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Tag Archives: Home Insulation Program

Money Is No Object!

Paul Sheahan wrote something rather interesting today…

Well, that’s incorrect. He wrote something that caught my eye. And I’m trying to work out whether the man suffers from memory problems or is simply lying. He wrote:

“In politics, the Rudd Labor government went berserk on deficit spending to remain popular.”

Now, I’m happy for someone to debate whether the Rudd government’s policies were effective, or whether they just postponed the inevitable recession. I’m happy for someone to debate whether the money could have been better spent. I’m even happy for them to debate whether or not the pink batts problems were caused by socialism or unchecked capitalism.

But to suggest that the deficit spending was all about “being popular” just strikes me as a total rewriting of history. Even at the time, much of the spending wasn’t popular. The Liberals were telling us that Labor had gone too hard, too early and there’d be no money left when we were actually in recession – which they assured us was unavoidable.. Many asserted that the $900 would be wasted on alcohol and pokies.

(On a side note, isn’t it interesting that when Labor tried to introduce a voluntary pre-commitment amount for pokies, the Liberals teamed up the Clubs and screamed “nanny state”, but the Ceduna trial of a welfare card which can’t be spent on alcohol or gambling is just fine and dandy.)

Anyway, Paul Sheahan thinks that all the Rudd government’s spending was only to make his government “popular”. And I’d like to point out that he does specifically say the “Rudd Labor government”, so he is talking about the spending that was done at the height of the GFC. This not about things like the NBN or the National Disability Scheme.

Sheahan is one of people who like to remind us of that factoid that there’s a limited amount of money. (Note the use of the word “factoid” which, as I pointed out when Christopher Pyne used the word in parliament, means something that’s repeated often enough for people to take it as fact.)

The problem when we discuss “money” is that many people take it as synonymous with “cash” of which there is a limited amount at any given moment. “Money”, on the other hand, is a measure rather than being a thing in itself. Money tells you how much of the limited resources of the world you can access should you convert your money into something else. Of course, should everyone decide to convert their money into things at the same time, then we’d have inflation. And if they all decided to convert their money into the same thing – such as tulips – we’d have a bubble. (See Dutch Tulip Bubble.) We have people telling us that bubbles are inevitable and just part of the capitalist system.

As banks and governments can create money with the stroke of a computer key. money is infinite. Of course, if they do create an excessive amount of extra money, then the existing values of the “money” will diminish. There are a limited amount of tulips and if there’s suddenly an extra trillion dollars in the tulip market that million dollars for a bulb is going to look like a bargain.

Perhaps a good way to look at it is to use a sporting analogy. Money is the score and while sometimes scoring is hard, that’s only because there’s a team that keeps taking the ball of us and trying to score themselves. In the unusual event that we all decide that we’d rather see a good fast, high-scoring game and we start kicking for the same end, scoring becomes a lot easier. Of course, in real life, this doesn’t happen very often, and many people who are scoring like it’s a basketball game, wonder why the soccer players are finding it so hard to score and conclude that it’s because they’re lazy.

So when people start talking about there being a limited amount of money, what they actually mean is that there are a limited amount of resources. However, if governments can use money to reorganise the economy so that more “resources” are being created then it can actually add to the wealth of the country. If a person is working instead of being unemployed or underemployed, then that adds to the overall pool of “resources”.

The question is not whether such things can be done. Of course they can. The question is what is the most effective and worthwhile way to do it. Will reducing unemployment by two percent create a wages breakout? And a tulip bubble which leads to problems down the track? Will increasing unemployment by one percent mean that we have a tulip glut on our hands? Or is it better to have a regulated tulip market and stop all this speculation.

Creating more money was more or less what the Rudd Labor government did in the early days of the GFC. It was about economic management. Given that we were in danger of recession, there was little prospect of inflation.

So the idea that it was about popularity is another one of those little factoids that certain columnists are so fond of helping to create.

 

A letter to Tony Abbott: “Not everybody dies at sea”

Dear Tony Abbott,

Unless you have no respect for human life, especially for those who attempt to escape from their miserable existence to take ‘illegal’ refuge in this country, you should be saddened by the deaths that occur in our northern waters of those very people who seek a better life in our free land. But apparently you aren’t:

One well-placed Liberal source told The Australian that Abbott would rather see Labor continue to bleed politically with ongoing boat arrivals. If that means deaths at sea continue, he said, so be it.

Doesn’t that haunt you?

It is disgraceful that your hence blame the Government for these deaths. It is gutter politics. Crocodile tears are shed for ‘illegal immigrants’ who die in rickety boats, while knowing full well that it is favourable to your political fortunes to have them drown at sea. And why is it favourable? Because your words endeavour to make it so, that’s why. This recent piece in The Guardian, “Is the asylum problem a ‘national emergency’, as Tony Abbott says?” hardens my glare at you.

This “crisis”, in Abbott’s opinion, involves the tens of thousands of irregular maritime arrivals and hundreds of deaths at sea under the Labor government, described by Abbott as a “national emergency” during the policy announcement.

I’m perplexed that you are outwardly so concerned about the number of íllegal immigrants’ dying at sea. The number of deaths aren’t small, yet they are small compared to the number of deaths suffered by ‘ordinary’ Australians for which you have not one policy to address. Perhaps it’s because you can’t grab some political mileage from them, which is the purpose of this letter. Here are some examples.

Over 2100 Australians commit suicide each year. How many of these people were ignored, neglected or marginalised by society? How many were the result of bullying? How many were due to a mental illness? Mr Abbott, do you have any policies to address this, or don’t you care? Please let us know either way.

Over 1000 Australians a year die due to illicit drug related incidences. Tony Abbott, do you have any policies to address this, or don’t you care? Please let us know either way. And should you care to follow the link just provided you’ll notice that there are also 19,000 deaths that are associated with tobacco use. Unlike the asylum seeker deaths I doubt this will concern you. Your objection to plain paper packaging of cigarette packets is well-known. Could it be because between 1998 and 2011 your party received over $3 million in donations from tobacco companies? Personally, I find this a bit odd given you were the Minister of Health in the Howard Government. There wouldn’t be a health professional in the world who disputes the dangers of smoking and I have difficulty comprehending your stand stand when considering your portfolio background and ‘headlining’ commitment to your own good health.

I’m not expecting any of these to be addressed as it will actually mean that policies will need to be formulated or services promised. As Minister for Health under the Howard Government you had no hesitation to heartlessly rip $1B out of health care funding without a single thought of the consequences. You even tried to justify your actions. Now all of a sudden you are concerned about the deaths of refugees and I doubt that these concerns are genuine. Really, you have no compunction about these people dying in their own country. You might remember you belonged to a government that was quite happy to take the war to them.

Take a look at what’s happening in your own backyard; people are dying from preventable deaths. Is it too much to ask to stop and think about these? What’s going to happen when and if you are Prime Minister of this country? Turning boats around so the refugees can die somewhere else is an act of neglect. Coming up with nothing to stop the deaths from those cited above is also an act of neglect.

I would be thrilled if you were to show some genuine passion for the victims of tragic deaths in this country. Show us you care by showing us a policy. Forget about chanting “Stop the boats”. Focus on trying to “Stop the deaths”.

Face the truth, refugees will continue to die and it won’t be your fault or Labor’s fault. Stop blaming someone else all the time. Remember how you blamed the Government for those four unfortunate deaths under the Home Insulation Program? Might I ask what policies have you implemented to create safer work environments or reduce shoddy work practices? I know the answer: absolutely none. While you can gain political advantage out of people dying you see no incentive whatsoever to come up with a remedy. These deaths are a convenience for you. I find that pathetic. Over 200 Australians a year die because of industrial deaths. How many were the result of unsafe work practices? Mr Abbott, I ask again, do you have any policies to address this, or don’t you care? Please let us know either way.

You are a person who says everything and does nothing.

Not everybody dies at sea. Or in a ceiling installing insulation for that matter. Rather than trying to gain political traction over select deaths, show some concern about those deaths that you cant use for political mileage.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph Pole

Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph Pole