Some readers are concerned that I have been critical of Australia in past posts. Not so: I am merely enjoying the full extent of the humor that this odd place provides. But to assuage my many critics, here are just a few of the things that make Australia better than that dodgy place you've chosen to live.
Benefits of Australia:
1. Space. Consider, 0.3% of the world's population getting 4% of the world. Just under 23 million Australians share 3 million square miles. That's nearly the same population as Southern California, but in an area 53 times as big. We've got lots of elbow room! (Granted, large portions of it are uninhabitable crocodile-infested outback and the rest is covered in spiders, but I'm just saying, in theory we have that much space.)
2. Freedom. Starting your own business is relatively easy in Australia. Given the red tape, paperwork, restrictions, multiple layers of bureaucracy to wade through (city, county, state and federal) one encounters in the US, it's a miracle that any new businesses ever get going there at all. But in Australia, any reasonable person can set up a corporation, file the paperwork, and start an empire. This simplicity makes up for Australians being in other ways some of the most over-governed people on the planet with way more laws than are actually necessary. There is a widespread, unconscious belief that government holds the solution to every problem. Which, of course, is complete bollocks. There is also a long heritage of the authorities regarding the populace as dangerous children in need of firm guidance, constant policing, and being unworthy of the least degree of trust. Other than that, you are pretty much free here to do as you please.
3. Health Care. Employers aren't saddled with the bizarre and onerously expensive tradition (as in the USA) of being responsible for providing health insurance. Here, everyone automatically has basic health coverage provided by the government and it ends up being a lot cheaper for everyone, the taxpayers included, in the long and short run.
4. One Tax Return. In the USA you have to file in your state of residence AND with the feds. State, county and city governments all have taxation authority, and this leads to nonsensical confusion, duplication, stupidity, and waste. In Australia, local councils (cities and shires) can't levy taxes except for property rates which pays for garbage collection, fire brigades, libraries and other local services. On the down side, local councils can sometimes be rather silly. Take for example, the Shire of Cue, Western Australia. When there are less than 300 people living in an area bigger than Connecticut, there isn't a large pool of talent from which to draw your leaders. Then again, some would argue that on the balance this is a good thing. For the entertainment value at least.
5. Vast Wealth. For example one company, Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) owns an estimated 12 billion tons of iron ore, most of which is currently underneath Western Australia. At the current price (depressed by jittery markets) of about $130 per tonne, that means this one company is theoretically worth an absolute minimum of $1,500,000,000,000 dollars. That's $1.5 TRILLION!!!!!! My calculator values the company at something like $560 per share. It is currently trading below $5 per share. (NOTE: this is NOT financial advice. I am NOT licensed to give financial advice. Do NOT run out and buy stock in FMG. At least not until I've had a chance to load up my portfolio some more.)
6. Lamb. Most Americans don't like lamb, and for good reason. American lamb is terrible! But Australian lamb is one of the best things anywhere. It's the sort of experience that can make a would-be vegetarian say, "What was I thinking?" Broiled on the BBQ, slow-roasted, or just whack it in the slow-cooker in the morning before leaving the house. A bit of rosemary and garlic, or just on its own, lamb is lean, tender, flavorful but never gamey. The rest of the world could sink into an economic and ecological abyss (which will probably be Greece's fault), but Australia would still be able to feed and clothe itself in rather fine style.
7. Tim Minchin. Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, Tim Minchin is a classically-trained pianist (among the best performers I've ever seen on the keys), a truly gifted songwriter, hilarious musical-comedy entertainer, social commentator, and Skeptic. Check him out on youtube.
And that's why Australia is better than where you live.