I’m no economist, but as far as I can ascertain, the Australian government gets beads from other countries in exchange for coal, iron ore and fancy looking degrees.
Our government then distributes those beads to Australian citizens (through direct payments and public sector “jobs”) so we can use them to buy foreign amusements, like cars and oil to make the cars go. We don’t need the cars. The foreign countries could send their own workers to get the coal and iron ore, and the degrees could be offered online by computers. Our government would still get the beads.
But it’s nice to pretend that our labour is needed, and that the car trips have purpose, and that we need lots of beads. We can exchange the beads with each other for restaurant meals or tickets to hear each other sing songs, or use them to outbid each other for houses in neighbourhoods where there are shit loads of beads, or use them to buy outdoor settees. Here’s a nice one; very modern; won’t last a week in the weather:
What do you call twenty million people, living near the beach, feeding from such a chance bounty? That’s a real question. There is a comments box at the bottom if you have an answer.
The best we can do, I think, is show the world how to live. We have an opportunity to redefine idle hedonism as something the whole world can strive to partake of, without humanity’s consumption destroying the planet.
In my life, old houses, old surf boards, and of course vintage bikes, are the signs I use to tell others to look somewhere else if what they want is cheap labour. I have the right balance of wealth and cheap tastes that I can afford to do nothing. It is what has allowed me to give notice to leave my safe university job, where they have been paying me one hundred thousand beads every year pretty much just to smile and greet customers. But beads are not great enticements for someone who does not want a car or petrol to drive it around, who has travelled the world and not found a beach as nice as the one he looks at from his kitchen window, who sings his own songs, and who has no wish to own a settee.
What I want is a platform to show emerging nations, and over consumers in my own nation, an alternative to the way of life presented to them by advertising. I want to advertise the delight of doing F.A., but more importantly, planning cities in ways that accentuate fun without spending. Having lived in Singapore and New York, and travelled just about everywhere else for my work, I know the east coast of Australia, from Sydney to Brisbane, leads the world on this front. But the emerging world knows nothing about it! They get on aeroplanes and travel as tourists to western cities to buy Gucci handbags, in the mistaken belief that that’s how people live when they have every option. It’s not! We ride old surfboards and restore vintage bikes.