Thursday, July 23, 2009

There's one thing about getting older that seems strange to me, and that is the bizarre assumption of many people that each year of sucking oxygen leads one to the conclusion that "there is nothing new under the sun". Personally I think this is due to a gradual sclerosis of the mind that goes along with increasingly poor eyesight and hearing, but is nowhere near as inevitable. For myself, as I approach the Geritol Generation, I continue to be amazed on an almost daily basis by the weirdness of the world. I don't know who said it, but the quote runs something like this, "the world is not only stranger than we imagine; it is actually stranger than we can possibly imagine".
Thus comes the following item from New Zealand via the Anarkismo website. The author is a "Barrie" who is a member of the New Zealand platformist group the Aotearoa Workers' solidarity Movement. The subject, you guessed it, McDonald's has managed to cash in on the present economic crisis by leeching "stimulus funding" from the New Zealand government in terms of subsidizing its hiring of workers at minimum wage. The whole idea is breathtaking in its stupidity from the point of view of everyone but McDonalds. One would be really hard put to try and imagine a greater waste of government money in terms of "value added". It actually goes beyond the image of digging holes and filling them in again because the expenditure is not "new money" but rather shifting disbursements from individual welfare or EI to the McDonald's corporation. It makes no sense from a Keynesian perspective, and it makes no sense from the perspective promotion of industry that has any multiplier effect or potential for innovation. Quite frankly the only thing I could compare it to in terms of sheer silliness would be the ranting that we anarchists all too often hear out of the USA by some down there who think that "civilization should be abolished". No doubt there is a certain amount of financial profit to be made out of that as well, but it pales beside the spectacle of Ronnie collecting welfare.
Here's the item from Anarkismo which approaches the matter in the only way that it could possibly be approached- by humour.
Burgers & Circuses:
The New Zealand Government has announced that it will subsidise the Mc Donalds fast food chain for taking on young unemployed workers. In effect therefore the company is receiving corporate welfare, with the government acting as its Human Resources Dept. Below is a satirical response.

(Note: This is the script of a movie due to be played in your town in the near future.)
Scene: Clown in a loud suit stands outside a windswept and much repaired tent. The tent has a broken sign on it labeled ‘Job Circus’.
Promoter: “Roll up folks, roll up! Are you young and unemployed?”
Unemployed Youth: “Um yeah, I guess that would be me”
Promoter: “Looking for an exciting career with a stable and dynamic employer? Need some help getting started?”
Unemployed Youth:” Stable and dynamic eh? That sounds good. The help thing would be great too.”
Promoter: “Step this way. Enter the tent and wonders await you”
Scene: The unemployed youth enters the tent. The promoter smiles as a government car pulls up.
Promoter: [laughing]: “Pulled in another sucker”
Government Minister: “Great! Here’s your $16,000. You’re doing a great job there Ronald…keep it up mate”
Scene: Inside the tent. The youth is given a uniform, name badge and mop.
Promoter:Ok kid, get pushing on the mop, it’s your new friend so use it well. Anybody out front sees you, don’t forget to smile, this is show business remember! If you do well, we’ll have you out on the counter selling cheap nutritious circus food in colourful packages in no time.”
Scene: Next day at a Parliamentary media conference.
Government Minister: “In these difficult times the government appreciates the need to maintain productivity and has a commitment to investing in the future. We want a well trained and highly skilled workforce that can compete with the rest of the world. We have therefore entered into a partnership with a great circus promoter. We will give them money, they will employ new staff and the economy will get a boost. Everybody wins!”
Skeptical Voice: “But do we really need more circuses? Wouldn’t we be better off with new schools, hospitals, roads and stuff? Why does the circus need our money to do it anyway? They aren’t exactly poor!”
Minister: “We’re all in this together and you can’t get circus monkeys without paying for peanuts you know! Anyway, moving on…”
Scene: 89 days later inside the tent.
Promoter: “What do you mean you want a living wage, the work is repetitive and unrewarding, you are rostered to work at odd times and the food is crap anyway? You’re not a team player are you? How can we keep this place stable and dynamic with your negative attitude?!”
Youth: “Well, um, this circus stuff isn’t exactly what you made out it would be”
Promoter: “Yeah, unhappy eh? Hit the road. You’re outta here! And don’t steal the mop or touch the cycling monkeys on the way out!”
Scene: Outside the tent it’s cold and windy. A governmental car speeds by with its occupants in good spirits.
Government Minister: ”Nice one Ronald. Would you like to upsize your champagne? Need more money? Need more suckers?”
Promoter: “Don’t mind if I do. Anything to help the economy you know!”
Window winds down as the car speeds past newly unemployed youth. Minister pulls out megaphone.
Minister: “Hi! Don’t forget, we’re working for you, so remember to vote next election!”
Mud splashes upwards into youths face.
Screen fades to black.

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