Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Oh right, Budget 2015?

The Federal Treasurer for Downunder brings down the Federal Budget for 2015 tonight.
We have already been told most of the contents. There are no great surprises there. Nor is there any surprise in the fact that the Senate - where the Opposition holds sway - intends to ensure that most of it will never be implemented. 
They will argue they have good reasons for not passing the measures. The biggest and best reason of course is that they would like to bring about a double dissolution and regain power. Will they succeed in doing that? I don't know. 
But there were some interesting letters in the state newspaper yesterday and today. They almost all raise questions about who should be getting the pension. 
Perhaps I am wrong but I think a better question is "why should people get a pension?" May I explain?
There has been an assumption that if you don't have enough to feed, clothe, and house yourself then you should be able to get help. It is what you paid your taxes for - or is it? 
Some of the letter writers recognised another problem. The problem of people who have spent as much as they could - perhaps even more than that. They don't have much left to show for it. They certainly don't have housing of their own or money in the bank. 
Someone else with an identical income and in identical circumstances who has spent their money differently is now, because they do own their own home and do have some money in the bank, expected to support the other person.
And of course they will end up doing this because, as a society, we cannot leave people starving and naked in the cold. But it does - or should - raise the question of why should some people be allowed to "double dip"? It leaves everyone worse off  in the end. 
This is a problem I struggle with. My impulse is to help someone obviously in need.  I also believe people should be able to make their own choices. The question, for me, has to be - is there a limit to those choices? Where does someone else step in and say, "No, you can't do that because other people have to pay for it"?
I don't know what the answer is.
All this has been of concern to me recently because someone asked me for help. He has, very generously, taken on the affairs of his elderly neighbour, a man with no family whatsoever. This man is now in his 80's. He has been living to the limit of his income and beyond for some years. He should have had a good income from his superannuation but commuted as much of it as he could and spent it on holidays and other luxury items. He is has been getting a part-pension for years - something he would not have needed if he had not commuted his superannuation.
"I don't think it's right," the person trying to help told me, "He used all that money to swan around the world and enjoy himself and then he puts his hand out to the taxpayer when he could have done one trip - or even two - but saved his super. He'd be better off and so would we."
I would be interested to know what readers of this post - if there are any - think. Is "why" an important question too?


Allison said...

I'm on both sides of that fence with you. Yes, he should have been more responsible. Yes, he ought to have to live with what he has created for himself. And no, we cannot really leave someone like that homeless or without food and other support -- but I wonder if he would have any problem doing that to someone else?

I wish I had an answer. There are those in his position who are there through no fault of their own and who deserve help. It doesn't seem like he deserves it at all. Why was he allowed to commute that superannuation?

catdownunder said...

the rule was that you could commute some of it back then - Senior Cat commuted some of his to pay off the mortgage but worked out he would be better off that way and managed without a hand out!