In the United States, the media is in shock after the White House has gone a full thirty-six hours without a firing or “resignation”. More on this later, but first let’s do our in-depth report on inequality.
When Bill Shorten started talking about inequality, there was some confusion about Scott Morrison’s assertion that inequality in Australia “hasn’t got worse, it has actually got better”. Many pundits rushed to show figures, median incomes, GINI coefficients, NINJA inefficients, X and Y charts, X and Y-not charts, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree – all suggesting that, unless you cherry-picked your figures, the gap between the haves and have-nots was actually growing.
The confusion, of course, rests on Morrison’s defintion of the word “better”. For most people, “better” means bigger or more. And so it is with inequality. When the Liberals talk of inequality “getting better” what they mean is that their supporters are actually getting more and everybody else is getting less. After all, that’s their stated policy. If we give companies a tax cut, then they’ll have more money and at some future date, they’ll raise your wages but not until they’ve got so much money that they think that they have enough and couldn’t possible have any more. And this, of course, is when they have it all. Which probably won’t happen because Labor may get in one day and they’ll start doing things like taxing the people who – out of the goodness of their heart – provide jobs and growth, and those nasty Greens will let them do it. Why Labor’s even talking of looking at Family Trusts. How anti-family is that? If I want to set up my business affairs so that my children get their own income, shouldn’t that be allowed? It’s not like I’m trying to minimise tax, I just think that an eighteen month old child needs to learn how to managed money. And, my Westland Terrier IS a part of the family so why shouldn’t he be part of the Trust too. Typical Labor. Anti-family and anti-dog.
Of course, there’s a pretty simple way to look at inequality. And like all simple ways of looking at things it can be complicated by not talking about the thing itself, but by comparing it to something else. For example, take the way that the Liberals compare their handling of the economy to a household budget. It’s then an easy step to argue that spending is too high because how many households spend so much on education and healthcare? Or take the way they always argue that any Labor debt is “putting it on the credit card” even though the Australian governments can borrow at around three percent. If my credit card interest was that low, I’d apply for a credit limit increase and use it to pay off my mortgage.
So, rather than look at inequality directly because that would involve looking up a lot of facts and figures, I’ll compare it to something else and then I can just write away without the need for any research.
A good way to look at inequality is to compare it to people’s weight. Again, I don’t want to have to waste time by actually doing any investigation so I’m going to ask you to imagine an imaginary country. Let’s call is Turnbullia.
If we decide that the average height of Turnbullians is about 180cm but their average weight is 100 kilos, it sounds like they have a massive obesity problem. However, if we delve a little closer, we find that this is not a problem at all because is Turnbullia being obese is considered a good thing and that the more obese you are, the more likely you are to encourage growth. And when of the people weighing 350 kilos grows, they all benefit because, well, they have to build bigger doorways and this provides work for people who can then afford to buy more fast food and chocolates and that will lead to their waist-line growing too.
Of course, when someone points out that there are people in Turnbullia who weigh less than thirty kilos, the newspaper “Merde Doc” finds someone with an eating disorder and uses this to argue that anybody weighing less than seventy kilos just doesn’t want to eat. If they get a letter to the editor suggesting that people with eating disorders aren’t typical, then the paper will run a story showing how during the GFC (Great Food Crisis), those weighing more than 250 kilos lost an average of forty kilos, while those weighing less than forty kilos didn’t. This will be accompanied by a graph demonstrating that those weighing nothing lost no weight at all during this time, because they still weighed nothing after the GFC. This was disputed by some academics on the grounds that they believed that there were, in fact, no actual people who weighed nothing so that this was a purely theoretical exercise and of no value to the starving masses.
I guess this would be a good time to leave Turnbullia and return to Australia. In simple terms, Shorten seems to be arguing that it’s a problem because apart from the unfairness of it all, it’s likely to create a whole range of social and economic problems and that something needs to be done about. The Liberals, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that if you do nothing about it, everything will be just fine because some of our best friends are – in terms of the analogy – pretty damned fat and we’d like to make them even fatter and that’s fine by them.
Ok, I realize that there might be obese people reading this who are offended. I’d like apologise if you took it the wrong way because I certainly didn’t mean to compare you to the sort of people who’d back the Liberal Party.
Finally, sources in the White House have just leaked that the new Chief of Staff, John Kelly has a really good handle on things and has managed to ensure that all future information will only come through official sources. It was also confirmed that the new strategy when one of Donald’s appointees proves less than satisfactory that rather than go through another public embarrassment, the person will be simply confined to their office until they can be quietly removed to Guatanamo Bay. There is no confirmation of the rumour that this is what is happening with Steve Bannon.