Cut your debt, fool!

Wayne Swan spent a great deal of time reminding the nation of just how tough this year’s budget was going to be. While this is hardly a new strategy for federal treasurers, this year, the bogan had a creeping sense of unease; folk in their ivory towers were whispering about cuts to middle-class welfare. Really, Swanny had to be tough, in competing with a man of REAL ACTION across the aisle, he was forced to straddle the line between two of the bogan’s greatest needs: budget surpluses and free stuff.

‘Money is wasted when not spent on bogans.’ Were the bogan’s eco-political philosophy to be distilled into one sentence (it cannot), it would be this. While tap-dancing delicately between its deeply-held belief in the primacy of the free market and its deeply-held belief that battlers need a fair go, the bogan comes to understand economics. It understands that the government budget should be run like a household budget, and that households must not live beyond their means. Meanwhile, while scraping together the monthly 25% interest payments on the 50” Panasonic flatscreen it bought from Harvey Norman interest free for 18 months 21 months ago, it knows that cost of living pressures mean that the government must DO SOMETHING.

That something, historically, has been electoral bribes. The bogan has received massive amounts of government largesse, in the form of negative gearing, the baby bonus, the private healthcare rebate, the first homeowners’ grant and myriad other subsidies for the bogan’s elevated standard of living.

The capacity for politicians to offer investment in targeted projects for targeted constituencies is nothing new, but if any political trend mirrors the rise of the modern bogan, it is the alacrity and enthusiasm with which  today’s politicians toss out ever-more bountiful bribes at ever-better targeted bogan marginal seats.

Indeed, the ideology of the bogan is more a lens a political theory to underpin its decisions. That lens appears to have constantly shifting sands but is in fact united in one inviolable value: me. It will sway this way and that, assessing the personal benefit to itself and the withholding of benefit to others of each party’s bribes. Thus, marginal seats tend to exhibit a very high bogan quotient. Any seat that is safely in one party’s grasp is, almost by definition, ideologically consistent, therefore lacking in neobogan thought.

When the bogan turned to its primary source of information about the budget, its News Ltd newspaper, it was told that because its household only earned $150k per year, it was on the breadline, and the removal of all of this wasteful spending was now an act of middle class warfare by an ALP determined to grind the bogan’s aspirations into a fine paste from which it could subsidise more foolish art projects by dole bludgers.

Because unlike these latte-sipping quasi-intellectual barbarians, the bogan is the backbone of this country, and works hard for its income. And despite its best efforts at tax time, some of its income is taxed. And anyway, as News Ltd pointed out, $150k is chickenfeed these days. The cost of living is skyrocketing, and the bogan knows this intuitively. It doesn’t feel rich. In between paying off its modest, middle class house (not to mention the contents of its five-car lockup garage and home theatre room,) the bogan barely had enough money left over for getting each family member a three park superpass this year. And while a casual observer may ridicule the bogan for living outside its means, the News Ltd paper  is there to reassure the bogan that it’s Doing It Tough is in NO way connected to its own decisions.  It is up to the government to ease the burden on reckless consumers. And cut unnecessary spending on infrastructure, schools, hospitals, etc.


  1. Armand Tamzarian

    “The bogan has received massive amounts of government largesse, in the form of …, the private healthcare rebate …”

    um, that is corporate welfare not bogan welfare. Punters are coerced into taking out private health insurance, a big stick awaits if you don’t do it.

    What a frakked up country this is when open ended corporate welfare to the private health industry is regarded as normal.

    • Exactly – it burns me to the bone when I see the private healthcare companies say – “have you used all your entitlements yet” for their policies…

      Arggh!! There is no cheap version of private health because we all are sucked into buying the premium version with all the perks and lurks….

      Why isn’t there a simple catastrophic private health care policy and the rest just paid out of your back pocket straight to the doctor?


      • I agree with your view Prince, but here is a simpler question, here in Oz, why do I have to pay for Medicare and also have to have private cover as well? All other western nations allow you to have one or the other, they don’t force you to have to pay for both. I’d gladly go private without any rebate so long as I don’t have to contribute 1c to Medicare.

        • You do know that when you undertake a private precedure, some of those costs are extracted from Medicare funding right?

        • Probably because you still have the option of going public or private. If you had a car crash, chances are you’ll end up in a public emergency room.

          • Cool,

            Then as I said previously, one or the other, not both, I’d simply go public and not waste dough on private as well. My argument is that I have to pay both, this scenario does not exist in other “Western” countries. You can go one way or the other.

            Kinda like having to pay the same bill twice all the time.

            Oh and to add salt to the wound, don’t forget this temporary medicare levy increase for something that has nothing to do with medical, but rather everything other than…

          • Rowan,

            Here in VIC 99% of private hospitals don’t actually have emergency facilities, nor can they accept ambos on call, just the public gov run ones, so all accidents end up at them.

  2. “the bogan that it’s Doing It Tough is in NO way connected to its own decisions”

    hehehehehe… Noice 😉 And what a bitter pill that is to swallow.

  3. Love this phrase: “Because unlike these latte-sipping quasi-intellectual barbarians, the bogan is the backbone of this country, and works hard for its income. ”

    And about how at tax time they try not to pay any tax……hey I’m in the Kerry Packer School of Tax Avoidance too, but the howls of derision from those on $150K or so who can’t afford childcare is not funny at all…..

  4. Indeed it is noice, but it will not be swallowed, let alone understood. It simply is not possible to have a reasonable discussion with a bogan. It is not possible to communicate alternate points of view. It will always be someone else’s fault.

    • “It will always be someone else’s fault.”

      yep, that sums it up soooo perfectly. I know (and god forbid, am closely related too) a few people with this attitude.

      The closely related one was going to storm into the local MP office recently and get him to talk sternly to her bank because that big ol nasty bank was going to foreclose on her house. – and they just can’t do that to her! (can they?…)

      Of course the small detail that she failed to pay her interest only mortgage for past 60 days and was already in arrears was not her fault. The bank never warned her and besides, why should she even communicate with the bank, or even open their (nasty and hurtful) mail (she had weeks of unopened mail). They don’t speak to her nicely. What had she done to deserve this!!??

      you can choose your friends hey….

  5. If you eagerly await the Family Tax Benefit indexation to make ends meet when earning $150k, you’re need to take a long hard look at……….. what the government MUST do for me!! We really have become a trash society.

  6. Is this the result of the ‘nanny states’?
    Nothing is ever the bogan’s fault, & they’ve had the counselling to prove it!

  7. Brilliant stuff.

    The obsessional ‘ideology’ of ‘Me’ blinds the bogan to the contradictory nature of his requirements, as you say: budget surpluses on the one hand, rewards for his hard work on the other. The logic becomes inverted; just as the macmansion and all the other stuff is self-evident proof of his own hard work and ambition, so the existence of much lower paid people is proof to the bogan that there are many lazy people without aspiration or ambition. For the lazy lower group the largesse is ‘handouts’, for the aspirational bogan it’s ‘rewards’.

    Thing is, there is no income or wealth line of demarcation, despite all the waffle about the $150,000 mark. There’s always someone lower down the income scale who is by nature less deserving than oneself; that’s why the bogans on $80,000 identify with those on 150 or even more.

    I think I might have heard John Howard once utter the quaint phrase ‘the deserving poor’ very early on in his reign, but that soon went out the window for ‘battlers’ and it’s now considered an oxymoron.

  8. I think Swan knows bogans are getting richer, these C.O.B’s (cashed up bogans) are making a mockery of the elite with their new wealth, that’s what Swan thinks.
    In fair go, bogans are the workhorse of Australia and know it. Simple, down the line. That’s the culture we all know and we admire. I say to hell with Swan’s plan, tax the snobs, let the bogans be.

  9. As long as there is a gap between what the bogan has and wants, it will never be satisfied with what its fortunate enough to have.

  10. The Bogan need not necessarily be Anglo. An asian work colleague fits the definition of an aspirational bogan nicely.

    He bailed me up in the wc the other day to ask: “You say month and month ago property no selling! How you know diss? I bloddy tell yu mate for two month i have empty block for sale and no body buy! I’m eating 2 minute noodle while pay the bank interest only”

    This guy is a classic. Has multiple investment properties. If not for borrowing money out of HK at 2% (or thereabouts) he would have lost the lot already.

    My sense of schadenfraude embiggens.

  11. Way harsh on bogans !

    Those attitudes deeply infect plenty of latte sipping inner city ‘creatives’ as well.

    Invariably they have they own preferred choice cuts of govt pork but call them things like ‘cultural assets’ to make them sound less venal

  12. I live in Adelaide, where $150k goes a long way, buuut:
    ■ Median three bedroom house rent in Canberra: $440 per week;
    ■ Childcare costs in Adelaide: around $70 per day. I imagine it’s more in other capitals.
    ■ My partner and I easily spent $200 per week at the supermarket, just to feed the two of us. A family with kids would pay a lot more.
    ■ A lot of people on high incomes have HECS repayments that are taken from their after tax pay, leaving them a further $100 or so short per week.

    A family of 4 with kids in daycare and parents repaying HECS debts WOULD be struggling on a combined income of $150k if they lived in a city with high rents. I’m sure Bogans aren’t the only demographic whinging about this budget!

    Sorry, but that’s patently ludicrous. If a household is making $150k and is ‘struggling to make ends meet’, their ends are too far apart. In essence, to boil this down to a single point, if you own a large, flat screen TV, you are not struggling. This blog post by Matt Cowgill may put it in perspective for you. Money quote:

    “…a single person, living alone, would need around $36 000 in disposable income to sustain the typical Australian’s standard of living. Following a widely-accepted methodology, each additional adult adds $18 000 to this figure, so a childless couple would need a disposable income of $54 000 a year to enjoy a median standard of living. Each child adds $10 800 to this figure.”

    The important point is this: $150,000 is more than enough to live reasonably comfortably, and it places a household in the top 10% of earners. TBL