First, a quick explanation of some of my recent posts and the ones I am yet to write. I will be talking about controversial issues in a frank manner. This might make some feel uncomfortable at times - especially if what I write about bears some resemblance to them.
want to reassure I'm not making judgements on how others determine
their lives. I'm using this space however, to verbalise some of the
concepts I've had to process in order to make changes myself.
Onto the subject of individualism - let me start with another popular term of reference called, "self-reliance".
It pops up quite a lot in the subjects I like to read about. Like all
popular references, the meaning tends to change by who is interpreting
it. Which brings me back to individualism again, and how we like to
accept certain realities on our own terms.
leave self-reliance just yet however, as it's one of the issues I've
been trying to understand lately, in the society we share. Self-reliance
is an attempt to be more capable, more equipped and prepared for one's
needs in life. This stems from an individual pursuit, therefore it's a
personal attempt at self-reliance. What I have found self-reliance is
not however, is removed from economic reality.
it another way, every individual action, plays against a back-story
which has been playing since time began. That entire back-story (no
matter where the individual enters) is not devoid of others or shared
resources. I'll use a specific example here - government subsidies.
our old suburban house, we used many government subsidies (State, Local
and Federal) in the form of rebates on purchases which were deemed as
having "sustainable" attributes. There were many on offer in Queensland.
They were intended as a productive step as a community, to address
Climate Change. Government subsidies can be quite useful if they're
But there is also a dark side to
government subsidies, consumers aren't always eager to understand.
Government subsidies are paid for by Shire, State or Federal revenue,
depending which government is offering them. The back-story here is, it
took a pool of resources to take up the "self-reliant" option as an
That same pool of resources however, has to
pay for Hospitals, Public Servants wages, Libraries and other important
If I may quote Margaret Thatcher
(1983) former British Prime Minister, "There is no such thing as public
money, there is only taxpayers money".
rely on government subsidies to be more self-reliant, they are
utilising a pool of tax collected from the majority. So it cannot really
be claimed to be an individual pursuit. Why am I pointing this out? It
can be easy to believe in writing our personal story of individualism,
that the back-story belongs to us too. But it seems hard to accept we
arrive where we are today, by the input someone else performed before
I personally have accepted government
subsidies because they were on offer in the past. I have used doctor's
appointments I may not have needed, but wanted reassurance, because I
knew it was going to be charged to Medicare (not me). At the time, I
accepted those financial benefits because they were on offer and I
thought I should use them.
Once I realised however, that a public resource is a shared
one, I started to be more selective in how I accepted government
subsidies. I turned down the solar panel subsidy which was on offer,
because after researching the details, I realised only a portion
of the State was going to receive the financial benefits (the consumers
of solar panels) but the cost burden was to be shared by everyone.Which
meant the hospitals would have to give a little to the consumers of
solar panels, the libraries and public transport too.
are genuine cases for government subsidies and/or benefits. Like people
with a physical or mental disability which need help accessing the
community. They really do need those shared public funds, to help
them achieve what most healthy people can take for granted. There are
also many government programs to help people start their own small
business. But all these benefits/programs/subsidies are intended for an
economic return, back into the shared resource pool.
I assessed the possibility of a solar subsidy however, I realised the
scheme was all about personal financial gain. I wasn't expected to give
anything back for the contribution others made. That made me feel, not
only like I was encouraged to be a thoughtless consumer, but one who
didn't have to think very far beyond my own wallet.
is the ugly side of subsidies and I've received a few. It wouldn't be
wrong to receive a subsidy if (a) you genuinely needed it, and (b) it
helped you contribute something of equal value, back into the shared
pool. What so many government subsidies on offer do today however, is
keep us expecting we're entitled to freebies from invisible, limitless
pockets. They especially use the excuse of Climate Change because it's a
popular topic with voters.
But there are no such things
as invisible, limitless pockets, and we can see the way the various
tiers of government are handling their revenue. We see it whenever the
teachers and nurses go on strike to receive a fair wage. We see it when we visit the hospital emergency room and have to wait hours to receive attention. We see it when prices go up across the entire business community when government implements more taxes.
reason they have to increase the tax revenue, is because they're
spending it on popular voter issues. Sadly, the increased taxes doesn't
always reflect into real price increases for updating hospital equipment
and the like.
I've been a recipient of those consumer
freebie subsidies from the government in the past, and in all honesty I
could have afforded those purchases out of my own pocket. I just would
have waited a little longer to save for them. It always feels more like
self-reliance that way too. I know the difference, as I've saved for
things before government subsidies came along, and we are saving for
The more individuals become dependent on government subsidies as a way of making ends meet, the less we are expressing our true individualism, and in fact becoming less self-reliant.
How many of us actually want to view it that way however? I know I have
refused to see it as dependency in the past: I saw it as my entitlement
because the subsidy was directed at me and what I wanted. When it came from the government too, it's easy to forget they're taking money from taxpayers to pay for consumer wants.
decided to explore my true individualism and experience making ends
meet without government subsidies. I want my purchases to mean something
more than entitlement: which is what so many subsidies have driven us
to feel. I'm referring to subsidies specifically used to purchase goods
for the home.
In the good old days, you had to work
for what you wanted to put on, in or around your home. I want to be
more like an old fashioned consumer. I don't want my home smothered with
the latest green bling, I'd rather see the green back in nature. Or at
least if I did purchase what I thought would help reduce costs to run
the home, I'd want to pay for it without fast money. That way I have the opportunity to spread my consumption over an entire lifetime, not just how much I could fit in the next 12 months.
how much of the environment would be preserved, if we all spread our
consumption over a lifetime, rather than purchasing everything we can in
the next 12 months?
I've made a couple of important
decisions recently, which I hope will see us through the next decade or
more. First, I wanted to stop borrowing money from banks and credit
lenders - we've done that. Second, I want to set money aside for
necessary purchases (water tanks, an all-weather driveway, wood heater,
etc) and we're close to meeting a target for one of them. Third however,
and it's only been a recent addition: we want to stop borrowing from
government revenue. It's like a public owned bank, only they own the
That's not my idea of self-reliance at all.