Saturday, July 21, 2012

What can we afford?

"Why can we afford to tackle so many problems, yet we can’t afford to tackle climate change? [...] We can’t possibly imagine tackling something like climate change because we are busy actually causing that climate change with the world’s biggest mining boom"
"[W]hy [can] Melbourne [...] subsidise a car race but [...] no longer afford to subsidise fresh fruit in public schools? Why [can] Sydney afford to host the Olympics but not house the homeless?"
“It is very hard to get on mainstream TV talking about issues of Indigenous disadvantage, but gee it is easy every night to get 30 seconds about the Hang Seng and the Nikkei-Dow. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have an economics degree who even knows what the Hang Seng is! Do you really think that the people who need to know are tuning in to the Channel 10 News to find out? So what is it doing there on the news every night? It is telling you that big, important things that greater minds than yours have puzzled over are happening in the world. And you might think we can afford to spend more on health, you might think we can afford to spend more on education, and you might think we might do something sensible like tackle climate change, but you don’t even know what the Hang Seng is. So why should we listen to you?"

- Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute,
Address to 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia.
H/T Peter Lockhart.

What we can or can't afford is always a matter of priorities. Scarcity is not the problem.