Thursday, May 15, 2008

A bit rich: getting some perspective

The federal budget unveiled this week by the new Labor government has introduced a new measure of what it means to be "rich" in Australia: an annual family income of $150,000. Above this, and various forms of government aid are now reduced or excluded. As a result, the oppressed upper middle class are crying poor.

The average Australian income is about $50,000, which is more than about 98% of the world's population. If you earn $150,000 p.a., then your income exceeds that of about 99.16% of the rest of the world.

I earn less than $30,000 and consider myself abundantly wealthy. True wealth is found in the smiles you give and receive, the tears you shed, the second, third, and fiftieth chances you receive, the people you trust, the hopes you cherish, the mountains you climb, the stories you share, the bounty of sun, wind and rain, and your name spoken in welcome.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

- Ephesians 1.3

Twelve points for the name of the building.


One of Freedom said...

Oh Oh. The Rockefeller Center.

I get really frustrated that no matter what our income, at least in North America, we tend to live well above our means. The economy is built on so many falsehoods that we shouldn't be surprised when it fails, but we always are. I really find a simpler life so attractive. But my frustration is the greatest when I recognize just how embedded I am in the current economic system. I really need to wrestle this one through. I apprecaite the post.

Mark Stevens said...

In the Adelaide 'newspaper' (and I use the term lightly) yesterday they had a front page story about a couple on a combined income of over $150,000 'struggling'. Maybe they are but in the photo you could see the designer 'beach side' home with a massive plasma sitting on the wall. They lamented that their new 4WD would have cost them more if they had waited and private school fees put a drain on the budget!!! (Sorry that one bugged me all day yesterday).

I agree with you One of Freedom, I long to live outside the current economic system however, it just seems impossible at times because so much of our lives are now dictated by it.

Sometimes I feel as though we have lost our soul as a nation. The 'Aussie' way has become dictated by the $. When I meet with older people in our congregation and they re-count stories of the depression and just having enough to get by (and by enough I mean holistically not just having enough to pay a massive mortgage etc) I fel sad because they have something that my generation seems to lack. A character forged by family and what is truly important.

By the way my first guess would have been the daily planet but then I remembered it doesn't exist!

Anonymous said...

If you earn $150,000 p.a., then your income exceeds that of about 99.16% of the rest of the world.

Depending which currency I convert to first, the rich list website gives me $150k AUD > 99.56% or higher.

byron smith said...

Frank - Twelve points. I wonder whether the "solution" is not so much about leaving the economic system (as if we could), but about acting subversively within it.

Mark - I'll give you six for "The Daily Planet". I linked to that story from the Adelaide paper in the post - it made me wonder whether the photographer (or editor) mightn't have been having a little dig at the story by composing the shot in that way.

Anon - Yeah, it does make a difference. I tried Pounds, just because I've been doing lots of AUS$ --> £ conversions recently.

sair said...

After being generally happy about the budget (from what I understood of it...) I was almost surprised when a colleague complained about losing their child care rebate as he and his wife earn slightly over to $150k mark. At the time I felt a little sorry for him and offered polite commiseration, though as I read this post and comments I started to remember that he does own two houses (well, has mortgages for them) and his wife owns and runs a child care centre. My pity has fairly much run out now! Thinking about it- they should be able to take care of the cost themselves... even if they do have to sell one of their houses to pay for it!

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating plan that I had not heard about before this post.

It seems like a superb way to balance the widening gap between rich and poor in Western societies without damaging the wealth creation incentives that for better or worse are the basis of our economies. So it's much better than my 70% top-level tax rate idea.

Has this been received well by Australian society generally?

Donna said...

I also earn below $30K and I have a servant whom I can easily afford. We are very rich. I am very rich compared to her, she thinks my washing machine is a novelty!

What do people in Australia regard as "neccesary" these days? Is a plasma TV necessary...?

Jason Reid said...

Assuming 2AD to the pound, I'm not rich yet - phew...

Geoff W said...

Dr Calvin Seerveld - reformational philosopher of aesthetics and profound Biblical story teller - once wrote/said (can’t recall exactly where) that, biblically speaking, anyone those who have enough food to eat, roofs over their head and clothes to wear are rich.

Put's our monetary definitions into some perspective, I think. (Especially of those on AU$100,000 who protest that they're not rich.