Why is it that many people can admire a wealthy woman like Therese Rein, (Mrs Prime Minister) but resent a wealthy man? The BRW has announced that Mr Turnbull, who is the leader of the Opposition in Australia, has made it into the top 200 of Australia’s richest persons.
If you ever want people to become real greenies, watch them turn green with envy over someone’s wealth. If that rich person is a man, that is. When I accused Therese Rein of being badly dressed for her public role as our Prime Minister’s consort, her defenders said that she was a successful professional woman who had amassed a fortune and so I shouldn’t criticise her wardrobe. Huh?
I suspect that there is a kind of sexism against rich men in Australian culture.
One exception to this sexism is in sport and entertainment. If a man has amassed a fortune by being successful at sport or entertainment, that seems to be acceptable. Good on him, is the usual response. And if that millionaire sportsman wants to go into politics, that’s fine too.
But what if that man is a self-made millionaire who made his money in law and banking and indeed has shown that he does understand how to make money, then he is pilloried for his success. He is even accused of not understanding what it’s like to not be rich.
Malcolm Turnbull was not rich in his youth and so he remembers only too well what it’s like to be poor. To be honest, I would rather have as leader a man who has made a financial success of his life than a fellow who has been bankrupt or who has been on the dole. I would prefer one who has made the fortune himself instead of inheriting it.
It’s interesting how in the U.S, there is a different attitude to financial success. The Americans were not critical of JFK’s wealth even though it was mainly inherited and came from his father’s interesting business ventures during the Prohibition.
I think it’s because the Americans admire a man with get up and go, a man who is apirational, a man who demonstrates that if you apply yourself, you too, may make it.
In Australia, the only people who are allowed to boast about how hard they worked to get somewhere are sportspeople. “I trained four hours before school and four hours after school and now I’m a champ in my chosen sport” is the mantra of sports heroes. Heroes! Grrrrr.
If a successful student announces that he studied every moment of his life in order to achieve high exam results he would labelled a nerd, a swat, some sort of misfit. Certainly not a hero. No wonder most students shrug off a good exam result for fear of being ridiculed by their classmates.
I was watching the National Press Club this week when our eminent scientist, Ian Frazer, was commending the 22 students who were going to compete in the International Maths and Science Olympiads and it was the first time that I had heard of them this year. Had these student been able to bowl, chase a football or grunt on a tennis court, they would have made the headlines.
This says a lot about Australian culture. And what it says is not very inspiring. People want politicians to be poor, apparently, so that they can empathise with the rest of the population. That’s as silly as saying all judges should be criminals so that they can understand crime. So far, we have only one judge who accomplished that feat. lol.
If given the chance, most people would want to be rich rather than poor. So why blame Malcolm Turnbull for wanting to go into politics when he has enough money to waste the rest of his life living on some beach in the Bahamas without doing a scrap of work? At least, he feels he can do something more with his life. And that can only be a credit to him.