We are currently witnessing the spread of a global contagion that threatens our quality of life; from the halls of Washington DC to the streets of London an international outbreak of dumb is gathering momentum.
On one side of the Atlantic legislators take their economy to the brink in a bid to conform with Tea Party slogans; while on the other the punters express themselves by smashing windows and grabbing what they’re told they have to have. United in dumb.
And we are not immune from this dumbness epidemic in Australia, with growing evidence that people want to put a stimulus straitjacket on the Government in the increasingly likely event of a Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
This week’s Essential Report shows that as we brace for another GFC, we are not prepared to back the use of stimulus spending to keep the economy strong – even though we accept it worked last time.
Australians are losing faith in their economy just as the experts are telling us that things are looking up.
In an eerie echo of the climate change debate, this week’s Essential Report picks up a massive disconnect between public sentiment and expert opinion; just like those pesky climate scientists, economists are presenting a world at odds with the average punter.
Across a range of benchmark indicators we are seeing a sharp deterioration in economic confidence, with pessimism about national and personal economics heading back to where they were at the height of the Global Financial Crisis.
On the general direction of the economy more people think Australia is heading in the wrong direction rather than the right direction, a drastic change over the past 12 months and even since the May budget. This question is a key indicator for any government, as it reflects the electorate’s attitude to the broad direction of its economic policy rather than any specific issue.
Tony Abbott’s attempts to turn the nation’s richest households into welfare victims has resulted in a self-inflicted political wedge that turns the Coalition’s creed of self-sufficiency onto its own support base.
It was the sideshow of budget week, reporters scouring the nation for hard-working Aussie families, victims of Labor’s decision to finally begin winding back the system of universal direct cash payments that became a feature of the Howard years.
Manufacturing outrage at the moves to cap payments to families on incomes of under $150,000 was always a big ask; after all a constituency of 15 per cent – concentrated at levels far above the threshold – is hardly a mass movement.
As results from this week’s Essential Report show, the measures had the majority support of not just Labor and Green voters, but also Coalition voters and families earning above the threshold.
Today’s budget will pit Treasurer Wayne Swan against an increasingly grumpy elephant in the corner, with growing concerns about cost of living pressures beginning to colour people’s broader outlook on politics.
Since the Global Financial Crisis, Essential has been picking up a growing determination by people to rein in their spending and increase savings; but at the same time grocery prices, housing prices, fuel prices and the cost of water and power have all been rising.
The result has been an almost emotional response for many voters – “we are trying to do the right thing with our household economy, but we are being frustrated by forces beyond our control”. The following responses complied as part of the Channel Ten Essential Lifestyle Index, illustrate the point.
|Affordability of groceries and general household items||17%||64%||43%|
|Affordability of your housing – mortgage/rent||41%||39%||39%|
|Affordability of electricity/gas/water||10%||78%||28%|
|Affordability of petrol||7%||81%||16%|
Household budget frustrates
Publish Date: 9th May 2011 7:26 PM
The rising cost of everyday items infuriates Australians, a 6.30 survey finds.
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