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Right-Sizing

Entry 774, on 2008-05-20 at 21:03:59 (Rating 3, Politics)

Recently New Zealand seems to be suffering from an increasing rate of job losses through manufacturing and processing industry closures. On 18 April I blogged about the closure of the Fisher and Paykel appliance manufacturing plant here in Dunedin and now a major meat-works is going to close resulting in another 138 job losses.

According to the chief executive of the company involved, PPCS, they are currently involved in a "right-sizing" project. That's a relief because I thought for a moment they might have been doing a good, old fashioned downsizing. Right-sizing just sounds so much better... but the workers still lose their jobs!

As I pointed out in previous blogs on similar topics, you can't entirely blame the company managers and shareholders. Sure many of them are just greedy and uncaring about the social consequences of their decisions, but they have been put into a situation they can't win because of current global trends. New Zealand has embraced the ideas of laissez-faire economics, open markets, and globalisation more than most, but in some ways this is an example of governments taking the easy way out.

Leaving the economy at the mercy of global pressures is easy but as a result our currency is over-valued, foreign corporations send huge profits overseas, and our workers are forced to compete with other countries where the workers work in virtual slavery conditions.

If we want to create our own culture and not just become another participant in the great global rat race we need to have the courage to run the country in a way that is best for the majority, not just those greedy and corrupt enough to want to work in the global marketplace.

There does seem to be a change of attitude coming though, an idea that I have mentioned on several occasions recently. In the comments on recent business closures people are using phrases like "Such a situation is normal in a capitalist society. The non-productive rich wouldn't be able to live extravagantly if they actually took a loss would they?" and "Its time to get rid of capitalism." and "It's time to stop employers selling our futures offshore. We need a revolution!". Some fairly extreme views there!

They are right though. It is time for a revolution. I'm not suggesting the poor should rise up and attack the government with pitchforks and shotguns, I'm suggesting we need a change of the same type which occurred in the industrial revolution. We need a new revolution which I call the "automation revolution".

Why should people do mindless, menial work when automated systems can do it much better? Because they need to work to live? Why? Because that was the environment set up during the industrial revolution. That happened because of a change in technology but now we need to adapt to another change.

I'm not sure exactly what form this change should take, and these things always evolve in a bottom up fashion rather than being imposed through a top-down plan anyway, but we do need change of some sort and the traditional capitalism, free market, and global corporation model just isn't good enough any more.

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Comment 1 (1452) by Anonymous on 2008-05-21 at 09:42:41:

Again OJB reveals his leftist tendencies and blames the hard working business people for the problems caused by our crazy left wing government. Quoting a few crazies from the internet doesn't prove a new trend. Come on OJB, try to be more fair.

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Comment 2 (1453) by OJB on 2008-05-21 at 16:58:46:

Hard working? In my experience many managers and business owners aren't that hard working. OK, so some are, but we should never assume that just because someone gets a big salary or makes lots of money through their business that they are hard working.

Many of the problems seem to be related to globalisation and other policies not necessarily strongly supported by the left, so I don't think we can blame them for this sort of phenomenon.

You can call people with this sort of attitude crazy if you wish but they do seem to be becoming more numerous so you should prepare yourself for more craziness in the future!

And I think I was reasonably fair in my original post. I did point out that these businesses are victims of the system they work under at the same time as I suggested many might be able to do more if they put their mind to it, so I was reasonably balanced.

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