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Behind the Employment Figures

6.09.2005

I was watching the demi-god of American economics on the box earlier and Greenspan was quite coy about job creation and quality in the west. He was asked about the increasing chasm between job standard and pay rates in society, where a large majority of new jobs are "mcJobs" with long hours, low pay and no security while a minority of well paid positions are created. He went on to say that the only real hope that the States had of keeping a well balanced fair and evenly distributed jobs market was education. The states is notorious for letting kids down between the 4th and 12th grade and churning out many under educated students who fault o make or afford college. The repressive educational system has led to th two tier society we see before us today. I was worried when I saw these doyens of establishment thinking and neo-liberal policy exchange words on the importance of education, things must be bad over there.
So I turned my attention to today's publishing of the employment statistics for the year to march 2005. The trend that has been developing in the states has been passed like a virus onto us it seems. Job creation is no longer the big issue for many Americans and soon it will be the same in Ireland. Remember the campaign of 2004, Kerry was talking a lot about job quality for Americans .
on paper we seem to have a similar jobs boom in this country with 72,400 added in the year to March. However when one consider s the expansion of the cheap credit industry and the amount of immigrants needed to do the jobs available in this country (roughly 25,000 year to march) it points to a similar set of sociological trends as the states. I am not saying definitively that there is a McJob culture yet but most colloquial knowledge tells me there is. We have a race to the bottom taking place in the Irish labour market, job quality and security plummets as the private sector can cut costs and responsibilities at will. The result is an overworked and over stressed employee sometimes required to work a second job or take advantage of the cheap credit boom. Its a vicious cycle and were successful because we got in early. The only option is to begin to reign in big business but how does one do this on a global scale? The issue confronting most anti-capitalist/globalisation protesters is reconciling the need to control big business with localist protection. It is a long debate but one which will erupt very soon as work practice and standards become inhumane in the comfortable west.
the French face a dilemma over what to do about labour markets, big business will not pay big wages or be required to offer security. Thus the French find themselves with a 10% unemployment level. We long ago gave up that fight and welcomed big business with open arms. The likes of Theodore Zeldin have argued that job quality must improve if people are to continue to accept capitalism as it currently is. People need to feel value and ownership of their lives and work. This is a basic minimum to ensure stable society. The conflict over McJobs versus a job of quality and ownership is a deep one arousing much passion across the political spectrum. Today we see some reinforcement of the trend that moves us closer to an American employment/job model than to Europe. It is certainly profitable in terms of cash value for business but is this simply another symptom of our vertical value system singly equating value with cash?
these are admittedly rambling and perhaps babbling thoughts, I am no ardent anti-globaliser nor anti-capitalist yet but I am looking to the horizon and see much discomfort coming our way.
Red Rover

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