Tuesday, 9 February 2010

dumb and dumber

I am sometimes bamboozled by the thought processes of Australian government and business. For instance, the following topics may initially seem to be unrelated, but I'll get there:

  • the so called "Skills Shortage" which is used to drive up skilled immigration levels
  • the difficulty of anyone (no matter how skilled) over 45 to get a job
  • the so called "jobless recoveries" of the Economy
  • the desire to employ younger people in the construction industry
  • the penchant of the Australian Government to pop out schemes to assist (be it Indigenous peoples or our mainstream economy)

Now, take the present situation of the home insulation scheme scandal. Not only is leaving people's homes in danger, but it demonstrates to me exactly what i don't like about the construction industry and why it should not be propped up and boosted ad nauseum.

Reading that above article about the electrification of homes (and not in a good way) you find that all of the deaths so far have been the young and inexperienced (so loved to employ because they're cheap and do what you tell em)

October 14, 2009
An installer is electrocuted and a co-worker receives an electric shock while putting foil insulation in the roof of a Brisbane home. A staple used to secure the foil pierces a power cable, electrifying the foil.

November 18, 2009
A 16-year-old worker is electrocuted while installing insulation at a property at Stanwell, southwest of Rockhampton. His co-worker survives but suffers an electric shock.

November 20, 2009
A 19-year-old insulation worker dies in Sydney after emerging from the searing heat of a roof space during his first day on the job.

February 4, 2010
A 25-year-old worker is electrocuted while working in a ceiling at Millaa Millaa, southwest of Cairns.

February 9, 2010
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett suspends foil insulation from the government's rebate scheme, citing ongoing concerns about safe installation.

and it would look like shoddy work practices are taking place. As an electronics technician (long ago past) with quite enough experience in crawling through ceilings I can back up that things are often pretty dodgy up there. Part of the problem is the pressure on contractors from the builder or developer.

Meanwhile the govt and media are wringing their hands about the costs of this and the bad decisions made by government, well, is anyone going to punish the idiots who essentially sent these kids to their deaths? Is anyone going to investigate why there is always a rush by shoddy operators to cash in on stuff like this (or even Indigenous housing scams)? Or isn't any of that important?

Underlying all of this is the ethics of business ... most commonly this ethic is "shaft them before they shaft you" ... and we kid ourselves we are working towards a sustainable society.


While one group argues that at least some of our International Students are attracted here to study because they will be in a better position to apply for Permanent Residency (and I have quite a few international student friends from recent Masters level University study to back this up anecdotally) another group is saying it will hurt our recovery. Another case of Ethics if you ask me ... and just where does this help many Australians?

There is always talk of recovery, often this is based in consumer spending. Well just Google Jobless Recovery and see what you get. Not easy to see where the jobs are being created, and why noone is taking on anyone who doesn't have 12 years experience. "we don't have time to afford to train staff".

Funny ... if you do some reading on IBM's Datawarehouse project for "Wallmart" you'll discover that the entire system would not have been possible without several key and highly experienced individuals who were able to direct their reporting criteria based on their own heuristic experience.

So HR trys to treat us all as a pool of replaceable parts, that can be ordered and plugged in "just in time". Since that approach seems to result in bad workplace relations, it seems that out-sourcing is picked as the solution. You know, get the "peripheral" work that isn't part of our "core business" done outside ... anyone here had problems with off shore development?


Perhaps we actually have enough people in Australia to do what is needed ... "But the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry fears the changes" [probably of reducing a pool of exploitable labour and a balanced marketplace].

I'll leave you with a quote by Robert Williams from an address to a symposium he delivered

In the last decade, there has been a radical shift of thinking on how to measure business performance. The Strategic Scorecard (SSC) and The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) have created other measures of performance that focus on environmental quality and social justice.

Despite the above radical thinking, business failures, financial scandals and unethical business behaviour continue unabated.

This paper concludes that the reasons for this include that the TBL and SCC have not adequately addressed ethics, that profit is seen as the only goal of business, that ethics is only seen as relevant if it aids profits, and that legalistic societies marginalise ethics.

This paper argues that something more fundamental is needed to address this malaise; that something is ethics. Individuals are compelled by reason to act ethically, that is, to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and to respect all individuals. Further, businesses are merely manifestations of individuals and therefore individuals in business must also act ethically.

This paper demonstrates two paradoxical conclusions. First, in one sense, ethics is the bottom line for individuals when dealing with any action in the class of moral actions. Second, while the bottom line for business is business, business still must act ethically. Therefore, in this more general sense, ethics is beyond the bottom line, but is needed to underlie how business should be conducted.

1 comment:

Noons said...

It's funny how these pretend economy "experts" can conceive of an economic recovery when:

1- they want employees with 12 year experience.
2- they don't employ anyone over 45.


Usually one stops studying at around 23 and looks for employment then.

So if we take 45 and subtract (23+12) from it, we get an average "useful" employment life time of 10 years.

Hard to see how ANY economy can survive with an average citizen employment life of 10 years. Or any society, for that matter.

It's high time we started pulling out the tar and feathers when "experts" come up with these pearls of idiocy...