Okay... I think we all agree, it's gotten a bit silly. When a house in Noble Park, almost 20km from Melbourne, is worth a quarter-million, where 9 years ago it was worth fifty-seven thousand, something is seriously wrong with the system.
Now this price rise may be good for Shaz and I, the house is worth approximately five times what we paid for it, but we both care less about that than we do about other people wanting to buy homes. We know how we would have struggled if Sharon hadn't bought her place when she did, and we can't help but feel for other people. Plus, if nothing else, we'd like it if in future, our kids could afford to buy their own homes.
The government wants couples to have kids, John Howard wants everyone to have a quarter-acre block. How are people supposed to manage this, exactly? If both parents need to work full-time to even have a hope of paying off their mortgage, how are they going to afford kids? Child care and the like costs a bloody fortune! And not everyone has parents that are capable or desirable as an option to looking after the grandkids.
Oh, people will find a way, but something needs to happen to reduce housing costs if you really want all this to happen in a way that allows for a decent quality of life.
Personally I think one of the big problems is that people and businesses are too tied to the capital cities. People have to head into town to work, rather than having other hubs. There are lots of people in Dandenong who work in the city, because that's where the work is. It was cheaper to buy a house at Dandenong than closer in, so the public transport has had to deal with more commuters, the public have to deal with longer travel times, more time away from home, their partners, their kids... Though of course now people are buying out at Pakenham and beyond, because that's all they can hope to afford, and spending even longer on PT or on the road.
I remember growing up, one of the reasons we moved fairly often was because dad would sell up and buy a new house closer to his job, which would change from time to time. The rule of thumb was that a half hour trip was the maximum. More than that just took too much of your day. In Melbourne, there are many people who have 90 minute journeys because they can't afford to be closer. If both parents have to work, have to spend more than a hour a day traveling, one of them is effectively working to cover day care costs, they are both getting home tired and having to deal with the needs of their children and their own needs in the few short hours left.
This is not a way for the majority of our working population to live.
I remember growing up around the lower class families that were a part of our socio-economic group, and we all had a dream. The dream when I was growing up was to have what the middle class families had - a holiday home. To all but the lowest levels of society (and remember, my family had times we paid gas bills over light bills because it meant we could cook and have warmth, and we still didn't consider ourselves too badly off) the idea of owning your own home was do-able. The real dream was the holiday home. This was usually all done on a single wage.
Now your middle classes can only hope to be able to pay off their $400,000+ bank loans before retirement. That's the extent of their goals in this regard. And in all likelihood, in their retired years, they will have to look after the grandkids, because it's only by both working that their own children can afford a home.
What's scariest, compared to a lot of places, we're still 'The Lucky Country'. And in a land that continues to slavishly and foolishly ape the United States, a country that has already shown itself to be on the downward slide socially, morally, and politically, the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen.
I've know Mitch for quite a while now. He's a massive bloke, 6'3", arms as think as my legs... I always forget how big he is until I see him in a photo next to me. He has the same problem.
I got to know Mitch while working at Alternate Worlds, he was one of my regular customers. As time went on he started coming out the back to talk to me in my office for hours at a time about girl problems. I used to give him the most helpful advice imaginable, "Get over it," but he kept coming back. The day I knew that Mitch was a kindred spirit was the day during a conversation when Sons of Steel got mentioned. We were both blown away, not only that the other person knew the film, but that we both loved it so much.
Mitch is a hard person to write about here, because though I love the guy, it's harder to find specifics to point to about why. He's just an all-round great bloke.
Oh we don't always get on. We've butted heads on occasion, as most friends do. Having traveled with him, I'd be shy to do something like the Nullarbor trip with him, given how the last time we were in a car together for several days it got to the point where he started baiting me in full knowledge that I was genuinely ready to kick him out of the car and leave him at the side of the road. It's one of the reasons why I'm very careful who I travel with - if Mitch and I were ready to kill each other, there are many other people where I'd end up coming back and saying, "No, they decided to take the bus here, instead... They were fine when I last saw them, honest. Golly, what do you mean they never arrived?"
One of the things to admire about Mitch is that when he wants something, he just goes for it. Having seen booklaunches at cons, he decided he'd like one - they looked like fun. That meant he needed a book. Well, he wasn't going to write one, so he got all his friends to write stories, do art, and edit the bloody thing, but still had his name and face on the cover.
It was a good book, and it was a good launch, too!
He co-ran Continuum 4 with Mondy and did a fine job. His design work for the cons (and for the Mitch? t-shirts that compliment his books) has also been marvelous. His attitude, and he's right, is that most con t-shirts look crappy. People want something stylish, with a cool logo. He only designs things he'd be happy to be seen wearing down the street. I remember artist Nick Stathopoulos commenting that when he's wearing one of the t-shirts Mitch put together, he feels like he's in designer-wear - he feels cool.
And that's the thing about Mitch. He's one of the biggest, most lovable dags I know, but he's also very cool.
I often say having Mitch in my life keeps me young. We're free to talk crap and when we're around each other, the crap comes easy. Together we've launched more short-lived, badly thought-out ideas than most people have had in a lifetime - it doesn't matter that they went nowhere, we had fun. In the times when we've done wrestling stuff together, I've always been worried about hurting him, he's never worried about hurting me, which in a strange way I appreciate. I still recall the SwanCon video where we did multiple takes of Mitch hitting me in the head with a frying pan... he never held back and every take features him giggling as I hit the floor.
How can I not love a man like that?