Its just that at uni you were quite unmistakeably the butt of our jokes over in the economics and commerce faculties. I've actually forgotten how the jokes themselves went, but I remember the punch line, which was always the same and went something like this ... whats an arts degree good for ... wiping your arse. Boom Boom.
Well how wrong was I. It looks like an arts degree qualifies you for much more. In fact it appears to be a prerequisite for entry into Australia's political elite. Not just labour but liberal as well. The attached tables outline the educational qualifications of both our current cabinet and our current shadow ministry.
Over 50% of ministers and shadow ministers hold BAs including both big kev and mighty mal. Big kev holds a BA with majors in chinese language and chinese history, and no post grad. Take a second to digest that ... our prime minister has a degree in saying ni how and the decline of the ming dynasty ... he has no formal training in politics, law or economics.
Mighty mal didn't disclose what his majors were but on the up side he has done some post graduate training and is a Rhodes Scholar (the only other Rhodes Scholar in the bunch is Tony Abbott).
The second most popular degree is law, with over 56% holding some form of law qualification. You'll probably notice that quite allot of them double up on both BAs and LLBs.
There are three things that are immediately obvious to the casual observer.
1. Nearly everyone holds tertiary qualifications (all labour and most liberal). While we would expect to see high levels of tertiary qualifications, I think we should also see a number of accomplished people without quals ... such as those that have worked their way up off the factory floor or alternatively the entrepreneurs who have driven economic growth over the last couple of decades.
2. Another striking observation is the total lack of science degrees, engineering degrees or medical degrees. Where are these guys? These guys that actually know how to do complicated stuff.
3. The other thing that slaps you in the face is a lack of economics. Only approximately 20% have undergone any form of formal economics training.
I don't care what anyone says, economics is not something you pick up casually. I have never encountered anyone with a deep understanding and appreciation of economics that didn't have some formal training. To understand it requires actual study. This apparent under representation is alarming as economics is the one field that deals with allocation, of how resources should be shared and of how to maximise welfare for the community......the whole economy. And you would think that that is the core activity of governement, how to put in place and maintain a framework that allows us all the freedom to pursue our own endeavours and live by our own merits.
Given that these guys are the self proclaimed economic managers of our little slice of the world, we should all be alarmed that they are basically arts graduates or lawyers. Its like putting a cap on my 6 year olds head and telling him he's now the bus driver. Fasten your seat belts ... adjust your nappy and sit back for the ride.
It actually explains a lot. Now I know why Joe Hockey can't really engage in any deep economic argument (he's an arts grad), now I know why mighty mal asks questions like "whats marginal cost?" (he's an arts grad). It goes along way to explaining why swan thinks its a good thing to go around proclaiming 'this is a robin hood budget' (he's an arts grad) . Apart from the fact that in the analogy wayne is actually the sheriff, the contention is economically obnoxious and symptomatic of someone who is totally ignorant of the economic harm they are sowing.
This explains why as a group they are easily bamboozled by an econometric study. Why they think it's such a good idea to put price caps on natural gas. Why they think grocery markets need to be regulated. Why price caps need to be placed on petrol. Why keynesian economics actually has merit.
It explains away that embarrasing 7000 word dribble big kev coughed up for the monthly and why he seems to just not get Hayek.
This explains every thing ... they are all BLOODY ARTS GRADUATES!
I didn't include in the table their work experience prior to parliament. The following high level summaries should suffice ....
By way of short summary. For Labour the bulk of ministers hold either a BA or LLB, all (without exception) followed the work path of uni, then union or union legal representation followed by political appointments (eg ministerial advisors). There are no ministers who don't hold degrees or have spent time working on the actual factory floor. The only exceptions are a couple of ministers who have a background in education, ie used to be teachers and an ex rock star.
While as with labour the bulk of shadow ministers hold BAs or LLBs there is a more diverse working experience ranging from company CEOs to milkmen and real estate salesmen. A small number of shadow ministers do not hold tertiary qualifications and there is more agricultural representation.
Its worth noting that both labour and liberal hold approximately the same number of ministers (shadow ministers) with economic training.