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Federal

Mar 8, 2011

Cox: a centenary of continuous struggle for women

Women still have a long way to go for equality and we need to get moving because there are serious issues that cannot be solved by economic modelling of independent self-interested masculinity equations.

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If I wanted an example of the misuse of feminism, it arrived this morning in a headline from the Herald Sun: “Influential women in push for super boost”. The article shows clearly how feminism is easily co-opted by blokey economics and why inequality between men and women was increasing and also between women.

The article said: “A who’s who of Australia’s 40 highest profile women have urged the government to increase compulsory superannuation payments to 12 per cent. In an open letter today, the women — from business, academia, the arts and public life — have used the eve of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day tomorrow to push for the higher funding.”

Superannuation is a good template for explaining why gender inequality is stalling and sometimes going backwards. The equal pay cases of ’70s closed the obvious gaps between men’s and women’s pay but failed to tackle the lower pay rates for feminised occupations or the biases in assumptions of what women’s work was worth. So we still have a 17% pay gap in average hourly rates. Add to that the likelihood that women will take time out and work fewer hours to cope with the major share of unpaid care, it is obvious that they will earn less over a life time than men.

So the question is why did the unions and ALP government design a retirement income system based on earnings and even more puzzling, why base it on tax concessions that massively benefit higher income earners. The current system substantially reduces the tax obligations of top income tax bracket payers but overtaxes those with low or no incomes, who are mostly female. So superannuation increases the gaps between higher and lower income earners in retirement, and access to pensions at the bottom end does not compensate for this. It doesn’t even save the government money because it costs a lot in income foregone.

So how did this happen? The superannuation scheme is a weird collaboration between the union movement and the finance industry, which benefits both their leaderships very substantially. It is the classic product of Paul Keating’s love affair with ’80s economistic policy making: a shift from public pooling for pensions to neoliberal market self provision and risk taking.

It was sold as relieving the taxpayer from having to pay for the needs in an ageing population, but failed to really acknowledge the level of public support in tax foregone. So now the costs of the super tax concessions just about match the costs of the aged pension, with the difference that the super concessions go mainly to the most wealthy. It will costs taxpayers another $8 billion on top of $26 billion to fund the 3% rise.

So why are 40 prominent women pushing for increasing retirement inequities, which raising the compulsory contribution to 12% will do? Their involvement further illustrates the illusion we had that having more women in top jobs would put our changes on the agenda.

How many of the 40 read what Ken Henry’s report said when it recommended against the rise because of its effect on lower income earners, in particular women? Why did they not question whether this rise would be useful to the bulk of women on lower incomes, whose plight they use to support the change? Like many others, I suspect they didn’t ask the questions because it’s too complex and the changes will benefit them?

This particular policy response illustrates the point I want to make on this centenary celebration, why we are not moving on and in fact sometimes going backwards. The past 20 or so years have seen few major changes that matched those in the earlier years. Then, we made the obvious changes that seriously irked women in the mid-century years in which we grew up. We have removed the laws that formally restricted our access to certain jobs, paid work, promotion or to other goods and services.

This means that overt s-x discrimination is now neither obvious nor legally acceptable. We changed how some issues were once defined or ignored: violence in families is no longer private; there are funded (and controlled) women’s services; we have more child care but it’s now commercialised and still too expensive.

Schools and universities have expanded their numbers of female students, so we now have majorities in many professional areas and added women to the histories of what men did. And there are many more women in high positions and even in the top positions.

There are, however, many questions on where we are now and are going. Where has all that education got us? There are relatively few women in high positions in the media, arts, law and medicine despite being majorities of graduates. The pay gap is increasing and the cultures of most workplaces remain focused on male-style long hours and unbalanced commitments

A key demand of Australia’s ’70s women’s movement somehow got lost: we wanted to change the inequalities of gender, not just to reshuffle numbers. We wanted the appropriate valuing of those activities that were primarily the responsibility of women, and still are predominantly. We didn’t define equality of women in male-defined terms.

This difference is illustrated by the 40 top women’s call for the expansion of a deeply sexist and inequitable retirement system. What has the women’s movement gained by having them there?  Where are the proposals for non-gendered retirement system that would recognise the needs and entitlements of  carers and others who had no access to high-paid work?  It’s not the minimum age pension.

We still have a long way to go, and we need to get moving because there are serious issues facing us as a society that cannot be solved by economic modelling of independent self-interested masculinity equations. I want to use feminist frameworks, together with what I’ve learnt in indigenous policy, to create a broad coalition of groups who want to make better societies. We need to put social collectivity back on the agenda, rather than competition, with economics reduced to funding and recognise feminist options have a lot to offer.

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71 thoughts on “Cox: a centenary of continuous struggle for women

  1. SusieQ

    Interesting article.
    I’m not sure who those prominent 40 women are, but I’m guessing they won’t have to worry too much about how to fund their retirements! Meanwhile, the rest of us wage slaves are faced with working full time til we’re in our mid 60’s or longer due to inadequate super and/or changes to the pension scheme.
    While men still run the show and (generally speaking only) seem reluctant to give up their precious careers to stay at home and look after their children, but still expecting us to do so, change in all areas will be slow in coming.

  2. Captain Planet

    Great analysis, Eva, thank you. A very though provoking point about the gender inequalities of the superannuation system. How intriguing that the Henry report recommended against increases in compulsory superannuation on this basis, and how eye opening that the superannuation tax concessions to high income earners now cost the Australian taxpayer more than funding the old age pension.

    I would suggest that the 40 prominent women are arguing for increases to superannuation, demonstrates that unfortunately women can be every bit as selfish as men. Especially successful businesswomen, who I doubt anyone would dispute, must be even more ruthless and self centred than their male counterparts, to succeed.

    Your commentary about societal undervaluing of feminised work are certainly more balanced and reasonable than some commentary I have seen. Unfortunately such things are very difficult to change through legislation. There is also the fact of life choices to be considered: Many women are willing to work part time or take a break from pursuing their careers, and of course these have impacts on their remuneration, when the typical company wants (and rewards) a fully dedicated full time careerist. Again, this is a failing of the capitalist system, rather than the regulatory regime. You can campaign to change laws, it is much harder to change ingrained belief systems, and it seems nigh on impossible to change the “more for me” mentality of the capitalist economic structure.

    None of this manages to address fairly, however, the points you have raised about superannuation inequity. Life choices and / or value of feminised work aside, It is entirely unreasonable that women are disadvantaged in retirement by this system. Of course many married women can and will rely on their husband’s superannuation entitlements, and many will have this as their primary plan for their retirement (not unreasonably, as marriage is theoretically at least, a partnership for life). Obviously there are huge implications of servility and dependance on a masculine benefactor here which make this an unacceptable model for many women. It does, however, explain part of the lack of impetus from which this issue appears to suffer. The more “I will rely on my husband’s super” is an acceptable solution for many women, the less “I demand that this inequality be addressed” is going to be heard.

    Unfortunately we are really up against the prevailing economic paradigm here. The current financial system dictates that those who are able to earn more, somehow DESERVE more: Compulsory superannuation contributions in order to remove the need for an old age pension, only extends this disgusting exploitative concept into retirement.

  3. lindsayb

    It used to be that most of our corporations were run by a boys club. Now, a few women are part of what is now a rich people’s club, and nothing has changed for the rest of us, except that this small cabal is taking an ever-increasing share of our collective resources for themselves, while the rest of us struggle over an ever-decreasing share of the pie.
    There is no question that gender equality has a long way to go, but it is completely dwarfed by the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and fighting to get a few more rich women into well paid board and CEO jobs is not going to help the 99% of women and 98% of men who are having an increasingly difficult time making ends meet. And while the LibLab party is the subservient lapdog of the ruling elite, it is going to take more than an election to bring about meaningful reform.

  4. Nya

    Thanks to Eva for an insightful and concise statement of what women have and have not achieved since the seventies. In comparison with European society, and to some extent the UK, (and I have lived in both places), we are not doing as well in terms of women in the corporate world, and also the status of women in society.

    I believe one of the reasons that Australian women have failed to capitalise on gender equity lies within our national borders. Whereas in Europe and the UK women’s approach to problem solving has been upgraded in value, (such as networking, multi-threading, and the ability to consult experts effectively), I believe that overall only grudging respect has been paid to these skills in this country.

    I do wonder whether this last mining boom may not bear some responsibility for the domination of ‘blokedom’ values in government and the workplace. I do think that it is time for new regulation. The affirmative action of the eighties relied on ‘naming and shaming’ companies to achieve compliance. Clearly this did not really work as the proportion of women in senior management has not risen over the past ten years. And yet the clustering of women in the ‘caring and sharing’ occupations is, in part, historical. In the ICT industry, many women disappeared in the late nineties. This was not a lack of technical ability, merely a reflection on the use of language and culture to marginalise women’s technical contributions.

    Superannuation does not suit women who enter and leave the workplace because of primary non-paid responsibilities for children and the aged. Legislation has not helped a trail of modest contributions that in many cases cannot be consolidated, for example moving between the public and the private sector. We are regulated from the past, where employment was life tenure. This no longer suits either men or women in a two speed economy where most industries have been sacrificed on the altar of a mining boom that has created an alarming tonnage of greenhouse gas emissions. (The Chinese are actively moving away as fast as they can from a dependency on Australian resources, and are investing massively in renewable energy).

    I believe that historical resistance to women prospering in technical and scientific fields is still alive and kicking. Quotas for ensuring women’s equal representation and success in all professions is required, to ensure that careers match ability. Same old problem, and resistance from entrenched interests has ensured that nothing has changed in the past twenty years.

    There has to be a path to recognise women’s successes, for successful professional women to be directors, without having to know someone in the boys club. But then there has to be a path for successful men to serve on boards without knowing someone in the boys club.

    Are we perhaps speaking here of a basic Australian nepotism that is holding the country back to a time where the rest of the western world no longer lives (except perhaps Japan)?

  5. Liz45

    Thank you Eva for another thought provoking article. Someone mentioned women perhaps not bothering or counting on their super as they have their husband’s/partner’s super to look forward to. This may not be so! As a temporary employee with the NSW Govt, as a Teachers Aide(we were classified as temporary – employed from day 1 of the term until the last day, as it was cheaper for them?) we didn’t have an opportunity for super until the mid to late 70’s. I left my then husband due to DV in early ’83 and that was it – no super! Women also did not fare well out of divorce in those days – a small percentage of his super, and that was my lot – no financial recognition of being a wife, worker, mother and co-provider. If women rely on men, they’ll end up like the over 55/60’s women now – recognised by Govt investigation as the poorest in the community.

    When our society rethinks its attitudes to all people; male, female, indigenous etc and puts them before profits and misogynist values, we won’t go forward very much at all. We need a Bill of Rights to start with; that would ‘set the scene’ for a change in thinking. Women are still patronised and used for their ‘non-monetary gain’ skills such as child bearing/raising and caring for parents etc, and it’s usually the men who benefit from that who make the rules – politicians, judges on the industrial benches etc. We’re still being forced to live under the ‘Damned whores and God’s police’ syndrome Anne Summers refers to in her book of that name.

    We’ll also never be recognised as equal until men stop committing acts of violence against us and our kids. The two don’t go together – unless there’s a definite change in too many men’s attitudes; and until they don’t see women’s equality as a threat, then we might go forward all the time – instead of one step forward, two steps back as Eva correctly states.

    I’m disappointed that those 40 women didn’t use the equal pay case as their ‘pet subject’ on this IWD! This will benefit those underpaid and overworked women in the community sector who would then also be able to at least have a choice about a positive increase in their superannuation for a more prosperous future as senior women – this would also acknowledge the value of their role in our community – supporting women and kids who are living in oppressed environments to name just a small component of their work!

  6. Laura

    OMG – what a load of dribble. You can not have your cake and eat it too – end of story. You either work full time and be self reliant or work part time and have reduced income. That is it – you choose.

    Super is based on income, the more education you have and more driven you are the more income you get. Having career breaks may be ok in your dream world but the real world likes continuity of staff and tenure and that is just calling it the way it is.

    You can’t have it all and the sooner you grow up and accept the way the world is the better off everyone will be. Now I have to go, the stock market closes in 15 minutes and I need to review my investments. Retirement for some is looking good, real good.

  7. Lorry

    So what do you propose is the solution EVA, silence – I thought so.

    The system is based on what you earn, you earn more then you accumulate more super – seems reasonable to me. Or could it be that you want to be “taken care of” by your partner or father thereby abrogating one’s responsibility for financial independence further?

    Laura is correct, you can not have your cake and eat it to.

  8. klewso

    How are women ever going to get a fair go in this country? Look at the “acceptable”, “valid” “established” double standards!
    Gillard breaks a promise and look at what happens? Howard broke how many (“never mind” “Iraq” and “children overboard”) and Abbott is a self-confessed prevaricator who can’t be trusted with anything “unscripted” (admittedly he said that!).
    Then again she and the party doesn’t have “Poppa ‘doch’s” “Limited News” writing “Please Excuse” notes for her and the party – making all those excuses, apologies, and doing their laundry, establishing these “acceptable” conflicted standards – that apparently can’t be applied to “others”?

  9. billie

    thanks for your article Eva. It’s a pity people don’t recognise just unfair the current super system is in providing high income earners a tax free saving environment where you can stash millions to provide for your old age. The other discussion the Australian government needs to have is “How much should an aged pension or superannuation pension provide tax free?”, $40,000 per person per annum or $200,000 per person per annum?

  10. Liz45

    @LAURA – Well, what a surprise! It’s selfish women like you who make it so much harder for the rest of us. If you have kids, I suppose they go or went to school? Did you know that two teachers, one male one female, after attending Teachers College at the same time; first school out, he got more money than she did! I suppose that was OK with you. That was taking place up until the 1980’s!

    Women in the NSW public service, as teachers or working in offices etc, couldn’t will their super to their husband/partner/kids if they died – single men couldn’t either – only MARRIED MEN could! I suppose that’s OK by you too? So, all the money they paid in died with them! It changed, via the hard work of women like Eva and others. Women like you come along, and attack other women with the hard fought positives that you take for granted – probably without any work or sacrifice on your part – you just gobbled up the advantages!

    The women who work in the community as child care workers or working in womens’ health centres are paid less than their counterparts employed by the Govt – state or federal? That OK too? Women have been behind due to the discrimination in pay and conditions, and they still are. Those teachers and others received justice after a deliberate and protracted industrial campaign. You may not realise it, but the very fact you can have investments or buy property in your own name if married came about as a result of women before you doing the ‘hard yards’! I took on David Jones in 1975 and won – I like to think that I helped to make it easier for the next woman – perhaps, you!

    Who knows, in x number of years time, you may end up in a nursing home or hospital bed looked after by the very women you are denigrating at this time! But then, you’ve maintained your self centred and selfish point of view over many months now! It’s probably too much to ask, that your so-called intelligent persona may just decide, that a bit of education and self analysis might be a good idea! And the ‘I’m alright Jill, stuff you’ is a pretty selfish place to be!

    @KLEWSO – If you go to the AWU?(just put John Howard lies into search engine) website, you can see the list of Howard’s broken promises – 35 and counting it says!
    One that is topical is over taxes – LIE #11. Howard pledged “no new taxes, no increase in existing taxes for the life of the next parliament”(1 February 1996 – 7.30 Report/Kerry O’brien).
    The truth – “By July 2004, John Howard’s Government had introduced legislation for over 160 new taxes or increases in taxes and charges since 1996”!
    (Office of the Clerk of the Senate).
    In 8 years – not bad – 20 per year?

  11. drsmithy

    So long as the debate is being wrongfully (and offensively) framed in the context of “men vs women”, nothing is going to change.

    One would have thought that the “40 high profile women” example would have driven that point home neatly and succintly, but apparently not.

    (The talk about what things were like thirty and forty years ago is similarly unproductive to any sort of useful conclusion.)

  12. Lou Moretti

    The real problem is we only get comments like this once a year and like Ken Henry’s report just get shelved somewhere. Let’s hope this article keeps circulating all year. Well done Eva.

  13. MLF

    I agree with super is based on earnings. So women – not all women mind you – step out of work to raise families etc. Did we not used to be a society that valued rearing children for its own worth? Did we not used to be a society that valued marriage (or partnership) and therefore two incomes anyway?

    I understand about single parents, of course, but I am talking about the value we place on the family unit – which it seems is fast disappearing.

  14. MLF

    And ‘male style long hours and unbalanced work commitments’. I mean, what does that mean? Does it apply to the 40,000 people working under Gail Kelly?

    If you are lucky, you choose your lifestyle. You want to work loads, you want to work none, or you have a balance. There are economic consequences to all of these choices.

    If you are less lucky and don’t get to choose your lifestyle, I.e. the majority of us who just have to work for a living, well I’m not sure these 40 top women are really thinking about us anyway….

  15. lindsayb

    I challenge any of the “super based in income is fair” brigade to explain why it is fair that senior execs can earn millions per year, make decisons that cost companies millions, get golden handshakes for their incompetence, and retire on superannuation worth many times an average wage, while an average PAYG employee who contributes 40 hours per week for their whole life will be lucky to get superannuation payments that take them over the poverty line.

    It is not our brightest and best that earn the big bucks, it is the greedy and ruthless. As Eva rightly points out, many women (and men too) make huge contributions to our society in poorly paid or unpaid roles.

    The way Super currently works only reinforces financial inequality, is prone to being siphoned off by “financial innovators”, puts an inflated values on the share prices of our blue chip banks and miners, and does nothing to grow new business or encourage innovation. Just imagine what our trillion dollar super pool could do if it was invested in infrastructure, transitioning us away from our dependence on fossil fuels, keeping our food production in local hands etc.

  16. drsmithy

    I challenge any of the “super based in income is fair” brigade to explain why it is fair that senior execs can earn millions per year, make decisons that cost companies millions, get golden handshakes for their incompetence, and retire on superannuation worth many times an average wage, while an average PAYG employee who contributes 40 hours per week for their whole life will be lucky to get superannuation payments that take them over the poverty line.

    Your argument is broken. You are conflating two entirely different things (executive remuneration and superannuation).

    It is not our brightest and best that earn the big bucks, it is the greedy and ruthless. As Eva rightly points out, many women (and men too) make huge contributions to our society in poorly paid or unpaid roles.

    Yet she fails to highlight that it is entirely independent of gender, and tries to raise this as a “women’s issue”. A rich woman is just as disproportionately well off as a rich man.

    While I realise it’s all very popular to rag on the rich, the vast, vast majority of superannuation contributors are not rich, and just trying to save enough money to get them comfortably through retirement.

  17. MLF

    Lindsay B, I don’t in principle disagree with your view about income inequality in a general sense, but I think it is separate in this case from the gender argument. Although there are few female CEOs, all of those female CEOs still earn disproportionately more than non-CEOs.

    Gail Kelly was on Q&A on Monday night. If you can get the transcript its interesting. Even she said massive CEO salaries weren’t justified. But still, its a different issue I think.

  18. Eva Cox

    Thank those of you who made thoughtful comments, and just a few points on the holier than thou choices and hard work brigade. You are NOT retiring just on your own efforts but on a mix of public support and savings. Most of the tax concessions go to higher income earners and that means you are getting heaps out of the public purse because of tax free payments, reduced tax on earnings and contributions than the average age pensioner is paid. There are virtually no self funded retirees, you are the recipients of upper class welfare! Budgets do not differ on the effects of income tax foregone or a pension payment.

    eva

  19. lindsayb

    @Drsmithy
    “Your argument is broken. You are conflating two entirely different things (executive remuneration and superannuation).”

    In case you missed it, superannuation contributions are a percentage of salary – the more you earn, the larger your contribution to your super. If you are wealthy enough to have spare money at the end of the year, you can even get an additional hand-out from the taxpayer if you contribute extra to your fund.

    “Yet she fails to highlight that it is entirely independent of gender”

    The statistics do not support you on this one. Women are still largely responsible for child rearing, looking after elderly parents and parents in-law, and have had their contributions in professions such as nursing, teaching and child care comparatively undervalued, especially when compared to the “write your own pay cheque” executive club.
    That is not to say that most men are not equally screwed by government and business decisions over the past 20 years that have driven our property bubble, and which now requires 2 full time average adult wages to afford a mortgage on a modest house in the middle of bugger-all.

  20. drsmithy

    In case you missed it, superannuation contributions are a percentage of salary – the more you earn, the larger your contribution to your super. If you are wealthy enough to have spare money at the end of the year, you can even get an additional hand-out from the taxpayer if you contribute extra to your fund.

    That is completely and utterly independent of how much executives earn. Anyone can take advantage of superannuation, and the vast, vast majority of people that do so are not “rich” by any sane usage of the word.

    The statistics do not support you on this one.

    Statistics aren’t even relevant to the issue. There’s no shortage of men out there making “huge contributions to our society in poorly paid or unpaid roles”. The fact they’re men does not make them any less underpaid than women.

    Women are still largely responsible for child rearing, looking after elderly parents and parents in-law, and have had their contributions in professions such as nursing, teaching and child care comparatively undervalued, especially when compared to the “write your own pay cheque” executive club.

    Please stop harping on about the “executive club”, because it’s just tiresome. (More than) 99% of people are not rich executives, and trying to imply that not being a rich executive is in some way an affliction only women suffer from, is both ridiculous and grossly sexist.

    Further, trying to imply that only rich executives benefit from superannuation is just flat out absurd.

    That is not to say that most men are not equally screwed by government and business decisions over the past 20 years that have driven our property bubble, and which now requires 2 full time average adult wages to afford a mortgage on a modest house in the middle of bugger-all.

    Yet that is, effectively, *are* saying by trying to paint this as a “women’s issue”. It’s not a women’s issue, it’s a society issue. The male teacher getting paid a pittance is having his work just as undervalued as the female teacher working beside him (on the same salary). Similarly, the female CEO earning millions (or tens of millions) a year, is being just as grossly overpaid as the men she sits on the board of directors with.

  21. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY – The fact is, that there’s many descrepancies in too many areas of life where the ‘male privilege’ exist. To deny this reality only makes this argument stagnate and never move on. Men who rise up in indignation by the truth such as you’ve done only reinforce the views of other men to not even bother to take note of the elements.
    Women still do more than 70% of home duties, child care/rearing etc.
    Women are still discriminated against in the workforce via sexual harassment and abuse, in fact, the stats released in the last few days by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner prove, that this is so – complaints have increased by over 50% since the DJ’s affair.
    The fact is, that the employment areas that pay the least are those ‘caring areas’ have women as the employees – to use your all embracing objection to reality is counterproductive.

    I welcome Eva’s response to those who hold the lofty argument of being ‘unlike the great unwashed’ lower paid employees is spot on. The reason why the over $100,000 per year employees have it so good, is due to Howard and Costello making it so before they were tossed out. This netted them a joint increased windfall of $2 million for their future? Out of lowly paid employees struggling to live and raise their kids while having to fight at every turn for some justice in their incomes.

    DRSMITHY – I suggest you listen to Minister Kate Lumly’s address to the National Press Club – spot on! Really positive programs for the future.

    She also raised the point of men in the workforce who are fathers. During a survey many pointed to home/family events that they could not attend, but not any work goals – as long as they weren’t perceived as not being serious about their career future – that is, not asking for time out to participate in family events. Employers must change their attitudes to the importance of fatherhood, not only for the families, but for the benefit and cohesion of the country.
    She also affirmed, that in the future, the Federal govt will not be able to do business with companies or utilities that don’t employ the legal number of women. Bring it on!
    As she said, it’s ludicrous to think that only 8.4% of women in Australia are competent enough for management/CEO positions – Eva said this too!

    Finally, when our society considers the rights of women as automatic justice; when the exhaustive discussion re the empowerment of women not being a threat to men comes to an end, then this cultural shift will hopefully go hand in hand with a repugnance and ‘no excuses’ attitude to violence towards women and of course by definition, their children. Then we’ll have really achieved equality! It will be impossible for the attitude of supremacy and domination to exist, when the laws, policies and programs promote and defend equality.

  22. drsmithy

    The fact is, that there’s many descrepancies in too many areas of life where the ‘male privilege’ exist.

    Like what ?

    Further, are you trying to suggest there aren’t many areas of life where the “women privilege” exists ?

    Women still do more than 70% of home duties, child care/rearing etc.

    And…?

    Women are still discriminated against in the workforce via sexual harassment and abuse, in fact, the stats released in the last few days by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner prove, that this is so – complaints have increased by over 50% since the DJ’s affair.

    Complaints mean nothing. What are the rates for successful prosecutions ?

    The fact is, that the employment areas that pay the least are those ‘caring areas’ have women as the employees – to use your all embracing objection to reality is counterproductive.

    So you’re saying that men in those same jobs are being paid more ?

    Or are you saying everyone in those jobs, regardless of gender, isn’t being paid well enough ?

    I welcome Eva’s response to those who hold the lofty argument of being ‘unlike the great unwashed’ lower paid employees is spot on. The reason why the over $100,000 per year employees have it so good, is due to Howard and Costello making it so before they were tossed out.

    Despite what you may think, people earning $100k a year are not stashing away millions for their retirement in Swiss bank accounts, nor jetting off to exotic foreign locations a few times a year, nor using complicated machinations to minimise tax, nor living in a huge mansion with servants and couple of Mercedes in the garage (next to the boat and jetskis).

    Even before the mining boom, an Engineer would expect to be earning around $100k by the time they were thirty (yes, including the female ones). Do you think an Engineering degree is an unattainable goal the average person ? Do you think the work Engineers do is overvalued ?
    Do you think the average Engineer is “living large” ?

    DRSMITHY – I suggest you listen to Minister Kate Lumly’s address to the National Press Club – spot on! Really positive programs for the future.</blockquote<
    If you give me a link to it I'll be happy to.

    She also raised the point of men in the workforce who are fathers. During a survey many pointed to home/family events that they could not attend, but not any work goals – as long as they weren’t perceived as not being serious about their career future – that is, not asking for time out to participate in family events. Employers must change their attitudes to the importance of fatherhood, not only for the families, but for the benefit and cohesion of the country.

    While I am in complete agreement that employers should embrace flexible working commitments, the argument about “cohesion of the country” is specious. There’s never been a time before now when men (and women, for that matter) have had more flexibility about their work commitments, yet society has managed to hold together until now.

    She also affirmed, that in the future, the Federal govt will not be able to do business with companies or utilities that don’t employ the legal number of women. Bring it on!

    Would you be equally supportive of quotas for men in industries like teaching and nursing ?
    More generally, do you support those same rules being used to increase the male head count in any business where they are currently outnumbered by women ?

    As she said, it’s ludicrous to think that only 8.4% of women in Australia are competent enough for management/CEO positions – Eva said this too!

    How about only 8.4% of women who are competent being _interested_ in that kind of career ?

    Finally, when our society considers the rights of women as automatic justice; when the exhaustive discussion re the empowerment of women not being a threat to men comes to an end, then this cultural shift will hopefully go hand in hand with a repugnance and ‘no excuses’ attitude to violence towards women and of course by definition, their children.

    You seem to be implying violence against men is a solved problem.

    Then we’ll have really achieved equality! It will be impossible for the attitude of supremacy and domination to exist, when the laws, policies and programs promote and defend equality.

    Except you don’t appear to be interested in the “the laws, policies and programs promoting and defending equality”, you appear to be interested in “the laws, policies and programs ensuring outcomes I think are equal”.

    Or, to put it another way, on what basis do you assume that “equality” means a perfect 50:50 ratio of men to women in every aspect of society ?

  23. Captain Planet

    @ DrSmithy,

    “The talk about what things were like thirty and forty years ago is similarly unproductive to any sort of useful conclusion” (DrSmithy 8th March 6:26 pm)

    I disagree.

    The old age pension system is being effectively dismantled NOW and all current retirees are expected to survive on their superannuation. This is blatantly unfair and blatantly discriminatory to women who are now retired and did not have equal access to superannuation entitlements during their working life.

    It is essential that the discriminatory practices of the past are taken into consideration while the policies of today mean those past practices are resulting in poverty and disadvantage for Australian retired women.

  24. Captain Planet

    @ MLF,

    “I agree with super is based on earnings. So women – not all women mind you – step out of work to raise families etc. Did we not used to be a society that valued rearing children for its own worth? Did we not used to be a society that valued marriage (or partnership) and therefore two incomes anyway?

    I understand about single parents, of course, but I am talking about the value we place on the family unit – which it seems is fast disappearing.” (MLF, 8th March 9:42 pm).

    You can’t be serious.

    Sure, we need to value child rearing for its intrinsic value. This doesn’t mean we can ignore the contribution made by full time primary caregivers, when they enter their retirement years. It is true that Women who “step out of work to raise families etc” are less likely to attain the level of career success and remuneration as their male counterparts who continue to work full time. Whether this is reasonable or not is a seperate issue.

    Those women do not deserve to arrive at retirement age and find that they have no effective means of support because our retirement funding model only recognises and supports those who did not act as primary caregivers for children.

    As for your yearning for the “fast disappearing” family unit, and nonsensical musings that a society that values marriage wouldn’t have these problems, where can I begin?

    You are arguing from some kind of 1950’s mentality which presupposes the total dependance of women on a male benefactor.

    What about marriages which fail? No matter how highly we “value” marriage, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. The not insignificant numbers of physically abusive male spouses are one particularly excellent reason why marriage is not always the ideal retirement plan for full – time caregiving women.

    What about single parents? You mention them but then place the blame upon them for their own unfunded retirement by claiming they don’t “value” marriage enough. Value marriage all you like, if your husband (or wife) or partner leaves you, or dies without adequate provision for your needs, say goodbye to any chance of financial security in retirement if you intend to raise your own children.

  25. Captain Planet

    @ Liz45,

    “She also raised the point of men in the workforce who are fathers. During a survey many pointed to home/family events that they could not attend, but not any work goals – as long as they weren’t perceived as not being serious about their career future – that is, not asking for time out to participate in family events. Employers must change their attitudes to the importance of fatherhood, not only for the families, but for the benefit and cohesion of the country.” (Liz45 10th March 10:01 am)

    Right On, Liz.

    Not three but ten cheers for Minister Kate Lumly’s recognition that you cannot liberate only half of society.

    I am dubious that Minister Lumly’s plans for business reporting of gender outcomes, and spot checks for reporting compliance, will have the desired effect, unless it is very, very carefully designed and administered.

    I am hopeful, however, that we are finally (finally!) seeing some hope that gender equality in the workplace in Australia may yet progress in the only possible way – more GENUINE flexibility for men has to be implemented at the same time. Only when it is possible for all employees to truly balance work and family committments, will it be possible for women to succeed as they should in the workplace, and men to succeed as they should as parents.

  26. MLF

    Planet

    Firstly, I never said marriage, I said family unit.

    Secondly, I did not ‘blame’ single parents for anything, nor did I presume to suggest what ‘single parents’ in your collective whole, do or do not value. I will accept your apology once you provide it.

    The 1950s model was the pre-feminist model where women stayed at home and men worked. Women have the choice now, although having to work in order to keep a roof over your head isn’t really much of a choice I don’t think. Anyway, along with that ‘choice’ to work came the demise in social value of the family unit.

    If the super system favours individuals, then change it to favour family units. Split the total super contributions right down the middle along with the divorce settlements.

    God my point is that the whole unit should be valued – both for its economic worth and social contribution. I don’t care who steps out of their career to raise the kids, mum or dad; mum or mum; dad or dad, what I care about is a) that we are saying that stepping out to raise a family has a real worth, and b) that there is equality between family units. If yours earns $500k over a lifetime and mine earns $500 mill, well that’s an inequality I’m interested in addressing.

    Continuing to frame the discussion about gender equality in economic terms alone is not only continuing to frame the discussion in ‘male terms’, but it will continue to undersell the importance of family and raising children to the long-term detriment of society.

    If you don’t get that, that’s fine.

  27. MLF

    “Only when it is possible for all employees to truly balance work and family committments, will it be possible for women to succeed as they should in the workplace, and men to succeed as they should as parents.”

    Err, yeah. Exactly. Or, as I would have said it:

    “Only when the family unit regains its value in society will it be possible for all employees to truly balance work and family committments, therefore allowing women to succeed as they should in the workplace, and men to succeed as they should as parents.”

  28. Captain Planet

    @MLF,

    You may yet get an apology, if it turns out that my understanding of your position is flawed.

    Firstly, I would like to know more about exactly what you mean by “I am talking about the value we place on the family unit – which it seems is fast disappearing.”

    In context of your original post, including your comments “I agree with super is based on earnings” and “So women … step out of work to raise families etc. Did we not used to be a society that valued rearing children for its own worth? Did we not used to be a society that valued marriage…?”

    I take this to mean that you support the concept of married women who “step out of the workforce” to raise children, relying upon their partner’s superannuation to provide them with a retirement income. Is this not your position?

    If not, I am willing to take a backward step: but you should really ensure that you make your position clear. I see one post from you promoting “Family values” in the 1950’s Christian be-a-good-housewife mould, and another in which you appear to support gay marriage. I would like some clarification of your intended meaning in saying “along with that ‘choice’ to work came the demise in social value of the family unit” in terms of what you believe to be acceptable and appropriate roles for men and women in society.

  29. MLF

    No Captain. You owe me an apology for the exact reason I stated above. And I am still waiting. Unless you are trying to tell me you make a it habit of regularly putting words into peoples mouths and then ignoring the fact you have done so – in which case I’ll take that as read and wont bother pursuing the issue any further.

    As for the rest, again, no. My position is clear, and I took the time to explain it you again. If you don’t get it, its because you are looking for a fight and choosing not to get it. And im not interested. Because if you paid enough time and attention to thinking about what I was saying instead of looking for ways to pull me apart, you would see in essence we are interested in the same outcome.

  30. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY –

    Complaints mean nothing. What are the rates for successful prosecutions ?

    I disagree strongly.

    Only about 10% of rapes are reported; only about 10% of those make it to Court, and a small percentage of those are convicted. Do we then assume, that therefore the crime of sexual assault is miniscule and not in need of attention? Of course not! What we do is encourage victims to report these horrific crimes; we then make it easier to ‘process’ those crimes such as having all the necessary State utilities in the one place such as, a special rape crisis centre at major hospitals where the victim is cared for; where evidence is sought and the same place where specialised police people conduct interviews etc. On hand also, would be counsellors. We then provide a support network that ‘stays’ with the victim/s through the whole process, and we allow the victims to give their evidence on camera or at least out of sight of the accused. We also stop bullying victims on the stand and making them out to sl**s!

    THEN, these crimes will be treated by the Law as they should without the view, that due to victims being intimidated, the real stats are hidden. The same applies to domestic violence and all forms of discrimination in the workforce.
    The fact is that one in 3 women will be physically assaulted in her lifetime, and one in 4-5 will be sexually assaulted. The stats for men are much less, with the perpetrators usually being other men, often strangers, such as in pubs/clubs etc.

    The stats used by the Police re other crimes such as robbery etc aren’t dependant on successful prosecutions, they are documented on actual complaints, follow up and collecting evidence etc. There are lots of minor robberies for example that are reported but there’s no follow up due to several factors; there’s car break ins and/or thefts that aren’t solved, but these crimes are counted and often used in assessing insurance premiums for motor vehicles for example.

    If we use this process for break ins, car theft and other robberies, why not for sexual harrassment and discrimination. Also, the more comfortable victims feel via treatment after making a complaint, the more likely this will flow on in the community and the conviction rate will probably increase accordingly.

    Re the types of employment that have more women than men, the facts are the facts. There are more female nurses; there are more if not mostly women in the community sector whose numbers amount to many many thousands – womens’ health centres’ rape crisis centres; womens’ refuges; child abuse counselling sectors; victims of crime for adults and children etc, most if not all of these areas have women as the employees. The reasons should be evudent. eg. most sexual assault victims who are usually female don’t feel comfortable speaking to a male about the intimate nature of these assaults. You shouldn’t even need to be reminded of this fact. Most children if not all are sexually abused by males – these are facts!

    The very reason for taking on the establishment for justice in pay outcomes for this sector must first adknowledge, that the reason they are paid less is because they’re women, and because these ‘nurturing’ roles have been perceived to be a ‘flow on’ of our ‘mothering’. As this has been devalued for centuries, it follows that the same attitude has applied in the workforce. Those who’ve made the rules in the past have been dictated to by their own sexist beliefs and ‘blokey’ culture!

    If you need me to give you all the areas where the rules that ‘bind’ women and keep us from justice, then I’d need a few days. Put “male privilege” into your search engine and do some research yourself.
    You seem to be implying violence against men is a solved problem.

    No, I’m not, but the stats clearly show, that males are responsible for the overwhelming number of violent acts; in the home; on the street; in the workplace and executing wars. They also make the rules and dictate the ‘nesxt war’ and how it will be fought, and women & kids are affected the worst. There are more women and children used as sex slaves; there are 27 million other slaves, mostly women. Men create/created the problems, and slowly we’re changeing the rules so this is stamped out!

    Most crimes of violence on the streets are within 20 metres or so of a club or pub; most of the perpetrators and victims are male, although women are drinking in almost equal numbers in the social context as men – which is very sad also! The number of males who are victims of domestic violence is a very small (but disturbing) number, they usually receive lesser injuries than women, unless the abuse is by another male family member.

    A woman is murdered by her husband/partner every 7-10 days. Men are more likely to also kill their children, and some end up taking their own lives. Most women victims of DV homicide are killed AFTER they leave the relationship!

    All of these stats and further reading can be found on the internet if you just put “Domestic Violence” into your search engine. Even if you just nominate Australia, there are millions of articles to read!

    *******************
    Women over 60 who have only the aged pension as their total income are the highest group of poverty stricken people in the country(survey leading up to pension increases by the Rudd govt). Much of this has not been our fault. Broken marriages, often leaving violent relationships is one factor; no superannuation for most of our working lives is another, and the Laws/judgements that relate to property settlements have favoured the male. Why? Due to our role as homemaker and child rearer not being deemed as important as men’s and no monetary recognition was evident in Judges’ rulings. While there has been some successes in this field, the ‘old boys network’ judges are still around. Jocelyn Stutt? and another woman wrote ‘Marriage, property and the money go roun’ (or words to that effect) clearly set out the sexist views of the 70’s/80’s etc.

    To the comment about “sole parents”. Many of these are women; many of them were either married or in what they hoped were going to be permanent relationships – too many are broken by violence – overwhelmingly by the males!

    Not wanting this reality to be so won’t change it – doing something about it will. Letting your mates know that you have ‘taken the oath’ on White Ribbon Day website; to not commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. Then we might get some where.

    Women can’t organise their lives; seek further education; apply for challenging positions if they live in a negative haze of intimidation, control and violence. Until this stops, our society won’t progress too far – we’re not just one entity of a person, we comprise many facets. The damage from the negative affects every part of our lives. And sadly, kids are in the middle of it!

  31. Elan

    Good call Eva.

    There are two issues here.

    1) The inequality. It exists because this is Australia! Because todays Labor/Labour Party’ doth not give a flying f.uck for ‘equality’. How can they possibly? They’ve long since left the working class ground behind.

    2) The farty forty. ‘If we have broken through that so named glass ceiling then we deserve recognition recognition/reward for same. ‘Sisters’ what do you mean ‘sisters’? Those silly women at the bottom who are simple incapable of achieving what we have? They don’t deserve the rewards that we deserve’.

    My visit to feminism (I utterly loathe tags!), says that there is enough flak from most males; enough ignorance by those who can do something; and enough arrogance by elitist b.itches ‘at the top’, to ensure that nothing will change.

    The worst thing by far is that women help maintain this ugly status quo.

    “So long as the debate is being wrongfully (and offensively) framed in the context of “men vs women”, nothing is going to change.

    One would have thought that the “40 high profile women” example would have driven that point home neatly and succintly, but apparently not.”

    Regrettably I agree DRSMITHY. With those statements only. The rest I cannot be bothered to read.

    There is inequality for women, much of it comes from women! Any group or individual who speak about this are labelled ‘feminazi’s’ or the like!!

    That in itself illustrates the divide.

  32. Liz45

    To illustrate what I meant about the roles of parents. My ex husband rarely if ever tended to our three kids when they were sick. With two of them it was from birth. He “had to get up for work in the morning”!!!!Even after I went out into the paid workforce his attitude was the same. I was the one who stayed up with sick kids(not often, thankfully) sad or hurt kids; kids doing homework, kids needing to be picked up or ???I did it mostly alone!

    I did all the shopping; made a lot of clothes and purchased all household goods! I also cared for my late father and of course helped with mostly my sisters to drive my little mum around and nurture her during 3 sad and traumatic years! I know that I’m not isolated in this area!

    Stats show that this situation is still alive and well today. Of course there are exceptions!

  33. Elan

    Good call Eva.

    There are two issues here.

    1) The inequality. It exists because this is Australia! Because todays Labor/Labour Party’ doth not give a flying f.uck for ‘equality’. How can they possibly? They’ve long since left the working class ground behind.

    2) The farty forty. ‘If we have broken through that so named glass ceiling then we deserve recognition recognition/reward for same. ‘Sisters’ what do you mean ‘sisters’? Those silly women at the bottom who are simple incapable of achieving what we have? They don’t deserve the rewards that we deserve’.

    My visit to feminism (I utterly loathe tags!), says that there is enough flak from most males; enough ignorance by those who can do something; and enough arrogance by elitist b.itches ‘at the top’, to ensure that nothing will change.

    The worst thing by far is that women help maintain this ugly status quo.

    “So long as the debate is being wrongfully (and offensively) framed in the context of “men vs women”, nothing is going to change.

    One would have thought that the “40 high profile women” example would have driven that point home neatly and succintly, but apparently not.”

    Regrettably I agree DRSMITHY. With those statements only. The rest I cannot be bothered to read.

    There is inequality for women, much of it comes from women! Any group or individual who speak about this are labelled ‘femina.zi’s’ or the like!!

    That in itself illustrates the divide.
    _______________________________

    (Originally posted 12.16pm)

  34. Elan

    ‘DON’T mention the war’ !!!…or anything remotely associated with it: such as femina.zi’s arrrrgggghhhh!!!;-the automod will throw a tanty.

  35. Liz45

    DRSMITHY – For goodness sake1 That’s forty women out of how many? Females used to be in the majority re polulation – still could be. (haven’t checked for a while?) If there’s 10 million people in the workforce, at least 5 million are female. What % is 40? Hardly anything!

    On a global scale, women only own about 2% of the world’s assets, and yet we do how much of the work? There aren’t many in the ’40 group’? Most women work for wages that at best are only moderate to OK.

    @ELAN – – There is inequality for women, much of it comes from women! Any group or individual who speak about this are labelled ‘femina.zi’s’ or the like!!

    I do not agree. For the simple reason; that for it to be women’s fault, more women than at present need to be making the rules – show me where they are! As I haven’t seen many to date! Who wrote the Constitution? Who set out the Westminster system of justice? Who declares the wars and decides on what weapons there’ll be? Not women! Rather, they’re usually on the assembly line where what they look like is more important than what they do!

    I believe “feminism” is the word that describes the fact, that I’m an advocate for equality and justice for women. If I’m labelled a ?????I don’t care. It’s not my problem.

    I’d suggest that the MSM is more to blame about the inequalities relating to women, in the same manner as they push racism – it helps maintain a divide in the community, and while we’re busy at each others throats, we’re not too interested in what those with all the wealth are up to?

    Why do you think the Murdoch press and the shock jocks are on the anti carbon tax rubbish? Keeps the divide alive and flourishing. They get real scared when we’re united, like the majority were over WorstChoices. Look what we managed to do then? Whhoooaa! Can’t have that? Dangerous stuff!

    So, let’s blmae women for being bashed and raped, and then we don’t have to lock up the mongrels who do it. Why does the electronic media show the same bits of footage every time there’s an item re the Intervention or racism? Parks with the same drunk aboriginal people; or the Army and police driving in? Paints the desired picture, that all aboriginal people are drunken layabouts who get too much and deserve nothing! That’s how it’s been for over 200 yrs, and if people are too gullible or stupid to see it, then we deserve the same treatment.

    Do you honestly believe, that if the media/govts etc started telling the real story re aboriginal disadvantage and/or the unequal world women are forced to live in, then the majority of fair minded people wouldn’t demand change? I think they would! They’re just not told the truth – and they prefer to watch crap rather than research the truth. I bet Alan Jones for example, hasn’t passed the Qld border, and if he ever visited the NT it was probably for Rugby and he stayed in a posh hotel?

    It’s amazing that when any footage comes on the TV that shows a bit of blood and gore re our presence in Afghanistan or Iraq, we’re all ‘warned’ about it in case it offends our sensibilities. Yet the women and kids in these countries are ogetting bombed to bits, and who gives a fig about what they have to witness, and the males over the age of 13 or so are being locked up and/or tortured??

    I agree about the ALP and the fight for equality of the sexes. They took the same path as the conservatives some time ago! Now it’s The Greens and some other minor parties and/or activists who are taking a stand – on just about everything that relates to women, kids, the environment and equal pay etc!

  36. drsmithy

    The rest I cannot be bothered to read.

    Which presumably makes it trivial for you to determine whether or not they align with your views.

  37. Elan

    Presumably? What are you Smiff; Sherlock Holmes?

    Why is it so hard? I’ll agree, or I’ll disagree, or I’ll not bother to comment (kind of what we all do).

    I reckon I might be a closet feminist though. Not difficult Smiff, ( see what happens when the respect goes ‘oot the windy’ ?),- because you said something I agreed with, I responded to that only, and I reserve the right to choose whether to get locked down (up?), in one of your long drawn out nitpicking analyses. You get your jollies from that Smiff; I won’t play.

    As a matter of fact Smiff; you have a bit of a thing about getting posters to align yourviews.

    That’s OK if they want to. I don’t. It’s because I am a timid little flower who just wilts under the onslaught of a big strong man.

    I do. Honest.

    That’s it Smiff;-even this post is to long in response. I promise I’ll keep it brief next time.

  38. Elan

    It’s also too long.

  39. Sean

    I agree largely with Eva’s views (as always) and have heard her speaking on the problems with super as a pension replacement scheme in the past.

    I think Dr Smith and others are actually in furious agreement on a range of issues also.

    My 2c: Nothing is ever said about household inequality in these debates about how terribly badly off women are, when in fact the vast majority of men and women enter into something called a ‘household’ or ‘marriage’ which involves either one FT income, or two FT incomes, or a FT income and a PT income, etc, plus 0, 1 or more kids.

    All these things bring instant inequalities to household formation and income and life chances, apart from individual income differentials. High earning double income families run rings around the traditional single income family. Of course, things like divorce or remaining single also affect your life chances.

    Some feminists are operating mainly from a man-hating model that says (erroneously) that most women are all singletons all the time and despise the thought of being in a relationship with a mere male for any period of time for any reason — something we don’t see in reality, of course, in the mainstream population, but the feminists claim to be speaking and fighting for all womanhood, set apart from men, regardless of the fact they often quite like each other, rear families together, and so on, just as some bird species mate for life, and so on. The very survival of our children depends up on it, to get back to bio-psychological origins — homo sapiens children are about the slowest growing in the entire animal kingdom, having a grossly delayed childhood.

    So the feminist movement is really more of a sad reflection of the atomised, individualised capitalist system unfortunately rather than standing apart from it, assuming everyone is an income-producing individual and that is the sole source of happiness in life, that happiness is achieved through paypackets in a marketplace, even though on reflection different women will be on vastly different payscales, as will men, which surely also is inegalitarian — a Marxist view would demand we just about equalise everyone’s pay, surely — and even if they are successful in somehow equalising wages between women and men in exactly the way they are proposing (and many women will of course take more time off work for child-rearing than men) then they have done nothing about inequalities between households which may only be single FT earnings on low pay vs say two professional FT incomes. You will never in the fashion you are proposing — of changing payscales by state force — achieve the better Marxist outcome of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need ’ — i.e. if you have 4 kids, you (your household) should be paid enough to have the same quality of life as the family with 2 kids. (This is already achieved partly through family benefits by the state.)

    That is why the ALP really can’t be bothered touching the pay difference question, because they can see it’s fundamentally flawed at some level, but to be populist they can be goaded into going along with it a bit and feigning concern for a while, while secretly wishing they could bury it.

    The biggest problem has been the inequities in housing etc between families with different levels of paid work — women used to work in the 80s for a little extra cash (hardly anyone did this in the 70s), but now the new double household incomes have become capitalised into housing prices so that both partners are FORCED to work just to pay the bank or the landlord — it’s become a prison.

    The only effect of this particular brand of ‘feminism’ is that house prices have gone up. Well done. Where are your controls on this preventing it from happening this way? Oh, there aren’t any.

    Every time you try to reduce this supposed inequality you’re actually going to create more and graver inequalities, unless and until you start recognise the difference between household formations. The individualised wage market as it stands is not a good equaliser of quality of life for families, it’s inherently unfair from the outset.

  40. Elan

    I do not agree. For the simple reason; that for it to be women’s fault, more women than at present need to be making the rules …..”

    ‘Making the rules’ Liz45 ?

    How about the rules of behaviour?

    Kate Ellis made a speech on the Centenary of Womens Day,-the same Kate Ellis who couldn’t resist the vanity of a photo shoot wearing a tight short black dress and ‘Lamboutins’.

    The same intelligent MP! Couldn’t resist parading like a bimbo! Media love that. The women comply. Remember Cheryl Kernot and her photo shoot?

    Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, it is lovely to have a makeover; to feel good. But these two women have a platform to be taken seriously, both high profile; both operating in this so-called mans world.
    Two intelligent women who DO/did in fact have some influence in making rules; who were not forced into those shoots.

    How many male politicians do you see parading around for a fashion shoot?

    Pointless going into the bikini clad ‘beauty’ queens; the meter maids; prattish airheads draped over cars (I think that one is dying out, there’s hope for us yet).

    Women who allow the tags placed upon them. Remember that AFL groupy, who accepted the ‘Cougar’ tag (albeit very unwillingly)?

    Which gender brought that tag into being, and which gender accepted it, and ran with it?

    Demi Moore said she was not a Cougar, more a Puma……

    We can splinter this argument further and say; “well there you go,; a woman can’t do anything or she gets condemned for it”.

    The harsh reality IS that women should stop complying with this frothy nonsense if they want to be taken seriously!! And you are reading this from someone who won’t leave her house with the lippy on, I ain’t no hairy Sheila (another demeaning tag!)!

    Kernot and particularly Ellis as the Minister for Women, bloody irritate me with this rubbish. Both should have known better.

    Don’t lecture me about women and law! I am familiar with it.

    I don’t care what some of these blokes are saying, these stereotypes have been created by them, and ARE played out by some women.

    What ‘feminist’ is in me, values women- as an equal,– too much not to say anything about this. And if you value women and their equal role (and clearly you do),-then you should say it too.

    I also have compassion for some of the stresses males have to cope with,-I do that because I recognise ‘equal’.

    It does the cause for womens rights no damn good at all to cast all women as victims of big bad men.

    I repeat many women are all too willing to fulfil the role that men have set for them as ‘pretty little things’.

    We don’t need to turn into men to be taken seriously, we just don’t need to hand out the opportunity NOT to be taken seriously.

  41. drsmithy

    OIf we use this process for break ins, car theft and other robberies, why not for sexual harrassment and discrimination.

    We should, but that still woudn’t make the number of complaints a relevant metric.

    Anyone can complain, for any reason, legitimate or otherwise.

    The very reason for taking on the establishment for justice in pay outcomes for this sector must first adknowledge, that the reason they are paid less is because they’re women, […]

    No, first some sort of causative relationship must be demonstrated. No-one has yet even given a convincing argument – let alone actual evidence – to support the notion that jobs dominated by women are low paid because they’re dominated by women.

    If you need me to give you all the areas where the rules that ‘bind’ women and keep us from justice, then I’d need a few days.

    A few examples will suffice.

    No, I’m not, but the stats clearly show, that males are responsible for the overwhelming number of violent acts; in the home; on the street; in the workplace and executing wars. They also make the rules and dictate the ‘nesxt war’ and how it will be fought, and women & kids are affected the worst. There are more women and children used as sex slaves; there are 27 million other slaves, mostly women. Men create/created the problems, and slowly we’re changeing the rules so this is stamped out!

    Ah yes, that good old chestnut; if only women ruled the world, everything would be rainbows and butterflies.

    Again, I will highlight the point that women in high level positions act exactly the same as men in those positions. Margaret Thatcher being but one of the more obvious examples. There is _zero_ evidence to support the assertion that these problems are the fault of men.

    The number of males who are victims of domestic violence is a very small (but disturbing) number, they usually receive lesser injuries than women, unless the abuse is by another male family member.

    It’s probably worth pointing out at this juncture that violence against men by women is practically never reported, unless there’s a serious injury (usually a stabbing). A man who strikes a women will probably – at the very least – get a visit from police, if not end up in front of a judge. A women who strikes a man would be unlucky to even talk to police, and will probably get a round of high-fives when she tells her girlfriends about it.

    All of these stats and further reading can be found on the internet if you just put “Domestic Violence” into your search engine. Even if you just nominate Australia, there are millions of articles to read!

    I’m sure. The point here, however, is that the problem is _violence_, of which violence specifically against women is but a part. Concentrating only on the latter implicitly condones other forms.

    Women over 60 who have only the aged pension as their total income are the highest group of poverty stricken people in the country(survey leading up to pension increases by the Rudd govt).

    This is unfortunate, but it is not justification for changing the system as it exists today. Contemporary women are quite capable of entering high-paying jobs, just like men do, and putting money away into super. They don’t have to give up their jobs when they get married or pregnant. They can have their own bank accounts, mortgages, and the like. They are not in the same situation that “women over 60” were.

    Not wanting this reality to be so won’t change it – doing something about it will. Letting your mates know that you have ‘taken the oath’ on White Ribbon Day website; to not commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. Then we might get some where.

    This is even more ridiculous than those purity pledges teenagers take these days. I shouldn’t need to explicitly tell anyone that I’m not going to be violent (towards anyone, regardless of gender) any more than I should have to tell them I’m not going to burn their house down. While it’s pretty clear that you fall into the “all men are guilty” camp, such a poisonous mindset should not be propagated to society at large, let alone reinforced with stupidity like a “White Ribbon Day”.

    Women can’t organise their lives; seek further education; apply for challenging positions if they live in a negative haze of intimidation, control and violence. Until this stops, our society won’t progress too far – we’re not just one entity of a person, we comprise many facets. The damage from the negative affects every part of our lives. And sadly, kids are in the middle of it!

    The idea that the typical woman in Australia, today, is constricted in their life choices by “a negative haze of intimidation, control and violence”, is equal parts laughable and grossly offensive.

    That’s forty women out of how many? Females used to be in the majority re polulation – still could be. (haven’t checked for a while?) If there’s 10 million people in the workforce, at least 5 million are female. What % is 40? Hardly anything!

    The percentage of men in high level CEO positions isn’t exactly huge in the context of the entire workforce, either, you know.

    I do not agree. For the simple reason; that for it to be women’s fault, more women than at present need to be making the rules – show me where they are!

    Women outnumber men, and both can vote.

    As I haven’t seen many to date! Who wrote the Constitution? Who set out the Westminster system of justice?

    Can you highlight the sections of these documents (and their subsequent amendments) that explicitly disadvantage women ?

    Who declares the wars and decides on what weapons there’ll be? Not women!

    England has produced many women over the years who have done just that.

  42. Sean

    Women over 60 who have only the aged pension as their total income are the highest group of poverty stricken people in the country(survey leading up to pension increases by the Rudd govt).

    That is interesting — women over 60 are from the generation where work was very optional for them (and you had to resign from your job in the public service when you got married etc), and they had no super schemes in general, as super was the preserve of the professional class at that time. Many of these women would of course have been married, but men often drop off the twig before their wives — it just boils down to whether they had the chance to pay off their own home before retirement to at least have that security and lack of an income drain — nowadays the housing bubble and complete indifference of the govt about housign security means there will be a whole new problem for the next generation who were locked out of owning their own home — the pension will not cover renting into retirement, so the govt will be forced to build innumerable new public housing tenements for the next wave of retirees — because of greedy banks and landlords creating a 2-tier society.

  43. Elan

    “so the govt will be forced to build innumerable new public housing tenements for the next wave of retirees…”

    Dang that Brave New World eh?

    You were going great guns SEAN,-then you lost me at ‘public housing tenements‘. 

    Pack ’em and stack ’em?

    Yet another stereotype.

  44. Liz45

    @SEAN – Posted Monday, 14 March 2011 at 11:36 am

    I was employed by the Commonwealth PS when I married in 1962 – that was my last day at work. This situation changed either late 60’s or early 70’s. When I renentered the workforce in 1974, I was employed by the NSW Govt as a Teachers Aide – we had no option for superannuation. Even those women who did such as teachers etc could not ‘will’ it to their husbands or kids upon their death – neither could single men. This was still the case in the 70’s? Not sure when it changed. I didn’t have the opportunity for the first 6-7 years, and I thought I’d be covered by my husband’s – but we separated in 1983 and divorced some 4 yrs later.

    Another aspect of discrimination I referred to in an earlier post, was the unjust manner that property settlements favoured the husband – his house payments over-ran my contributing to other vital areas, such as, purchasing all groceries for 2 adults, 3 boys; clothes for them and I; all manchester and some white goods etc. Women in their 60’s were discriminated against in many ways. Then of course, the education system didn’t deem important for women to have a career, unless you were an ‘essential service’ such as nursing, teaching etc.

    @DRSMITHY – Don’t you read the responses?
    We should, but that still woudn’t make the number of complaints a relevant metric.

    Anyone can complain, for any reason, legitimate or otherwise.

    As I’ve already stated, police use complaints as a yard stick for many of their policies. Insurance companies don’t just use convictions re car theft or break ins to determine insurance premiums as many do not reach a just conclusion. They use complaints in many areas, such as domestic violence complaints. And making vexacious complaints is a crime – I think most people are aware of that!

    Go and take a look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, or look at the Police Crime Reports in your state. They do not differentiate between offences committed/reported to those convicted.

    It is WELL DOCUMENTED by police and counsellors at rape crisis centres, that the complaints are not equal to the successful convictions – that is, a guilty verdict. This is how we know how the different categories of offences either increase or decrease. eg. crimes of robbery etc have decreased over the past few years, while crimes of DV and sexual assault have increased. People who are victims don’t usually make false allegations in crimes of DV for example – the opposite is true. There are lots of women who don’t report due to fear.

    The estimated cost re DV this year is $13 BILLION. That figure does not arise due to convictions, but taking in lots of different areas where women can complain, and surveys taken over recent years re work absence etc.

    Who declares the wars and decides on what weapons there’ll be? Not women!

    Apart frpm Maggie Thatcher, there’s not many others? Look at US Presidents; British PM’s over recent decades – all men. The US has either interfered in or invaded over 40 countries since the end of WW2 – no women presidents to date! Or British PM’s for that matter, and Julia Gillard is our first woman PM? So, just those 3 countries have a pretty male dominated war mongering history! Who else, France, Germany? Mostly male? Middle East? Mostly male.
    I think you should do some checking!

    Can you highlight the sections of these documents (and their subsequent amendments) that explicitly disadvantage women ?
    You could argue that the Constitution doesn’t discriminate against indigenous people either – it just doesn’t mention them or if it does, it’s in the ‘flora and fauna’ sections! Some countries with new constitutions such as Venezuela deliberately mentions women, indigenous people, marriages, rights over your own bodies(women/abortion) etc. Ours doesn’t acknowledge that we exist – made by men for men!
    It wasn’t a crime to rape your wife until the 70’s/80’s? Up until then, the Westminster system of justice reinforced the view, that wives were just an appendage of their husband to do with as they wished – including violence, both physical and sexual!

    The WHITE RIBBON DAY oath. You forget what this is about, and that is due to your lack of education on the topic. The day was set aside by male Canadians at a University on the 2nd anniversary of the mass killing of approx. 14 women and the injury of many others, by a lone male who had a ‘hissy fit’ re removing some discriminations that affected women. The men wore white ribbons on that day to take a stand against violence towards women.

    In this country, as one in 3 women will be physically assaulted in their lifetime, the WRD oath is to reinforce most males attitude to this horrific crime, which is the greatest abuse of human rights around the world – the UN has designated it as such, plus the 16 days leading up to Dec 10 – Human Rights Day!

    Most men do not abuse, but sadly, too many of them don’t speak out when they hear their mates speak and act in a sexist, discriminatory or violent manner. Every third house, is a dwelling that contains violence against women, and sadly, also kids.

    Men who don’t commit or condone or remain silent about DV don’t feel intimidated by this OATH – they just do it. It’s part of an education/preventative program. I’ve taken the pledge myself, not to remain silent or condone it – I don’t commit it!

    The idea that the typical woman in Australia, today, is constricted in their life choices by “a negative haze of intimidation, control and violence”, is equal parts laughable and grossly offensive.
    I was one such woman. The reason why you don’t acknowledge it, is because you’re ignorant, both of the widespread numbers of women affected; the affect it has on their lives; the cost to leave a relationship and start again(although NSW and some other states have programs called, ‘Staying Home, Leaving Violence’ where the perpetrators are made to leave, and the women and kids stay in the home.

    Again, most of your disagreements are due to your lack of knowledge. Go and do some reading!

    The percentage of men in high level CEO positions isn’t exactly huge in the context of the entire workforce, either, you know. That’s not the issue! the issue is male vs female. Look up the richest people in Australia and see how many are women. Look up the number of men vs women who own the wealth. You’ll find, that around the world, women own only about 2% of the assets. Then look up slaves – 27 million, mostly women. Look up sex slaves, mostly women and kids. This is not due to my anti male stance, it’s fact!

    I’m not anti-male, I’m anti what many males do, and I’m anti those men who don’t speak out against it – they’re complicit in the acts if they remain silent! Their behaviour, not mine!

    The point here, however, is that the problem is _violence_, of which violence specifically against women is but a part. Concentrating only on the latter implicitly condones other forms.
    It doesn’t condone other forms at all. What makes DV so hideous, is that the perpetrators are men who profess to love the person/people they bash and sadly, often kill. All violence is horrific, but men suffer more at the hands of other men, usually out in public – pubs and clubs or footy games etc, not in the privacy of their own homes. DV is unique, in that it’s usually behind closed doors, and that’s what used to decide that it was OK. The old saying ‘a man’s home is his castle’ etc. My ex made visiting me at home an embarrassment for a couple of my friends for just this reason. It was OK for him to have his friends visit or phone at any hour – day or night, but if someone was having a coffee with me when he got home, he’d ask them to leave. He even accused me of being a lesbian, after one such occasion, when my good friend and neighbour was having a coffee when she collected her son – I used to mind him while she went to work – and got paid for it! I purchased several household items by saving this money!
    Apparently, even though my name was one of the purchasing people, it was not my “castle” only his!

    I could go on and respond to all your points of difference, but the bottom line is, that you are not familiar with much of the research via surveys, personal accounts, police and hospital records etc. In the late 1990’s the reason for most people appearing in A&E were for injuries inflicted as part of DV. That could have changed, but I doubt it.

    I’ve heard the former Police Commissioner of Victoria, Christine Nixon assert, that the majority of police complaints etc is due to domestic violence – of males assaulting their female partners. Of course same sex couples expierience this too; family members other than those in an intimate relationship do also, but the overwhelming number are males vs female victims.

    It needs to be acknowledged, that most women who are murdered are attacked AFTER they try and leave! So much for them being criticised for ‘putting up with it’ and other ridiculous assertions!

  45. Sean

    Elan
    Posted Monday, 14 March 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink
    “so the govt will be forced to build innumerable new public housing tenements for the next wave of retirees…”

    Dang that Brave New World eh?

    You were going great guns SEAN,-then you lost me at ‘public housing tenements’. 

    Pack ‘em and stack ‘em?

    Yet another stereotype.

    There’ll be no choice, mate — mark my words now and come back in 20 years. You think Tanya Plibersek had herhands full this time before she bailed and Labor split the housing portfolio 3 ways is nothing compared to the avalanche of propertyless people who will be appearing in a few years time — with some super to live off in this case, but, as Eva points out, the amount of super you have depends on how much you earnt, whether you were out of the workforce rearing children, or whatever. (Of course, these days, if your husband dies earlier than you, you will get their super as well.) The people who were unable to purchase their own housing due to a bubble will be the ones with the least super as well.

    Of course the govt will pack ’em and stack ’em as the solution, it’s the easiest and cheapest thing! They will be regarded as second class citizens who couldn’t play their way out of a bubble market. They didn’t gamble in the new personal risk economy, choosing to rent at lower prices than take on an unsustainable mortgage.

    I work in this area, so just be careful waving the accusations around, Elan, until you know a little more about other posters’ backgrounds.

  46. drsmithy

    The people who were unable to purchase their own housing due to a bubble will be the ones with the least super as well.

    I don’t see the logic. By choosing the cheaper (at least at the moment0 option of renting, over buying, renters should have *more* super than buyers, because they had more money to put into it.

  47. Sean

    Why would they have more super? By turning up the voluntary super contributions due to all the money they’re ‘saving’ due to not having a mortgage? But evidence suggests most renters are on lower wages and salaries, Dr Smithy, and their disposable income is turned over to day to day costs of living like everyone else — your argument doesn’t take account of the real world situation of differential incomes. Further, people with their super tend very much not to mull over it every night at the kitchen table, usually choosing instead to ‘set it and forget it’ as surveys have found — this is another weakness of super as Eva has pointed out — that the professional class who were very worried about their wealth would pore over super schemes, whereas most ‘average’ wage workers who have been forced into mandatory super schemes just let it run assuming it’s being taken care of, and putting in who knows how much voluntary contribution. Finally, let’s consider that super itself is something of a share market Ponzi scheme, and that in reality it’s unlikely that it will significantly outperform inflation in the long run, or at least outperform putting it in the bank at a term deposit rate, as recent studies have shown. Not forgetting the flaw that you are being gouged by the retail super funds vs the industry funds — so your super is being eaten away by retail fund fees — as Crikey! revealed not so long ago in its analysis of the super league tables which showed only 1 retail fund in the top 25, all others being industry. So it’s a pretty rotten and dodgy scheme that’s been dreamt up by the unions and Paul Keating anyhow, by the looks, isn’t it? It’s not even tracked properly by TFN, resulting in bullshit piles of ‘lost super’ in a govt-mandated pension replacement scheme! There should be no ‘lost super’ in such a scheme, it should be tightly tied to TFN. There are many other such deficiencies in the operation of the scheme.

  48. drsmithy

    Why would they have more super? By turning up the voluntary super contributions due to all the money they’re ‘saving’ due to not having a mortgage?

    That’s the idea.

    But evidence suggests most renters are on lower wages and salaries, Dr Smithy, and their disposable income is turned over to day to day costs of living like everyone else — your argument doesn’t take account of the real world situation of differential incomes.

    That’s because I assumed you were talking about the difference between people who buy and rent, not the difference between people who have dramatically different incomes.

    Further, people with their super tend very much not to mull over it every night at the kitchen table, usually choosing instead to ‘set it and forget it’ as surveys have found — this is another weakness of super as Eva has pointed out — that the professional class who were very worried about their wealth would pore over super schemes, whereas most ‘average’ wage workers who have been forced into mandatory super schemes just let it run assuming it’s being taken care of, and putting in who knows how much voluntary contribution.

    I don’t understand how this is any sort of “disadvantage”, or worse than a “set it and forget it” government pension, which is almost certainly going to have worse economic efficiency than any private superannuation scheme.

    Finally, let’s consider that super itself is something of a share market Ponzi scheme, […]

    How is it any different to a government-issued pension in that respect ?

    […] and that in reality it’s unlikely that it will significantly outperform inflation in the long run, or at least outperform putting it in the bank at a term deposit rate, as recent studies have shown.

    Which studies ?

    Not forgetting the flaw that you are being gouged by the retail super funds vs the industry funds — so your super is being eaten away by retail fund fees — as Crikey! revealed not so long ago in its analysis of the super league tables which showed only 1 retail fund in the top 25, all others being industry.

    That is an entirely separate issue to the principle of super itself.

    So it’s a pretty rotten and dodgy scheme that’s been dreamt up by the unions and Paul Keating anyhow, by the looks, isn’t it?

    Not really, no. Some form of tax-advantagous retirement savings mechanism is present in pretty much every modern country. It’s hardly unique to Australia.

    It’s not even tracked properly by TFN, resulting in bullshit piles of ‘lost super’ in a govt-mandated pension replacement scheme! There should be no ‘lost super’ in such a scheme, it should be tightly tied to TFN. There are many other such deficiencies in the operation of the scheme.

    It’s only “lost” in the sense that no-one has contributed to that particular fund in a given period of time, not that people will never get the money back.

    I am still failing to see why letting people keep more of the money they earnt, on the proviso they can’t use it until they retire, is a bad thing.

  49. Sean

    It’s actually NOT present as a mandatory requirement in just about every country, compulsory super is a feature almost unique to Australia. The US has its optional 401(k) schemes that are pretty under-performing by report.

    Regardless of the incesssant nit-picking, you have failed to address the social reality that people on lower incomes have less super, and that people on higher incomes get a greater tax benefit, as Eva points out as the crux of the article, i.e. that it is an essentially socially unjust scheme in terms of outcomes. And that people on low incomes do NOT have ‘more money to invest in super’, they are just as likely or more likely to have less.

    You’ve also changed the argument subtly which is also a classic trolling effort called ‘straw man’ argumentation, i.e. putting words in other people’s mouths or putting up straw man alternative arguments that were not being made in the first place. And your reputation seems to precede you on this forum.

    Eva actually confronts (in other writing and speeches) your assumption that people should be squirreling away any and all spare cash into an uncertain super fund with uncertain long term prospects above inflation or a bank term deposit and make serious lifestyle sacrifices now for the privilege — i.e. we are alive on this planet to enjoy ourselves while relatively young rather than saving for retirement when we may basically be dead of a heart attack, very ill, unable to walk, needing hip replacements, etc etc. Certainly, save a little for retirement, but life is to be enjoyed while we are able to enjoy it as well.

    You would clearly do very well as a policy wonk in Treasury, Dr Smithy — i.e. making prescriptions and assumptions about homo economicus that demonstrate no understanding of reality or real world outcomes until it goes pear-shaped.

  50. drsmithy

    It’s actually NOT present as a mandatory requirement in just about every country, compulsory super is a feature almost unique to Australia. The US has its optional 401(k) schemes that are pretty under-performing by report.

    That it’s compulsory is not really relevant (or, at least, it hasn’t been so far).

    The complaint being raised – particularly from the specious “women’s rights” angle – is that superannuation, being a tax-advantagous way to save money, is equivalent to a government handout to the “rich”.

    My point was that equivalent tax advantagous savings systems exist pretty much everywhere. Ie: the core complaint being made about superannuation applies equally to those places as well.

    Regardless of the incesssant nit-picking, you have failed to address the social reality that people on lower incomes have less super, and that people on higher incomes get a greater tax benefit, as Eva points out as the crux of the article, i.e. that it is an essentially socially unjust scheme in terms of outcomes.

    People on lower incomes have less of everything, super is hardly a standout in that regard.
    Of course people on higher incomes get a greater tax benefit from a tax-advantagous savings program. They’re the ones paying all the tax ! You can’t derive a large tax benefit when you hardly pay any tax to start with.
    It’s not socially unjust that people who make more, end up with more, unless you’re a hardcore communist and believe that everyone should live at the same level of mediocrity, regardless of their abilities. If you do, we have such a fundamental philosophical disagreement, that it’s pointless even trying to have a discussion.

    And that people on low incomes do NOT have ‘more money to invest in super’, they are just as likely or more likely to have less.

    I never said people on lower incomes would have more money to invest. I said people who rented instead of bought – at least at the moment when house prices are ridiculous – would have more disposable income.

    You’ve also changed the argument subtly which is also a classic trolling effort called ‘straw man’ argumentation, i.e. putting words in other people’s mouths or putting up straw man alternative arguments that were not being made in the first place.

    That’s pretty rich coming from the person who just did exactly that only a paragraph earlier to pretend I said something I didn’t.

    You would clearly do very well as a policy wonk in Treasury, Dr Smithy — i.e. making prescriptions and assumptions about homo economicus that demonstrate no understanding of reality or real world outcomes until it goes pear-shaped.

    Wow. The person suggesting that we shouldn’t bother taking responsibility to save for a comfortable retirement is trying to talk with authority about “real world outcomes” and things “going pear-shaped”. That’s comedy gold, right there.

  51. Elan

    “I work in this area, so just be careful waving the accusations around, Elan, until you know a little more about other posters’ backgrounds.

    Now there’s a coincidence (retired now). But I agree with the last part of your sentence…

    I don’t know what’s happening in your State…., mate, but I guarantee you-GUARANTEE; the SA Government/s will NEVER pile the golden oldies on top of one another.

    And I know why.
    ______________________

    As for your jousting with Smiff; good luck with that!

  52. Sean

    I never said people on lower incomes would have more money to invest. I said people who rented instead of bought – at least at the moment when house prices are ridiculous – would have more disposable income.

    You forgot to say “all else being equal including incomes and ability to even obtain a mortgage”. As I said, you’re not operating in the real world — i.e. the Anglosphere world of unaffordable property and mum and dad landlords trading on their existing equity to obtain loans and out-compete others for housing and thus keeping prices high in a bidding war.

    Something that just came to me today outlining the housing experience in Germany by contrast:

    About 5 years ago I was in London taking pics of Tower Bridge, next to me was some bloke with the same camera and lens set up as me, so we got into a conversation about photography, turns out he was from Germany and we got onto other things like housing, told me there is no way he could live in Merry Old England on account of house prices or rent, both of which were 3x German prices, his job, similar to mine in IT support recently bought him a big house for 70K Euros, meanwhile our shi.tty little flat in outer London was supposedly worth around GDP 190k or so. This bloke also had a wife and two kids, a new Merc and a yacht, he said if he lived in the UK he could afford nothing and his wife would have to work full time. The same comparison of course could be thrown at Australia, was a time when a technical job would have supplied you with this quality of life but seems you had better just enjoy the ‘pride’ you are building up with HPI, never mind the lifestyle. To rub it in, most Germans with proper jobs get 6 week hols a year and get to use them for things like skiing, sailing, mediterranean holidays etc etc, all at much cheaper prices than Oz where you definitely need to be a real millionaire to do stuff like that as a family, no, we would rather have our house prices and spend our holidays just painting the fence or maybe 5 days on the Gold coast for a real family treat.
    I also have a friend in Vienna, Austria where I visit occasionally, a Brit who married then divorced a local, he has little more than a McJob (real job as an unpaid musician after failing the pop star thing) who lives a better life than he could in Aus or the UK for doing the most menial jobs, all with lower wages than we would get here. This of course in based on his costs, rent for a small flat is around $80 per week, transport for the whole year is around $500 or so, and thats real public transport, door to door every 5 mins, not what we know and hate. Unlike in Aus these days he can still afford to go to the pub and eat out once a week, also take a holiday somewhere warm once a year.

  53. Sean

    I don’t know what’s happening in your State…., mate, but I guarantee you-GUARANTEE; the SA Government/s will NEVER pile the golden oldies on top of one another.

    And I know why.

    Well, it’s a mystery to the rest of us, Elan, but maybe you’ll tell us one day. I certainly see it in the tower blocks of Redfern-Waterloo in Sydney, which are often occupied by elderly pensioners, many originally from NESB, often living in fear from the other types of people who get put into public housing these days — the most marginalised and borderline characters, rather than a more general mix of social housing.

    But why you are averse to ‘piling people on top of one another’ when many many people in Sydney live in multi-residential multi-storey apartment blocks and pay far more than anyone in SA for the privilege is a mystery — your idea of ‘piling on’ is other people’s idea of ordinary higher density dwelling — I know Adelaide is basically a country town with sprawl as the main feature, so I suppose it’s what you’re used to. Ever been to HK or NYC?

    As for the nit-picking captious Dr Smithy cavilling on the ninth point of a hair, I think I’m pretty well done with the fencing practice.

  54. Elan

    God! I’m getting confused with this email notification thing! Who met the bloke on the bloody bridge with the camera?

    Yes, maybe.
    I agree.
    I didn’t say that. You said it.
    No it isn’t.
    Both.
    No you are not.

  55. Sean

    Cryptic, opaque, mystifying and yet still somewhat debatable, Elan. The bloke on the bridge was someone a forum blogger in my housing circle met once — on a bridge, so the story goes.

    No you are not.

    Yeah, you’re probably right, based on this paragraph:

    drsmithy
    Posted Monday, 14 March 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    People on lower incomes have less of everything, super is hardly a standout in that regard.
    Of course people on higher incomes get a greater tax benefit from a tax-advantagous savings program. They’re the ones paying all the tax ! You can’t derive a large tax benefit when you hardly pay any tax to start with.

    It’s not socially unjust that people who make more, end up with more, unless you’re a hardcore communist and believe that everyone should live at the same level of mediocrity, regardless of their abilities. If you do, we have such a fundamental philosophical disagreement, that it’s pointless even trying to have a discussion.

    Deep breath. The ‘rich people paying all the tax’ (although they actually spend a lot of time and effort trying to avoid doing so, it’s more middle earners who pay the brunt of PAYG tax, not being able to afford tax avoidance experts — except for negative gearers in property of course) generally don’t ‘deserve’ the higher income, they just get it, that’s all — by dint of the old boy network, inheritances, contacts, deviousness, greed, or what have you. I suppose we can lump in medical specialists and the like in the top 5% of earners, and even then I feel many are being grossly overpaid by any definition of ‘merit’ — shrinks in particular.

    Remember the higher earners appropriated the money and value from everyone else’s work and earnings, it doesn’t just grow on trees. The Packers got rich because a lot of airheads like to buy glossy meaningless magazines at supermarket checkouts — nothing more than that — and clearly the glossy magazines by inspection have no particular social worth or merit.

    The whole point of Eva’s article here, in case it was lost on you, is that compulsory super has been devised by ‘Labor’ (so-called) and the workers unions, and yet it relatively punishes workers — the unions supposedly spend all their time returning more income to their workers to reflect their input but protect against powerlessness, and yet this scheme they’ve devised is extremely inegalitarian, and mirrors working life inequality — whereas a standard pension is basically equal. I suppose Keating thought it had built-in ‘motivators’ for workers to strive more or something.

    There’s also something to be said for the inefficiency of managing 10 million portfolios separately — and apparently the super firms are in the dark ages technologically on this — vs some different conceivable sort of retirment plan such as Eva is espousing which would pool everyone’s contributions, invest them everywhere en masse (prudentially of course) and then return the money on the basis of some more socially improving formula designed to keep people in a reasonable quality of life in their retirement. ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first’ sort of thing.

    Since you’re such a caviller, can you tell me what the difference between an ordinary communist and a ‘hardcore’ communist is?

    If you do, we have such a fundamental philosophical disagreement, that it’s pointless even trying to have a discussion.

    Fantastic, I’ve found the off switch!!!! See, there’s always a way, Elan.

  56. Elan

    No point in engaging with Smiff. He thrives on it. Kero on a fire.

  57. Sean

    Elan
    Posted Monday, 14 March 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
    God!

    Just Sean will do.

    Elan
    Posted Monday, 14 March 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink
    No point in engaging with Smiff. He thrives on it. Kero on a fire.

    Just say you’re a communist and it’s game over.

  58. drsmithy

    You forgot to say “all else being equal including incomes and ability to even obtain a mortgage”.

    Yes. That’s because it was implicit (and obvious).

    Something that just came to me today outlining the housing experience in Germany by contrast:

    You will not get any arguments from me that both house prices, and the cost of living in general, in Australia, are currently ridiculous. It’s particularly noticable for me, since I’m living in the US and about to move back to Australia.

    With that said, the reason why people in Europe can afford to go skiing, is because in Europe (in fact pretty much anywhere except Australia) skiing is cheap (because there’s hundreds of ski resorts, rather than a few, and comprehensive transport systems to get you there). When I was living in Zurich I could do return trip to the slopes – train and lift ticket – for under CHF 100; You couldn’t even get a lift pass in Australia for that.

    Also, you talk about “holidays in the Meditterranean”, yet fail to acknowledge that for someone living in Europe, that *is* like “5 days at the Gold Coast”. It might be some awesome foreign destination to you because you live on the other side of the world, but when it’s a fifty quid plane ride away, it’s really not that special.

    Incidentally, it looks like a year pass for the Vienna subway currently costs about AUD630, so it probably hasn’t been $500 for quite a while – and while I’d be interested to see the kind of apartment you can rent there for $80/week, I doubt I’d actually want to live in it.

    Deep breath.

    Indeed. Now you know how I feel.

    The ‘rich people paying all the tax’ (although they actually spend a lot of time and effort trying to avoid doing so, it’s more middle earners who pay the brunt of PAYG tax, not being able to afford tax avoidance experts — except for negative gearers in property of course) generally don’t ‘deserve’ the higher income, they just get it, that’s all — by dint of the old boy network, inheritances, contacts, deviousness, greed, or what have you.

    I didn’t say anything about “the rich”, I said people not on lower incomes.

    However, I’m glad you brough up the “middle earners”, because it saves me from having to do it. People like Engineers spend four or more years at University, then another 4-5 years on the job before they get an income up around $100k (and it will probably max out around the $150k mark, maybe $200k if they go into management or particular specialisations). Doctors spend nearly a decade studying before they can earn anything approaching high wages (and then have education expenses comparable to a small mortgage to pay off). A regular white collar professional is in a similar boat to an Engineer in terms of education and experience requirements, but earns less (though also has less professional risk). These people are not “rich”, yet proportionally suffer the most from taxation because they get SFA in handouts from the government, while falling into the higher tax brackets. These are the people for whom superannuation is a sound retirement savings scheme, make up a large proportion of those contributing to it, and who would almost certainly be worse off under any sort of fixed government pension.

    Further, it’s not just white collar professionals that fit this definition any more, either. Any decent tradie, or even someone mostly uneducated who managed to get into the right gigs at the mines, will be on that sort of money. Again, not rich, but benefiting from things like superannuation and highly likely to be worse off with a government pension.

    I suppose we can lump in medical specialists and the like in the top 5% of earners, and even then I feel many are being grossly overpaid by any definition of ‘merit’ — shrinks in particular.

    Right. It’s not like a decade of high-acheivement schooling, hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, ten+ hour workdays, being on call, and potentially massive liability claims entitle them to a high income. No sir. They should be paid $50k/yr like a schoolteacher who left high school with a passing grade, spent 3 years at University, has an equivalent workday of about 6.5 hours and practically no concerns whatsoever about what might happen to them after they go home each day.

    There are (proportionately speaking) a handful of high-paying jobs, I will happily agree, where “merit” is a word thrown about with a nod and a wink at parties in expensive hotels filled with cigar smoke and waiters carrying champagne. There are even a statistically more meaningful proportion of jobs (largely in the finance sector) where the salaries are noticably higher than they should be when weighed up against the risks, educational requirement and productivity outputs. However, the vast majority of people who could be considered “well off” (which from the impression I’ve gotten here, would be folks earning more than about $75k/yr) do not fall into either of these categories, contrary to the ridculous hyperbole being presented.

    The whole point of Eva’s article here, in case it was lost on you, is that compulsory super has been devised by ‘Labor’ (so-called) and the workers unions, and yet it relatively punishes workers — the unions supposedly spend all their time returning more income to their workers to reflect their input but protect against powerlessness, and yet this scheme they’ve devised is extremely inegalitarian, and mirrors working life inequality — whereas a standard pension is basically equal. I suppose Keating thought it had built-in ‘motivators’ for workers to strive more or something.

    Yes, the “motivator” is that if you work hard, take risks and earn more, you are better off in your retirement. A government pension should be a safety net for the unlucky, not a luxurious standard for all. Where’s the motivation to work hard and better myself if I’m just going to end up in the same government-run retirement village as the person who didn’t even finish high school and spent his days mopping floors ?

    I am curious, however, since you’re advocating a “fair” and “egalitarian” system, would you be in favour of a non-means-tested pension ? So even “the rich” get it in addition to whatever millions they might have stashed away during their working lives ?

    There’s also something to be said for the inefficiency of managing 10 million portfolios separately — and apparently the super firms are in the dark ages technologically on this — vs some different conceivable sort of retirment plan such as Eva is espousing which would pool everyone’s contributions, invest them everywhere en masse (prudentially of course) and then return the money on the basis of some more socially improving formula designed to keep people in a reasonable quality of life in their retirement. ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first’ sort of thing.

    I have no problem whatsover with people being able to be kept in a reasonably quality of life in their retirement, indeed, I am a huge advocate of a welfare system that allows people to live adequately when they are searching for work, disabled, or retired (an attitude that has been strongly reinforced after living in America). However, I have a huge problem with forcing people who spend their lives working high-stress, high-risk, long-hours jobs – to say nothing of the education requirements to do them – to live at the same level of mediocrity as those who barely escaped from high school with a passing grade and spent forty years behind a cash register.

  59. MLF

    “God! I’m getting confused with this email notification thing! Who met the bloke on the bloody bridge with the camera?”

    I still think you’re a gem.

  60. MLF

    “Unlike in Aus these days he can still afford to go to the pub and eat out once a week, also take a holiday somewhere warm once a year….”

    Yes, but he has to live in Germany.

    I’m kidding of course, Germany is beautiful country. It just seemed begging to be said….

  61. Sean

    However, I have a huge problem with forcing people who spend their lives working high-stress, high-risk, long-hours jobs – to say nothing of the education requirements to do them – to live at the same level of mediocrity as those who barely escaped from high school with a passing grade and spent forty years behind a cash register.

    Who’s making them do that? ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.’ There are rewards other than financial in doing a job well.

  62. drsmithy

    Who’s making them do that?

    Well, it certainly seems to be the viewpoint espoused here.

    ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.’

    Ideally, sure, but we’re still a good century or two away from being able to do that, even in the richest countries. It’s nothing more than pipe dream without a huge surplus of easily accessible energy and (ironically enough) the Greens are doing their damndest to make sure that never happens.

    There are rewards other than financial in doing a job well.

    You’ll have no argument from me on that – find a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life. However, the core of this whole discussion has been about comparing incomes, so it seems a little disingenuous to suddenly throw some other metric in there, especially one so subjective.
    To a non-trivial degree it’s important, as well. After all, happy thoughts and self satisfaction won’t buy you a latte at the local coffee shop (though I suppose when we’ve all retired into our government-issued identical apartment blocks, drinking the same government-issued tea or coffee, we won’t need to worry about frivolities like the local coffee shop).

  63. Sean

    Dr Smithy, I have to say I think your arguments are a complete mess, but you go on making them anyhow… I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from trying…

  64. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY – I never said people on lower incomes would have more money to invest. I said people who rented instead of bought – at least at the moment when house prices are ridiculous – would have more disposable income.

    I heard an economist say in recent times, that people who are buying their homes pay 19% of their incomes in mortgage payments, but people who rent pay 20%? It’s interesting to note then, that in NSW at least, people like me on a pension pay 25% of our income on public housing! The NSW Labor govt increased it from 20% and did it gradually – one % point each year for five yeoars.

    I’ve also heard it argued, that the you-beaut super packages/govt subsidies etc is just “middle class welfare”. As I mentioned earlier, Howard/Costello changed the super and tax laws that really ‘helped’ those on incomes over $100,000 – which benefited those two a massive $2 million extra? Not bad eh? They removed the super surcharge on high incomes that took over $2billion out of the ‘kitty’? I wonder how many hospital beds/doctors/schools that would’ve helped since about 2004/5?

  65. drsmithy

    I heard an economist say in recent times, that people who are buying their homes pay 19% of their incomes in mortgage payments, but people who rent pay 20%? It’s interesting to note then, that in NSW at least, people like me on a pension pay 25% of our income on public housing! The NSW Labor govt increased it from 20% and did it gradually – one % point each year for five yeoars.
    According this, the average person spends about 25% of their income on rent.

    I can’t imagine, with current housing prices, that the typical mortgage is anything close to 19% of income. I would expect it to be closer to, if not in excess of, 30%, *especially* for singles. Housing affordability for buyers in Australia at the moment is horrendously bad, due to easy credit availability. Rents, at least, have to be a much more accurate reflection of how much money people actually have.

    Speaking more generally, the old rule of thumb for deciding how much to spend on accommodation (be it rent or mortgage) is (used to be?) no more than 1/3 of your income. 25% is well under that.

    I’ve also heard it argued, that the you-beaut super packages/govt subsidies etc is just “middle class welfare”.

    That would seem to be using a pretty poor definition of ‘welfare’, then.

    As I mentioned earlier, Howard/Costello changed the super and tax laws that really ‘helped’ those on incomes over $100,000 – which benefited those two a massive $2 million extra? Not bad eh?

    Heaven forbid the people bankrolling the whole shebang get to keep a little bit more of their hard-earned money, eh ? Not like they deserve it for working their high-responsibility, high-stress, high-workload, high-risk, high-value, high-requirement jobs, is it ?

    I wonder how many hospital beds/doctors/schools that would’ve helped since about 2004/5?

    Probably nowhere near as many as you think.

    However, where does it stop ? Maybe we should have a 99% tax bracket starting at seventy grand ? Imagine how many “hospital beds/doctors/schools” *that* would pay for !

  66. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY – As most of the money in the federal ‘kitty’ comes from ordinary/moderate income people, I find it repugnant, that those who’ve paid the least ‘dues’ during their life get more of the kitty when they retire, or that there’s over 2BILLION less in the kitty as a result of cutting the supercharge on super – for high income recipients.

    When this is taken into account with the fact, that millionaries and many businesses are either not paying tax or not paying what they should. (article in the SMH last year? Adele Horin), but the govt goes after CentreLink recipients over small ammounts(in the main) they owe, where in many cases the overwhelming fault is with the CentreLink employees failing to record relevant information pertaining to their hours worked. These amounts are in the millions, whereas the rich bastards owe BILLIONS. Also, there are millionaires in receipt of family allowances and pensions – to the detriment of people like myself, and thousands more like me! Now try and justify that?

    Once the price of a home was x times a persons’ income – it has increased out of all proportion now. Also, houses in Australia are much larger than those in the US and Britain. We’ll have all these mcmansions in the future, with hardly anyone living in them. Then what? We convert them to shared accommodation? Crazy! And who allowed it to happen?

    When you’re only in receipt of about $370 per week, 25% is a huge part of that income. If you’re on $100,000 25% isn’t that much is it? Still have a lot each week to live on? Or do you think that only the rich have the right to ‘live’?I believe that the input of those on the bottom rung of the ladder perform as important a task as those on the top. We need teachers, nurses, police people, tech experts, manufacturers and garbage collectors for example. We’d be in a fine mess without them? I think you’re an income snob who looks down on those you perceive to be of lesser value than yourself? It’s called capitalism or to go further, parasitical behaviour!

  67. drsmithy

    @DRSMITHY – As most of the money in the federal ‘kitty’ comes from ordinary/moderate income people, I find it repugnant, that those who’ve paid the least ‘dues’ during their life get more of the kitty when they retire, or that there’s over 2BILLION less in the kitty as a result of cutting the supercharge on super – for high income recipients.

    No.

    Firstly, your premise is wrong. The vast, vast majority of tax revenue comes from the “rich”. Something like 90% of tax revenue comes from the top 5% of earners and wealth owners (this is a reasonable guess based on other capitalist economies, I will admit to not looking up Australia’s specific figures). Indeed, I would imagine for someone much under median income (unless they’re unlucky enough to be a childless single or couple – the taxman’s “bitches”) they’ll pay damn near no income tax at all, once all the government handouts are accounted for.

    Secondly, even “the rich” aren’t getting “more of the kitty” in your example. They’re just putting less into it. There is a fundamental difference in practice and morals between not paying as much tax, and getting welfare – I will not consider conflation of the two to be valid.

    When this is taken into account with the fact, that millionaries and many businesses are either not paying tax or not paying what they should.

    Again, this is like the people putting “millions” into their super. They are a tiny minority, and changing the rules in such a way as to inhibit them will mostly harm “normal but better off” folk, and is both pointless (the genuinely rich will find a way, regardless) and unjustifiable (the merely better off will end up significantly worse off, severely impacting any incentives they have for self-improvement).

    Also, there are millionaires in receipt of family allowances and pensions – to the detriment of people like myself, and thousands more like me! Now try and justify that?

    “Millionaires” in what sense ? If you mean millionaires because they happen to own a house worth a million plus because it’s appreciated over time, then that’s irrelevant. If you mean millionaires because they have multi-millions in liquid assets (an *entirely* different situation), then that’s a failure of the system to detect it, because it’s already not allowed (as far as I know).

    Once the price of a home was x times a persons’ income – it has increased out of all proportion now.

    Yes. We’re nearing the end of a real estate bubble that’s been inflated and held up by poor government policy (particularly negative gearing). Eventually – and relatively soon – it’s going to pop. No arguments from me at all that it’s currently a bad situation.

    On the flipside, rents are holding basically steady as to where they “should be” (which is pretty much inescapable, being tied to actual incomes).

    Also, houses in Australia are much larger than those in the US and Britain. We’ll have all these mcmansions in the future, with hardly anyone living in them. Then what? We convert them to shared accommodation? Crazy! And who allowed it to happen?

    Larger houses than Britain I can go along with (and hardly surprising, since it’s about the size of Victoria, but has 10x the population and a much cooler climate), but bigger than in the US ? No way. I’m currently living in the US, and have close friends (and spent quite a lot of time) in the UK, so I have a good personal experience with both. Houses in the US are *huge*, because a) they generally have fairly unrestricted land use policies, b) a hell of a lot of space and c) ridiculously cheap materials and labour.

    When you’re only in receipt of about $370 per week, 25% is a huge part of that income.

    Yes. I remember my 6 months on the dole quite well. More than well enough for me to make sure it doesn’t happen again (absent an an utter catastrophe).

    On the flipside, ~$90/wk in rent, is pretty cheap.

    (Wouldn’t you get rent assistance as well ?)

    I believe that the input of those on the bottom rung of the ladder perform as important a task as those on the top.

    It’s not so much a matter of how important it is, as how many people are capable of doing it. If you have a job that a relatively large proportion of people can be easily and cheaply trained to do, it’s simply not going to pay well. This is why, say, teaching, which you (unfortuantely and disgracefully) need barely a passing grade from both high school and university to do, pays relatively poorly (though the workload is awesome, particularly if you have kids).

    I think you’re an income snob who looks down on those you perceive to be of lesser value than yourself?

    Look, I don’t come from a background of money. My grandfather was an immigrant pineapple farmer (fishmonger before he left England) and my grandmother a housewife. My mother was a teacher, and my father an insurance broker.

    Amongst my closest friends, I can count school teachers, “tech workers” (that would be me), a public prosecutor, builders, Engineers, Researchers, an (extremely wealthy) investment banker, housewives, an architect, and a reasonably high profile NSW environmental lawyer/activist/greeny/professional hippie (who is probably the single most intelligent person I know).

    My wife is an Engineer, her brother a Chef, her sister a nurse, her mother a(nother) teacher (now “professional student”, since she’s probably only got about 5-odd years left) and her father a University lecturer. My first cousins include nutritionists, travel agents, musicians and photographers.

    Many of my friends came from a background far less fortunate than mine (financially and/or socially). Many have achieved more than I have, both publicly and privately.

    I’m not going to pretend I know someone from every walk of life, but I like to believe I have a reasonable cross-section.

  68. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY – The point about the size of houses was reported on the ABC – The World Today and/or other ABC outlets. It didn’t mean the mansions built in Beverly Hills etc, but the size of homes of ‘ordinary’ people – in both the US and Britain. Check it out!

    As for millionaires receiving centrelink payments. When the ordinary people are scrutinized so closely in many areas of payments, I find it repugnant that people in huge homes or with money can still receive these welfare payments. If I have more than $1000 in the bank, I don’t get my glasses for free. Why then does a person with huge assets receive govt payments? One rule for the rich, another for the poor. They should have to downsize or not receive payments. This area was one that Ken Henry reported on – he didn’t support the rich on welfare either.
    You cherry pick, and your preference is for those well off as opposed to others – like me! The current system is unjust in the same way as the millions going to private wealthy schools is unjust.

    I am luckier than many people on a pension. I live in public housing and pay a small amount in comparison to many pensioners who have to live in private dwellings. I’ve heard of some people who pay 80% of their pension on rent? This is appalling. If the rich weren’t receiving govt handouts, or paying all their tax, these people would be able to be assisted. Rent assistance doesn’t pay all your rent. It doesn’t even bring the cost down to public housing rent. I suggest you do some reading. Your selective views are just that – very selective, and supportive of those well off at the expense of the poor. I find that repugnant!

    The tax system under Howard/Costello favoured the rich. It also discriminated against those couples where the wife went outside the home to work. (I have the list somewhere.) Those households where the male was the sole breadwinner were taxed lower than those where the wife worked. The plan was to make it too expensive for the women to work. I heard many women state, that by the time they paid for petrol, child care and tax, it wasn’t worth their while.

    Howard’s 1950’s view of women and the ‘white picket fence’ attitude to them staying at home to raise the kids etc was evidenced by the way the tax system was structured. But being of the privileged sex, you probably think that’s OK too!

    Your assertion re attitudes to wealth and knowing people from different walks of life is similar to racists asserting, ‘my cousin’s friend is black therefore I’m not a racist’? Doesn’t quite cut it with me!

  69. drsmithy

    The point about the size of houses was reported on the ABC – The World Today and/or other ABC outlets. It didn’t mean the mansions built in Beverly Hills etc, but the size of homes of ‘ordinary’ people – in both the US and Britain. Check it out!

    I assume you’re referring to this.

    Your conclusion is a little disingenuous. The article says houses in Australia have only grown larger than the US in the last year or two. This is hardly surprising given that Australia is in an economic boom and the USA is in a recession. The increase in people working from home is probably having an impact as well.

    According to this, the average size of new houses in the US is 2,422 square feet, or 225 square metres, 10% less than the 245 square metres quoted for Australia. Hardly “much larger” – you likely wouldn’t even be able to tell without a floor plan and a ruler, unless all that space happened to be concentrated in a single (extra) room.

    I must admit that’s fairly surprising, though I’m still unsure of what your point is (or was). New houses aren’t expensive because they’re bigger, they’re expensive because we’re in the middle of a real estate bubble.

    As for millionaires receiving centrelink payments. When the ordinary people are scrutinized so closely in many areas of payments, I find it repugnant that people in huge homes or with money can still receive these welfare payments. If I have more than $1000 in the bank, I don’t get my glasses for free. Why then does a person with huge assets receive govt payments? One rule for the rich, another for the poor. They should have to downsize or not receive payments.

    I think it’s very, very important to distinguish between the different kinds of people getting assistance. What’s appropriate for someone who’s out of work now but is skilled and educated and will probably find a new job in a month or two is very, very different to someone who didn’t even finish high school, has been out of work for 18 months and isn’t even looking any more.

    Illiquid assets like houses are not the same as cash. An 80 year old couple who have been living in the same place for 50 years probably has a house worth vastly, vastly more than they ever paid for it (and are likely getting hit very hard on council rates), but they may simultaneously have next to no disposable income or savings. Another example is an office worker only likely to be out of work for a short time (say, up to 3, or maybe 6, months).

    You’re exhibiting the kind of puritan approach they have towards welfare in America, the end result of which is people living in tents under bridges (or in boxes in alleys, out of their cars, etc), because they couldn’t get any support until they were literally penniless.

    Forcing people to liquidate before helping them at all is a really, really bad idea. It also assumes it’s even possible. Sure, it’s easy to sell a house now, but in a few years when the market has crashed it’s going to be very, very difficult. Should we let people starve because they live in a big house they can’t sell for enough to pay out the mortgage ?

    You cherry pick, and your preference is for those well off as opposed to others – like me!

    Wow. You try to present millionaires on welfare as normal and say *I’m* cherry picking ?

    I doubt there are any welfare payments someone with a million dollars of liquid assets qualifies for, except maybe a couple of hangovers from Howards attempts at time-warping us back to 1950.

    The current system is unjust in the same way as the millions going to private wealthy schools is unjust.

    Personally I don’t care much for private schools, or the people they tend to produce, but this is not a simple issue. The parents of students in private schools pay taxes just like everyone else, and many of them are far from rich (or even well off). Lots of people out there on quite normal incomes are saving, scrimping and scraping by so they can send their children to private schools. Their children are just as entitled to have the same funding for their education as kids going to public schools get.

    Should rich people be able to send their kids to public schools for “free” ? If so, what’s different about that same amount of money being allocated to a private school if they choose to send their kids there ?

    Your selective views are just that – very selective, and supportive of those well off at the expense of the poor. I find that repugnant!

    As are yours. You seem to think everyone who isn’t poor is so rich they’re living in mansions, stashing away millions in superannuation funds, only have so much money because they’re lucky, and is out to steal from you.

    Howard’s 1950’s view of women and the ‘white picket fence’ attitude to them staying at home to raise the kids etc was evidenced by the way the tax system was structured. But being of the privileged sex, you probably think that’s OK too!

    Actually no, I don’t.

    Your assertion re attitudes to wealth and knowing people from different walks of life is similar to racists asserting, ‘my cousin’s friend is black therefore I’m not a racist’? Doesn’t quite cut it with me!

    Just like all your talk about how awful and selfish those “rich” folks earning ninety grand a year are, right ?

  70. Sean

    Australia is not in an economic boom, it’s in a housing and credit bubble, following directly from the US housing and credit bubble.

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