Uneven Development of Capitalism - A Cause of Insecurity for All Working People in Australia.
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The World Bank predicts 3.1% global economic growth for 2018. In Australia Gross Domestic Product is about 3% and the Australian Stock Exchange is at its highest level since the 2008 crash. A rosy picture for a few wealthy speculators and large corporations.
However not all is so rosy for working people, so much so that not even the Australian, media outlet for US imperialism in Australia, can ignore it.
The lead article in the Inquirer section of the Weekend Australian 13-14 January argues that "The contrast between the typical household's fortunes and the broader economy has perhaps never been greater...Household incomes, including wages, interest income and net rent, grew 1.8% over the year to September 2017, lower than during any 12 month period since 1991 according to national account data."
Mortgage costs or rent absorb almost 40% of disposable income for a worker on $70,000 a year according to economic analysts from the both the Left liberal schools and right wing analysts such as Zipmoney. Zipmoney assert that 30% of disposable income spent on housing is the "rule of thumb" for household stress.
Another report from Digital Financial Analytics says that in December there were more than 920,000 households over the 30% mortgage stress tipping point. Even a marginal rise in interest rates will tip some people out of their homes.
Unemployment - How High Is It In Real Terms?
Added to the household income stress is the insecure employment situation for Australian workers, from the lowest paid, most precariously employed, to the so called 'middle class' office bound workers who face uncertain futures due to technological change and corporate "restructuring".
While official government ABS figures say unemployment was 5.4% in November 2017, a report from Chief Executive Michelle Levine of Roy Morgan says, "There have now been more than two million Australians either unemployed or underemployed for 27 straight months stretching back to late 2015." (The ABS counts people as unemployed only if they have actively applied for a job in the previous four weeks).
Levine says that the real figure of unemployment and underemployment is nearer 20% of the Australian workforce!
Worldwide Crises of Capitalism
Across the globe, similar crises face working people. Even in China, openly lauded by many capitalist commentators in Australia for being the engine room of trade and development, there are millions of workers missing out. China now has the most billionaires in US dollar terms in the world (609), higher than the USA (553). While the minimum growth required by a capitalist economy to re-produce itself is 3% according to Marxist economist David Harvey, the Chinese economic growth for the coming year is expected to be 6.8%.
However hundreds of millions of workers in western cities away from the booming coastal cities cannot afford to buy a home and many have had no wage increase for years, even though the official figures from the government show that wage growth in China last year was 7%!
Change the System, Not Just the Rules
The plight of workers in both Australia and other countries regarding declining real income and "living on the edge" with respect to household debt can only be reversed and eventually eliminated by mass movements led by the working classes of each country.
In Australia, the ACTU leader Sally McManus is a welcome voice for such a movement under the ACTU's "Change the Rules" campaign.
While changing the rules of industrial and other laws will give workers and their communities more breathing space to organise, this should not be the end game for workers. It is not just the Rules under which workers and capitalists face each other that need changing, it is the nature of the system itself that needs to change.
Capitalism is a dead end for workers whatever it's rules of the game.
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