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Issue No. 181 06 June 2003  

National Leadership
After a week of front-page political chicanery we are to get more John Howard; who at a time of his choosing will pitch for a fourth election victory by going head to head with the son of a Whitlam Minister.


History: Nest of Traitors
Rowan Cahill uncovers a ripping yarn that could redefine the way we look at Australian involvement in World War II.

Interview: A Nation of Hope
Former PM Bob Hawke bemoans the demise of industrial relations but takes heart from the prospect of peace in the Middle East

Unions: National Focus
Noel Hester reports on a soap star rebellion, Howard�s plans to renuclearise South Australia, more historical atrocities in the north, the redundancy test case plus more in the monthly national wrap.

Safety: The Shocking Truth
It�s every power worker�s worst nightmare � and it happened to Adrian Ware. In a flash of voltage, his life changed forever, as Jim Marr reports.

Tribute: A Comrade Departed
From Prime Ministers to wharfies, the labour movement paid tribute to Tas Bull this week. Jim Marr was among them.

History: Working Bees
Neale Towart looks at a group of workers who got sacked so their boss could keep making the Bomb.

Education: The Big Picture
The NTEU�s Dr Mike Donaldson and Tony Brown join all the dots in the current debate around higher eduction.

International: Static Labour
Ray Marcelo argues there�s another side to the recent furore over Telstra�s use of cheap Indian IT contractors.

Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Frank Stilwell argues that Peter Costello�s latest budget plumbs fiscal policy to new depths.

Technology: Google and Campaigning
Labourstart�s Eric Lee argues the latest weapon for campaigning could be the humble search engine.

Review: Secretary With A Difference
Looking for a new job can be hard enough, without having to worry about sadomasochistic bosses and the threat of being spanked for forgetting to cross your �t�s, says Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: The Minimale
The Labor Party leadership is in the news again, inspiring our resident bard David Peetz to song

Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
John Howard released a controversial policy statement today, arguing that the Senate be abolished in favour of a device measuring noise from the gallery of the House of Representatives.


 Allianz Claims on Sick and Dying

 Back Pay Bill From Behind the Bars

 Gloves Off for Local Voices

 Stabbings Ground Job Cuts � For Now

 Red Light for Cut Price Labour Hire

 Sacked Workers� Ultimate Insult

 Electrolux Repays Survival With Bastardry

 Survivor Urges Compo Rethink

 Nurses: Bosses Should Foot Bank Fees

 Telstra Workers Show Bottle

 Rail Workers Telegraph Press Council Track

 Call Centre Leak Shames Stellar

 Malaysian Detainees Released

 Western Sahara Tests UN

 Activist Notebook


It�s Our Party
Long time union watcher Nicholas Way looks at the changing dynamics between the industrial and political wings of the labour movement.

The Soapbox
Grass Roots
In his Maiden Speech, new MP Tony Burke argues that the ALP�s union links are nothing to be ashamed of.

Opinion Forming Down Under
Evan Jones condemns the mainstream�s media coverage of the War on Iraq and the damage it is doing to our national psyche.

The Locker Room
Location, Re-Location!
It�s all fun and games until someone loses a club, writes Phil Doyle

 Blowing Holes in Gittens
 Negative Campaigning
 Response to Gould
 Aged Policy Looks Hairy
 Tom's Turn
 God Save Billy Deane
 Solidarity Forever
 More Bad Language
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Letters to the Editor

Blowing Holes in Gittens

Dear Workers Online,

Ross Gittens last Saturday repeated his mantra about globalisation and its supposed benefits for the underdeveloped world. He, also as usual, slammed environmentalists and the left for opposing globalisation, saying they preferred to keep the poor poor rather than ruin the environment.

A paper blowing holes in the World Bank reports that claim inequality is lessening should be Gittens required reading for the next few weeks, rather than the tiresome economic rationalist documents he usually relies upon that are pushed his way by Treasury, the Productivity Commission, free traders like Alan Oxley (who also sent us a missive about the US Australia free Trade Talks).

George Monbiot points us towards the paper by economist Sanjay Reddy and the philosopher Thomas Pogge demonstrates that the World Bank's methodology is so flawed that its calculations cannot possibly be correct.

Monbiot says "the Bank's calculations suffer, the paper suggests, from several fatal deficiencies. The most obvious of these is that its estimate of the purchasing power of the poor is based on the measure of their ability to buy any of the goods and services an economy has to offer: not only food, water and shelter, but also airline tickets, pedicures and personal fitness training. The problem is that while basic goods are often more expensive in poor nations than they are in rich ones, services tend to be much cheaper, as the wages of the people providing them are lower.

If, for example, one dollar in the US can purchase either the same amount of staple foods that 30 rupees can buy in India, or the equivalent of three rupees' worth of services (such as cleaning, driving or hairdressing), then a purchasing power parity calculation which averages these figures out will suggest that someone in possession of 10 rupees in India has the same purchasing power as someone in possession of one dollar in America. But the extremely poor, of course, do not purchase the services of cleaners, drivers or hairdressers. A figure averaged across all the goods and services an economy can provide, rather than just those bought by the poor, makes the people at the bottom of the heap in this example appear to be three times richer than they are."

The Bank would derive a far more accurate view of the purchasing power of the poor if it measured only the costs of what they buy, rather than those of what richer people in the same economies buy. Complete figures do not yet exist, but Reddy and Pogge's initial calculations, based on the cost of bread and cereals, suggest that the Bank's analysis might have underestimated the number of the world's people living in absolute poverty by some 30-40%.

As the service sector expands in poor nations, the Bank's figures will create the impression that the purchasing power of the poor is increasing, whether or not their real economic circumstances have changed. The same false trend is established by a shift to the service sector in rich nations, as one dollar there will then buy a smaller proportion of the total of available goods and services. The RELATIVE purchasing power per dollar of the people of poor nations is increased by this measure, even though their absolute cost of living remains unchanged. When house prices boom in New York, the shanty-dwellers of Lusaka appear to get richer."

Worse still, the World Bank does not even include China or India in the survey it conducted, so approximately one third of the world's population was left out, the two most populous nations on the planet.

The lesson for all the globalisation gurus is that they have nothing to base their claims of declining poverty as trade expands on. What we have instead is evidence from real people in all countries of the world whose standards of living, rights, quality of water, food and clothing are suffering as multinational companies and a rampant US military assert themselves.

Contra Ross Gittens and many others, anti-globalisation protestors are the true internationalists, seeking equality and fairness, not blood and money.

Gittens article was in the Sydney Morning Herald on 31st May 2003

Monbiot paper is entitled Rich In Imagination. First published in The Guardian 6th May 2003

Neale Towart


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