Ok, I’m going to ask you a simple question:
You are sitting in Emergency. The hospital has decided to admit you as you are in severe pain. You need to be in hospital.
Alas, there is no bed available. You need to wait there till someone either goes home or dies. How long? Well, who can tell? Now just wait over there on the gurney and we’ll get back to you just as soon as we can. If the pain gets worse, try and grab one of the people rushing by, because you don’t have a buzzer to press. But you’ll have one just as soon as you’re admitted, and we’ve decided that you’re not dying, so we have more important things to do in Emergency!
So would you be prepared to pay $50,000 to reduce your wait by an hour? No, well what about $5 then?
You’re saying, of course: It’s just unacceptable that I have to wait so long.
Ok then, what if we put your taxes up by ten dollars a week. NOW. Before you need to be admitted. NOW. Before it happens.
Screw that! Some of you are thinking. I’ll take my chances. Why, with that ten dollars, eventually I could save enough to buy a beach house or at least a bottle of Grange! Why should I pay my hard earned money just so someone else can avoid spending a night – or two – in Emergency…
Others, perhaps, are thinking that this would be a small price to pay. Shouldn’t we try to find a way to make sure that nobody ever has to feel unnecessary pain? Shouldn’t we be training more doctors and nurses and opening more hospital beds? Gee, I’d be prepared to pay that…
But I suspect our current government will tell you that there are lifters and leaners, and nobody who’s paid by the public purse ever does anything that contributes to overall benefit of society, and that a bit of pain never hurt anybody.
Except that – as I wrote a few months back, when everybody thought that I was joking – this is an election year… And while the only election that Abbott may be concerned about is the one in the Liberal Party room, so some of it is just to give him a boost in the polls, this is not a Budget about improving anything.
This is just the Budget you have when you don’t want to let the Treasurer inflict “necessary pain”.
Why am I suddenly thinking about “Pulp Fiction” and remembering the scene where they say:
Bring out the Gimp.
But the Gimp’s sleeping.
Well, I guess you’re gonna have to go wake him up now, won’t you?
Ok, sometime soon, I’m going to write something about Richard Thaler’s new book, “Misbehaving” which is about Behavioural Economics, and is a damn fine read. Remind me, if I get distracted by the turkey shoot that’s going to follow the Budget.
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