Recession, is it as simple as ‘snap out of it’?

So are we talking ourselves into a recession?.

The above article is by Ross Gittins, the economics editor at the Age. That being the case (and me being hopeless with numbers) I don’t really have the qualifications to argue in any meaningful way with his hypothesis; which seems to be ‘chill the hell out dudes’.

However…

when you combine healthy growth in employment with too-high wage rises you get household incomes growing faster than consumer prices. So if retail sales are weak, it’s not because we can’t afford to spend, it’s because we choose not to – whether out of prudence or fear for the future.

… that doesn’t seem to describe my situation at all. Nor the situation of anyone I know well enough to have some idea of their financial status. If my my retail therapy is down, yah, it’s cuz we don’t have the money! I know nurses, enlisted men, techie’s, casual sales assitants and store managers who are all sucking in and clamping down.
Conduct a focus group and punters will tell you they’re suffering mightily under the rapidly rising cost of living – which is why politicians on both sides are always encouraging the punters to feel sorry for themselves
There’s a reason for that… petrol is darn expensive, my electric bill wont behave, meat is now a specialty food in my house and being a vegetarian wouldn’t be a ‘cheap’ alternative either! I don’t doubt that there are a ton of people with great jobs and pay-packets I can only dream of, who have hardly noticed the bill rises, the cost of meat and the propensity to charge a body part for a tank of fuel… but I don’t know any of them!
There are five adults living in my residence with me! 5! The marketing manager of a chain of food retailers lives out of my shed! You think we’re doing this because we’re paranoid, Mr Gittins?
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Citizen Rudd’s sweet support for cafe – The Age

Citizen Rudd’s sweet support for cafe.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not usually a fan of Mr Rudd – We’re politically wildly different, but this is a proper warm and tingly moment and yeah, I’m proud of him today.

Still, I always find that it comes back to race, for everyone, even those who don’t notice they’re coming back to race. Mr Rudd is quoted as saying “As an individual citizen – this is me, K. Rudd – I am here because I object to the boycotting of Jewish businesses.” That’s cool, in principle, if they’re being boycotted for religious reasons, so do I.

The international campaigns for Sanctions people say that this particular place, tacitly supports the occupation of Palestine. I think I read somewhere they donate choccies for hampers for Israeli troops, something like that. Now, you can argue back and forth till you’re blue in the face whether or not that stance is bollox, and that this IS an anti-jewish thing… but it seems to me that having someone say ‘no you can’t boycott Jewish businesses’ on the whole is just more of the same isn’t it? In this case yeah, I think they’re being dicks. But if someone wanted to protest for example, a factory or business that make weapons used in the conflict for publicity (which let’s face it, this is), then while I don’t agree with the sentiment, surely they should be allowed to do that, even if the owner IS Jewish?

I know I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here, but it constantly bugs me that this kind of position is the norm. You shouldn’t be able to make that business owners life miserable for no good reason because it’s illegal to do so. Because we are a nation of law-abiding citizens who will punish you for unfairly interfering in someone elses life when they have done nothing wrong. Isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t we all just be human?

This is an interview with Morgan Freeman (whom I now love again, even if his personal life is a touch creepy), on the subject of ‘Black History month’. The general theme? Stop talking about it like that! You know me as Morgan Freeman, so call me the actor Morgan Freeman, not the ‘black’ actor Morgan Freeman! We’re just men and women. If we stop speaking about each other as though we’re different, perhaps eventually it’ll dawn that we’re not!

My point is the same. Stop saying ‘you can’t boycott jewish businesses’, say instead ‘you can’t make law-abiding people lives miserable, disrupt their businesses and vilify them’. That sentiment applies to everyone, surely? Why should we have to say specifically that you can’t do that to a particular ethnicity or faith? Doesn’t that just suggest the stance that ‘yes, even if they ARE different, you cant do it’?

Media Power

The term emotional rollercoaster is wildly overused, and probably implies a much deeper and more  ground shaking set of events than I’ve actually experienced these last few days, but the up and down has been fairly spectacular. At least for me.

With the News of the World hacking scandal and it’s subsequent shut down, there was that feeling you get sometimes of just being totally disgusted and let down. Sure they’re journalists and we  don’t expect them to be the guardians of our rights and democracy anymore… but that was sick, even by modern standards, and the noise made by an angry public left no doubt we were all sickened by it. Now, there are arguments about the closing of the newspaper (it was making a butt-load of money after all) and the entire enterprize being used as a scapegoat for higher-ups etc. All that is possible, hell, it might even be likely, but getting the public sentimental about the closing was always a long shot. I, personally, don’t care. If more people hold responsibility, then yeah, track them down and nail them to the wall too, but I can’t bring myself to feel back the bloody thing is gone.

While all that was going on, I stumbled on a really old interview with the founder of the Huffington Post, which I admit I didn’t know a darn thing about. I’ll point out here than when I started explaining this bit to my dad, he snorted at me, he’s known about the HuffPo for a while apparently. In any event they interviewed its founder, a nice enough seeming woman, if a bit rough around the edges. The whole thing was started on the grounds of journalistic integrity, the writers weren’t even paid! They answered to no one, there would be complete transparency, they could print the truth without worrying about the purse (because there wasn’t one) and their fearless leader would drive them on. By this point in my childish glow of vindication that not everyone is a complete tool, I was inwardly rejoicing! Then I made the mistake of doing some googling… everything always seems to go downhill at that point doesn’t it?

HuffPo is having its own issues right now. AOL bought the company for a truly mind-blowing amount of money (at least to a girl who lives in an overcrowded three bedroom house in Australia’s most minor major city). Seem’s they’ve just fired someone for what they call ‘repacking’. In perfect honesty that’s pretty close to what I do here really. I find something online that’s interesting, write a bit about it, give my opinion on it and some choice info, then the idea is that I give the links to the original material thus driving all you lovely viewers to those sites to get the goss from the source. That last bit was where HuffPo was falling down. Unfortunately some ex-employees have come forward saying that what this particular writer was fired for, was in fact company policy, it’s just that in her case someone complained and they didn’t want the bad press, hence the chop.

There’s the belly dropping downhill run again. I was excited, I was elated, I was half way to clicking that little ‘careers’ link at the bottom of the HuffPo webpage to beg to be a part of the revolu… oh wait. Damn it! Once again I find myself sitting in my livingroom, watching my daughter build towers of blocks and pretend to be a kitty and wondering why everyone sucks so bad!

When I took psych 101, (my first subject at Uni, well, the first one I finished anyway) they talked about a kind of depression that’s becoming common with young graduates. Specifically those that go into journalism. We grow up reading about Watergate, about war-time journalism, about fearless men and women who uncovered what was hidden from us and made it know! They brought down the wicked, stuck it to the man and we were going to join their ranks! Then they walk into the office on their first day and discover that they are no longer the gatekeepers of public discourse… they’re glorified PR copy writers, repacking the media releases of major organisations and rehashing what’s already appeared in the blogosphere… Enter spiraling depression.

In the wake of all this we’ve got politicians pounding the pulpits talking about raining in a media gone mad! God help me for half a second I almost agreed with them. Yes, this has been a disgusting and disheartening episode, and yeah I want someone’s head to roll, but a bit of whoosaaa and a couple of breathing exercises and I begin to worry about the obvious issues… God, the last thing we need is to go from this to government controlled media! In government controlled media, no Watergate. No Climate Gate. No reporting of our leaders doing shonky garbage. I’m an idealist. I can’t help it. I want the democrats to ‘keep the bastards honest’, I want Doctors who’ll stop at roadside accidents and yes, I want journalists who’ll uncover corruption, protect my interests and ensure that nothing that shouldn’t be hidden from me is! I suppose I want heroes, proper ones… each in their own field and their own way, but every time I get my hopes up I’m a little more disappointed than I was the last time.

This Burqa Business

Full-face covering disguises the fear of Muslim women in Australia | thetelegraph.com.au.

To me, that headline seems a little inflammatory, but the point is one I think needs to be made. Culturally, some of these women want to cover up, and as long as they aren’t breaking any existing law, should be free to do so. I’m what might be called ‘cuddly’ in some circles… down right pudgy in other less kind establishments, and for personal reasons (along with a social conscience) I don’t go about in a bikini. If you ban pants and make me run around in underwear I’m going to be REALLY uncomfortable and unhappy for no good reason. Sure I should be proud and happy in my body blah blah blah… but I don’t want people looking at my butt! It’s huge!

Carnita Mathews has more than proven the case for the removal of the burqa during any kind of legal identification, but then it’s always been important to identify people thus. If you have a hoodie, Mr Plod is going to ask you to take it off while he fiddles with your fine. Balaclava’s are similarly problematic, but we’re not going to ban them any time soon.

The best quote in the above article by the way, was this one from Mrs Matthew’s lawyer, Stephen Hopper. “They are obviously happy with the result and are expressing it in a way that is culturally appropriate to them.” This was in reference to the scuffle with police after they apparently attacked a cameraman outside the court-house.

Highton ‘God botherer’ dentist ‘will do it again’ | Geelong, VIC, Australia

Highton ‘God botherer’ dentist ‘will do it again’ | Geelong, VIC, Australia.

First of all, yes, I think this guy is a nut, and no, *I* wouldn’t let him loose in my mouth with sharp things or buzzing things… I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with him offering me a drumstick at a fast food joint if he was spouting forth for that matter. Still, that being the case the solution is simple – get a new dentist.

Fundamental Christian’s have to get their teeth done too, and perhaps in the same way that having a dentist able to intelligently discuss the Higgs Boson with me makes me more comfortable, having him spout off about the evils of tattoo’s and the ever-looming apocalypse puts them at ease? The Higgs Boson has about as much to do with dentistry as the fundamental Christianity, but hey, a dentist visit is always a nail biter, anything that calms you down is gooooood.

His lawyer pointed out that people will vote with their feet, and rightly so. No one’s forcing them to deal with this guy. Now if her were, for example, the only dentist in a prison or something and he has letting loose on everyone, that’s might be an issue. Those people have no other options (I use prison only because it was the first closed community to spring to mind, don’t read too far into it), but a public dentist who I assume runs some sort of practice in whatever way they do (Yes, dentists freak me out and I spend as little time there as possible. So sue me), it seems a little extreme to want to take his right to practice just because he’s a bit religiously strange and likes to talk about it.

I should point out though that there is a fine line between being evangelical and harassment. “God is awesome etc etc, convert and be loved blah blah blah”, that’s evangelical. “You’ve got tattoo’s, your evil, sin, etc etc, and so on and so forth”, that’s harassment. It is, in all honesty, a bit difficult to say for sure from the article, but as they used the phrase ‘conduct of “a lesser standard” than what was expected’, I have my doubts he crossed that line.

Judgement is easy

There’s a story in the Telegraph about the oldest and youngest women in Australia to have babies. 13 and 50. More than anything though, what stood out for me was some of the comments. There were your standard condolences and best wishes for the future… but there were other comments too. One expressing the idea that teenage mothers shouldn’t be allowed to keep their children chilled me to the bone. For some, the intellectual knowledge that their baby will be going to a home that can provide better advantages is enough, and that option can save two groups of people a lot of pain. The mother and her family, and the family who can then adopt a child to love and raise… but what right does anyone have to say that age alone makes one ‘unfit’, which is the criteria for taking a child from its parents.

Children affect the rest of your life, and I don’t just mean the cramped style and lack of sleep. I mean the way people look at you. I was 24 years old when I had my daughter, but having a round face and generally pretty happy disposition (not to mention the fact that my lovely husband and I weren’t married at the time) meant that I looked like a much younger mother. I got to see first hand the way that people treat you when they decide you’re too young to have a baby. The accusation in their eyes.

We own a rental property (I know that seems like a big jump, stay with me though) in a satellite town around Hobart. A girl came to have a look at it, little two bedroom place, eccentric as all get out but clean and freshly painted and carpeted. She was 18 years old, dyslexic and had a three-month old baby boy… Her last landlord had been a bit of a slumdog, there was mould in the kitchen, the whole place was a nightmare and he wouldn’t do anything about it. Finally, in despair of her babies health, she up and moved rather than continue to fight him. I helped her with her paperwork, showed her that her landlord was actually trying to keep money he had no right too (the two weeks advance that you pay when you move in) and she and her son moved into our flat. That girl was the best tenant we’ve ever had. She paid on time, she cleaned, she asked before she did anything (and she never asked for anything we weren’t perfectly happy to let her do), and God help me she was grateful. She said she wanted to do what my Husband and I had done, she wanted to save for a house, have a permanent and safe place to raise her son and get herself organised. She’ll do it too! She stayed with us for a year, and then decided to move on to something a bit bigger, with a yard for her son to run around in (the flat only had a little concrete courtyard). We wrote her a glowing reference, as she deserved, and I feel pretty happy and proud of the fact that her situation is better now than it was when we met, because we could see past her son and her age.

Sex education is important. Prevention is better than cure. That’s perfectly true… but how many young women don’t get the chance to make something of themselves, to provide a good solid foundation for their children, because people can’t see past their age? No other lapse in judgement is so obvious, so permanent, and so destructive to way people treat you. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in women who have ‘bonus babies’, or that I think all people who have children are perfectly fit parents, but nothing get’s you slotted in a basket faster than having a young face and a baby in your arms, especially if there is no ring on your finger.

I married the father of my baby girl. He’s a 6’2 bi-lingual computer nerd with a talent for truly awful puns. We own two investment properties and are living in a third which we co-own with my sister-in-law. By most measures, we’re pretty successful. Not wealthy, but stable and happy. Our daughter was unplanned, and to be honest that was probably the only way I was ever going to have a baby, but like most mothers with three-year-olds who alternate between giving us kisses and screaming at us, I’d never give her back.