#244 – Low Interest Rates

5 09 2011

The bogan understands economics. With a level of understanding akin to James Cameron’s grasp of screenplays, the bogan will frequently invoke its right to free speech to opine vociferously on the performance of the economy, thus the performance of the government of the moment. And the bogan knows that there is only one true measure of economic performance: interest rates.

Interest rates are the Reserve Bank’s sole means of regulating an overinflating economy, or spurring on sluggish consumer and business spending by discouraging or encouraging bank lending. However, unlike the ‘conventional’ economic wisdom, which the bogan is assured by News Ltd is spurious, the bogan knows that a truly strong economy exists only when interest rates are at all-time record lows. The bogan approaches interest rates much like a climatologically paranoid beaver. Should it rain heavily, the beaver’s dam could well be fucked. The bogan, loaded up with $500,000 of borrowed money to pay off the McMansion, views rising interest rates much like as incoming inclement weather; that is, a clear signal of impending economic doom.

Thus, every month, there is a near-pornographic obsession in the trashmedia with the upcoming announcements on interest rates, as ‘journalists’ rapidly calculate the monthly cost facing overleveraged bogans’ average mortgage repayments. Accordingly, bogans will express outrage when the banks have the temerity to ‘pass on the rate rise’. National politicians will then fuel the flame of righteous bogan fury, claiming that the banks have a responsibility to bogans everywhere, and that their behaviour (making a profit) is un-Australian.

Once the dust has settled, the bogan will begin complaining to everyone about how the rising interest rates are the government’s and the banks’ fault, and that they are now in ‘mortgage stress’, because that it a term they heard Kochie use once. This is despite the fact that mortgage rates are still about half the level of 1991. This is also despite the fact that the bogan has happily loaded up the credit card at 20% for a new bookshelf from IKEA, a 0.25% increase in the interest rate is enough to send the bogan into a seething rage.

The bogan, under the extraordinary levels of mortgage stress it inherited due to the policies of a government that has no control over interest rates, will approach the bank, asking to fix its exchange rate. It understands economics, but not fixed or variable mortgages. It resigns itself to watching the monthly announcement on the increase in interest rates, and will then exercise its right to free speech to opine vociferously about how unaffordable housing is in Australia.

#227 – Banks

16 05 2011

The bogan will tell you that banks are greedy, evil institutions run by corporate fat cats and con men. But in 2009, the average Australian bogan willingly gave at least 10% of its disposable income to banks and other providers of consumer credit. The bogan does not extend this kind of generosity to any other group, proving that despite often bleating to the contrary regarding profiteering, hidden fees and other on Today Tonight and A Current Affair, bogans like banks.

This contradictory behaviour is typical of the bogan, and is driven by some of the bogan’s primordial likes: owning things, big things (and therefore owning big things), along with its inability to think beyond the next ad break in Two and a Half Men, which renders incomprehensible the concept of saving. This means that in order to own big things, the bogan must find someone else to pay for them. Enter banks. Bank executives, rivalling Max Markson in the evil genius stakes, have long known that the bogan is incapable of turning down even the most draconian, financially crippling loan agreement in order to acquire a bigger house, car, television and ride-on lawn mower than its neighbour, today.

While the bogan will cry foul when its credit becomes more expensive or financing is denied, and the bank will respond quoting wholesale funding costs or default rate statistics, this type of exchange can be likened more to a lover’s tiff than any deep-seated hatred – on the part of the bogan at least. Deep down the bogan knows that its love for, and dependence on, its bank is never ending; life simply would not be worth living without the tender touch of finance that allows it to partially own such a vast array of objects.

It is a match made in heaven. The bogan: hunter gatherer of consumer goods, provider of interest payments. The bank: able to satisfy the bogan’s deepest desires with the gentle caress of a rubber stamp between the sheets of its loan application form.

#211 – Foxtel

31 01 2011

For some time now, the bogan has been convinced that it has deserved more. More more-ishness, to the point of immense maxocity. As the size of its television screen expanded during the 1990s, it realised that it not only wanted more screen, but more things on its screen. On Australia Day 1995, Australia’s first pay television service was launched. While Galaxy initially only had two channels, it contained the letter X, and bogans began to sign up. Soon Galaxy was joined by Optus Vision, which had a bigger budget, but fewer Xs. But in October 1995, the key player entered the fray. Foxtel had an even bigger budget, 20 channels, AND the letter X. From this point onwards, the story of pay television in Australia effectively became the story of the bogan’s love for Foxtel.

Foxtel was bound to succeed. It was initially a 50:50 joint venture between Telstra and bogan svengali News Corporation, but 25% was subsequently transferred to PBL, then owner of such bogan treasures as Crown Casino, Burswood Casino and Richard Wilkins. Like numerous other truly clever bogan cash harvesting undertakings, Foxtel has never really given the bogan something it didn’t already have. Instead, Foxtel has mainly just offered more of the same, reinforcing to the bogan that more is better, and therefore worth paying more for.  Or, in this case, worth paying something for, instead of nothing. Indeed, pay television can be seen as the bottled water of home entertainment.

This is not to say that the bogan doesn’t derive an enormous amount of value from having Foxtel. The mere act signing up for channels such as National Geographic and Discovery Channel serves as a big boost to the bogan’s estimation of itself as a sophisticate, even if its occasional encounters with those two channels are largely confined to watching large animals killing things, and seeing tribal boobs, respectively. A recently watched documentary allows the bogan to proudly recite a couple of obscure factual details from the program, before they permanently exit its memory 48 hours later.

The other channels in the package allow the bogan to view movies it would never have paid money for at a video store, or spend hours per week watching obscure sports that it has little actual interest in. Foxtel has recently lifted its average revenue per user to $92 per month, a shining tribute to the company’s ability to sell the bogan ever more add-on packages that it didn’t know it wanted.

The recent advent of digital television in Australia has allowed the free to air networks to finally strike back, offering the bogan more. More things that were too dismal to screen when each network only had one channel. Now the bogan is torn between watching the thrills of a Bhutan v Senegal test match on Fox Sports 3, or another exciting rerun of Murder She Wrote, on Gem. While this choice can be confusing, one thing that does not confuse the bogan is its ongoing need to be a Foxtel subscriber. Because television would be shit otherwise.