The ABC’s get-rich Pineapple Project podcast with Claire Hooper is clueless

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“Rich people got that way because they were really careful with money.” This is the claim of comedian Claire Hooper, newly commissioned by the ABC to challenge the logic of current capitalism. A cynic might say that the host of The Great Australian Bake Off is not also the ideal host for a podcast that seeks to liberate its audience from debt. I am not among these. I happen to believe that any literate person, even a TV personality, can read and understand in under 30 minutes that an overwhelming majority of rich people became rich due to inherited wealth, labour exploitation and the brutal use of financial instruments.

It is unfortunate for us, the stakeholders of the ABC, that Hooper didn’t bother to do any such brief reading.

What Hooper was apparently moved to read about was the power of “vision boards”. In ABC podcast The Pineapple Project, currently ranked in top position on Australian iTunes, Hooper makes a “pledge” to be careful with her money, and encourages listeners to do the same. If you dream large, you can save large, just as billionaire Gerry Harvey did.

Billionaires become billionaires by collecting interest on their billions. Not by shopping at Aldi.

Perhaps Hooper is without the most casual acquaintance with the movement of capital. Perhaps she really does believe that buying meat in bulk or preferring, as the impressively rich Mr Harvey tell her that he does, economy class seating on domestic flights results in greater wealth. Whatever the case, it is of some concern that no one at the national broadcaster is moved to contest such a falsehood presented as top-selling truth on iTunes. I mean, Google it. Harvey accumulated his wealth not through careful saving, but investment. This is not the claim of some dodgy pamphlet one of my pinko mates wrote, but is a matter of record in the effing AFR. This just in: billionaires become billionaires by collecting interest on their billions. Not by hard work and not by shopping at Aldi.

Anyhow. Back to the pledge, or “Pineapple Pledge” as it is known to listeners. You can call Hooper up and stake your claim in the future of wealth equality, which will be won not by changes to a fundamentally unequal set of economic prescriptions, but by a process of visualisation. Start with something small! Hooper, our wretched mortgagee who is just crazy with the challenges of juggling a career and two kids and a husband, chooses a family holiday to Tokyo Disney. Gee. I hope she makes it.

If she does, she can prove that Australian households have accrued record levels of debt because they are insufficiently aspirational. Which is the nice way of saying the more brutal thing Harvey, her first guest, did a decade ago. In 2008, Harvey was interviewed by an author of a work on Australian CEOs. When asked about the philanthropic role of his company in the broader community, he answered that it was better not to help “a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason”.

If you’re asset-poor, underemployed or not taking your family to visit Mickey Mouse in Japan, you only have yourself to blame.

Dress it up in any shade of compassionate awareness ribbon you like. The Harvey message is fundamentally identical to the Hooper sort: if you’re asset-poor, underemployed or not taking your family to visit Mickey in Japan, you only have yourself to blame. Sure, Hooper very cheerfully chides listeners for their failure, which she also says is her failure. She may as well call some of us “no-hopers” for whose survival there is no good reason. Her assumptions and Harvey’s are the same.

Now. I could say something awful here. I could say that I am sick to the shitter of comfortable ABC Mesdames banging on about the trials of life in, what, the top 10 to 20 per cent of the national income distribution. I could advise that Hooper takes her “Money Personality Types” and shove them somewhere where even the most lax class analysis dare not shine. I could identify this moment as one of many clearly emerging at a broadcaster that cares less for a majority of viewers than it does for cosseted tits still rich enough to consume real estate porn without gagging on the fact of encroaching poverty. I could say that it takes a fair bit of money from the outset to Dare to Dream of Disney, when so many of us dream that mortgage stress or rental eviction will not come too soon.

As I am a fucking lady, I will say none of this. I will simply offer some “alternative facts” to challenge those offered by Hooper and her sorority of Pledges, who now have pictures of lovely things on their vision boards including a kayak, frozen ova, a lovely European holiday for all the family and, of course, several housing deposits.

The median Australian weekly wage—a measure far closer to typical than the “average” so often cited—is currently $662. 40% of Australian workers can lose their job at any time with no warning. More Australians are renting and failing to meet their mortgage repayments. Underemployment is a problem so urgent, even the RBA was moved to mention it, perhaps promote its inclusion in national measures of labour capacity.

If you believe you can overcome social and economic conditions with some moxie and a picture of a cartoon mouse, you are either (a) a very gifted bank robber or (b) Claire Hooper or Gerry Harvey.

If you don’t enjoy numbers and would prefer personal stories such as those offered by Ms Hooper, here is one from an Uber ride I had last Friday. A young driver we’ll call M was born in Eritrea and his first years on the planet were spent in a UNHCR camp. M “visualised” his way into an Australian university where he was awarded his Masters in IT. He was assured that networking was the specialty of the future. Jobs are now scarce in the sector, but, M told me, fear of black skin isn’t.

M, who has a rating of 4.9, is earning less than minimum wage. A tiny bunch of “innovators” in Silicon Valley extract great profit from his labour. A growing group of nativist shits in Australia have their views about his religion printed and broadcast across the nation each day. This man, who drove me, a person on about double his income, home from my Friday night drinks retains far more optimism about social and economic equality in Australia than his passenger. On the matter of Australia, I’m with Tarneen Onus-Williams. Burn the thing down and start again. (For our very literal friends at News Corp, this is a metaphor and in no way an incitement to arson.)

So. If you believe you can individually overcome prevailing social and economic conditions with some moxie and a picture of a cartoon mouse, you are either (a) a very gifted bank robber or (b) Claire Hooper or Gerry Harvey.


A growing number of us are insecure, poor and without assets. A growing number of Australian Millennials recognise just how stuffed they are in this luckless era, where a degree is no guarantee of future employment and a government promise to address “inequality” is mere policy posturing.

Tell me that my lack of material fortune can be amended with a vision board. Go on, Hoops. Tell me again. Tell me that it is my own lack of interest in my survival that has kept my super low and my annual income stagnant. Tell me, or maybe even M, that “You can change it!” as your do on your economically myopic top-rated podcast. And don’t forget to sign off again with, “Love your work, Cash Cats”. It’s so charming and inclusive and a wonderful reminder that those neoliberal economic prescriptions that demand wealth inequality can be overcome by positive thinking.

Rich people. They got that way because they were careful with money and vision boards. This is Our ABC.


82 responses to “The ABC’s get-rich Pineapple Project podcast with Claire Hooper is clueless

  1. “Love your work, Cash Cats”. I feel physically ill. Maybe broadcasting pseudoscientific financial advice is proving lucrative for Ms. Hooper and the ABC, but it doesn’t translate well into you know “reality”. I think I’m still in shock…

  2. Guthrie’s ABC, feel-good philosophy and dumber by the day. Backyard Renovations and Sylvia’s Table on telly. No more Lucky Oceans on radio – just Michael Williams on crucial issues like barbies and wine and the horrendous Amanda Vanstone. Now Michael Cathcart chortling on about the delights of the new stripped-down Books and Arts show.

    1. Hey, hey. Michael Williams is pretty great. Hardly the broadcaster I would nominate as fatuous. (Listen to his stuff on RN.)
      Still. Your broader point stands.

  3. Helen, I hope you’ll indulge me, but this reminds me so much of the increasing focus of governments/regulators on “financial literacy”. I did a bit of reading on this a while ago and I thought I’d share.

    On the surface financial literacy is about making people more savvy with money (e.g. don’t fall prey to dodge bank practices) but really it is about shifting the burden of an increasingly financialised economy onto individual citizens and promoting the free market. This show does exactly this. By making the problem about the individual, this show totally avoids examining the fact, as you point out, that many of us are living very precarious lives because of the creep of neoliberal economic policies not because of our individual spending habits.

    Financial literacy initiatives basically envisage an economy full of empowered and ‘financially literate’ consumers (cash cats?) who are on an even footing with financial institutions, thus justifying decreased regulation of the finance sector.

    ASIC spends a lot of money on financial literacy yearly but it is questionable whether financial literacy programs (which, surprise surprise, are mostly run by banks and major for-profit financial institutions) actually work.

    A good (/depressing) example of it is the Wesley Mission’s in charge of my money program which is delivered to people mostly in residential rehab programs, and who, the authors admit, are mostly on centrelink. Basically they go into a residential rehab centre to teach people on $500 a fortnight how to be more “mindful of [their] spending habits”. [you can find the report at: http://www.financialliteracy.gov.au/media/560750/research-wesley-mission-financial-literacy-program-evaluation-report-2016.pdf%5D

    1. Financial literacy. Just make sure you question how YOU spend it. Not on how THEY create it.

      It’s like the gambling industry buying into whatever their bullshit little organisation is called that coats a veneer of care over the industry, so that they can sah, “Gamble responsibly” at the end of their shitty odds ads and absolve themselves of everything.

      1. It will come as no surprise to learn that I agree with both of you. Making overarching economic conditions the responsibility of the individual is a lie of criminal order.

  4. Having listened to two episodes I‘m not sure whether I’d prefer to listen to Clive Palmer rhythmically fart or commence a third. That being said, I think it is possible to assume the purpose of the scrupulous richies are there not necessarily to represent how/why they got rich, more so; it is important to watch your consumption based on principal (which is a wise teaching). I perceived the somewhat cumbersome message to encourage the listener to be more conscious about consumption, if only for personal financial gain. Interestingly, could this reduce consumerist ideology? – a significant fuel, fuelling the modern ‘capitalist’ system the author refers to. Kind of a twist though, as both richies got rich selling consumer type goods, sort of eroding their own principal in a way, or at least challenging it. Perhaps that is where a chunk of angst also lays.

  5. I love this podcast and hate this review. The whole point of the pod is to be relatable and up beat – you can’t do that by crushing dreams with hard line economic facts – that’s for a different audience, and is definitely available already through the ABC. I get that you like to take a harsh approach to things, but this pod really didn’t need it. It’s fun, upbeat, motivating and uplifting – and I’m looking forward to the next episode. Given it’s number 1 on itunes, I’m certain many others are doing the same.

    1. Sarah. What you are saying here is that the podcast is useful to you. I am glad that this is the case. For you, “dreams” can stay alive, presumably because you have enough income or wealth to make them occur.
      This is not true for the majority of Australians. And, as the majority of Australians pay for this podcast, I believe that the ABC has a responsibility to that majority. Wouldn’t you say?
      If Hooper clearly said, “this is a program for individuals in secure work earning over 75K p.a.” or “this is for households with a relatively high net worth” that would be fine. She doesn’t. In insisting that the podcast is “relatable”, she says that it is relatable to a majority. It is not.
      You may believe that “dreams” elevate people. The fact is, in an economy designed to keep most merely existing, it is not likely that one can realise these dreams. Ergo, the point of such dreamy optimism is to keep people happy with their lot.
      I bear you no ill-will for being able to benefit from this advice. I bear ill-will to an organisation for presenting this material as something We Can All Relate To. I can’t. I am a bad loan prospect. Through no fault of my own. My credit record is fine. I just don’t have dependable income. Like 40% of the nation.
      Finally, that something is popular is not guarantee of its quality, right?
      Neolibralism is the opiate of the masses.

      1. Jaysus, how often do you have to explain basic capitalist theory to these people? I guess that you are one of the few “progressive” writers/commentators that bothers to write about economic inequality in Australia and so it has become your responsibility to do so. It seems to me that the rest of them are happy bleating on about racism, misogyny, homophobia and now transphobia in a way that doesn’t even mention the biggest contradiction in capitalism; the inevitable uneven distribution of wealth created as the bosses cream off the surplus value produced by the rest of us. I am not for a moment suggesting that the forms of oppression listed above don’t have serious consequences and don’t need to be smashed but without a real analysis of the economics of capitalism we’ll all be forced to continue to listen to the sort of drivel propagated by the current bunch of soft headed liberals running the ABC.

        And where exactly is the humour in the line “Rich people got that way because they were really careful with money”?

      2. The ABC has always created programs with narrow focus and also programs with broad appeal.

        If the ABC bear the responsibility to the majority then they should just churn out reality nonsense that the majority seem to watch. I look forward to “Married At First Micallef” and “I’m A Cyberman, Get Me Out Of Here”.

        1. This podcast is nonsense.
          Also, the commercial TV channels now make reality shows as these are cost effective. They are not necessarily more popular than drama. They don’t bite into profit, however. No script. No stars. Product placement. This reduces the expenditure dramatically. That’s why there are so many of the things about.

      3. Hey Helen, I think you have hit upon the answer. In the same way that TV programs carry a classification that says, for example, that it contains “sex scenes”, maybe ABC podcasts could carry a similar warning as to their suitability. For example, finance/economics articles written by Emma Alberici could carry the warning “Should only be read by the loony left who think that capitalism stinks, that “the government” should pay for everything and that Rupert Murdoch is the devil. Problem solved!

        1. Oh. How could you say that Alberici is in any way opposed to classical economic thinking?
          You do not know what “left” is. I am guessing you think it means writing hashtags and talking about diversity on boards.
          That is liberal progressive. Left means something else, which is clearly written down. Try reading it.

          1. To be clear about Alberici, whose reporting I do not wish at all to insult, her recent and censored piece on tax cuts to corporations was perfectly moderate, and actually a true account. To call it leftist is deluded.
            Let me help by providing some clear definitions.
            Leftist: down with capitalism.
            Neoliberal: give the most successful capitalists “freedom” to impose their will on everyone else because capitalism is perfect on its own. (Even though we have to regulate it and subsidise it to let this free market go free).
            Centrism: let’s save capitalism by acknowledging that it has cycles.
            Alberici is a centrist. She sees where we are at. And that it is not sustainable without a moderate change in regime. Do you not see that her article is based in broadly accepted economic analysis? Capitalism has a crisis when wealth is accumulated by too few. I mean, duh. People can’t buy anything from big firms if they have very limited income. Have you heard of FDR?
            I am not a centrist. I don’t believe that FDR saved capitalism with his New Deal. I am a Marxist and I would like to tear the whole thing down. So, there’s your “left”. Call me radical if you like. Certainly call neoliberals extreme. The believe so utterly that the “free market” can exist (it cannot without a state) they call people like Alberici left.
            We all have our ideas. But to call Alberici’s in any way crazy or untested is just nonsense. Or ignorance. Please. Read some basic stuff before reheating Murdoch. Wikipedia will do.

          2. Ah Helen, you’re so funny. You admit to being “a Marxist” (a minority) but berate the ABC for pitching to a different “minority” without declaring it. My post actually agreed with your point – if the output is only suitable for a prescribed minority it should say so, but your own viewpoint is so bent out of shape, you can’t see the wood for the trees. Actually, I made the point the other day that your writing is becoming more subdued and moderate so it must just be a another feature of growing old that you forget your point when the argument takes over. And even the in the rarified atmosphere of the “progressive” bit of radio at the ABC, you must have come across the deeply-entrenched anti-Murdoch sentiment in the news department. It informs their every utterance, They’re gonna need counselling when he finally carks it!

    2. Oh. And do point me to that part of the ABC which addresses a majority of low-income, non-asset owning people in insecure work? I’d love to consume it.

      1. I’ve been thinking for a while of pitching a reality show to the ABC – where one of the ABC hosts who lives Balmoral (say) does a residence swap with someone from Blacktown (say). Perhaps it could be called “I’m an ABC celebrity, get me out of here”.

  6. Well I wish you wouldn’t be a “fucking lady”, because maybe the network might be less deaf if a former on air presenter were screaming the flipping obvious in its ear.

    The ABC has always been bourgeois, but it used to be distinguishedly so. Bourgeois in the way the BBC or Merchant Ivory was, but it was NEVER fatuous. The crime here is no longer being bourgeois, it is being FATUOUS.
    Shows about politics that are really about property ownership (I’d have called it “Crabb Sticks”), when was the last time the ABC won any sort of international award? SBS has probably had 6 in the same space.
    The Project (which is basically the only innovation in the last decade) would once have come from the ABC, and Network 10 would have been the last place deemed capable.

  7. I dunno Helen, I reckon you’re a bit negative. People, including me, are sometimes ‘dumb’ with money, so I reckon there’s a place for teaching people to be a bit more savvy. I was a high school teacher with no inherited wealth and at age 57 I find myself relatively financially ok, certainly no Gina Rinehart, but ok.

    It is only being aware of how to use money that got me into this position, including the luck of buying property when it was affordably priced, unlike now. This is the kicker I think. More than anything it is the cost of housing which is making peoples lives worse than they should be.

    That being said, I agree with your wider point that a large amount of wealth is inherited and you don’t get rich by buying no name tinned foods.

    Due to a new relationship, I live in san Francisco now, the seat of liberal America, and it is ridiculously priced. Rent is unaffordable, an AirBnb studio will cost you $5000 usd for one month. It will cost you extra money to do your laundry, park your car, nothing is free, like it used to be. I loathe AirBnb, Uber and other start ups that exist here, who’s sole motive is to make money by using software to concentrate a service, slightly reducing the cost of that service until the competition is destroyed and paying the smallest aamount possible to it’s ‘non employee’, medically uninsured workforce.

    1. As I have said elsewhere in the comments, the advice of the podcast is fine for a small group of people. Those who managed to buy property when it was not outlandishly priced, for example. Those who enjoyed regular and secure work for years and felt a little benefit from the time of Keynesian prescriptions, which benefited and grew a (white) middle class in this nation.
      If Hooper addressed only these people and did not make the case that this is a podcast for all, that would be fine. The assumption that we can all join her class of well-to-do property owners is offensive.

      1. Anyone who bought property pre year 2000 did ok, after this you started paying through the nose.

        So yes, agreed, not everyone was lucky. I hope property values deteriorate because I will only ever sell my home to buy another. Cheaper shelter would create a better world.

        I worry for the future though, if the US is anything to go by.

        1. If there is a crash, it will be amended here as it was in the US. Not by offering money to mortgagees unable to meet the ludicrous commitments to their now negative equity homes, but money to the banks.
          The credit “boom” will be permitted to continue. Affordability will be out of the question for most of us again very quickly. Banks will continue to set the housing price, and old-timey economists will continue to understand finance as just another part of the market, and not the most influential economic force in the world.

    1. I do not believe our humour is loosed.
      The national broadcaster’s grip on reality may be, however.
      The ABC increasingly employs comedians to cover quite serious matters. Domestic violence, for example, was explored in a documentary hosted by standup Becky Lucas.
      Now, we would not excuse any part of the documentary, I’d hope, simply because it had a comedian as host. Nor should we excuse one that insists it provides a case for the matter of personal finances, also an important issue.
      “It’s supposed to be funny” is not a catch-all rationale for bad service.

    2. Why is a comedian giving money advice? It’s dangerous. If she wants to do a funny podcast on what it’s like to get by on the money she and her hubby make — fine.

      Surely someone with qualifications in financial management and advice might have been a better choice for our national broadcaster than a recycled comedian/reality show host?

      Great article Helen.

      1. Yeah Kerry… perhaps a financial adviser from the Comm Bank… that would help….them! Not saying there are no moral advisers out there but the scumbag corporations have stuffed it for all of them too!

    3. If the podcast was delivered as satire, then sure, you would judge it by a different set of criteria. But it isn’t, and so its ostensible aim of empowering its audience is well worth questioning.

      For mum, we are living in a world of splintering perspectives. If you have had the opportunity to build wealth, it seems more and more that you live in a bubble where other experiences are no longer visible. Hence the advice from Joe Hockey to get a high paying job if you want to buy a house. Or that eschewing artisanal smashed avo will get you onto the property ladder pronto.

      No, in the space of a generation, property ownership has been turned from a relatively average aspiration into either a wealth pyramid scheme or a source of considerable anxiety and hardship. The increasing numbers of people who missed out on the boom times have to peck and scratch and fight for the scraps that fall off the table of their betters.

      So, yeah, not really a laughing matter, is it? The ABC should be doing better than taunting the average punter with fables and advice which can’t be adopted by the people it is supposed to help. You don’t become financially secure by reducing the service costs of your Porsche. Duh.

  8. The overarching message of the podcast is to encourage people to take an interest in their finances. So far, the podcast has encouraged listeners to think about their attitude towards money and to create a budget. This is not a bad thing.

    1. Julia. It is a bad thing if it purports to include most listeners.
      Most do not have the luxury of a “budget”. Perhaps you are unaware, but we are in the middle of a period of great underemployment, wage stagnation and extreme wealth income inequality now approaching pre-1929 levels.
      Many of us do not “budget”. We pay rent, buy a modest amount of groceries and get about on public transport. As I have stated, the typical Australian wage is at $662 per week. How does one typically budget on that amount?
      I am glad you have the means to be able to budget. A growing number of Australians do not. I ask only that the ABC serves a majority. If it is serving a minority, it should make that plain.

      1. Julia thinks that when a “podcast has encouraged listeners to think about their attitude towards money” its a good thing. How about podcasts to encourage me to reflect on my attitudes toward violence against women, racism, demonisation of other people? Is our ABC encouraging us to think about money in other ways like The Check Out? Who needs the privileged at the ABC encouraging others to swallow the neo liberal market cons? Thats what commercial media does.

  9. I listened to the first two episodes while I was stuck in traffic yesterday and was underwhelmed. I’m now in a relatively well-paid position and gradually digging myself out of debt. I’m perhaps the Pineapple’s target audience. But what I remember was how frugal I had to be for many, many years. In the second episode, Clare makes a song and dance about a woman who’s feeding her family on $50 grocery money a week and saying how awe-inspiring that is, and ‘I wish I could be so frugal!’. I did this… for years… out of necessity. Nobody made a song and dance about it; it was the way we had to live. I grew veggies, bought homebrand everything, bought stuff in bulk, went to the fresh produce market looking for bargains, didn’t eat out, and turned down social invitations because I couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants or buy fancy coffees. No matter how much I didn’t spend, I wasn’t going to get rich. And I was miserable. It was awful and stressful and I would never live that way by choice. Agree with you, Helen, that this podcast is disingenuous and ignoring the big issues.

    1. Did you hear the bit where Hooper saves herself 6 grand pa on insurance?
      As in insurance fees?
      I don’t believe I have 6k worth of goods to insure. Anyhoo. Girl’s clearly got some assets to protect.

      1. One year, I cancelled our contents insurance to save money. I knew I was taking a risk, but food and rent were more immediate needs. I don’t think Claire has much of a grasp on reality.

      2. To be fair, I think the 6k was referring to the accumulation of a number of cost items she targeted, including insurance. The program is pretty lame (including the pledges) but if it helps certain people in better managing their financial affairs then probably doesn’t hurt…

        1. The hurt is that it gives people who have no hope – through no fault of their own – the false hope that they can dig themselves out of poverty by spending even less on their minimum wage.

          1. Yes, John. Precisely. I was very upset by this. I imagined those on a median income listening and following the advice. And blaming themselves when this latest ideological drivel suggests that they should. If those Social Justice Warriors of the present had any interest in material prosperity of people at all, they would call this “victim blaming”. Poor? It’s your fault. UGH.

  10. Dear Helen – thank you for this review.

    I am tired of people being given a platform beyond their expertise and qualifications because they have charisma.

    I think Trust Fund Babies like Tim Ferris and those with comfortable incomes offer advice that ultimately makes the average person feel like a loser simply because they aren’t in those circumstances.

    When Malcolm Turnbull suggested that new home buyers get their parents to chip in – I laughed. Their parents? The same people in their 50s and 60s who are fighting for their retirement? Who are being laid off from jobs with shitty retraining support? THOSE parents?

    If this gal wanted to do her own GOOP version of financial literacy, no one would really care. But the fact she’s doing it under the ABC banner makes it worth reviewing as you have. Thank you.

  11. … and how good are ‘tiny houses’? (Joke). People disenfranchised from home ownership can aspire to live in a cardboard box in the middle of the road. Sigh.

      1. you can suggest capital punishment for billionaires and I won’t complain, but my tiny home is my castle, and a short cut to anarchy as well. You people who can’t touch every wall you own without moving your feet make me want to spit…very carefully….

        1. I am glad you enjoy and can afford your modest home. I really am. That it can be a route for you to liberation is nice. My grandmother didn’t feel liberated when living in a central coast caravan park, however. Perhaps an older lady is interested in safety, so less inclined to pre-figurative acts of anarchism than a man. I would not wish to live in a small or a mobile dwelling either. I don’t see well and I need space in which to earn my wages. My rented home is also modest. But the claim that you use the right amount of space while others are immoral. Are you a fervently religious person? This sounds like preaching to me.
          Please. If you truly are an anarchist, you will know that the revolution does not start with you and your chosen way of living. What you have is a lifestyle, not a tactic for widespread change. If you enjoy your lifestyle, great. But declaring that the way you live is the model for all individuals is tyranny, not anarchism.

  12. “On the matter of Australia, I’m with Tarneen Onus-Williams. Burn the thing down and start again. (For our very literal friends at News Corp, this is a metaphor and in no way an incitement to arson.)

    I’m inclined to agree, in spite of me being rather comfortable and hopefully to cash in on good fortune and get out of the jobs market.

    But of course it isn’t an incitement to arson, as you can’t burn an abstract noun. I’d say it is the beginning of a call to revolution. Have a horrible feeling that it will start just on the day my retirement commences. C’est la vie, I’ll be buying some extra pitchforks for the battles ahead, and although appearing to have escaped the worst of it, I will be on the side of the battler.

  13. Oh, yes – choice and personal accountability. I try to ignore the false premises you so clearly outline Helen – and endeavour to live by the maxim I found during many years living in Japan – “All one needs is enough!” though that begs the question in any case of why some scumbags have far too much. We need redistribution – tax on business passing through the till – not offset against other factors – just tax on what goes through the till – and reinstatement od significant DEATH DUTIES – that would stop James PACKER types from giving gifts to criminals like the Israeli Netanyahus! Hand it all over to the government to redistribute – with properly funded public education, public health – and a defunded “private” sector.

    (Soon we’ll be shutting again about #MeToo – and worse revelations – of that priest – must have been my fault being aged 11 versus the perp. the same age as my mother) – my stupidity choosing to be born in a family of little financial standing, choosing the father later killed in a car accident (he was 24) and choosing his family who then shared their parents’ estate five sibling ways – not including my Dad! Nothing is without negative consequence to others in a world where one is forced to feel blamed for inherited circumstances – while attaching praise to those whose inherited circumstances are perceived as individual choice. Bloody ugly reasoning. Thanks as ever, Helen.

    1. Wow, I am 57 and just realised that my dad’s early death at work also cost me an inheritance from that side – thanks for that thought!Odd how they calculate how much to compensate the family of a worker killed or a motorist killed, or injured to the point they can no longer work. My electrical engineering father left an impoverished legacy behind. If only my widowed mother had lived long enough to learn Claire’s tips. Us seven kids could have made that 12,000 pound settlement take us to Disneyland too. Clearly we were born too early….I favor death duties of 100% spread out over 20 years at 5% per year. If you have the skills you can keep it, but if you don’t then someone else gets a go. Obviously a chunk needs to be exempt to help raise families and care for former partners, but if something isn’t done the concentration of wealth will go from obscene to feudal

  14. I earn a lot more than the median wage (and my wife works part-time in a well paid job too), we shop at Aldi, don’t waste money on meaningless crap, and was fortunate enough to buy a house years ago so our mortgage isn’t astronomical, but we still have trouble at times making the budget balance. And even in this position of relative wealth compared to most Australians, I couldn’t agree more with you Helen. I’ve got absolutely no idea how anyone with a family survives on median wages. If I was in that position I’d be livid at hearing this sort of feel-good crap. It’s insulting and shows just how much the ABC has declined over the years.

  15. To be sure, plenty of wealth in the world is created from existing wealth. However, in Australia, there are many thousands of stories of immigrants who came here with little or nothing, worked damned hard, were extremely frugal, and crawled their way up the economic ladder for the benefit of their families and the country at large. My family is part of that story, and I’m very proud of their achievements.

    I don’t know what proportion of Australian wealth was created with that formula, but it’s probably significant. Small business accounts for the largest contributor to employment https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1516/Employ and those small businesses are largely owned by hard-working (and sometimes frugal) Australians.

    So for a change, give human agency some credit for what it can achieve instead of resorting to the easy target of rich-bashing.

    1. Hi David,
      Out of curiosity what were the rent / housing costs when your family arrived in Australia? It is not easy now to house yourself if you arrive with, or have, nothing, and that makes the whole (probably post-war) ladder that you are referring to much harder to scale. Whilst communications and access to information has improved substantially in recent times, I would suggest that pulling yourself out of poverty has gotten much harder.

      Regards, Kevin

    2. I believe in individual agency. I also believe that decades of encroaching poverty is coercion.
      I’d believe that individual agency can overcome coercion by the market the minute a mineral rich nation like Comgo, run by corporations, rewards its slave child labourers for their hard work. Couldn’t get this iPhone so cheap without ’em.

      1. Will someone not rid us of this unhoned blunt Razer??

        Her Marxist-Leninist drivel is really beginning to grate.

        She is too young to remember the Soviet experiment with the destruction of tens of millions of lives and the walls which kept the inmates IN. The Socialist paradisos collapsed when even their leaders stopped believing in the myths and succumbed to the bankruptcy of their Police States.

        Profane ranting might help her to sleep at night; but adds nothing to an intelligent debate about the future of political and economic freedom in the West.

        1. Although my life did not coincide with Lenin’s, which ended in 1923, I do recall the Cold War era. I have read histories. I do know of the crimes of Stalin, but I know of the successes of the Revolution as well. We could be here all day if we were to play a game of historical ping pong, comparing the misdeeds and the economic miracles of the so-called communist world to that capitalist one led since World War II by the US hegemon.
          Absolutely, Russian state capitalism (1917-1991 was not not communism; communism is a goal that follows a period of state ownership of property, and this, of course, did not take place in the USSR) has a terrible record. But, when we think that official estimates count the deaths of 18 million people annually due to capitalism, 200 million children in forced labour, 1 billion under-nourished and when we allow that China (this is something you can check on by drilling down into World Bank data) has lifted people out of poverty in a way that exceeds the best efforts of capitalism (again, China is not communist. It has a communist party, but no scholar of historical materialism, and there are many in China, considers the nation communist) we have to ask of our current system if it works.
          I do not take these matters lightly. I read broadly and often in the effort to understand the period of crisis in which we, even in the West, find ourselves confronting. These ideas may not be to your taste, and, certainly, my exuberant writing style dissuades many. You can say “this tone and these ideas are not to my taste”, but you do little but embarrass yourself when you throw mid-century Red Scare cliches instead of an argument.
          What is your argument against mine? I say economic conditions of the present have created crisis. This is a matter on which many agree. To simply say “Marxist-Leninist” (without a true idea of what that even means, I’d garner; if you did, you would recognise few classically Marxist-Leninist arguments; I’m heterodox) as though this is a slur is just a bit silly.
          Try harder. Please. There are so many good arguments to unfold on this site. Lift your game.

          1. Nailed it again, Helen. I doubt if Archie knows what the term “Marxist-Leninist”, or “Trotskyism” means.

          2. I think Archie does know what Marxist-Leninist means: It means that the only way to ensure ‘equality’ of outcomes is to create a police state in which citizens are coerced by the principle of ‘from each according to his/her/its ability – to each according to his/her/its needs’.

            Was the Berlin wall raised to keep the West Germans out of the Stalinist GDR? Were people shot running into East Germany?

            Does Kim Jong Un blast his uncle with a anti-aircraft gun and use VX on his half-brother because he wants to lift all those North Koreans into perfect equality of outcomes?

            As mentioned in another thread; my Polish friend who escaped Poland in 1976 knew all the old jokes which were unable to be published in the Soviet block: “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”; Comintern trading: “A shipload of Hungarian crystal for a shipload of Polish potatoes”; and of course the great leaper (not good marcher) Chairman Mao who starved millions of his comrades so he could big note himself by sending grain to Eastern Europe.

            Lesser forms of Socialist re-distribution via heavy progressive taxation (post-war welfare state Britain) leads to the flight of those who want to keep some of the profits of their enterprises for themselves and their families. When these ‘entrepreneurs’ have fled to other less economically oppressive regimes (most of the West and the children of the British Empire including the USA), the stark differences in economic performance and dare I say ‘wealth’ are apparent. The only way to stop such flight of people voting with their feet is a wall and a sniper.

            How much the State taxes to support and protect those who are unable to work, the young and aged and provide health care services, education and utilities is a legitimate area of debate. It should not be large enough to stifle individual incentive to work and produce the wealth it has to tax. 20-30% of GDP is probably about right.

  16. Thomas Piketty, in ‘Capital in the 21st Century’, very eloquently analyses the mechanisms of inequity in the modern Western World – productivity has risen 1% pa since the start of the French Revolution. The return on capital over that period has been persistently 4-5%. If you have wealth, then you get wealthier, if you are not a complete idiot. If you do no, the only hope is equitable re-distribution of wealth by government policy. It is this crucial re-distribution that has been abandoned by neo-liberal governments. Voila! Increasing inequity!

    1. And as soon as the non-wealthy cotton on to this scheme of government redistribution of wealth all incentive to strive evaporates. Society becomes a race to the bottom, just like every socialist experiment in history has shown. Just have to keep milking the Ginas and Gerrys.

      1. John, your response is a typical misrepresentation of what those proposing a more equal distribution of wealth are seeking. Virtually no-one’s arguing for a socialist system. What they are arguing for is a more progressive taxation system that looks after those who have the odds stacked against them. Incentive to strive should definitely be encouraged. Increasing marginal tax rates for the wealthy does not eliminate incentives. The top marginal tax rate is 37% in Australia, not 90%.

        It’s not the Ginas and Gerrys that get milked in Australia. Real company tax rates in Australia are so far below the 30% nominal tax rate that it is beyond a joke, because of the incredibly generous write-offs / amortizations that are allowed here but not elsewhere (Let’s see Malcolm, Gerry & Gina address this reality).

        You mention society becomes a rate to the bottom. Society for a significant minority now is already a race to the bottom because of growing inequality. There are some enlightened wealthy people who recognise this and are prepared to make additional modest sacrifices they can afford. Perhaps its time more wealthy people pulled their heads out of the sand and became part of the solution rather than the problem!

  17. My father spent all his life working the skin off his hands, saving every cent he could, living as frugally as you could with a family of 5. And what did he get to show for it? His superannuation, which was wiped out by rich people not being very careful with his money in 2008.

    Sooooooooooooo fck it. I’d rather spend my money on goon and avocados. At least I’ll know I had fun blowing my paycheck instead of spending my life saving money that’ll only get ripped away from me next time the business cycle winds back around to the “whoops rich mongrels lost your money on the stockmarket” phase again.

  18. I would have to agree with Helen. While individual aspiration and hard work can make a significant difference to the quality of many people’s lives these qualities are frequently not enough when we look at a whole society. This is when the big macro issues of technological development and political decisions have an effect. These can lead to less jobs, particularly less jobs that pay reasonably well. We cant all be successful media celebrities. As the American philosopher John Rawls points out the life circumstances one is born into and the talents one is born with, including intelligence, can make a significant difference to the quality of a life. Of course there are many who succeed in living reasonably happy productive lives, or perhaps don’t, despite the circumstances they are born into or the talents they are born with but I think we would agree that life can be much more difficult for some.

  19. I’ve done well in Australia and I still think the system is shit. I’ve worked all my adult life, and so has my wife and we’re both on good money, but even then our assets have been made through investing.

    As long as it’s legal I’ll take advantage of the system, but the system sucks. It’s impossible for everyone to get rich through investing, and the system is heavily biased in favour of those who already have assets. It’s too easy to use money to make more money, by controlling an asset and charging rent for no real productive input on the part of the asset holder. It’s too easy to take advantage of the poor sod paying the rent.

    1. Very well said John.

      While I like the premise of not being a victim that this podcast (and other movements like the Barefoot Investor) espouse – and will always choose to live my life that way for my and my family’s sake – Helen Raiser certainly has a way of telling it like it is. She reminds us that in doing this we should not forget that we are playing other people’s games, and that these games are only making inequality greater, the rich richer and everyone else stuck in the increasingly stagnant stratum lower down in the murky pool that is our economic and political system.

  20. Nailed it, Helen. I’m over sixty, university educated, worked most of my adult life, and I can save. Can I buy a house? Shit, no. Am I rich? Same answer. Shows like The Pineapple Project are what happens when the ABC has to bend the knee to conservative wealth.

  21. Helen, you’ve missed the point. Claire would be the first to say that her podcast is not a solution to prevailing socioeconomic conditions in Australia. It’s is about getting the conversation started and creating a likeminded community of people who want to do better with money. From one journalist to another, your piece appears to be an effort to make conflict and take issue with a non-issue.

    1. If this podcast was of interest only to a minority, then that should have been made clear.
      I note that the claim that “this is only advice if you have the income” was made in an extra podcast uploaded mid last week. Good. That’s an improvement. This is not a claim previously made.
      As one journalist to another, if you do not think socioeconomic conditions are of any relevance to individual people disadvantaged by these, then you may wish to reconsider this view. It seems to me your comment is an effort to obscure the particular conditions in which most people live.
      Imagine a podcast delivered by a state broadcaster in, say, Congo. “You should all dream a little more and save a little more money!”
      You’d be outraged if you heard about that, right? How dare a state tell its people that they should keep working for a pittance in harmful jobs by making the assumption that the majority can afford to do that?
      I am not seeking to cause conflict. This podcast is. The conflict between how most of us live (again, the median wage is $662. If you earn more than that, good on you. You are above the median.) and how some of us live.

      1. It is just so weird to me that the phrase “check your privilege” is largely accepted in all matters but those that concern wealth.
        It would be totally cool to say that the ABC remains far too white in its perspective, right? People have (including me) and good on them.
        But why not say “this is a program for people who are very well off”? Just as one might say “this is a perspective that completely overlooks the specific experience of women”.
        I am glad that people do this. I have done it myself. The question “who is this leaving out of the story?” is a vital one to ask of our broadcaster. We must tell them when they represent the views only of those whose views are most over-represented.
        You don’t get to say that the amount of money people have is somehow disconnected from the broader society. Money is the surest expression of how privilege works.
        My god. If I had written a piece about how all ads on TV for childcare always show a woman as the primary carer, it would be so anodyne. I would only receive objections from super sexist folks.
        But if I say that the ABC has not looked at what conditions are like for most people and dares to presume that most of us have money to save? Then, I am talking about something petty?
        Would that I could think of money as a petty matter.

    2. Well said Rebecca.
      One of the biggest failures of our education system is that, like it or not, we live in a capitalist system and are not educated in it. Things like how to buy a house, how insurance works, negotiation skills, shares etc, are not taught. The dangers of credit, gambling are never mentioned. This is the reason loan snarking operations like nimble can even exist. Any good education on these things is a good thing and can assist people of any financial background.
      If you want to criticise the accuracy of the financial tips then find fault and do so. If you want to make a statement on Australian socioeconomic conditions this probably isn’t the place for it.

  22. I agree with a lot of what you say Helen but… surely advice on being responsible with money can’t be a bad thing. This podcast isn’t trying to make grand political statements, just offer some sensible advice on what the individual can do at a personal finance level. I agree having Gerry Harvey on is hardly beneficial. If he flew economy and gave the difference in airfares to charity that would be worth sharing.

    Why we’re all waiting for the revolution (we’ll be waiting a while) everyone needs to survive. This sort of self-help podcast doesn’t address the issue of growing inequality but that doesn’t mean its all bad. There are other forums. I can recommend ABC Podcast ‘The Minefield’ for those who are interested in something a little more challenging.

    1. I think I have explained why the assumption that ABC listeners all have sufficient money to be *responsible with* is bad.
      No, penny pinching tips are not bad.
      Yes, the implicit idea that people have those pennies to pinch and *can* buy a house is somethign that deserves critique.
      There is a difference. I believe I made that plain.

  23. I think it was Hedges who called it Oprah-fication. This distracted, consumerist world is insane. Everyone tapping and staring hopefully at their screens, while all around them everything is collapsing behind the scenes. Truly fiddling while Rome burns!

    That so few can see the blinding obvious leaves us speechless. Thank god we are old and near death now, hiding out in the sticks with our tumbledown handbuilt shack, happy garden and crap little jobs. We don’t have to daily pretend not to see all those faux-excited smiles over lonely deadened eyes in the city. And hopefully we’ll be mulch for our plants when Dystopia arrives.

    I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of Selfies and Kapow! social media posts at Armageddon..because everyone is concentrating so beautifully on the important stuff:-)

  24. You just have to choose your parents carefully and avoid rocking the boat.

    Thanks to Helen’s insights, an interesting thread. It can’t be much comfort for those with no discretionary spending ability to be told to tighten their belts.
    No wonder the ABC only costs 4c/day now. I hope it doesn’t become “lite entertainment”.

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