Neville
Wran was on the money when he observed of Australian voters: “If the bastards
wanted spirituality, they’d join the f*cking Hare Krishnas!”

The Budget
has not delivered an immediate political dividend, even though Newspoll finds that it has been pretty well received. Is this because the centre of the
Budget is hollow?

We’re not
necessarily selfish, but other than that sub-segment Nifty identified, we’re
all self-interested. Yet we do like some appeal to higher goals. And the
Government may have failed to recognise this in the Budget.

Yes, there
were the token infrastructure and nation building announcements in there – but
Labor clearly didn’t think there were enough. This became on of the main
thrusts of Kimbo’s reply.

Indeed, we
may be seeing the limits of Boomernomics.

Just think
of the baby boomers. The most pampered generation in history. The “Me
Generation”. The instant gratification generation. And the people this Budget
is pitched towards.

Baby
boomers are individualists – individualists with an odd sense of civic duty.

Let’s face
it. The boomers were never very good with institutions. In the sixties and
seventies they were more interested in tearing them down, so convinced were they
that they knew better.

Indeed,
boomers are so self-obsessed that they still aren’t all that good on issues
such as identity, purpose and hope for the future – fundamentals to humanity
for most of history.

To keep
Nifty’s metaphor, Budgets shouldn’t be revival meetings – but they should also
be a bit more than just a divvying out of the loot. People want at least a
pretence of altruism. A bit of the warm fuzzies.

They also
want some direction. As Tim Colebatch observes in today’s Age:
“If all goes well in the world, we could be entering a new era of unprecedented
wealth. It would not last forever, but it would last for most of this century,
if not beyond.”

The
challenges of prosperity are as big as the challenges of tough times. Maybe
bigger. We want
good times to last. We want our share.

And, from
governments, we want some direction – even if it’s so we feel less guilty about
our good luck and less afraid that it might take a turn for the worse.

Peter Fray

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