Gittinomics: Living the good life without money stress, by Ross Gittins

By Ross Gittins

For everybody who is familiar with economics is necessary yet does not really recognize why, Gittinomics is the integral, plain-speaking, interesting and hugely proper advisor to the economics of our daily lives.

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Pretty much all the ‘improvements’ to family assistance payments in recent years have been directed at making the system more accommodating to the needs of middle-income earners. The notion that family payments are a key means of reducing child poverty has gone by the board. (In fairness, however, I must acknowledge that, in all the benefits Mr Howard has delivered to his preferred single-income families, he’s always cut sole parents in on the deal. ) When I was helping pull together the book How Australia Compares a year or two back, I was dismayed to realise that Australia’s record on child poverty is not one we can be proud of.

And the changing demands of the labour market are being compounded by changes in government policy.

Rather, we’ll limit our comparisons to the great bulk of working middle-class families. Within the bounds of normal working families, the way to be well-off is to have a well-paying job—a job with the sort of salary that, as we’re constantly being reminded, has been rising strongly for the past decade or more. But here’s the first point: the people pulling in those big salaries are, as a general rule, working much longer hours than people in lesser-paid jobs. In May 2004, the average earnings of male full-time workers in the top occupational category—managers and administrators—were $1609 a week.

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