Australian Exceptionalism

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Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Sathias » 9 Dec 11, 12:17 pm

Incredible article by Possum Comitatus about the astonishing health of the Australian economy. We really don't know how lucky we are to live in this country sometimes, and I think all governments of the last 30 years deserve a lot of credit.

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/20 ... tionalism/

part of the intro

We’ll often laugh at the cognitive dissonance displayed by our American cousins when they start banging on about American Exceptionalism – waxing lyrical about the assumed ascendancy of their national exploits while they’re forced to take out a second mortgage to pay for a run of the mill medical procedure. That talk of exceptionalism has become little more than an exceptional disregard for the truth of their own comparative circumstances.

But in truth, we both share that common ignorance – we share a common state of denial about the hard realities of our own accomplishments compared to those of the rest of the world. While the Americans so often manifest it as a belief that they and they alone are the global benchmark for all human achievement, we simply refuse to acknowledge our own affluence and privilege – denialists of own hard won triumphs, often hysterically so.

Never before has there been a nation so completely oblivious to not just their own successes, but the sheer enormity of them, than Australia today.

In some respects, we have a long standing cultural disposition towards playing down any national accomplishment not achieved on a sporting field – one of the more bizarre national psychopathologies in the global pantheon of odd cultural behaviours – but to such an extreme have we taken this, we are no longer capable of seeing an honest reflection of ourselves in the mirror.

We see instead a distorted, self absorbed cliché of ourselves bordering on parody – struggling victims of tough social and economic circumstances that are not just entirely fictional, but comically separated from the reality of the world around us.

So preoccupied have we become with our own imagined hardships, so oblivious are we to the reality of our privileged circumstances, that when households earning over $150,000 a year complain about having government welfare payments scaled back, many of us treat it as a legitimate grievance.


Very interesting read, highly recommended.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby André Axe'm » 9 Dec 11, 12:35 pm

Funny use of the word 'Enormity'.

Interesting read.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Bato » 9 Dec 11, 12:38 pm

I liked the article very much, except when he started going on about the Australian infrastructure. Considering the number of people on waiting lists for hospital, and the huge congestion on both roads and PT, I wouldn't call the infrastructure top notch....
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Sathias » 9 Dec 11, 12:48 pm

Bato wrote:I liked the article very much, except when he started going on about the Australian infrastructure. Considering the number of people on waiting lists for hospital, and the huge congestion on both roads and PT, I wouldn't call the infrastructure top notch....


Again, you have to compare it to other countries. I turned up at a hospital in England in severe abdominal pain and ended up going back home as they told me it would be at least an 8 hour wait to see a doctor.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Nekosan » 9 Dec 11, 2:42 pm

Sathias wrote:
Bato wrote:I liked the article very much, except when he started going on about the Australian infrastructure. Considering the number of people on waiting lists for hospital, and the huge congestion on both roads and PT, I wouldn't call the infrastructure top notch....


Again, you have to compare it to other countries. I turned up at a hospital in England in severe abdominal pain and ended up going back home as they told me it would be at least an 8 hour wait to see a doctor.

I don't think that kind of comparison is valid for things like medical services, just because hospitals in england are overcrowded doesn't mean that the **** service in australia is acceptable. What pisses me off is how aussie hospitals are segmented into a million different areas and all with their own bed quota, have fun in the hallway if the emergency section is full because that empty wing 20m away is reserved for non-existant patients.

Health care and dental is aus is total garbage and only getting to be more like the US system.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Bato » 9 Dec 11, 2:58 pm

Mental Health is even more shocking really. When I see the price of just seeing a counsellor (not even a psychiatrist) and the hoops to get it covered by medicare...
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Wyld » 9 Dec 11, 3:07 pm

Nekosan wrote:Health care and dental is aus is total garbage and only getting to be more like the US system.

There are not words large enough to define how much I disagree with you. Although totally comes close. There are issues indeed in getting our public system to get timely operations .. I speak from experience, as if my family relied on such, my partner would now be dead from cancer.

But to say how we're becoming close, is insane. In the US, you essentially require to take out a/another mortgage for *normal* operations, let alone anything requiring a range of specialists.

It is a brilliant piece of writing, and I think it hits the mark exactly.

This isn't a run of the mill opinion piece that you get in the usual 'mainstream' rags .. this piece has a yard of hard data backing it.

Yet another reason why Crikey is becoming a serious location to get actual information.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby André Axe'm » 9 Dec 11, 5:34 pm

They should look up enormity though.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Sathias » 9 Dec 11, 5:38 pm

Nekosan wrote:
Sathias wrote:
Bato wrote:I liked the article very much, except when he started going on about the Australian infrastructure. Considering the number of people on waiting lists for hospital, and the huge congestion on both roads and PT, I wouldn't call the infrastructure top notch....


Again, you have to compare it to other countries. I turned up at a hospital in England in severe abdominal pain and ended up going back home as they told me it would be at least an 8 hour wait to see a doctor.

I don't think that kind of comparison is valid for things like medical services, just because hospitals in england are overcrowded doesn't mean that the **** service in australia is acceptable. What pisses me off is how aussie hospitals are segmented into a million different areas and all with their own bed quota, have fun in the hallway if the emergency section is full because that empty wing 20m away is reserved for non-existant patients.

Health care and dental is aus is total garbage and only getting to be more like the US system.


Well done on providing the example of exactly what Possum is talking about in the article. :P
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Marius » 9 Dec 11, 7:29 pm

I agree with the article.

I've managed to start up a profitable business this year with relatively little capital outlay, and it's been because of our supporting socialist infrastructure.

In the US, supposedly the land of the free enterprise, what I've done this year would be impossible, due to ridiculous student loan debt situations, and the fact that they have no real healthcare support. Essentially, my 'break even' point for my business would be at least tripled due to both having to pay a lot for health insurance and service interest on a student loan.

In Australia, my basic health needs come free (I'm a healthy 20-something), and my tax returns pay most of my HECS debt. That in turn allows me to service various US clients and leech money back into the Aus economy. :P
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Nekosan » 9 Dec 11, 9:34 pm

Sathias wrote:Well done on providing the example of exactly what Possum is talking about in the article. :P


Actually sath i think you have me totally wrong, I can see that our healthcare/economy/etc are MUCH better than a lot of the world, i'm not pretending that i live in a third world country and i know i have it good. The way i see it is that we shouldn't settle for mediocrity, "better than the United States equivalent" shouldn't be the yard stick by which we measure our achievements, you can't tell that heart attack victim sitting on a bed in he emergency ward corridor of a public hospital that he wouldn't even be in the hospital if he lived in the United States.

Injured people sitting in ambulances for multiple hours outside a public hospital is a regular occurance in far north queensland and they just built a HUGE multi million dollar car park something like a year before they started the oncology ward (apparently it's easier to drive to townsville for chemo than for doctors to park in the old carpark). They're getting better health care than they would in Somalia but is that good enough?

Things like low cost healthcare (and when you need it) should be the basis of any country that wants to call itself successful, our hospitals can't put up with both the increasing populations and the after affect of increasing bureaucracy in said hospitals, people like Wylds family members shouldn't need private coverage to stay alive. Saying "you have it better than many people, suck it up and be happy" is a total cop out and counterproductive to the wellbeing of the country, instead of us saying "better than America is good enough" they should be saying "we're worse than Australia, we need to emulate them".


I think that article is utter rubbish, Australia is a lucky country compared to many but we didn't get where we are by being satisfied with our lot, every generations goal should be for the next generation to be better off than they themselves were, any other state of mind is madness.

The only valid point that article makes is "some people complain no matter what".
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby Marius » 9 Dec 11, 9:53 pm

Nekosan wrote:i'm not pretending that i live in a third world country and i know i have it good. The way i see it is that we shouldn't settle for mediocrity,

I find these two sentences hard to reconcile.

Yes, Australia has problems. But the point of the article was that instead of being blinded to what we've achieved so that we can argue about trivial things, look to where we actually are and then go to work on moving forward. Don't constantly have misleading debates about us being in a bad spot and how the next incoming government will lead us back to the stone age. Have real discussions about results that policy will achieve.

We've had some shocking politicians, but for the most part the country keeps moving forward, with a lot down to that we're not blinded by ideology as much as other countries.

Public health policy is a really hard issue to solve, too. It requires a lot of money, and is hard to get money back from. With an aging population the black hole problem increases.

So where exactly do we get the money from to give private health care standard to everyone?

Private health insurance is the direct response to this fairly intractable problem. Maybe it's not an ideal response, but it is a response, that isn't totally bad if the income of low income earners keeps increasing to the point that they can afford it.
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Re: Australian Exceptionalism

Unread postby skitzor » 9 Dec 11, 11:06 pm

Nekosan wrote:Actually sath i think you have me totally wrong, I can see that our healthcare/economy/etc are MUCH better than a lot of the world, i'm not pretending that i live in a third world country and i know i have it good. The way i see it is that we shouldn't settle for mediocrity, "better than the United States equivalent" shouldn't be the yard stick by which we measure our achievements, you can't tell that heart attack victim sitting on a bed in he emergency ward corridor of a public hospital that he wouldn't even be in the hospital if he lived in the United States.

is that what you got out of the article?

"we are in a better situation than America, so don't bother improving it."

I think everyone acknowledging we are in a good spot would be an excellent step. it would acknowledge that there hasn't been any Australia-killing legislation introduced (contrary to what the opposition claims), among other things.

the problem with America is that they need to acknowledge the position they are in, rather than spouting the typical rhetoric that they are the greatest country ever to exist. without admitting there's a problem, stuff won't get fixed the way it needs to be fixed.

similarly over here, if we don't acknowledge we are in a good position, chances are people will try to solve problems that don't exist, wasting time and money.
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