Friday, 14 September 2012

Thanks for the Advice, Gina!

Last week billionaire mining magnate Gina Reinhart made some controversial statements in regard to the state of the Australian economy and problems associated with doing business in the current economic climate.

She made no friends with the average worker by stating that the minimum wage in Australia is too high and that it's hard to compete with the workforce in Africa when they work for as little as $2 a day.

This may be an unfortunate economic reality for Reinhart, but I don't think anyone in her workforce is putting up their hand for a pay cut. Bizarrely, she then continued to cloud whatever point she was trying to make by broadly generalising about Australian workers and saying that if they wanted to be rich they should stop drinking and socialising and work harder. Maybe she's right, but it's tough advice to take from someone born into privilege who has never had to slog away all week for minimum wage.

It's easy to be cynical, so this week I decided instead to put her advice to the test. After my usual weekend of drunken debauchery I decided to abstain from drinking for the rest of the week. By Monday afternoon I could feel the alcoholic haze that had clouded my judgement for so many years lifting and suddenly it hit me like an epiphany - I didn't need to work harder - I needed to work smarter!

I stormed into my boss's office where I worked as a menial administrative employee and demanded a pay rise. As I'm not part of a union, I was free to negotiate my own salary, so I boldly followed Reinhart's lead and demanded I be paid $598 per-second which is currently what Reinhart personally earns. I must have sounded surpremely confident because my boss gladly agreed to my demands and threw in a potted happy plant and vibrating chair to sweeten the deal.

At the close of business on Tuesday I had earned $17,222,400, which was more than enough money to buy the company. I must admit to feeling slightly guilty as I spent most of the day surfing the internet, chatting to the secretaries and playing Tetris, before having an extended lunch break. I didn't dwell on these feelings for too long, however, because I was already considering how to invest my new-found fortune.

Reinhart made all her money from mining, so once again I followed her lead. I didn't want to step on her toes, so instead of mining coal or iron ore, I purchased a massive uranium mine, with a view to selling the product to North Korea and Iran.

I realised this wouldn't be a popular decision with my fellow Australians, but I refused to fall into the same trap as Reinhart. She made the mistake of investing in media enterprises with a hope of swaying popular opinion towards supporting mining. This frankly has not worked well for her and her popularity has plummeted. The average Australian has become weary of her lecturing and transparent agenda.

If you're an industry leader it's a mistake to try and make people like you. This just takes too long and is a pointless endeavour. It's much easier to get things done beneath a veil of secrecy and deceit. Instead of trying to be liked, I decided a better option would be to strike fear into the hearts of my fellow citizens to keep them in their place. Originally I decided to model myself on Blofeld from the Bond franchise, but after quite enjoying the Tutankhamen exhibition at The Melbourne Museum, I decided instead to become an Egyptian pharaoh, which was more in keeping with the regal air of immense wealth and unregulated power that I now possessed.

By Wednesday afternoon I had constructed a giant pre-fabricated pyramid in the Western Australian desert near the site of my uranium mine. Resplendent in my ceremonial robes and head-dress I surveyed  my newly-created empire from the observation deck of my pyramid and watched as minions whipped my workers into submission as they laboured in the sun to extract the valuable ore. After pondering the mighty pharaohs before me, thoughts turned from my vast earthly empire toward what my legacy would be for future generations.

The Egyptians had built the Sphinx and the pyramids as testament to their greatness, but after only a few millennia they have started to crumble and be eaten away by acid rain. Heck, the sphinx's nose even fell off! It dawned on me that there is no legacy you can be assured of leaving behind - kids these days don't even know who Paul McCartney is let alone any of the great pharaohs. It occurred to me that any search for power is futile and ultimately all you can really do is enjoy your life and try not to bug too many people.

With this new-found perspective I decided to dismantle my mining empire and free my workforce. I kept just enough of my money in an off-shore bank account so that I could live comfortably for the rest of my life without having to work. I used the rest of my fortune to research an age-old mystery: What actually did happen to former PM Harold Holt when he disappeared from a beach in Victoria in 1967? (After spending billions of dollars trying to find an answer to the question, researchers now feel 90 per cent sure that he simply wasn't a very good swimmer and drowned.)

So now I'm a humble man again and just another one of the unwashed masses. As I sit writing these words with a beer in hand on a lovely spring day it occurs to me that it's been a very busy week, but this is the first time I've felt truly content. A line from the poem The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam occurs to me:

A book of verses, underneath the bough,
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread - and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness
Ah, wilderness were paradise enow! 

From a more modern  and antipodean perspective I would suggest a carton of beer, a barbecue in the back yard and The Beatles' White Album playing is paradise enough.

Perhaps Omar was on to something - It's the simple things in life that make it worth living.


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