Nonsensical big business flails for answer to backlash

From the AFR:

The key message from the annual JPMorgan Australian Financial Review Chanticleer lunch in Melbourne on Wednesday was that the business community must step up and defend itself against the rising tide of anti-business sentiment.

It was clear from the performance of the three panellists on stage – Virgin Australia and Insurance Australia Group chair Elizabeth Bryan, Telstra chairman John Mullen and AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick – that there is plenty of appetite to push back against the attacks from both sides of Parliament and the growing number of well-funded activists and other vested interests.

Bryan showed her capacity to cut through this often murky debate by drawing out the direct connection between free enterprise and society.

“As companies we provide many of the essential services to our society – we are not just selling fairy floss,” she said. “We are selling things that matter to people’s daily lives and that they have to spend a large proportion of their incomes on.

“Attitudes are changing and whether we like it or not the community feels it has a right to comment on how we conduct our businesses, how we think about our businesses and how we present our businesses. That really is just a fact of life today.

…Mullen showed a willingness not to mince words…it was time for businesses that might be harmed by a particular measure to put their vested interests aside and support measures that would benefit the national interest.

…He said countries such as Singapore managed to achieve policy reforms which were to the benefit of the entire nation. In the West there appeared to be the belief that government had to protect everyone’s individual rights and interests but this was to the detriment of the nation state.

Mullen warned of a threat to free enterprise from the rise of “populism, sound bites and social media”.

He used the example of the attacks on Australia’s banks in relation to their levels of profitability.

Individuals feel entitled to comment on businesses because Australia’s giant oligopolies no longer play by recognisable rules. The liberal democratic social contract that frames markets and competition as a public good has been torn up by industry consolidation, bank bailouts and rapacious mining tax-avoidance. These three trends have shunted forward a paradigm shift in business practice that privileges rent-seeking over competition so, naturally, the polity is not happy.

Following on, governments and regulators seek to tighten rules. This in turn creates more rent-seeking as businesses seek to negotiate their way out of emerging constraints. It’s a feedback loop straight into the Great Scab Grab.

The obvious answer is clear thinking and reform, communication and leadership but there’s none of it, including by those presented above. How can Mullen on one hand decry the role of vested interests in the political economy and call for the end of rent-seeking, then in the next breath defend the integrity of the banking oligopoly? How can he fret about business freedom while extolling the virtues of the soft-fascism of Singapore?

The present failure of leadership in public office is reflected perfectly in that of the private sector.

David Llewellyn-Smith

Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    This blog needs to be renamed to The Communist Daily! Only free enterprise is able to make big profits that trickle down to everyone including the busker who gets a coin.

    • Oh Reusa! You’re on fire today! Adding the trickle-down economics principles to your discourse have made you all the more beautiful! Positively glowing, m’dear!

    • This exactly illustrates the point those nice business spokespeople were making.

      Those greedy buskers should be grateful for being noticed by beautiful property investors, but instead they now expect a coin! If we let this continue, soon it will be food or medicine.

      As you so rightly point out, that’s just Communism.

  2. Being anti aggressive privatization in light of failures and price increases without added value is not nor should be confused with being anti business.

    The same goes for business run like Bob Days et al, if customers crack a fat one would think it would be prudent to see if their claims are valid.

    Disheveled Marsupial….. You gotta love the perception management about being – anti business [code for commies and socialists] – and not crap products or services…..

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      Business has forgotten the first rule , the customer (not to be confused with consumer ) is always right.
      The other thing business has fogotten is that they are a part of the society, not the boss.

  3. Blah, blah, blah, (how’s our share price), blah, blah, bah (more importantly, how’s my bonus), blah, blah, blah.
    Peel back the anti-business onion and you will find very few Australians are opposed to free enterprise and the private business sector (excepting a few of Reusa’s Commies).
    What Australians are opposed to is failure of leadership in the business (and political) world. The endless stream of self-serving, bullshitting, greedy, asparagus-backed, psychopathic a-holes who are ruining the fabric of our society.
    The fish rots from the head, Ms Bryan, and you smell of old fish.

  4. He used the example of the attacks on Australia’s banks in relation to their levels of profitability.

    Yeah, people are just complaining about the banks because they make big profits. Has nothing to do with the reams of evidence of rampant fraud and corruption that resulted in said profits….

    Just goes to show how out of touch these people get at the top of their steel and concrete towers.

    • They’re not out of touch, they are quite deliberate in “framing the debate”… “If you control the language”, you know the rest!

      • Ding ding we have a winner I’m always amazed by all the professional management types I know who are constantly being brought to “management strategy seminars” and “life-time coaching practitioners” by upper management, who actually swallow that bullshit and forget the mind control and neuro linguistic programming isn’t supposed to be FOR them, they’re supposed to use on others.

        Brain dead fucking idiots, management in Australia is pure bullshit – and they wonder why they can keep the sales team but never the technical team.

  5. Was at a meeting last night to discuss what we are going to do about a manager who skipped town with a heap of the clubs money and the cook’s wife. We will have “in house security” get the money back, dont know what is going to happen to the wife, but all the steaks last night were well done, the cook s not fooling around, but the overall discussion was how the whole joint is going to the dogs and everyone seems to be taking the shortcuts.
    No one knows of a solution, but plenty are very angry.

  6. Did anyone there spend time exploring the reasons behind attacks on business. The recent bank attacks have come as a direct result of them misusing their power to the detriment of the community. people are starting to see through the ownership of our political class and are getting a bit sick of bought politicians pushing their paid for agendas. It would have been more useful to examine attitudes towards business as being a direct result of their moral behaviour.

    Ask yourself if a bank was actually a person, and carried out its relationship with you in the way banks behave, would you go for a beer with them or punch their lights out right then and there.

    And while i’m ranting, we need an equivalent of Godwin’s law for the phrase trickle down economics. I’m seeing it too much lately and people (particularly news presenters) assume when they use use it that they have just won the debate.

  7. About bloody time.

    Business has spent too long being the whipping boy of every ‘progressive’ think tank in town. The TAIGetUpFabian fallacies have been allowed to seed and have since been lovingly tended by a certain cohort journalistic of True Believers. These dudes are so blind to to truth that they bemoan the Ioss of jobs in their industry but fail to make any connection with the need for business to make a profit in order to employ!!

    Business needs to take a stand against vested interests embroiled in some Venuzualan vanity, vested interests that see profit as bad, big business as bad, big banks as badder and big miners as the pits. Vested interests that see business only as a conduit to extract economic rents for the vested interests favourite hobby horses deeply embedded in the social justice paddock, content to feed from the public teat for life and never enter the competitive merit based race.

    Bravo business, big and small, we need you all. Fight the good fight.

    • Sounds like someone was up way past their bedtime reading their favorite Ayn Rand. That’s OK. You’ll grow out of it eventually.

      • Ayn Rand readers love the concept of pursuing enlightened self interest free from government interference until the bloody workers think its in their interest to form unions and gain a greater share of the rewards of their work, and to vote for regulation of business so it can’t price fix, use false or misleading advertising etc.

    • “Vested interests that see business only as a conduit to extract economic rents for the vested interests favourite hobby horses deeply embedded in the social justice paddock, content to feed from the public teat for life and never enter the competitive merit based race…”

      F’n LOL. The only folks permitted to engage in the extraction of economic rents are the big business types, innit? The likes of Gerry Harvey crying wolf in re GST, or anyone who is a part of the megabank-house complex shouting down any proposal to remove favourable tax treatment to their things, or hole-diggers who believe the owners of the dirt they chuck onto boats really don’t deserve money for the dirt, are simply doing God’s work because ensuring economic rents wind up boosting the old profit line on an income statement is good fer erryone

  8. Ideologues beholden to have laissez faire and socialism have both produced disaster and misery. No matter how good a theory looks on paper, one should always not the assumptions.

    Both camps scream that their ideology hasn’t been applied rigorously enough. However, the problem is the ardour with which they are pursued. By definition, purity is fragile. Alloys are stronger.

  9. There are a bunch of Fabian socialists on this site who think all we need is just one more magic regulation or piece of legislation and social justice, peace and prosperity will emerge.

    Nobody cares to look at the regulatory capture and compliance costs, plus entrenched monpolies and oligopolies that came about from past regulations.

    The business groups should just run a 30second commercial showing the 50,000 pages of current tax legislation and ask the question “Do we need more of this crap ?”

      • Where is this social license and who writes it ?

        If a child wants to open a lemonade stand what is the approval process in your utopian vision ?

        What if the public says to a Venezuelan oil company that they no longer have a right to their assets and the public want to nationalize the assets, then so be it ?
        What if the authorities want to ration toilet paper, rice and other essential items because of allegations about price-fixing and so called price-gouging in an environment of hyper-inflation ? Oh well, they have a social license ?

        Its slavery and servitude.

        The market operates on mutually beneficial and voluntary exchange. That should be the only license they need. The only regulations should be those upholding property rights and punishing fraud and theft

      • That should be the only license they need. The only regulations should be those upholding property rights and punishing fraud and theft

        LOL. How can Libertarianism possibly have the concept of “fraud” when it has fundamental articles of faith that only physical duress can make a contract invalid and free speech is absolute ?

        If I exercise my right to free speech and lie my head off to you so you give me money, and you fail to do your due diligence to know I’m lying, how is your ignorance my fault ?

    • I’m with you – social licence? LOL – let’s create a state censor position to oversee them – that office will never become corrupted….

      • Duh mig….

        Libertarian Sqillionaires corrupting and crapifing stuff is some how righteous and when the customer gets pissed off [social licensee] its a commie plot…. groan….

    • There are a bunch of Fabian socialists on this site who think all we need is just one more magic regulation or piece of legislation and social justice, peace and prosperity will emerge.

      Fortunately there are only a handful of Libertarians who believe if we unshackle the greediest, most selfish, most sociopathic people from legal constraint, somehow magic will produce good outcomes.

      The business groups should just run a 30second commercial showing the 50,000 pages of current tax legislation and ask the question “Do we need more of this crap ?”

      We could follow it up with an hour-long documentary of corporate dishonesty, corruption and malfeasance that finishes with “and that’s why we need more of that crap, because they can’t be trusted not to misbehave”.

      • Corporate malfeasance is basically any behaviour you don’t approve of, such as being profitable and efficient, competitive in the marketplace or rewarding good results with bonuses.

        By the way, hows the regulatory state working out for you ? I guess we need 50,001 pages of regulations right, then every individual, household, small business and large business will just behave perfectly according to you ?

        You’re always one more regulation away from utopia, yet can’t see any issues with existing regulations.

      • Corporate malfeasance is basically any behaviour you don’t approve of, such as being profitable and efficient, competitive in the marketplace or rewarding good results with bonuses.

        No.

        By the way, hows the regulatory state working out for you ?

        Just like you, pretty well. Contemporary western society has the highest quality of life in human history. Most of the factors in that – clean water, clean food, effective medicines, safe private, public and workplaces, etc – are the direct result of the rules and regulations you rail against all the time.

        You’re always one more regulation away from utopia, yet can’t see any issues with existing regulations.

        Understanding some regulation is important is not the same thing as saying all regulation is infallible.

        The only one in this discussion who believes in utopia is you.