Chimp doesn't appreciate the muisc
In many respects, I do not recognise current Australia in terms of the decline in ethics, morals and behaviour in business and politics at the top level down into the lower ranks. Rather than list the indiscretions and crimes here in this article I have been collating them within one of my web sites.
I want to opine what I think is happening and perhaps some reasons. These reasons are not justifications and many I think have more to do with human traits - hubris, power and entitlement.
There are various interpretations and I am focusing on two:
· I do not understand
· It is not included
The first is pretty simple.
I can see this perplexing dilemma in the manner in which politicians and executives are responding to stimuli. They have for decades followed the prime directive. The former is to obey the party and do whatever it takes to win and maintain political office and government. The latter’s is to maximise shareholder returns. Both are attempting to do this within the prism of being a good government or a good corporate citizen.
Finding this extraordinarily difficult for whatever reasons, most simply decide to jettison the too hard one – being good.
I put it to you that we are seeing this “non comprende” in the large financial, energy and retail companies. They have over time been allowed, by politicians pursuing their ideologies and their self-interests I describe above, to carry on business as they see fit. Political myopia, incompetence and bad policy, has coalesced with this corporate indifference and primary objective, to put Australia in its current position.
I also contend that we are seeing “non comprende” in the behaviour of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He cannot comprehend the reasons and arguments as to why he is not Prime Minister. He persists in reiterating his policy views and that he is correct while others are wrong. There are many in the conservative wing of politics and business who probably agree.
HOSTILE AND AGGRESSIVE RESPONSES
Having been allowed to operate unfettered in many respects I am observing the fierce and immediate response when those in positions of power and decision making are challenged. They issue threats and engage in fear mongering.
“The bank levy in the 2017 budget will be passed on to customers. Shareholders will pay and superannuation funds will be the big losers and mum and dad investors.”
The special executive’s disdain for the political class is palpable even in the manner in which they engage with our legislators in parliamentary enquiries. Born to rule incumbent politicians want to put them in their place. So they want a Royal Commission into everything in Australia. They seem to believe that by getting someone to admit or become transparent in such star chambers leads to solutions. It never has and will not.
IT IS NOT INCLUDED
In my second definition, I am inferring that the power collective’s objectives and interests in entitlement and pursuit of profit does not include being good citizens or fettering their greed. They want big salaries and benefits whilst engaging in whatever conduct they like. Bribery, corruption, theft, price gouging, retaliation and destruction of other businesses and communities through their actions.
We can see in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria Australia an example of the political ideologies and pursuits of the Victorian state labor government regardless of the impact on the wider community. The Premier Daniel Andrews is convinced he is right and critics are wrong. He, like the bank executives, does not like being interrogated as to motives and justifications.
Invariably all of this translates down into culture within the organisation, replication of the top level executives views and behaviours and eventually the so called little people pay the price.
In the case of other business modus operandi compliance to regulations, consumer law, trade practices and anti-discrimination are not included. A large segment of Australia’s older talents are side-lined through the myopia of a myriad of incompetent human resource practitioners and fearful employers. Apparently, business can drive people into the ground and the leaner and meaner it is the more the shareholders love it.
Again, policy makers and legislators cannot deal with it because they do no not comprehend what is happening and/or their ideological platforms and beliefs have restrained them to the point that they justify, lie, dissemble and manipulate. They deal in alternative facts.
One such example is the stated statistical unemployment. The official line is that it lies somewhere between 5% and 6%, averaged across the nation because that gives a lower figure because it masks sectors where it it is much higher due to the resources boom ending, youth unemployment and so on. But I think that average is a lie. I believe unemployment averaged across the nation is really 15% - 20%. The Australian Coalition government cannot entertain such a figure because their mantra at the 2016 election and today is “jobs and growth!”.
Thus, like business, Australia’s State. Territory and National government politicians engage in misleading and unconscionable conduct.
UNAWARE OR DON’T CARE
This is to me is the most complex and perplexing.
Every day, in my work and social interactions, I am confronted by ignorance. Ignorance not in terms of social behaviour or customer service but ignorance of laws, regulations, the way things work, the lack of enquiry by employees and their lack of awareness of their employer’s behaviours. Many companies actively engage in ‘mushroom management”, never explain to the masses what is happening or why. An example here is Australia’s largest retailers. They appear not too communicate out of the head office bunkers and do not run comprehensive training programmes beyond how to use the register, the technology for reordering and the systems and procedures of the company.
How many times have you been confronted by employees telling you that they do not do it that way and the policy is X? One of the most common is that you are not entitled to a refund under any circumstance. They do not know any better and they rarely enquire of their employer or do the research themselves.
The marketing executives of Australia’s businesses (local and multinational) are spewing out materials that are misleading and often illegal. This why the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is forever prosecuting them and the courts are issuing penalty fines.
It is a common belief of employees and others who have knowledge of a particular industry.
A number of Australia’s most prominent executives in business, and the public service, are being prosecuted for bribery, corruption and dereliction of their duty. They have been stealing from workers, buying business through bribes and all sorts of other “normalised practices”.
Some of members of our parliaments, and their staff, are being investigated. Are they blissfully unaware, ignorant or simply do not care?
SHAPED BY TIME AND EVENTS
The biggest shaper in our society is cheap money.
Across the world politicians, regulators and advisers adopted fiscal solutions, printing money and pushing interest rates down.
(Image Roubini’s Ecomonitor: http://www.economonitor.com/)
This has lead to an explosion of investment in property, shares and other often high risk ventures. A plethora of start-ups and high tech companies, that have never made a profit, yet churn through billions.
In Australia perc capita debt is horrendous and the highest in the developed world. Most of it is in credit. Things like negative gearing, coupled with cheap money, has caused many people to buy multiple properties on interest only terms betting on capital gains.
There is a delusional belief among many that governments and wizards can simply work levers and fix the looming disasters. The natural laws of supply and demand, economy and markets are somehow suspended.
Millions of people in Australia have never lived through recessions let alone depressions. The Global Financial Crisis skirted Australia and the lack of enquiry, and awareness, that I mentioned above has created another mushroom effect. Most do not even know that the cycle turns.
THE SOLUTIONS TO THESE WICKED PROBLEMS?
So many people in positions of power, and decision making roles, and others in many areas of economy and society, have to jettison their hubris, their sense of entitlement and individualism and their singular objectives and ideologies.
The 15%-20% unemployed have to be given jobs. There has to be a trade off against unfettered profit and greed and common good.
I cannot see that many of the incumbents in these positions can do this. I do not see that a majority will suddenly gain the desire for knowledge, awareness and enquiry which often comes from self-education and pursuit of lifelong learning.
Finally, the pervasive and destructive digital transformation has to be tempered by common sense and reality. There are more industries and worthwhile pursuits in our economy and society than tech and feckless social media.
It may all be too late and the only grim reaper that brings back sense and equilibrium may be the “big correction” as the law of diminishing returns and economy kick in.