I would love to get some of whatever the Pascoemeter has been on these last few weeks …..

Keep perspective – with our even voting, we are champions! 

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/insight/election-2016-keep-perspective–with-our-even-voting-we-are-champions-20160703-gpxsdn.html#ixzz4DQIJ3jzc
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July 4, 2016 – 1:11PM

Michael Pascoe

BusinessDay contributing editor

Hold the political panic.

Weird as it may seem I haven’t actually detected panic stemming from the Federal Election yet, maybe a whiff from business types and bankers (scions of adapatable, brutal competition, reflexive capitalism generally) looking for ‘stability’ (good read on this here over at the Failed Estate  – The Certainty Myth , but the general emotion I am coming across seems to be one of ‘about time’ or ‘serves them all right’ 

Here’s a surprising and rather comforting statistic: if you consider Australia’s modern era started in 1972, we’ve had roughly 22 years of Labor and 22 years of coalition governments.

Note to self, does Pascoemeter think history started when he lost virginity? Or the dawn of the Boomerocracy? If you go back 22 years from 1972 to 1950 we could say Australia’s had 44 years of Liberal/National and 22 of Labor.  If you come forward 22 years to 1994 we could say we’ve had 8 ALP & 15 LNP – all interesting but what is he trying to say?  Is Pascoemeter pinging a dart at a number which makes a point or filling another of his pieces with bullshit? 

The result is that we are absolute champions, members of an elite little group of nations that are the best places on earth to live, the most socially progressive and with the best economies to boot. I’d go a step further and argue without much difficulty that we’re actually the best of the best.

Always good to see a man in full self congratulatory mode, but when one sees ‘most socially progressive’ does one wonder about those kids we send to Nauru? And if we were to be thought panicking at the moment, isn’t part of that the possibility that one Pauline Hanson (scion of social progressivism?) has been legitimately voted back into parliament.  Then we come to ’with the best economies to boot’.  Pascoemeter & Fairfax would have us believe this guy is one of Australia’s best and most authoritative business journalists, so when he comes out with a line like that I assume he doesn’t have much truck with the idea we are also one of the…

…..Most heavily privately indebted societies on earth.

……With the most expensive housing on earth

……With a very major economic competitiveness problem

…….A reliance on commodity exports (for which prices have declined sharply)

…..And that the negotiation of the near term economic future will require considerable policy finesse by corporate and political leaders who have shown themselves capable of nothing more than taking us back to the type of rentseeking and low intellect economic activities that a generations worth of economic reform of the type he once lauded dragged us away from in the years from 1983 – 1998, and which the years since 1998 have seen us inexorably drifting back to.

As for ‘I’d go a step further and argue without much difficulty that we’re actually the best of the best.’ I find myself wondering (apart from if he rose to give a standing ovation) why the headline for the piece didn’t read ‘we are doing OK from the perspective of a well-paid inner Sydney resident with an investment portfolio and no great financial commitment worries – what are the rest of you concerned about?

So why exactly are we self-flagellating over a close election?

Here we are back with the self-flagellation meme.  The only downbeat note I have been picking up is business types going on about ‘stability’ and a load of Torynuffs going on about who is to blame (and who takes responsibility for the return of Pauline).  All in all it is fairly entertaining and mildly comic.  A close election leading to a hung parliament and chaos in the senate was what many of us (me for starters) wanted if we couldn’t get major parties addressing the issues we think are important and to stop bullshitting us.  Mission accomplished, now make sure you have popcorn.

Saturday’s “cliff-hanger, too-close-to-call, line-ball, down-to-the-wire” cliché-ridden poll just continued our remarkably even-handed scepticism/enthusiasm about Labor and the coalition. Neither has proven a disaster for the nation. Neither is likely to.

Well the Pacoemeter has turned on the Panglossian angle again.  Can we ask if it is possible that every government since the late 1990s has in fact been taking part (in a range of ways from big to small) in the complete avoidance of addressing the issues which are right now appearing on the radar? What if our even handed scepticism/enthusiasm about Labor and the coalition has actually been an even handed scepticism/enthusiasm about catastasis?  The tax concessions they have signed up to or left unchanged, the monetary policies they have accepted, and regulation they have budgeted for, their fiscal settings across a generation – and of course the small matter of frying our (quite competitive in the 1990s) exporting/export competing side to allow a mining boom to wash it all away, and the agreement that blowing a housing bubble was the appropriate encore performance for that?  Is the Pascoemeters world that literal, is his financial and economic setting that governments dont leave effects (for good or bad) for the future? What part has luck played in our fortune thus far? Should we continue to rely on it or should we craft our own? Have we denied future generations the scope to do this with what we have coughed up?

Aside from my “modern era” split, Australia’s median age is knocking on the door of 38. So the life of the “average” Australian, born in 1978, also has been evenly divided between periods of Labor and Liberal prime ministers. And life for the median Australian, compared with the median everywhere else on earth, is terrific.

How many 38 year olds does the Pascoemeter know? Do they think median life is terrific? Do they think they pay outrageous sums for housing and that the babyboomer generation has access to welfare, education and pension outcomes which they need to pay for but which they doubt they will ever get?  How many times the average income was the average mortgage in 1978? Do those 38 year olds have a better superannuation setup than those in their 60s Are they being soaked more at every life turn – from childcare to illness to job stability to education costs than their counterparts of 1978?

According to the Social Progress Index, our 50/50 mix of centrist-left and centrist-right governments has delivered a nation that is pretty much as good as it gets, balancing social and economic needs. As the Economist reported it, we are in “the highest scores in fulfilling citizens’ basic needs such as housing, sanitation, health outcomes, safety, access to the internet and also promoting tolerant, inclusive societies that offer opportunities for advanced education”.

The words greeting me at the Social progress index page are these – http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/countries/aus/#performance/components/spi/ </em>

In the Basic Human Needs Dimension, Australia performs best on Water and Sanitation ;  and has most opportunity to improve on the Shelter component. In the Foundations of Wellbeing Dimension, Australia scores highest on Access to Basic Knowledge  but lags on the Health and Wellness component. In the Opportunity Dimension, Australia is strongest on Personal Rights and has the most room to improve on Tolerance and Inclusion.

How anybody, maybe apart from those in Hong Kong or Vancouver, could possibly think Australia does well in providing housing – where it is essentially acknowledged that one generation is holding another to housing ransom, backed by government policy – is unfathomable. As for the rest of the phenomena identified there, how much is actually in the interest of the nation to provide (to add to its economy, ie a reasonably self interested nation) as opposed to some joyous bequest Pascoemeter feels we should be grateful for? Is this just another refrain of the ‘you don’t know how lucky you are’ mantra of the babybooming set?

Yet we’ve been telling ourselves it’s a terrible thing that we went to bed on Saturday night without knowing who our prime minister will be. If that’s our major problem, we really are the most spoilt of little rich countries.

We again come back to the question of how many people have actually been telling themselves that it is something terrible that we don’t have a government straight after an election.  I don’t think many think that is our major problem.  Has Pascoemeter wondered if many more people are vaguely aware of the high debt, low competitiveness, trade agreement locked in, feeble wage growth, low employment growth turd on our economic radar, and are consequently are wondering how that plays out – particularly if they are in debt, like the vast majority of Australians – and why it would be that our mainstream politicians simply didn’t want to address that in the election campaign just fought?

We can be better than we are – we need to be better to maintain our position – but in the general scheme of things, there actually is none better right now.

But is that the question that Australia’s voters want answers to Pascoemeter? How many of them are asking if they will leave something worse than they inherited to their children? How many of them are asking (particularly those 38 year olds you were touting before) if they have been dirked by their elders?

The latest SPI was reportedly widely overseas when it was released last week by the Social Progress Initiative, an American think tank. It disappeared without a trace here among the election noise despite showing Australia coming a close fourth behind Finland, Canada and Denmark.

Is the Pascoemeter suggesting that our politicians missed the chance to bring it to our attention or that they wisely avoided inflaming local opinion of them any more by waving such triteness in the faces of a nation undergoing an income shock, and with some major economic shocks on the road dead ahead? 

However, the index doesn’t include consideration of weather, geographical splendour, sports facilities and cute marsupials. Throw those in and we’re clearly the gold medallists in socially progressive quality of life.

For a piece in the business section of what would purport to be our ‘quality’ print media, that is a gold medal sentence of flippant bullshittery.  Someone should get a cute marsupial and let it urinate in the Pascoemeter’s car, as a riposte.

It’s long been a problem that simple per capita gross domestic product doesn’t adequately measure the quality of a nation.

Well those politicians like serving it up to us whenever they get a chance, despite the fact that a large chunk of the GDP generation has marketing operations in Singapore (or elsewhere) to avoid paying tax, or is controlled by principals with bank accounts in the Caribbean they’d rather we didn’t know much about.  And then there is the not inconsiderable issue about GDP per capita going backwards in Australia – which brings us to questions of why we would be importing people at 4 times the 30 year average, adding to, through crowding, traffic, and increased prices, some diminution of the magnificent world Pascoemeter refers to (at least insofar as the ordinary mug punter gets to experience it).

On GDP per capita, three of the top five countries are feudal sectarian oil kingdoms, with Qatar in first place. That’s Qatar where a woman who was raped was jailed for having “illicit sex”. And she was lucky to be a Westerner, subsequently deported.

Where is Pascoemeter going with this? That some rich countries don’t ‘deserve’ it? Or that they are lucky? That (Quelle surprise) some oil rich Persian gulf Sheikdoms run a pretty confronting line in medieval views of women? Or is he just trying to pad an extra couple of lines in a piece he cares not a jot about?

Only one of the GDP top five is a genuine democracy – Luxembourg – and that’s more of an address for banks and accountancies than an actual country. So forget straight GDP.

Interesting he mentions Luxembourg, is he suggesting we compare ourselves with it in some way?

it runs a fine line in laundering funds for Russians and eastern European despots,

is home to numerous hedge funds and fine gambling establishments,

is an easy 2 hour drive from Brussels (administrative centre of the European Union),

it has a population a little larger than greater Geelong’s

it has a larger manufacturing sector per capita than Australia

What is he referring to Luxembourg for?  What relevance does it have to a piece about why Australia shouldn’t (or should) be concerned about the election result?

Similarly, scoring the much ballyhooed AAA credit rating from all three American agencies says something about a country’s ability to repay debts and, hence, it’s economic strength and stability, but not much about quality of life. (For what it’s worth, Finland is “only” AA. Canada and Denmark are AAA but neither make an even more exclusive club Australia is a member of: AAA rating from the three Americans and from China’s Dagong.)

Has anyone anywhere suggested financial ratings agencies should be including quality of life in their ratings?  This is just more bilious wank.

The SPI is one of several attempts to develop a more meaningful overall measure of a nation’s quality of life and progress. It may well be the best, thanks to the breadth of its measurement under three broad areas – basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity.

Meanwhile back at the ranch we have drifted back to the piece as some sort of promo for the SPI.  Anyone thinking they would get some business/economic commentary from the Pascoemeter may find themselves as infuriated upon reading this as Australian electors seem to be with politicians who don’t address the issues they are concerned about and keep feeding them bullshit to try and drown out any attempt to voice those concerns.

Our individual scorecard has us doing particularly well under the “opportunity” heading, where we’re strongest on personal rights but with room to improve on tolerance and inclusion. Among the other two areas, we could improve on the shelter component and we lag on health and wellness, but these are relative criticisms, guides to further improvement.

What is the Pascoemeter on about? Is he suggesting we don’t worry about the election result because the SPI says we have ‘opportunity’? If we feel our ‘opportunity’ mainly revolves around taking on ludicrous amounts of debt to pay ostentatiously high prices for real estate and suspect this isn’t the greatest idea for either ourselves or our children (or the nation) should we write to the SPI, our politicians, or Pascoemeter? Or should we, as one suspects Pascoemeter would like to tell us, just ‘suck it up’?

The closeness of our key political tussle has kept the major parties in check, allowing neither to stray too far from a reasonable centre. This election’s mix of protest votes and Kardashian politics –  voting for people because they’re on television a lot – shows a fraying but only around the edges.

Lets look at The closeness of our key political tussle has kept the major parties in check. It has done that, but has it not also kept them in check from addressing the (particularly economic) issues people experience in their everyday lives? Like Negative Gearing, or CGT or Superannuation reform?  Has it created a bi-Partisan approach to denying the electorate awareness of (and ability to influence) some of those trade agreements our politicians seem keen on? Is that reasonable centre Pascoemeter sees revolving around a neoliberal consensus of housing speculation, debt, treating people like cash flows, and being treated like shit by financial institutions, large retailers, mobile providers, insurance companies, and energy providers, all underpinned by politicians on the take?  Could this election represent a phenomena where an awfully large number of people no longer feel that mainstream politicians (the ones who tend to appear on TV the moistest) actually have any ability to be a benefit in their lives, and consequently feel they would like to protest or try something else with the politics which they may suspect has been taking them for granted for a long time, Pascoemeter?

The tragedy would be if that relatively sensible centrism is betrayed by making Faustian deals with the unrepresentative fringe dwellers.

But Pascoemeter, could you blame people for wondering if, perhaps, a Faustian deal might bring Australian politics a step closer to the point where it has meaning in their lives because it delivers outcomes which people feel is in line with what they would like Pascoemeter? Has mainstream politics been living in the fringe (or drifting towards it) while drifting further from what ordinary everyday Australians actually experience and think, Pascoemeter? If those people thought there was no other way to get their political aspirations addressed would they be to blame for the Faustian deals or would the political system which ostensibly represented them?

In the context of Britain’s Brexit vote, novelist Ian McEwan wrote for the Remain camp that peace was boring, unless you can remember war. And so with Australia’s polity – our main parties are disappointing, unless you see what Pauline Hanson is.

Thanks for mentioning the war, Pascoemeter.  How many Australians thought sending Australian troops to Iraq was a good idea, again? When Tony Abbott sent Australian ADF elements to bomb IS in Syria and Iraq, how many Australians got a say in that again? Did that rank highly on the budgetary priorities of ordinary Australians?  Have Australian politicians ignored any other sentiments of mainstream Australia in the recent past? Maybe like energy policy, like allowing foreign companies to pay tax elsewhere, or allowing Australian companies to import 457 visa workers to undercut their jobs, or even the questions not asked of foreign buyers of Australian real estate, which a senate inquiry and parliamentary inquiry has established that FIRB was negligent about, but nobody has done a single thing to do something about? Or what about pensioners living in multi million dollar properties? Or setting up SMSFs to make sure they don’t pay tax and then going on the pension? Have you got any more examples of the contempt Australian politicians have shown for Australian people in the recent past to the benefit of a few?   Pauline Hanson isn’t pretty with her focus on race and immigration, but the far bigger issue for Australian politics has been the contempt shown by politicians of both sides for Australian voters, which has made fruit bats like Hanson seem a plausible alternative – and Pascoemeter serving up glib tripe for business comment simply begs the same approach to business journalism in Australia’s mainstream media.