The Reset Button We Have Needed for Quite a While
It’s COVID-19 Ambassador Pearl Bullivant here, doing what she does best – giving advice and assisting Australians to live the best life they can during the ‘One Nine’. This month, Pearl will be tackling the concept of ‘perspective’, the art of stepping back, taking a deep karmic breath, and viewing Australia’s COVID situation without hysteria or greed, all the while expressing gratitude for where we live and for what we have.
In this gratitude practice, Pearl is asking readers to take a good hard look at the economy and ask, “Are we really experiencing the greatest recession since the Great Depression?” Conservative media and the Australian Financial Review (which is really an opinion piece for big business) would have us believe that we are all doing it tough; that the country is falling into a deep financial hole that only the gas and building industries can save us from (with taxpayers’ assistance, of course).
Let us get some perspective here. I am not seeing Gina Rinehart and her mega-affluent and influential peers jumping out of skyscrapers in financial ruin and I am not seeing the collapse of banks. Instead, companies have been using the taxpayer-funded JobKeeper to pay increased dividends to shareholders, and Australia’s corporate chiefs (including the CBA’s Matt Comyn) have collected huge pay rises, with the average increase across twelve of the largest companies being $1.24 million. I am not seeing destitute Eastern Suburbites forced into shanties along the ocean cliff faces or walking the hungry mile for work. Instead, house prices are soaring in Australia’s most affluent suburbs as the middle class offload their cash into property and accommodation in tourist towns is scarce as the same people escape the psychological woes of the virus. Bonuses, investment properties, holidays… does that sound like a populace on the brink of economic depression? I don’t think so.
There are people doing it tough, but they are not the people the media is interested in. The ‘we’ of ‘we are all in this together’ are the affluent middle class – not the minimum wage earners who are working three jobs to survive, temporary workers, people relying on Newstart or those surviving on the disability or aged pensions. Taxpayers’ dollars are used to ease the ‘distress’ of those who are well off, while big business and banks are using the virus to push their own vested interests at huge social and environmental costs.
If Australia really is suffering the greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression, then the economy must be falling from an unsustainable and extreme high back to a comfortable reality. Any economy solely dependent on building houses, digging up minerals and ‘trickle down’ mythology is a pretty dumb one.
Maybe this horrible virus is the reset button we have needed for quite a while now. Maybe it’s time for the affluent to live within their means and do away with status symbol crap. Maybe it is time for us to be mindful of – and have perspective about – what we have, rather than the $380,000 BMW M8 that we want.