Dec 7, 2012

Unhappy Australians In An Unhappy (But Well Off) Country

There were reports earlier this year about the nation experiencing a good economic and social situation in an increasingly downturned world, but that Australians were still negative about their outlook. We were seen as being out of step with reality, with other nations worse off than us coming off more positive about the future. Shorthand: we looked like a bunch of privileged, whining complainers.
I had two experiences with strangers recently that emphasised those reports.

I had my scooter towed. The man who picked us up took me into the city, and we got to talking while I bobbed along in his passenger seat.

Among the stories of identity theft and scooter efficiency, the driver decried superannuation as the biggest scam perpetrated by a government rife with business interference. I suggested that maybe it was a good thing we all had to prepare for retirement, but he insisted the money just sitting there, earning interest or making profit off investments that the superannuation owners got to enjoy was outrageous. I offered that it was a good thing we'd been given a choice of who to trust our super with. Nope, he wouldn't have a bar of it. As far as he was concerned, people using our money to make a profit was awful.

"You can always just stash it in a bank, then, or a coffee can under your bed?"

The second chap came to install our oven. We talked about the high cost of living, and he asked if I thought it was better in America. I told him it was most decidedly not. Healthcare, education, working conditions. No way. And perhaps the higher cost of living was necessary for a better life in a better country. He seemed dissatisfied with that, shrugged.

A few tweaks of his screwdriver later, he complimented the suburb I live in. We spoke about how the west of Melbourne is a growth area, that we'd bought because we thought we'd get a good price when we eventually sold. He said it still wouldn't be much, though, compared to what we'd paid and what we'd have to pay for a new place.

He shared with me the original price of his property in Narre Warren, mere tens of thousands. I remarked that now, once he sold, he'd make huge profit. Nope, because then he'd have to buy another place and lose it all. This man was actually complaining about the big profit he'd make on his real estate sale. He'd bought early, just like my parents had in the same south eastern part of Melbourne. Now that prices are so high out there, it's the perfect time for folks like him to take advantage of the market. But nope, everything's the worst.

"My mum's probably going to sell her four bedroom and get a smaller one-bedroom now that we kids have moved out, and sit pretty off the difference."

"But even one-bedrooms are too expensive because everybody wants them."

Jesus, mate, fine! The nation is holding strong, we all have jobs, homes,family, property we can eventually sell: but you're right, both of you, let's go hang ourselves!
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