Home > ALP, Corporation > Kevin Rudd’s Productivity Agenda and the Ideological Basis of the Productivity Commission

Kevin Rudd’s Productivity Agenda and the Ideological Basis of the Productivity Commission

Last summer the philosopher king, Kevin Rudd, returned from his holiday and gave us his essay on the global financial crisis and neoliberalism. Kiss ass intellectuals such as Robert Manne were in awe of Rudd and his mighty achievement.

A year later, his return from the Christmas break saw him put increasing productivity at the centre piece of his Government’s narrative. After his scolding by school students on the ABC he shifted again to health reform, in an effort to show that he was not all spin and no action.

Consider the issue of productivity. The emphasis on productivity came accompanied with a lot of rhetoric of how the Rudd “Labor” Government was to boldly continue the economic reforms of the past 30 odd years otherwise known as neoliberalism. This is what “economic reforms” means in Australian public discourse. It was even alleged that the previous Howard Government was indolent in this respect. Rudd Labor would do better. Everybody forgot his awe inspiring essay from exactly a year earlier, including the kiss ass in chief who published the damn thing.

Now one of the main institutions in Australia that seeks to advance productivity, and the reforms it perceives is necessary to achieve them, is the Productivity Commission.

It is well known that industrial democracy, defined as greater worker participation and control in industry, increases productivity. Greater worker control over the management decisions of the corporation would boost productivity. Involving other stakeholders, such as local communities, presumably would have the same affect.

But try and find any reference to that in any Rudd “Labor” Government policy announcement since the productivity agenda was announced. See if you can find any Productivity Commission study directed towards making suggestions about how the structure of the corporation can be reformed in a fashion designed to increase industrial democracy within the firm.

You won’t do that of course because the productivity agenda is infused by the vile maxim. The purpose is to increase productivity whilst at the same time shifting the wages-profit share further towards profits. That’s not profits for workers and community stakeholders of the corporation. That’s profits for the narrow sectors of power and privilege that benefit from the tyrannical and largely unaccountable structure of the corporation.

It’s a bit like what happened in the 1980s to early 1990s under Hawke and Keating. The Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions used wage restraint to boost productivity while the take of profits in the wages-profit share increased, quite deliberately. This was sold on the basis that increasing productivity would boost investment, which it did but it was of the junk sort favoured by the rich. It was all basically a party for the rich. Booming credit growth and so on saw the Hawke Government smash the population with high interest rates leading to the “recession we had to have.”

The rich have the wild orgy and then when the hangover sets in the broader population is required to make the sacrifices to get things right again. Things haven’t changed. Southbank and Kew, where the spivs live that gave us the global financial crisis, are doing well whilst most of the burden of the unemployment rises are in Sunshine and Broadmeadows. That’s to be expected given the vile maxim.

Of course, I can’t help but notice that one of the big spruikers of the productivity agenda is Brand Rudd’s socialist minister for deregulation, Lindsay Tanner. You’d think he would, being a socialist and all, make the link between industrial democracy and productivity.

But he doesn’t, naturally. The “careerist” knows which side his bread is buttered on, as do all those Labor MPs who don’t live in their scummy working class electorates, including that fine specimen of Labor manhood, Tim Holding who doesn’t want to live too close to his voters in Springvale. The Herald-Sun reported today that Liberal Party MPs tend to live in their electorates in contrast to Labor MPs.

Labor MPs don’t because they are of the same class as the Liberals, so it is that we observe little difference between the ALP and the Liberal Party when it comes to policy. They hail from the same class and they represent the same class. Policy is thereby largely convergent.

Policy converges on the vile maxim because that is the maxim that the people of Kew, Hawthorn, Southbank and the rest hold with great gusto. They wrap this up in a smug sense of cultural and moral superiority, which is the necessary cultural and moral accompaniment to the vile maxim.

Categories: ALP, Corporation
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