be willing to make 40 job applications a month and on the other side you have people insisting that its too much to ask.
I sort of think that both sides are right and wrong here.
Its very clear that in some parts of the country there simply are not enough jobs for the people who need them. and no amount of badgering the unemployed to make more of an effort is going to make thee needed jobs magically appear. Frankly the mad drive to import every more people is not helping either because every new arrival is going to be competing for that scarce commodity,namely a job. Further the march of the technology that is so beloved by our Latte sipping friends is only going to make things worse. Take the example of your local supermarket. Have you noticed they all now have the self serve checkouts? well do you realize that those self serve checkouts only have one person watching say six units in use and to help customers make their purchases? That represents the loss of five jobs right there. Now while working in retail may not be that glamorous it is an honorable profession that has sustained many workers, (mainly women) in the quest to provide for their own and the sustenance of their families. This sort of automation is happening in every aspect of our society. Its in the your library, its in your bank its every where and the trend is accelerating. The trend simply means that no matter how many more people we have the machine of our economy needs fewer people to run it. Likewise I draw the attention to those cute little robot vacuum cleaners that are endlessly advertised on TV and ask you to consider how long will it be the case business will be using them to replace cleaners in their offices?
On the other side of the ledger the obligation to make 40 approaches for those ever decreasing job opportunities will probably not be that hard to meet if a Job seeker digitizes a generic application letter and their resume that they send out to any business or potential job source entity. It does not even need to be customized for each instance that it is sent. Now I’m guessing (because I’m not personally playing this game) this on top of checking any jobs that are actually advertised would meet the obligation. How long till someone develops an app to do precisely that? However having made the obligation more onerous and punitive it hardly going to make the lives of the unemployed any easier. Worse yet it will turn every job seeker into something of a Spam merchant and if my friends in small business don’t just mark all of the extra job applications as “spiced ham” I would be very surprised indeed.
The other aspect in play is the old “work for the dole” which I have some serious reservations about. Mainly those reservations concern the amount of time that individuals will be obliged to work each week and the effective hourly rate that they will be working for. Its just manifestly unfair that any work people are obliged to do should be anything less than the going rate for such work. On top of that just what work are these people going to be asked to do and who is going to manage organize and supervise such work? Further I have concerns about the possibility that participants may be subject to bullying by those who run any “work for the dole” schemes. Finally there is the issue of cost, these schemes will cost more to run than any potential savings in the welfare budget so will it really be about the savings?
In conclusion though we can’t escape the fact that all of these proposals will require legislation to be made to happen and I just can’t see the current Senate passing many of these proposals which means that when the rubber hits the road what we will see will be somewhat diluted from what is currently being discussed. Sadly what neither it nor any alternative from Labor is going to address the clear structural issues that the march of technology is going to pose for humanity without that in the mix neither side of politics and certainly not the ordinary people are going to be winners. The Politics of this are pretty obvious though The Government is playing to its most hardline economic neoCon demographic who believe that welfare is just a waste of taxpayer’s money and that the poor or unemployed are just an inconvenience and generally a cohort of bludgers. The simple truth that conservatives like me recognize is that our welfare system is a necessary bulwark that ensures that we have a truly civil society and not one where the underclass is driven to a life of intrusive criminality to sustain the necessities of life Maintaining that bulwark at a cost that our economy can afford is the trick of it and on this score both sides of our politics play the “cruel to be kind” game (remember Gillard’s treatment of single parents?) Taking the longer view I am going to reserve my judgement on this whole thing until I see just how it comes out in the wash.