March 18, 2015

TV Last Night : Q&A Talks Up Middle-Class Welfare, Creative Accountants & Gen Wise

On television, I'm seeing Dr Karl Kruszelnicki strutting across a stage. His glaring yellow pants and dotty shirt have my attention. But he’s not auditioning as a Banana in Pyjama, promoting a new Haagen-Dazs flavour, or launching into a TED Talk. The one sure thing, is that it's cool, clever advertising. 

Hard to believe, that the Indigestable .... er I mean Intergenerational Report: Australia in 2055, is being marketed to the Australian masses like it's a new energy drink.

And no surprises, across the media, the clear take-home message from the report (bleated ad nauseum), is that badass baby boomers are hoarding the nation's wealth, living far too long! (despite avoiding kale like the plague), and depriving future generations of attaining the comfortable living standards that they so enjoy.

So tuning in to Monday night's Q&A, we learn how the shifty financial manoeuvrings, of cashed up-property rich baby boomers (not to be confused with cashed up-property rich politicians), enables them to live large while they continue receiving the age pension.  

And it's apparently because of THEM that the country's finances are so stuffed - moving forward toward 2055 (forgive mon French!) ... But really people what's the rush? ....isn't anyone else still coming to terms with 2015? ...and trying to live meaningfully in the moment? ... I digress.

In fact, at the start of Q&A, esteemed host Tony Jones did rather jovially emphasize, that he'd be dead by 2055 anyway (and replaced - no doubt by a series of nubile goat latte sipping, 20-something hipsters, no less - who'll most likely tweet the entire show. Of course tweeting could be totally old-hat by then. No loss there).

Alas, from Treasurer Joe Hockey and the rest of the panel, we learn that such folk maintain their bountiful household budgets (at the taxpayers expense), with the help of financial advisors who are - to be succinct - the chartered accountant equivalent of versatile, Breaking Bad go-to lawyer, Saul Goodman.

And that's where my enjoyment of Monday night's Q&A program ends. Because even a learning challenged Wiggle would know that statistics never present a complete picture. Subsequently, the Intergenerational Report (and last night's Q&A discussion), tell a story of wishy-washy averages. For example, according to other current data (Source: CEPAR), the average older Australian is:
1. a 75 year old Anglican woman,
2. who drives a car, 
3. votes for the Coalition,
4. lives at home with her spouse,
5. in a 3 bedroom home ...with broadband access, 
6. has a nursing qualification,
7. weekly income of $200-$400,
8. and mashes rather than smashes her spuds.
These snapshots unfortunately omit any mention of boomers, or on-the-cusp boomers (boomettes?) who:

2. in the 50 plus age-range that potential employers are allergic to, 
3. spouse-free (statistically code for desperate dateless singletons)
4. have no nursing qualification because they faint at the sight of blood,
5. so now have a useless degree, and non-career going forward, to match,
6. vote for dark-chocolate every time,  
7. confuse the paleo diet with il palio horse race in Italy,
8. feel remarkably on trend in their downsized abodes - this being an unexpected upside to never having the budget, or desire to upsize (to impress peers), in the first place,
9. one could go on ...but I'd only bore you.

And so it went, that questioning on Q&A  initially focused solely on generation Hipster (youth unemployment, irritating HECS, and so forth). Subsequently giving the impression that baby boomers are as relevant to the 21st century, as Olivetti typewriters,  and thus, don't deserve a mention ...Unless questions related to end of life planning and euthanasia arise - in which case, gen Selfie (aka Hipster Youth) are more than ever, convinced into saying YES PLEASE to earnestly pulling the plug on gen Wise - and so reduce their expensive "over-use" of health services resources... going forward.  

So midway through, I had to swiftly protest by unplugging Tony Jones (sorry), and tuning into the more palatable Splendido Gold with Federico - over on TVSN much more riveting, soothing, and inclusive.


Productivity Commission Predicts Retirement at 70

Aussie politicians $300m property portfolio

$250K is Struggle Street for Some Australians

Image: flickr


  1. Did you stick around long enough though to see Hockey taken to task about Negative Gearing among other things. The man who cut him down to size on questions including negative gearing, tax and infrastructure spending was John Daley, the Melbourne-based research economist who runs the Grattan Institute.

    Asked why he hadn't abolished the tax concession known as negative gearing that rewards property investors for recording tax losses Hockey said it might force up rents.

    When Bob Hawke did it in the 1980s "you saw a surge in rents and those people who were paying rents are usually - not always, but usually - people that can't afford in many cases to buy their own homes".

    Daley set him straight. It was absolutely true that rents went up fast in Sydney, "which might have been there wasn't a lot of housing being built in Sydney in the couple of years previously".

    "But look beyond Sydney and rents were dead - barely moved in Brisbane, didn't go up very far in Melbourne, didn't go up very far in Adelaide. They did go up very fast in Perth which makes you suspect very strongly that the race memory we have of abolish negative gearing, that rents will go up, is a race memory built on Sydney."

    Daley said rents shouldn't go up because "by definition what happens at the auction is that the investor doesn't win the auction but someone who wants to live in the house does. Net impact, there is one less renter and there is one less rental property. Net impact on the rental market, zero."

    Hockey never returned to the question, and neither did his opposite number Chris Bowen who dodged the question on negative gearing by saying Labor wanted a proper discussion about housing affordability.

    Then Daley took on Hockey's claim that he was delivering the biggest infrastructure program in Australian history.

    "It certainly hasn't gone up," he said. "It's probably tailed off, at least in as a percentage of GDP."

    Hockey said Daley was wrong. "For a start we put $1.5 billion into WestConnex in Sydney," he said.

    Daley reminded him that the project predated the Abbott government. He said not a single new project approved in Hockey's first budget had received a green light from Infrastructure Australia.

    According to Greg Jerico economist over at the Guardian Rather than increase the supply of housing and keep rents down, negative gearing merely provides a tax break that encourages people to buy speculatively in the housing market – helping to spur house prices and thus reduce affordability.

    1. Yes I did tune out midway through. Thanks for the comprehensive synopsis. I had some other more pressing things to do on the homefront ...once I unglued my eyes from TVSN.

  2. Unfortunately this government, according to Ross Gittens over at the Herald, are fiscal monoculists. They take a one-eyed view of the budget. If it's in deficit, this can only be caused by excessive spending, never by inadequate taxation, even when the lack of revenue arises from choice-distorting sectional tax breaks, blatant multinational tax avoidance or irresponsible Reagan-style tax cuts.

    Hockey has already stated that he does not value the 'social good' that seniors do, such as; child care, voluntary work, caring duties etc. He wants seniors to be earning for longer, and recently stated that it wasn't inconceivable that a 70 something year old could start a new career. Imagine trying to pay off that HECS debt. With a neoliberal government, people are treated as 'economic units'. You either an earner, learner or leaner. Your value is only what you bring to economy or take away.