Everything is more important than the economy

Money can be funny. Check out these prices. I especially like the '2.69'

Money can be funny. Check out these prices. I especially like the ‘2.69’

Money doesn’t actually exist. It’s a concept, and only has value because we all agree that it’s worth something.

If we all agreed on it, we could use jellybeans as money, or rocks, or kisses. How much fun would it be if you could pay for things in kisses? A lot, or no fun at all. Depends how good you are at kissing, and how much you want to kiss the other person.

I imagine I’d go out and buy a lot of model aeroplanes and trains, because that would mean I’d get to kiss a lot of models.

Money only has value because of the stuff that it can get us. However according to the people of Australia, in every single survey, the economy is the number one issue leading into the 2013 federal election.

So it seems that most people in Australia care about having money, more than they care about having the stuff. Which I don’t understand at all.

What would you rather? A million dollars in the bank or a million dollars worth of experiences? Or a million dollars worth of mixed lollies? If jellybeans were the currency, then you could have both. Yay for jellybeans. Even the black ones.

If you care more about the economy than everything else, what you’re saying is that you would go to the local market with a pocketful of money. Then wouldn’t mind if there were no food or clothes or water or anything else for sale. Or that the air is poisonous, everyone is sick and all the schools are shut. As long as when you leave, your pocket is still full of money.

Here’s a short list of the things you should care about more than the economy: health, education, infrastructure, the environment, agriculture and people. You know, those other things a society needs to survive and flourish.

If the economy were in trouble, maybe then it would be worth worrying about it. Despite what you might hear, it’s in no trouble at all.

At it’s worst over the last few years our national debt has been around $45 billion dollars. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only about three per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product – how much money Australia earns in a year).

Anyone with a home loan or credit card probably owes a lot more than three per cent of what they earn in a year. You know who else owes far more than that? Nearly every other country on the planet.

“Australia’s growth record since the start of the financial crisis … has really been the envy of the advanced economic world,” said Professor Willem Buiter, the chief economist of global bank Citigroup.

There are quotes and facts and stats like that all over the place. It’s in a file on the internet marked ‘logic and truth’. Hardly anyone ever looks at it, I think because it’s fallen behind the mammoth bookcase that holds all the weight loss secrets and cat videos.

Politicians in Australia call our economic situation a “budget emergency”. Economists all around the world call them “luxury problems”.

Imagine the world is a Year Six classroom. Australia is the clever kid at the front who’s struggling with a Year Twelve maths problem, and is worried they won’t be a surgeon before they turn eighteen. While the other countries are chewing on pencils, mesmerized by the ceiling fan and have their pants on backwards.

I’m not saying we should go on some sort of national shopping spree, or give all our money to Norway in exchange for a kiss. The economy is important, but at the moment, there are far more important things to be worrying about.

Just have a look around. You know every single thing that you see? That’s more important than money.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. (www.xaviertoby.com)

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