July 06, 2018

Horse 2437 - A Sense Of Entitlement

Forget the utter dumpster fire that is American politics, in Australia we have our own unique blend of complete knaves and expletive deleteds. This year, the Liberal Party decided to just launch into full on abusive relationship mode and have effectively threatened to sell the ABC. This is in addition to the fact that by "stopping the boats" we literally condemn people to die on a tropical gulag, have made kissy faces to the United States who decided quit the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for no sensible, and this year's federal budget is basically a love letter to big business.

I work in a job in which I'm very much starting to see the effects of radicalisation of some parts of society, as not only is class warfare in full swing but we're starting to see the doctrine of economic jihad among our older rich people (and being enacted into law if the 2018/19 Federal Budget passes the Senate). The only impression that I get is that having lived through the Trente Gloriueses that they now want to burn the ladder behind them and permanently poison the well. The phrase that consistently reappears in conversations that I overhear is that young people want too much and have a "sense of entitlement"; before citing an imagined past of pure virtue where they themselves worked hard. Hard work it seems is the panacea for all the ills of the modern world, irrespective of the systemic and economic changes which may have taken place and which they are partly responsible for.
I really wonder about this so called sense of entitlement. I wonder exactly what is meant by that. Surely if always people have a sense of entitlement, then they imagine that they must be entitled to something, right? But what, exactly?

A Decent Wage.
The average wage in Australia and the one which is constantly touted as though it were the truth handed down on two stone tablets from on high (instead or Lipitor and opioids), is stated at a shade over $80,000 per year. The really curious thing is that if you look at which percentile that the average wage happens to fall in, it actually works out to be percentile 19. Someone who actually is paid the average wage happens to be in the top fifth of all wages. If you use the other major measure of central tendency, the median wage, the one that actually splits the population in twain, the. this amount happens to be about $52,000 per year; which is a far cry from the amount touted.
In addition to this, we're actively seeing a slashing of penalty rates in Australia, which also just happen to coincide mostly with the most badly paid workers, and it has been uncovered in at least two franchise chains, actual wage theft going on where people are forced to pay back monies to their employers because their employers are scumbags.
Never mind that although there has been a very slight growth in the average wage, if you look at the real wages of the median wage worker,  then they peaked in November of 1979. There has been an almost forty year erosion of real wages for the median worker in Australia.
A sense of entitlement to a decent wage? Why would there be? We now have an entire generation of people who have been conditioned as such that they've never been entitled to one. Where this sense of entitlement comes from, is totally beyond me.

A decent place to live.
I have been fortunate enough to be never paid enough ever, that would make taking out a mortgage viable. I don't believe in the great Australian dream of a house on a quarter acre block because quite frankly, I'm awake. I don't suffer from some great sense of delusion and yet at the same time, I have to play a sensitive game of kowtowing to people for fear of having their poor little virtue knob switched on. I have however had sufficiently a good enough job to be able to keep the rent clock ticking over for some very lovely and entirely derelict and absent landlords. They have only really ever showed up when they want to reassess the rent that they collect.
I like probably most renters, openly expect that the only way that anything is ever going to be repaired is if there is a serious structural problem with the house. I used to live in a house where the back door was in such a state of disrepair that it had to remain closed. Our current house has a non working aerial, which we've been able to overcome because we happen to be lucky enough to live in an area with the NBN because otherwise we'd be totally knotted, and where there used to be a garage and a nice garden, is now a granny flat (isn't it amazing that money was found for that?) However, I am lucky.
If you happen to be unlucky enough to be on the minimum wage, the total number of houses or apartments which are considered "affordable" in the entire of Australia is a nice round number - nil.

The general cause for the massive increase in the cost of housing is often racked up to the bogeyman of immigration and population growth; but this conveniently ignores the fact that during the post war baby boom when the population due to immigration and population growth was increasing at a far higher rate, the cost of housing relative to wags was in fact falling. The reason for this is partly because of the fact that real wages for the median wage earner has been falling but the amount of money in the economy has not. There has been a change in the way that the rewards of the economy are allocated and the capital of the dead is now due greater rewards than the wages of the living. Those rewards have to be parked somewhere and since we've redesigned the economy away from making stuff and paying decent wages, they've been parked in bricks and mortar. When the rewards for capital accumulate faster than wages and the price of housing goes up because capital has flowed there, then you should expect that housing should become progressively more unaffordable as housing prices accelerate faster than wages: and they have.
A sense of entitlement for a decent place to live? Why would there be? We now have an entire generation of people who have been conditioned as such that they've never been entitled to one. Where this sense of entitlement comes from, is totally beyond me.

A decent education.
When I was passing through tertiary education, a constant refrain that I would hear my dad repeat was "When I was going to Tech, education was free". I think that it was his general annoyance at the fact that the world had changed but it always seemed to sound to me that I was somehow responsible for a change in the funding system before I arrived. What's even more loony is that the price of the same level of education that I received and paid a pretty penny for, has increased by two orders of magnitude.
It is now possible to leave the education system with student debt that extends well into five figures and even six. It is now possible for a student to enter the workforce having accumulated a debt large enough that would have bought you a very fancy motor car and indeed a house in the suburbs just three generations ago. All of this is to secure a piece of paper which allows you to work in a job where you can be treated like pond scum by the same people who can brag that they got their education for free.
There is also this really strange kind of disdain for academia which has arisen over the past twenty years. As the economy has shifted to one where money farming and rent farming are the most viable industries, the amount of money allocated to the hard sciences has fallen and the money allocated to the social sciences that aren't law and finance related have fallen off of a cliff. There is a weird cry and hue that universities are a hotbed of elitism, and there seems to be some sort of cultural xenophobia and horror that people might want to look at the past differently and perhaps study things that aren't particularly eurocentric. I really don't understand this at all because if you do any study of the anthropocene you find that humans have pretty much always been as horrible to each other in the past as they are now, and across all cultures. If you actually bother to lot at human nature honestly, you very quickly find that most of history across most fields is about the exercise of power punching downwards and if you dare to suggest that this is based upon money, sex, or race, you get accused of elitism, and usually by the people who have the most money, who are the most sexist, and the most racist.
So given that, the people with money and power, get into politics for the express purpose of punching downwards, just so they can defund  education, which also includes the technical colleges and universities. Those things still have to be paid for though, and none other than the students who are already asked to pay fees which are orders of magnitude more expensive than before are on the hook.
There's also a really strange thing that is related to this and it has to do with the funding model of primary and secondary education. Those people with money and power have found a convenient grift delivery system to make the general public pay for the cost of spending their sprogs to private schools while at the same time defunding  public education. It's very easy to claim that public schools are failing if you design the system so that the poorest people who find it the hardest to survive and who suffer from the problems associated with poverty including behavioral issues go to the least funded schools.
A sense of entitlement to a decent education? Why would there be? We now have an entire generation of people who have been conditioned as such that they've never been entitled to one. Where this sense of entitlement comes from, is totally beyond me.

To be treated decently.
There is no doubt that since the end of the Second World War as the world was snapped violently away from late Victorian manners which had been insanitised and codified for purely exclusionary reasons, that the world has become more egalitarian in the way that it deals with social morays. When the 1960s arrived the people who had grown up in the previous climate of manners were all horrified at the slip and so there is quite a lot of residual literature of the time which is from old people crying foul over the loss of manners. They are all dead now.
In the rush for more egalitarianism, society ran towards the other door and open vulgarity became the order of the day, and I would wager that the level of smut, profanity, indecency, nudity, violence, and just pure abuse, has increased myriadfold since the days when Elvis Presley could only be shot on television from the waist up because the lower half was a bit "suggestive". All of that has surely had an effect on the available language and thoughts that enter and pass through people's minds and mouths and the internet is nothing but an accelerant to this. You can not blame the internet for horribleness of human nature.
I work in a very small accountancy firm and so although I am not actually in the legal profession, I am adjacent to it. Before this, I used to work directly in the law courts themselves. This means that I have spent a lot of time around people who have letters like QC and SC after their name. Nevertheless, people who have qualifications in the law are more often, more beastly and cruel to both their clients and the people from whom they contract services from, than the rest of the general public in my experience. A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a client which was so shockingly brilliantly awful in its execution, that I was almost proud of them. I was impressed by this person's use of language and imagery that I almost wanted to congratulate them on the sheer affrontery and audacity of their invective. But again,  think that I have been lucky.
In the real world, where once manners would have held back people from speaking exactly what they thought, no matter how barkingly racist, insane, cruel, or divorced from facts and logic it may be, this lack of manners has now been dressed up in the clothes of frankness and honesty. Well to be perfectly frank and honest, I preferred to live in the world before where people kept that all bottled inside. I have a theory that Pandora's Box is actually a metaphor for her mouth and whoever Pandora was, was actually a really nasty piece of work who spewed hate whenever she opened her mouth and let all kinds of evil into the world.
A sense of entitlement to be treated decently? Why would there be? We now have an entire generation of people who have been conditioned as such that they've never been entitled to be treated with anything but contempt and disdain. Where this sense of entitlement comes from, is totally beyond me.

For the record, I think that I do have a sense of entitlement. I think that I and indeed everyone is entiteld a decent wage, a decent education, somewhere decent to live and to be treated decently. When you have parliamentarians who are actively trying to smash those things then of course people are going to complain. If people trying to ask for the most basic of decency, are accused of being whingers, then it's obvious that we do not live in a decent country; or certainly one without common decency, which I take to mean isn't really that common any more.

No comments: