Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.
emo_snal

The Australian Economy II



   People have been very friendly here. In my search for housing I made two friends who didn't even have places I was interested in. Harpreet is an American consultant who emailed me about his place after I had already decided on this place. He was very curious about bees though and volunteered to share his tips for life in Brisbane as an American, so we ended up meeting for coffee on Sunday. He was quite nice and I hope we manage to keep in touch.
   Also a girl (also a consultant, as it happens) emailed me asking how my housing search was going (I had an ad in the "looking for housing" section of their craigslist equivalent (Gumtree)), because she was just starting her own search and wanted to know what she was getting into (she's not in Brisbane yet). I sent her the spreadsheet I had nerdily made of my findings ... and recommended the room Harpreet was trying to fill -- so maybe I'll be able to help them both simulteniously! Also she said we should get a drink when she comes to town.

   Later on on Sunday I went down to use the totally sweet lap pool in my building. After thrashing about for a bit I proceeded on to the hot tub. I was a bit skeptical at first because it was already crowded with 5 heads and I didn't want to intrude on some group of friends ... but then I decided to be an American and barge in regardless ;D
   As it turns out it was two groups that hadn't already known eachother so it was all okay. There were three Koreans and one relatively cute Australian girl who looked to be in her later 20s, and her 7 yr old daughter. Both parties lived in this building, and, we were amused to discover, all three of us are the same apartment on different floors.
   The three Koreans all have bachelor degrees (one's something in engineering, one's international relations (like me), I forget the third), but are currently making $20/hr here working as housekeepers. They seemed pretty okay with that. They said in Korea people would look down on people working as housekeepers, but here no one cares. Also hotel housekeepers would probably make about $4/hr back in Korea, according to them.
   The girl is a government lawyer. She commented that here in Australia it's not uncommon for working-class people to make more than professionals, and especially at the mines, a truck driver could make $160,000 a year! She added parenthetically that as a lawyer working for the government, she of course doesn't really make much.

   So there you have it. I feel like it kind of explains things a little. I had previously assumed that EVERYONE made proportionately more here than in the US, and since people who would be making $7.25/hr in the US are making $20 here, I was thinking the people who make more than that in the US must be filthy filthy rich here. But I guess it's just that all those "bottom-rung" / unskilled jobs simply pay a lot here and the other jobs don't pay much more, if that.
   Imagine that, the working-class instead of being paid below the poverty line and having to work 80 hours a week and live 12 to a room to make ends meet can actually live out their lives here with self respect and dignity. That is clearly un-American! :D

   In related news items, it was reported in the news here today that strawberry farmers had found the costs of harvesting to be greater than the prices offered and may just let their crops rot in the field (recall from my earlier post, strawberry pickers earn $22/hr here).
   And in news the other day, about 300 people were "discovered" to be working for the health ministry without any actual job -- ie the job they once had had been eliminated and union rules prevented their termination, so they've been getting paid without an actual job.


At work!

And as the Australian girl turned out to have been born in Canada, I'm not sure I've met a single native Australian yet! Well certainly my boss is, but his grandfather actually went to Berkeley (and as he studied horticulture, and the Berkeley research farms where all over at this little place called Davis, later to become UC Davis, he probably was where I went to school 60 years later! Small world!)

Tags: australia, economics, travel
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