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The good economic units

By 2353NM

Wellbeing and politics have collided in the past couple of weeks. Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers has started a conversation about measuring the ‘wellbeing’ of the nation as a result of the measures in the budget. The Opposition, as you would expect, has poured scorn on the idea.

On a purely logical level, we have been measuring the economic effects of the budget measures for decades – even before the days of ‘the price of beer and smokes is up again’ so beloved of the headline writers in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Both sides of the political fence have promised to deliver economic nirvana on a number of occasions, some more successfully than others. We’ve also had the ‘debt and deficit disaster’, the tautologically impossible ‘already back in the black next year’, and those of a certain age probably will never forget the infamous ‘J Curve’ so beloved of Paul Keating when he was Treasurer. All of these measures were solely around the dollars and cents. How we all felt about austerity, recessions and so on that accompanied the mantras has never been recorded (or even seriously considered in all likelihood). We were all considered to be economic units that contribute in some way to make an economy work.

Going out to the expensive restaurant for dinner to experience the work of a talented chef rather than cooking at home, buying the 65-inch TV rather than the 43-inch version, adopting a pet or purchasing the battery with your solar panels usually makes no economic sense – but feeling good about your purchase is sometimes a valid reason to make the decision. That’s the difference between economic rationality and wellbeing. According to economists, the consumer is perfectly rational. Each decision may not be rational to others, but that’s not the point. Some will make a decision to purchase or do something to improve their wellbeing rather than improve their perceived economic condition by paying down the mortgage or saving for bills.

Measuring wellbeing rather than just the economic indicators will assist all in our community to feel safe, comfortable, validated and supported. We should believe we are living in a community that starts with those nearest and dearest to us, with a sense of belonging to our local area, our regional city, our state, Australia and the world. Each individual’s wellbeing and sense of belonging is more important in the long run than measuring if Australia has $999Million or $1Billion of debt.

Research

…conducted in the first week of October, shows 69 per cent of the 1020 respondents support a wellbeing budget, where the majority have defined “wellbeing” as keeping your mind and body healthy. Moreover, the economic imperatives of a focus on wellbeing are not lost on the Australian public, given just over a third of respondents felt their mental and physical health was “just okay”.

Drilling down to where the government should concentrate its efforts, an overwhelming majority of respondents – 73 per cent – wanted housing to be the priority, just in front of mental and physical health (71 per cent) and job and income security (70 per cent). Women rated these factors and others, including prioritising education and environmental quality, as extremely important focuses for the government – a crucial message given the prominent role women played in effecting change in the last election.

None of this should be a surprise, there are a number of theories expounding that humans have specific needs such as food, shelter and clothing to feel safe, secure and healthy. Governments in general have a role to play in the provision of these necessities, whether it be ensuring that food is safe to eat and affordable, ensuring adequate housing is available for citizens as well as provision of services such as energy, education, transportation and so on. In return the citizens are more productive, which in turn helps the economy.

The Governments of the ACT, New Zealand, NSW and other jurisdictions around the world are using, or planning to use, ‘wellbeing’ as an indicator of the effectiveness of their targeted budget economic measures. It is very easy for governments to deliver cash to those that they believe need the assistance, it is far more difficult to accurately assess who really needs the assistance in the first place. Use of wellbeing measurements can direct funding to where it is needed as well as assisting in deflecting claims the undeserving get all the government money.

During the pandemic, we found out quickly the important workers weren’t the senior management or directors of financial institutions, law firms, government agencies and the like. We found out the really important workers were the transport drivers, the carers of our aged, young and infirm and the producers of food, medicine and shelter, most of which are poorly paid and didn’t have the option to work at home, with genuine concerns about their health and ability to earn money. A lot of them are ‘just coping’ with day-to-day life. Measuring the country’s wellbeing can only help us identify if all sections of our community are ‘in a good place’ and if they’re not, take steps to make it happen.

The conservatives won’t like wellbeing measurements, because it won’t redistribute wealth upwards and they are still trying to convince us to be good economic units.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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5 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Have you seen the “picture” of that raging buck, with the whopper aggressive big dick, waiting to be supreme, no rivals, ruperting, trumping…the nightmare of nature gone selfishly mad. Soon we’ll have eight billions of human population, no restraint, no hope. But, the mere concept of well being is such a comfort…

  2. Stephen S

    Chalmers has gone for the highest-ever levels of immigration, 235,000 net and 195,000 permanent, giving us a whopping 1.4% population growth. This will *trash housing and rental affordability *smash wages and boost unemployment *ramp up fire and flood prone peri-urban development *lock in environmental degradation and species crashes *rule out the 43% emissions reduction.

    On the other hand, the Treasurer is also giving the workers a trendy “wellbeing framework”, they are all the rage in other rich OECD nations. He will not mind then, if words like “pious, self-serving, hypocrite” spring to mind.

  3. Clakka

    Might we look over our shoulders to our recorded history and try to balance the books, or put on our armour and charge on to the future unknowing?

    The revelations of the www, bones and all, puts paid to the schmoozing of the classicists. What has the cannon-fodder to do? Surely not just shut the fuck up. The battle for environments, ideals and ways and means is off the leash. Having already had any innate notion of humanity beaten out of them by the god-botherers, the now cold, hard grasp of industrial metrics, renders the confused to the incomprehensible language and vicissitudes of economics.

    Those self-interested in politics, and their msm flunkies, ascribing to the superiority of man, exemplars of “freespeech” in the open air, are apparently unconstrained by rigorous research, matters of reason or established truth. In their appeal to the voting prols, they appear to increasingly manufacture absolutism, division, disrespect and hate. Their shameless and pathetic, wimpish, low-brow behaviour entrenches the psychopathies surrounding mistrust and conspiracy. Such is the loveless ride from common wealth and health to mania and ruin.

    During the endless making of bomb-throwers, can Labor (or anybody) with a new recipe bring on a cake for all to enjoy?

  4. Bob

    Stephen S, I share your view on the upcoming Immigration-Accommodation fiasco being engineered by Labor.
    You’d think Labor would have sat down and thought through the plan.
    Maybe they did, and more pressure on rents plus greater G$T receipts thanks to more taxable consumers IS the plan.

    As for the underlying reason why Aust needs this increase is because of a shortage of workers, maybe if Labor had a 2nd look at all of the professionals forced from the workplace with the LNP’s support of mandates last year?
    Let’s just call that a lying reason, not an underlying reason.

    I found this yesterday, an interesting take on duopoly politics : How the Political Parties Stole our Future (cirnow.com.au)
    And given Albanese and co have taken up the tradition of hiding from the public what happens in the National Cabinet meetings, I wonder how much they really care about “well-being”. Maybe they mean well-being of hypocracy?

  5. HCB

    That self-keen on legislative issues, and their MSM lackeys, crediting to the prevalence of man, models of “free speech” on the outside, are clearly unconstrained by thorough examination, matters of reason, or laid out truth. In their allure for the democratic process, they appear to produce absolutism, division, lack of respect, and disdain progressively. Their indecent and pitiable, wimpish, crude way of behaving settles in the psychopathies encompassing doubt and connivance. Such is the cold ride from republic and well-being to madness and ruin.

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