Image for Being positively negative

*Pic: Image from here

Over emphatic negatives always suggest that what is being denied may be what is really being asserted. Jonathan Raban

First published June 29

Being negative can be positively difficult sometimes, especially when spin doctors and the power of positive thinking people get to twist our grammar and language. 

What got me thinking was the strategy of ‘negative gearing,’ when it comes to property investment. ‘Negative gearing,’ actually means ‘losing money’. Friends sometimes boast that they have bought an investment property and are ‘negative geared’. Good oh, I can’t see much clever about that. I can lose money as proficiently as the next bloke, but I am yet to see losing money as being a successful way to make money. Of course I am not being sceptical; I am just being ‘negatively constructive.’

Sure, I realise that if house prices go up you can get a tidy capital gain but if house prices drop you are stuck with an investment property that can, and will, leave you up the creek. Apart from paying less tax it beats me as to why losing money is a good thing, but who am I to question the million or so Australians who reckon that ‘negative gearing’  is a wonderful way to create wealth.

When I question this strategy I am usually met with a finger in ears la, la, la, la reaction.  ‘House prices always go up,’ they will say. Well no, actually they don’t. You wouldn’t want to be one of those left holding the mortgage papers if property prices halved for example.

The term negative gearing leads onto other phrases that imply the opposite to what is really transpiring. Apparently at some schools, when students don’t pass an exam they haven’t failed, it is just ‘deferred success’. Yeah, right.

It seems that the US economy has been experiencing a condition economists are referring to as ‘negative growth.’ What they are experiencing is the opposite of expansion but ‘negative growth’ sounds so much more positive that using words like ‘decline,’ or ‘contraction’.

Media commentators and economists in general are supposed to provide, shall we call it, ‘negative clarity’ when discussing certain aspects of a country’s true state of economic affairs. 

It would be wonderful if we all adopted these delusional descriptions when it comes to all sorts of things. For example America could have had a ‘negative victory’ in Vietnam. It sounds much better than saying that they were beaten.

The American author, John Michael Greer, reckons that it won’t be too long before the following could happen. ‘I’m sorry, ma’am,’ the doctor says, ‘but your husband is negatively alive.’

Another wonderful opportunity is to use this twisted-meaning approach is when it comes to sport.  When a sporting team is behind during a game what they really have is a ‘negative lead’. This will come in really handy for us St Kilda Football Club supporters who are used to experiencing ‘negative wins’. We embrace ‘negative wins’. Of course our players are not hopeless or pathetic, they are just ‘unconstructively skilled’ which of course is much better. 

The emperor has got no clothes? Of course not, he is just negatively dressed.’

*Steven French is a Tasmanian farmer, photographer and writer – and sort of retired. Steven lives at Whitemore in northern Tasmania, where his family have been farming since 1865. His grandchildren now make seven generations on the same property. Steven started his photographic career as a rural photographer working for mainly for Tasmanian Country and Stock and Land.  During this time Steven’s photo captions keep getting bigger and bigger until he was writing more than photographing. He finished up being employed for several years solely as a journalist. In 1978 Steve and his wife opened Reflections Photographic Studio which went on to become the largest photographic studio in the state. Steven is a former runner-up for the Tasmanian Professional Print of the Year Award and took out the People’s Choice Award in the same year. In more recent times Steven has worked as a photo/journalist/editor for several glossy publications. During the early 2000’s he was publishing/editor of Tasmanian Life Magazin. In 2010 Steven photographed and wrote the book Hand Made in Tasmania which was on the state’s best seller list for several weeks. Steven work has been published widely throughout Australia and overseas. He has had several solo photographic exhibitions and been part of group exhibitions on the mainland. His work has also been hung at the prestigious Menzies Gallery in Melbourne. Currently Steven has a weekly spot on Chris Wisbey’s Weekends radio show and is editor of Australian Sheep Magazine.