From time to time all the bills come at once.
There’s the deposit for the school trip, the car needs a service, gas and electricity come in the same week (bloody carbon tax, it’d be 9% cheaper it weren’t for Gillard), followed by the rates.
Just when I was starting to think that my bank balance would actually have three figures in it again, back it goes to $32-54. And not all the bills are paid. Hopefully, I get some casual teaching or some bookings for my professional development seminar. Otherwise, I may have to withdraw some money from super…
Of course, my wife’s approach is to reduce our expenditure. When she goes to the supermarket, she’ll buy the cheap toilet paper and the NoName brands. I’m told to get the cheaper wine. That’s cheaper than $7 bottle that I usually buy.
Why am I sharing my domestic life like this? Well, it’s because – and I’m going to make up the figures here because I don’t remember them – this has happened more than once, so eventually I decided to use a bit of logic and arithmetic to show my wife that things weren’t quite as dire as they seemed. (Well, if you don’t have the actual figure you just make it up. Precedent – the Liberals on the NBN)
I asked my wife to through the difference in price between the items she usually bought, and the ones she bought instead.
“Why don’t you always get this one if it’s cheaper,” I asked, a couple of times.
She explained what was better about the more expensive brand.
Then, I went on to the wine. “Now let’s assume that I drink two bottles a night. That’s only a saving of $3.80 if I buy the cleanskin.”
“You don’t drink two bottles a night, but let’s say you don’t drink any. That’d be a saving of $7 a day,” she replied
“All right, let’s leave the wine out of this equation.”
“That’s what I was suggesting.”
“Now I’ve added up your total savings. For the purposes of this, let’s say that you buy all of these items once a week, which you don’t . You’ve saved a total of $23.14”
“Our bills total over two thousand dollars. At $23 a week, it’d take nearly a hundred weeks for that have any real impact on our capacity to pay them. In other words, what you’re doing has minimal impact. To deal with our bills, either you need to get a promotion, or I need to get a part time job, or…”
“Look, I just thought we needed to save money, and every little bit helps.”
“No, it just makes us feel like we’re broke. In reality, even if go out to dinner every night next week, we’ll be fine next month because I’ll get my tax return back. So can we stop punishing ourselves and go out to dinner tonight and kick-start the economy by cheering up the man at the Malaysia restaurant down the road.”
“You’re really very annoying. You know that, don’t know?”
This was a surprise to me. I’d thought that I was being a saint.
And so to Joe Hockey.
When he made his statement about how dire the Budget situation was, I was a little cynical. Yes, I accept that we have a long term structural problem that needs addressing. But some of the measures, Joe is proposing just remind me of buying the “NoName” brand. It may make you feel good, but it won’t be enough to actually fix the problem.
Australia needs to improve the revenue side of the equation. Most of the spending cuts will save little money, and in some cases, actually worsen the Budget bottom line once the flow on effect from the loss of jobs is felt. Yet, the Government is removing and reducing taxes. Even allowing for their mandate to throw away the billions from the Carbon Tax and replace it with expenditure on their Direct Action, how can they justify removing the Mining Tax?
No, I suspect Joe Hockey is trying to appeal to that part of us that likes to punish ourselves. (As I’ve said many times, we’re told that we all need to tighten our belts, but if anyone ever suggests cutting even one dollar to elite private schools, it’s class warfare). But if you do the sums, they have no plan to fix the underlying problems in the Budget. It’s just an excuse to take money from the certain sections of the community.
It’s really just like my wife.
P.S. After reading this, she is behaving even more like Joe Hockey and suggesting that it’s the wine budget and the wine budget alone that needs to be cut! Talk about a narrow focus…