Am I a conspiracy theorist on unemployment?

I’m collecting evidence to show that governments, the Reserve Bank and employers make sure that hundreds of thousands of Australians remain unemployed.

Thanks to Victor Quirk  for this support for the prosecution. “Employers have been wary of full employment since the bubonic plague wiped out a third of the adult population of Britain in 1349, which emboldened surviving servants to take advantage of their relative scarcity to demand better pay and conditions from their masters. This prompted the Statute of Labourers, which established maximum rates of pay for various occupations, set at rates prevailing four years prior to the plague, and fines for employers paying above them. Late 19th – early 20th century British Liberals and Conservatives opposed a foundational policy of the early British Labour Party known as „the Right to Work‟, which involved the state acting as an employer of last resort fearing that it would strengthen the bargaining position of workers by removing the fear of unemployment that fuelled competition for jobs and raised profitability [8 ]. Beveridge argued that unemployment was necessary under capitalism and hence advised Winston Churchill to instigate labour exchanges and unemployment insurance to make its preservation less socially destabilising. Writing in 1943, Kalecki made the point that even if employers were economically better off under a system of full employment, they would still eventually seek its abandonment due to a sense that their social standing was undermined (Quirk, 2003; 2006; 2007; Kalecki, 1971). Despite being dumped by his own party in the early stages of the Second World War, Robert Menzies won support to lead the newly created Liberal Party in 1945 because of his efforts in opposing the Curtin government‟s plans to establish post-war full employment (Griffen-Foley). By the time he regained government in 1949, full employment was confirmed in the public mind as unquestionably within the scope of governments to maintain, and Menzies rightly feared that its abandonment would provoke a fatal electoral backlash. By 1970 the OECD was examining how the political problem of public expectation of full employment may be addressed on a global level (Korpi 2002), while in 1971, BHP Chairman Sir Colin Syme publicly campaigned for higher levels of unemployment in Australia, with Phillip Lynch (Minister for Employment and National Service in the McMahon government) threatening to abandon post-war full employment if unions did not moderate their demands (Quirk 2003, 2004). Since the mid 1970s, successive Australian governments have restricted public sector employment to preserve a pool of unemployed people that later became the chronically underutilised members of our highly casualised labour force (Mitchell and Muysken, 2008). ”

Find the references and read more in  A 21st Century Solution to Skill Shortages in Australia. I disagree with the paper’s proposal for “unlimited jobs, paid at the minimum wage.” That would be an incentive for governments to convert public sector jobs at award rates of pay to buffer jobs on the minimum wage. Jobs should be paid at least the award rate for the relevant work.


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