Living with numbers: The Write Direction by John Blackbourn

INTERESTING but maybe potentially alarming numbers came across my desk this week.

I think they will be of particular interest to all the oldies who are living in the Mid Coast Region of NSW.

If you are aged between 77 years and 93 years, being born in the sixteen years of World War 2 vintage between 1930 and 1946, you now belong to a very select group of individuals who now represent one percent of Australia’s population.

This was the time we were coming out of the Great Depression; a period made even worse by below rainfall years producing really tough times for our farmers.

However it was the start of the great economic revival for Australia and all those who toiled within it.

Many of these people were returned soldiers, sailors and airmen returning from the war and needing land to get back into farming.

Occupation was also vital for the rest of our population, who needed to get living again with peace returning to our shores.

They enjoyed building a manufacturing economy as we transitioned from war effort to peacetime needs to feed and house our population.

The motor vehicle industry got going with government assistance.

The need for power saw new coal mines started and older ones reconfigured with improved machinery to make them more efficient.

The ‘50s saw the price of wool reach one pound of money per pound of wool weight sold.

Try to work out those numbers in today’s scale of decimal currency and weights and measures.

It was a time in Australia when everyone out there was having a go to better themselves financially in order to look after their families and increase their prospects by seeking better education.

Of course that led to an increase in our population as prosperity returned. Those who were war time babies have lived through some fantastic times with unlimited opportunity, which all started in times of depression and international bitter conflict.

Those people are now statistically the one percenters and should be extremely proud of their achievements; bouncing back from dreadful times and making it.

Another set of numbers we need to be aware of in today’s economy is that of unemployment and job vacancies and compare that to the lives of the one percenters.

Our unemployment rate last month was 3.7 percent, a slight increase from the month before at 3.5 percent.

This translates to 528,000 people receiving financial benefits.

The bit that worries me is that we have listed job vacancies of 438,000 – as close to full employment as any economy is ever able to achieve.

The normally accepted rate for unemployment in this country and virtually every stable economy was 5 percent, so we are miles ahead of that normal position.

This then asks the question, why have 80 percent of those currently unemployed not accepted one of those positions available?

Is it now acceptable to coast along happily with the government and taxpayers picking up the cost?

There is clear evidence that a percentage of the unemployed prefer to live in a comfortable climate.

They move from the overpopulated cities where these vacant positions exist to a beach location or rural environment where the requirement for additional staff is not nearly so pressing, thus are able to receive the benefits whilst enjoying a more convenient lifestyle and usually a lower cost of living.

Yes of course there are many genuine people out there who for a number of reasons are not able to work.

We assume they are the 100,000 people difference between those unemployed and the number of available jobs.

But we have quite obviously some 400,000 people who prefer not to work for a living.

The one percenters this article talks about should show every Australian the courage and ability of that group to bounce back and shape up despite the shocking start they endured.

Compare their wonderful achievements in much tougher times to those who enjoy the fruits of their efforts with the new view of just coasting along in a comfortable environment created by those wonderful one percenters.


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