“My preferred term is that we’re governed by Hallucinating Goldfish. No long-term memory, and a world of imagined horrors,” I said last night.
My comment was triggered by a discussion about Australia’s debt-to-GDP ratio, which stands at 6%. Here’s a picture from March 2010, showing that even with the recent rise in debt to deal with the global financial crisis our government is debt still within the usual range historically.
Personal debt, on the other hand… Ahem!
The United States, by comparison, sits at 60%. According to one economist even that figure is wrong. It’s really 14 times greater, and he reckons the US is actually bankrupt.
But opposition parties here in Australia screech that 6% is “out of control” — even though, as Ric Hayman reminded me, it’s only a few years since one of their own was congratulated for settling things down to 6%. It was acceptable then. But now…
A debt ratio at 6% of GDP is nothing, of course. To use the traditional analogy, it’s like a household with a combined income of $100,000 taking out a loan of $6000. Quite manageable. Families regularly take out loans of 500% of their GDP to buy their own homes and it’s considered normal, even admirable.
Yes yes, if they spent that money on cocaine instead then might be different, but that’s not the issue here. Anyone who tries to equate stabilising a national economy so people can keep their jobs with a drug habit is in my opinion nothing more than a blind political tribalist. If such comments are made here I shall mock and insult you personally.
This is all part of what my Crikey colleague Bernard Keane calls the Perpetual Present of politics, “in which what happened two days ago, let alone two years ago, is forgotten”. But my preferred term is Hallucinating Goldfish
That must’ve struck a chord, because when I mentioned it last night my comment was retweeted around 30 times. I therefore pointed people to my original post, Post 801: Kill the Hallucinating Goldfish.
I was also reminded that political journalism fails to cover the vast majority of what happens in Parliament and government.
As Tim Dunlop put it, here’s “some stuff you might’ve missed if you relied on the media for all your information.” Like the House passing 29 bills, the Senate 16, and 11 bills passing both houses. Nothing important there, eh?
Now my original Hallucinating Goldfish post now seems quite dated, and I haven’t posted anything in the Hallucinating Goldfish category in most than two and a half years. I reckon we need new examples. This is where you come in.
Please help me identify more Hallucinating Goldfish. Where are policies being proposed, or decisions being made, based on a paranoid fantasy worldview and ignoring the lessons of the past?
[Photo: Goldfish by Helga Birna Jónasdóttir, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.]