Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Our Treasurer is

determined to produce a "budget surplus" - at any cost. It is a matter of politics, not economics. It is about winning the next election, not what might be good for the country.
Producing a "budget surplus" is - apart from personally attacking the Leader of the Opposition - the most important thing on the government's political agenda. It does not matter what the cost is.
The cost may well be very high. The Treasurer outlined a further range of "cuts" yesterday and some of them are very disturbing indeed.
Others are making much of the "baby bonus" - the money paid to parents of new borns. That is to be reduced for second and subsequent children. I am not too concerned about this as the money did not always get spent on the children. My mother got "child endowment" for us. It came in small amounts, enough to cover things like shoes for school. It was not a lump sum that could be spent on an electronic baby sitter (aka as a television set). Research has shown that child endowment payments were spent on children more often than not - whether they were spent wisely may be another story.
But there are other cuts which do disturb me. One of them is the cuts to private health insurance rebates. Like private (UK "public") schooling. There are arguments for and against private health coverage. On balance however this is money going into the health system. It helps to prop up the ailing state system. People are more likely to seek and get help, seek it earlier and recover more quickly because the problem is less severe. The potential savings are vast and, far from delaying treatment in public health, waiting lists in all areas are reduced. We can afford to employ more doctors and other medical professionals. Cutting health costs never makes long term sense. In the short term though the government says it can save $500m and that will help to "put the budget into surplus".
Then there is the other thing that really worries me - and it is related to health as well. The government is cutting research funds to universities. Universities are already at an all time low with respect to government support. Our present government has been making ever increasing demands of others to fund research - while at the same time wasting research dollars on politically motivated research. (There is, believe it or not, a research project on whether trees provide shade which has been funded by the government.)
Cutting funding to universities is going to have major consequences. I already know of one scientist who will now be heading to Germany. He was wavering. He would prefer to stay in Australia. His family is here but the job is there. There is no job here because of the cuts. There will be others in his position. There will be even more students who are not able to get supervision who will also have to think of going abroad - or simply not doing post-graduate work, perhaps even under-graduate work.
Company tax will now be paid monthly, not quarterly. That adds costs to business - and they will flow on into the community. Revenue may well drop but, initially, it will appear to rise. It will give the government the money it needs to get the magic political surplus.
Nothing matters except the surplus. The government is banking on the surplus to get itself re-elected.
I just do not understand economics.


Frances said...

Cat: Please excuse me for commenting here on a past post, re literary prizes.
Pat Barker's "The Ghost Road" won the Booker in 1995, and is a truly splendid book about WW1. A stand-alone part of a trilogy.
She is a great writer, and I do think that this is one prize winner whom you would enjoy.
Otherwise, I quite agree with you: I have no interest in decoding them. I read for fine language, fine writing, fine characterisation or fine story telling.

catdownunder said...

Oddly, that is one I have been meaning to try and find because someone else mentioned it in relation to WWI reading - must remember to look it up on the state wide catalogue - thanks for the reminder,