Friend of this organ, Jessica “admire my big brain
and pants” Irvine has been asked to apply her huge pants brain to the subject of Indigenous finance.
Prima facie, it may seem as if applying Jessica’s genius to matters Aboriginal might risk a somewhat condescending experience given her previous form of explaining that she can lose weight because, well, spreadsheets or something, but the people in the ‘burbs are aren’t clever enough so require the intervention of the benevolent state.
The anticipation prior to reading this latest glimpse into the mind of a polymath was exquisite; would she go full Glebe IQ snob on the traditions and customs of the First People or would she hold back and couch her language out of sensitivity?
As always with Jessica, we are left in awe at her unique skill to synthesise complex ideas into a single taciturn message behind which we can all rally;
Ok. She didn’t actually say that in as many words but, as she explains in her flourishing finish:
As we seek to put Indigenous Australians on a more equal footing, and rightly give them better access to the benefits of today’s economic opportunities, we should also save space in our national conversation for this Indigenous perspective on what it truly means to be a rich nation.
To live comfortably, yes; but to also use our wealth to care for those in need and forge stronger communities.
The true sharing economy was under our noses the whole time.
Ah, the sharing economy.
Not sharing like Venezuela, mind you, it’s a different kind of national sharing that magically works this time.
Ok, any clues as to what this means?
The researchers found the practice of “humbugging”, or asking family for money, is common in Indigenous communities. This could be a source of support, but also a drag on an individual’s desires to get ahead financially.
We’ve all got one of those relatives already. If they’re not inviting you to invest in a timeshare in Footscray, they’re asking for a loan of a few thousand dollars to buy cryptocurrency.
But hey, according to Jessica we have a lot to learn from people who, according to her own article have bugger all money and are generally highly-stressed because of it;
First, to the obvious: Indigenous people don’t, on average, have much money. Indeed, half of all Indigenous people experience high levels of financial stress, compared with just one in 10 of the broader Australian community.
She hints at a solution though;
Our nation’s first people struggle disproportionately to pay bills and are more frequent users of high-cost credit sources such as payday lenders. It’s a disgrace. And we should do so much better.
Well no, she doesn’t really explain what we could do that would be so much better.
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of people it is not a good idea to take financial advice from:
- Generationally poor people.
- Anyone working in the real estate industry, particularly if their names end in “McGrath” or “Bouris”.
- Anyone who is so incapable of getting a real job in finance that she will accept the increasingly low wages the Sydney Morning Herald can afford.
Australian Aboriginals didn’t have the concept of money prior to the arrival of the Europeans, hence the recent laughable attempt to pretend otherwise by the Australian Mint.
Perhaps they were happier back then. Perhaps living short, brutish and painful existences before the arrival of effective medicine and agricultural techniques that eradicated famine focussed the minds of Aboriginal people to count their limited blessings.
Perhaps there’s a lesson we can learn from such stoicism.
Or perhaps we could accept the fact that this is 2019 yet a first world country, one of the richest in the world, still has a class of people who are heavily subsidised to sit in remote locations enduring a child mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan African nation?
Here’s an hypothesis; it’s far far too destructive for us to spend time and resources virtue signalling about “culture” while government policy is actively keeping fellow citizens in poverty due to the bigotry of low expectations from people like Jessica. These people have agency just like her, but they are told at every opportunity that they don’t.
Enforcing the existing laws and welfare rules consistently across geography and ethnicity would be a good first step. Don’t hold your breathe waiting for it to happen though.