Picture Frames, Picture Framing and Picture Framers' Blog

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Let a Thousand Failures Wilt, or how modern society has failed our children

Some time ago we had a teenager come by looking for work. His personality wasn’t that flash but we progressed with the interview on to some basic skills test.  We asked him to count some picture framing moulding sticks, wrapped in 7 packs,  6 sticks per 1 pack. Most people can do this easily in their head, i.e.: 6x7 = 42.  But the lad asked us for a calculator . We asked why he couldn’t work it out by himself and he said that he hadn’t been taught how.  Where had he been taught we inquired, De La Salle Catholic College, he replied. He added that his College didn’t teach arithmetic or maths manually or longhand because everyone had calculators. A while later we had another young man come in to work with us casually, part time,  in the warehouse. He’d been out of work for a while and we kind of felt for him. We realized that he wasn’t the fastest or the brightest employee we ... ever had, but we kept him on. After his first payday he started to query the wages he was getting. He had been told that he should have been hired under a different Award and at a higher hourly rate. Well, where was he getting his information from we asked. He said that his mother had told him so, she worked at labour union office. We disagreed, showed him the correct Award information and left it at that. After a couple of weeks the boy’s mother started to ring our office. She kept insisting that her son was entitled to higher wages. We had better start paying her son the higher pay she said. If we didn’t do that, we could get some union representatives call at our workplace wanting to inspect all our employees’ wages records. Now to the third incident. In between those two casual employees we had a third young person, a young lady. She’d worked previously as a public servant and much to our surprise, she had a personable presentation.  She was working as our receptionist when one day a Courier came in delivering a small parcel and asking for a signature, as they all do. Would the Courier take the parcel around the corner to the warehouse she asked, because the parcel wasn’t addressed to her personally. The Courier declined, as he was perfectly entitled to, because they deliver to the receptions or offices of business addresses, and not really to individuals. As she refused to accept delivery and sign for the parcel, it was sent back to the sender, thus  necessitating a re-delivery, at our expense. When we queried her behaviour at the incident she started explaining to us, her employers, what she saw her duties as being. One of these roles, as her previous employer trained her, was that it was not one of tasks to carry parcels, that it might be deemed a possible O.H.S. workplace hazard and in any case, that was somebody else's job.  When we explained to her that part of her office duties would be to do exactly what she had declined to do earlier, she became surly and resentful, resigning soon after.  The above three incidents serve to illustrate some of the major educational, attitudinal and social failures which many young persons nowadays are blighted with.  The first incident, that of the innumerate teenager, epitomizes the mass educational failure the pervades most modern, affluent Western society. Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom!  Pursue your passion!  Live your dreams! Study only what you like!  Don’t study what you don’t like!   No need to learn science, mathematics or even arithmetic! There’s always an App for stuff that you don’t understand! At the core of this failure there are education systems that have created thousands of courses designed to please individuals rather than to meet societal employment needs or shortages. The University of Chichester (UK) offers a Degree in Adventure Education, yet a search for I.T. related course keywords such as: .html, .css. js and .php,  the four core, computer coding languages, yielded no search results. The second incident, that of the boy with the dominant mother, illustrates the age of entitlement many people seem to think we live in. From either the parent or son, there was no discernible gratitude at the fact that an employer had finally given employment to this young man. It’s much the same attitude Government agencies and social welfare bureaucrats disseminate to their “Clients”.  They all have unalienable “rights” to something for free.  Health, money, a job, a house, an education. But weren’t these all goals  that we once either saved, worked or studied hard towards? Now it seem that everyone is entitled to one or more of those life goals, for free and without effort. The third and last incident, in some ways, is perhaps the most insidious. Here’s a young person, without much work experience, telling older persons, her employers,  what the duties and limitations of their her role are and should be.  The young lady’s behaviour and attitude is most probably symptomatic of her public service employ. Alas, public service is often a poor caricature of what it ought to be. Most public employers are fettered and constrained by politically powerful and industrially prepotent labour unions. Many of these constraints limit and prescribe public servants’ duties, restrict operational tasks and narrowly define roles. These limitations are often imposed  under the guise of health and safety goals but often effectively decrease both individual and collective work productivity. And lower departmental productivities often forces public service departments to increase staffing levels in response to decreased efficiencies, outputs and increased public demand. This is a win-win result for public service labour unions. More members mean more union fees and higher revenue from compulsorily enforced membership subscriptions.  However higher staff numbers can only be paid from bigger budgets funded from public funds, such as our tax dollars. Nonetheless, this matters little and economically for the  public service sector. This sector is intrinsically parasitic.  It feeds in and on its host, the private enterprise sector, giving little or naught in return. Unlike private enterprise, the public service does not actually make or produce anything of material,  industrial or marketable value. Manufacturing and producing goods is the job of private enterprise made up of large, medium and small businesses, like ourselves. Industrial and human resources problems arise when private sector employees demand and achieve the same  rights, wages and entitlements as the public sector ones. Simply put, too many want to be  a highly-protected, underworked and highly paid full time public servant and not enough want to be a poorly-protected, overworked, poorly paid, part time private enterprise worker. Of course no-one can blame someone else for wanting to better their work remuneration or security, we all aspire towards that. But massive problems arise, when private enterprise caves in to their workers’ demands and raise their workers’ wages and conditions. Perhaps the most difficult, if not an unsurmountable one, is the cost of manufacturing goods which manufacturers can only recoup by raising the cost they sell their goods for. Simply put, if a manufacturer’s prices rise too much or too fast, it will lose sales and market share because other manufacturers elsewhere can make the or similar same product at a cheaper price. Loss of sales and market share can spell the death of a manufacturers, not matter how large, well-established or famous. Kodak, Pan Am, Blockbuster Videos, General Motors and Polaroid, come to mind, to name just a few. This is pretty much what has happened to the picture framing industry in Australia. In 2017 a Chinese picture framer in Guangxi, China earned about AU2.00 x hour, but its Australian counterpart in Melbourne, about $19. Given those labour cost prices, Australian-made photo frames and picture frames manufacturers gradually but inexorably, closed down and vanished. And this is why 96 out of every 100 frames sold in Australia are not made here, but overseas.  We are one of the shrinking numbers of extant picture framing workshops in Melbourne. Our Staff still maintains and nurtures the requisite skills necessary in constructing a genuine, real, custom, bespoke picture frame from wood. However a large part of our business nowadays is selling imported Ready-Made Picture Frames and Poster Frames.  To sum it up these are the salient failures that we have bequeathed to our children: A failure to maintain and pass on basic literacy, numeracy and attitudinal employment and work skills. A failure to adapt to flexible norms of industrial remunerations and entitlements. A failure to foster, teach and grow flexible and tolerant work attitudes. And the failure to maintain wages proportionate to the survival of Australian manufacturing. Vale, Australia Felix


The eulogy here for the funeral of the picture framing industry can also be repeated for the funerals or many other Australian industries. The printing industry, the car manufacturing industry, the metal-working industries, etc. When will Australians wake up and realise they are living beyond their means? How can we award ourselves some of the highest wages in the world and hope to be competitive in world trade?
Trent W. - 2 Jul 2018 07:42 pm
I pretty much agree with just about everything said here. Young people have too much freedom, too many rights and not enough responsibilities. The government gives them money if they don't want to stay home with their parents, if they don't want to work, if they can't pay their rent, etc.
Johnatan K. - 11 Jun 2018 07:53 pm

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