Wealthy Wayne whinges

Eat the rich – before they eat us

Wayne Swan – on around $270,000 a year, minimum, not counting his allowances – tells us that the super-rich (viz., people much richer than Wayne Swan) are trying to poison our country. 

As every schoolchild knows, making a profit through private enterprise is inherently evil. It does nothing to keep people employed, put money back into local communities, ensure a regular turnover of supply and demand, and add to the overall health of the nation’s balance sheet. 

This is actually the government’s job. It is the government that should keep us all in work, pump money into local communities, regulate the entire economy and tax the living daylights out of all of us. 

The World’s Greatest Treasurer tells us (in the pages of that bastion of free market principles, The Monthly) that "For every Andrew Forrest who wails about high company taxes and then admits to not paying any, there are a hundred Australian business people who held on to their employees and worked with government … during the GFC." 

But just a sec, Wayne: sorry to catch you in mid-hyperbole, but the reason those ‘businesses’ held on and worked with the government was because they WERE the government. Government is, after all, the single biggest employer in the country. 

And if they weren’t actually the government itself, they were enjoying a very cozy de facto relationship with government, involving cash cows like the Deadly Pink Batts scheme, the Building Education Revolution, and the ever-thriving industry of those who have sex for money with people who then later deny it. 

Now, I can only guess at Wayne’s actual salary – all I’ve done is taken the basic parliamentary salary of $140,910 and added the 87.5% increase he’s entitled to as Treasurer. You can do this fun exercise yourself, if you like, by visiting this website

But to some of us in Australia – that would be around 97% of us, in fact – $270,000 looks like just over a quarter of a million dollars. If you don’t believe me, go and look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Household Income and Income Distribution, 2009-2010, and go to page 9. 

There you will see that the mean weekly disposable income nationally is a princely $848. After that, the graph sort of trickles down until you get to the 90th percentile, where it’s $1448 per week. 

And after that the graph gets even more tiny and trickly, and ends at around $2500 a week. 

Ladies and gentlemen, if I’ve done my sums right, Wayne Swan is in fact on $5000 a week, which puts him in a very high percentile of income earners in this country. Off the ABS graph, in fact. 

Personally, I don’t grudge the man his money, even though I’m not really looking forward to paying his parliamentary pension for the next forty years. But isn’t it funny how Swan has latched on to the very few people in this country who are actually producing any wealth from non-government sources? 

Mining produces money from digging stuff up. Government, on the other hand produces money by taking it off people who made it by digging stuff up, in return for certain promised benefits which are starting to look more and more like those dodgy life insurance ads on TV at dinner time. Unions, strangely enough, are funded on an identical principal, right down to the dodgy-looking life insurance. 

For example, in his jeremiad Swan mysteriously neglects to mention NSW HSU boss Michael Williamson, who is estimated to be on around $350,000, and who has been recently investigated by NSW police. 

But I understand his peeve at these greedy mining magnates. Swan must find it galling to be working for the public service on $270,000 a year when he could be earning squillions as a union boss, or as a CEO on some poor bank or company that’s about to go under and would pay even more to get rid of him after six months.

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