Aussies and Politics
Kevin Rudd and the case of the free money
I live in a country whose Prime Minister, in response to a potential recession, once gave everyone $900 each, to help stimulate the economy. I love this. I love what it says about the way we run our country.
When the rest of the world was screaming about austerity measures and recession, our PM decided that the best thing to do, in the face of looming and catastrophic economic failure, was to give away free money, to everyone. Every taxpayer was given an average of about AU$900, which is far from chump change, to be spent however they saw fit.
This was not food stamps, or any other form of limited currency. It was cash, in your bank account. For absolutely no other reason than that you were an Australian taxpayer. He essentially told everyone to not worry about the global reports of doom and gloom, and to just 'go buy a little happy.'
It was a time of great bounty in Australia, and it made everyone very happy. Well, not everyone, of course, but there will always be killjoys, sucking the fun out of things for everyone, so we will ignore the naysayers for now.
Generally, people walked about with the sort of spring in their step that an extra grand or so in the coffers can bring. And as a strategy against recession, it apparently worked quite well.
Australia steered it's way through the great Global Financial Crisis relatively unscathed, like a beauty queen through a gay bar. While economies all over the world were melting down, ours was chugging along nicely.
Despite what some Australian politicians might have us believe, ours is still one of the worlds strongest economies, and we enjoy one of the best standards of living. There are many theories around the exact reasons for our fortunate course away from economic doom, but many people, myself included, like to give some credit to the little bit of sunshine that this, now ex-Prime Minister brought to the country, at a time of potential catastrophe.
The thing about Australians, and the way we respond to our politicians, is sharply reflected in the aftermath of the great handout of 09. This is something that I am, perhaps, less enamored with my country-folk about. How did we now view this unexpected benefactor?
Surely the Australian people now loved this man like no other? This generous, eloquent leader had given Australians something everyone on the internet says doesn't exist, after all, free money.
True to hundreds of years of form, Australians sat back and watched with a smirk on our collective face, as his own party knifed him in the back and ousted him, in a rather spectacular political meltdown that would go on to unseat two more Prime Ministers before it was done.
Whatever your take on that particular political fiasco, whichever side of the fence you come down on, you have to agree, the whole affair does at least look a little bit like we, as a nation, bit the hand that was feeding us clean off.
We watched as the people that we entrusted to take care of the big decisions squabbled and fought over details we cared little about—and we laughed. That's a bit like watching your pilot and copilot fight to the death over who has the prettiest socks, and joking about how shallow men are as your plane descends into the ocean.