Right Thinking: Deregulating The Labour Market

Hard-hitting conservative columnist Dr Frank Shizenhausen has some ideas for John Key.

I’m delighted to read that this government is planning further changes to labour laws to give more choice to employers and their staff. Deregulation of the labour market means workers will finally have real choice. They can choose to accept the miserable terms being offered by their employers, or they can starve in the gutter.

The other choice they will be able to exercise is to emigrate to Australia, where wages are higher and where working conditions are better.

Choice is good, which is why I support any policy designed to provide the illusion of freedom while driving down wages and entrenching poverty. With the power of unions being diminished, employers will have real choice about what to do with the money they get to keep. And about who to fire at will for no good reason. That will teach her to resist your advances.

John Key won’t elaborate on details of the policies to be announced by his government, but a bold government could do a lot to improve the life of the struggling employer. Here are some of the things I want to see:

  • Debt bondage. We have a problem with the level of private debt in this country. Debt bondage might just be the answer. Gangs of debtor slaves would be a great source of cheap labour for our businesses, and could be put to work in trouble spots, like the Christchurch CBD and down the mineshaft at Pike River. With a policy such as this our levels of debt are bound to drop.
  • Fire at will legislation. By “fire” I mean set on fire. Incinerating a few slack workers on the shop floor will incentivise their colleagues to perform better and will improve productivity. And it will reduce heating bills during the winter.
  • Abolish minimum wage. In some African countries you can live on $1 a day. For a while, before you die of malnutrition or an entirely preventable disease. Why are our workers so greedy? 
  • Bloodsports. If people choose to work in a place where employees are randomly hauled out of the production line and forced to fight each other to the death in front of a live audience, then we should respect that choice. Nobody forced them to do anything. It’s not like people were hauled from the street at the point of a gun, thrown into trucks and driven to secret locations where they were made to engage in the most degrading acts, all while being filmed. At least that’s what my defence team will be arguing tomorrow when they finally get their turn.
  • Relax health and safety rules. If workplaces were deathtraps that would only be a good thing. Being at risk of horrible injury or a terrible and agonising death should ensure workers stay alert and focused. We want to get the best out of our people, and what better way to do this than to put them directly in harm’s way?

This is just a wishlist, but any move the government makes to free up the labour market during a time of unemployment and stagnation will be welcomed. If we want to compete with the rest of the world then we need to focus on being a low wage economy. Let’s be the China or Vietnam of the South Pacific. But with the added bonus of not having quite so many Chinese or Vietnamese people living here.

How can any of this possibly be bad?