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I’m Not An Armchair Critic, Joe Hockey, I’ve Never Once Said A Bad Word About My Armchair…

“The economic metaphor came to be applied to every aspect of modern life, especially the areas where it simply didn’t belong. In fields such as education, equality of opportunity, health, employees’ rights, the social contract and culture, the first conversation to happen should be about values and principles; then you have the conversation about costs, and what you as a society can afford.”

“Whoops…Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay!” by John Lanchester:

Last month Scott Morrison criticised business for not supporting attempts to balance the budget, which gave Mr Hockey the chance to reminisce about the good old days, when business groups ran ads supporting Liberal policies like WorkChoices telling us:

“Previously, the business community has not only been an advocate for reform, they’ve actually put their hands in their pocket and helped to argue the case, So, I do share Scott Morrison’s position that, you know, there are plenty of armchair critics. But, as Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘it’s not the critic that counts, it’s the person in the field getting the muddied hands’. I would encourage as many people as possible to join us on the paddock of reform.”

Now, I know that I’m telling you the bleedin’ obvious, but it does strike me that there is more to a country than a business. When the Abbott Governmnet talks about “reform”, that’s usually code for trying to make people work longer hours for less money. Reform never refers to improving the quality of life, building more bike paths, encouraging greater participation in the arts or enabling greater happiness. So long as you’ve got more money, you’ll be happier, right? And in order to ensure you can keep your job – and you’ll certainly have more money if you keep your job – we want you to agree to the following “reforms”…

Ok, as Mr Hockey is fond of comparing the country’s economy to a household budget, I thought I’d take his analogy a little further. Let’s create a fictious family and call them the Pine family, which is completely fictious and has even less connection to our Education Minister, Mr Pyne, than he has to education! Why, it’s even spelt differently.

The head of the household Mr. Lou Pine has decided that, as well as never putting anything on the credit card, has decided that his extended family needs some reform and has called the entire family together for his announcements.

“Family members,” he begins, “we need some reforms. For a start, Granny is no longer earning enough from her pension to pay for the rent on her granny flat in the backyard and we’ll be moving her into the main house and putting the flat to a more productive use.”

“But we don’t have a room for her in the main house?” interrupted young Prudence Pine.

“On the contrary, as part of the reform process, I’ve noticed that we have many rooms that are only used during the day. Granny can sleep in the kitchen.”

“Well, if you’re going to have her sleep in a room that’s not being used, why not the family room?” suggested Prudence.

“If you’d stop interrupting the adults and just listen, we’d get our reform measures done a lot faster. Now, the family room can’t be used as a bedroom, because I’ll be running my business there, and as you know my business is always open, so the family room is out of bounds from here on.”

“What about the televison?” asked young Al Pine.

“The television is an expense that we don’t need. Until we get the mortgage paid off, you won’t have time for television, you’ll be working and contributing to the well-being of this house.”

“But I don’t have a job!” complained Al.

“Yes, I’ve noticed that so until you get one, you won’t be receiving any food until you’ve spent at least six months looking.”

“But I’ll starve before then!”

“That’s just the sort of incentive you need to find a job. And speaking of jobs, you may have noticed that your mother has been a bit tired lately. I’m bringing someone in to perform the tasks she used to perform under the skill shortages program.”

“What does mum have to say about that?”

“She’s jealous naturally, but we’re not into the politics of envy in this household. Finally, I understand that some of you were planning to attend university after high school. I have no problem with this, as long as can give me a few thousand dollars to help me replace you in the family.”

“You’re insane. This is no way to run a family,” said Prudence. “Besides, what sort of family would allow a father to dictate to all its members like this?”

“Well, I think Tony Abbott said it best when he stated that a bad boss is a bit like a bad father, he tends to do more good than harm. From this, I naturally assumed that Mr Abbott thinks that – like a boss – a father should be in charge of his family! And I agree with him, so naturally that’s the way things are! “

All right the analogy of the family breaks down and becomes ridiculous. But I guess so does a government who thinks that its most important job is to fix the “economic mess”, then suddenly decides that the deficit doesn’t matter and we can all have cake and ice cream, and that when it promised not change pensions that only meant for the first three years, so any changes coming after the next election don’t count as changes.


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  1. Wally

    “Mr Hockey reminisced about the good old days, when business groups ran ads supporting Liberal policies like WorkChoices” Maybe business operators are finally realising that if people don’t earn enough money to live the economy suffers and their business suffers as well.

  2. eli nes

    gillard missed the opportunity to smash abbutt on his household by pointing out before he became opposition leader his debt was 200% of his income whilst labor’s debt was 25% of GDP. Little billy has a plan which we will discover later.
    ps there is no doubt uhlmann is embarrassed by his partner and, to compensate, is painfully proving to be bolt’s man in the ABC.

  3. Wun Farlung

    I hope you consider serialisation of ‘The Pines’ this is satirical gold

  4. DanDark

    eli nes said “ps there is no doubt uhlmann is embarrassed by his partner and, to compensate, is painfully proving to be bolt’s man in the ABC.”

    No truer words said eli nes, I read a big spread with accompanying photos of the “sweet couple” in a newspaper last year, she should be embarrassed by that over puffed up peacock she calls husband, he is an excuse for a man, what a girly man the sook of a thing is, he is one reason I havnt watched the ABC for a couple of months, just looking at the idiot makes me physically ill ……
    PS Gillard missed a lot of opportunities to smash the Rabbid God loving Abbott, but sadly she didn’t…..

  5. babyjewels10

    Oh, I do hope these household budget idiots in government read your blog!

  6. kerri

    A very fair analogy Rossleigh!!
    Didn’t know that about Uhlman?
    Didn’t like him anyway. Too aggressive. Poor sense of manners.

  7. Bronte ALLAN

    Glad the poor old armchair is not to be criticised! Joe Wobbly probably owns the arm chair factory, so he can criticise them whenever he wants to! Top comments, as usual Ross!

  8. diannaart

    Excellent work Rossleigh

  9. Kaye Lee

    “the first conversation to happen should be about values and principles; then you have the conversation about costs, and what you as a society can afford.”

    There are so many very wise people in our community having that conversation but it falls on deaf ears. Anyone who chooses Maurice Newman as their chief business adviser is clearly not looking for anything approaching sensible conversation let alone discussion about what we, as a society, value.

    Life has become a commodity where worth is measured by a dollar assessment of productive capacity – unless of course we don’t want to release cost-benefit analyses of, say, roads, because they are “commercial in confidence”. What a saviour that phrase has been for the government. “National security”, “operational” or “on-water” matters…we are getting a whole new language where every phrase means ‘we are the government so f*ck off pissants – how dare you question us!’

  10. Wally

    @Kaye Lee great comment I wish this could be applied to our governments “Life has become a commodity where worth is measured by a dollar assessment of productive capacity” but you explain why not very well “we are the government so f*ck off pissants – how dare you question us”. It is the perfect analogy of how Abbott and his clown troop behave.

  11. jim mc gurk

    multinationals must be made to pay correct taxes to treasury and governments be brought back to the principle that the wealth of this country should be used responsibly for the social wellbeing of its currant and future population not the pillaging carried out by the corporate world to satisify their unsaturiatable greed aided willingly by our present and past guvernments

  12. Anomander

    Too true Kaye. When this lot were in opposition they daily demanded the government answer every question put to them, and if they didn’t they were harangued by both the opposition and the media. But now they are in government, the veil of obfuscation has been drawn and every decision or action is secret – not to be questioned by us peons. The media dare not ask for fear of having their access withdrawn or their revenue threatened.

  13. stephentardrew

    Agree wholeheartedly Kaye. No innovation or contemporary reinterpretation of science based upon rational facts that can lead to a much more caring and equitable society. Conservatism is what it is dogged attachment to a largely discredited past simply for the sake of power control and some mythical magical thinking that completely distort the facts. Nature however is saying that things must change or we are in for some very disturbing times.

  14. stephentardrew

    I. F. Stone is a a shinning example example of investigative journalism. Where are our Glen Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Micheal More’s, Democracy Now, Truth Dig, Bill Moyers etc?

    AIMN and Independent Australia’s are worthwhile contributors however they still do not have the type of voice, or media presence, required of a truly vocal progressive media.

    I accept, that in any ways, it is due to economy of scale but how do progressives take the next step?

    For my mind Kaye Lee represents the type of hard headed progressive journalism required however who will take it to the next level. Michael cannot be expected to do it all.

    I have a feeling the lack of philanthropy in this country, by well healed members of the left and progressive politics, is holding back the development of a single persuasive public voice for a critique of economic rationalism and supply side economics.

    In short progressives need funding to go to the next level to penetrate the media market and develop a national alternative to the MSM.

    We should all be worried about the results in the UK and the poor performance of Labor and Bill Shorten.

    Without a doubt progressives need a bigger and more influential voice?

    I do not have the required finances or experience however we need and alternative approach to expand the voice of progressive politics in this country.

  15. diannaart

    There’s a good reason the following remains as true as ever:

    “they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing”.

    A rabid right wing nutter I was ‘debating’ on OLO, responded with screaming outrage when I applied this saying to him – he was always banging on about his wealth, buying upmarket cars and so on…. he could not believe that someone such as I, who had never tasted a Penfolds Grange Hermitage, would know about value.

    Trying to keep food on one’s plate and a roof over one’s head, when facing unemployment, illness or other calamities, teaches everything about value.

  16. miriamenglish

    “always banging on about his wealth, buying upmarket cars and so on”

    This always makes me feel sorry for the very rich. What incredibly impoverished lives they lead. They don’t get to see the value in so much of the humanity they’re surrounded by and they’re completely duped by this insane fashion system that runs on the perverse idea of liking something merely because someone says so — not because something has intrinsic value. In a very real way they end up completely wasting their lives. Not only do they base all their value system around the absurd notion of abstract trading tokens, but it subverts and denies genuine systems of value. Even worse than that; because they suck up most of the wealth and leave little for anyone else they actually make life harder for the rest of the population and have become the major cause of most of the world’s greatest problems.

    Unfortunately for them, they are lost in a completely artificial bubble, unable to see how it may soon end very badly for them. If they could see outside the bubble they might have some capacity for change, but they can’t. They are trapped inside a wretched, fake world. And most pathetic of all: they think they are better than us. How very sad.

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