Put the creepy dog whistle away, Greg Jericho

Greg Jericho, doyen of the fake left, has today joined the immigration debate with gusto:

It is regrettably far too easy in Australia to blame migrants. From societal to educational to economic woes – migrants are the easy target.

Last week the head of the Reserve Bank suggested migration could have caused lower wages growth. It was an unfortunate statement that goes against evidence and ignores the many other factors at play.

Blaming migrants for our economic woes is not new.

Neither is conflating criticism of a broken migration system with “migrants” when the two are very clearly different things. Not one of the debaters and analysts engaged on this issue has “blamed migrants”, least of all the RBA. Nor has anyone ever suggested that a broken visa system is the only factor suppressing wages. For instance, amid the tsunami of output from the RBA that has endeavoured to understand an unprecedented decade of low wages growth, there are now just two speeches finally addressing the role that a broken migration system has played.

Analysis of the flaws in the migration system that have distorted the Australian (and NZ) labour markets at both the macro and micro levels is being conducted with intellectual rigour by the highest level experts in the field. These include:

  • Reserve Bank Governor Phil Lowe
  • Founding chairman of the Australian Productivity Commission Professor Garry Banks
  • Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern
  • The New Zealand Productivity Commission
  • Senior commentators Ian Verrender, Gareth Hutchens, Adele Ferguson, Ross Gittins and Bernard Keane.
  • Former leader of the opposition, John Hewson
  • Former economic advisor to Bob Hawke, Professor Ross Garnaut
  • Former Productivity Commissioner, Judith Sloan
  • Former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Bernie Fraser
  • Former economic advisor to Julia Gillard, Stephen Koukoulas
  • Chair in Economics and is the Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity, Bill Mitchell
  • Chief economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Gareth Aird,
  • Former chief economist at ANZ, Saul Eslake
  • Chief economist at the NSW Treasury Corporation, Brian Redican.
  • Chief economist at Macroeconomics, Stephen Anthony.
  • Chief economist at The Australia Institute, Richard Denniss.

Other groups that have been critical of the immigration system include the ACTU, ACOSS, the McKell Institute and many, many more. All have been scrupulously fair, very sensitive to the issues and entirely appropriate.

In the end, if an appeal to authority and logic doesn’t cut it for you for over Jericho’s racism dog-whistling, then perhaps you should listen to the man himself, who wrote rather presciently in 2014:

This week the Australian Industry Group released its submission to the government on boosting the immigration intake by 30,000 a year to “meet skills shortages”.

…But at a time when employment growth is stagnant and unemployment is predicted to rise to 6% in the next 12 months, arguing we need more labour smacks of wanting to purely increase supply of labour in order to further reduce wages growth. This might benefit some businesses but certainly not those trying to find work.

Australia’s skills crisis is an ongoing challenge, but submissions such as this from Aig do little to suggest business groups are less concerned about the increasing labour costs and workers pay from possible skills shortages in the future, than they are about further reducing workers pay right now.

Which is precisely what happened.

Later he recanted these reviews only because he shared them with Tony Abbott, whom Jericho clearly hates:

Immigration – because there are many desperate to hate – must be treated with extreme care by politicians and journalists, and certainly with more care than Abbott seems capable. The inherently racist parties will seek to use any discussion and any seeming evidence of the negative impact of migrants as fuel to burn their fires of hate.

In short, Jericho (or The Guardian) made a politicised editorial decision to defend a broken immigration system come what may. This clearly superseded any commitment to dialectic, logic, intellect, journalism, truth and, above all, Australian worker well-being.

This violated the principles of the Scott Trust upon which The Guardian is based:

The values of The Scott Trust

The Manchester Guardian was founded in the liberal interest to support reform in the early 19th century. The ethos of public service has been part of the DNA of the newspaper and Group ever since.

CP Scott, the famous Manchester Guardian editor, outlined the paper’s principles in his celebrated centenary leader on May 5, 1921.

The much-quoted article is still used to explain the values of the present-day newspaper, Trust and Group. It is also recognised around the world as the ultimate statement of values for a free press.

Among the many well known lines are the assertions that ‘Comment is free, but facts are sacred’, that newspapers have ‘a moral as well as a material existence’ and that ‘the voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard’. The values he described are: honesty; cleanness (today interpreted as integrity); courage; fairness; and a sense of duty to the reader and the community.

Put the creepy dog whistle away, Greg.

Houses and Holes
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Comments

  1. See Rizvi’s similar canard on Independent Australia, “Immigration not to blame for sluggish wages growth”.

    Morrison has published his intention that, without reference to voters, we should come out of COVID on 235,000 net migration a year. Both Rizvi and Jericho support the Treasury war on electors and environment. So does Albanese.

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      Jericho cherry picked his references from the those with Stockholm syndrome. In the middle of a crisis, Where would unemployment be with 200k “normal” immigration – 2% higher?. When even the RBA fesses up.

  2. The man’s a reporter working for The Guardian. Clearly he’ll say and do much to keep his job. Just like so many other workers on both sides of the immigratiion discussion. The tide is turning though and Greg is going to be left on the beach.

  3. Can’t help himself. Surrounded by fellow left wingers what do you expect. There can be no questioning of big Australia otherwise you are racist. And being racist is the worse thing ever.

  4. Aren’t all the below white people… racist!

    Reserve Bank Governor Phil Lowe
    Founding chairman of the Australian Productivity Commission Professor Garry Banks
    Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern
    The New Zealand Productivity Commission
    Senior commentators Ian Verrender, Gareth Hutchens, Adele Ferguson, Ross Gittins and Bernard Keane.
    Former leader of the opposition, John Hewson
    Former economic advisor to Bob Hawke, Professor Ross Garnaut
    Former Productivity Commissioner, Judith Sloan
    Former Governor of the Reserve Bank, Bernie Fraser
    Former economic advisor to Julia Gillard, Stephen Koukoulas
    Chair in Economics and is the Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity, Bill Mitchell
    Chief economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Gareth Aird,
    Former chief economist at ANZ, Saul Eslake
    Chief economist at the NSW Treasury Corporation, Brian Redican.
    Chief economist at Macroeconomics, Stephen Anthony.

  5. Some low immigration advocates are racist (see Hanson), so an easy way to not be associated with these idiots is to increase our Refugee intake from 13k to 20k whilst simultaneously reducing net overseas migration from 270k to 135k.

    • “so an easy way to not be associated with these idiots is to increase our Refugee intake from 13k to 20k whilst simultaneously reducing net overseas migration from 270k to 135k.”

      So an easy way to not be associated with these idiots is to increase our Refugee intake from 13k to 20k whilst simultaneously reducing net overseas migration from 270k to 0 until we have, demonstrably, put in place the necessary planning and infrastructure to deal with any new net migration.

      Anyone who uses the freeways from the outer suburbs into the cities of either Melbourne or Sydney knows that we’re already way beyond the sensible coping point (and all modes of transport are well currently below normal loads because of Covid).

    • There is no appeasing ‘these idiots’. It’s never enough and everything is racist. The problem is ‘these idiots’ and trying to appease them is counter productive because of their irrational, non objective, morally involuted prejudice.

  6. It seems such a basic point, I don’t know why it has to be made over and over. We don’t blame the people for coming – we give them a way to come, and they come. They’re doing nothing wrong. The policy of allowing such high numbers is the problem.

  7. C'est de la folieMEMBER

     Greg Jericho….

    2/10 for this shoddy piece of work. Go back and review your basic analysis, structure the data accordingly and then write about it.

    Blaming migrants for Australia’s lower wages growth is easy but too simplistic

    Greg Jericho Instead, the RBA might consider the lack of monetary and fiscal stimulus, capped wages growth and reduced worker bargaining power
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2021/jul/15/blaming-migrants-for-australias-lower-wages-growth-is-easy-but-too-simplistic

    It is regrettably far too easy in Australia to blame migrants. From societal to educational to economic woes – migrants are the easy target.

    Last week the head of the Reserve Bank suggested migration could have caused lower wages growth. It was an unfortunate statement that goes against evidence and ignores the many other factors at play.

    Blaming migrants for our economic woes is not new.

    Yes, the RBA did more than that last week – they directly linked immigration volumes to incomes growth, and noted the near trebling of Net Overseas Migration since the early 2000s is related to incomes growth experienced on the ground, which over the period post the mining boom has been parsimonious.

    There was absolutely nothing ‘unfortunate’ about the statement.  It was a particularly welcome statement insofar as it was at long last a definite acknowledgement relating 2 fundamental and data observable phenomena, which the mainstream Australian media, Australian elites, and Australian economic decisionmakers have avoided acknowledging for the best part of a generation, in the face of increasingly widespread questioning by mainstream Australia about what precisely is the linkage between immigration and the economy, and society within which we live.

    Making that observation is not ‘Blaming migrants’.  Making that observation is posing a question about how Australia grows and the nexus between immigration volumes and income increases.  Stating that making that observation is ‘blaming migrants’ is blowing a dog whistle stating that either you can agree with Jericho or you can not agree with Jericho, but that the moment you not agree with him you are ‘blaming migrants’  – welcome to the domain of the utter hypocrisy of the faux ‘woke’ left which has let go of progressive economic reform, and substituted for it some pastiches of ‘progressive reform’ in the social world, while serving primarily right wing corporate and 1% interests.  Framing that question as ‘Blaming migrants’ reflects about the same degree of intellectual engagement and reasoning skill as dividing society into ‘lifters and leaners’.

    He is right it is not new.  A large part of the reason it is not new is because both sides of Australian politics, the vast bulk of Australian corporate elites and the media and education sector backed commentariat, have smothered every observation of any phenomena relating the linkage between immigration volumes, the national economy, and incomes growth with the word ‘racism’.

    Thank you Greg Jericho for being true to form.

    Essentially a nation’s GDP grows from two sources – output and population. Those who advocate lower migration will point out that over the past decade migration has become more important for economic growth than it was, for example, in the 1990s:

    Greg seems to live in a world where growing GDP is an end in itself.  It may be, but it may not be too.  If the growth reflects greater output from greater intelligence applied to process and results in more of something sold to someone and more wealth being handed back to the society being more intelligent then its great.  If that growth is simply more bums on more seats sitting around doing whatever it was we were doing yesterday, with no additional application of intelligence (or skill) then that ‘growth’ may not be much of an end in itself. If we think of our nation as living almost solely off flogging off its finite natural endowment then doubts start to emerge.

    If those additional bums on seats are in the waiting rooms of our local healthcare infrastructure or on the roads or public transport of our transport infrastructure, and we – the non migrant inhabitants of contemporary Australia – might start to get a whole load more dubious about the marginal utility of GDP growth, as far as us as individuals are concerned. 

    Unfortunately for Greg, this is the experience many Australians have been having for more than a decade, and this has been underpinning the increased enthusiasm for asking questions about immigration volumes and the economy, and the incomes growth that economy provides, which Greg and people like him like to sneer down at with the word ‘racism’.

    But the 1990s were also a period of extremely strong productivity growth – spurred on by the massive computerisation of business operations:

    You mean the more intelligent application of resources and systems Greg, which resulted in more dollars flowing through everyone’s hand…. Yes the 1990s saw a jump in productivity arising from the Hawke Keating era economic reforms in Australia.  It was great – a diversified export base, increased exposure to the global market, a more competitive and flexible Australia – shame the current ALP (or even the government) cant envisage something similar.

    Over the past 15 years – including during the mining boom – productivity has slowed. During this time governments – especially those of the Liberal party – have argued (despite an absence of evidence) that the key to productivity (and thus higher wages) is more labour flexibility.

    We can agree with you, Greg, insofar as the ideological focus on labour market flexibility – in an era of record low levels of industrial disputation and record high levels of contractualised short term or casual employment – is spurious nonsense.   You might also note that over the same period an Australian dollar inflated by the effect of the surge in prices for key export commodities, and the offshore borrowings by Australian banks to effect stupefying mortgage growth, has inflated the price of Australian labour vis a vis that offshore – and shot the gonads off productivity growth.

    But to return to your theme, Greg, that increased labour flexibility that employers always seek has been accessed, to the extent that it can, by the increased numbers of migrants and foreign students. These are increasingly desperate for whatever employment they can get, to sustain themselves in what has become a very expensive country to be in (when seen from offshore). This has resulted (see the agricultural sector, or the restaurant/hospitality world) in reticence by employers to invest in productivity increasing capital investment, and substituting this with some peons from wherever, who hopefully aren’t aware of employment laws, safety standards, or wont be inclined to raise them as factors in their workplace, or to haggle about their pay with those same said employers.  It has worked a treat for more than a decade, and the trebling of Australia’s Net Overseas Migration since 2005 has been hand in glove with that.  

    Which brings us to the issue of migrants and lower wages growth that was given a push last week when the head of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe, suggested there was a link between the two.

    Great, let’s get there

    He suggested the hiring of migrants brought in to deal with “specific gaps where workers are in short supply … dilutes the upward pressure on wages in these hotspots”.

    This is not altogether startling, but he then suggested “it is possible that there are spillovers to the rest of the labour market”.

    Well, yeah. Anything is possible, I guess.

    “it is possible that there are spillovers to the rest of the labour market”

    Well if Greg is out there guessing somewhere about spillovers let us guess if maybe the entire Australian market has become a spillover.  Are those guys in the waiting rooms, with kids lining up alongside our schoolkids for places, or on the train, or the freeway coming into town, having any impact whatsoever on our labour market, or even – just putting it out there – could there be a spillover on the real estate market?

    Is guessing racist Greg?

    We can only hope Greg hasnt fainted…..

    The problem is, as Lowe noted earlier in his speech, “immigration adds to both the supply of, and demand for, labour”.

    Essentially migrants increase the supply of people looking for work, but also the demand of things that need people to work to provide. In effect – both taking away and adding to the pressures on wages.

    Nothing in Lowe’s speech suggested that migration had a stronger impact on wages growth going down than up.

    Well interestingly Greg seems to be living in some sort of static world where change doesn’t get much of a look in.  For example could it be possible that an immigration volume, and outcome, for an era of strong investment and market access led productivity growth could have a different outcome with a trebled immigration volume in an era where doing anything in Australia utilising Australian land, energy and labour is a recipe for being profoundly uncompetitive?

    And Greg, the RBA Governor did refer to weak income increases, and heavy levels of immigration.  So even if not explicitly he was implicitly suggesting the immigration volumes Australia has experienced are a factor in our sub par incomes growth over quite a period. He didn’t start goose stepping around the Potsdammer.

    At that point the economist in all of us would like to utter the words ‘let’s measure it, let’s get some data, let’s map the dynamics’  – but in contemporary Australia would find themselves being accused of ‘racism’ for merely having such thoughts. Particularly by people just like you, Greg.  Once again we should thank the RBA governor for helping us to free our questions for public discussion.

    Put simply what we would like to know is whether the volume of immigration over lets say the years since 2005 has had the effect of increasing the labour market tightness, which leads to income increases, or of adding to the supply which leads to flatlining income outcomes.  Of course that would best be done sector by sector, rather than aggregated.

    Unfortunately, when the head of the Reserve Bank talks about migration, nuanced coverage or reaction is not usually the response – and he should know that.

    As such a number of economists were quite dismayed that the head of the central bank should stoke the anti-migration fires – especially, as Australian National University economist Ryan Edwards noted on Twitter, it goes against a vast majority of economic scholarship.

    Most studies suggest migration has a positive impact on wages growth.

    This is because migrants, as was noted in an article published in the Oxford Economic Papers journal in 2020, “perform complementary tasks, rather than substitutable tasks, in the labour market” – ie they don’t take your job, they work with or for you.

    The positive finding is consistent with the landmark study led by ANU economist Robert Breunig in 2016 which found “almost no evidence that outcomes for those born in Australia have been harmed by immigration”.

    A recent update by Gabriela D’Souza found that “wages are positively correlated with proportion of migrants” and “immigration has largely been a positive for incumbent workers”.

    Well we can assume that Greg’s Google works well enough to find some articles positing that immigration doesn’t impact incomes.  Would he acknowledge that someone else might google more than a few pieces positing that heavy immigration volumes certainly do have impacts, in some cases, and in some occupations.  What a number of people would like to know is do immigration volumes have an effect on their income outcomes? 

    It is worth noting that the Oxford paper Greg refers to is about high skill immigration.  Greg also refers to the 2016 Productivity Commission report into the Migrant Intake in Australia, but omitted to identify that this report distinguished between past experiences of immigration and the potential impacts of future immigration, and noted that Australian Net Overseas Migration had climbed markedly in 2005.  That report certainly questioning the value for Australia, and Australians, of continued high levels of immigration if there was insufficient ability to utilise this in the labour market, through demand for skills.  Given that there is ample data suggesting that even skilled migrants tend to be earning less than their local counterparts for doing the same occupation, and that they are often working in occupations which aren’t even utilising their skills the 2016 PC report is rather ominous insofar as it describes potential downsides which start to seem everyday for a lot of Australians.  

    Even a study published in May by the Melbourne Institute which looked at the specific impact on youth workers found that young foreign students increase the competition for work for under 25s, but they also now have to compete with older workers who are staying in their jobs longer.

    Greg’s descent into spurious codswallop comes in the form of a reference to a report titled ‘Is it ‘dog days’ for the young in the Australian labour market? and a ‘look over there and blame them!’ kind of sight gag

    Thanks Greg

    Blaming migrants for lower wages growth is easy but absurdly simplistic.

    And let us just note that the Reserve Bank might be grateful for media and politicians to blame migrants for low wages and inflation, because over the past half a decade it has completely failed to meet its own targets:

    Greg is now on a ‘blame apportionment’ roll.  He is right of course.  The RBA has completely fluffed wages outcomes for a decade or more.  But he doesn’t go within a bulls roar of exculpating heavy immigration volumes, does he.  Blaming immigration may be easy, because it is absurdly simplistic, and it may be both because it is so spectacularly obvious.

    From August 2016 to May 2019, the Reserve Bank’s core inflation measure was always below its 2% to 3% target range and wages growth was never once above the 3% rate Lowe now says is needed to get inflation solidly within that range.

    And what did the Reserve Bank do? Nothing: it kept the cash rate unchanged for a record length of time:

    At the same time the government was reducing the budget deficit – in effect reducing demand in the economy – and all the while was arguing for smaller minimum wage rises and capping public sector wages.

    That rich blame apportionment vein continues, and he does have considerable substance.  The RBA and Government have quite deliberately nailed incomes over a generation.  What Greg fails to be able to come to terms with is that hiking immigration volumes into the stratosphere has come from the same echelon of people, and been part of the same desired outcome. An utterly gelded working Australia.

    And he has cheered that on.

    We also had a collapse of the bargaining system, which reduced enterprise agreements and reduced strikes.

    When the system makes it harder to bargain for wages rises, not surprisingly wages don’t rise as fast:

    And he remains 100% on the money here too.  The collapse of the bargaining system has indeed been a key factor in the nailing of incomes growth to the floor.  But he seems completely oblivious to the fact that the extra labour supply heavy immigration has represented has been force fed into the society experiencing that bargaining collapse and has been a key part of the outcome that has resulted.  And this has prioritised the experience of the migrants over the experience of the existing labour force in Australia – the ‘left’ walking away from the socio economic divide can be mapped right from there.

    And he has cheered that on.

    So yeah I guess it could be migrants … or as Moe Szyslak might say: “Immigrants! I knew it was them, even when it was low productivity, a lack of monetary and fiscal stimulus, capped wages growth and reduced worker bargaining power, I knew it was them!”

    As it is, even with the current lack of migration, there is little sign of inflation getting back above 2% anytime soon:

    Greg is now down to low farce and youtube references.

    Even Philip Lowe told his audience last week that he does not think that will happen until 2024.

    And that is despite in that time migration being clamped down?

    Maybe it wasn’t the migrants after all …

    Maybe Greg has never heard of time lags in observable economic phenomena.

    I used to have a fair bit of time for Greg, but it now must be said he is an utter fraud.

    • I was sick a few years ago and attended a local bulk billing super clinic. If ever there was a demonstration of how mass immigration is screwing the health system, that was it. The entire place was choked with people speaking every foreign language under the sun, all waiting for their free health care. I’m pretty sure I was the only native English speaker in the place, apart from the receptionist. It took me something like 6 hours hours to be seen by one of the GPs. I went through that clinic twice subsequently and it was the same each time…a service grossly overloaded by immigrants, receiving free health care that they had largely not paid for as I have via a lifetime of taxes.

      After the third debacle I vowed to never go back there ever again.

      And Jericho is a corrupt slave of those who feed him, and his worthless scribblings should be mocked wherever they appear.. He’d write that the fire is wet if those who own his soul told him to.

      • I had a similar experience at a hospital on a Sunday afternoon. Had to wait hours for my son to be attended to as it was massively overcrowded. After that experience, I would recommend everyone to have the healthiest possible lifestyle as I wouldn’t want to be there as a patient.

      • paid for as I have via a lifetime of taxes

        Wrong.
        Your labour is your contribution to society.
        Your wage – (after-tax income spent on self) is what you take from society.
        Tax is a government incentive structure imposed on the private sector, and a curious accounting entry when applied to the public sector.

        TAX IS NOT YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY. If you doubt this, remember that Adolf H paid a lot of tax.

        • I’m sorry, but I have no idea what that means. I do know that a large chunk of the money I earn is taken by the government to provide common things for the universal good. I don’t mind that at all. I do mind paying for medical care for all, where “all” is increasingly defined as “all the rest of the world who can come here”.

  8. I give the whistle 2/10, after poo hat (10/10), DLS MS Paint has set the bar too high. I recommend hat and whistle edits to this article image please.

  9. darkasthunderMEMBER

    I rate Greg’s work most of the time but you would have to be mad, stupid or a shill not to understand supply and demand curves at work, especially give the new 10-year unemployment low just recorded.

      • blacktwin997MEMBER

        I heard that Dr Liz Allen salary sacrificed half of her quarterly doughnut allocation to help out. That’s equivalent in value to a modest suburban house in Melbourne, should keep Bumtrumpet Jericho in self-righteous indignation for a couple more months.

  10. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    The big Australia crowd should start warning that if immigration stays low, then there’ll be a rash of business failures because of business models that aren’t viable without low wages. In addition, they should be shouting from the rooftops that small Australia puts your equity at risk, which for a lot of Australians would mean a povvo retirement.

    They can also point out that pensions are easier to maintain if the group of taxpayers is substantially larger than the group of pensioners.

    In all of these cases, they wouldn’t even be lying. Bring on the small-Australia-scare-campaign, I say!

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