Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Translation Tuesday -Dedicated to Bridging (or Widening) the Cultural Divide

In the olden days people used to trade cows , skins and crops for the other things they needed. At some point it became inconvenient to go to Maccas, order an upsized Triple Cheeseburger meal , and pay for it with a pumpkin and so money was invented.

In the early days of colonial Australia we used to pay for things with rum, rabbits,  bartering or even foreign currency. It wasn’t until 1913 that the first series of federally released Australian notes became available and even then we modelled our currency on the English system of pounds, shillings and pence. By 1966 we were pretty much sick of anything English, and we were trying to annoy the Queen so we decided to get jiggy with it and introduce decimal currency  because we secretly wanted to be America. Australia at that time didn’t have many original ideas. And so began Australia’s love affair with Australian dollars and cents on Valentine’s Day 1966.

By the early 1990's,  when you could no longer buy 17 mixed lollies for one  cent,   there was just no point in having a one cent  piece, so we gave them up in 1994. And since we were on a roll- we nixed the 2 cent piece while we were at it.   If you buy something here that’s $19.98 they just round it up to an even twenty.  If you buy something for $19.97 they round it down to $19.95, so you get 2 cents for free. Don't worry, It all evens out in the end- I’ve been keeping a tally since the system started.  

We gave up one dollar bills for lent in 1984 and never got them back and someone stole every two dollar bill in the country in 1988 and replaced them with coins. Trust  me- 10 dollars in coins looks a lot more pov than 10 dollars in notes. Consequently a lot of $1 and $2 coins end up in piggybanks. I am convinced this is  all  part of a secret government plot to get us to self fund retirement.

Plus we don't have quarters either. We have a measley 20 cent piece. And a 5 cent piece.  Sometimes, I feel completely ripped off.

People from overseas think our money is funny. It looks different and feels different to other money. One of the first  original ideas we ever had  besides popularising eating lamb and inventing AFL Football was to print money on plastic. That’s why it feels funny. Yes- our money is plastic. It foils counterfeiters better or something.  I’ve heard it said by visitors to our country that Australian money looks like Monopoly money. I can assure you it doesn't.  It's like we looked at Monopoly money  and said "Let's outdo Monopoly Money". If you aren't used to it - I Implore you not to look directly at our money because it will blind you. It's like Vegemite, you have to be exposed from infancy to survive the experience.

 Please put your sunglasses on now. This is Monopoly money...

This is Australian money. It out-rainbows Monopoly money every time.  

I know it looks weird to you but it spends exactly the same as other money. Sometimes faster. It doesn't appear to buy as much as money from other countries,with the exception of New Zealand where we get an awesome exchange rate which is why we all go there for holidays. Plus they speak like us too. Mostly. Except for that weird e and u substitution thing they have going. It makes six sound like "sex" or "sucks". I digress.

Goods do tend to cost more here. I was asked last week whether we import everything except sheep and whether that explains why a book an American  can buy for 25.00USD costs me 55.00AUD.  I think we do import everything. We're all too busy having public holidays and annual leave days off work to manufacture anything here.   Cherry Coke, Cheerios , and Gangsta Rap are all imported from America and I suspect they are to be blamed for our  poor dollar performance against the greenback.  In return we gave you Vegemite, Crocodile Dundee and Yahoo Serious. Fair's fair-we understand you didn't get the joke. But there's no need to wreck our economy with your imports.

The good news for overseas visitors is that once you convert say 50 of your monies to Australian dollars you can pretty much buy a brand  new car.  Especially if you only want a Hyundai.

So to sum up:
  • Australian money is pretty to look at  and easy to use if you're drunk because it's all different sizes and colours.
  • Australian money doesn't buy as much as other money seems to. Unless you're buying beer. And unless you're in Mexico where I hear you can get a 12 pack of Sol for about 2 bucks.  
  • Our government periodically finds itself in debt , and decides to get rid of another coin denomination  so they can round everything up to the nearest 5 or 10 cents  , thereby silently taxing us further but effectively saving our economy
  • And if you want proper financial or economic advice or an explanation of the AUD you probably shouldn't be taking this post as the literal truth. Consult your accountant or financial advisor. 

P.S. vawriter ...the precise number of sheep in Australia is 120, 123,963. Mr. P and I are exhausted from all that counting.


Marg said...

Another fantabulous post. At least the currency is the same all over Oz. I feel like a fellow Aussie this week. I know all this, yippee.

GaAm said...

These posts crack me up, and are fabulous.

Anonymous said...

WOW - your money is colorful.
Great post, thanks for your history lesson.

Baa-Me Kniits said...

I'd never thought about that before....our money is a bit on the garish side isn't it :-)

Brenda said...

I love your beautiful money! Jealous.

AnnieO said...

It's because Aussies are very futuristic that their money is LOUD, I guess. That pesky round-up math thing may indeed be an enforced savings plan. I would be happy to give up the penny if it meant that instead of a direct tax, LOL! Thanks for the laughs.

Michelle said...

LOL! I don't know how you manage to be so informative and so funny at the same time. Wonderful post. And hey, being a quilter, I LOVE your rainbow money.

While I know Americans would scream about the rounding up or down process in your market system, because God knows we don't want to pay a cent in tax even if it means better roads and schools, I think with our tremendous deficit, the Aussies could teach us a thing or two.

Alisa said...

Your money looks a lot happier than our money. Maybe the whole world should just switch to Monopoly money? It could solve a lot of problems!
You crack me up.

Elizabeth said...

A few more of these posts and I'll fit right in when I come to visit!

You are totally awesome! I laughed all the way through!

Sandy said...

Such a funny post...I LOL several times! I still want to visit Australia REALLLLY bad!

Vesuviusmama said...

Hilarious! Thanks for the primer!

thea said...

I have only been following your blog for a little while but I have found that I eagerly await your Tuesday Translations. Another good reason for Tuesday! Thanks!

Paulette said...

You and your money are sure funny. Colorful too! I always look forward to Translation Tuesday!

Ellie Mae said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for the history lesson. I would love to visit your country one day.