Western Australian de gustibus, on multiple fronts

Mr. Dinnison, who has mined copper, tin, nickel and gold, drills holes that are then packed with explosives to extract ore. He wears a $5,000 gold chain crucifix. “I’m not religious, but I am conscious that what I do is serious,” he said. “But then you come home and you have all that cash.”

Despite having earned roughly US$1 million since he started, he has no savings and doesn’t apologize. “The mines are so dull, that when you get back here, everything is stimulation and excitement,” he said. “The money I spend supports other businesses because of the [stuff] I blow it on.”

There is more of interest here.


I've seen this in the oilfields in Alberta. No doubt about it, it's a tempting lifestyle. But it's also a grind.

Ah, yes, my 20-year-old high-school-dropout nephew making $5,000 a week on the rigs around Red Deer for 11 months of the year, and then being broke after the month off for spring breakup. I guess when you're doing 14-hour days six days a week, you feel like you really have to enjoy your time off.

His 65-year old grandfather and 42-year old father are still doing the same thing, I ask him if that's the future he really wants, and he always says "no". But talk is cheap, I guess.

All kidding aside, how do I, a 38 year old American citizen in decent physical shape, get a job like this? My current income is 135K USD per year. I'd love the upgrade.

Plus there will now be a couple of thousand U.S. troops there to protect Mr. Dinnison from...umm...himself, I guess. Oh, and terrorists.

I thought it was 250. That's plenty to hold back the horde.

Yeah, I misread the article. Its 2500 troops who will be rotated trough Australia, but with only 250 in the country at any one time.

It's to hold back the CHINESE, you silly people.

Fortunately, our President is a Democrat. Otherwise, people would have problems with the US sending troops to yet-more foreign countries like this.

I'm a Democrat and I have a problem with it.

But I'm not a partisan weasel like you, the kind of disingenuous fool who would swear to God almighty that the sky's red if Obama said it were blue.

I just love how you Dems drop down right to name-calling. Why waste time thinking of a good rebuttal?

The other problem is that Jim is right this time. Yes it's for the Chinese. Yes we have a Democrat who did this nonsense. Yes the idiots we call voters tend to give Democrats a pass on this stuff because we just know it's not about oil or resources.

Btw, check the ride of the miner guy. In the encyclopedia for Austrian Theory that guy is pictured there with his exotic coupe utility vehicle.

Jim may be right, but based on prior comments he's also the kind of hack that would have been in favor of it were Shrubya in office.

De gustibus non disputandum est, yet . . .

Australia was intolerable when it was merely filled with bogans. Now the bogans (temporarily) have money and the place is more appalling than I could ever have imagined. I wonder if the bubble will burst and the CUBs will get their comeuppance before the nation devolves completely into a cycle of mindless ugly consumerism and triumphalist, racist nationalism. Actually, I think that question already has an answer.

I found an injured Cambodian women while walking in Adelaide in South Australia on Monday. She'd had some kind of accident, but couldn't explain what happened because she didn't have the English ability. I called an ambulance and while I did that, people living in the street, none of whom knew her, came out and comforted her, staunched her bleeding, and brought a chair out of one of their homes for her to sit on. I don't know if they were bogans, but I'm certain they were all blue collar workers and at the time they seemed like the nicest mob of people you could hope to meet.

Everywhere has it's good and bad. I'll be the first to admit I'm bitter about the place (an ex-pat very glad to be out and with no plans to ever move back). I do feel that the asylum seeker debate of the last, what is it, like 10 years now, has shown the depths of Australia's intolerance.

Can't be worse than the immigration debate in America.

This is not a very worldly comment.

Depends where in America. Certainly Arizona and Alabama have been pretty terrible. But remember that the US has MILLIONS of undocumented immigrants while Australia has developed a national obsession over a tiny handful (few thousand at most) of 'boat people'. The fact that asylum seekers is such an enormous political issue is the evidence of the depth of the intolerance.

Well, for all I know those helpful people may have gone on to write angry blog posts about how Cambodians were stealing their tax dollars by having their bleeding wounds bandaged at the public's expense, but I doubt it. Only ratbags would do something like that. And while there is plenty of evidence of ratbags being ratbags in Australia this century, the overall level of ratbaggery does seem to have declined. Things are not perfect, but we've come a long way since the White Australia Policy was finally ended in 1973. Let's see, my immediate neighbours are four people form India, or rather three people from India and one made in Australia. Five people from the Philippines. An empty place because the rich bogan with five cars who owns it doesn't think the meagre rental money he'd get is worth the hassle. Three quarters of a grey Australian. (He lost some bits and pieces along the way, which is probably why he's grey.) Two pink Australians. Half a dozen people I think are from Pakistan. Two more people from India. And two tall West Africans. Quite a change from the old days.

Most asylum seekers are faking it.

False comment that detracts from the sum of all things.

And so the glory of the earth is lessened and all that was good fades. I feel terrible.

There are so many things one could say, I'll stick to two wild generalization:
1. Australians are not good savers.
2. Australians are embarrassed by mining.
The consequences of the second include little if any uranium processing and for that matter any other value-added, a crude discretionary profits tax on mining (to solve absolutely *all* the country's problems!), the impediments to exploration (including fanatical levels of indigeneous land-culture rights agitation), too many compulsory humanities and sociology courses for engineering students.... I'd better stop there. Mind you, it's paradise. I'll be going back.

Australians aren't too bad at saving largely because they are forced to save through compulsory superannuation, which I understand is increasing to 12% of employee's salaries/wages.

You're right, it is probably increasing from 9%. So it will be better in future. But there is a whole generation with insufficient savings coming up to retirement. By some estimates only 5% of them will have enough for a "comfortable" retirement.

This is a long term situation. One of my great uncles worked for decades in the Australian mines, earning a big salary and, well, half he spent on wine, women and gambling, and the other half he just wasted. There are other people, who do this work for a few years, save a load, and then get out.

"save a load, and then get out."

Solid advice.

Tracy, did your uncle tell you how much he regretted his life?

Right ... I thought not.

And on the other hand, the ones who do it for a while, saving a load, and then move on ... I bet they aren't filled with regrets either.

Who said anything about regrets? I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

You guys didn't get the joke there...

He should have bought a lot more or better wine and women. :)

Whilst Australians have historically had very low savings rates, since 2008, the rate of private saving has increased significantly, and now sits above 10% (where earlier in the 2000's it was in negative territory). Fortunately or unfortunately, most of this saving is going into balance sheet repair though.

All Anglo countries have their versions of white trash.

...and of arrogant elitists.

Best part of the story:

"Jules Duncan, who filmed a short documentary called 'Cashed-Up Bogans' that he is hoping to turn into a feature, admits jealousy prompted his curiosity. 'But I've come to respect these people who are just doing what I'd be doing if I wasn't a self-indulgent filmmaker,' he says."

People spend their spare cash on toys? Who knew? Look at the advertisements for watches in the Harvard Business Review. These cashed up bogans are so vulgar - just consider their taste in toys.

So I guess Tyler should be ashamed for hinting that prudence is a virtue.

Kindle Fire anyone?

and how is superannuation going? Really bringing in the big bucks for retirees?

According to the 2011 Credit Suisse Global wealth databook, Australians have the highest median net worth in the world. While a high proportion of this is in housing, financial wealth per adult has quadrupled in Australia since 2000, while in the USA it has increased by about 25%. So financial wealth in Australia has gone from less than one quarter of the US level to about 80% of the US. Given that the superannuation system won't be fully mature for another 20 years, I'd say that it appears to be going quite well.

Wait. How does 80% of the US level equal the highest level in the world? Unless the US stands for Uranus States?

Because non-financial wealth (property) is about 3 times the US level.

Yes, that's mostly the property bubble. I think the super system is decent though

OK. Property =/= financial. Got it.

Because the median is the highest in Aus but the average is higher in US (because of higher inequality) - or at least that's what I'm guessing

It's a pretty longstanding and amazing bubble that produces three times as much in housing wealth. Also the Australian distribution of wealth is much less unequal than in the US, but even the average is higher according to the Credit suisse report.

Got it.

Sounds like a plan. I can do the work and have a pension. I'd do it for free brothel.........jk

John, the superannuation is working. It's not perfect though. To may way of thinking it was shockingly inefficient when brought in and has been somewhat improved overtime but there is still plenty of room for further major improvement. But, when I look at how it stacks up against similar attempts around the world, I see it's actually not that bad. But it did eat forty-eight of my dollars that I'll never see again.

A missed opportunity to use the different meanings of the word "blow" in the same post.

It’s a pretty longstanding and amazing bubble that produces three times as much in housing wealth.

Australia was intolerable when it was merely filled with bogans. Now the bogans (temporarily) have money and the place is more appalling than I could ever have imagined.

What I think is interesting about the situation over here in Western Australia is that whilst salaries are astronomically high by any standard, there is still a substantial shortfall in employable (skilled) labour. This is nothing new, so it suggests to me that resources companies have elected to not implement sufficient training and skills programs to ensure they have the labour they require. From an economic perspective, why is that? I believe it is likely due to labour costs being a minimal component of their ongoing costs, and also due to their significant capital costs. Consequently, there is little economic incentive for these companies to expand their expertise into skills and training. On the other hand, I wonder why the salaries have not resulted in people flocking to skills and training courses to be sufficiently educated to enter the mines. Is there an economic explanation for this? I know that frictions in the migration system, even when taking into consideration 457 visas, limit migration, but on the east coast of Australia there is relatively high unemployment - so why are these people not coming over? If anybody has an economic / behavioural view on these questions I am interested to hear.

A company can spend a lot of money training people, who then go to work for competitors. There are ways around this problem, but they are not as simple to achieve as you might think.

Yes, but in Western Australia the government pays for skilled training, not just companies. In the case of apprentices, they are subsidised by the government. I wonder if an 'apprentice market' could be developed where if an apprentice is trained with government subsidies a 'poaching cost' for the first 18 months of post-apprenticeship employment is put in place to discourage, or at least compensate, this kind of behaviour.

Trickle down works!

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