And then we have pundits and pollies telling the community how badly the economy is going.It’s all very depressing. As afairly ordinary family man but also as the Chairman of the Bendigo Community Banks I am not convinced that either scenario is infact accurate. The annual Christmas spendis apparently essential to the economy,otherwise the retail sector will suffer. Through November and December the retail figures letwe ordinary citizens know that we are failingthe retail sector by not shopping enough.Then in January we are beset by adverts aboutdebt consolidation. Sometimes it’s hard towork out what the average family is supposedto do for the best. How do families fit into the plethora of information? What does it mean?And how do we sort what is actually relevantto our daily lives from the high end bumpthat the so called money managers deem essential?
I’m not sure how many of us actually withour morning toast and Vegemite and workout the impact of a rise or fall in the TWI ora barrel of Tapis crude on our daily lives, but,as I talk with people in my community I sensethat we are beset with a surfeit of informationand possibly a lack of direction. Maybe eveneducation and much of that leads to the viewthat things are worse than they really are.
For many people the easiest is to acceptwhat the journos tell us, that we’ll all beruined if this or that index or set of figuresisn’t within a certain range. For most of us inour daily lives that is nonsense. If we analysesome of the more choice nuggets of advicefrom pollies and pundits much of it is selfserving. As examples: carbon pricing arrivedand the sky did not fall in, nor did it have anymajor impact on daily life for the majority ofpeople. Rates have not tripled and none of ushave been bankrupted by such innovations aspublic art and the arboretum. Electricity costshave risen because companies, which fordecades ignored infrastructure maintenanceand improvement, have found it necessaryto upgrade. Most things happen for a reasonand not always for the reason purveyed bythe 24 hour news cycle. And some politicians use convenient versions of truth, not actualityin the polling phase.
For most of us the cost of living is selfdefined. We look at what is essential foreach of us in living our daily lives and adjustto fit income and other responsibilities.We feed the kids and the cat, aim to get amortgage and own our home , pay our billsand save what is left over. If we have to weput money into Super. That in itself is new.Superannuation used to be the province ofthe well to do, now it is the norm. That hasto be good? Or is it simply that Governmentnow wants us to fund our own pensionsbecause with increased life expectancypensions for all are just not affordable.
Is there a recipe for living within ourmeans? Perhaps we might all look atbeginning the year with a commitment toliving well. That will mean different thingsto us all, but for me it means contributingtime to community, living a healthy life andworking locally to make each neighbourhooda better and more inclusive place.
I’ll pick up themes from this column inlater articles, in the meantime let’s all enjoy2013, it promises to be an interesting year.