free market

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Have we had enough of market-led dogma yet?

“OK…SO WHERE DOES THE FUNDING COME FROM?”

It depends on what we are talking about. If we are talking about universal health care, a Job Guarantee, infrastructure work, etc., the funding comes from the national government.

If, on the other hand, we are talking about national government spending itself, – as in, “how does the government ‘fund’ its spending?”, the answer is the national government does not “fund” its spending because it is an impossible condition.

The national government alone is the source of funding in terms of its own currency for the private sector and the foreign sector combined. That is what being the monopoly currency issuer is all about: Providing the funds.

The currency-issuing national government is not an intermediary that collects “money” from private entities in the form of taxation or borrowing to fill its empty coffers, and then redistributes those “funds”.

Treasury has no coffers to fill. Rather, treasury fills the coffers of everyone else.

Ellis Winningham

Placard with the slogan "When is enough enough, when does hte greed stop?", Wisconsin State Capitol protest 2014Photo by Joe Brusky/Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0

Have we had enough yet? This week Boris Johnson, in a Zoom meeting of the 1922 Committee, warmly saluted the vaccine rollout with these words: ‘The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed my friends’. Whilst he has tried to backpedal from these ill-advised remarks, the words reflect a widely held view by politicians, institutions and the excessively rich that the market is the only mechanism for delivering well-being, and that the State should take a step back and let the market do its job, greed and all. We have paid a heavy price for that sort of thinking, in terms of environmental destruction, poverty, inequality, human degradation and exploitation.

The cumulative effect of five decades and more of market-led dogma and a toxic ideology that has been embraced by successive governments, of either political stripe, has given monetary succour to the corporations at the expense of public purpose, which has over the past year been revealed for exactly what it is. Greed for power, greed for profit. Not a very wholesome or edifying advert for capitalism, and one which is increasingly in the public eye, as media attention focuses on who has benefited from government policies and spending decisions, and those who have lost out.

The appalling management of the Covid-19 crisis, which has led to the deaths of well in excess of 126,000 people so far, combined with those who have suffered or died as a result of cuts to government spending on vital public infrastructure and the pernicious reforms of the social security system, have revealed in all their hideous outcomes what happens when government spending is reduced to household budgeting narratives. The phoney notion that delivering public purpose is either monetarily unaffordable and/or dependent on the economic climate.

The remark reveals something rather distasteful about a Prime Minister who not long back was standing on the steps of Number 10 encouraging us to clap for key workers. Those who have been responsible for caring for the sick, elderly, and vulnerable as well as keeping the economy functioning during the crisis whether in the public or private sector.

A letter written by the authors of The Spirit Level (Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson) which was published in the Guardian this week took the Prime Minister to task for his comments saying:

“You report (23 March) that Boris Johnson told backbench Conservative MPs that the UK’s successful vaccine rollout was thanks to capitalism and greed. Really? Greedy academics and research scientists? Greedy World Health Organization staff and civil servants? Greedy nurses who give us our jabs? Is that also why contracts given to Tory cronies for test and trace were so startlingly successful? This is not a trivial misunderstanding: it is a fundamental failure to comprehend how modern societies work. Prof Mariana Mazzucato has shown how discovery and innovation flow from the public sector, and there are now studies showing that more equal societies are more innovative, with more patents per head than those where capitalism is rampant.”

Whilst the financial markets have produced nothing of value, focused as they are on speculation and amassing huge monetary wealth, the real wealth makers, not the monetary sort, are those on whom society depends. The past year has highlighted their contributions on every level of society. It has also highlighted the role that government can play, if it chooses, in delivering public purpose aims. Whether that is spending to keep the economy from tanking or vital public service and welfare provision, research and development and education and training; all of which make the difference between a good society and a bad one.

However, we live in a world where ‘money’ wealth trumps the real wealth we enjoy, and which is sustained and underpinned by nature which provides the many services on which we depend. Deregulation (or rather accommodation) by neoliberal governments has created a rampant market-dominated model which is threatening democracy and the future of humanity and planetary health.

This toxic market ideology is at the same time underpinned by incorrect ideas of how governments spend. Ideas which suggest that taxing and borrowing are at the heart of their spending capacity, and which, if not reversed, will continue to constrain government actions on the key issues of our day.

The art of the possible is not financially oriented. The art of the possible is about political choices, but those political choices hitherto have left our society in a state of crisis and will continue to do so unless we challenge the status quo.

Currently, the rules for government spending are laid out clearly. Stuff the pockets of the private sector corporations and those of your friends, whilst telling the public sector that there is no money and keeping private-sector workers on low wages and in insecure employment. The evidence is piling up daily.

This week Test and Trace is hiring a ‘Lessons Learnt Analyst’ with a salary of £45,000. You couldn’t make it up! Management consultants being paid to advise what went wrong with a programme designed by management consultants. As GIMMS’ board advisor Deborah Harrington so rightly asked ‘do you ever get the impression we have all somehow been trapped inside a never-ending episode of ‘You’ve been framed’?

Also, this week ministers have opened the public purse yet again to the private sector; shelling out almost £1 million to a private recruitment firm to find temporary staff for the new, but controversial, National Institute for Health Protection, which is to replace Public Health England, in what has been termed a ‘shifting deckchairs’ exercise. In reality an attempt to transfer the blame elsewhere than at the government’s feet.

Whilst refusing to pay nurses a decent pay rise, giving workers a scarcely generous increase in the minimum wage and at the same time suggesting that more cuts to public services may be in the offing, the claim that the government needs to restore its finances smells of purposeful deceit of the public. As GIMMS pointed out last week, the contradictions are increasingly evident, and it is for the public to challenge those false flags which serve ideology and not necessity.

In March 2019, the IMF warned that the world had ‘run out of firepower to fight the next recession’. It erroneously suggested that the ‘money printing’ programmes known as Quantitative Easing, which had supposedly pumped trillions into economies after the Global Financial Crash in 2008, had left the economies so weak in the decade since that the balance sheets of the central banks had ‘swollen to a level that leaves little room left for manoeuvre’. Its conclusion was that the large piles of debt would reduce the ‘fiscal firepower’, available to counteract recessions’.

The public has been led astray by terms such as money printing, public debt and borrowing, and if your suspicions have been aroused that something is not quite right then it’s time to get with monetary realities. Governments around the world have as necessity dictated created the funds necessary to deal with the fallout of Covid-19 at the stroke of a computer key. It may have been dressed up in the smoke and mirrors of QE and borrowing, but it has shown without doubt that, just as in 2008, the money is there at central level to deal not just with the consequences of the pandemic, but also to address the issues which have arisen from insufficient government spending by political decree. From hunger and homelessness to infrastructure decay and environmental degradation.

But government action so far seems to be one of half-hearted plans dressed up in overblown rhetoric, from promises to level up our communities, invest in infrastructure, education and training and deliver an effective green transition. Lots of hot air but little in the way of concrete proposals, or worse, failure to deliver on already proposed programmes.

If the UK government’s flagship home insulation scheme is anything to go by, then one should ask whether that public funding has been properly administered or is even delivering its green objectives. Indeed, in hot news over the weekend the government has decided to scrap the green homes grant which was administered by a US company. Promising a kickstart for a green recovery along with green jobs, it descended unsurprisingly into a dogs’ dinner that was, according to the Environmental Audit Committee of MPs, ‘rushed in conception and poorly administrated’, indeed ‘nothing short of disastrous. As a reader’s letter published this week in the Guardian suggested:

‘This government’s approach to the climate crisis […] is the same as it is to all other iniquities its ideology exacerbates such as poverty, inequality and homelessness. They announce a relatively small injection of cash and a couple of initiatives, careful not to disturb the underlying practices causing the problems. If [the government were] serious and really followed the science, they would end all subsidies to, and investment in, fossil fuel industries. They would also implement curbs to reduce energy and resource consumption, direct and indirect, by the UK population. That would be global leadership and would set a course for a just transition.

 

The government’s proposals are nothing more than a smokescreen to suggest we tried, while baking in failure for our generation and horror for those that follow.”

The problems of lack of commitment by the government are also compounded by financial institutions and businesses who, whilst greenwashing their way to profits, don’t walk the talk. This week, it was reported that the world’s biggest banks have provided $3.8tn of financing for fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2015, despite the fact that it has been known for some time that a large proportion of oil and gas reserves must remain in the ground in order to meet the Paris targets. This is exactly the opposite of what is required to tackle the climate crisis effectively and requires urgent government action and spending on a vast scale.

Also this week, Andrea Leadsom announced a new package for parents, ‘Start for Life’, which will provide a hub network to give families access to vital support. This is the same MP who praised Labour’s Sure Start initiative and had to be reminded that government cuts had closed more than 1000 Sure Start Centres.

It seems ironic that we have a Minister who in 2012 envisaged ‘there being absolutely no regulation whatsoever… no minimum wage, no maternity or paternity rights, no unfair dismissal rights, no pension rights…’ for employees working in small businesses and who also voted to reduce the household benefit cap, to freeze the rate of many working-age benefits and for many other changes to the benefits system which have seriously impacted on the lives of those same families, now purporting to want to address the failure caused by a political decision to cut spending on benefits and other services. You couldn’t make it up.

According to reports, Leadsom still has to get the Treasury on board with her plans. Despite the fact that such funding is available at a keystroke on a computer should the government choose; it is constrained only by the availability of real resources. The question of paying for it is an irrelevant one.

Instead of worrying about costs, the government, if it really wants to level up, should have the humility to examine the consequences of its previous spending and policy decisions, and the impact they have had on families across the nation. Would it not be better to start at the roots of poverty by addressing its fundamental causes, through wage and employment policies to help families manage their lives with less financial stress and worry, and in turn create more stable home environments?

The positive knock-on effects of more government spending on public purpose which then fan out into the wider economy are indisputable and make for a healthier and more productive society. Furthermore, people with more money in their pockets are better placed to provide for themselves and will spend any extra into the economy. Simple macroeconomics. And yet the government still sees public provision as a monetary cost rather than a societal gain.

A report on ITV this week covered the appalling conditions in which many families are forced to live in council housing (although this is not confined to social housing, the private sector’s reputation is just as blemished). It was truly shocking. The Chief Executive of Shelter, the biggest housing charity, described it as ‘the worst housing conditions they have ever seen’.

If the government is determined to address poverty and inequality, then it has to put its money where its mouth is. Yes, let us invest in public service provision to support families with better and more joined-up services, but it will not help unless the government focuses as well on eliminating one of the causes of family stress. Poverty. People do not choose poverty, and unemployment, governments impose it through the ideological dogma they espouse and the policies they enact.

At the other end of the scale, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of State for Business, defending his department’s slow progress on funding for the organisation UK Research and Innovation, which has so far failed to provide any sort of certainty for the science community, blamed it on the pressure on budgets. This is not just short-sighted, as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, society will increasingly depend on science to address key issues like climate change, but is actually nothing short of a lie in monetary terms. Furthermore, this is the role of the State. Planning for the future, not abandoning citizens to the vagaries of a market-led disaster which is sure to follow without government action.

The government is not short of a penny. It is the currency issuer. Therefore, the only constraints it faces to deliver its agenda are real resource ones. Whilst the government continues to embrace false funding models which claim monetary constraints, any plans for a just green transition that will also address poverty and inequality at the same time will fall by the wayside.

The unvarnished truth is that the phrases ‘bolstering the treasury’s coffers,’ ‘closing the tax gap’ and ‘protecting the finances’ – terms which appear regularly in the press – are illusory descriptions of how the state money system works. Vocabulary designed to make us think that the government spends in the same way households, local government and businesses do.

The illusion acts to keep us in our place, so as we do not demand too much in the way of public services or any other useful expenditure which provides social value and serves the economy.

The real questions for citizens regarding the future are about what real resources we have and how we want them to be distributed. Do we want a return to the old normal of unnecessary and wasteful private consumption, environmental destruction and the reinforcement of the vast inequalities that accompany it? Or do we want our governments to act in the public interest by commanding the resources that are available to deliver public purpose? The second option will require a shift in how we think about creating a fairer society.

Why aren’t we looking at a Job Guarantee as a mechanism to help in addressing both inequity and climate change? Why wouldn’t governments choose a macroeconomically sound proposal, which focuses on creating economic stability in times of crisis and smoothing out the inevitable cyclical economic downturns which destroy lives?  Why not give working people useful, socially oriented employment instead of leaving them to rot on the unemployment scrap heap?

For too long, governments have acted in the interests of big business and global corporations, which in turn through the implementation of short-sighted employment and wage policies serving business, not citizens, have then impacted on their economies adversely.

Haven’t we had enough? Time for change!

 

 

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The post Have we had enough of market-led dogma yet? appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

Equity via democracy, not philanthropy

Woman volunteer wearing mask and holding box of food in front of a vanPhoto by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

“Do you truly believe that life is fair, Senor de la Vega?
-No, maestro, but I plan to do everything in my power to make it so.”
― Isabel Allende, Zorro

There seems to be some disagreement in Tory circles. As some Tory backbenchers push for further public spending increases to boost the economy in the aftermath of the pandemic, the newly appointed Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng signalled this week that a squeeze on public spending and possible tax rises are in the offing to deal with the deficit and debt which have risen as a result of Covid-19. The rises in the deficit and debt have, according to a report in the Telegraph, been fuelled by ‘handouts’, appearing to suggest they were charitably inspired rather than a vital function of the government during difficult or indeed more normal economic times.

As an appropriate aside at this point, our Lens readers will already know that the debt is not a problem in itself. That it is not money owed in conventional terms and can, as the government is the currency issuer, always be ‘paid back’, and that the real judgement of a government’s record is not its financial prudence but its economic record.

To return to the story, Kwarteng then went on to suggest that Britain could not ‘spend its way to prosperity’, insisting in the interview that the private sector was the way to ‘boost the economy’. He then went on to claim that without a prosperous private sector the country would not be able to afford public services, saying that they ‘rely on a thriving, dynamic open economy’. Suggesting yet again that the rich, by their industry, are the wealth makers and that as such they are needed to keep tax revenues flowing into the government coffers.

Same old arguments. Same old bilge.

It is encouraging to see some disagreement in political circles, even if it is still couched in deficit dove terms of ‘spend now to support the economy and pay back later as the economic outlook improves and tax revenues rise.’ But it seems that we are doomed, not just to continue along the ‘free market’ ideological road which has promised much but delivered only increasing poverty and inequality, but also to frame that agenda in household budget terms of affordability.

We have been here before, and as has been pointed out in many MMT Lens blogs, the consequences have been laid bare in the Covid-19 pandemic. And yet despite the evidence, the government is still caught in the glare of ‘free-market’ ideology; still embracing the now-discredited notion that our wealth is created by private investment which then trickles down. And, whilst it has rediscovered the power of the public purse to serve the immediate and vital purpose of stopping the economy from collapsing along with the lives of those affected, it seems that it might be a short-lived affair as the neoliberal project motors on.

The libertarian project of ‘free markets’ is often portrayed as being one of small government and minimal intervention both in the public and private sector. However, the reality has been about increasing the dominance of big business, with a growing alliance between government and corporations with no democratic accountability, which allows public money to flow one way into the pockets of those corporations as a profit generator.

Alleged unaffordability has been used to promote a hitherto, but less so today, covert agenda to push the toxic ideology which serves as the common thread of economic policy and spending. The dominance of misnamed ‘free markets’ and of corporate control. That project has gone into overdrive during the course of addressing Covid-19.

The pandemic has indeed demonstrated the power of the state, but not in the interests of serving public purpose. The public is being encouraged to accept, once again, the idea that government is limited in its ability to manage the economy and that there are financial caveats. And yet as Andres Bernal made it clear recently, commenting on social media:

‘The free market is an incoherent concept in any empirical sense or accurate description of markets throughout history. But the metaphor is part of an ideological project to analogically shape the boundaries and meaning of social worth and participation. It’s meant to make conventional assumptions about firms, markets, money, and economies at large appear as natural as opposed to politically designed by law and policy’.

While politicians favouring an end to lockdown bang on about protecting the economy, they forget that the economy is the people, the public and social infrastructure and institutions, and the governments which provide the vital legal and legislative frameworks for business to exist and for people to prosper (or not as the case may be).

The economy does not exist in a bubble as a natural entity directing the orchestra. Quite simply it is us. And without the people, there is nothing. The economy forms part of an integral whole, as an editorial in the Guardian this week pointed out with reference to lockdown, but applying in real terms to a much wider context:

Underlying every tactical blunder is a vast strategic error – the belief that economic recovery and social restriction are in conflict; that public health measures deplete national wealth.

The neoliberal project, which goes back more than forty years, has determined the road we have travelled on – one of planetary destruction and human exploitation to feed the market beast. That, combined with 10 years of Tory public sector austerity which has led to the decimation of our health and social care sector and public health infrastructure, has brought us not just to national crossroads, but a planetary one too. On the basis of the lie of monetary scarcity.

In recent months and weeks, articles in the media have focused on the consequences of our failing public and social infrastructure and commented on the huge rises in poverty and inequality bringing hunger and homelessness in one of the richest countries in the world. The beast, as yet though, largely remains unnamed and the media uncritical of it.

This was emphasised this week in a blog by Bill Mitchell. In it, he refers to an article authored by Richard Horton and published last year in the medical journal The Lancet in which Horton notes:

‘The economic crisis that is advancing towards us will not be solved by a drug or a vaccine. Nothing less than national revival is needed. Approaching COVID-19 as a syndemic will invite a larger vision, one encompassing education, employment, housing, food, and environment. Viewing COVID-19 only as a pandemic excludes such a broader but necessary prospectus. […] Unless governments devise policies and programmes to reverse profound disparities, our societies will never be truly COVID-19 secure.’

However, right as Horton is about the need for a national revival, Professor Mitchell takes issue on one point and highlights that:

‘the problem is that the economic crisis is not ahead of us […] but has been building for decades. […] Even before the pandemic the signs of the crisis were there for all to see … It took some decades of relentless retrenchment of welfare support, privatisations, outsourcing, elevated levels of unemployment, the rise of unemployment, the suppression of wages growth, the cuts to essential services, user pays and all the rest of the agenda to create societies that not only distribute national income disproportionately to the top-end-of town but have become increasingly fragile to economic disasters’.

Neoliberalism is its name. And its consequences have been destructive. Over the last year, GIMMS has increasingly noted in its MMT Lens the deliberate promotion and growth of the charitable or voluntary sector to step in and fill the gap left by a negligent government. A government which, in reality, has failed in its primary purpose; to serve its citizens through a targeted programme of spending and legislation. David Cameron’s big society has become a reality, even as we begin to appreciate the irony of charities beginning to struggle as their public donations dry up and government grants are reduced.

You can’t run public provision on political rhetoric and hot air, or dependency on charitable donations.

This was demonstrated only too clearly this week with two events. Firstly, the presenters on a local radio station encouraged their listeners to donate to an appeal aiming to provide equipment for home schooling and secondly, an email was sent by the National Education Union to its members and supporters urging them to donate to its ‘Help a Child to Learn’ appeal. Whilst these are vital at this difficult time and recognise a fundamental need, it is symptomatic of a government which has not only not delivered but also been in pursuit of quite a different vision for the future.

No child should be locked out of education for lack of access to computers or other vital equipment to aid home learning during this pandemic. But although there is a clear need to redress the balance because the government is currently not doing so either deliberately or otherwise, unions and other institutions should be clear whilst they promote such direct appeals for help that these must be stopgap measures only. But they are potentially turning into permanent solutions that do not address the root causes of these failures, which are about the dominance of a toxic economic ideology and the failure of the government to spend adequately to ensure the nation’s needs are met within the context of available resources.

The government failed to deliver such support adequately in the last lockdown and still many families without computer access are struggling to meet home schooling needs almost a year on. A two-tier educational system existed prior to the pandemic but has been worsened by it as a direct and continuing result of lack of political will to address it.

The government had the monetary capacity to meet this need and did not, even though more recently it has been committing to redress that failure by promises of increased spending on education. But the root cause of these failures had nothing to do with lack of public money in the austerity years, even though it is presented as such. This root was a direct result of lack of political will to address the origins of poverty and inequality which has crushed people’s lives, created hardship and an inability for those people to build a better life for themselves.

Whilst politicians, from their ivory towers, prattle on about self-reliance, they haven’t the intellect to understand that such self-reliance is dependent on having the public and social infrastructure in place along with government policies and legislation to give people the opportunities they need, whether we are talking about good, well paid, useful employment through the implementation of a job guarantee to restore the balance of power towards working people, or the public infrastructure which underpins society.

These opportunities don’t happen by themselves in the ‘deregulated’ free for all, profit-oriented environment which has dominated for decades and which was supposed to have brought so many benefits but has brought privation and impoverishment instead.

Looking to future generations (today’s children), rather than concentrating on the false images of huge debt burdens in the form of higher taxes if we don’t practise sound financial management of the public finances today, politicians should be focusing on their role as facilitators of a better future. Recognising the role of government through its currency-issuing powers to spend sufficiently to ensure our children have a good education would benefit society as a whole, the economy of which they are a part and in turn enrich their own personal lives in the longer term. And let’s not forget the role of government in promoting full employment as a policy goal, developing fairer employment policies which include decent wages, secure employment and good terms and conditions. All these things are interconnected and lead to healthier and more balanced lives.

This is true both on national and international levels given the challenges we face, but to reiterate yet again reflecting the words of the journalist Larry Elliot who wrote in an article this week, ‘it all comes down to political will’. He noted too that ‘all ships have to move together’, meaning our response to the challenges we face must be global. The challenges are not just due to Covid-19, but also include addressing climate change and rising inequity in real wealth and access to resources; all of which will need global cooperation.

However, it was also depressing to note that in the same breath, as with many media commentators and institutions in recent months and weeks particularly left-wing ones, he suggests ‘closing tax havens and making sure billionaires pay their fair share of tax’ as if by doing so governments will suddenly have extra funding to manage the domestic and global challenges we face.

By continuing to suggest that we depend on the wealthy for our health and well-being, we are denying the capacity of governments. Governments which not only have the power to legislate to create a fairer playing field but also issue their own currency to address those key challenges by dint of that power vested in them by the people democratically.

Ceding that power to the wealthy is a rather scary prospect, even if it is couched in the language of fairness and equity. Particularly when we know that that tax is not needed by the government to create that fairer society about which Elliott writes.

A newly launched project called ‘The Giving Pledge’ under the guise of a declared ‘commitment to philanthropy’ by which some of the wealthiest individuals aim to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back is a case in point. A claim by one of its supporters that ‘structured philanthropy is needed to address some of humanity’s most critical challenges beyond the responsibilities of governments and public funds’ should be a cause for concern.

Human and planetary well-being should not be at the whim of the excessively rich who already have too much power, wealth and influence as well as an unfair share of real resources. All of which have been accrued as a result of governments around the world who have presided over that inequity through taxation and other policies and courted such influential people through the corridors of power.

It makes a mockery of democracy and it makes a mockery of the real capacity of governments, both monetarily and legislatively, to create a fairer world and address the very real tsunami of climate change whose shadow is bearing down over humanity.

We don’t have to rely on the distributed largesse of the wealthy to enact change; we just have to have governments that are willing to act in the best interests of humanity instead of a small section of it.

 

 

Past Event

Phil Armstrong in Conversation with Pavlina Tcherneva

January 24th 2021 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm GMT

GIMMS is delighted to present another in its series ‘In Conversation’.

Phil Armstrong spoke to Pavlina Tcherneva, program director and associate professor of economics at Bard College and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute.

Audio via the MMT Podcast here

A video of the event will be available soon via our YouTube channel

 

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#101 Merchants of Doubt: What’s Behind the Claim that School Funding Doesn’t Matter?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/11/2020 - 12:13am in

Tags 

free market, Taxes

Long before the Hoover Institution was casting doubt on masks, its ‘experts’ were undermining the case for investing in public education. Special guest Bruce Baker joins Have You Heard to shed light on what’s behind the claim that school funding doesn’t matter.

Complete transcript of the episode is here. The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.

Want a free, signed copy of Jack and Jennifer’s forthcoming book, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door? Sign up to host a virtual book group with 10 or more of your friends and colleagues and we’ll send you one!

Have You Heard · #101 Merchants of Doubt

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 - 9:22pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Tue, 30/01/2018 - 9:22pm in

Well, I feel better now.

On 30/01/18 13:15, Talent Acquisition Team [company name witheld] wrote:
> Hello Matthew,
>
> We're writing to you regarding your application for the above position of
> [interchangeable anonymous cubicle drone] at [company name witheld].
>
> Unfortunately, we have not received your completed Talent Assessment so are
> unable to progress your application at this time. If you’re still interested in
> working with us, please refer to the [company name witheld] Careers
> <https://companynamewitheld.com>
> or LinkedIn page <https://www.linkedin.com/company/companynamewitheld> for opportunities.
>
> We wish you all the very best for your future career choices and hope to hear
> from you again soon.
>
> Warm regards,
>
> Talent Acquisition Team - [company name witheld]


Hi Warmly Regarding TAT,

That would be because your online application process set a cookie with a very limited expiry time given the amount of information I was expected to assemble, and deliberately cut me off (my working hypothesis at the time), or else just crashed or futzed up in some unidentifiable way.

I was a software developer in a past life, but - even so - was not inclined to report a bug, even if there were some self-evident way to do so. You see, the larger issue, to the determined jobseeker, arises from losing whole days to combing through job search websites which all screen-scrape each other, and consequently all index the same jobs, albeit with differently-dreadful database query interfaces. Once you have painstakingly whittled down a shortlist your patience and optimism levels are at a low ebb, while your bleak hopelessness and can't-give-a-fuckedness is soaring.

To my mind, ignorant as I am about the transition from HR to TATs (which appears to have happened about the time The Rock became Dwayne Johnson; coincidence?), the personal qualities required to submit, submit, and submit again in a lengthy and repeatedly failing multi-stage job application process (never mind what is required to get far enough to begin that process) are not necessarily consonant with what is desirable across all the roles in a large organisation. In the jargon of a hypothetical recruiter, I expect this to yield applicants who are less "warm and customer-focused" than they are "detail-oriented", as in "Dustin Hoffman turned in bravura performance as the detail-oriented Rain Man".

However, I am pleased to report that for you, the fine people of the Talent Acquisition Team, the news is all good. Given that the cascade of flaws, all the way up the recruitment chain from yorrasadunemployablelosr.com to your good selves, introduces so much baked-in randomness to the process, anything that you could personally add is negligible.

You are off the hook! After showing up for a morning coffee and apricot danish, you might as well spend the rest of the day in the pub! I only wish that I could join you there on the coalface of the optimally efficient job market. If you find your roster of talent too loaded with twenty-something boys who can't tear their gaze away from their shoes, just drag in a homeless person from the street. They're quirky! They're the new office character! They think outside the box, then go home to it!

Hope this has helped, and warm regards,

Matthew.