An Open Letter to the Economy
I have cause to write this week because I wanted to remind you that I am still here. And I am still angry. I know there’s been a bit of talk since the passing of Margaret Thatcher about her famous line denying my existence. History has shown time and time again how wrong Thatcher was about most things. However there still seem to be some people in positions of considerable power who would like to perpetuate the lie that you are more important than me. It’s true, people watch you much more closely than they watch me. We get a stock market report on the TV news every night, even though most of my constituents wouldn’t even know what a stock was, let alone own any. This obviously gives you delusions of grandeur. But what’s become really apparent over the last couple of decades is that you think you own us all. And you don’t. You might own the greedy and the very rich. The likes of Rupert Murdoch and Gina Rinehart bow down to you like a god. In your eyes, these two are probably favourite pupils. However, if you use my very different measures of what constitutes a successful life, both these lowlifes are complete and utter failures of the highest magnitude.
Speaking of failures, this is another reason for my letter. It’s not good manners to reject me completely when you’re having a good time, and then to call me when you’ve got a problem or when things go wrong. This ‘too big to fail’ argument is just silly. If you fck up badly enough, sure, I’ll always have to pick up the pieces. That’s just who I am. But you can at least work with me a little to make sure I have the resources I need to build the safety net that you expect me to have whenever you do fck up, which is pretty frequent of late. You see, I’m not just some doormat you can walk all over and treat like a ‘get out of jail free’ card when you’ve stuffed up. If you want me to look after you, you need to better look after me. If everything I own gets privatized, by the way, I don’t own it anymore. That might not make sense to you, but think about it for a second. You want me to take responsibility for things that I need, to make sure that my people have a good chance to be happy and effective members of my club, but then you steal these things off me and try to sell them in your market. How am I meant to make sure everything is working and available to everyone who needs them if you suddenly own them! There’s no middle ground with you either, it’s all or nothing. Dog eat dog. You really should stop being so selfish and think about everyone, like I do, and not just your rich buddies who get richer by buddying up to you. If you had your way, there would be no minimum wage and your best buddies, the very rich, would happily see those invisible people who I look after die in the gutter from starvation and exposure to the elements.
Speaking of the elements, isn’t it time you had a think about the climate? I know you don’t believe anything matters if it doesn’t have a price tag, which is obviously why you think I’m so inconsequential. But seriously, haven’t you noticed that the climate is costing you? It shouldn’t be up to me to remind you of this. You’re meant to be good with numbers and I’m no accountant. But I’ve seen the insurance pay outs that go to victims of natural disasters. Surely you can’t be blind to these. You might be blind to the human tragedies of drought and flood: the deaths, the loss, the upheaval of people’s lives. These are all my problems. But the money cost? It’s going up and it’s going to affect you more and more as the temperature keeps rising. You never were quick on the uptake and I really can’t help but think you’ve become quite lazy in your old age. Sure, the old energy sources of coal and gas have helped you to chug along without a care in the world for the side effects but the profit isn’t going to last. Why you might ask? Because this stuff is going to run out you buffoon! And you expect me to have all these people ready to solve this problem, ready to find some way to keep you running using sustainable energy sources, yet you won’t invest in research and development. So no, I don’t have anything or anyone ready to solve this problem. I’m barely able to keep some of my lot alive in the wreckage you have left behind from your greedy pursuits, let alone having them ready to build a car that runs without petrol. Stop being so stingy and go to work to solve this problem yourself. For once in your life, think of something in the future that will happen more than a day down the line.
Speaking of looking to the future, I hope you know that all my poor friends are eventually going to come and bite your rich friends on the arse. I’m not talking about a revolution, so don’t go organising private security armies and building more gated communities yet. I wouldn’t mind if an uprising happened, by the way. I think it would be a good way to shock you awake. But unfortunately my guys don’t have time to mobilise to that extent, when they are working long hours just to feed their families and keep themselves from being evicted. No, the way they are going to ruin your rich people’s lives is by collapsing you in on yourself when their wages are crushed, and their spending becomes so minimal that you can no longer flog your shit to them. You see, if they are barley earning to survive, they can’t afford your shit. Makes sense doesn’t it? When I say ‘shit’, I mean all the useless stuff you produce to make a profit. Nothing that benefits me. In fact, most of this shit is completely useless to me and if anything, it is to my detriment. Especially when they all try to get rid of it and find they can’t because it won’t wash down the drain. Somehow you’ve managed to convince my people that your shit will make them happy, that somehow they’ll find satisfaction from buying it and looking at it. That the more shit they have, the more successful they are. But this is all part of your con and one day this fraud of yours will be exposed. As will the lie that you need to keep growing to survive. It’s time you went on a diet! You don’t need to keep growing. You’re fat enough already.
The more I write, the more I realise just how unhappy I am with you. You promise the world, and all you deliver is mess for me to fix up. You were meant to solve all your own problems. That’s what you promised when I first met you. But you don’t solve problems, you just make them. I think it’s time we met up to discuss this problem further.
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Brilliant, Vic. Love your work.
Interesting thoughts. In fact, rationally speaking, there is no such thing as Economy: there are men and women and families, and there is the way all of these work together to best fulfill human needs.
as we have recently seen in the GFC, the economy is notional and highly irrational, often based on poorly thought out opinions, and on emotions like greed and fear. An economy can be talked down or up; schools of thought propagated by our most reputed economic academics have been proven disastrously wrong in practice. In some ways economy is a bit like religion. It only works because so many have faith in it.
Wow – I really enjoyed that piece – thank you.
Good, lucid, creative yet realistic writing. Thanks Victoria.
Your point about the unsustainability of driving down wages is well made. I wonder if the WorkChoices fanatics ever stop to think what will happen to their cherished “economy” as more and more workers (consumers) are put in the position where they can afford to consume less and less.
I expect most of them don’t think that far ahead. Conservatism, as we are seeing lately with the Coalition’s #Fraudband lemon and their resistance to climate change mitigation, is largely short-termism. They can deny the Future all they like, but it’s coming regardless, and their actions now shape it in ways they won’t appreciate when the time comes.
Amazing article as usual.How do you do it . The thought of the Lnp in power is so depressing . They will take us backwards.Thank you Victoria.
My other message went away somewhere. Amazing article as usual . Thank you Victoria
Excellent, but too long for the indifferent electorate who deep down believe that “a tough man” will run things better than an unmarried, childless woman. Still, a great article.
Fantastic article Victoria.
Just re-read the IPA’s “Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas” put to Abbott.
i think a stronger letter needs to be written, as the IPA are completely unaware you even exist.