4 February 2009

Economic celebration

On yet another leg of the 6,500 km journey last week, my car compatriots, now stinky and dirty with matted hair are coversing entirely based on in-jokes and references-of-references, as you do after 10 days in a vehicle and shared rooms with the same four people. The collective experience decides we should re-brand the supposed "economic crisis" as an "economic celebration!". The mortgage holders among us (not me, dear readers) have just seen their rates fall to about 2.5 % - saving them hundreds of dollars a month; none of us acutally have an employer as such, but seem to get by from a steady trickle weird and varied freelance jobs, and all of us relish getting to have crazy outback adventures. Fuel is cheaper, savings are still guaranteed.. economic bonanza!

From a culture-blogger in Berlin, momus calls it the "silver lining" in his post about about exactly the same phenomena. He hopes its not going to get him into cosmic, karmic trouble pointing out the good things about a slump in car sales, and a growth in public housing, but these things might just be music to the ears to the occasionaly pinko socialist among us. I wouldn't want to be carrying a lot of debt right now, and I really feel for those who are or those who just got laid off by BHP. Mind you, those miners riding the resources boom in Aus have been pulling in over 150k the last few years, hopefully they put something away for a rainy day.

All in all, how about you - can you see this period as a celebration? A rejection of the compulsion to spend spend spend and instead do some repairing, or just getting off the express train of capitalism?

7 comments:

meririsa said...

I certainly stand to benefit from these packages should they get passed - me and my partner will probably both be eligible for a tax bonus, AND we get to shave a couple of hundred more a month off our mortgage... and I would say we could probably survive just fine (for now...) without cash hand-out. But Septuagenarian who shares my office - works part time with self-funded retiree hubby - ZIP! And I wonder what my non "working-family" friends will get out of it all. Do like the $ for schools and insulation bats though!

alison said...

I'm waiting for the housing price crash :) And hoping to get some of that insulation to help me through the cold canberra winter. My job is safe, but His probably isn't. And my parents have had to put off retirement for a few more years because their super got hit last year.

I don't see it as a celebration overall, because once it hits the real economy, a lot of people are going to get badly hurt by things that weren't their fault.

BSharp said...

Yep, its bloody awful for people on the cusp of retiring, also Momus puts these things more poetically than me, in the form of a 'silver lining' - i.e. acknowledging there was a cloud in the first place. and i reckon the "big ngo" sector is going to cop it in a year or two, when those cancelled subscriptions start rolling in. But I still enjoy it when people speak out against the orthodoxy and to point out that globally those who have been pumping out damaging, pointless, consumer bling (like big cars) are the ones about to slump while rail and public infrstructure just might get a breath of life. (and I would hope every single car assembly line worker can go over to making trams and buses too - even though that's pie-in-the-sky optimism).

J said...

I don't know - I reckon it's brought up some really mixed messages about money - the cash bonus approach to bailing us out seems to scream 'spend, for God's sake spend everyone - it's your civic duty to shop'... which doesn't seem like a healthy and sustainable long term attitude. The silver lining to the black cloud that other people are experiencing might just be collectively recognising that the economy is a cultural construct, and not an absolute - therefore subject to the vageries of human error, miscalculations and change as anything else. After seeing Peter Singer speak on his new book last night I leave feeling a little shamefaced about belonging to a culture that has so quickly grown accustomed to such an elevated standard of living (in material terms) that it sees luxuries as neccessities, and wont unpeel it's jammy fingers from teh cake to share some. Wish we could spend all the Aussie panic money on education for girls, mozzie nets in Africa and distributed infrastructure in the Asia Pacific instead.

meririsa said...

Yes, exactly - part of me things our society could do with a bit of hardship, learn how to make do with less and what is important again (I may say this now, but spend the latter years of my waxing to my grandkids about how good we had it in the 90's and 00's). So much of our life is built around buying luxuries and ads to try to get people to do the same. But evidence suggests the style of living we had before all this material affluence was better for us all in many ways - we were fitter, ate less processed food, and we were more connected with our local communities. People had less leisure time, but you built social interactions into your everyday life too.

J said...

yeah for sure. We have been collectively slow coming to a critical eye (ie weighing up the pros and cons) of 'improved standard of living' in the particular shape (so obesity epidemic pun intended) it's taken in the west, hey?

Do people have more leisure time now than last century in Australia? I mean once the 40 hour week was won. The hours of work stats seem to be going up, and isn't Australia the second highest in the world or something (though I'd still rather work a 45 hour week here than less hours down a mine in Angola or something). And for working women the house work hours are still high and in addition to the day job.

Chris said...

For some strange reason I just can't feel sorry for the BHP miners. After all, nobody felt any compassion for the guards and clerks at Belsen when they lost their jobs...