Friday, January 16, 2004

Partying like it’s 1989

The Age’s reportage of the latest unemployment figures tries so hard to find an angle – here, gender winners and losers – that it ignores the big picture. “Building and construction” employment uptake is expected to fall over the next year, while “services and retail” is expected to grow. In other words, if you’re an unemployed graduate (male or female), there’s absolutely still no light at the end of the tunnel.

If my case on behalf of unemployed graduates, and specifically 30-something men, as the ground zero of unemployment in Australia sounds too much like special pleading, consider this:

The extraordinary thing about Australia's economy in recent years is the total disconnection between our dismal trade performance and the party atmosphere of the domestic economy.

When an economy banishes its most gifted minds, in their prime of life, overseas, or onto the dole queues, its lack of export productivity is hardly a surprise. This human cost, and not abstract balance of trade figures, is the real “disconnect” in our economy.

Baby boomers of Australia – you can party like it’s 1989, on and on. You can even conga-line your way through the dole queues, and mock the poor, impassive people as you do. One thing you can’t ever, ever do, however, is to outsource your hangover.

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