Carlo's Corner: Why stop at car companies, I'd like a handout too

May 24, 2013

In the wake of Ford's decision to close up in Australia, at the cost of 1200 jobs directly and potentially more 10,000 manufacturing jobs all up, fellow corporate giant Holden publicly said it was “ready to seek” more government subsidies.

A very brave decision, considering Holden slashed 500 jobs last month despite a package of $212 million in taxpayer handouts from the federal government and a new announcement of $50 million from the South Australian government. But Holden is ready to step up and accept even more — anything to save jobs it will cut anyway in defence of profits.

It makes total sense — you only have to ask Holden managing director Mike Devereux, who described the policy of giving billions in government hand outs to companies such as his as “sound economic policy”.

“I think that's a pretty good deal,” said Devereux, and I guess he would know.

But I don't see why Holden should have to carry the full weight of “generating economic activity” (to use Devereux's phrase for taking our money and still sacking workers). I want it known I too am willing to do the right thing by the nation and accept billions of dollars in subsidies from the federal government — and this will be an even better deal because I am pretty confident I can guarantee I won't sack a single person.

Of course, it is very sad that Ford — having taken an amount of government handouts that was kept secret — has decided to close down all of its Australian operations, but there is obviously not much that can be done. I mean, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine met Ford representatives and asked them.

Napthine told 3AW: "I made it very clear to them: 'Is there anything we can do to change the mind of your company', and they said: 'there's nothing you can do, nothing the commonwealth can do'."

Well, there you go then. Nothing to be done. We'll just have to keep throwing more taxpayers money at companies that keep cutting jobs in the vain hope they won't just take our money and destroy even more jobs, even though that is exactly what keeps happening every time we give them more of our money.

I mean, it is not like we could use that money to, say, buy out the corporate giants to ensure plants stay open and people keep jobs. Or even view the money already given them as effective payment and just confiscate the plants.

Sure, with control of a branch of manufacturing, we could retool it for public transport and wind-turbine manufacturing, thus saving jobs, stimulating the economy and tackling the worsening climate crisis. But Napthine did ask Ford what to do and Ford came up with no such suggestion, so that is that, really.

I am sure if there was any possible way out of throwing 1200 people on the scrap heap, Ford would be the very first to let us know.

* * *

Not that it is all doom and gloom for this country. In a rare good news story, Forbes magazine declared, Gina Rinehart is now more influential than Beyonce.

Australia's beloved mining magnate, the world's fifth richest woman, rose from 35th to 16th in the financial magazine's list of the world's most influential women — one spot ahead of the US singer-songwriter. And why not? What Rinehart lacks in dance moves, she more than makes up for in poetic genius.

A simple comparison proves the point. In her debut solo hit single, Beyonce sung: “Lookin' so crazy your love's got me lookin' got me lookin' so crazy your love”, which doesn't even rhyme.

Whereas Rinehart, in her debut poem, wrote, “Some envious unthinking people have been conned, to think prosperity is created by waving a magic wand”, which not just sort of rhymes but contains an important social message — wealth is not just created out of nothing. As Rinehart knows only too well, it is created by inheritance laws.

What on Earth is Beyonce's point? That love makes you look mentally ill? It is not the most romantic of messages.

It is not just the quality of the verse, but Rinehart's visionary means of disseminating her important work to the world. Knowing full well that paper belongs to the 20th century, Australia's richest person had it engraved on a plaque fixed to a 30-tonne iron ore boulder that sits in markets in the Perth suburb of Morley.

While the likes of Beyonce are still messing around with digital downloads, Rinehart has her eyes firmly fixed on the coming post-industrial climate change-induced collapse of civilisation. Once society falls into barbaric chaos and the mass energy production required to allow widespread access to the internet becomes a thing of the past, everyone will be rushing to get into rock carvings.

This is the type of bold, forward thinking our economy surely needs. And unlike the car companies, at least Rinehart gives us value for money.

In its entire 88 years of operating in Australia, Ford never published a single poem. If we must throw taxpayers money at mega-rich capitalists, lets at least give it to one who gives something back.

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