Friday, March 27, 2009

Michael Costa, Working Class Heroes, Poor CEOs and the Class War

What I most love about the loons is the way they can embrace contradiction, without ever worrying about contradiction.

Take education for example. The burgeoning private sector was rampantly encouraged by the Howard government, and the Ruddster team, being a pale clone in so many ways, won't do anything to discourage the trend.

But where does this trend lead you? Well it leads to the scientology school around the corner (which has scored a small amount of subsidy) and it also leads to Islamic schools. Of course Islam gets the loons terribly agitated.

Things were fine and dandy when it was just the Catholics and the Anglicans, and a select number of rich private schools dedicated to maintaining the elite in their power and glory. But now any kind of fundie loon can set up a school, and provided it conforms to a set of criteria, it can put out its hand for government aid.

As Maralyn Parker in the Daily Terror points out, in the past two years 11 new independent schools have been established, with one of them offering a "secular Islamic school welcoming all members of the community."

Well that's a relief - the secular bit I mean. It sounds just like the secular Catholic education promising hellfire and damnation that I experienced.

And as Australia drifts away from its secular education standards, where schools are allowed to push private agendas down children's throats, and offer "healthy competition", subsidized by taxpayers at large, the loons will wonder why a secular Australia also slipped off the rails.

And they won't pause for a second to wonder exactly how the constant kicking in the guts of public education, and 'leftie' teachers got them there. Yep, the hatred of government has its consequences. But sadly readers of Tim Blair's blog find it hard to put one and one together, let alone work out that Sekular means more than a town in Serbia.

Parker is one of the few sane voices at the Terror, so let's leave her there, suffering on her own wheel of fire (you can catch her full rant about hypocrisy undermining public schools here),

It's time for us to turn to our own favorite turncoat and sanctimonious government basher, who wields the willow with all the skill of a Labor party heavy at a bush picnic in a Dal Stivens' story. (It's just a pity the demon bowler doesn't knock his block off).

Come on down Michael Costa, arch right loon and one time Treasurer guardian involved in the blighting of public education in NSW. What have you got for us this week? What bout of government bashing, distilled with essence of loathing for the Ruddster and his merry band of vile socialists?

Yep, you've excelled yourself. War on CEOs won't fix economy.

Oh poor diddums nice CEOs, is nasty working class bullies picking on ya, diddums. There, there, Michael Costa will give them a sound thrashing and teach 'em a lesson. How dare they say you're getting too much, diddums, you do so much good, and lately the economy's been running at such full steam, why I have to think you're worth triple the cash in the paw you get already.

Take that kindly Sol Trujillo - didn't he do such a good job running Telstra, and running its share price into the ground? Bonus time there.

Actually it's terribly hard to do a gloss on Costa's scribbing because it's tedious, and funnily enough even more right wing than the standard dribbles of most members of the right wing commentariat  fraternity. Not only has Costa jumped the shark, he's become a ringleader in the orgy of class baiting common to such folk.

In essence it seems that an attempt to give shareholders the right to approve executive termination payments worth more than a year's base salary is just a political stunt from a government that's run out of economic steam, it's a childish attack on executive greed, it's class war, it's particularly unhelpful to business confidence ... it's, it's ... well it's just wrong.

After explaining at tedious length about corporate structure, and the way the world of capitalism works (or doesn't, as the case may be), Costa goes on at tedious length to explain how everything is hunky dory in the land of corporate remuneration.

Guess he must be trying to angle up and land a CEO job, and the sooner the better, since it will stop him being a columnist. Or maybe it won't. Maybe he'll be a good delegater, hired for crucial decision-making insight, with one paw on his cash and the other pounding away at the keyboard.

Anyhoo, never mind ABC Learning or Babcock & Brown. Nothing can be done. Not a thing. It's all do do with the global market. There are so many successful executives around the world who've helped drive the global economy into recession that we have to pay a premium to lure them here so they can do the same for local companies and the local economy. Or the talented lads from Babcock & Brown will go overseas. What's that you say, good riddance? Now come on, don't be like that (as Kenneth Williams once used to say in a funny voice):

Highly skilled executives command large salaries. Just because governments and sections of the community believe these salaries to be excessive or obscene doesn't mean they are wrong. Morality has nothing do with it.

Nor does success, it seems. It's just whatever you can get away with. Well if that's the law of the land, then you can understand why unions resort to industrial thuggery. Because morality has nothing to do with it. And others to bikie gangs and crime. Because morality has nothing to do with it. Or become politicians. Because morality has nothing to do with it. Or worst of all become lick spittle lackey Rupert Murdoch columnists. Because morality has nothing to do with it.

One of the most misleading ways of assessing executive salaries is by comparing them with the pay of workers. The Economist claims that in 1980 the average pay for chief executives in the biggest companies in the US was about 40 times that of an average production worker. In 1999, it had increased to about 85 times and was estimated to be more than 400 times during the recent asset price bubble. This may be true, but it is irrelevant. The market for chief executives is not the same as the market for production workers.

Of course it isn't. Greed is good. Greed is great. Greed is fucking fantastic. Let's have more of it. It had nothing to do with the recent asset price bubble - what's a bubble or two between mates. Yeah, there's nothing like running the world economy into the ground, and making out like bandits. Because morality or fairness has nothing to do with it, nothing at all. Different markets, don't ya know. (And don't you just love the word 'bubble' - makes it sound like kids playing by blowing soap bubbles. So much nicer than the great recession, or the mild depression, or the grim reaper).

Many factors explain the growth of executive salaries and the relative decline of production workers' salaries, including their relative supply and demand. Executive remuneration cannot be effectively regulated by governments. It would be foolish to try. The resources of the Productivity Commission would be better spent examining the economic consequences of the Government's Fair Work Australia legislation, which will have greater consequences to the economy than any chief executive's salary package.

That's right. Fuck the workers, and let's keep fucking them over. Paying them anything above the minimum wage will ruin us all, while any CEOs salary package will lead them, and us, to a greater cosmic good and understanding. Because morality has nothing to do with it, nothing at all.

Why, just look at the obscene amount Hollywood actors and sports stars get. Isn't it just great that the Victorian government is forking over three million dollars to bring over Tiger Woods. And doesn't he deserve every penny of it. The chicken entrails - or was that the economic multipliers - tell me so.

And here's the rub. If you can pay Angelina Jolie or Matt Damon a fortune, then why not pay Sol the same. Well actually I can think of one good reason - if I have a fantasy life and someone enters it, buggered if I'll fuck Sol in my mind. That has to make Angelina and Matt worth a little bit more.

Anyhoo, there's a lot more of  it, if you can stand to read Costa at all. It's like reading Janet Albrechtsen, only she's less turgid. Come to think of it, if you put Costa in a dress, and hid the bald pate under a wig, you might think you were reading someone channeling Janet.

Yep, the transformation is complete. Once upon a time, Costa pretended he was a working class hero, now he just yearns to be one of the folks on the hill. Let's hope this is his favorite song, though I'm not sure he can quite get the smokey tone in Marianne Faithfull's version:

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Thanks Mr. Costa, but I think I'll pass on the offer. And sadly I'm not sure who else you'll find who will want to follow you outside of your fellow loons in the right wing commentariat ... especially as you don't seem to have learned how to smile as you kill. A joke or two would really liven up the read ... 

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