13 September 2012

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.


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.


  1. BRAVO!

    India and China have some pretty sharp people. For some reason, however, corporate boards never outsource the job of CEO to India or China with an order of magnitude of savings for the CEO's compensation.

  2. @Carnivore- Good point. I think from now on whenever I hear people support outsourcing low-end jobs, I'm going to recommend that we outsource management jobs as well. I wonder how they'll respond then... ;)

  3. Rinehart is a spoiled greedy bitch. Her daddy made the money and the company and she just inherited and she tells people to work hard when she has had a cushy life the hypocritical slag.

    Secondly corporate bosses like her champion the free market except when it goes against them, as in this case where to get people to work shitty jobs with negative health effects in the long term, living in the middle of nowhere, working 12 hour days, she has to pay big bucks.

    Thats the freemarket you fat bitch. You pay whatever it takes to get the workers. If most people would rather live in the city for a tenth of the salary and without the fear of a premature death then up the price until they do.

    Secondly, I know heaps of guys (including Captain Capitalism) have applied for these jobs and been turned down.
    Bitch is really looking for an excuse to import foreign slaves who they can pay below minimum wage and who don't know shit about sfae work practices.
    Bitch should have hired all those applicants two years instead of turning them down due to insufficient experience etc.

  4. @Anon.- "You pay whatever it takes to get the workers."

    And that's always the rub for capitalists. They somehow think that the market will magically keep the price of labor down. But it won't. All the market can ever do is allocate resources. It can't keep labor costs down, so as the economy gets generally wealthier, the cost of labor tends to go up because laborers don't need to work as much to get the things they need. They can literally afford leisure time, which was once the ultimate luxury good, and so they reduce the supply of labor (or at least time for labor), which increases the price of labor and squeezes the margins of production. Which tends to piss of those who own mega-corporations, which is why they sponsor think tanks to argue for free trade.