Another Greedy Capitalist

Her name is Gina Rinehart:

Now, the Australian mining heiress, worth $19 billion and earlier this year thought to be the world’s richest woman, has sparked another controversy in her latest column in Australian Resources and Investment magazine. (Yes, I am a registered reader online.) Rinehart rails against class warfare and says the non-rich should stop attacking the rich and go to work.
“There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she writes. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.”

I don’t disagree with these sentiments at all.  Rather, where I have a problem is with things like this:

Union bosses are fuming that the government has approved a scheme to allow mining magnate Gina Rinehart to bring in 1700 overseas guest workers for her Pilbara iron ore project, without making proper attempts to find local workers first.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told the National Press Club today that the government had approved the first Enterprise Migration Agreement – which allows “mega” resource projects to negotiate temporary migration needs up-front – and that it would be for Mrs Rinehart’s $9.5 billion Roy Hill project in Western Australia.

And:

The part of Mrs Rinehart’s speech that drew the widespread criticism was: “The evidence is inarguable that Australia is becoming too expensive and too uncompetitive to do export-oriented business.
“Africans want to work, and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 per day. Such statistics make me worry for this country’s future.”

It’s one thing to say that people should work harder; it’s another thing to advocate and enact policies that negate the effects of hard work.  In this instance, Mrs. Rinehart wants to expand the Australian labor pool to include impoverished Africans.  The mere expansion of the labor pool drives down wages generally, but when said labor pool includes extremely marginal labor like this, it drives down wages quite a bit.
What Mrs. Rinehart faces is the corporatist’s conundrum.  She espouses socially productive views (her advice to work harder and take care of one’s self is good advice, especially when you add getting a basic education and not getting pregnant out of wedlock to the mix), but she pursues socially destructive policies.  She doesn’t really believe in hard work or freedom; what she really believes in is having slave labor, or its cheapest alternative.  That’s why she imports African workers, and that’s why she tries to shame her country men into working harder.  Ultimately, her policy is to encourage materialism (“if you want to be a millionaire…”), which should expand the labor pool (more people working more jobs) while simultaneously encouraging the free movement of labor, also expanding the labor pool.  The net effect of both of these policies is to drive down her labor costs.  What’s sickening is how she dresses this personal greed as patriotism.
One lesson that conservatives should take from this is that it is a foolish idea to link conservative principles (hard work, taking proper care of oneself) with political policies that are harmful to one’s fellow countrymen.  If Mrs. Rinehart had told her fellow citizens to work harder and then offered them 1700 decently paying jobs, her message might have been received a little bit better.  But when she told them to work harder and then offered 1700 jobs to Africans to work at slave wages, well, the resulting controversy could hardly have been avoided.
It calls to mind what God says in Malachi 3:5 (“And I will come near you for judgment… Against those who exploit wage earners…”).  Conservatives often want to condemn the poor for being lazy, but often neglect to condemn employers who constantly try to exploit their workers.  The reality of the matter is this:  Employers ought to do what is best for their employees, and pay them fairly (and before anyone accuses me of being a Socialist, no I don’t think ensuring that employees are paid fairly requires government intervention).  Employees ought to be honest and work hard.  And these two messages ought to go hand-in-hand.  And until conservatives start demanding that employers treat employees fairly, conservatives will likely fins that their call for people to “work harder” will go unheeded.

Join the forum discussion on this post - (2) Posts

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>