Ok, I’m going to start with an allegory. A man takes $100 to the races every week and loses the lot. After a few years, his wife sits him down and says that if he goes on losing money at this rate, by the end of the year, he’ll have lost a total of $10,000. He nods and says that she’s right and that it’s a problem but right now his taxi is waiting and they’ll discuss this further tonight. When he returns from the races he tells her to put on her best dress and that they’re going out for dinner.
“Why?” she asks, “Did you win?”
“No,” he replies. “But I only lost $50 and by my calculations that means I’ll have only lost $8800 by the end of the year, so we’re over a thousand dollars better off!”
Ok, if that makes no sense to you then how did you react to the news that the Government had “shaved $23 billlion off the debt” (in the next four years)? Were you caught up in the euphoria that our finances were now back under control and that jobs and growth were happening because well we believe in jobs and growth and look, jobs and growth thanks to jobs and growth? Or did you remember to question everything that the papers tell you?
A few points to consider:
- The figure of $23 billion is only $23 billion less than the projected figure of $606 billion. It’s not $23 billion less than what the debt currently is. (That figure was conspicuously absent in all news stories)
- The figure is a prediction anyway. In terms of the allegory above, it’s like the man telling his wife that he has some much better tips for next week so that he’s sure that he’ll lose even less next week.
- Scott Morrison has developed “boring” as a method to nullify any political attack. If you are one of the few people who don’t immediately reach for the remote to change the channel then chances are that his use of the word “fiscal” followed be words, “responsible” and “jobs and growth” have sent you into the same sort of altered state of consciousness that enables certain witch doctors power over zombies. However, if you listen closely and can repeat the words, “I’m not in Kansas, Toto” every few seconds, you realise that he’s saying nothing and that his whole schtick is based on nobody actually releasing that he hasn’t actually done any more than repeat a few basic hopes and a belief that the future will bring good things because well, the Liberals are in charge and next year power prices will go down because we want them to.
- Sometimes the best way to reduce debt isn’t to concentrate on the spending side, but to actually spend so that you have more revenue in the future. Going to uni and having a HECS debt is one example. Fixing up your car so that you can become an Uber driver may or may not be worth it, but spending a few dollars getting Responsible Serving of Alcohol certificate so that you can actually get a job serving drinks will certainly improving your employment prospects. Of course, this won’t work out every time for everyone, but when you’re the government if you spend wisely, the odds are in your favour. Putting a cap on uni places may be a good idea or it may be ridiculously short-sighted. Either way, I’d like to see a rationale beyond simply: “This will save money.” That may be the same sort of rationale as not going to work will save you money on transport.
Whatever, I’m bemused by the way the media seem to simply repeat so much without question. It intrigued me to read about Robert Doyle vehemently denying accusations of misconduct. Given the case is under investigation, I make no assumptions about his guilt or innocence, but I can suggest that his public statement lacked a denial. He may have meant to include one and simply forgot in amongst everything else he wrote. He told us that they were terrible allegations, which even his accuser would agree is true. He told us that we was “frustrated” that he hadn’t been told of the exact nature of the formal accusation. He told us that he was a father and a husband and listed various other roles. He said that it was a distressing time. He said that his standing down shouldn’t be taken as an admission, which again is only fair. However, in the one page statement there was no actual “I did not do what I’m accused of” statement. Perhaps, he just overlooked it because the other things were more important to say and he felt that we could just infer the denial.
And certainly, when it came to the media, he was right, because a number of them reported it as such. Maybe he issued a follow-up statement, but I couldn’t find any direct quotes.
Ah well, we really should just let the investigation take its course without comment. After all, we’ve got to work out how to spend that $23 billion which we now have thanks the fiscal responsiblility of jobs and growth, you are getting sleepy, jobs and growth, you are in my power, wage rises will come, wages rises will come, you are getting sleepy…
Where was I? Oh that’s right, spending the $23 billion. My bet is on personal income tax cuts in the next Budget.