Don’s Diary (Luck)

We have all heard the remark “Isn’t he lucky?” The reality is that we Australians are all “lucky”. It is important what we do with this luck.

We are all “lucky” living in a democracy where the rule of law is usually observed. We are relatively safe and secure. It is largely egalitarian. It is healthy with large areas of arable land, a kind climate in liveable areas and with mineral and energy resources. It has a Constitution, even with all its faults, that can usually result in a workable government being elected. The Constitution can also require an incompetent government to face the electorate – some will refer to it as a dismissal, which is our most democratic action. Once I would have said that we had freedom of association and freedom of speech but then there are the “no ticket, no work” regimes and the current Section 18c issues. What we cannot guarantee is that we will receive and retain the just rewards for our labours and risks of enterprise.

You will be really “lucky” if you understand the economic changes that have occurred since the Industrial Revolution (c1760-1840) and an understanding of the implications of the economic rise of China and India and the growth information technology in particular. You will appreciate why unskilled jobs are gone or going and the days of the middle manager also largely finished. The days of receiving a presentation gold watch after 50 years employment with one firm are well and truely gone. You will be “lucky” if you realise at an early age that the prospects of long term employment are remote unless you have a high level of professional or technical skills. To be “lucky” you must be prepared to upgrade these capabilities, travel to where the work is available and present an image, by appearance and attitude, of wanting to be employed. You will be “lucky” if you know how to keep your marriage intact.

You will be “lucky” if you recognise that the occasional bonanza like the “£ for a pound” for wool during the Korean War in the 1950s will not last and more than did the Gold Rush of the mid 1800s and the more recent resources boom. You will be “lucky” if we have a government that does not squander these opportunities using the revenue as if were to be an ongoing income stream. It is a temptation to use these bonanzas to create political monuments and bribe a party’s voting support base. You will be “lucky” if you can recognise that events like world wars, massive immigration programs and some infrastructure programs can disguise a real weakness in an economy because they create demand. We should remember the advice from Joseph to Pharaoh in Genesis 41 and save in good times.

There are some born unfortunately with enormous disabilities but despite them make a significant contribution to mankind. I have in mind the likes of Stephen Hawkins, the scientist, and John Nash the mathematician. Both got on with life despite their misfortunes.

Things are worse in Australia now than some will admit as we are living beyond our means and the mineral boom has passed which hid this situation. However it is not all gloom and doom as we have more opportunities with agriculture, tourism, the export of education, information technology, high tech manufacturing and innovation. But we need to be “lucky” enough to recognise their potential and the changes that will be needed for them to be developed. Moreover there must be sufficient confidence for people to invest.

The people who say some are ‘lucky” are likely to also be those that say it is “not fair” demonstrating a sense of entitlement when they look at others and when they have not been prepared to apply themselves and change. There is nothing more constant than change (qv Heraclitus c535-475 BC and Plato c428-348 BC).

Yours fraternally ,

Don Paterson