Australia is Doing it Tough. At least this is what we are led to believe, courtesy of a chorus of political and business leaders who lean on this phrase any time they wish to be seen to understand the traumas that Australians, bogan and non-bogan alike, face on a daily basis. We are constantly told about rising electricity prices, rising food prices, Great Big New Taxes and how others are Doing it Tough; of course, the bogan population knows that it is a better battler than others who are Doing it Tough, so it will squeal futilely into the void that times are hard.
Years of high interest rates since 1992 have created an economy in which the bogan cannot live in the manner to which it is accustomed. This applies to all bogans, from those whose Raw Flat Screen Area Ratio (RFSAR) is less than 90% of its neighbours’, to those just trying to get by in the hard-hit areas of Melbourne like Toorak and South Yarra. There, small business owner Corrie Perkin suggests that potential customers may lean towards online sales instead of visiting her quaint independent bookshop. “A tough choice in a tough economic climate” says Ms Perkin.
Statements such as this make a great deal of sense to the bogan, as it knows how hard things are to make ends meet when there are high-end consumables to consume. After all, interest rates are at about 62% of the 40-year average, unemployment is at 70% of the 40-year average, GDP growth has already resumed a steady upwards trajectory and the drought has broken.
This confluence of challenging factors led us at Boganomics to consider conditions under which Australians aren’t Doing it Tough. These conditions tend to arise with a frequency similar to the emergence of the painted lady butterfly to migrate. Seriously, we looked it up. Upon looking at two critical, closely linked variables that affect the level at which the bogan considers itself to be doing it tough, we have conceived of the ‘Doing it Tough Threshold’:
This is the point below which both the cash rate and the national unemployment rate need to fall in order for Australia’s battling aspirational class can feel secure in their financial lot in life. As you can see, over the past 30 years, the bogan has had precious few months during which it felt at peace with the world around it.
The bogan knows that the key indicator of national economic performance is interest rates. As the bogan has spent the past decade leveraging itself into a dank corner with an expensive settee, the only prism through which it can view its financial status is the size of the interest repayments on the various bills it receives on its multitudinous instruments of debt. This is driven by increases in interest rates, and fed by a media grateful to have such a simple number to report.
The number that the bogan should probably focus on, but doesn’t, is the rate of inflation.
Suddenly the truth becomes apparent, that the greatest economic indicator of social ill has been hovering well below the DiT Threshold for twenty years. The reason? It’s the fault of the mother of all greedy banks: the RBA. Any time in the last 20 years that inflation has even contemplated heading outside the 2-3% target band, the RBA has mercilessly gouged the bogan by sending the 90 day cash rate light years beyond the Doing it Tough threshold on that metric. The RBA’s consistent manipulation of interest rates ensures that the price bogans are paying for their air conditioning units remains within the affordable range.
As you can see, the Doing it Tough threshold sits at 5% on all of the three different macroeconomic indicators. This is consistent with the bogan-cherished institution of “five percent Friday”, where the bogan attempts to shoehorn itself into a clandestine long weekend by spending a minimum of 95% of its Friday not doing its job. Anything above 5% output also constitutes Doing it Tough. I digress – back to interest rates.
The RBA’s interest rate foul play provides a reliable monthly article on major news websites, and the media loves it. Thus, every month, when there is a near-pornographic obsession in the trashmedia with the upcoming announcements on interest rates, ‘journalists’ rapidly calculate the monthly cost of the overleveraged bogan’s average mortgage repayments. The media’s fixation on ‘cost of living’ is both cause and effect of the bogan’s adamant estimation of itself as the underdog in a nation dominated by overdogs.
Moreover, according to the New York Times, Australia is performing rather well on a range of economic and social indicators. Australia, in this instance, is a global overdog:This data does little to reassure the bogan that it is not the human embodiment of suffering, however. All of the colours and numbers in the table have given it a delayed-onset headache, which (after a weekend of binge drinking, consuming petrol as recreation, and giving its credit card a general working over) will flare up into a full-blown migraine on Monday morning, leaving the bogan with little choice but to pull a sickie and Do it Tough on the couch.