Welcome to Quadrant Online | Login/ Register Cart (0) $0 View Cart
Menu
February 09th 2014 print

Peter Smith

Of Entitlements And Con Jobs

Who pays for the long and growing list of benefits and bailouts that a strident body of opinion sees as the government of the day's moral obligation to fund and provide? Why, in one way or another, we all do -- and that means you too, suckers

pickpocketHow do we get to a point where the Australian government actually takes to Cabinet a request for $25million dollars to subsidise a commercial operation owned by a major and profitable company. And, apparently, Joe Hockey had to weigh in, so to speak, to quell assorted Liberal wets and the crony capitalist that occupy the National Party. Then we have the sad case of the Liberal’s Sharman Stone.

Leave aside the absolute unmitigated treachery of accusing Abbot of lying. She has a PhD but apparently thinks it is a short step from something being untrue to it being a lie. No Ms Stone, it is a gulf; a chasm. Lots of things turn out to be untrue like some elements of Newton’s theory of gravity but I think we can be fairly certain that Sir Isaac didn’t lie about it. How do you get a PhD these days; collect tokens from cornflake packets?

She might also benefit from reading Edmund Burke to better understand her role as an MP; which isn’t to be an amanuensis for special interests in her electorate. Do any of these people making claims on ‘government’ money ever, ever, ask who precisely among the Australian community is expected to pay? The answer is no they don’t. They are grifters perpetrating the biggest con job of the last century; bigger even than global warming or Keynesian economics.

‘The government will pay’ is the con. Taxpayers, the marks, are drawn in before the sting. The beauty of the con is that the marks are never quite sure they’ve been taken in. After all who can quite calculate how much extra this or that scheme has cost you?

A heart-rending piece in this morning’s Australian newspaper had me weeping into my porridge. Apparently grandparents are being worn out by having to look after their grandchildren while the parents are out earning a living. Why is this you might ask? Well, the reason is the absence of affordable child-care services. What do they want? Need we inquire? More government subsidies, of course!

Who is making this plea? It is an organisation called COTA which claims to be the peak body representing the interests and views of older Australians. I am an older Australian. I have never heard of them before. Maybe it is the youthful way I approach life that has insulated me from awareness of COTA. Anyway that is by the way, to pull our heart strings we are presented with the case of grandparents (pictured looking distinctly un-exhausted) caring for their daughter’s three young children while she runs her small business and her husband works as a sales manager. I think to myself: Couldn’t they have found a minimum-wage factory worker and a cleaner?

Exactly who does COTA think should pay for the upbringing of this professional couple’s children? The admirable Peter Walsh, former finance minister in the Hawke government, warned of this child-care push many years ago. How prescient was he, and how unlike the union mediocrities that currently run the Labor Party?

But, back to the question and the con. Who exactly should pay for caring for the children of middle-class parents while they are out earning above-average salaries? The government should pay? Think about it.

Once you take middle-class families out of the pay-in group what are you left with? Retirees? Working-class families? Young couples without children saving for their first home? Young unmarried people at the start of their working lives? Gay couples? I think we are left with rich people and, unfortunately, they are few in number and adept at avoiding tax.

In fact there is no-one to foot the bill. That is the beauty of the con. The identity of the payers remains so murky that no-one realises what is going on. Who ends up paying? Who knows? To some extent it must be an enormous churn. To some extent it probably ends up as a transfer of income from the less well-off to the well-off.

Hands up those politicians who will say that children bring joy but are expensive; people who have them should be prepared to make sacrifices; they need looking after and the responsibility and cost of this falls on you; maybe they will look after you in your old age but don’t count on it.

It is hard to spot a raised hand in this age of entitlement and con jobs.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics