One of my favourite movies is “Dante’s Peak” which stars Linda Hamilton and Pierce Brosnan. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about a small American town famous for its slumbering eponymous volcano, which suddenly erupts. There is a scene in which Pierce Brosnan’s character, Harry, a volcanologist, explains how it is that the citizens of that town could be so blasé about living in the shadow of a volcano that could erupt at any time.
In the movie, Harry explains that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will hop right out in a jiffy. But if you first put the frog into a pot of cool water, then place the pot over a fire so the water heats up, that same frog will continue to swim in the water until it’s boiled to death.
Many people, today and in history, are like those frogs. Some, not liking a place or situation they find themselves in, rapidly move on elsewhere without settling down. Others, whether by lack of wherewithal, apathy or sheer ignorance, stay and put up with it. Those that realise what they’re up against, speak out and seek likeminded souls to rally with and try to change things for the better. Those that know but don’t care, because they might be benefiting from the situation, try to downplay the situation while at the same time make money out of it (create the problem, then create the cure). Those who still haven’t a clue what’s going on… will become frog soup.
Having moved to Australia from Ireland 4 years ago, I can attest to the high cost of living in Western Australia. Some of the Eastern States may be marginally better off, but mostly it is true that Australia is a VERY expensive country to live in. People are struggling to pay their bills, utilities, buy food, pay for clothing etc. And I’m talking about the average family, not the uber rich who only think they are hard-done by because they’ve had to cut down their holidays to 3 a year instead of their usual 4. I have no sympathy for those “I bought a Jeep” types, who complain that they can’t afford to maintain the lifestyle they’ve bought into… why take out a huge car loan to buy a status symbol petrol guzzler, when you know jolly well that you will be working all the hours God sends just to pay off that loan, and that you’ll NEVER have the time or the means (barring taking out another loan) to go places with that Jeep?
The figures in this article may be slightly out of date, but still serve to illustrate and compare the cost of living between Australia and other countries.
Now, Western Australia’s capital Perth is the most remote city in the world. Many things that you see in the shops have had to be shipped over from overseas or across the continent from the eastern states. Which means the price of everything is doubled or tripled before it hits the shelves.
Why then do people still live in WA? Many came over decades ago, when life was simpler and cheaper, and they don’t know anywhere else to call Home. Others came for work – the Mining industry (and its auxiliary service industries) accounts for a lot of the wealth of WA…however, this is a poison pill that everyone has been forced to take. The 10% who work for the Mining Industry and earn over AUD$100k a year, are driving the cost of living for the other 90%, whose average income is less than AUD$50k. Greedy corporations then jack up the prices of everything, because they want to tap into the miners’ wealth. So, whereas a cup of coffee in Sydney can be had for $3.50, it will cost you $5.50 here in WA. No wonder people are starving…or going to fastfood restaurants, where they then trade their health and wellbeing for cheap, affordable food that fills the gap. For $5.00 at Hungry Jack’s (Burger King), you can get a triple BBQ cheese burger and a Frozen Coke. The same $5.00 won’t even get you a cup of coffee in a cafe.
It’s a vicious cycle. Money really makes the world go round. People get used to working for high pay, then complain when employers decide to cut costs by outsourcing from China, India or Indonesia. They bemoan the fact that jobs are being given to foreigners instead of Australians. But what they don’t realise is that the Chinese/Indian/Indonesian worker will work for a third or even less than what an Aussie expects as a bare minimum. Plus, employers don’t have to offer as many incentives to foreign workers, and are easier to get rid of when no longer required.
At the rate things are going worldwide, I think we’re ALL going to be frog soup. Unless we start speaking out and campaigning for lower prices, or fairer employment opportunities for locals, or beseech corporations and financial institutions to be less greedy for profits etc etc. And even then, it might already be too late. I sure hope not!
(Image source: Google)