Time to harden up

At home on the farm, aside from a diesel fuel rebate, we get nothing else.

THE frenzy of knee-jerk tantrums and narrow views some Australians have shown in response to this year’s federal budget highlights a few issues.

Scott Pape, the impressively politically independent ‘Barefoot Investor’ put it beautifully in his post-budget review: “We’ve been conditioned to look at the budget the same way a nine-year-old looks at presents under a Christmas tree — what’ve you got for me? And for far too long far too many politicians have behaved like they're Santa Claus”.

The economic situation we face today is similar to 1996, where a new Liberal government was met with an unexpected mound of debt due to years of previous treasurers not rolling up their sleeves at budget time. The response was similar then, with waning polls and much unrest among Australian voters. But this time it’s worse. Why?

Aside from huge rises in the number of Australians on welfare and snowballing sentiments on social media, the Australian culture has also changed. It seems to be eaten away by people shunning personal responsibility, accountability and newly stained by narcissism.

Last week I listened to ‘All In The Mind’ on ABC’s Radio National. One of the guests was Dr Jean Twenge, professor of Psychology at San Diego State University. For 35 minutes she discussed her new book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.

Coincidentally, the next day I watched Treasurer Joe “the age of entitlement is over” Hockey front up to a foolhardy audience on ABC TV’s Q and A, that seemed to feel well informed enough to ask probing questions of the Federal Treasurer on national TV after reading dot-points on the budget in the local paper.

Looking around, and according to Jean Twenge, unfortunately for this government, they may be battling a new culture. And along with the tyranny of political correctness that cripples progression in western society, it’ll be near impossible to manage this one. Getting a part self-obsessed culture to look past their own prejudiced opinions enough to consider something bigger than themselves is a gutsy move.

Dr Twenge has tapped into the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) that was documented in 1988, and has since combed through 15,000 tests from students between 1982 and 2006 and done numerous studies and papers on narcissism.

Aside from the NPI, they’ve assessed a wide range of key indicators, from changes in baby names to make kids stand out, through to the language used in books from 1960 to 2008. Apparently, we’re using "I, me and mine", a lot more than "we, us and team". Values on materialism and vanity have risen dramatically and we’re prone to more shallow and dysfunctional relationships.

Dr Twenge also blows apart the fallacy that self-esteem is necessary for good grades at school or even success. She claims that by trying to boost children’s self-esteem, we’re breeding a generation that think they’re special, and when confronted with a world that doesn’t think they are, they can spiral into feeling lost and confused. The sugar coated conditioning painfully erodes as reality in later years sets in. Unsurprisingly, Dr Twenge has then dealt with studies that show a correlation between spikes in narcissism and rises in depression and anxiety.

On Facebook last week, I saw people protest and attack with poor and misinformed arguments. Nothing new there, but I was repeatedly fired upon after commenting on Sydney Morning Herald posts simply for being a farmer, who apparently gets handouts and government assistance all the time; they couldn’t be further from the truth. It reminded me of spoilt little children after a treasure hunt, elbows out, hoarding their goodies and peeking either side to see if someone got something they didn’t.

At home on the farm, aside from a diesel fuel rebate, we get nothing else. And the diesel fuel rebate is simply a refund of the ‘road tax’ component per litre of fuel as we don’t use our machinery on the roads. Other industries get a similar deal.

A combined effort is required by media and voters to be more informed on the big picture not forgetting the long-term. How else will we achieve national economic resilience and feed the wave of new pensioners soon coming in for a feed?

Sam Trethewey

Sam Trethewey

grew up farming down south and now commentates on agriculture across Australia
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


27/05/2014 8:21:17 AM

Well written, well said and spot on!!
27/05/2014 8:46:05 AM

This budget is hideously inequitable by any measure - the rich are barely touched. The poor, pensioners, the unemployed, students [less sympathetically perhaps, foreign aid] carry the burden of the budget "heavy lifting". Non-city dwellers will also do more heavy lifting. How do explain paying off so-called "debt +deficit disaster", when a $7 GP co-payment goes to a $20billion medical research fund. There's zero logic to this. Your argument is pathetic drivel. Lets blame the most disadvantaged for the problem. $50bill bank profits no prob; $50 bill mining industry profits no prob
27/05/2014 8:47:24 AM

Well Sam, You have gone up in my estimations with this article. It is a great explanation of how selfish and petulant our society has become. We can only hope that Joe sticks to his guns and somehow gets his budget through. I don't mind if the paid parental leave system falls off the wagon on the way through however. It is a misfit in our current environment.
Kyles Woods
27/05/2014 8:52:09 AM

Thanks Sam. You have said it like it is. I'll be sharing this around to try and inform those in my own circle - and I too am a farmer - who have spat out their dummies and thrown a two-year old tantrum.
Graham & Anna
27/05/2014 9:02:23 AM

Very interesting Sam as when Aussies who do it tough in business need handouts you mean they are whingers or Bludgers? When Farmers do it tough we need to have National donation drives etc You have Farmers suing because of a Temp Ban on Live Export - even when the average NT Farmer was making more than $540K in profit on average still that year and they are crying poor still. Your standards are double. Yes such a whinger I am working 2 night jobs and supporting a child with a severe disability, I cant afford $7 for a Dr Sam. What should I do, just suck it up?
27/05/2014 9:35:22 AM

Sam - just checking - you have considerable family means/assets, you are healthy, you have your uni qual, you have no disability, you earn the average wage or above, English is your first language, you are non indigenous, your employer is not about to shut down, and you have no dependents [who may/may not fall into some of the above categories]? Well youre all right, jack!
Jen from the Bush
27/05/2014 9:52:51 AM

Just where do you get your figures from Graham+/Anna? Comparing mango farmers to beef producers is pretty idiotic and you are just making a fool of yourself. Read Phil Holmes report and it clearly says we are making losses (like 10 out of last 11 years) and not sustainable. That is the reality. Just when we were hoping to turn that around Joe and AA got busy. Funny that. Almost a plan - Step1 How to kill an industry .
27/05/2014 10:47:38 AM

"At home in the city, aside from the $200 a week I get, we get nothing else - no land to farm, no means of production, no education or training without money. I pay most of that $200 to rent a small room and feed myself. But seeing as the age of entitlement is over I'm willing to be homeless and starving with no prospect of any future."
27/05/2014 11:15:38 AM

So Sam, if you think people having the nous to take a bit of time to analyse how the budget is going to impact on them personally is narcissistic, then I can only assume that whenever something happens in your life that may affect your income/happiness/wellbeing, you never think "how will this impact on me?".... Another example: if you lose your job because you're employer is closing down, do you think to yourself, "oh well, doesn't matter, it's for the greater good"...? I highly doubt it.
leonard corio
27/05/2014 11:18:50 AM

When I was 17, I had just lost my job as a farm laborer. I had no tertiary education and very little money in the bank, and no father to fall back on. I got no welfare from the Government, so I made sure I found work very quickly. I got another farm laboring job and then a job in a mail room, and then a job rounding up animals at the metropolitan sale yards starting at 4 am each day rain, hail or shine. Am now retired with no welfare. You can do it too if you try.
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Get MuddyTo think clearly in farming and about farming, you need to get muddy - commit, roll up your sleeves and get involved. SAM TRETHEWEY gets stuck into some of the issues facing those on the land.


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