As readers know, I have been engaged for the last year on a search for the ideal job. Having spent all my life in the law and politics, and therefore never having had a real job, I feel it is only fair that I should make an effort, even at this late stage, to take part in some form of gainful employment, so that I can have the same experience of real life that my fellow citizens have had. The pre-requisites I have set are, I think, moderate and reasonable and pretty much what most Australians regard as non-negotiable minima. Basically, those conditions are, first, that the job should involve as little actual work as possible and that, if physical or mental activity is unavoidable, then it should be in inverse proportion to the time available to spend on it. Secondly, the position should, of course, involve being paid large sums of money without any correlation between the quantity of the money and the value of what, if anything, is produced. Thirdly, the occupation must appear, at least outwardly, to be socially useful and given considerable deference and respect by the community at large; in other words, the job should mean that I would be automatically invited to take part in top level corporate activities like Executive Sleepout for the Homeless, Executives United For Same Sex Marriage and annual charity fundraisers for Hamas. After months of work devoted to this analysis of potential occupations, I thought I had put together quite a useful list of careers and it was a delicate balance between the three main contenders. The first was that of an arts administrator, not only because it was inconceivable that it could involve any work at all, except organising a festival every three years and making exhausting trips to Paris and Los Angeles, but because arts organisations hold politicians and opinion makers in such a state of perpetual fear that they dare not refuse the organisations whatever money and power they want. And if a misanthrope like George Brandis should come along and promote some absurd heresy that you should stop wasting money and do something useful like attracting audiences, the inevitable turn of the political wheel means that sooner or later he will be replaced by a sophisticated Renaissance man like Senator Fifield who will restore due process to funding of the arts with a blank cheque, no accountability and no need to refund anything left unspent. Moreover, arts administrators are beyond criticism, in view of the air of righteousness that surrounds their every move, up to and including complete failure and insolvency. And there is always the prospect of the Order of Australia or a position on the board of the ABC to assuage any wounded feelings. My second choice was that of celebrity human rights lawyer, mainly because of the nobility that surrounds their work. In that role, you have fame, an air of sanctity, invitations to first nights at the opera and frequent appearances on Q&A where you are allowed to say ‘I am ashamed to be an Australian’ and where, if anyone should ask you an inappropriate question, they will be humiliated and ridiculed and generally put back in their Hansonite box. A late entry in my search, but one with definite potential, was that of management consultant, the only known profession apart from the law where you can make money from knowing nothing and pretending to know everything. It is probably the closest that the human being has yet come to permanent employment, as it is based on business and government being paralysed into a fear of making decisions and finding relief only when paying others to make decisions for them, a state in which most business and government is permanently stuck. Nor does it require the production of anything, apart from reports that might seem on the surface to be largely reams of labyrinthine, cliché-ridden meaninglessness, but which deep down are found to be entirely so.
But there was something missing, which was why, like most decision makers, I deferred my decision on what to do. But I can say now that I have decided to become an expert, preferably with a capital ‘E’. It is the easiest career for which to qualify, done merely by saying that you are an expert and everyone believes you, especially the media. You may become an expert in any field you choose, but the lucrative fields are those of security and terrorism expert (a growth field if ever there were one), refugee law expert, economics expert and climate change expert, You can be an expert in several or all of them and split yourself amoeba-like from one to another as the market shifts. Money to spend on your services is unlimited, as governments have an insatiable thirst for experts. No tedious preparation is needed before your pronouncements; questions will never stump you if you answer a different one. Say whatever you like, as people are desperate to believe an expert and if you are afraid of spouting gobbledegook, remember that people want to be bamboozled by experts and do not expect to understand them; moreover, no-one dares disagree with you for fear of showing their own ignorance. And always lean towards voodoo and witchcraft, especially on climate change; experts thrive on mystery, but lose their mystique when clarity appears. Your stock in trade is small but deadly, and the phrases ‘a broad range of options’, ‘within market expectations’ and ‘contrary to international humanitarian law’ will solve virtually any problem. Have no fear of overcharging; clients expect to be fleeced and they believe that the higher the price, the better the advice. So, I’m going with the expert option, but I think I’ll ask an expert first.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues