The Economy at What Cost?
A few weeks ago (20 Feb 2006), the Sydney Morning Herald reported on a poll it had commissioned that showed that “half of voters believe Australia has become a meaner place in the 10 years since John Howard became Prime Minister – but many believe he has done a good job managing the economy.” Howard “on balance, was also not seen to have handled Australian interests well”. However, the article also implied that all this was forgiven and people were quite happy for him to remain Prime Minister because he was handling the economy well and about half of them thought that they personally were better off.
This article disturbed me greatly and has been on my mind ever since. What is happening to this country of ours that we are quite willing to accept that Australians have become meaner and that our society is less fair just because the economy is doing well and we personally are doing ok? Jesus asked what good it did a man to gain the world if in the process he lost his soul. Australia is losing its soul. We have become so obsessed as a society with growing the economy that we either choose to ignore, or choose not to care, what we are losing in the process.
I have a theory, a hunch more like it, that over the past fifteen years or so government, the media and business have convinced us that the economy is all important and yet at the same time, tell us that it is something mysterious and beyond the understanding of mere mortals so that we go along with them because they know best. Why else do we get economics reports at the end of news bulletins (even on our beloved ABC, which once had more sense) that are a meaningless jumble of words and numbers. They tell us, even when we can’t understand the detail, that the economy is important, and we should trust the experts. At what cost do we hand over our democratic control in this way?