Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Game of Mates: How favours bleed the nation.
Get the book via gameofmates.com. Follow author Cameron Murray on Facebook and Twitter. Come to the Brisbane book launch on 23rd May, 6pm at Avid Reader, West End (Details and RSVP link).
This is the story of how Australia became one of the most un- equal societies in the Western world, while merely a generation ago it was one of the most equal. It is the story of how groups of ‘Mates’ have come to dominate our corporate and political sectors, and managed to rob us, the Australian majority, of over half our wealth.
To understand how the Game of Mates is played and to disrupt it, we must see Australia through the eyes of our villain, who we call James. In reality the Game of Mates is played by well-connected individuals called Clive, Julia, Malcolm, Bronwyn, Tony, Peter and so forth. Only rarely are they truly named James, and we of course do not want to offend any James out there who is not a villain!
This book is about how the Jameses of this country play their Game of Mates. It is about how much their Game costs you. And it is about what we can do to stop them!
Opposing our villain is our champion Aussie, who we call Bruce. In each chapter, we show how much James’ Game ends up costing Bruce, bleeding him and his family not only of their current wealth, but tying them to future obligations to pay James for the privilege of taking part in society.
Our characters help to tell a story that is difficult to see from the perspective of any individual. The reality of the Game of Mates in practice is far less tantalising than the fantasy worlds of political intrigue we see on screen. Brilliant as these stories are, the reality of Australia’s insidious political games is far more ordinary; Bruce bleeds economically, rather than from the neck! Our villain James swings no sword. He does not ambush Bruce in physical attacks. He instead swings his power in the halls of parliament, in the media, and in the complex bureaucracies of government and large corporate enterprises. His ambush is a raid on Bruce’s wealth that happens on the sly in mundane offices across our cities, but that nevertheless take a cut of the country’s economic wealth to which he was never entitled. Instead of victory parades, he hosts industry awards nights to glowing media coverage!
The not-so-bloody reality is that James has been in the ascendancy in Australia for at least the last twenty years. He now robs you of a hefty part of your superannuation. He dodges taxes so you pay more. You pay higher interest rates on your mortgage, higher transport costs and higher medical costs, because James and his Mates take a cut.
Our research leads us to believe that James is stealing roughly half of the real wealth of Bruce, our champion Australian. Every hour you work, there are thirty minutes of it working to line James’ pockets rather than your own. In a world without James and his Mates you could retire fifteen years earlier, enjoying the fruits of your labour, rather than watching James enjoy them.
While we focus on James’ recent rise in Australia, his Game is eternal. We can never wash ourselves of him completely, for after each wave of purging, he rises again. For you see, there are count- less wannabe Jameses. His position is admired. Many of us send our children to the right schools in the hope of befriending James, marrying James, or becoming another James. This admiration is misplaced. He is robbing us while pretending that he deserves his spoils, which is despicable, no matter how smartly he plays it.
James is running amok with his Game now in Australia
Dr Cameron Murray is an economist, consultant and blogger