In richest-woman-in-the-world Gina Rinehart's twisted moral universe, workers in Australia need to work harder for less to compete with African mine workers (including an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 child miners in West Africa) who slave for $2 a day. She says that's what competition in the “global market” dictates.
And to encourage this Lucky Country’s allegedly overpaid and under-worked wage slaves to work harder for less, Rinehart wants special economic zones to be set up in the north of Australia — zones where companies would enjoy tax holidays and exemptions from restrictions on wage levels and working conditions.
This from someone worth $29.17 billion and whose wealth grew $600 every second last year.
The sad thing is that Rinehart's twisted moral universe is 21st century capitalism. Only in this warped “reality” could anyone accept as plausible that workers should be expected to work harder and for less after all the massive labour-saving technological developments of the past century.
If anything, we should all need to work a fraction of the once-standard 40-hour week. But no: the “market” dictates the opposite.
The average working week in Australia is now 44 hours and rising. It will rise even faster if Rinehart has her way. This is because the market dictates that big owners of capital like her, not their employees, should get the benefit of productivity gains.
The same “market” dictates that a billion people around the world go to sleep hungry every night.
The same “market” has thrown Japan, Europe and the US into stagnation, if not depression, throwing tens of millions of people out of work and millions out of their homes.
It would be totally depressing if there were no alternative to this sick worldview. But another bit of news that you are unlikely to hear about on the TV news or in the daily newspapers, tells us that there is an alternative.
On August 31, the second group of Aboriginal people graduated from a Cuban-style “Yes I can” literacy course in the township of Wilcannia, in far west NSW. This revolutionary Cuban literacy program has brought literacy to 6 million people in 28 countries around the world, including East Timor, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
This is only a pilot project, but it has made a strong impression in this Aboriginal community that suffers from severe poverty and 60% unemployment.
This contribution from a small Third World country on the other side of the world offers hope. But it also highlights the failings of an Australia run by and for billionaires like Rinehart.
If, like Green Left Weekly, you reject the self-serving values of Rinehart and her ilk, please help us get out the story of the alternative and make a donation to the Green Left Weekly fighting fund this week.
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