We complain. It’s what we do. Prices keep going up; life just keeps getting harder; the bills keep coming in; the cost of living is on the rise; house prices are through the roof; the government’s budget is too tough. It’s very easy to find the fault in our current situation without realising that life for our current generation is better than any previous one.
Think about it. We’re sitting quite comfortably comparative to many other nations. Through the policies of successive governments, both Labor and Liberal, living standards continue to increase for people across the income divide. There are the naysayers who like to stupidly claim that capitalism is corrupt and just lets the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. But this, frankly, is rubbish.
Most of them are key board warriors smashing away at their Apple Mac laptops while they play with their iPhone, listening to the sounds of their iTunes playlist while their flat screen television complete with foxtel and PS4 connection blares in the background. They might chuck the anti-capitalist post or meme out onto the capitalist social media – be it Twitter or Facebook – thinking their ‘activism’ is cool and trendy. They have stores of Arts essays locked away on their USBs – a product of capitalism that has saved more trees and paper than Greenpeace fifty times over.
They are the very beneficiaries of a system they claim to hate. They ignorantly advocate socialist alternatives with seemingly no working historic or economic knowledge. They hate the rich – seemingly lost on the fact that the richest 10 percent in this country pay for more than 60 percent of the social services we receive (no thank you though, just vitriolic abuse). They claim the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, overlooking the unprecedented growth in the standard of living across the income divide over the past century (ask yourself – could the poor have afforded a car, television, phone, and holiday during the 1950s? Most on the lower income bracket can now, thanks to the wider availability of these goods and services made possible by….capitalism).
We are best to ignore these people. The road they want us to journey down is the road to oblivion – littered with ignorance, envy, and insecurity.
Like I said – we have never had it so good! And it’s because we have never had it so good that our expectations have collectively risen over time.
To quote from the NATSEM report on the cost of living:
‘Every year the perception seems to be that it gets harder to afford the basics. But are prices really outpacing our incomes? While some prices such as electricity and petrol have certainly shot up in recent years, many other prices have fallen such as televisions or clothing. Could it be that we’re placing greater expectations on ourselves and what our standard of living should be? The cost of living has changed since 1984…overall the average family is ahead by $224 per week and the benefits have spread to both high and low income families. Low income households are ahead by $93 a week since 1984 while high income households are $429 per week better off. Australians earning income from investments – typically self-funded retirees – have done particularly well, experiencing income growth of $547 per week above their living costs over the same period, largely due to strong dividend growth from shares, superannuation income, and property income.’
We complain that things are getting worse and that life is getting harder, and we want our politicians to do something about it, but truth is, our incomes continue to rise. We complain that the cost of living continues to rise, yet our disposable incomes have also risen in the past thirty years, as this graph from the Australian Bureau of Statistics illustrates:
We are now spending more on discretionary items such as restaurant meals, holidays, private education, and on flat screen televisions in every room. Not to mention PS4 and Xbox consoles that are the staple of most households with an adolescent. It’s not actually that things are getting harder in this day and age, it’s just that our expectations, and dare I say, sense of entitlement, has risen.
We have become more aspirational, and our expectations of our standard of living have risen. The once luxury items of forty years ago have become part of everyday living for most of us. Travelling overseas in your twenties is now almost a rite-of-passage for most, since capitalism has made airfares and travel costs affordable to your average Joe. We enjoy more nights out, more social events, and unprecedented access to goods and services provided by private businesses.
Yep, life is pretty good. Yet in our complacent moments when we forget our luck and believe that we are simply entitled to this life, we sometimes forget it.