Don’t blame Boomers for cost-of-living crisis

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Columnist Rachel Clun (″⁣Boomers need to share the pain and stop spending″⁣, 27/11) attributes the blame for increasing inflation to our older citizens and begs Boomers to stop spending. I suggest she direct her frustration to the business world, as excessive corporate profits are a key driver of inflation, not Boomers going out for dinner. Julie Perry, Highton

Please, let’s think before we buy
Most of the adults who I know have more ″⁣stuff″⁣ than they know what to do with. Op shops are bursting at the seams with clothes and household items. The difference between the haves and the have-nots seems particularly wide at the moment. This holiday season, can we think about whether we need to buy even more things for the adults in our life? An alternative might be a donation to a charity that they support in their name, or a homemade present, doing a practical task that helps them or, if need be, tickets to an event or experience. We can reduce unnecessary consumerism and make a positive impact on the lives of people in the most need.
Ainsley Walsh, Greensborough

Attack inflation on many fronts
Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock recently spoke of the strong demand for personal services driving price rises. But a graph with her speech revealed that the sharpest rises in the six months to September were in fuel, electricity, rents, insurance and audio, visual and computing equipment. Some of these products (electricity, insurance) are characterised by market concentration, so it is pleasing that Treasury has started a consultation process to assess whether Australia’s merger rules and processes support competitive industry structures. The sharp rise in rents is driven by factors identified by columnist Alan Kohler (Comment, 25/11), namely continued house price rises caused by capital gains and negative gearing incentives for investors, and shortfalls in the housing stock in comparison with population being exacerbated by the recent surge in immigration.
The causes of inflation are multifaceted, and must be addressed by a range of initiatives. Inadequate and unco-ordinated actions by governments in other areas such as competition policy, housing construction and immigration contribute to an overemphasis on the blunt instrument of interest rates.
Andrew Trembath, Blackburn

Rising inequality must be tackled
COVID highlighted that toilet paper is the essential purchase. My local store is now selling a common brand for an “everyday low price” of $11. A couple of years ago the same pack was “dropped and locked” at $9. This 22 per cent increase (with no prospect of an occasional “special” price) is likely to be adding more to margins and shareholder dividends than meeting extra costs or staff wages. Opportunistic increases blamed on temporary supply disruptions were paralleled across dominant “competitors”, and haven’t receded. In response, the RBA applies an economic theory that penalises those who need to borrow to fund necessities, such as housing. There is no clear line of sight between the origin of inflation and this supposed solution, instead further hurting innocent victims. Accelerating inequality jeopardises Australia’s fragile and undervalued asset of relatively robust social cohesion. Surely there are more effective and equitable options.
Rod Duncan, Brunswick East

Stop taking aim at the vulnerable
Black Friday has come and gone, but nevertheless all digital media platforms are still being swamped by Black Friday algorithms. The disturbing thing is that these ads are targeting the very people who can least afford them – many of whom must be experiencing mortgage or rental stress.
Yvonne Trevaskis, Battery Point, Tas


How to make change
Several correspondents have asked why the government isn’t doing more to tackle inequality. At the 2019 election, Bill Shorten proposed changes to negative gearing, capital gains tax, franking credits and more to address this issue, however these promises were rejected by the electors and thus were dropped by the Labor Party for the 2022 election. So if the population truly wants to tackle inequality than they need to return the Labor government with an overwhelming majority at the next election to give it the mandate to make these policy changes.
Samantha Keir, East Brighton

Feeling shortchanged
George Brandis (Comment, 27/11) points to the slump in the approval ratings for Labor and the PM. This is not unexpected at this point in the cycle, especially with seemingly insoluble problems and unrealistic public expectations whirling around.
Most of the issues are legacies of a decade of indecision and poor planning by the LNP which Labor is struggling to clean up, and with its own supporters feeling shortchanged on many policy fronts, particularly those related to climate and environment. The continuing rise of the Greens and independents spells trouble for both major parties.
Politics has become much more diverse and interesting for the citizenry and more perilous for incumbents.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Charisma deficit
George Brandis’ reasoning seems to have done a 180-degree flip in developing his axiom that Labor only gets voted in when it trots out a new charismatic leader, while the Coalition always wins office when voters tire of a dysfunctional Labor government.
The prime minister has many qualities, but magnetic charisma is not one of them. Labor was voted in last year because of the appalling incompetence and dysfunction of the Morrison government and his ministers.
Graeme Lock, Oakleigh

Future benefits
Correspondents bemoan the fact that Victoria’s large debt will be left in the hands of future generations. Nobody appears to acknowledge that those same future generations will be the beneficiaries of the large infrastructure program for which the debt is being incurred.
Barry Jones,
Wonga Park

Vehicle ignorance
It’s not so much the sheer numbers of the plethora of RAMs, Rangers and F100s crowding our streets and car parks. Nor is it merely their inordinate size. It’s how often I note the drivers seem to have no idea how long or wide their vehicles are.
While they may be useful for tradies or van and trailer towers, their presence in shopping centre car parks suggests neither of these is their primary purpose.
Perhaps, at the least, drivers should be required to have an endorsement on their licences that shows they know the dimensions and controls of their vehicles.
David Baxter, Mornington

It beggars belief
Thanks to your correspondent (Letters, 27/11) for holding out for the distinction between education and undereducation. The apostrophe for a noun does follow the “s” where it relates to a plural noun. I’d also love to see fewer apostrophes used where no possessive case exists. “Its” is a prime example of this.
Now, I know that an education in philosophy is required for proper understanding when using the phrase, “to beg the question”, but I read and hear this frequently misused by journalists and I wish they would look up the meaning to avoid spreading this form of undereducation. To “beg the question” means to presume that a conclusion has been adequately derived from logic and evidence, when it has not. It does not mean “to raise a question”.
George Wills, Mount Dandenong

Issues of faith
I take issue with Barney Zwartz’s statement that “the atheist understanding, like the Christian’s, is entirely a matter of faith – no categorical evidence exists either way” (Faith, 26/11).
Religious faith requires certitude in the absence of evidence or proof, whereas the atheist ″⁣understanding″⁣ is a lack of belief in deities. That lack of belief is no more a matter of faith than a lack of belief in goblins would be. Failure to accept a proposition for which there is no evidence is a matter of rationality, not faith.
Zwartz pointed to the biblical accounts of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus as providing evidence for Christians. The accounts in the four Gospels were written by unknown authors who did not witness the events that they described, and they contradict one another in many key respects. They have no more credibility than Matthew’s gospel that describes how saints rose from their graves after the resurrection and journeyed to Jerusalem where they ″⁣appeared unto many″⁣.
Brian Kilday, Jeeralang Junction

Smart fire plan
We are delighted to hear that the Country Fire Authority is considering options to involve Melburnians in volunteering (″⁣CFA’s plan to recruit volunteer Melburnian firefighters″⁣, 26/11). Climate change is supercharging fire seasons. It is putting burdens on existing firefighters, their families and state budgets. Providing opportunities for city-based people to volunteer their time in firefighting efforts would be a smart response to the reality of longer fire seasons.
One option would be for the state to create a volunteer remote area firefighting capacity within the CFA that targets people living in Melbourne who are outside the catchments of existing brigades. Victoria is one of the few states that hasn’t yet created remote area volunteer teams. Yet there are many fit people who would sign on to protect landscapes and communities from fire.
Having volunteer teams based in urban areas would help build diversity within the CFA by attracting young people, and could be delivered at a very small overall cost to the taxpayer.
Cam Walker, campaigns
co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth, Fitzroy

Collateral thinking
Your correspondent (Letters, 26/11) abhors the term ″⁣collateral damage″⁣ when discussing civilian deaths in war, but believes it’s necessary in dealing with terrorists such as Hamas. He refers to the US dropping two atomic bombs on Japan which, he believes, ended World War II sooner.
The problem with concepts like ″⁣collateral damage″⁣ is that it is always seen from the stance of a neutral observer. And that observer never needs to consider the question of: what if I had family members at risk?
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

One for the lawyers
Columnist John Silvester opined (24/11) that lawyers are the single greatest failing in the justice system. Ouch. This doesn’t accurately reflect all lawyers.
Yes, there are problems within the legal system, but Silvester is too narrow in his focus.
Certainly there’s a class of lawyer that benefits from the current system and doesn’t want reform, but the idea that lawyers are the cause of delays within the justice system is blatantly incorrect.
As a criminal lawyer, I’ve found that some of the biggest delays occur due to requests for disclosure from the police, requests for expert medical and court reports, and freedom of information requests. Often these requests take months to fulfil but are crucial to a case. And I’m certainly not shifting the blame; many of the legal, government, medical and social support services out there that play an integral role in our justice system are chronically underfunded and understaffed. Delay is systemic and the blame is not attributable to one profession or organisation.
We work to reduce delay, but it’s also something we also must work with. It’s a balancing act. The scales of justice support that submission.
Caroline Fazakas, Hawthorn

Climate costs
Correspondents have bagged the Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen’s ″⁣tougher climate curbs″⁣ – at least they are better than the Coalition’s.
If a patient is grossly obese and risks premature death because of addictions to fatty foods, most doctors will advise that there are no cost-free cures: the fatty foods must go. The world has overindulged on fossil fuels and future habitation is threatened.
Change in Australia will not be cost-free – be it domestic power bills or lost export revenue.
Governments seem to assume that voters cannot grasp reality. Scare campaigns about power bills are disgraceful, and Tony Abbott’s vandalism over an effective emissions trading scheme an international disgrace and embarrassment. They are a stark reminder of the political environment, where perceived political gain trumps national interest.
The gap between the grubby business of politics and good government is frightening.
Norman Huon,
Port Melbourne

What will they all do?
Am I the only one to find it amazing that more than 70,000 people are expected to attend the COP28 conference? First, one must ask what they all do, and second, (and more importantly) how much greenhouse gas will be emitted for all their flights?
Dave Torr, Werribee

This Bell chimes in
Like your correspondent (Letters, 27/11), I also loved David Astle’s clerihews article.
My contribution:
Isobel Bell is travelling well,
Though nearing eighty
Is not celebratory.
Isobel Bell, Ocean Grove


George Brandis (Comment, 27/11) proposes we need to elect a tough cop at the next election. Here’s a suggested campaign slogan: Australia, cop it tough with Peter Dutton.
Paul Custance, Highett

After reading that Treasurer Jim Chalmers is legislating to prevent government overriding RBA decisions, columnist Sean Kelly’s warning (27/11) of AI taking control is too late.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale

Victorian Greens MP Gabrielle Di Vietri must believe Anthony Albanese has enormous powers if she thinks his calling a permanent ceasefire would have any effect.
Suzanne Palmer-Holton, Seaford

In Victoria, Black Friday was Friday 13, 1939, when the state experienced record temperatures and massive bushfires. For the name of post-Thanksgiving Friday sales, please any colour other than black.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Peace in our time? I hope so, I’m on the wrong side of 90, so I can’t wait too long. But hope springs eternal.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Surely, the name for the rover will be Waltzing Matilda.
Keith Lawson, Melbourne

We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Covering events in Israel does not need to mean ignoring Ukraine.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Empty shops because the property value is reduced by low rents? Add this problem to the list to be fixed by the (state) government. Soon, preferably.
John Hughes, Mentone

A boys school is a school for boys, not a school owned by boys. So the noun is plural not possessive, hence no apostrophe.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

AFLW players not being paid or not getting timely contracts – maybe time for action. Boycott grand final until issues resolved.
Damian Meade, Leopold

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