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The gig economy – a shameful failure of the neoliberal project

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 9:11am in

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Today, we have a guest blogger in the guise of Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time. He indicated that he would like to contribute occasionally and that provides some diversity of voice although the focus remains on advancing our understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its applications. It also helps me a bit and at present I have several major writing deadlines approaching as well as a full diary of presentations, meetings etc. Travel is also opening up a bit which means I can now honour several speaking commitments that have been on hold while we were in lockdown. Anyway, over to Scott …

The gig economy-a shameful failure of the neoliberal project

As the turbulent events of 2020 continue to roll on, more failures are exposed that should make more and more of us to question where we are at, and what we really want for our society.

Amongst the labour market crisis that characterised the COVID-19 economic slowdown we saw many people lose their jobs. Despite the Australian federal government’s much vaunted support packages designed to cushion to blow many people saw their work disappear altogether or at the very least saw their hours decrease. Many people saw their lives turned upside down despite the government’s rhetorical claims that – ‘We are all in this together’.

For a discussion of that see the blog post – Governments should be working for everyone, not just the fortunate few (November 24, 2020).

The government could have easily extended their COVID support measures to all workers, but instead chose to exclude many from access. We saw an increase in unemployment and underemployment, but we also witnessed a marked increase in the number of people seeking work in the gig economy and other forms of precarious work. For those who were unable to access any form of income support, gig work often appeared to be the only choice for many.

A recent – Report of the Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce (published June 2020) – referred to these people as ‘low leveraged workers’:

Low-leveraged workers are prominent in platform work: these include workers who are low skilled, more likely to be young and/or from a migrant background. They are operating in a labour market where there is high competition for fewer entry level jobs.

Furthermore, it suggested that:

These are among the people who were most immediately impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) government interventions. Some are also more likely to be workers not eligible for the federal government’s ‘Job Keeper’ payments, because they are irregular casual workers or visa workers.

And pointed out that:

These workers are in a precarious position in the labour market, especially at times of heightened unemployment or under-employment. Platforms offer them valuable opportunities to earn income, but with minimal choice about their arrangements, and low-income security.

Some evidence of the recent rise in gig workers can be gleaned from the – August quarterly labour force – data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Here the data tells us that while the number of employed people increased by 111,000 between July and August a 0.9 per cent increase, the – payroll jobs index – decreased by 1.2 per cent.

The ABS tell us that a significant proportion of this growth was accounted for by non-employees.

More specifically:

This growth in original employment can be attributed to an increase in the number of owner managers (self-employed people) without employees, most of whom working in an unincorporated enterprise (e.g. a sole trader), which increased by 50,200.

It may be true that some of the growth in self-employed workers might be accounted for by sub-contractors. But it is also extremely likely that the growth is accounted for by the growth in people forced into working in the gig economy, driving cars, delivering food, or hanging up pictures and other odd jobs.

The rise in non-employees becomes even clear when we consider the monthly changes in the employment index status of employment (see graph). Here the ABS states ( Source):

that changes in the number of employees and owner managers without employees were relatively similar between April and July. However, they diverged in August, with the number of owner managers without employees returning close to the level in March.

Now while the companies running these gig platforms as well as others would argue that these gig workers are living some kind of dream, we all know that gig work is not what it is cracked up to be. Low pay, insecure contracts, no protection, no holiday allowances, no sick pay. Sounds like a paradise, right?

So the government has proved once again that we are in this together, unless you don’t meet the characteristics they deem worthy of supporting, in which case you are on your own, consigned to low pay a and wondering if you will have enough money to pay for the most basic things in life. .

On top of the statistics about the growth in gig economy work, the UK Guardian article (November 24, 2020) – NSW government announces taskforce to investigate food delivery deaths – informed us that in the the last few weeks, on the back of people whizzing around delivering take away pizzas, burgers or Chinese food on average, one food delivery rider has died in Australia every 11 days since 27 September.

To see people, lose their life while trying to eke out a living, earning wages considerably below the minimum without the usual workplace protections is shameful.

These deaths have caused an increase in the calls for reform and change in relation to the gig economy, the processes supporting and most of all the way it treats its ‘workers’.

While we have learned that the New South Wales government has eventually decided to give more than a passing thought to the deaths of the five delivery riders, the likelihood of any real change is bleak.

Announcing the investigation, the strangely named ‘Minister for Better Regulation’ (is that a real ministerial position?) said:

We have moved to set up this joint taskforce, that will see SafeWork investigate each incident and make findings for any immediate improvements or compliance activity that can be implemented to better protect these workers … The taskforce will assess the safety measures currently implemented by each food delivery operator and advise on any improvements needed to prevent further incidents.

The sticking point will be that whatever findings are produced, gig workers are treated as independent contractors, and hence the onus will be on them not the companies they work for to improve things. In true neo-liberal fashion, the individuals will be the ones to carry the can.

So unless government’s are willing to undertake wholesale change, an unlikely scenario given that they have allowed these gig companies to flout traditional employer/employee arrangements in the first place, the precarious low paid lives of gig economy workers will continue to be part of the accumulated social wreckage that has come to characterise our society.

And even if change is introduced there will be significant pushback by the gig companies themselves. We have already seen examples where gig workers have questioned their status as independent contractors only to be told by the Australian Fair Work Ombudsmen , (AKA the workplace relations umpire) that:

The weight of evidence from our investigation establishes that the relationship between Uber Australia and the drivers is not an employment relationship… For such a relationship to exist, the courts have determined that there must be, at a minimum, an obligation for an employee to perform work when it is demanded by the employer… Our investigation found that Uber Australia drivers are not subject to any formal or operational obligation to perform work.

And if the example from the US is anything to go by, even if there is a change, the gig companies are able to use their financial might to defeat legislation to improve the rights of gig workers, including having them classified as employees rather than independent contractors.

We read in several media outlets that:

Unleashing more than $200m – 10 times the amount of the proposition’s opponents, like labor unions – the coalition of tech giants easily drowned out those fighting for the rights of workers.

And in Australia, we read in the recent Report of the Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce that gig companies would be prepared to support a:

… scheme that covered, among other things, superannuation, but had concerns this might jeopardise their business model.

Moreover, according to a submission by Uber:

… everyone should have the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones when they’re injured at work, get sick, or when it’s time to retire. … There is more to do as a society to support independent workers … However, in many countries including Australia, existing employment law means platforms like Uber are constrained in providing additional support to those who use the App to find work. This is because offering benefits and training to our partners could compromise the self-employed status of the individual.

Reading between the lines, these companies are saying we are hamstrung by the employment laws that we managed to skirt in the first place, and if we are forced to change, all the benevolent deeds we do by providing all those people with the chance to earn a living and support their families will be lost because we won’t be able to keep operating.

How on earth have we gotten into this mess?

As I allude to in the title of this blog post, the gig economy is another example of the shameful failure of the neo-liberal project.

The gig economy’s link as a neo-liberal labour market showpiece is clear to see.

The Financial Times article (October 14, 2013) – The ‘sharing economy’ undermines workers’ rights told us that:

The sharing economy amplifies the worst excesses of the dominant economic model: it is neoliberalism on steroids.

The gig economy is portrayed as an opportunity for users to be their own bosses, have the freedom to work when they want and improve their work-life balance.

The websites of these gig economy platforms paint a picture of success for anyone willing to sign up (they call it partnering).

One particular platform tells anyone wanting to sign up about flexible work, competitive fees, choosing when to work.

Potential partners are told:

Work on your own schedule. Take deliveries for a few hours in the morning or the evening, or both – it’s up to you.

The words used in these web sites paint a feel-good picture where everyone is a winner (sound familiar? -we are all in this together). Even the testimonies of partners (workers) tries to evoke that win-win feeling:

I ride so I can earn money in a way that doesn’t feel like work-it just feels like going for a ride.

But this discourse is, as outlined in this blog post – The coronavirus crisis is just exposing the failure of neoliberalism (May 12, 2020) – part:

… of the sickening expressions that neoliberals use to try to make out that the changes in working arrangements have benefited workers.

So even though the gig economy erodes full-time work, introducing instead temporary, independent contractor roles that can be terminated if the gig ‘worker’ fails to earn enough stars through customer feedback, this is all overshadowed by a story wound up in the discourse of the individual getting to be successful, earning good money and being free to choose.

This discourse is all part of the ‘apparatus of justification’ -the corporate press, spin doctors, lobbyists and think tanks-that helps maintain the neo-liberal project, even in the face of intense questioning such as happened during the current crisis.

The quote from the gig companies above is all part of this spin. Creating a story line that the gig companies are the heroes in the neo-liberal labour market helping all those who want to be independent or who have found themselves out of work.

British author George Monbiot in his book ‘How did we get into this mess’, tells us:

This apparatus of justification, or infrastructure of persuasion, and the justifying narrative it generates allow the rich to seize much of our common wealth, to trample the rights of workers and treat the planet as their dustbin.

And governments have fallen in lock step behind the ideology ensuring that policy and programs continue to maintain the social wreckage associated with precarious workers in the gig economy as well as the broader inequalities that characterised Australian society.

While on the one hand politicians rehearse statements about dealing with forgotten Australians, ‘being in this together’ and closing the gap, they continue to be enamoured with the neo-liberal ideology that has led us to where we are now.

The gig companies create the myth of supporting people with opportunities and the government enables them.

Conclusion

The plight of precarious workers has been amplified by the COVID economic slowdown and made worse by the Federal Government’s decision to exclude some workers from any form of income support.

For many, work in the gig economy has become a necessary to try to survive.

What we don’t need is worthless statements about taskforces which will be likely to be simply hijacked by those with the most to gain.

We do need the government to commit to supporting all Australians who are unable to find work and wipe out practices that enable companies to short circuit traditional employer / employee relationships.

The government needs to immediately extend its job keeper program so that everyone is eligible and ensure that support is maintained for as long as necessary. They have proved they can put their ideology aside during the COVID slowdown and spend to support those in trouble. This should become the new normal, not the exception during a crisis.

For those that are unfortunate to find themselves out of work, the government should also immediately introduce a job guarantee which would set all the minimum wages and non-wage benefits and therefore allow a viable alternative to the precarious jobs that many are forced to take just to survive.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Governments should be working for everyone, not just the fortunate few

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/11/2020 - 11:39am in

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Guest Blogger

Today, we have another contribution from a guest blogger in the guise of Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time. He indicated that he would like to contribute occasionally and that provides some diversity of voice although the focus remains on advancing our understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its applications. It also helps me a bit and at present I have several major writing deadlines approaching as well as a full diary of presentations, meetings etc. Travel is also opening up a bit which means I can now honour several speaking commitments that have been on hold while we were in lockdown. Anyway, over to Scott for another one of his contributions …

Governments should be working for everyone, not just the fortunate few

When it comes to political speak there is a common phrase that escapes the lips of politicians and those who are vying for votes on a semi-regular basis.

That phrase? ‘We are all in this together’.

The phrase is trotted out during election campaigns and during times of national emergency such as the current COVID pandemic.

For readers in America, I am sure you were almost bludgeoned to death by leaders telling you they are working for all of you.

Joe Biden’s campaign website reminded me of being an audience member at an Oprah Winfrey show.

Everyone gets a car.

Here in Australia, the rhetoric around inclusive governance has been coming on thick and fast.

In my own state of Queensland, we have just had an election where both sides were promising to work for all Queenslanders, while the federal government’s COVID response has seen the Prime Minister and others constantly harping on how ‘we are all in this together’.

The problem with such motherhood statements is that they rarely line up to the hype.

Such statements should come with a disclaimer.

Sure, they are feel-good, but usually the policy surrounding such statements either get lost in translation or was never going to be about everyone in the first place.

In a recent piece on the Queensland election- Hi-vis haute couture and the peril of the unemployed—I suggested that it was going to be difficult to reconcile political talk about ensuring jobs for all Queenslanders and addressing the state’s high level of unemployment when major job announcements were aimed at a narrow few largely employed in jobs associated with infrastructure build.

Politicians promising the world while donning hi-viz vests make a good photo-op, but are rarely about a jobs bonanza as they claim.

Similarly, in my last blog- Why luxury watches shouldn’t be the most egregious news to come out of Canberra -I pointed out how the Australian Government’s Jobseeker payment (income support for unemployed) is deliberately set at low levels to ensure that unemployed Australians remain motivated to seek work.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his colleagues talk about everyone being in this together, what they are actually meaning to say is ‘we are in this with some of you, while we will throw the rest of you under a bus’.

The point is that while there is lots of fluff around ‘working for everyone’, the truth is that a large majority of our population are constantly left behind, so that the net sum is significant and persistent accumulated social wreckage.

Evidence is not hard to find.

Just last week researchers at theAustralian National University updated their modelling on the number of people living in poverty during the COVID economic slowdown. In the original modelling released in August we learned that the introduction of additional income support measures had a positive impact on poverty rates:

As a result of the introduction of the original JobKeeper and the JobSeeker Supplement, the poverty gap and the number of persons in poverty is not only lower than in the absence of a policy response but also much lower than pre-COVID times. The poverty gap has been lowered by 39 per cent and the number of people in poverty has been lowered by around 32 per cent.

However, in a report in the Guardian last week – Covid welfare cut will cast 330,000 more Australians into poverty, analysis shows – we learn that:

The most recent changes, announced by the government last month, will reduce the supplement to $150 a fortnight, taking the base rate of the jobseeker payment for a single person to $715 … modelling suggested the reduction would increase the number of people living in poverty from 3.49 million to 3.82 million by January.

We are all in this together, except when we are not.

Responding to these findings, a spokesperson from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union lamented (in Guardian article cited above):

We know that the only moral thing for the government to do is to uphold its duty of care and keep people who rely on welfare payments out of poverty.

Sounds like something the government might do if they were working for everyone, but sadly this is not the case!

We also came to learn last week that despite some positive signs the Australian labour market remains in a perilous state. More accumulated social wreckage!

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data –Labour force, Australia, October 2020 –showed that unemployment increased by 25,500 to 960,900 people between September and October and increased by 238,900 over the year.

The unemployment rate was at 7 per cent and youth unemployment was at 15.6 per cent.

Total underutilisation (unemployed plus underemployment) sat at 17.4 per cent representing a very large 2.3 million workers either unemployed or underemployed.

This represents significant labour wastage with widespread negative social and economic impacts on not only the individuals involved, but their families and broader communities.

Add to this the precarious working conditions and low pay earned by the hundreds of ‘workers’, reliant on delivering people or food as they pretend to benefit from being part of the gig economy, and the social wreckage keeps accumulating.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

The fairy-tale of government working for everyone is continuing to result in significant social and economic pain for many individuals, their families and their communities.

Why is it that the government says one thing, but then in practice does another?

What has led us down this path of accumulated social wreckage?

We know that it is not because sovereign currency issuing governments are fiscally limited in their ability to work for the good of everyone.

The government, if they wished, could intervene in a heart-beat to improve the precarious lives currently being lived by so many Australians.

We have seen this during the COVID emergency where governments have been quick to step in and provide a wide range of support to a wider range of the population than has been the case in the past.

Politicians have been allowed to leave their ideologies (think neo-liberalism) at the door.

But what their ideology doesn’t allow them to do is to stray for long. Before too long they have to go back and pick-up where they left off.

The apparatus of justification that is so entrenched within the neo-liberal ideology means that even when ‘business as usual’ approaches have to be abandoned due to a crisis, it is not long before we turn back to the usual ideas that have led us to where we are today.

Throughout the COVID slowdown statements by politicians have been steeped in this kind of ‘return to normal’ thinking.

Early on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said

The measures are all temporary, targeted and proportionate to the challenge we face. Our actions will ensure we respond to the immediate challenges we face and help Australia bounce back stronger on the other side, without undermining the structural integrity of the Budget.

Reading between the lines, yes, we had to do something we were not comfortable doing because the ‘system’ wasn’t working.

But we can’t wait to get back to our comfort zone.

In short, as a society, we are where we are because of the failures of the neoliberal system, the inability of politicians to see beyond their ideological views and the ability of those who benefit most to continue to legitimate the system.

So even though there is ample evidence that the ‘usual’ way of doing things has resulted in a society where the most disadvantaged are blamed for their situation in life, where if you live at the wrong address your options are limited, or if you are unable to access to a good job you are consigned to poverty, the government’s policy compass is set firmly back towards business as usual.

But business as usual is not what we need or deserve. The topsy-turvy world of 2020 has raised lots of questions.

If we believe, that most crisis situations are opportunities to either advance or stay where you are then perhaps 2020 should be the line in the sand when we begin to look for something different.

A new normal that transitions us towards a better society and economy.

I am not the first to suggest this, nor will I be the last.

Pre-empting where we now find ourselves, Australian social commentator Hugh Mackay writing in January 2020 said

Australia Day is widely regarded as a chance to celebrate what it means to be Australian. Perhaps, this year, we might turn the national day into a time of sombre reflection, and ask: are we the kind of society we want to be?

Others, including the Australian Labor Party’s Treasury Spokesman Jim Chalmers joined the chorus arguing for fresh thinking

It’s not too early for the rest of us to start thinking about what this crisis is teaching us; what the world looks like after the virus is gone; and what all this means for Australia in the years ahead.

What we need is a plan for transition.

Some people have talked about a Green New Deal aimed at addressing climate change and economic inequality.

The name refers back a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression during the 1930s.

The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt’s economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.

But the problem with a New Deal is that it is not meant to be a long-term strategy.

If we want to turn things around, we need to have a sustainable proposition.

Recently with my colleagues Bill Mitchell and Noel Pearson I have been talking about the need for a Just, Urgent and Sustainable Transition (JUST) for Australia.

Our JUST blueprint, which will be the subject of future blogs, uses the lens of Modern Monetary Theory and is built on propositions including

  • providing jobs for everyone who wants to work through the implementation of a Job Guarantee.
  • implementing policies and programs that support an economy for everyone, not just the 1 percent;
  • ensuring that environmental justice is maintained so that the decisions on environmental changes don’t unevenly impact on those who have the weakest voice; and
  • ensuring that our most disadvantaged individuals and communities receive the help they need and deserve.

Conclusion

Now is the time to move from an economy and society that only works well for the minority and has, in the past, left so many out to dry.

Governments need to start governing for everyone.

Can we be optimistic about the future?

There will be issues, which I will write about in future blog posts, but maybe, just maybe there will be a change for the better.

As Bill is fond of saying ‘the fight continues’.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Why luxury watches shouldn’t be the most egregious news to come out of Canberra

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/11/2020 - 11:34am in

Today, we have a guest blogger in the guise of Professor Scott Baum from Griffith University who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time. He indicated that he would like to contribute occasionally and that provides some diversity of voice although the focus remains on advancing our understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its applications. It also helps me a bit and at present I have several major writing deadlines approaching as well as a full diary of presentations, meetings etc. Travel is also opening up a bit which means I can now honour several speaking commitments that have been on hold while we were in lockdown. Anyway, over to Scott …

Why luxury watches shouldn’t be the most egregious news to come out of Canberra

Over the past couple of weeks, the Australian government has been holding Senate Estimates Committee hearings.

Senate estimates allow members of the Australian senate (the upper house of government) to examine the financial goings on of government departments.

Officially, the Senate Estimates are to ensure the responsible spending of public money.

However, the transcripts of the committee hearings do sometimes make interesting reading if only to provide an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the business of government.

There are often revelations about how much a government department has spent on pot plants or how many paper clips they use.

Riveting stuff.

In this round we were informed that several senior executives working for government corporation in charge of Australia’s postal services (Australia Post) received luxury watches as a bonus.

The outcry within the Canberra bubble was swift and loud. During one parliamentary sitting the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison raged about how the use of government funds, which by the government’s misguided thinking is ‘taxpayer’s money’, to buy expensive watches for senior executives of Australia Post is something that most Australians would not stand for.

The PMs reaction, and the fallout for the head of Australia Post has been filling the media for much longer than such a nothing story should.

Sadly, other issues have not been so newsworthy, nor had the Prime Minister raging in parliament.

One of the more egregious things to come out of estimates has been statements around Australia’s support for the unemployed which show just how the government’s policy decisions consign a large number of Australians to precarious living conditions.

To set the context, on – Current numbers – the Department of Social Services tells us that there are approximately 1.4 million Australians receiving the government’s jobseeker payment as at June 2020.

This has of course increased significantly throughout the COVID economic slowdown with figures from March 2020 pointing to 792,814 Australians receiving payments.

The debate around the precarious living conditions of those who are unemployed is farmed around the adequacy of the payments they receive while unemployed.

Prior to the introduction of the federal governments COVID supplement, which paid an extra $125 per week, a single person claiming jobseeker received $287.25 per week or just over $40 per day, single person with a dependent child received $306 per week ($43.70 per day), while a person with a partner also receiving benefits received $255 each per week ($36.42 each per day).

The addition of the COVID supplement in mid-2020 lifted weekly income by $125 for each recipient class.

For each type of recipient, even with the addition of the COVID supplement weekly income falls far short of a figure equivalent to the poverty rate.

The problem of poverty is of course more than just about money. Individuals and families living in poverty face increasing dislocation from society.

The local economies and communities in which these people live suffer from a lack of sustainable economic activity and falling levels of social and economic resilience.

Taken together, it is not just individuals that suffer, but the whole of society.

This context, makes the release of the transcripts from the Government’s Senate Estimates Committee interesting reading.

As part of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee, we got a glimpse of the way the government sets income support levels for the unemployed and the true policy goals of support payments.

Someway through the session, one committee member asked:

Does the government/department … work with a current definition of a poverty line for the purposes of your payments and policy work around the payments?

There was a lot of ducking and weaving on the part of those supposed to be answering the questions, but the general conclusion was summed up as the government doesn’t consider poverty or the possibility that a person might fall into poverty when setting payment rates.

Instead, the government uses a range of factors:

Different factors are often applied in this space, but we tend to consider not just what is used as a more academic definition, which is people below a median income level, because that doesn’t take into account people’s circumstances.

It is a broader consideration of what might be the factors in the person’s background in terms of other resources that they may have available to them, not just their level of income.

Then we find out that the true goal of the government’s unemployment payments is to ensure that the unemployed do not get too comfortable with their day to day existence so that they will remain hungry for work.

We hear from the minister of Families and Social Services that the:

… payment system is very comprehensive and specifically targeted towards providing the policy outcomes that are defined by the particular measures …

You would think that the policy outcomes might be around ensuring that disadvantaged Australians aren’t thrust into poverty.

Not so it seems.

The minister then comments:

What I would say is that income support payments are put in place as a safety net, to assist people who—every Australian who is of working age and is able to work we expect to be either working or looking for work, and these benefits are to provide a safety net for them during that period of time.

But:

… at the same time, don’t provide a disincentive for people to engage in the workforce.

So, there we have it.

The government’s response to supporting those Australians who have been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs is couched firmly in the typical neoliberal view that unless support for individuals is punitive, then they will lose the incentive to work and hence the booming job market that is managed so well by the private sector will not have access to workers.

In short, it is the old story that if a person is unemployed it is their fault.

If a person loses the incentive to work because of over-generous government payments, then that is not good enough and it is up to the government to ensure that doesn’t happen.

It is hard to believe that a government who prides itself on slogans such as ‘we are all in this together’ and ‘working for all Australians’ would be so shallow as to deny the unemployed adequate support because of a view that if they are receiving a supplement that raised them out of poverty, they would lose the incentive to work.

Actively pushing people into poverty as a policy choice flies in the face of good governance.

The roll of governments is to protect their citizens not economically persecute them.

The poverty story is of course broader than just those consigned to being jobless.

It impacts on Australians earning an aged pension, those referred to as the working poor including people who cannot get enough hours of work and those working in the so-called gig economy who drive people or delivery food on scooters.

Some issues of poverty, such as the plight of our older Australians living on a pension, can be easily solved by the government increasing payments to these individuals.

There would be no barrier to this, it just needs political will and a few keystrokes.

The precarious position unemployed people find themselves in requires a different approach.

Although some have suggested the introduction of a Universal Basic Income to alleviate poverty, such schemes have been shown to be ineffective as a poverty alleviation tool.

As the driving factor in poverty for the unemployed is lack of a job, then the government has a role to play by introducing a Job Guarantee scheme.

Such a scheme, as we know, would provide a job for everyone who wished to work at a socially sustainable income level.

The result would be an immediate reduction in poverty experienced by those who are unemployed, an increase in resilience in local economies and communities as more people became engaged in the economy and society and a reduction in the associated social malaise that comes from the dual problems of unemployment and poverty.

In doing so, the government could move some way towards acting as if they really did care for all Australians.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.