[Published in Pearls & Irritations today 25 June. My pre-election attempt (the previous post) didn’t make it.]
Stratospheric housing prices are perhaps the most critical domestic issue in Australia. Not only are a collapse of the housing bubble and a recession now threatening, but homelessness and rent stress, unaddressed and exploited, can quickly fester into ugly politics. The elephant in the room is the excessive money created by under-regulated commercial banks.
Housing prices are a prime driver of severe inequality and a serious threat to the stability of the Australian economy. Rises in interest rates threaten to collapse the very high levels of household mortgage debt and bring on a serious recession. The dream of home ownership is disappearing for many.Continue reading →
The economic ‘reforms’ of the 1980s are supposed to have set Australia up for an unprecedented run of prosperity: 27 years, and counting, without a recession. The economy’s robustness is supposed to have saved us from the Global Financial Crisis. In fact our economy has been unstable, and its performance has been mediocre verging on anaemic. Any appearance of robust prosperity is due to a huge run-up of debt, some direct intervention, high immigration, overwork, selective blindness and over-active imaginations.
[Didn’t get any takers for this commentary, then it got stale. There may be more opportunities before too long.]
It’s not the salespeople, it’s the product. The product does not serve the people and the people know it, so they keep rejecting the salesperson.
You might think, after a parade of six short-term Prime Ministers, and counting, that this diagnosis of Australia’s political instability might be more commonly perceived, but much of the attention remains on more superficial factors like personality, technology, social media and so on. Even when the political product is questioned few seem to appreciate the depth of its inadequacy.
The best of Oz past, the smartest of Oz present, an enduring Oz future
Most Australians want a more stable and cooperative society, stronger communities and families, more equal distribution of wealth and better care of the environment. However free-market ideologists have badgered and deceived us into selfishness, fear and mediocrity.
We Australians have shown, over our short history, we can be innovative, resilient, bold, generous and welcoming. We have abundant skills and resources. We have clean technologies and techniques. We are creative. We can harness the economy so it delivers a fair go for everyone, without trashing the land and planet.
We can live well and generously in this ancient, fragile land.
Australia’s population just passed 24 million and former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, unusually for a very public figure, reckons we’re growing too fast.
He cites the pressure on the housing market, clogged infrastructure, and the greater difficulty of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. At some point we will exceed the carrying capacity of the continent, and perhaps we already have. Those are all sound reasons, but they tend to be brushed aside by the growth lobby, partly because the numbers are hard to pin down.
But what if we knew that cutting immigration in half would save us $50 billion or more per year? According to some little-noticed papers by development economist Jane O’Sullivan, population growth costs us over $500,000 per person added.
The anachronistic words of our national anthem are finally getting a bit of attention. Denise McAvaney has done a good job on this site of laying out reasons why we should no longer grovel to Britain. She was triggered by Scott Morrison’s ridiculous and typically ill-informed rant demanding that all children should be forced to sing the current words. Denise also refers to Deborah Cheetham’s decision not to sing the anthem at the AFL grand final because she considers the words to be offensive to indigenous people. Susanna Duffy has posted some more thoughts and versions here. There may be others.
I was provoked a couple of years ago by an episode of the TV series Redfern Now, in which a young indigenous lad gets into trouble for refusing to sing the official anthem. I conceived the idea that we can just start writing new words. Anyone can have a go, there need be no competition and no prize. If a version catches on, then it might eventually replace the old words, by popular acclaim. So I wrote my own version, to kick the process along. It appears below.
My partner and I recently completed a long trip around Australia. Not such an unusual thing these days, though we did some less-travelled parts, like the Tanami Road. Also I’m as interested in seeing the lay of the land as seeing particular celebrated sites, and in noting how well the land is fairing under the (mis)management of whitefellas. I wrote some despatches to friends in the course of our travels, and I have now added photos to illustrate my commentary. The illustrated commentary is now on a page here.
So you can have a look if you’re interested. It’s one person’s take on the country, fairly long, and with personal anecdotes mixed in.