Silly girl

Imagine a place where there are no elite or expensive private schools. And imagine a society where housing is affordable – a three-bedroom house, for example, costing one quarter of a similar property in Sydney.

What would such a place be like when the two main drivers of financial stress and resultant inequality were removed?

It would be … the most liveable city in Australia. It would be Warrnambool.

Last week the Victorian coastal city of Warrnambool was crowned by the Ipsos annual Life in Australia study as the most liveable city in Australia.

Access to nature, feeling safe, a sense of community and a lack of traffic congestion “helped the area score so highly”, according to reports.

But I also think inequality – or the perception of it – is important when it comes to liveability.

Take away elite private schools and ridiculously expensive median house prices, and suddenly you’re living in a much more equal place.

Median house prices aren’t part of inequality. It’s the distribution around the median that is.

Sigh, Guardian and numbers…..

40 thoughts on “Silly girl”

  1. Looks like a pleasant little place. How warped by ideology would you have to be to think the prime reason is a lack of independent schools?

  2. The article goes on to say that it does in fact have private schools but these don’t count because reasons.

    Grimsby also has cheap house prices and few private schools.

  3. Socialism proving once again how handy stoking the fires of people’s jealousy is when discussing “inequality”.

    Good job then that St Obama can only piss away $12M on an underwater palace, just like any other ordinary black bloke.

  4. Dongguan John,

    But Grimsby is an absolute shithole, whereas Warrnambool is quite a pleasant little town in small doses. It is one end of the Great Ocean Road. Its biggest downside is that it is in the People’s Socialist Republic of Victoria.

  5. Doc,

    Grimsby being a shithole was my point.

    What would such a place be like when the two main drivers of financial stress and resultant inequality were removed?

    It would be … the most liveable city in Australia. It would be Warrnambool.

    Take away elite private schools and ridiculously expensive median house prices, and suddenly you’re living in a much more equal place.

    The author seems to be saying that if you have few private schools and low house prices then you have a wonderful place to live.

  6. Dongguan John,

    A couple of years back, the ABC declared a suburb in Brisbane as the most liveable in Australia based solely on house price. They got a real kicking from residents and landlords. Crime of virtually every kind was rife, every other other person lived next door to a meth lab and landlords spent thousands refurbishing their houses after tenants left, especially if a house had been used as a meth lab.

  7. «Median house prices aren’t part of inequality. It’s the distribution around the median that is.»

    This claim may make sense only by the contortion of assuming that not-owning a house means that one owns a zero price house and that zero price is part of the distribution of house prices. In practice in many countries 50% or more of adults are not owners, most adults own insignificant amounts of other assets, and thus the absolute level of median house prices matters (more precisely the ratio of median house prices to median incomes) to inequality.

    But I guess that for some people non-owners are part of the servant classes threfore are irrelevant.

    BTW, even if one wanted to complete ignore non-owners, it is the distribution not of prices, but of prices weighted by counts that matters.

  8. Median houses… usually aren’t pricey.

    this recalled to mind that old Jack Daniels Ad (if memory serves) where an old southern lady outside her verandah of her house in the middle of a spaghetti junction said…. “i lyeak haghwaays”

  9. If you abolish private (public) schools, then the few actual good State schools become even more of a magnet for the wealthy middle-classes, and the housing in the catchment area for the school will become about as expensive a place to live as Malibu.

    Perhaps she thinks all those people currently buying houses near the good private schools will just vanish if the schools are abolished, they’ll just cease to exist. Pfff, gone. What a utopia!

  10. “Imagine a place with no Guardian columnists or their multicultural, internationalist readers. Its easy if you try”

  11. And when I was growing up, the city lacked racial diversity.

    How impoverishing. But then Melbourne has less of a lack of racial diversity and residents might legitimately question whether this has been enriching in an unalloyed way.

    She at least concedes that the central philosophy of socialism is that when other people have more … we can feel a sense of lack or envy.

  12. For some context, one third of children in Australia go to private school. There are some very elite schools, but most schools are religious schools that charge fees within the reach of many people. The three of our children who went to school in Australia all went to a private Anglican and they had friends whose parents were teachers, police and tradies.

    Believe me, there are good reasons why people are prepared to make sacrifices to avoid the local state school, though probably not so much in sleepy Warrnambool.

  13. It’s like I’ve met a few scousers working in Swindon who always say how great Liverpool is, and you wonder, if it’s so great, why aren’t you living there?

  14. BoM4,

    We get people from Victoria up here in Queensland stealing our sunshine and parking places. Their number plates have the slogan: Victoria The Place to Be. My response is: “well sod off back there then”.

  15. I’ve lived there

    It was so wonderful she left.

    I love the place, but it’s not without its problems. […] when I was growing up, the city lacked racial diversity.

    Imagine pretending to want racial diversity.

    “Hmm, the houses are roomy and affordable and the local schools are good, but I’m concerned my kids won’t experience enough drive-by shootings or kebab rape.”


    She gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken her to learn
    what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark hijab. O cruel, needless
    misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast!
    Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of her nose. But it was all
    right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. She had won
    the victory over himself. She loved Big Oogabooga.

  16. “In regional towns there is often not the critical mass to support what are effectively gated communities or prestige suburbs for rich people”

    No, it isn’t that. It’s that people in smaller places are more connected. Rob someone, and you’re front page news in the local gazette and you’re maybe 3 degrees of separation from everyone.

    No-one notices in a large city.

  17. I wonder how expensive it is to chuck up a row of houses in a town thats in a country that accounts for 5% of the entire worlds landmass, but has 0.33% of the worlds population? And whether these two facts might have some relevance to the cost of housing in said town? Especially vs a country that has 0.00005% of the worlds land mass and 0.84% of its population?

  18. Note “I have lived there” not “I live there”. I wonder why.

    Oh, might it be job opportunities? “Warrnambool is served by one daily newspaper, the Warrnambool Standard”

  19. Flatcap – well, to be fair, it’s unlikely the sticks would support Brigid in her “career” of writing such important thinkpieces as I kept telling the cat to stop being gross, but he just looked at me with contempt

    I feel sure this is Chekhov’s cat (he’ll eat her bloated corpse later)

    Cities are flytraps for liberal women like Brigid. In a small town she’d probably have a husband and children by now… yunno, an actual place in society, people who’ll still want her around when she’s old.

    Instead, she drank away her youthful good looks while pursuing a worthless career as yet-another-wittering-female-journo and will probably end up dying alone in the world she asked for.

    But hey, it was probably worth it for I stopped going to the gym because of Trump. Now I can’t open jars

  20. Jim,

    All these “housing is so hideously expensive” people live in the most expensive places. Not even just expensive places like Henley or Ascot, but goddamn London. And what do they write about? They write pieces based on press releases. You could do that in the depths of Somerset, mid-Wales or Stranraer. OK, you probably need to be closer to the office, but you could certainly live in Slough or Reading and do that job.

  21. Steve,

    I know there’s some benefits to city living, but the old stuff for liberals (of either persuasion) is what now? I used to go to London and enjoy the massive bookshops, arthouse cinemas and range of music shops, including all sorts of unmanly stuff, but you can stream your Whit Stilman movies from the sort of places where people still have the sort of tattoos that scare you.

  22. Re the median house price thing. Yes it’s daft, the variation is what matters for inequality not the average directly. But I suspect that it’s not completely wrong, even if any rightness is accidental. Lower median prices probably compress the price distribution somewhat. I suspect the level of variation in a reasonably sized town (not talking about eg a homogeneous housing estate but a mixed community) is roughly proportional to the average price.

  23. BoM4 – Ironically for someone who writes inequality leads to social and status anxiety, a big part of the appeal of urban bughives – particularly to impressionable young rural hicks from the sticks – is status-seeking.

    You just aren’t special unless you’re living in a tiny, overpriced slavebox in Shoreditch or Sydney or Brooklyn.

    Older hipsters tend to catch on and move somewhere they can afford to spawn without hatching ridiculous schemes to live on a houseboat or summat.

    But that still leaves a lot of women in Bridgid’s position – basically trapped, her sexual market value having gone the way of Enron stocks, increasingly having to rationalise her life of childless urban ennui to her unimpressed cat.

  24. Rob

    “Imagine a place with no Guardian columnists or their multicultural, internationalist readers. Its easy if you try”

    That’s made me spill my drink – brilliant

  25. Steve

    You’ll need to stop as my sides will at some point need major surgery from the volume of laughter. How good is this?

    She gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken her to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark hijab. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast!
    Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of her nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. She had won the victory over himself. She loved Big Oogabooga.

    You’re spot on of course, what kind of person yearns for ‘greater racial diversity’ or finds a ‘lack of it’ disturbing? We know them well I think in our own country. Sad to see this disease proliferating across apparently sane nations

  26. Our experience of Ozzie schooling:

    Private kindie – wonderful. Littlies as happy as Larry, staffed by well trained lassies who had all found their métier – obviously delighted at being in charge of tots. Knocked a British council nursery school into a cocked hat. The sort of practical activity at which Ozzies can be so good.

    State primary school: its connection to education was rather tenuous though its atmosphere was very pleasant. Distinctly inferior to a British state primary school that was itself poor enough that we eventually – gasp! – “went private”. Ah yes, the surrounding sprawling playing field, the swimming pool, the small class size – we gave those up for a school with a small tarmac playground but an interest in education.

    The last time I had a job offer from an Ozzie (state) university there was much emphasis on how a chunk of my salary could be paid tax efficiently by being diverted directly to pay private school fees. Might that contain a lesson?

  27. All these “housing is so hideously expensive” people live in the most expensive places

    They want to live there, but cannot understand they are expensive because lots of other people want to live there.

  28. Steve: …increasingly having to rationalise her life of childless urban ennui to her unimpressed cat.

    I wish I’d written that.

  29. When we lived in the UK from 1995 to 2002 we could basically live anywhere we wanted to. Obviously places like Wales, Birmingham and Manchester were not remotely in contention. We ended up in Beverley where the boys went to Beverley Grammar School (the oldest state school in England and where Thomas Percy was educated) and our school age daughter went to Beverley High School. Education was high quality because parents wanted their kids to have a good education, in contrast to Hull just down the road.

    When we got to Australia, all three kids (eldest stayed in UK) plumped for Whitsunday Anglican School and we’d have to say it was worth every cent we spent. Our youngest spent her entire school career at the same school, she’s got a stificate to say so.

    Aussie state schools were really not an option.

  30. @Jim

    a country [UK} that has 0.00005% of the worlds land mass and 0.84% of its population

    You’ve inserted a couple of extra zeros before the ‘5’, but that doesn’t invalidate your point. As I’ve pointed out before, the equivalent figures for Central England (where >80% of the English population live) are 1/8,000th of the world’s surface area and 1/150th of its population.

  31. …and in any case, I thought inequality had been shown to be an ‘observation’ (that is, it’s measurable) not a ‘problem’ (that is, there’s no need to be worried about its effects and therefore no need to ‘do anything’ to fix it)

  32. @ Blissex
    Rents and house prices are very highly correlated. Places with low house prices have low rents and vice versa. If you have low house prices and high rents some idiot will buy up empty houses and let them out at low rents for the good of his soul.
    If there are no Christians within cycling distance then a series of entrepreneurs will buy the empty houses and let them out at just below the market rent to get a high and relatively secure return on investment, each one a little below the last until rents get down to a fair level compared to house prices.
    This is simple common sense – also called “Economics” by those who live in the real world rather than Marxist academia.
    You seem to be unaware that until 40 years ago the majority of Britons lived in rented accommodation including much of the middle class and even many aristocrats rented their London house/flat: I used to live a few yards from a member of the House of Lords (of course his luxury flat was just a pied-a-terre and he spent most of his time in Scotland whereas my much smaller flat was my sole residence).
    Incidentally, do you know what a median is? Your last sentence implies that you do not.

  33. Grimsby gets a bad press – it’s grim oop north. But Grimsby/Immingham is the largest port in the UK by tonnage of cargo. OK it’s not pretty, but it is useful and it’s full of Leavers.

  34. More generally, this is very much a feminist view on status – how she can show off with a big house or a flash car (or a designer dress and fancy jewellery). The guy will show off with a good job or a par handicap on the golf course (or sporting trophies) – i.e. something he is doing/has done.

    Equality/inequality is not merely about money and nor is quality of life. She must be an appalling snob to imagine that middle-class and working class kids living close together are not normally friends (unless they are enemies). Of course one expects Grauniad columnists to be appalling snobs…

  35. UK State schools Ideological Indoctrination not teaching

    .
    @Rob October 4, 2019 at 9:14 am

    +1

    Something mother points out
    Property prices near James Gillespie High School EH9 1DD
    vs
    Property prices near Tynecastle High School EH11 2ND

    @The Meissen Bison October 4, 2019 at 9:15 am

    +1

    Does she mean “Insufficient crime”? How diverse is Nairobi or Harare?

    Diversity will occur naturally, Gov’t imposed diversity & multi-culti creates animosity

    @Jim October 4, 2019 at 10:57 am

    +1

  36. John77, I saw that bizarre comment from the high and mighty greatest intellect of all time called Blissex: your rebuttal is magnificent. I say this although we have widely diverging opinions on housebuilding in the UK

  37. @ Diogenes
    Thank you
    That we can debate with disagreement but without enmity is one of the benefits of young Tim’s site

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