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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The times they are a-changin' as chickens roost?

Chickens are coming home to roost:
not only for John Howard but for globalization, too
Dear Reader, do you sometimes think you have a different wisdom from the professionally wise? By the professionally wise, Miss Eagle means politicians, senior bureaucrats, leaders of commerce and trade.

Do you think that you recall a certain history of events which the professionally wise - use above definition - seem to have either forgotten or completely bypassed?

Miss Eagle has come across to-day two articles which should reassure you, dear Reader, in regard to your memory and your powers of interpretation and comprehension.

The first is about John Howard in the long, long ago - before he became Lazarus with a triple by-pass - when he was Treasurer and when that name of "Honest John" was coined, not as a compliment as some use it to-day but as a perjorative.

The second concerns the fact that some Americans with strong economic and business credentials are finding holes in that smelly gorgonzola cheese that is globalization. You knew, dear Reader, as did your present correspondent that all was not well in the globalized world. We knew, you and I, that many people were ending up the poorer and missing out on the much- and oft-touted benefits of free and globalized trade.

Now, Miss Eagle is not railing against globalization in and of itself. It is an old and ancient phenomenon. Modern people like some things such as international communications and travel and dislike others like the migration of jobs off-shore, the driving down of wages.

In Miss E's view there should be one catch-cry against globalization and that is Accountablility.

Not the unctious and self-righteous catchcry of CEOs and senior mangers about looking after the stakeholders. No, dear Reader, CEOs and senior managers need to be held accountable in regard to what they deliver and the amount of remuneration, share holdings, and sweet deals they receive. Companies need to be held accountable in their countries of origin as well as their countries of location. They need to be accountable to the communities in which their places of business and their employees are located. They need to be transparent and accountable when governments give them favourable and special treatment. Of course, companies need to be accountable to their shareholders but "stakeholders" goes well beyond shareholders.

Finally, those who believe in free trade, need to be honest - not unctious - about the hidden favours they give or receive from governments and the taxpayers.

For instance, why are companies allowed to go bankrupt or into liquidation without paying workers their wages and entitlements? What happens in Australia is that businesses and corporations can avoid honouring workers entitlements, avoid paying any remuneration, or perhaps pay very poor and minimal redundancy payments and then the shoddily treated employee is thrown on the welfare heap for the taxpayer to take responsibility.

In other words, the employer; the business; the corporation can make a decision to offload employees and offload their responsibility for workers' entitlements. The employer, the business, the corporation can make a decision to benefit itself to the detriment of others. The taxpayer then has the pleasure of paying for the consequences of a decision it had no part in.

But then Australia does not provide subsidies to business! Yeah!?!