ALS Topic 8 - Do Australians have it too easy?

Focus questions for Adelaide Lunchtime Seminar, 14 May 2018 ( )

Note: The 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.

Focus Questions:

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?

5. 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 now?

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 too easy?

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?

Thor's own websites:

1. articles at ;

2. legacy site: .


Do Australians have it too easy? (c) Thor May 2018 return to Ddiscussion