19 October 2007

dancing in the dark

I think I've stumbled on to the reason that Howard instigated the nonstop campaign earlier this year/decade/century, or possibly even last century. It means that by the time the 'official' campaign started, we'd all be so bored by politics that we'd switch off and vote for him just to make it stop. Because even if we voted the other lot in, you could bet he'd still be there, popping up in advertisements, at any sporting contest, funerals, anything that didn't really need a comment from him, reminding us that we should have voted for him.

Nefarious, no?

Fortunately , the inventive Fairfax Press have brought you

Anyway, Chateau VVB doesn't have cable TV so at least we'll be spared the frightful debate we had to have on Sunday.

Something I've banged on about a few times is the marketisation of everyday life. My favourite example is the white pages online, which has 'business' rather than 'residential' as the default setting. There may well be a legitimate reason - maybe the research showed that everybody had their most commonly dialled residential numbers programmed into their home phones and mobiles and the next most frequent usage was for business numbers. Maybe all elements of life have been outsourced so that even calling your sister-in-law (for example, not mine...) becomes a business transaction.

Whatever, it's a pain. And people are slowly waking up to the realities of gloabalisation, what unrelenting competition means to daily lives. So we are increasingly hearing "I live in a society, not an economy."

Jobs and wages have always been a central figure of budgets, along with what we used to get ("beer up, cigs up"). But current ads referring to "Australia's $1.1 trillion economy" actually sound pretty bizarre. Gee, that's a big number, isn't it? I feel proud about our $1.1 trillion economy.

"How big was the economy when you were a boy, grandad?"
"Oh, back then we just paid more for beer and cigs."
"What's a cig, grandad?"

Except I was at a lunchtime talk by the Chief Scientist, Jim Peacock, who quoted the amount that the US government is devoting to stimulating research and development in that country. I'm sure I heard $43 billion. Peacock then went on to list the depressingly familiar list of things that Australia ought to do to improve productivity. Invest in education, infrastructure, innovation. It must be galling to have to trot out the same stuff over and over again, especially to an audience of true believers (regardless of political persuasion, I mean, not light on the hill types but just people who understand that there is a genuine role for government in doing these things). Finland does it, Peacock told us. Even the Productivity Commission, whose main purpose in life is to do the Treasurer's job for him by coming up with any suitable argument against government intervention, was conditionally supportive of more investment in these areas.

Anyway, the economy probably became central in our lives around the same time that we started becoming Human Resources. Insidious, isn't it?

Look, I'm sorry if this little rant is just a rehash. The main problem is that the interesting stuff that I run across to comment on usually happens in the morning and by the time I get to blogging time, it's gone.

So, I could have sworn I saw something interesting in the paper this morning, but evidently not. I did, however, run across
this, which I found highly reassuring. You can never have too much social coffee.

Finally, a little Springsteen cover love for youse.

No comments:

About Me