27 August 2007
Bricks In Their Heads
Watching a particular story on 60 Minutes last night made me pretty furious. No, not the one you might think - that made me unspeakably angry too, but I'm not posting about that today.
What concerns me was the story about what's shaping up to be a major election issue - mortgages and interest rates.
It's terribly sad of course when a family is kicked out of their home for failure to pay the mortgage, but do people often have themselves to blame?
Last night we met Frank and Tess, who have a monthly income of $3000 - and mortgage payments of $1600. They also owe thousands of dollars in other debts, and the couple admit they have nothing left to pay the bills and live on credit with no plan for the future. Oh, and they have three primary school age children. So why on Earth are they hanging on? Frank said, "It is an absolute struggle but, I tell you, it is worth it. You know why it's worth it? Because when you come home and you see those kids, you see the smiles on their faces, mate, that's what makes it worth it."
Frank (and all the other Franks out there), let me tell you - kids really don't care if their house is rented or owned. What they do care about - and I'm speaking from personal experience here - is if they never get to go to the movies, or on school excursions, or have a birthday party, because there's no money. And I'm sure they'll care, a lot, when the spinning monetary plates you've got going finally smash to the ground, and you have to declare bankruptcy and go stay with the in-laws for months. I'm sure you can't really believe this is what's best for your kids?
Sure, Frank and Tess are only an extreme example of what's happening all over Australia - people blaming the Government for high interest rates when it is they themselves who have overextended until there's no room to give. Funnily enough though, while the Liberals are the party of "personal responsibility", you'll never hear them say if you have a mortgage you can't pay off, it's your own damn fault. (Responsibility is never extended to nice, middle class families). Defeaning silence from Labor too. Sure, it'd be electoral suicide, but wouldn't it be nice to hear the truth for once?
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