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.