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Neo-liberalism at work

Written By: - Date published: 5:16 pm, November 16th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: Economy, jobs, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Sick days and employees who battle through illness but with reduced productivity are costing the economy billions of dollars every year, a Treasury paper says.

The Government has proposed a labour law amendment that would require employees to provide a medical certificate for a single day off, if their employer asked for one, in order to cut the number of “sickies”.

However, the Government says its proposed changes to sick leave are unlikely to reduce the cost.

Treasury Study: Cost of sick staff could be 13billion

So people get sick and become less productive. I would have thought that that was pretty much stating the obvious.

Spending tax payers money trying to quantify how much imaginary wealth these sick people could have created for their employers if they had been perfectly well, seems to me to be bordering on lunacy.

Workers are human, ipso facto, sometimes they get sick. It is part of the human condition.

Getting a government department to quantify this imaginary loss is lunacy, I expect very soon not only a study of how much imaginary wealth could have been generated by sick people if they had been well, but of dead people if they had been alive.

Is this the study that informed the government to bring in the legislation on sick leave?

If this is the case, then it reveals a complete dislocation of policy from reality, similar to the government proclamations of the old Soviet Union in the 1930s.

Even the Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson has admitted that the new law will make no difference to the rate of absenteeism due to illness.

The Government has proposed a labour law amendment that would require employees to provide a medical certificate for a single day off, if their employer asked for one, in order to cut the number of “sickies”.
However, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said the amendment would not affect absenteeism or presenteeism because of illness.

Just as in the Soviet Union the only affect of such unrealistic legislation is to make the lives of those at the bottom of society harder. Legislation out of touch with reality creates new layers of bureaucracy making it harder to do things. In this case making it harder for people to deal with illness at work. Most won’t be able to jump through the extra hoops and costs and will either go to work when they are sick, infecting more workers, or if the are to ill to do that, go without any income and even risk getting the sack.

Commenting on the Treasury paper that seems to have informed this legislation, Alan Geare, head of Otago University’s management department commented

It seems to me that it’s just figures plucked out of the ether

It is like the Treasury economists are inventing invisible empires for making money because they have run out of rational answers to the recession.

That’s bad enough, but that the National Government is passing legislation motivated by this craziness is even worse.


14 comments on “Neo-liberalism at work”

  1. tc 1

    Initially I thought it was a joke but then I saw kate’s name and realised the joke’s on us as the minister for Lawn bowls err I mean IR knows about it which makes a change as she normally seems to know F’all about anything.

    Let me guess what comes next….we take the imaginary wealth and complete the make believe cycleway with it and then wait for all the virtual eco tourists destined for all the rides at the john key hobbiton theme park.

    Crikey these treasury dudes are onto it but hey we expect no less from a department that spawned Bill English onto the hustings.

  2. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 2

    My old friend Wikipedia says neo-liberalsim is:

    a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that stresses the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the corporate sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state


    So this is neo-liberalism how?

    I had a rather nasty corn on my big toe the other day. Damned neo-liberalism. I went to the dairy to buy a newspaper this morning. Fucker wanted $1.60. Damned neo-liberalism. It was uncomfortably hot in my office this afternoon. I blame that neo-liberalism.

  3. Greg 3

    Yes, proposals like this one are weird. The government seems to assume everybody is out to rort their employers for all they can get. Is that projection or what? Should we be investigating Ministers’ expense cl- oh, right.

    Perhaps National haven’t heard the old saw: think the worst of people, and pretty soon, that’s what you get.

    A more cynical person would think that this is just a back-door method of making it easy for employers to fire people at will. Oh, and putting up employees’ ACC contributions before they privatise ACC.

    • Shamy 3.1

      Just like you guys assume “employers are out to rort employees for all they can get”….its all about perspective. Truth in the middle somewhere

  4. It’s all metaphysics isn’t it?

    How much would a sick worker earned for his boss had he been healthy?

    How much would dead people contribute had they been alive?

    And what about all the workers who just want the day off?


  5. felix 5

    It turns out that many workers are spending 5, 6, even 7 or 8 hours sleeping every day!

    I haven’t calculated the amount this is costing us, but annually it must be a huge figure.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      Cripes. Whats more teh state taxes the hell out of John Galt to pay for it’s war on P. Seems like there are some obvious synergies here.

  6. aj 6

    Coming up next: a study on how much the country would save if everybody died at age 66.

    captcha: improvement

    • Lats 6.1

      Govt ought to mandate smoking, the costs to the health system would more than be made up for by savings to the pension, not to mention the huge amount of excise tax made on ciggies 🙂

  7. john 7

    Here is a description of neoliberalism a pretty nasty ideology dressed up to sound innocent:

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

    2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

    3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

    4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

    5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

    Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, “Neo-liberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America.”

    In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and cutting back social programs. The Republican “Contract” on America is pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself — and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will “get government off my back.” The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world’s people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without end.

    But ACT-nat party think it’s the way to go mate! Well done John and Wodney! If they have their way you’ll get vouchers to send your kids to a private school, the rich will supplement theirs with cash to go to much better private schools! Keep voting for them Kiwis they’re so nice and that is what counts not what they stand for!


    • OleOlebiscuitBarrell 7.1

      All very fascinating.

      But how is this little bit of bureaucratic nonsense neo-liberalism?

      You’re like those people complaining that anything they don’t like is “political correctness gone mad”.

      • john 7.1.1

        Hi oleOlebiscuitBarrell

        NeoLiberalism is overwhelmingly concerned about Profit and good returns for shareholders who share in the Capital of the business contrasted with Social Democratic systems where the workers may actually be on Management boards representing the workers interests. The former emphasises the rights of the investors and owners to a profit return the latter does not deny that but much more greatly emphasises the rights of the workers who produce the wealth. Under NeoLibearism all workers are disposable and only as good as their market position dictates-If you have too many sickies you are got rid of for someone who doesn’t have sickies at all! Workers are just cost units to the boss who is loyal only as long as you produce to the right standard- an over emphasis on this attitude is dehumanising. NL does not recognise workers have any stake in the business they are merely paid off with wages.

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