ALS Topic 8 -
Do Australians have it too easy?
Focus questions for Adelaide Lunchtime
Seminar, 14 May 2018
questions below are not supposed to suggest biased answers. You
really can adopt any point of view your can suggest evidence for. Do
be prepared for others suggesting counter-evidence! Note: clearly
not all of these questions can be properly covered in a meetup, but
they give us a conscious choice about what to talk about while
making the background context clearer. It is up to the people who
come on the day to choose what aspects they would like to deal with.
1. A lucky country? :Australia has been
called 'the lucky country'. How much of what we have is down to
luck, and how much to discipline, planning and hard work? What else
is involved in this 'luck'?
2. People getting better or
worse?: What is the evidence (or not) that Australians were nicer,
better people when waistliines were trimmer there wasn't an app to
solve every problem?
3. Are kids too comfortable? : Comfort
corrupts & absolute comfort corrupts absolutely. As a kid I had to
cut wood for 2 hours after school every day. I walked 3km to school
and 3km home, alone, as an 8-10year old. There was no TV and no
mobile phones. One Christmas I asked Santa Clause for some rope and
a tomahawk to take to "my own cave" I had found in the mountain bush
valley where we lived. Kids now live in "virtual electronic worlds"
with personal comfort guaranteed and no personal risks. Is this
making them better people? Explain your thinking.
4. Is some
job insecurity good? : When I left school at the end of 1961, the
unemployment rate was 2%. Anyone who wanted a job could get one. It
was hard to persuade a lot of kids to stay at school because they
could make a good living even unskilled. Things are very different
now. What is the right balance between job security for everyone and
that bit of fear about not getting a job which drives people seek
more education, work harder, or even start a new business?
Is there too much to do now? : Rear vision is a wonderful thing. As
a school leaver in 1962 I didn't think I was living in the best of
all possible worlds. There were far fewer occupations to choose from
than there are now. Shops closed very early and nothing was open on
Sunday. It was harder to meet people. It was often boring. Wages
seemed low. Was this a hard life for a teenager, or is it harder
6. Monoculture Vs multiculturalism : In 1945 Australia
was almost a monoculture. Nearly everyone was Anglo-Celtic. We had
conflicts - e.g. Catholics and Protestants were supposedly 'enemies'
- but we were sure of the cultural rules. Now people from over 200
cultures live in Australia, so it is often quite difficult to know
the best cultural rules to use between any two people. Does this
cultural confusion make life harder or easier, better or worse? Why?
7. City life or country life? : People in different parts of
Australia live very different lives. Life in a big city can be very
crowded and busy, but also interesting. Life in a country town or
small city has a slower pace, travel times are shorter, but probably
there is much less to do, fewer jobs, and little escape from people
you might not like. Which kind of life do you personally think is
'harder'? What kind of people in these places do you think have it
8. Debt up to the eyeballs : Australians have some
of the highest personal debt levels in the world (no, they don't
actually own all those SUVs or apartments, or even their iPhones).
Average personal debt is 212% of income. If interest rates rise
(likely) many people will become bankrupt. How do you think debt
shapes people's behaviour, attitudes and plans?
9. An easier
future? : Do you expect life in Australia to become harder or easier
in the future? For whom? What do you mean by 'harder' or 'easier'?
10. Oz Vs other countries : What is something which makes life
harder in another country you know about, compared to Australia?
1. articles at
legacy site: http://thormay.net