There’s something satisfying about denial. You say no to that extra bit of chocolate cake and you pat yourself on the back and say what a good thing I’ve done. Of course, there’s a big difference between a sugary dessert and an essential meal, but both anorexics and the Liberal Party don’t seem to make that distinction.
When the Liberals speak on matters economic, they always sound so stern and serious that people think that they’ve put some thought into what they’re saying. So when they tell us that we have a spending problem and it’s all because of Labor, we presume that they’ve got a plan to do better, because, well, everyone knows that whenever Labor gets in, the economy gets ruined. Why in the seventies, Labor caused the oil shock, and just recently Labor created the Global Financial Crisis and because of Labor we didn’t go into recession when everybody knows that it would have been the economically prudent thing to do, because avoiding a recession is just like eating that extra bit of chocolate cake and you’ll have to pay for it later. Of course, Labor are going to try to argue that it’s more like having a healthy breakfast so that you have plenty of energy for the day, but don’t listen to them because they’re such poor economic managers that they failed to kill off the car industry and kept unemployment relatively low during a world-wide recession.
Of course, you only have to take some of the things that the current bunch of muddleheads running the country tell you and think about them for a nanosecond and you soon realise that they make no sense at all. Take reducing company tax, for example. Imagine that you run a business. Suddenly, thanks to a cut in company tax you have an extra twenty thousand at your disposal. Do you think, “Awesome, I can now hire a part-time worker to do some job which I didn’t have a need for until this tax cut!” or do you simply add the money to your bottom line?
Or take the way that they always talk about running the government like a household budget and refer to taking on debt as “putting things on the credit card”. Yes, we know that it’s an analogy and that while many credit cards charge interest rates of up to twenty percent, the government can borrow at rates of less than three percent, but it sounds scary and out of control. But extending the household budget analogy for a moment, one could argue that the way the current government treats some of the people living in its “house” then it would have Human Services knocking on its door and charging it with neglect.
“I’m from Human Services and there are reports that you haven’t been allowing your children to receive necessary medical attention.”
“Well, the doctor’s visits were costing nearly as much as I was spending on my boat, so I had to place a limit on them.”
“And you have someone sleeping on your front verandah.”
“Ah, that’s nothing to do with me. She’s the woman from down the road who left her husband and if she chooses to do that sort of thing, well, it’s not up to us to help her find housing.”
“But surely you should do something to help her.”
“We did. We put up a big sign in the front of our house telling people that they shouldn’t put up with domestic violence. Apparently that’s why she’s made the sensible choice to sleep next to the sign.
“There’s also a report that you’re keeping some of you children home from school to help run an illegal factory in the garage.”
“Hang on, for a start, there’s nothing illegal about the factory and secondly that’s not why we’re keeping the children out of school, we’re doing that because the school fees were too high and they weren’t learning very well and some guy named Gonski was telling us that we needed to spend even more money on them…”
“But you do have them working for nothing?”
“No, we’re providing shelter and food, so naturally we expect something back. Also, they’re not actually working, they’re getting valuable experience.”
Yep, they should be thankful that the government isn’t a household. Whatever, households do sometimes make sensible investments and even borrow in the hope that, by using the money wisely now, it’ll pay off in the long run. But, when the Liberals talk of government borrowing, it’s always bad. Strange then that they should be so full of praise for those borrowing, when it comes to negative gearing.
While they tell us all the time about their planforjobsandgrowth – which so far consists of improving the economy so that growth happens and we get jobs from the increased growth and the way to improve the economy is to grow it by having more jobs and growth – when you actually look at their actions, it’s hard to see where the jobs are coming from. If, for example, you look at the number of arts organisations who’ve suddenly discovered that they have no funding, you have to expect that a number of them will close. Now while some of you may think of the Arts, as being those funny little people who do such esoteric things as build sculptures out of sheep intestines, or perform haiku while knitting their beards, the fact remains that the Arts is one of the largest employers in the country, and many of the people who’ll find themselves without work are quite normal people involved in such normal activities as administration, book-keeping and cleaning up. (If you’re interested in the Arts, check out the Arts Party.)
The fact is that most people have no understanding of money and the way it works. We’re encouraged to see it as a fixed, tangible thing and many people equate it to cash, when cash – whether in the form of paper money, coins, bullion or cowrie shells – has only ever made up a very small part of the money supply. The whole problem in the GFC was that credit started becoming too hard to get because, with so many large companies going belly-up, nobody wanted to risk lending to anyone else. When “paying” for any government spending, a government can pay for it in the short term via taxation revenue, or in the long term via borrowing. When the Liberals start telling us that they’ve funded things in the future, it’s just as much nonsense as when they tell you that Labor hadn’t set aside any money for Gonski.
Tax and spend, that’s the Labor way, we hear. Of course, the fact that under John Howard, we not only had the most flagrant spender in our history, there were also Budget surpluses, which means that he was obviously taking in more tax than he was spending.
So today when Labor announced a forty million dollar program to ensure every primary school child receives swimming lessons, I’m waiting to hear whether the Liberals will attack it on the grounds that it’s unaffordable, or whether Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz will condemn it as some form of Marxist, social engineering where our children are being encouraged to experiment with unnatural water lifestyles. Or perhaps they’ll leave it to Barnaby to complain that this is part of their plan to worry us about rising sea levels as part of the climate change conspiracy for world government!
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