As a political commentator, I probably shouldn’t admit that I’ve given up on Q&A. I came to the conclusion late last year that it had lost its way. I felt it was pandering more to ‘gotcha’ moments for entertainment purposes rather than in-depth political analysis and holding politicians to account.
I haven’t watched a full program this year, tuning in only at the tail end to see if anyone had imploded or proclaimed Australia a Republic. None of that happened last night, but what I did witness toward the end was the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Dan Tehan, give us his view on how we were going to repay the national debt.
He went on with some rubbish about having to get the budget back into surplus before we could begin paying down the debt. “Until you can get your balance sheet right, you won’t be able to (address the debt),” he said. His comment reaffirmed how right I was to stop watching Q&A.
Tehan said we needed to get the budget back into surplus, before we could start paying down the debt and I have no doubt he actually believes this. Most government and opposition members do. And therein lies the problem. They are economic illiterates.
How does one cut through on this issue? How do we go about explaining the reality that is a fiat currency? How do we explain in words of one syllable, that a government bond purchased by an investor and held in an account at the Reserve Bank as a deposit for that investor, is not a debt repayable by the people of Australia?
How do we explain that money received by the Reserve Bank for bond sales is not spent providing services? How do we explain to our politicians that all government spending is new money issued by the Reserve bank and electronically transferred to the commercial bank accounts of those who provide government services?
How do we explain that taxation receipts are monies drained out of circulation to enable the infusion of new money to keep the economy turning? How do we explain that a budget surplus is not a saving to be spent at some later time?
How difficult is it for a politician or the average person to grasp this reality? How much better would a platform like Q&A be if it were to confront politicians with this reality and call them to account on their failure to address poverty and inequality?
What is the point of having those who receive welfare payments, those who are public servants, pensioners and so on, believe that they are the beneficiaries of someone’s taxation receipts?
How much better would the conversation be if we were no longer tortured with comments such as, “my taxes are paying for this” or “taxpayers’ money is being wasted,” or other such absurdities?
Tonight’s budget will be, as it always is, the greatest lie a sovereign currency issuing government can tell. And the lie is perpetuated day in, day out, on an unsuspecting public who don’t know any better.
Tonight’s budget will be a chest-beating, blowhard of fiscal allocations that are meaningless to most people because they will neither understand the language used, nor be sufficiently informed to make a judgement on its value.