Thursday, April 9, 2009

ZenTiger Freedom II Shop

Last year, for Easter, I did a post about public holidays; Freedom To Shop.

This year I regurgitate the same post, partly to see if the comments will change, and partly because the post was on sale at half price, and I couldn't resist a bargain.

Freedom To Shop (2008)
Over at Kiwiblog, David fights gamely to assure all freedom can be defined by how many days a year a society can shop.

He assumes of course that asking people on low incomes to work at time and a half is really an honour that would not be refused. This is all before we consider the Helen Clark factor.

Dear Helen turned lower and middle class New Zealand into welfare beneficiaries. Working for Families (WFF) does actually encourage workers to stay at home with their family on a public holiday. Helen deserves full credit for the first accidentally family friendly policy that Labour has introduced. You see, the moment a worker gets paid overtime rates, their income go up, which raises their tax rate and reduces their WFF tax credit. Ultimately it means their net return for working on a public holiday produces little extra.

Indeed, the extra money may not even cover the cost of Labour's other Family Friendly policy: "Free" childcare. Remember the free childcare policy that allows families to outsource childcare to work more? Well it wasn't free. In fairness, "free" is a complex term only properly understood by Labour's Finance Minister. It is probably as complex as the logic required to assure us that lower paid staff are actually "free" to choose to work or not work on Public Holidays.

I wonder, if it turned out retail workers turn down the perks of working so others may shop, if business owners be the first to step in and make up the labour shortage? Fancy being served by a CEO? I think it's a great idea, and might prove profitable. Let's legislate that shops can open providing you are served by CEOs, the board of directors, top line managers and any stars who have endorsed the product.

But maybe we should resolve this problem with the same maturity as displayed by the environmentalists? Let's set up an international public holiday trading scheme.

Some countries probably are using too many holidays anyway. We might be one of them. I'm sure Labour Day ain't what it used to be. We could sell that on the open market. Even better, let's trade it for Melbourne Cup Day.

Melbourne Cup Day would be of great benefit to the New Zealand economy. In Australia, Melbourne Cup Day works exactly like a public holiday but without the need to pay penalty rates. Businesses either close down because their staff piss off to the races, or they wish they had closed down, because staff don't do any work that day anyway.

They show up to work with a TV set tuned to Flemington Racecourse and spend the day deciding which horse name sounds the fastest before finally choosing anything Bart Cummings has punted. Either way, no work is done but - no penalty rates!

A New Zealand Melbourne Cup day would likely bring in a few billion dollars in foreign exchange - possibly enough to pay our Kyoto carbon tax offset (another trading scheme that didn't quite live up to the brochure).

China might be in the market for a Labour Day. They instituted an 8 hour day on a 5 day week. Very progressive. The 8 hour day has brought remarkable benefits to the Chinese workforce. It's calculated that only 7,000 peasants a year now die in a Chinese mine. During standard hours. Another 3,000 die too, but they die in overtime, and on a much better pay scale.

Hey - don't knock 60 cents an hour. Rice is quite cheap there. That's why its now sold back to us as bio-fuel. Maybe we can trade it for our coal? That might save another 1,000 Chinese mine workers from dying in a coal mine accident. Instead, they'll starve to death after being made redundant. Actually, they'll probably keep working so that they can sell their coal to Indonesia who will sell oil to Australia so they can sell uranium to China so we can buy plastic watering cans - because with water restrictions, we can't use sprinklers.

Helen is well aware of the benefits of trading with China. I'm suggesting we trade holidays, but it seems the Labour Government have already set up a "morals and ethics" trading offset too.

Helen has shown good United Nations potential here, ensuring we get kickbacks for the right reasons. Did you notice how we were too moral to deal with Fiji? We were also quick not to condone playing cricket with Mugabe. The Canadians couldn't land a deal, and Helen and Cullen stuck to their guns even if it meant our pension funds got hit with a departure tax. The New Zealand public must be feeling rather glad that we saved our morals for such an important deal as a Free Trade Agreement with China.

But what do we have that China may want? Apart from coal, there's New Zealand's butter and milk - things we produce in abundance because no-one in New Zealand can afford them. Can we trade cheese for Tibetan Monks? Probably not, China has already explained they need to be recycled. I think Falun Gong units have been declared faulty and are being recalled too. They wont be completely wasted though, because organ donor statistics in China clearly illustrate they are far more generous than NZ in this area. However, if the number of reincarnations increase with babies missing kidneys, hearts and bone marrow, we know what went wrong.

Overall, it's a great deal. Given that Helen doesn't believe we have a soul, it's something easily traded. But I wouldn't say we need to feel bad about this. The danger of standing up for human rights and doing what is right is that occasionally, we as a nation will be found wanting.

And one thing worse in today's society than some-one trying to do good and occasionally failing, is some-one who is painted as a hypocrite. There is no fouler crime to the Liberal who believes in the right to do anything, act anyway, and pretend no harm comes to those who watch from the sidelines.

This all started with freedom to shop. It will supposedly end when we have the freedom to shop 24/7 for cheap goods made on the backs of cheap labour. Indeed, the current theory is that spending money with China will help them to not only pay overtime to those dying in the mines, but a small pension to their surviving families.

I wonder if they will one day be able to afford our cheese? We can't. Thank God the shops are closed.

Related Link 2008: [Kiwiblog] Easter Trading with China

Related Link 2008: [Hitting Metal with a Hammer] Sophie's Choice

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Things have changed a little since the last post, you'll have to adjust for temporal anomalies. Helen Clark is possibly working through Easter as part of her prep for her new UN job. Even though the salary is huge, and in tax free American dollars, her union doesn't pay overtime. Like low paid cafe staff, she'll have to survive on tips, or what we in the trade call "kickbacks".

And apparently, Air New Zealand staff will not be going on strike on the eve of holidays. Strikes - an interesting concept for the Libertarian. If workers are free to choose whether they can work or not, strikes are certainly something a Liberal should support. Individuals on low incomes may feel that they are NOT able to exercise their choice not to work, but collectively, they can shut the entire business down. Is that playing fair in a big L Libertarian world?

I added one personal sentiment to my Easter post last year that still holds true, even though the event itself now has far greater personal significance to me. It was simply this:

The absolute best thing I like about public holidays is that the world slows down just for a moment. There's something more calming and pleasurable about a day with the family when you know the work is not necessarily piling up in your absence.

For all those that Easter still means something more than extra shopping days, and for all those that have to work when they would rather be with family, and for all those that at least appreciate the break - Happy Easter!


Related Link 2008: Freedom to Shop

2 comment(s):

libertyscott said...

Zen, there is no freedom to shop. None whatsoever. Shoppers have no rights, except in relation to anything they buy.

It is the freedom of a business to trade when it sees fit. If you don't own the business it is none of your business.

It is basic property rights.

ZenTiger said...

Of course.

It's basic property rights that the liberal dhimmis the shop relies on to open freely consent to work.

My point is that not all workers freely consent to work. Some of them might actually have negotiated work conditions in good faith that they included public holidays.

As I said, to take the point further - apparently Chinese miners freely consent to being killed in their thousands because the business exerts more bargaining power in establishing the "freely accepted" contract.

Are Libertarians against collective bargaining? Are Libertarians against safety standards?

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