Pulling a Swiftie

Feb 17, 2024
London England UK - October 2023: Vue Cinema London - West End (Leicester Square) is advertising The cultural phenomenon

Swiftie: “A piece of sharp practice; an act of deception; a trick, esp. in the phrase to pull a swiftie”.  The Australian National Dictionary.

Whether the phenomenon marketed as a ‘Taylor-Swift’ was human or android, male, female or trans, black or white, took up none of my brain cells until late last year.

I still have no interest in whether the brand is a fraud, a fake and a phony or the greatest stage act since Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin combined.

Instead, the hoo-ha around the current tour is an opportunity to puncture the latest instance of ‘the economic impact statement.’

The swiftie in my sights is the claim that the tour will add hundreds of millions to the Australian economy.

Burying this nonsense should need no more than pointing out that the ‘economic impact’ of the flood in south-east Queensland will run into the billions. If all you want is the biggest ‘economic impact,’ try a war with the People’s Republic.
One more instance of the numerical illiteracy, in line with ‘one in a hundred years’, as if it were an index of frequency and not of intensity.

What we need to be told is the cost-benefit analysis of any event.

Yet, ‘economic impact’ keeps being trotted out by event organisers to raid the public purse. Venue NSW talks of $80m to the State from the tour. (Let’s not mention the Brisbane Olympics).

Would the big spenders have stacked the millions under their beds so that the taxman can’t get it? Or might not they have spent up on slap-up dinners closer to home? On different mind-altering substances? Holidayed elsewhere? Bought tickets to different events? or other throw-away clothes to make a fashion statement?

Or, God Forbid, donated the lot to FoodBank?

Should you be a connoisseur of fake news, take your pick from the following estimates of the tour’s economic impact. The Australian Financial Review promises $140m; the Daily Telegraph gives $130m to New South Wales; the Herald-Sun headlines $1.2 billion for Victoria.

Leave out how much the tour organisers will take home with them over and above the $60m in sales of imported merchandise.

Small wonder that ‘to pull a swiftie’ entered Australian slang around 1945 in the backwash from the American occupation.

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